By Shelby Hailstone Law
You know Marvel’s winning when the panelists take inventory of DC fans in the audience at the beginning of the event and only about five people cheer. You know they’re winning by a landslide when the event starts with: “It’s never too early to boo for DC.”
Still, as the discussion went on, both the audience and the panelists realized that, hey, DC might be losing on the movie front, but their TV shows have something to offer. Let’s break it down.
We started off the movie discussion with a pretty clear statement: “It’s pretty one-sided at this point.” So, rather than discuss with movie universe is better (coughcoughMARVELcoughcough), we launched into a discussion of why DC isn’t doing as well as Marvel.
According to the panelists, two “asinine decisions” brought DC to this gritty and underwhelming place. First, they decided not to tie the shows into the cinematic universe (though DC does have the multiverse, which makes simultaneous universes possible). Second, no jokes. At this point, there are only rumors about executives declaring a ban on humor (to which one panelist responded, “if you think that’s true [the DC no-jokes rule], you’re insane”), but even diehards have to admit, DC isn’t as fun (or funny) as Marvel. (Maybe they got scared off of funny after Batman and Robin and Green Lantern?)
Take The Dark Knight. Everyone at the panel agreed that it was the best-made superhero movie, that it was breathtaking and gorgeous and engaging, but, well, after you see it, you kind of want to “sit in your car and stare out into the abyss.” Why can’t we have DC movies that are engaging and fun? They don’t have to be funny, but we should at least feel heroic, right?
But hey, it’s Batman. Batman’s the night. Surely we can forgive dark Batman as long as DC doesn’t try to make everything gritty and—oh. Wait. Yes, Man of Steel, we’re looking at you and your awful decision to make Supermen a gritty, scary person. Batman’s the night, but Superman gets his powers from the sun! Shouldn’t there be a night-and-day difference? As one panelist put it, “Superman II had the same villain but made you feel like Superman was the hero you want to become, not the one you should fear.”
(This does bring up an interesting premise for the Batman v. Superman movie: Batman’s one rule is don’t kill, and Superman broke that rule, so we do have some believable tension now.)
Don’t get us wrong, though – we love DC. They have the most recognizable heroes in the entire world. We’d just like them to use those heroes. After Batman Begins, there should have been a Superman Begins and a Wonder Woman Begins (oh yes pleasepleaseplease do a Wonder Woman Begins because we have waited far too long!) and a Flash Begins and so on until they built their Justice League. Batman Begins was their Iron Man, but they didn’t do what Marvel has done so well—characters.
Marvel is great at characters. They took a movie with a talking tree and a raccoon and made you cry! They make you care about B-listers and even Z-listers, while DC can’t even manage to make movies about their very famous A-listers who aren’t named Superman or Batman.
BUT there is hope for DC.
“Agents of SHIELD was the one time Marvel looked at something DC was doing and copied it.”
Let’s be honest. DC is rocking the television scene right now. Arrow is phenomenal, and the Flash spinoff looks amazing! Even pre-Arrow shows like Smallville were beautiful.
The thing we really love about these shows probably isn’t the storyline (summed up beautifully by: “Every time I turn on Arrow, it seems like two people are having a really deep conversation and then a ninja jumps in”) but the Easter eggs. We’ll watch Arrow and geek out over “ohmygosh he said Bludhaven!” or “Hey, wait – did he just reference the bad guy I think he did?”
DC TV shows do what the Marvel Cinematic Universe does well: they mix it up. Marvel’s movies all feel different and separate from one another—look at the difference between Captain America’s movies! And DC television does that from season to season to keep the audience’s attention. (For example, another beautiful summary, this time of Smallville: “I’m starting to get bored of Clark and Lana—OH LOOK – GREEN ARROW!”) The DC shows are fun to geek out about – and isn’t that what we were just asking from their movies?
Marvel, on the other hand, is just starting into the TV stuff. Agents of SHIELD was decent but didn’t really pick up until after the Cap 2 tie-in (which made the whole show 100 times better, if we’re honest), but they’ve got lots of new things to try. They’ve got Agent Carter coming out as well as the Netflix premieres of all our Defenders in their own shows.
Basically: “This is a great year to be a geek.”
Let’s be honest: “DC Animated kills Marvel Animated.”
This was my childhood: Justice League, Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Teen Titans, Superman: The Animated Series. Bruce Timm, y’all. That whole universe is a thing of beauty. Even their most recent series (especially Young Justice) are phenomenal.
Sadly, there is this thing called Cartoon Network. And they are mortal enemies of the DC fan. They are the evil masterminds behind the cancellation of your favorite DC Animated shows, most notably Young Justice and Teen Titans. (Seriously, you’re canceling Young Justice because it doesn’t sell toys? Print me a tee shirt; I’ll buy that faster than any action figure!)
Sure, Marvel has Avengers Assemble right now (in my opinion, a far-inferior show to the one it replaced, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes), but it’s got a long way to go before it gets even close to touching DC on the animation front.
Maybe we should just let the DC Animated team run the movies?
Who do you think is winning the Marvel/DC war?