Freestyle Post: The Marvel/DC Conundrum

My inner geek will totally shine through here, and I am very okay with that. Here goes.

I am a huge comic book and superhero buff. I love them. I started collecting comics wen I was in early elementary school and I still do today. Being a fan of superheroes, I have genuinely seen every superhero movie that has been released in the past ten years (except the really bad ones *cough*Catwoman*cough*

Now, while there are many comic book studios in the business (Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics being two great publishers), there are two major players in the game. These are DC Comics and Marvel Comics. In this post, I will be addressing the on-screen presences of these two studios and the issues plaguing both.

Recently (since 2008 to be specific) Marvel has experienced massive success on the silver screen. Starting with Iron Man in 2008, Marvel has built a cinematic franchise  that has grown to be the highest-grossing franchise of all time. This cinematic universe includes the box office-smashing Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Avengers franchises, as well as other films such as The Incredible Hulk and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, the ABC television series Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D., several short films, and four upcoming series exclusive to Netflix. Marvel Studios has layed out plans for continuing their cinematic universe well over ten years away and shows no sign of slowing down. With Marvel movies featuring many A-list celebrities, top-notch production values and record-setting sales numbers, Marvel is currently the undisputed cinematic comic king.

That brings us to DC Comics’ on-screen presence. DC has experienced some success as well, albeit to a much smaller degree. With Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, DC managed to show that a comic book movie could be mature, and even be a contender for awards such as the Oscars. This all changed, however, the moment DC tried to follow Marvel’s path.

In 2013, Warner Brothers Studios released a Superman reboot titled Man of Steel. Response to this movie was very divided. Many fans were outraged at choices made for the character of Superman, among other issues. I personally really enjoyed the movie, but even I must acknowledge that the film had some major flaws.

Then, shortly after the release of Man of Steel, DC announced that the working title of their next movie in their cinematic universe would be Batman vs. Superman. The controversial choice to reboot the character of Batman, making him an entirely different character from that of Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman, portrayed by Christian Bale, divided fans. This was coupled with the out-of-the blue casting of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne. Upon learning that members of the Justice League, the DC equivalent version of Marvel’s Avengers, Wonder Woman and Cyborg would be in the movie, fans speculated that this movie would be a straight up Justice League film adaption. These rumors were quelled when DC just recently announced that an actual Justice League movie would be following Batman vs. Superman.

Now that I have broken down each studio’s strategies thus far, I will take time to point out their strengths and flaws thus far.

Marvel’s biggest flaw is clearly that many of the film rights to their most iconic franchises belong to other studios. Sony Pictures own the rights to Spider-Man while 20th Century Fox own the rights to the Fantastic Four, X-Men and Wolverine. Whole these franchises range from great (X-Men, X-Men 2, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine and Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man movies) to passable (The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot) to bad (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Spider-Man 3, Both Fantastic Four movies) in their own rights, fans have long been clamoring to see all of their favorite Marvel heroes in the same production, but due to the complex nature of film rights, it does not look as if this will ever happen. This honestly has been somewhat of a boon for Marvel studios, however. With their movies, Marvel has turned former B-list characters such as Iron Man and Thor into cultural icons.

DC is a different story altogether. Their plan is so scattered that I think even they do not know what is going on. DC experienced success with their Dark Knight trilogy, but their Green Lantern film was really just a crappy movie. Likewise, the television show Arrow is great, but fan reaction to Man of Steel is very divided. Now DC is hoping to follow in the steps of Marvel and create their own cinematic universe that is independent from both the Dark Knight trilogy, their Arrow and the (upcoming) Flash TV series and the Green Lantern movie. Is it wise to be jumping into the same pool as Marvel at such a late point in the game? I suppose fans will decide.


Originally posted at Nick Edwards