‘Superhero Fatigue’ Is Real, But MCU Fans Aren’t Feeling It Now — They’re Ready for More

The last 30 years have really seen an explosion of superhero films. The Batman films of the 90s led to the X-Men and Spider-Man movies of the 2000s.

Soon after, the Marvel Cinematic Universe took over the movie landscape, becoming the single most successful film franchise. 2020 saw the MCU take a break after COVID-19 put the movie business on its back.

With WandaVision’s debut, the MCU is officially back and ready to kick off an ambitious slate. Typically, Marvel would risk fans suffering from “superhero fatigue,” but moviegoers aren’t showing any signs of feeling that.

How the MCU wrapped up in 2019

The last two Marvel films released in 2019 were big ones: Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Endgame dealt with the fallout of Thanos’s snap as the Avengers attempted to retrieve the Infinity Stones to reverse it. They were successful, but at quite a cost: both Iron Man and Black Widow died as a result. In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker dealt with having to live up to the example set by Iron Man. At the conclusion of the film, Mysterio used a posthumous message to reveal his true identity to the public. 

These were two big films, and they left fans searching for more. It opened up a world of new possibilities. There were certainly gaps to fill – Iron Man, Captain America were major characters whose presences would be sorely missed. Fans were looking forward to seeing how the MCU could introduce new personalities meant to replace them.

That’s why what came next was such a debilitating blow to Marvel fans. 

The weird 2020 gap for the MCU

Kevin Feige
Kevin Feige | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

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2020 saw the world change irrevocably, as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted every single person and business sector. The entertainment industry was rocked to the core by it. Film and TV show shoots were put on ice while show business as a whole struggled to figure out how to film safely. Meanwhile, movie theaters were either limited in what they could show or shuttered altogether. 

Marvel delayed its 2020 offerings, putting out no new content for the first time since 2009. This meant Black Widow and other streaming series were delayed. That made it difficult for Marvel fans who became accustomed to multiple MCU entries released each year. Marvel initially planned to release WandaVision on Disney+ in November 2020 then balked and pushed it to January 2021. 

It’s a critical time in the MCU — the original iteration of the Avengers is no more, and they’re establishing a number of new properties in the coming years. The pandemic caused an upheaval, pushing their plans backward. Projects like The Eternals, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and the third Spider-Man film were delayed. 

Why MCU fans aren’t feeling superhero fatigue

if 2020 had seen the MCU continue releasing projects, the potential for superhero fatigue could have been there. But now that action-starved MCU fans have had to wait so long, that potential has all but evaporated. In a Reddit thread discussing upcoming MCU projects, one fan said it best: 

“I have zero expectations for any of these and it feels nice. Was great having a horrible global pandemic for the last year to reset the superhero fatigue.” 

From a creative perspective, a yearlong break could have been just what the doctor ordered for the MCU. As entertaining as fans have found the MCU, over-saturation is always a possibility. 2020’s long pause gave the franchise an opportunity to take a breath and reset.

Moviegoers loved the older characters and now they’ll be ready to see some of the more established properties merge with some new and exciting ones.