For the past five years there have been five DC films and eleven! Marvel films (eight of the eleven Marvel films I have enjoyed immensely.) But it’s not that the fact that Marvel has eighteen and counting movies under their belt that makes them a better franchise all around but DC seems to willingly want to keep their franchise less liked by constantly cranking out mediocre superhero movies. I mean, let’s think about the comparisons of the two superhero franchises.
Marvel’s First Movie: Iron Man
Iron Man came out ten years ago and, for the most part, it was a good movie. Yeah it’s now available for free on subscription services like Hulu and Amazon Prime but that’s not because it’s essentially a bad movie. It’s just old. A movie featuring a character like Tony Stark’s Iron Man could’ve easily been a flop but with the genius casting of Robert Downey Jr. he managed to make the movie not only enjoyable but a global success.
Marvel’s first movie was a home run and an exciting precursor to what was to come.
DC’s First Movie: Man of Steel
Now, I for one, actually really enjoyed Man of Steel. It was an enjoyable film, the music was epic, the story was well executed, and Henry Cavill’s Superman wasn’t wack. A lot of people, however, did not feel the same way. They felt that Man of Steel was, in a word, terrible. This is the first movie that the new DC universe debuted to the world and it was not getting the excited buzz that Iron Man had obtained five years before.
So, what’s the difference between these two debut films? Why did Iron Man work where Man of Steel failed? Well, first off, Iron Man was a better executed movie. It conveyed a story that people could comprehend and when you have a character who’s as lovable as Tony Stark you can’t help but enjoy the movie more. I hadn’t even seen Iron Man and Iron Man 2 all the way through as a child and he had become my favorite superhero because he was that cool.
With Man of Steel I didn’t get that same love for Superman as I did for Iron Man. I enjoyed the movie but I didn’t love the superhero. I think that’s the difference. If Henry Cavill could’ve made Clark Kent as lovable as Robert Downey Jr. did with Tony Stark people would’ve probably met the movie with more praise than criticism.
Now, let’s look at DC’s next film: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
First of all, the name of this movie should’ve simply been Batman vs. Superman, not Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The name for this movie sounds like a Batman vs. Superman sequel, except there wasn’t a prequel.
Secondly, you can feel that the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) was rushing their stories forward without taking time to develop story lines between this film’s main characters, Batman and Superman. Man of Steel was a film about Clark Kent becoming the world-saving hero that he is, Superman, but it didn’t convey the hate he was garnering from those watching him “save the world.” So here you have this movie that introduces characters like Batman and Lex Luthor who hate Superman because, while he saves people, he also gets innocent bystanders killed in the ruins that he leaves behind.
This is the same story line for Captain America: Civil War (hilariously both films came out in the same year) but this is why Civil War was a much better movie. It took twelve previous movies and three major world ending events (the New York battle in The Avengers, the Hydra plan in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the Sokovia Battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron) to get to the point of Civil War. When an Avengers mission gets more innocent bystanders unnecessarily killed the governments of the world can no longer stand on the sidelines and let the Avengers keep conducting their missions in such reckless fashions.
By this point in the Marvel story you have clear proof of the Avengers’ mistakes and all of the damage they have done through the years. It makes Captain America: Civil War a weighted story and it makes sense that The Avengers are finally answering for their less-than-heroic actions.
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice had the same concept but it didn’t have the twelve previous movies to back it up. We’re forced into this idea that Superman has made all of these people angry without being given a clear story on why Batman despises Superman so much, or why Lex Luthor has such a passionate hatred toward the Kryptonian. Now if we had been given at least two previous films, a debut movie for Ben Affleck’s Batman that illustrated maybe his distrust in this new superhero, Superman, and another movie introducing Lex Luthor Batman vs. Superman would’ve undoubtedly been met with better reviews than it ended up getting.
Secondly, the story was sloppily made. The writers were focusing so hard on setting up Justice League that they forgot to focus on the movie at hand. It led to a scrambled movie that wouldn’t set its feet on solid ground for anything. It kept bouncing from story line to story line without settling on the plot at hand, Batman vs. Superman! The only time the movie was kind of consistent was during the final battle between Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Doomsday but by that point your brain is already tired from the rest of the movie. Wonder Woman was the film’s only saving grace and she was barely in the movie! But here comes the next question.
Why Was She In the Movie Again?
We get it. Wonder Woman is awesome, yay, but did she really have to be in the movie? It was as if the writers knew they had a flop on their hands and decided to force her into the mix to make the movie somewhat enjoyable.
When new characters appear in Marvel films there’s a reason why they’re in the movie. When Black Panther appeared in Captain America: Civil War it wasn’t just because it was setting up his standalone film, Black Panther. He was in the movie because his father was murdered by who he thought was Bucky and he wanted revenge. Spider-Man was also brought into the fold not only because, once again, Marvel was setting him up for his debut film, Spider-Man: Homecoming but because Iron Man needed him for his team.
