With the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, beginning with Iron Man, Marvel Studios has released many blockbusters, but more importantly, started a trend that is taking the cinema world by storm. This is not always a good thing, and there are many studios who are trying to jump on this train of success without putting in the care and work the Marvel has over the last 8 years (watch this video for some good information). The reason that the MCU works so well is because these characters have been developed over a dozen films, and we now know and love them. Of course, Marvel and DC are like Coke and Pepsi- where one goes, the other does too. DC is trying to emulate Marvel’s formula and success, but they don’t seem to be doing a very good job of it. I’m going to explain in this essay why Marvel is beating DC in every way, while trying to stay as unbiased as possible.
I’m a huge comic book movie (CBM) fan, but most of all, I like watching good films. Marvel Studios has made some absolute gems recently, from fun action films like Iron Man, spy thrillers like The Winter Soldier, and even space operas like Guardians of the Galaxy. They pride themselves on their fun and original style, and characters that drive the story forward. DC is trying to do the same, and with the release of Man of Steel in 2013, they began their Extended Universe. After a three-year break, they came back with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, which both were expected to be great films and allow the DCEU to be on par with the MCU. Of course, these films were met with poor reviews, and a steep first to second week drop off, which is because of terrible word-of-mouth. As a CBM fan, I can say that both of these films were grossly underwhelming, and were simply poorly made for a few reasons. The biggest reason that these movies didn’t succeed in quality was because of studio interference…
Zack Snyder made a 3-hour film, and the studio cut out 30 minutes to make it “releasable” in theaters. Of course, this ruined the film, and due to the bad reviews and people saying that it was “no fun,” DC scrambled to re-cut and re-shoot Suicide Squad to make it more “fun” for the audience. To do this, the studio hired the same company that made the trailers to come back and edit the film to be just as fun. The trailers were great, but the movie was loud, dumb, and poorly written. Writer/director David Ayer makes great movies, but he was only given 6 weeks to write this film, and the studio ruined his vision, and after doing so, they let him take the blame for it. With Blu-ray releases, the studio allowed the “extended cuts” to be included, giving fans an incentive for buying these and seeing the real, final version of the film. What a slap in the face. DC executives and Warner Brothers do not know how to create a Cinematic Universe, and they are tarnishing the name of superhero movies. This year, in contrast to BvS and SS, Marvel released Civil War and Doctor Strange, both of them met to outstanding reviews. Marvel can introduce films like these because they have earned it: they have spent the last 8 years releasing an average of two films per year, all of which further develop their universe. DC has released 3 so far, and the last 2 have been rushed and sloppy because of the studio.
DC Comics has amazing characters and the best villains. In this way, they automatically beat Marvel, whose villains are often disappointing. However, DC’s Lex Luthor and Joker have both been met with a mixed reception, and they provide skepticism moving forward in the audience. I love the Dark Knight Trilogy, and I’m a huge fan of Man of Steel, but Marvel is absolutely destroying DC right now, and I don’t think that’s going to change. In Pulp to Pop, Kevin Feige said that they had trouble starting up the Universe, because people didn’t think that it would work (this was before The Dark Knight, so CBM’s weren’t as bankable). So, Marvel had to work hard to make great content on their own, without the help of anybody else. After The Avengers, and their success and fame that came with it, he said that they were so used to just working on their own, that they have been keeping their head down and moving forward in the same way. They don’t need to copy anybody else, they’re doing their own thing and it’s working; they love their own content, which makes the audience love it too.
On the other hand, DC is nothing but reactionary. In 2011, Green Lantern was supposed to be the film that birthed the DCEU. Unfortunately, that film was panned, and the plans were cancelled. In 2013, DC released Man of Steel, but the executive said that they would wait to see the audience and critical reaction to it before green-lighting a sequel. When the film made an incredible amount of money, but was met with mixed reviews, the studio first stated that a sequel would come out the following year, but was pushed back 3 years so that they could scramble and make a plan to roll with. Man of Steel seemed to be DC just experimenting and seeing what would work. Also, with the success and praise of TDK Trilogy, DC hired Christopher Nolan to help jump-start the DCEU and allow them to make the films more grounded and realistic than Marvel’s films. This “gritty” style actually ended up hurting Batman v Superman because it made the characters unlikable, and the film not very fun to watch.
When these reviews came out, the studio scrambled to “fix” Suicide Squad, as I mentioned earlier. Suicide Squad was panned by critics, and even the audience members responded with underwhelming reviews. The only aspects of this movie that people seemed to enjoy were Harley Quinn and Deadshot… of course, DC just announced that they’re going to make a sequel to Suicide Squad, as well as a Deadshot movie, and a Gotham City Sirens movie (which will star Harley Quinn, Catwoman, etc). What? Furthermore, the only part of BvS that was met with praise was Ben Affeck’s Batman and Bruce Wayne. So, of course, they announce a solo Batman film, The Batman, which will take up a lot of their time and attention, and caused them to push back their Justice League Part II film. Also, the trailer for Justice League is much more light-hearted than their previous films, which just goes to show how much they try to backtrack on their films. DC is extremely reactionary, and they have no confidence in any of their decisions.
Marvel beats out DC because they’re not about fan service, exactly. Marvel Studios executives ARE fans, and they make great content because they are passionate about the source material and the projects that they work on. DC is just trying to do what Marvel is doing, but keeps messing up because they have no idea what they’re actually doing. It really disappoints and angers me as a CBM fan, and as somebody who grew up on CBM’s. I really hope that DC will put the time and energy, and care, that these films deserve, because quality is what matters in these films. Sure, their films make money at the box office to fund more movies, but nobody loves these films. In fact, what angers me is that DC still considers their panned films to be “successes” just because of the box office- even if their target audience doesn’t like the films they pay for. All in all, Marvel is way ahead of DC in every single way, but I hope that DC is pulling themselves together and will move forward into the next years ready to bring audiences great content. Anyways, that’s just my opinion: what do you think? As always, thanks for reading, share if you liked this, and I’ll see you soon!