Wen 丨 Li Yihan
On February 7, 2023, the Marvel movie "Black Panther 2" was officially released in the mainland. According to Maoyan Professional Edition data, the film won a box office of 20.027 million yuan on the first day of release, and its predicted box office was only about 112 million yuan. On Douban, the score of "Black Panther 2" is only 5.5 points, which is inferior to the 6.5 points of the first part.
After three years away from the mainland market, Marvel's "Black Panther 2" failed to satisfy mainland audiences in terms of content expression and character shaping. And the weakness of the global market in the fourth phase of the Marvel Universe and the post-epidemic rise of domestic local films can't help but make people wonder whether the Marvel Universe still has a future in China?
Box office word-of-mouth double collapse
The landing of Panther 2 in the mainland was frustrated
On February 7, 2023, the Marvel movie "Black Panther 2" was officially released in the mainland. This is the finale of the fourth phase of the Marvel Universe, and it is also the first meeting between Marvel and mainland audiences after 2019's "Spider-Man: Far From Home". However, from the current situation, "Black Panther 2" does not seem to have gained the enthusiasm and recognition of mainland audiences.
The release of "Black Panther 2" did not arouse the audience's enthusiasm for watching the movie, and the box office performance was far from satisfactory. According to Maoyan Professional Edition data, the film won 20.027 million box office on the first day of release. The film's first-day arrangement accounted for 19.9%, second only to "The Wandering Earth 2" (28.5%) and "Manjiang Red" (24.2%). However, the attendance rate of "Black Panther 2" on the first day of release was only 4.7%, and the average number of moviegoers per game was only 7.7.
After noticing the weak box office performance on the first day, theaters have reduced the schedule of "Black Panther 2". Two days after its release, the proportion of films in "Black Panther 2" fell below 15%, and the proportion of films in the first weekend after its release (February 11 and February 12) was about 10%. According to Maoyan's prediction, the final mainland box office of "Black Panther 2" will be about 112 million yuan, far lower than the box office average of Marvel series movies in the mainland (about 887 million yuan), and lower than "Manjiang Red" and "The Wandering Earth 2" and many other domestic films in theaters at the same time.
(On the Maoyan Professional APP, "Black Panther 2" box office data)
"Black Panther 2", as the sequel to "Black Panther", tells the story of Princess Su Rui, Okye, Queen Ramanda, and Mbaku fighting to protect Wakanda and uniting all parties to open a new chapter in the Kingdom of Wakanda after the unfortunate death of King T'Challa of "Black Panther". It is a pity that such a storyline has not been recognized by the audience. On Douban, the score of "Black Panther 2" is only 5.5 points, which is inferior to the 6.5 points of the first part. On social platforms such as Douyin and Weibo, various self-media people have "persuaded" "Black Panther 2".
("Black Panther 2" Douban score)
After 3 years away from the mainland market, Marvel's first work on the mainland ushered in Waterloo, what happened to "Black Panther 2"?
The content narrative fails
Character creation is not three-dimensional
There is no single reason for the collapse of "Black Panther 2". Under the combined effect of external and internal pressure, the film's narrative is long, the intention is thin, the logic is blunt, and the political correctness and "American values" are too advocated, and the content narrative is obviously "failing"; In the face of the sudden death of the starring role of "Black Panther", "Black Panther 2" did not create the next powerful Black Panther, and the character creation was not convincing.
"Black Panther 2" is a total of 161 minutes, and the traditional Marvel-style fight scenes that are really about combat and have an adrenaline rush are only about 20 minutes. For the rest of the time, the Marvel director carried out literary dramas that he was not good at, and the plot was bland and boring, making people drowsy.
At the same time, the plot logic of the film is not reasonable enough. Why are two different tribes fighting? What role has the United States played in this process? In the end, why did the tribes reconcile with each other? All the reasons the screenwriter did not clearly explain, and all the audience could see was one cut after another.
"Black Panther 2", as the final work of the fourth phase of Marvel, has a certain representative value in terms of values. In the film, we can see many elements of African civilization and Latin American civilization, and we can see the appearance of women and vulnerable groups, which is completely in line with "political correctness". In fact, the Marvel Universe has long had the ambition to enrich the narrative objects, depict different types of civilizations, and pay attention to world issues in the fourth stage. However, Marvel only achieved the plurality of civilizations in form, but did not truly recognize different civilizations in the underlying logic and values.
