Lately Marvel Comics has taken the spotlight when it comes to the superhero movie genre. Pumping out hit after hit, Marvel seems to be really hitting their stride in their movies, and with plenty more films planned over the next several years, the studios making their films will not be slowing down. Marvel’s success recently has greatly outshined that of their prime competitor, DC Studios. Many fans and critics of the genre seem to greatly favor the films of Marvel to DC, but today I am here to argue that DC actually makes the superior movies. DC struck out with many fans and critics in 2016 with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Both movies were extremely profitable, but seemed to disappoint on a critical level. Both films were looked down on while Marvel’s properties succeeded on all fronts with films like Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, and X-Men: Apocalypse. I personally enjoyed last year’s DC films a lot however. I would give DC’s films the edge personally over Marvel, and I’m going to tell you why.
1. DC Takes Things More Seriously
DC has always used darker themes and ideas in their films, something Marvel has strayed away from in their films more recently, mostly in an attempt to remain as family friendly as possible, but in doing so they certainly have made me take their heroes far less seriously. Take Marvel’s Civil War for example. The film had very serious themes and serious situations. There was global terrorism and the bombing of innocents for the heroes to deal with. But they just didn’t take it seriously. In the largest superhero battle to ever take place on film, heroes fought against each other to stop each other from completing their goals, but they approached the situation very light heartedly. Marvel had the heroes crack jokes and not seem to take the fight seriously at all when in fact they probably should have. Only a few heroes left with some scrapes, and that’s about it.
DC on the other hand tackled serious situations completely differently with Batman v Superman. There was real fear, real death, and real social issues being addressed in the film, and it took them very seriously. People actually die in this film, something Marvel seems to barely showcase, that death is a possibility. The film uses it’s themes seriously, and I think it makes it more interesting and realistic. It just makes a better movie when heroes show legitimate concern in what they fight for than when they crack jokes to each other in what should be a serious confrontation.
2. We Must Give the DCEU Time to Develop
The DC Extended Universe just began in 2013 with Man of Steel, and has since only released two other films. DC has a lot of catching up to do to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which began all the way back in 2008, and has since released 14 films. Marvel has had years to develop complex stories and characters, while DC has had only a few years to plan their Universe. This is mostly due to the fact that DC wished for Christopher Nolan to finish his critically acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy, which began in 2005 and ended in 2012. The first three movies in the DCEU were met with generally favorable reviews. DC’s Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad all received scores of 7.1, 6.7, and 6.3 on IMDb, respectively. The first three movies in the MCU, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 2 received scores of 7.9, 6,8, and 7.0 on IMDb, respectively. The MCU has a 21.7 out of 30 on its first three films whereas the DCEU has a score of 20.1 out of 30. These numbers are fairly comparable and should bring hope to DC fans. The MCU didn’t truly start making waves until all of its heroes came together in 2012’s The Avengers, when it went on to become one of the highest grossing films of all-time. With DC’s hero collaboration, The Justice League, slated for a 2017 release, hopefully the DCEU will help realize the Universe’s true potential.
3. DC Has Far More Interesting Villains
Marvel has enjoyed great success in its films, but they are quickly running out of villains, and it’s showing. The MCU already has used up its most interesting and powerful villains like Loki, Ultron, and Red Skull. It’s current biggest villain is Thanos, who most people know very little about, and has been hinted at since an after-credit scene in The Avengers. With most of Marvel comics greatest villains currently owned by Fox in the X-Men franchise, the MCU will likely never see some of Marvel’s best villains, which is damaging to Disney’s Marvel Studios. Marvel has already received flak for lackluster and generic villains in films like Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. I mean, they have such few good villains that the heroes actually spent a whole movie fighting each other in Civil War. DC on the other hand has plenty of excellent villains that still have yet to be implemented. Most people can name numerous Batman villains alone, not to mention Superman’s Lex Luther due to return. Other villains from the rest of the Justice League’s members have yet to be introduced currently. DC has a much greater backlog of villains to draw from at the moment, and time is ticking on Marvel’s uncreative villains.
4. DC Studios Owns All of Its Major Characters
DC having a single consolidated film universe for all of its characters is a huge advantage that they will certainly press on Marvel. While Marvel certainly has plenty of characters to work with, not having the characters owned by Fox is a huge blow to the stories Marvel can tell. Fox’s two biggest properties are the X-Men related characters and Deadpool. Deadpool did well last year, but that’s just it, the film did well for Fox and their Marvel Universe, not for Disney’s Marvel Studio’s Universe. This creates disjointed and conflicting universes where characters who regularly interact in comics will never meet on the big screen. Some of the biggest characters in Marvel comics like Wolverine, Magneto, Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Deadpool, and Mystique all have their own universe where the other Marvel characters have their own. Especially since the X-Men have some of the biggest villains in Marvel comics, which I touched on earlier. Disney’s acquisition of Spiderman and his related characters from Sony a few years ago was huge, because before that there were three Marvel Film Universes. However, Spidey and his crew might not be enough to breathe new life into the MCU’s villain arsenal. DC owns all of its characters, and we’ll certainly see plenty of fresh heroes and villains alike for years to come in its films.