Wonder Woman was in Batman vs. Superman for no reason other than to set up Justice League and her film, Wonder Woman.
Now let’s talk about DC’s highest acclaimed movie so far: Wonder Woman.
I have to admit, I didn’t like Wonder Woman that much and it’s not because the movie wasn’t enjoyable. I watched this movie for my birthday last year and I had a great time. It was a fun experience in IMAX and it was amazing watching a movie with a female superhero at the helm. In fact, I got teary the first time I watched the No Man’s Land sequence. But even though it was the most well executed DC film yet and was met with tons of praise there was a major problem with this film that I couldn’t ignore.
At a pivotal point in the movie Diana Prince and Steve Trevor have their last conversation. It’s supposed to be a turning point in the film with their relationship as Steve Trevor tells her that he loves her but it’s ruined as he glorifies himself over her. These are nearly his exact words.
“I can save the day, you can save tomorrow.”
How sexist is that?! This movie is about Wonder Woman and yet he’s the hero?! His “noble” sacrifice is supposed to be the moment that makes Wonder Woman the heroine that she is today? It completely ruins the entire idea of the movie celebrating Wonder Woman’s evolution as an Amazonian warrior princess turned hero of humanity.
Here’s the equivalent of that horrendous scene. That’s like if in Black Panther a white guy (excuse my bluntness) saved Wakanda rather than Black Panther himself. It would’ve ruined the glorious ethnicity of the film and the message the movie sent that we, as black people, can be heroes too without the aid of anyone. And yes, Everet Ross, played by Martin Freeman, was a major character in the film (he was only the second white guy in the movie besides Andy Serkis’s Ulysses Klaue) but neither of them stole the spotlight away from the movie’s predominantly black heroes. Once again Marvel got it right.
Wonder Woman could’ve been an exceptional movie but when you have men writing the story of a female superhero of course you’re going to get that unnecessary sexism that once again conveyed that men are better than women, in a subtle-but-not-so-subtle way. It’s such an unfair development for her character and it’s made me never want to watch the movie again.
And Finally, Justice League
Justice League should’ve been great but DC cannot seem to get the formula right for anything. When you have characters as cool as Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and The Flash (and revived Superman) all in one movie you would think that would be the ultimate recipe for success but, unfortunately it wasn’t. Let’s conduct another Marvel vs. DC comparison here.
When The Avengers came out in 2012 I was already familiar with every single character that was part of the superhero team. Iron Man had already had two movies, Iron Man 2 including Black Widow who had a major side role in the movie as a S.H.I.E.L.D agent. The Hulk, even though he was played by a different (and better actor I might add,) also had his own film prior to The Avengers. Captain America was in possession of his own standalone movie which covered his origin story. And Thor also had an origin story film of his own while introducing in a brief cameo role, Hawkeye, to the mix of things as well.
When The Avengers came around all of the heroes’ back stories and personalities were already covered and so all the writers had to do was place these strong personalities together and have them fight Loki, a formidable villain who also had debuted in a previous film, Thor. This is where, once again, Marvel wins and DC fails.
Justice League introduced three new characters that we knew nothing about, forcing the writers to have to convey parts of their back story and their reasoning for wanting to save the world rather than focusing on the clearest story at hand, defeating Steppenwolf. It’s why the movie was met with such horrendous reviews.
Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were the only characters with movies of their own which means of course they were already developed. There should’ve been a Cyborg movie, an Aquaman movie (which is coming out this December,) and a Flash movie. Then when the superheroes would’ve come together to form the Justice League it would’ve undoubtedly been a much better situation than it actually ended up being.
The only character that I feel got some decent development without taking away from the over plot of the movie to defeat Steppenwolf was Cyborg. His story was conveyed perfectly and he actually ended up becoming one of my favorite characters in the film. Aquaman’s development was lost in the seaweed and he ended up becoming just an annoyance rather than the cool character that he should’ve been.
The story for Justice League, beyond just the character plots, was terribly simple, the CGI was horrendous, and Superman was terrible! I should’ve come away from Justice League feeling like DC finally got the formula for a great superhero franchise but it only took the franchise three steps back.
I wish I could say something highly positive about the DC Universe’s movies but I can’t. Not only has Marvel done everything that DC has done in a better fashion but they have eighteen movies in their reservoir and nearly all of them, even Ant-Man, are better than the five movies DC has presented so far. And they’re not stopping!
Avengers: Infinity War is going to come out in less than three months and Ant-Man and the Wasp is going to debut shortly after that, both films of which I know will be enjoyable.
Marvel is the superior franchise and I’m waiting for DC to stop trying to be Marvel, make their movies in their own way, and make them good. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll prefer a DC movie over Marvel but that possibility seems to be far in the future.
I thank you for reading about my opinion on the Marvel vs. DC dynamic and I hope you have a glorious day.