There's no denying that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had a tough go of it as of late.
After over a decade of releasing consistently critically and commercially successful superhero films, things started to get a little uneven in the wake of the epochal Avengers: Endgame.
Almost five years removed from the end of the Infinity Saga, the MCU finds itself in a tricky spot, with a more generally mixed critical reception and lesser box office receipts across the board.
Though it would certainly be hyperbolic to suggest that the franchise is caught in an inescapable death spiral, there's nevertheless serious cause for concern, especially with the firm possibility that The Marvels might become the MCU's lowest-grossing film since 2008's The Incredible Hulk (as per Variety).
If the interest of all but the most hardcore comic book movie fans has declined in recent years, the franchise certainly isn't beyond saving, though it will require producer Kevin Feige and the bigwigs at Disney to make some tough decisions - both creatively and business-wise - to secure the IP's big-screen future.
Nobody can say for sure how the MCU will look a decade from now, but without some serious course correction, the current wave of apathy is likely to continue unabated...
10. Make Audiences Care About The Ongoing Story
Perhaps the single biggest issue facing the MCU right now is the lack of an overarching, phase-spanning narrative that audiences are actually invested in.
Though the franchise's first three phases certainly took their time building up to Thanos (Josh Brolin), this was buffeted by the outstanding character development and world-building, which felt so fully realised by the time the Mad Titan arrived on the scene and snapped it all away.
Yet almost a dozen movies removed from Avengers: Endgame's satisfying conclusion to the Infinity Saga, how much meaningful story progress has really been made?
Most of the post-Endgame films and TV shows have felt fairly scattered and barely in service of a wider ongoing narrative at all, while major events therein have been ignored by the surrounding movies - Eternals' half-born Celestial sticking out of the Earth, for one.
While Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and the Loki series want us to believe that Kang (Jonathan Majors) is a threat worth buying into, most fans don't seem particularly convinced that he'll hold much of a candle to Thanos.
Matching the uniqueness of the Infinity Saga was always going to be incredibly challenging, yet the lack of a clear vision going forward is staggering.
It basically feels like new movies are coming out semi-randomly while being tagged with vague credits scenes teasing characters we may or may not ever see again (Eros, anyone?).
It's exhausting, honestly, because what's the point of establishing a shared cinematic universe if it's just going to feel disparate and disconnected?