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Disney provides a reason to hope

Disney had an interesting week. First, the SAG-AFTRA strike ended.

The Actor’s Union finally secured a favorable deal with the Producers Guild last Wednesday, ending the 118-day strike. The actors walked away with a pay increase and protections against Artificial Intelligence.

Many people have dismissive attitudes towards the actors’ strike, because they think actors are spoiled brats who already enjoy a level of privilege the average consumer will never experience. But even if that were true, the actors are not the only ones who suffered because of the strike.

Think about the caterers that rely on movie shoots to make ends meet; restaurants that thrive whenever a Hollywood studio films in their vicinity; people responsible for the costumes, makeup, music, and more. Hundreds of thousands of people have returned to work because of this new deal.

On the Entertainment front, Disney can resume production on vital projects like Deadpool 3 and Fantastic Four. Marvel is obviously struggling to recreate the successes of the first three phases of the MCU.

They pushed Captain America 4 to 2025. Apparently, an early cut of the film received very negative reactions, compelling Marvel to schedule extensive reshoots. Thunderbolts was also postponed.

Meanwhile, Blade is still a hot mess. Daredevil: Born Again suffered a worse fate because they fired everyone, including the writers and director, after shooting several episodes of the reboot.

Rather than throwing mediocre projects at audiences and hoping for the best, Kevin Feige wants to salvage Marvel’s reputation by prioritizing quality over quantity. That means re-assessing the MCU’s current state and pruning everything that is not working.

Admittedly, the average viewer was too busy buzzing about The Marvels this weekend to obsess over Disney’s behind-the-scenes drama, and for a good reason.

Early reviews called it the final nail in the MCU coffin, a manifestation of the rot that has crippled Marvel’s creative machine. Many entertainment pundits thought it was the worst MCU film Disney had ever produced. But then the film came out, and things changed dramatically.

First of all, the Rotten Tomatoes critic score, which had fallen off a cliff on Wednesday night, recovered. It now sits in the mid-60s. The Audience Score was even higher (85 percent). A cursory glance at the online landscape will reveal a surprising number of positive critic reviews.

The film is expected to underperform financially, but the Audience score is strong enough that The Marvels may get enough repeat business in the coming weeks to become profitable.

Did I like it? No. Was it terrible? Not at all. The negative reviews were gross exaggerations. Here is what I will say; on paper, The Marvels should have been fantastic.

It had all the right ingredients, including a villain with a compelling motive, three dynamic protagonists, incredible fight scenes, a healthy dose of tragedy, and plenty of twists and turns. Carol Danvers looked amazing.

She embodied that spark of indomitable strength and compassion people associate with characters like Superman. Kamala was a ray of sunshine. Monica was…okay. Overall, The Marvels should have rivaled Guardians 3. But the execution fell flat. The villain was weirdly bland, the plot disjointed, the emotional moments at the end felt unearned.

Still, the people sitting next to me laughed and cried and cheered throughout. So clearly, it did right by them. I was disappointed. Fortunately, I went home two hours later and watched the Loki Season Two finale.

It was brilliant. I can’t help but think about the first Avengers film where Loki says, ‘I’m Loki of Asgard, and I’m burdened with glorious Purpose,’ then you get to this finale, and the man is literally burdened with glorious purpose.

If you have not watched this show, you should binge all six episodes tonight because that finale will leave your jaw on the floor (assuming you are invested in the MCU).

Like Tony Stark and Steve Rogers in Endgame, Loki Season Two gave the character the best (and most epic) ending he could ever hope for. After a lackluster response to The Marvels in many circles, the Loki finale was the shot in the arm Disney needed to re-ignite our excitement for the MCU’s upcoming projects.

With that in mind, I think Disney and Marvel ended this last weekend on a relatively strong note.

katmic200@gmail.com

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