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Did Marvel Or DC Have 2023's Biggest Superhero Movie Flop?

It's no secret that Marvel and DC had a rough 2023. Last year was filled with box office flops that changed Hollywood forever, with the two most pronounced releases being "The Marvels" and "The Flash." Both films emerged as major financial and cultural misfires for the dueling superhero studios, proving that franchise fatigue is a trend that can't be ignored. Between the two, the biggest flop is "The Marvels," as Deadline reports Marvel's team-up film lost the studio some $237 million. "The Flash" lost Warner Bros. around $155 million. 

"The Marvels" completely bombed at the box office, making just shy of $200 million, and becoming the lowest-grossing entry in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. "The Flash," meanwhile, earned just $266 million. Ultimately, both films were decimated at the box office, emerging as some of the lowest-grossing blockbusters in recent memory.

Their failures immediately signaled to studios that audience trends were shifting and that viewers weren't afraid to vote for their wallets. Following their respective flops, both studios have decided to pivot and go back to the drawing board, hoping to focus on quality, not quantity. Marvel is reeling back its output, while DC is actively restructuring and rebooting itself, with "Superman" director James Gunn now in charge of the franchise. 

2023 was an incredibly turbulent year for Marvel and DC films

In 2023, Disney and Warner Bros. had some of their biggest bombs during the so-called era of "superhero fatigue," where audiences were vocal about their apparent weariness of the genre. That year, both studios scored a series of spectacular duds at the box office, with Marvel Studios' only major winner being "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," which grossed $845 million. While that's a commendable number, the film failed to outgross its predecessor.  The studio also released "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" to mediocre reception, with the threequel grossing just under $465 million. Compared to previous hauls and box office highs, Marvel Studios was doing poorly, with their setbacks even more pronounced once "The Marvels" hit the screen. 

Audiences showed considerable indifference to DC flicks as well, with Warner Bros. releasing four films last year: "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," "The Flash," "Blue Beetle," and "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" — all of them except for "Aquaman" either bombed or underperformed. At least the abysmal run of "The Flash" was partially saved, thanks to decent VOD receipts. While the DC brand hasn't been as prolific when compared to Marvel's offerings, these back-to-back disappointments are no doubt telling that audience tastes have changed. 

Ultimately, both studios are doing their darndest to get butts back into seats and revive the old days of billion-dollar hauls. And with "Deadpool & Wolverine" and "Superman" on the horizon, Marvel and DC could receive bona fide hits to reignite excitement.