Since the 1930s, Marvel and DC Comics have had a friendly rivalry which was limited to colored cartoon stripes but now that comic books have turned into box office records the common question that fans persistently argue amongst themselves is, “Who is winning the movie battle: Marvel or DC?” Well, that’s what we’re going to discuss. Although each company has their positive and negative aspects, Marvel is still leading the charge with comic book movies.
In DC Cinematic Universe, superheroes such as Batman and Superman seem to carry all the weight of humanity on their shoulders and they act out that way with more intensity. For instance, Christopher Nolan’s version of Batman is the darkest superhero adaptation on screen. Audiences have also noted the political undertones in the reboot trilogy.
Marvel films tend to take on a lighter note. The heroes are ultimately virtuous and shining rays of hope even with the wild playboy type personalities like Iron Man and Star-Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy). Both characters often lighten the mood, joking around in the midst of the action. Batman or Superman? Not so much.
Ask anyone to name two of the most famous superheroes in the world and almost unanimously the answer will be Batman and Superman. And they both belong to DC (Detective Comics). But why isn’t DC studio dominating the movies?
However, if we go back in time DC showed more promise when they made Superman in 1978 which became a box office smash and a classic among moviegoers. Furthermore, it brought Batman to the silver screen in 1989.
During this period, Marvel was too small and didn’t make a single movie. Even with the success of X-Men in 2000, Marvel faced financial difficulties and sold the movie rights of many of their characters (Spiderman, X-Men, Fantastic Four).
Brian Singer’s X-Men was the first comic book movie to be released since Batman and Robin (1997). X-Men was produced by 20th century Fox and was the movie that turned Marvel into a powerful studio producing more films like Blade, Blade 2, Spiderman, X-2.
DC didn’t really begin to focus on its superheroes until Brian Singer was pulled in to make Superman, which turned out to be more of a follow up to the original trilogy and Christopher Nolan was asked to reboot Batman.
While ‘Superman returns’ was made on a heavy budget, ‘Batman Begins’ was treated like an Indie movie with fewer spectacles and more drama. As history would have it, Superman Returns received mixed reviews while Batman Begins was critically acclaimed.
Unfortunately, part of the reason DC is in second place is because they got a later start. While Marvel began planning the Avengers with easter eggs at the end of their movies. For example, Iron Man appears in the post credit scene of The Incredible Hulk in 2008. DC, on the other hand, didn’t take the same approach to uniting its superheroes until 2013 with Man of Steel.
That’s because DC has eyed Marvel’s box-office success with envy and is now hoping to follow the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy with a new set of superhero hits. Working with parent company Warner Bros, DC released Man of Steel in 2013 to a solid $668m at the box office and next year sees the much-anticipated clash of the capes in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
This will reboot the Batman story with Ben Affleck taking over the lead role from Christian Bale and Jeremy Irons starring as loyal servant Alfred, previously played by Michael Caine.
But crucially, the film will also act as the springboard for other characters in the DC universe.
DC has struggled to score hits with anyone but their two Batman movies as it failed once again with Green Lantern in the very year (2011) when Marvel succeeded in introducing new, lesser-known superheroes to their cinematic universe i.e., Thor and Captain America.
This lead to Marvel’s biggest event in 2012 when Joss Whedon Co-wrote and directed Avengers and broke all previous records of superhero movies, grossing over 1.5 billion dollars. Critics and fans both loved the film. Marvel had invested much time establishing its superheroes and created popularity for the international audiences and it finally paid off big time.
Marvel believed in each of its characters and started investing money and talent into the properties. Unlike them, DC is only focusing on Batman and Superman while other superheroes are still standing in a queue.
Hence, Marvel defeats DC in the battle of movies not because it has better characters or better stories, they are both equal on those respects. Marvel beats DC because they are willing to take their lesser known characters including Guardians of the Galaxy and the most recent, Ant-Man and invest time and talent to make them viable film franchises.
In the end, if a studio does a quality job to their heroes, people will show up in rows to see the film and root for these superheroes regardless to how popular they are. The old saying stands true in this case, if you want to win big, you have to risk big.