Brace yourselves – this week I’m going flat out Marvel vs. DC. Yes, I’m a Marvel chick, but to reiterate what I’ve stated in past posts, I do not hate DC. The majority of the characters and plots in its comics simply don’t do it for me. Marvel just does a better job of satisfying my tastes. But there is one area where DC really does take a backseat, even with the general public: movies.
For a company that began the modern trend of superhero movies (Superman starring Christopher Reeve – still the best on-screen incarnation of the character), it’s surprising that DC has not reigned at the box office in recent years. The only real exception has been Wonder Woman and, in part, that’s because it’s one of the few films not filled with the faults that drag the rest of DC movies down.
If you look at the timeline, DC is running a race it lost at the start. It decided to let Marvel try (and hopefully fail) in its attempt to create a massive, connected cinematic universe. At the same time, DC had Batman… and more Batman… then Superman… then a different Batman… then a different Superman. Did no one realize that maybe audiences didn’t want to see the same characters (and their origins) over and over again? What they did realize, a little too late, was that Marvel’s idea and execution worked… and now DC was stuck with its own multiverse and no plan to unite it.
Sure, Marvel was all about origin stories, but they quickly got the hang of getting the basics out of the way to get to the plot. And aside from a couple of Hulk-sized mistakes, they didn’t rehash those origins. They moved forward and explored other areas of their universe so audiences were always getting something fresh. At the same time, they kept the majority of character looks and storylines similar to the comics, so fans were satisfied as well. DC has yet to get recent versions of Superman right… and they hung a massive plot shift on characters having mothers with the same name!
Then there’s the tone of the movies. Dark is pretty much how every recent DC movie can be described (and we all know Zack Snyder is to blame for most of that). The films take themselves far too seriously and, until Wonder Woman, it seemed as if heroes weren’t allowed to crack a smile, let alone a joke. Marvel has infused its movies with humor from the start and it works because they’ve made it natural. There aren’t really “comic relief” characters, though some are simply funnier than others. Whereas claims that Justice League would be “lighter” apparently meant that Barry Allen would be class clown.
At this point, unless Marvel seriously drops the ball, there’s no way DC can catch up. Justice League was not as exciting as it should have been – I got goosebumps watching the Avengers: Infinity War trailer and there was nothing even close to that during Justice League. It needs to get away from the Snyder-verse, make some movies about B-team characters and stop putting Batman and his villains (ok, just Joker) in places they don’t belong.