Have I Converted? – Marvel Comics vs. DC Comics

With Marvel’s announcement today, rolling out their plans for Phase 3 of their cinematic superhero universe, we now know what both Marvel/Disney and DC/WB plan for the next few years. Interestingly enough, both feature solos movies for key minority characters (Black Panther and Cyborg) AND female characters (Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel). Both have major plans for a two-part “event” movie, mixing many solo characters together in one movie.

It’s very clear that DC has been desperate to follow in Marvel’s footsteps. The first Avengers movie made over $1 billion, making the year’s biggest money maker and rivalling the most successful Hollywood movies.

And yet, I can’t help but feel a little sad. Let me explain.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

See, growing up, I was a huge DC Comics fan. I loved their comics – especially Superman. I loved their Animated Universe series of cartoons  – Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, Justice League. Heck, even their direct-to-video animated movies later on were more hit than miss. Their live-action movies…well, superhero movies in general had struggled for a long time, until Blade knocked on the door and Spider-Man broke it down.  DC’s only major success (aside from Superman in the late 70s) were the Bat-films.

Even still, I loved DC. I loved their characters. I loved their mythos. Even though I liked and enjoyed many Marvel comics and characters, DC was unquestionably my bread and butter.

Over the years, though, something changed. I enjoyed DC Comics a lot less, most especially when they changed to the New 52 universe. The costumes were over-designed, the characters had much more angst, and the comics as a whole felt less like the DC Universe I loved and more like something Image Comics would produce in the 90’s. Not a positive comparison in my mind. While I still enjoyed their television cartoons, like Batman Brave & the Bold and Young Justice, I didn’t – and still don’t – really enjoy their animated straight-to-video movies. It could be because they’re now based on New 52 mythos.

Yeah, that was my reaction, too, pal.

Most damning for me, however, was Man of Steel. I was nearly adamant in my refusal to see it when I read that Superman killed. I admit that I liked parts of the movie when I finally saw it. But it was still overall a very dark, brooding, colour washed movie starring a Superman that wasn’t the one I grew up on. It was clear that Warner Bros was trying to do to Superman what they had done to Batman. Except Superman isn’t Batman and neither is the rest of the DC Universe.

Every fanboy’s dream was to see this on the big screen. They finally got it.

In the meantime, I’ve appreciated Marvel’s work more and more. Ed Brubaker’s phenomenal run on Captain America. Brewbaker and Matt Fraction’s run on The Immortal Iron Fist, Fraction’s Hawkeye, Mark Waid’s Daredevil, or Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s cosmic tales, like Annhilation and of course, Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel’s cartoons were suddenly better, like Spectacular Spider-Man or The Avengers. And of course, the Marvel Cinematic universe, which has been unquestionably more hit than miss. They took the idea of a comic book crossover and applied it to the movie. Ordinarily, I hate crossovers, but here it worked perfectly because each movie was self-contained and The Avengers was a culmination of all of them, yet still managing to be its own thing.

Now, Warner Bros and Marvel have announced their long-term plans for their respective cinematic superhero universes. Or in Marvel’s case, their continuation. Warner Bros plans for a two-part Justice League movie. Marvel, now in Phase 3, is rolling towards the long-planned, two-part Infinity War, which will undoubtedly have the Mad Titan, Thanos, as its main villain as he wields the Infinity Gauntlet.

Goddamn, that’s a great design. Can’t wait to see T’Challa in live action.

Given Marvel’s track record, I’m absolutely excited for what’s to come in the next few years. We’re still not finished Phase 2, which will conclude with next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. I love Black Panther’s design and I’m excited to see what they do with Captain Marvel.

DC and Warner Bros? Every new announcement, I just curl my lip in disgust. It all just sounds so drab, like they’re just doing it out of necessity to compete with Marvel. Superman/Batman just sounds like a mess, with talk of nearly every member of the Justice League somehow making an appearance, and with Doomsday as a villain. Ugh. Look, The Death and Return of Superman is one of my favourite story arcs, but Doomsday is not one of the reasons I love it so much. He’s a terribly generic monster (basically a grey Hulk with bones sticking out of his body) and the only reason he existed was to give something for Superman to punch and be killed by. He’s a terrible character. The movie as a whole just sounds like a mess. It doesn’t help that all I can think about is how drab and brooding Man of Steel was, where every time I see the DVD on shelves, I wince disgustedly.

