Stars still exist, sure. Sometimes they appear in movies. Every now and then, those movies earn large profits. But the concept of the movie star as a linchpin of American culture has diminished, taking a lot else with it.
Over the course of the 2010s, to varying degrees, the major studios — Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Fox, Universal and Paramount — stopped prioritizing traditional stars, meaning those rarified big-screen specimens who appeal to audiences, time and again, on their own merits. Movie stars can carry projects not tied to enduring franchises, capture the zeitgeist through sheer likability and demonstrate a willingness to play the celebrity game.
But with Marvel and its ilk monopolizing corporate entertainment, the brand is the star.