A clear takeaway from the 2022 box office is a decline in the share of revenue generated by the once-dominant superhero genre. In fact, 2022 was the first year since 2017 when none of the year’s top three-grossing films was related to a superhero franchise. Ever since 2019 when AVENGERS: ENDGAME broke records with its $2.79B global box office, most superhero movies have become less accessible, and interesting to general audiences.
Since that time, the only MCU movie to earn more than $1B at the global box office was SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME, which earned $1.91B in 2021 and early 2022. Prior to 2019, it was routine for MCU titles to earn over $1B.
Box office expert Scott Mendelson offers a theory for this superhero slide, arguing that the plotlines for recent MCU and DC sequels and spin-offs have become so intricate and self-referential that they are difficult for anyone other than a super-fan to follow.
In 2023, the box office will be led by franchise films outside of the superhero genre, such as the latest editions of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, INDIANA JONES, FAST AND FURIOUS, and SUPER MARIO BROS. While several high-profile MCU and DC titles will arrive, they are not expected to lead the pack of new releases in 2023. These include GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE, and AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM.
This diversification is a good thing since industry insiders and moviegoers alike have complained for years that Hollywood has become over-reliant on superhero blockbusters. The industry could become stronger by posting solid earnings from a wide variety of studios and movie genres.