I am a nerd. Let’s get that out there. I love superhero films and thankfully, there are two giant companies fighting for superhero supremacy in Hollywood year-after-year with their respective superhero character properties. DC’s biggest are Batman and Superman with Nolan’s Batman trilogy representing one of the most successful superhero trilogies ever. Meanwhile, Marvel has The Avengers and their respective solo title films featuring the characters therein.
Now, the Marvel vs. DC discussion is nothing new; I’m sure it’s been waging for the last seven decades. That said, it seems pretty obvious to anyone that when it comes to live-action superhero films, Marvel is far and away ahead of DC. There’s much credibility to that statement, as consider: Marvel had a very clear strategy whereby they would introduce some of their solo characters (Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man) and then bring them all together for one big superhero team up film. And it paid off and by paid off, I mean, they made A LOT of money. So much money, in fact, that they now have the room to take the risk with 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. They did something DC has struggled to do; they created a shared universe. Right now, with Nolan’s trilogy done, there isn’t a shared universe in DC, as it stands. It’s mostly just Superman from Man of Steel and who knows about Green Lantern’s fate after that movie crashed and burned.
So, essentially, DC is playing catch-up by offering a Superman vs. Batman (or Batman vs. Superman) film slated for 2015, which is the same year Marvel will already be releasing its sequel to The Avengers. However, despite this, it is quite clear, as in the comics and here, with live-action, that Marvel and DC have different strategies and different ways of presenting their superhero properties. Now, I was on reddit and came across someone explaining the dichotomy. They said this:
I’ve been talking a lot with my friends in the last couple of days about the difference between Marvel movies and DC movies, and this really sort of epitomizes it.
Warner Bros seems like it feels the need to be constantly apologizing to the audience for making super hero movies.
“We’re sorry this is a Batman movie. We know it’s stupid. Don’t worry, we won’t give Bane his super-drugs, there won’t be any Robin, and after the first movie, it won’t look like Gotham. It’ll just be like any generic modern American city. Please try to overlook the guy in the bat suit if you can.”
“We’re sorry this is a Superman movie. We’ll try not to call him that in the movie if we can, we won’t give him a heroic code of conduct, and wherever possible we’ll shy away from the things that people associate with the concept of ‘Superman’. We know it’s embarrassing and awful, this whole ‘superhero’ thing. Just bear with us. We promise we’ll give you some explosions later on.”
“We’re sorry you’re watching a Green Lanern movie. We don’t get the character or care about him either. It’s so retarded and gay. We’ll just… we’ll just try to get this over with fast, alright? We’re really sorry that we’ve produced a movie with this character in it.”
“We’re not going to do Wonder Woman. There’s not enough ways to apologize for that.”
Whereas Marvel? They’re super-heroey as FUCK. They make no apologies, nor do they feel they need to. Gun-toting raccoon? Walking, talking, ass-kicking tree? Green-skinned warrior woman? Norse god? Flashy robot suit? Fuck yes. Let’s do this, let’s have fun with it and presume that an audience who is paying to see a super-hero movie WANTS to see a super-hero movie and doesn’t need any snide dismissal of the concept from the filmmakers to feel okay with it. They’ve demonstrated that they’re okay with it by paying the price of admission.
Marvel embraces the joy and the madness of it. DC cringes from it like a nerd that’s gotten too many wedgies from the schoolyard bullies and has promised not to like the things he likes anymore.
I could not disagree more. To be sure, I agree, Marvel does have the advantage over DC because they’ve proven their strategy works, which in the same token, makes it a tad unfair to DC. Anything DC tries to do will be viewed through the prism of, “Well, that’s not how Marvel did it and look at how great their model worked!” Isn’t it okay for DC to have a different model? Certainly, I agree, they have to prove that different model, but they shouldn’t, in my view, be lambasted for simply having a different approach. And to the author’s point, I disagree completely that DC’s approach is the apologetic movie studio, afraid to admit they are making superhero films. With Marvel, you know you’re getting fun superhero films; they are the truest form of the genre. And I love those films. With DC, you’re going to get more grounded-in-reality films with superheroes. They are two different approaches and if someone doesn’t like one or the other, that is okay, but why try to make it seem like DC’s afraid of calling their superhero properties, superhero properties?
I admit, I am more of a DC guy myself whether in comics, live-action films or their animated films. I just prefer their characters more (Superman, hello) and their approach to the live-action films. I like the grittiness and the trying to transcend the superhero genre approach. That doesn’t mean I like Marvel’s live-action films any less; I’m just saying they are two different styles.
Now, as a nerd, I’m going to sit back and enjoy Marvel and DC’s healthy competition, as it continues to produce more and more kick-ass superhero films.