That’s not the reaction I want for my favourite superhero or my favourite superhero universe. I want the reaction I get from a new trailer from Marvel. I want to be wowed and excited. I want to feel giddy like a five-year old to see my favourite superheroes on the big screen. I don’t get any of that from Warner Bros’ work.  I just feel this pit in the bottom of my stomach that they’re going to just do MORE to piss me off. Like, it wasn’t just Superman killing in Man of Steel. It was also how he reacted to that bully in the truck stop: rather than turning his cheek or handling it in a civil manner, he spiked the guy’s truck on a pole. That’s not Superman. That’s not Clark Kent. He doesn’t do petty revenge like a spoiled teenager.

And that’s what it feels like. Warner Bros is acting like a spoiled teenager trying to match what Marvel is doing and to me, they’re failing miserably. Their attempts to “catch up” feel rushed and forced. Their attempts to make all their superheroes like Batman is the wrong direction. In my eyes, they’ve yet to make a single correct decision. No, that’s wrong because I actually liked Henry Cavil, his look (not the costume) and performance. Just not the writing.

I don’t know if what I’ve said makes me a convert. But until DC reminds me why I love their superhero universe, I just have one phrase to use:

Make Mine Marvel

About Nick C. Piers

Writer and creator of the Armadillo Mysteries, I've had a passion for the creative arts all his life. I'm an avid comic book fan, a DDP yoga practitioner , and urban cyclist.
This entry was posted in Comic Books, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Have I Converted? – Marvel Comics vs. DC Comics

  1. Excelsior! It was sometimes strange growing up as a rabid X-Men fan alongside your love of Superman, but I can’t say I’m displeased with this turn of events. The only mythos I liked is DC was the Gotham part, and that was mostly due to the fact that it could be written so many different ways by different writers, and Marvels figured out how to do that themselves in the last decade. Making my extended loyalty an easy choice. Though it’s interesting that DC’s TV strategy has been so strong. I love, love, love Arrow, the Flash is pretty good, and Gotham stopped sucking and is inching closer to the Gotham Central TV series I was hoping for, and has my fav TV writer of all time Ben Edlund as a key writer, while Agents of SHEILD just leaves me kinda meh. .

  2. swanpride says:

    I honestly don’t see why one has to “stick” to one company or another. Granted, I am not a comic book reader, I only look at the adaptations both companies have to offer. Currently I prefer Marvel, too, in both movies and TV-shows. (in movies they wipe the floor with DC and in TV-shows they get the edge because while their shows are far from perfect they manage to stay away from tropes I absolutely hate, like love-triangles and a focus on will they or won’t they), though their animated shows are too juvenile for my taste.
    I get that it hurts to see what you love not doing well. But in my experience, a bad period is usually followed up by a good one. DC will either manage to get their plans together, or they will stumble, fall hard, and then regroup.

    • There’s something of a tribalism attitude among fandom (comics, video games, sports, etc) where you absolutely MUST support one and only one thing. Or at the very least, be a fan of one over the other. And I will admit that while I have preferred DC for a long time, I did still enjoy Marvel. I was a “DC Guy,” but did so without saying that Marvel sucked because that’s hardly true.

      I hope you’re right that there’s another good period ahead of us. With DC’s recent announcement of trying to be more inclusive and less hard-pressed on continuity, I think it’s a step in the right direction. Time will tell.

      • swanpride says:

        Honestly, I think that is just the vocal minority. To me it seems like most people are very satisfied when both companies do well (because that makes the fans the winner), they just become defencive when they feel that what they like doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
        To be honest, I am not too optimistic about what DC is currently doing…my money is on them falling on their nose and then they finally get their act together. That’s not what I want because I have waited for a Wonder Woman movie for ages. It’s just that Warner Brothers never managed to do anything good with something which wasn’t Batman, moviewise. The MCU is really a good thing for DC fans because without it, Warner Brother would most likely not even consider to finally look past their biggest money makers.

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