Taking "Black Panther 2" as an example, although Wakanda is an African tribe, although spear song and dance are African elements, it still pursues "Wakanda-centrism" when conducting diplomacy and handling relations with different countries. In order to save the lives of scientists, Wakanda fought fiercely with different camps such as the United States and Namo, and there were very heavy casualties in the process. In the fourth phase, the Marvel Universe places too much emphasis on formal political correctness, but lacks true respect and understanding of different civilizations. Under the skin of diversity and openness, it is still an American comic book drama, and it still advocates American values, so it is difficult to escape a separation between a form and a god.
In terms of character development, "Black Panther 2" can hardly be called a success. Due to the cancer of Chadwick Boseman, the star of the first film, Marvel had to make major adjustments to the script. As an important figure in the fourth phase of the Marvel Universe, the fullness of its shaping will greatly affect the closure of the entire fourth phase of the world line. "Black Panther 2" takes Princess Su Rui as the protagonist, but in the first half it gives more shots of the captain of the guard, mother and others, presenting a narrative effect of "group portrait" rather than "superhero". At the same time, Princess Su Rui is not enough to support the mantle of Black Panther in terms of personal ability and spiritual attributes, which is why the movie has been criticized.
Away from the mainland market for three years
Does the Marvel Universe have a future?
This is Marvel's first work to meet mainland audiences after "Spider-Man: Far From Home". After missing the mainland market for three years, is the Marvel Universe competitive in the mainland market?
Judging from the performance of "Black Panther 2", the answer is undoubtedly no, but the failure of "Black Panther 2" does not prove that Marvel is no longer attractive to mainland audiences. The film was released in North America as early as November 2022, and the clearer streaming version flowed out before the mainland screening stage, and some mainland Marvel loyal fans have long seen the content of "Black Panther 2" in advance, so they will not choose to go to the cinema to watch it. Therefore, the test of the Marvel Universe in the mainland will not really come until February 17, when "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Frenzy" will be released simultaneously in China and the United States.
The Marvel Universe has launched a total of 7 movies in the fourth phase, namely "Black Widow", "Shangqi and the Legend of the Ten Rings", "Eternals", "Spider-Man: Homeless", "Doctor Strange 2: Multiverse of Madness", "Thor 4: Love and Thunder" and "Black Panther 2: Long Live Wakanda". In terms of box office, the global average box office of the seven films so far is about 810 million US dollars, which is far lower than the average of the first three stages of the Marvel Universe (about 1.02 billion US dollars). In terms of word of mouth, "Thor 4", "Doctor Strange 2" and "Black Panther 2" IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes scores are lower than the previous work, and the reputation has declined compared with the third stage.
Among the 7 movies, "Spider-Man: Homeless" carried almost the entire fourth stage, its global box office reached 1.92 billion US dollars, and the IMDB score was as high as 8.3 points. But the victory of "Spider-Man: Homeless" is not a victory for the plot, but a victory for Iron Man, the world's top IP. Other than that, the overall performance of the other films in Phase IV is quite mediocre. Unlike the first three phases, the fourth phase of the Marvel Universe lacks core elements such as "Infinity Stones" and "Multiverse", and the main line of the entire fourth phase is unclear and the correlation between films is limited. At the same time, the creation of characters and characters is also in a state of fatigue, and people no longer have the same enthusiasm for characters as they did when they chased American and Iron Man, and then they are no longer willing to enter the cinema because they like a certain character. Marvel gave the fourth phase the ambition of a grander narrative, but the final performance was not satisfactory. Under the banner of civilizational diversity and cultural integration, American values are still exported, and it is difficult for audiences outside North America to buy them.
In the past three years, hit by the epidemic, the Chinese mainland film market has almost stagnated. With the easing of the epidemic, local films ushered in an outbreak in the 2023 Spring Festival. "Manjiang Red", "The Wandering Earth 2" and "The Deep Sea" are all movies closer to Chinese aesthetic habits and cultural customs, and the rise of such domestic films will undoubtedly have an impact on the "re-entry" of the Marvel Universe. When this year's Spring Festival file "Manjiang Red" was screened, director Zhang Yimou said in an interview: "We are no longer as obsessed with Hollywood blockbusters and American pop culture as we were 10 or 20 years ago, and the audience's cultural confidence is stronger, and the audience's cultural identity is stronger." The enhancement of local films' narrative ability and box office appeal is another major test for Marvel to return to the mainland market. In addition to popcorn-style cool movies and top-notch special effects, what else can the Marvel Universe bring to mainland audiences? This is also a question that Marvel must answer.
Mirror Entertainment (ID: jingxiangyuler) original
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