The Montagues and the Capulets. Star Wars and Star Trek. Coke and Pepsi. Like these famous feuds though out time, DC and Marvel have always had a rivalry that can result in massive arguments and destroy friendships.
In the past two years Marvel and DC (Warner Bros.) have been trying to one-up each other with announcements of their future movies and cinematic universes.
First DC announces that they are creating Batman Vs Superman as a follow up to their movie Man of Steel, and then Marvel announces they are starting phase two of their ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ which included the follow ups to all their phase one movies and the start of their integrated TV show ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’
In the past few months, the rivalry and announcements have hit a new high.
On October 15th Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara announced all upcoming DC movies on a shareholder call which was quickly followed up with a press release.
DC outlined every movie they have planned up until 2020 including names of the films, casts and the dates they will be released. The press release included official announcements of two Justice League movies, which includes all their DC heroes before most of their solo movies. It also announced the Wonder Woman movie, the first female superhero movie since 2004’s Catwoman.
“(Warner Bros is) doubling down on outstanding content, working with the best talent and maintaining the culture that makes Warner Bros. so great.” Says the huge press release.
In the wake of this, Marvel let it leak that Robert Downey Jr.’s character of Tony Stark will be starring in the third Captain America movie which prompted rumours that the plot will be based on the hugely successful comic book story arc Civil War.
While it worked for a little while, DC’s news still seemed bigger in the superhero fandom until on the 27th Marvel held a special press and fan event that was broadcast live on the internet. They then announced every movie they have planned until 2019 including two new Avenger’s movies, a confirmation of Captain America 3’s Civil War storyline, and the announcements of four new movies featuring the beloved comic book characters Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Inhumans and Marvel’s first female solo superhero movie Captain Marvel.
With this, the fandom was finally convinced that Marvel will most likely continue being the better superhero movie producer. It seems crazy that only six years ago, Marvel was relatively unknown in cinema, with DC being a movie powerhouse.
DC was, early on, acquired by Warner Bros. (under Time Warner) and because of this was always considered the more successful comic book company. Through Time Warner it had access to movie studio and started producing Batman and Superman movies almost immediately and this has continued ever since with varying degrees of success.
With the powerhouse movie studio as Marvel has become, many are forgetting that until 2007, it was considered the failing comic book company. Marvel had filed for bankruptcy in 1996 so they were handing out the licences for their characters to almost anyone who asked.
When Marvel saw their super heroes could create successful movies with X-Men in 2000 and Spiderman in 2002, they decided to make movies straight from the source. Unfortunately due to them giving away their most well-known characters (Spider-man is licenced by Sony and X-Men and Fantastic Four are licenced by Fox) Marvel had to look at their second tier superheroes which, in an amazing turn of events that could not be seen by anyone, it resulted in the successful movie Iron Man and kicked off their entire movie universe.
When comparing the start of both of the cinematic universes, it seems strange that DC believes that they can be as successful as Marvel In their venture.
Marvel’s Iron Man, which currently holds a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, kicked off the MCU in 2008 to both beloved by fans and has critical acclaim.
Iron Man was a relatively unknown superhero outside comic book fans so people were amazed at how good the movie was. It opened to reviews such as “If anyone doubted Marvel’s ability to make the leap to full-fledged studio, their first effort, Iron Man, should be enough to erase all doubts” from Ian Buckwalter at DCist.
It could be said that Iron Man was the movie that kicked off the so-called superhero golden age of movies.
Man of Steel however, has a 56% rotten meter and seems to have mixed reviews in the audience but even the fans who like it line their reviews with words such as ‘Good but not great’ and ‘rough around the edges.’ It also got many critic reviews like this one from Keith Phipps at the Dissolve. “Man of Steel plunges headfirst into a loud, breathless science-fiction slugfest, offering much spectacle but little wonder.”
“Man of Steel was terrible,” Says Dr Liam Burke, author of The Pocket Essentials Superhero Movies and comic book expert. “What I didn’t like about it was that, Superman is kind of the paragon, he’s the good example. The sense was (from Warner Bros.) that all audiences today can’t relate to Superman because he’s to whiter than white, he’s too powerful so they needed to make him grubby.”
“But what they did was confuse character complexity with darkness, which is this sort of catch all term that got applied to everything from the latter Harry Potter movies, to the new Teenage Mutent Ninja Turtles.”
“You look at Grant Morrison’s all-star Superman or Jeff Loeb’s Superman for all seasons. They make the character much more complex but they never diminish his sensibilities or his integrity so it is possible to do that, but Zack Snyder was not the one to do that.”
“He’s made such a ham fisted attempt at Superman I can only imagine how poorly managed his version of Batman vs Superman will be. I have no confidence in it.”
Despite bad reviews from fans and critics alike, the movie was actually a financial success. Warner Bros. took advantage of this announcing their cinematic universe which resulted in many movie fans and critics deciding almost immediately that the movies would be a failure.
Despite this, many DC fans are looking forward to the movie franchise. While most of them didn’t enjoy Man of Steel, they believe that DC and Warner Bros. will take on the criticism given to them by fans and critics.
One user on a Reddit conversation says “I didn’t enjoy Man of Steel, but I would like to see Ben Affleck’s interpretation of Batman and I’m sure Ezra Miller will make a great Flash.” Other users are excited that their favourite characters are finally coming to life, like Aquaman.
When looking at the future movies, it is fair to say more people are excited over Marvel’s plans than DC’s but hard-core DC fans are adamant that the Justice League movies will be amazing.
With everyone still fighting over which will eventually be better, perhaps they are ignoring the most important thing that has come out of all this. When comic book fans used to be teased for what they loved, they are now believed to be the most successful franchises in movie history. Comic book fans should be celebrating the amazing success of the continuing superhero golden age.