5. Marvel’s Films Lack a Sense of Danger
One problem I have is that Marvel seems to keep ignoring the fact that heroes are not invincible in its films. Without fear of death for a character, a viewer can never really feel invested in a character’s danger. Disney’s films are the main offender of this sin. One feels as though characters are never in any real danger in any of these movies because you just know a hero won’t die In The Avengers for example, Phil Coleson, a regular human and SHIELD agent, is killed by Loki, a very somber moment in the film. This is until later on he is revealed to have survived (somehow), and he is now the center of the television show Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Things like this completely takes away all sense of danger for any future hero. Marvel also announces films years in advance featuring character’s names, so you know that they will not die until at least that movie, ruining any real danger they are in in any movies until that point. DC announced only a few of its planned films so far, a smart move. DC puts its heroes in truly perilous situations. In Batman v Superman the city of Metropolis, home to millions, is flattened. The Capitol Building containing hundreds of innocent people is destroyed in an attempt on Superman’s life. Superman actually dies at the end of the movie, though it’s hinted strongly that he will return by some means. Many characters are killed in Suicide Squad too. DC presents actual deadly consequences to its characters, something which vastly enriches to superhero film genre, and makes a viewing all the more intriguing.
6. The Dark Knight Trilogy
DC has their work cut out for them over the next several years to compete with Marvel in new films, but DC’s back catalog includes the greatest series of superhero movies ever made: The Dark Knight Trilogy. Marvel has never come close to replicating or even competing with the Trilogy’s acclaim. The second film in the series, The Dark Knight, is so good that it is often referred to as one of the greatest films of all time by many. Christopher Nolan took a serious and dark approach to Batman, something the character needed after several Batman movies in the 90’s nearly ruined Batman’s image as a serious hero. The films benefit from excellent direction and performances, most notable by Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger in his career defining role as the Joker. No film in the series has below a 8.3 rating on IMDb, with The Dark Knight having a 8.9. The Dark Knight is the fourth highest rated film on the site, a feat that no superhero movie may ever beat. Marvel’s highest rated film on the site is The Avengers with an 8.1, lower than even the lowest film in the Dark Knight Trilogy, Batman Begins. This trilogy makes a great case for DC when considering older movies as well. This trilogy of gold brings me to my next point…
7. Marvel Can’t Successfully Complete a Trilogy
Marvel has attempted to create several film trilogies in the past with overarching stories, but none have been finished well. The original Spiderman trilogy began with two excellent films, both holding ratings of 7.3 on IMDb, but the third film flopped critically, with only a 6.2 on IMDb. In fact the third installment in the series is despised so much, that it nearly ruined the careers of its stars, and forced Sony to reboot the whole series only a few years later. The original X-Men series had a similar problem. The first two films were received very well(and are two of my favorite movies), receiving scores of 7.4 and 7.5 on IMDb, respectively. However, the third installment received only a 6.7, not exactly awful, but the film is loathed so much by fans that Fox actually started the series back up with a fourth installment, which actually erases the events of the third film by means of time travel changing the past, making it so the film never technically happened. Ouch. The MCU’s only trilogy currently, the Iron Man trilogy saw a strong first film with notable weaker sequels. The point is, as it stands, no film series or standalone film by Marvel or DC has even come close to the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and people will always think of that trilogy when thinking of superhero movie series. This gives DC a major edge when comparing the back catalogs of the two companies film adaptations.
8. DC Has Superior Classics
Before the comic book movie revolution started by X-Men in 2000, superhero movies weren’t as common as they are today, and before 2000 DC ruled over Marvel. The Original Batman film in 1966 starring Adam West as Batman, while very campy, is considered a classic. The first two Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve as Superman remain iconic to this day and were both well received. Director Tim Burton’s Batman films are iconic as well, and set the standard for Batman movies. Both movies were fairly critically successful and saw great financial success as well. Michael Keaton set the standard for playing Batman with his fan favorite performances. He reigned as the superior Batman until Christian Bale largely dethroned him for that title with The Dark Knight Trilogy. During this classical period of superhero movies Marvel only released five films, and only one was received well, Blade. But does anybody really looks back on older superhero movies and thinks of Blade? I greatly doubt it. DC outright made the better films until the 2000’s, without question. To me this gives the company major edge when comparing the companies’ full catalogs of movies.
To conclude, I would just like to say that I thoroughly enjoy the films of both Marvel and DC properties. I really do. Growing up in this superhero movie renaissance of sorts has exposed me to some of my favorite movies, heroes, villains, and stories. However, in the face of Marvel domination, I resist the status-quo. I stand behind DC and most of their films, and feel I have made a solid case for why DC makes better movies in some cases. I particularly stand against the MCU because Disney is just peddling lifeless and recycled stories at this point, but that’s just my opinion. Please do not discount DC and their films. I ask us all to give them a fair chance with Justice League and the films to come, and I think we’d be better off for it.