Why Marvel is leaving DC in the dust

Batman vs Superman is getting tons of attention lately, especially now that we know that it’s leading to a Justice League movie. The DC/Marvel rivalry has always existed, but thanks to the smashing success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the flames of that rivalry have been fanned higher than ever, and Batman vs Superman is WB’s bid to carbon copy that success. However, I have the distinct feeling that it’s not going to work out for WB for a variety of reasons. So, without further ado, here’s why Warner Bros and DC are destined to always churn out second-rate film franchises compared to Marvel.

1. Their tent pole heroes are played out. How may times have we seen a Superman movie? How many times have we seen a Batman movie? Between Batman and Superman alone, there have been 6 reboots, counting conservatively.

“I’m Batman! No, I’M Batman!”
“Lol, guys.”

Literally the only thing that Batman vs Superman has going for it is the novelty that neither of the characters have ever been seen together on the big screen. But beyond that, you’re basically combining a Batman movie with a Superman movie…nothing really new there. It’s the same, tired characters we’ve seen 30 times before in the last 25 years, the same themes, the same villains. And the proof…

2. The numbers look huge, but they aren’t really impressive when adjusted for inflation. These movies aren’t really making as much money as their predecessors. Accounting for inflation, Batman Begins was out-grossed by Batman Forever, which many people consider to be the beginning of the end of the franchise until Nolan came along. If The Dark Knight hadn’t received the Ledger death bump, 1989’s Batman would still be the highest grossing Batman movie. The story isn’t much better for Superman. Adjusted for ticket inflation, 1978’s Superman out-grossed Man of Steel by almost $200 million. If you want to take a look at the numbers, click here and here.

3. Goyer, Nolan, and Synder don’t understand superhero films. I’m going to call out Nolan right here and straight up say that The Dark Knight wouldn’t have been such a huge movie if Heath Ledger hadn’t died. Sorry, Nolan fans, but that’s the truth. I’m not arguing that Ledger didn’t give an awesome performance, but rather that interest in the movie in general probably wouldn’t have been nearly what it was if he hadn’t died. And there’s a simple reason for this: DC directors aren’t making superhero movies, they’re making dramas with superheros in them. Quite frankly I don’t give two shits about the themes regarding terrorism, surveillance, and the post 9/11 world that Nolan wove throughout his Batman trilogy. Nobody goes to see a Batman movie to get a lecture about how the Bush administration and the patriot act were really successes, or about how government spying is blah blah blah. Stop using Batman as your political soapbox, Nolan. And the same goes for you, Snyder. Nobody goes to a Superman movie to see him kill someone and then wrestle with the consequences. People go to superhero movies to forget shit like that and to see good triumph over evil. And that’s why Marvel is such a bonanza–they’re actually making superhero movies.

Marvel doesn’t use their characters and movies to preach about politics or remind us how shitty and complex it is to be a human being. They use their characters and movies to tell engaging, fast-paced stories with interesting characters you root for and who highlight the things about the world and people that we DO like and that we DO want to root for. The result is a movie that is actually fun to watch. In The Avengers when our heroes finally come together and start kicking major ass in New York, set to the the wonderfully awesome music of Alan Silvestri, my spirits rise and my adrenaline goes up. When Nolan’s Batman spends three movies whining about what a burden it is to be a hero, I want to Bat-slap him in his fucking face.

4. WB is flat out ignoring the most interesting DC heroes. I’ve already spent an exhaustive amount of time detailing why the novelty of Batman and Superman has worn off, and in what terrible directions Nolan and Snyder have taken the characters. So thank god the Justice League movie is starting off with…wait, what? Why the hell is WB starting the Justice League with Batman and Superman?! Take a page from Marvel’s playbook. Thor, Iron Man, Captain America. They all worked because we’d never seen them played out in a movie before, and whenever they have popped up on television or film their characters weren’t really done justice. If WB and DC really wanted to generate interest in a Justice League movie, they would make a film about this woman:


Or this guy…

But no. Instead of getting something new, fresh, and exciting, we’re treated to more of the same old-same old. WB took the most interesting character in the movie with the most potential for telling a new story–Wonder Woman–and reduced her to a cameo appearance. They also recently announced the casting of the character Cyborg. But is he a star in the film? Nope. Instead of getting to see a Cyborg smash a bunch of bad guys, we’ll probably get two and half hours of Batman and Superman fighting each other for the title of “whiniest, most depressed Superhero who lost the most.” Zzz…

5. Speaking of heroes, Marvel has more compelling characters than DC. Who would you rather go see a movie about? A guy with a sweet iron suit that shoots rockets and all sorts of crazy shit who happens to be a billionaire genius, or a guy who can talk to fish? Or how about this one: would you rather go see a movie about the god of thunder and his invincible hammer or a movie about some guy that can run really fast? When stacked side by side, Marvel characters are just more interesting and fun to watch. The Flash and Aquaman are just stupid characters. Sorry. But a guy whose anger turns him into a giant green rage monster who gets stronger the more pissed off he gets will always be more fun to watch than some guy who has deep conversations with dolphins. When it comes to heroes, Batman is pretty much the only guy in the DC pantheon that has any real depth to him. An orphaned billionaire detective crime fighter? Yes, that’s interesting. But Bruce Wayne doesn’t have more depth than, say, Captain America. Or Bruce Banner. Or Tony Stark. Sorry, but DC heroes just can’t go toe-to-toe with Marvel heroes.

“Let’s explore the duality of human nature and the fragility of the human psyche.”
“I swim with fish!”

I don’t think much else needs to be said.


10 thoughts on “Why Marvel is leaving DC in the dust

  1. Marvel really is doing pretty tremendous right now. Personally I do like the DC movies alright but they certainly should improve a little bit. I have faith in Superman Vs. Batman though. I like your blog, I’d love it if you could take a look at my page

  2. I agree with most of this, although I think Nolan is brilliant. I have loved all of his movies. His directing abilities are pretty amazing in my opinion. I will agree that his movies are not traditional superhero movies, but I also appreciate adding depth to characters because it seems like the more adult thing to do. When I was a kid I love the simple good vs. evil thing, and I still do sometimes i.e. the avengers, but I do also like thinking about these heroes as having a conscience, still having human components of their persona that they wrestle with. Batman with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson was fun…for me The Dark Knight was engaging. I can appreciate both sides. 🙂

    1. So diplomatic :-P.

      I guess I’m not saying that Nolan’s Batman is “terrible” per se. All the actors in the trilogy were certainly high caliber (with the possible exception of Katie Holmes…yuck). I just don’t personally see why people go gaga over his films more than the others. I guess it represented a major tonal shift away from the previous two films, but then again Burton’s Batman represented a major shift away from the campy Batman of the 60’s that preceded it.

      1. Nolan’s Batman is not his best work. No matter how good a director is, taking a story that is already well established I think constrains the creative process. There is only so much you can change Batman and the surrounding characters. (I agree about Katie Holmes too).

        But Memento, The Prestige, and Inception are some of my favorite all time movies. I can literally enjoy them every time I see them.

  3. I think this post hits the mark pretty well.

    The Batman movie/s I have enjoyed the most, and I am not such a fan I remember which, were the one/s with Jim Carrey as the Riddler and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. It’s funny I remember the bad guys moreso than the good guys… But I can remember these two bad guy characters standing out, having a deliciously evil bad guy appeal, vs. the somewhat lame good guy Batman routine.

    1. I know I’m in the minority, but I actually prefer Nicholson’s Joker to Ledger’s…maybe I’m just biased because it was the first Joker I was exposed to,t he one I grew up thinking of as the Joker.

  4. Marvel has had so much success, I find it hard to believe that WB DC will be able to match them. I do love the DC characters, and I’m looking forward to seeing them, but I doubt they’ll meet my expectations.

    1. I haven’t completely given up on Batman vs Superman. I’ll most likely end up seeing it to sate my curiosity, but I’ll admit my expectations are definitely low.

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