Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Projections Reveal Superhero Fatigue Is Here

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's opening weekend is projected to gross $130 million, which is less than its predecessor as well as less than any Marvel film released in 2022.

By Phillip Moyer | Published

guardians of the galaxy

Despite being a Marvel movie, James Gunn‘s original Guardians of the Galaxy was a fairly obscure IP, so its $94 million opening weekend was a surprisingly positive result. The sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, stood on the shoulders of the original film’s success, making a larger $146 million its opening weekend. Now, however, superhero fatigue appears to have cooled excitement for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as Deadline reports it’s only projected to make $130 million its opening weekend. 

News of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s lower box office projections comes soon after director James Gunn, who has newly been put in charge of the entire DC Universe, admitted that Superhero Fatigue is affecting the results of both Marvel and DC films. This can be seen by the relatively poor showing of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (which has so far made less than both of its predecessors) and the poor box office return of Shazam! Fury of the Gods (which barely made back its production budget). While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 looks poised to beat out both movies’ weekend openings, it’s still a step down for a franchise that had previously only been on the upswing.

Now, making $130 million in one weekend isn’t a bad result, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is likely going to end up raking in plenty of profit for Disney. But if Disney is hoping for a return to Marvel’s glory days, it seems like they’re in for a disappointment. 

While it might be tempting for the industry to blame Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s unimpressive numbers on people’s reluctance to visit theaters post-2020, the unprecedented success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie proves that people are still willing to head to theaters in droves — provided it’s a movie that they really want to see. Despite middling reviews, The Super Mario Bros. Movie has so far done better at the box office than any other animated film in history. So it seems pretty clear — people aren’t staying away from theaters… they’re just staying away from superheroes.

Further refuting the post-pandemic theory is the fact that a $130 million opening would actually be lower than any MCU movie released in 2022. This opening figure was beaten by Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ( $181 million), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($187 million), and Thor: Love and Thunder ($144 million). So, while Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s projected returns are better than the dismal showings of 2021, it definitely is indicative of a downward trend in love for Marvel, and for superhero films in general.

There are plenty of more superhero films on the way after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. comes and goes, though Disney has begun to acknowledge that the demand for films has been diminishing as of late. By apparently delaying the release of Disney+ shows such as Daredevil: Born Again, Ironheart, and What If…? Season 2, Disney seems to be intent on backing away from an oversaturated market. Whether their tactic will be effective is anyone’s guess.