Entertainment giants sink after self-inflicted wreck

As painful as it is to say, Disney and its subsidiary, Marvel, just aren’t good anymore. With extremely progressive standards at Disney and the absence of the original big-name actors at Marvel, new releases from the two giants no longer draw laughter or tears from audiences, the very things that have intrigued and delighted viewers for nearly 90 years.

“Wokeism” — defined by Dictionary. com as the “promotion of liberal progressive ideology and policy as an expression of sensitivity to systemic injustices and prejudices” — is justified in modern Disney films, as many past productions are notorious for giving roles solely to heterosexual and cisgendered white individuals and including references now considered racist. The first featured characters of color in Disney history appeared in the 1992 film “Aladdin,” in which both Aladdin and Jasmine were Arab. Still, “Aladdin” has been widely criticized for adhering to blatantly racist stereotypes, a concern in many past movies that has pushed Disney to include warning messages regarding “depictions and/ or mistreatment of people or cultures” before “Aladdin,” “Dumbo,” “Lady and the Tramp” and “The Aristocats” on their streaming platform Disney+.

Even so, there comes a time when pushing a strict “woke agenda” can get in the way of producing truly good movies. Basing an ad campaign for a movie solely on the fact that characters represent historically excluded populations is blatant tokenism, which is the practice of making only a symbolic effort to appeal and cater to minority groups in order to look better for the public. From Halle Bailey’s African- American Ariel in the 2023 live-action “The Little Mermaid” to Disney’s hasty inclusion of a kiss between two female characters in the 2022 film “Lightyear” — which was added after an open letter from “the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar and their allies” claimed that Disney executives cut “nearly every moment of overly gay affection” in their films — it is clear that Disney is now exploiting minority groups in order to gain popularity for new movies. Despite increasing inclusivity in recent movies, the excessive spotlighting of these progressive (and sometimes drastically minor) details in Disney films appears to be more of a money-making scheme than an attempt to actually support and practice more societal equality.

Separately, Marvel has also faced a drastic decline in viewership and box-office success in recent years because of the loss of many notable stars in the franchise.

To a large extent, the Marvel universe was grounded in characters like Robert Downey Jr.’s ambitious billionaire Tony Stark, Scarlett Johansson’s humble Natasha Romanoff and Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, the heart of the team. With two of the characters killed off during the climax of the “Infinity Saga” and one too old to participate further, there is now pressure on new characters to harness the energy of their predecessors — something they have failed to do so far.

In fact, according to Visual Capitalist, a publisher of global information through data-driven visuals, Marvel’s most recent films, including those with new, younger heroes, have brought in dwindling box-office numbers in their opening weekends, with 2023’s “The Marvels” grossing just $46 million in its U.S. opening weekend, the lowest in Marvel movie history. Whereas fans used to buy out theaters for the latest installments in the Marvel universe, now those same viewers are shifting their attention to other productions and genres, like the recent “Barbenheimer” phenomena.

Some may say that this is not a drastic roadblock for big companies like Disney and Marvel, especially since it was entirely expected that after the pandemic the entertainment industry would have to work to get back to its original standard.

But it is evident that this significant downfall can be attributed to more than just pandemic woes. If Disney does not work to right the ship — from meaningfully representing minorities to strengthening casting — the company will inevitably sink, along with its other properties, Marvel included.

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