Marvel is said to be in jeopardy, with reports circling that the juggernaut of the industry is set to bring back beloved characters to drum up interest again in the franchise after so many projects failed to light up the box office.
According to Variety, talks have been had over the potential for original members of the Avengers — Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, the Hulk and Hawkeye — to return for another film.
But would that be wise? And are audiences even interested in this happening? Let's dig into it.
Should Marvel revive the original Avengers?
Marvel changed the industry with its superhero franchise, successfully releasing hit after hit that introduced viewers to a new character who then went on to feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's (MCU) first team-up: 2012's The Avengers.
Arguably, the studio hit its peak with Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, with all the puzzle pieces coming together for Thanos (Josh Brolin) to come into the picture and wreak havoc, leaving the Avengers, or what was left of them after the Blip, to find a way to defeat him.
It was a veritable cinematic event when Endgame was released in 2019, and it marked the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another for the MCU. With how popular it was, it's no wonder that studio executives are reported to be thinking about returning to this hey-day.
Bringing back characters from the dead wouldn't be an issue for Marvel, there is precedent in the comics of this happening on multiple occasions and the MCU has brought back characters like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg).
But, here's where it gets tricky. Nick Fury and Agent Coulson's return to the MCU was hailed because it felt like the characters were taken away too soon, and there was plenty of room for them to grow and help the heroes at the top of the bill.
Characters like Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) had their time, and were given emotional send-offs in Endgame that felt fitting for their respective characters.
Tony sacrificed himself to save the world, while Steve went back in time to reunite with the love of his life Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff's send off wasn't as touching as theirs, but her sacrifice was still important to the overall narrative.
So to undo that would completely undermine what their loss meant to the MCU and how it has impacted the franchise since.
What about the new Avengers?
Since Endgame was released, the MCU has been paving the way for new blood to enter the ring with Phase 4 largely dedicated to introducing other heroes who could replace the Avengers that were lost.
The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are still around but both have taken people under their wing — for the former that's Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) and for the latter it's Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), both of whom are poised to take a position in the Avengers. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) also continues to be in the MCU.
Other characters that have been introduced include Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) and Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac), and their introduction would seem wasted if they weren't able to take up the mantle of those who came before and fight off their new enemy (who is currently still Jonathan Majors' Kang the Conqueror).
Sam Wilson, longtime friend of Captain America, has taken up his shield and will front his own movie — Captain America: Brave New World —which is currently slated to be released in 2024.
Letitia Wright's Shuri has become the new Black Panther following Chadwick Boseman's death, while Florence Pugh is the new Black Widow.
Read more: Every upcoming MCU movie and TV series
Marvel has also started introducing characters who could well be part of a Young Avengers team, while new heroes that haven't yet debuted in the MCU include the Fantastic Four and X-Men.
Basically, there are enough characters to choose from for the upcoming Avengers films in 2026 and 2027 without relying on bringing back the old ones.
The box office issue
The problem that Marvel is facing, and which seems to have led to these conversations, is that the box office has not been good for recent films.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania significantly underperformed by earning just $476m, a far cry from Endgame's $2.79bn takings. The studios next film, The Marvels, is also predicted to underperform at the box office, which is said to be a concern for the studio.
So, why has the franchise's box office not done as well as before given how much Marvel has dominated it in the past? Well, one answer is that there is superhero fatigue.
There is just so much content that viewers can't keep up, for Marvel this is a result of a huge increase in the amount of films and Disney+ shows being released.
Also, it has arguably become more difficult to keep track of the MCU and its end goal. Kang the Conqueror is the next big bad, sure, but the films that have come since Endgame have felt a bit all over the place in terms of structure, timeline, and story.
It's no wonder that Marvel is reported to be taking the time to reassess. But, perhaps bringing back the original Avengers isn't the right answer.
Watch the trailer for The Marvels: