THE Marvels, which hits cinemas this week, is widely expected to flop. This is less to say that the film will be no good than to project it will have no audience. Made on a budget just shy of $300m, it’s a catastrophic forecast for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

While it was always going to be a hard sell for Marvel to maintain momentum in a post-Endgame world, the sense that the, once all-powerful, studio has floundered of late is palpable.

There have been hits - the latest Spider-Man almost cracked $2bn - but, for the first time in the franchise’s history, there have been bombs too. Word on the street has it that audience apathy is on the rise.

Worse still, the studio now finds itself mired in bad press.

Black Widow launched to news that its star, Scarlet Johansson, was taking Marvel to court over a pay dispute. Ant-Man: Quantumania came with a crisis in the form of domestic abuse accusations against Jonathan Majors, who plays the MCU’s newest big bad. Now, The Marvels, it seems, was ditched midway through production by its own director, Nia DaCosta.

A big part of the current problem is just how much keeping up with the MCU feels like homework these days. Take The Marvels. Not only is the film a direct sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, it also continues plot lines from two separate Disney+ television series. Those being 2021’s WandaVision and last year’s Ms Marvel. You can enter the film without seeing any of them but there’s little catch up time.

It’s a pity really. The Marvels does boast a lot of potential. Iman Vellani was a total delight as Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel and continues to be so in her big screen debut. Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris impress, too, as Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau, with the three making for a winning combination.

The film finds the trio entangled by a bizarre phenomenon. Every time each of them attempts to use their powers, they swap places with the other two. This first occurs when Monica is out in space, investigating a wormhole linked to the Kree.

Samuel L Jackson returns as Nick Fury, with Fresh Meat star Zawe Ashton joining as Dar-Benn, a Kree warrior.

It’s a pleasingly colourful adventure but, these days, who’s sticking around for the credits?