A friend asked me what I thought about an article that was discussing the differences between DC and Marvel’s films and why you’re rooting for the wrong company. A typo-filled rant is what followed. Surprisingly, it isn’t one filled with hate, but rather compassion and love for the medium themselves (film/comic).
To be honest, I have always been more of a DC fan at heart. Comics-wise, DC’s universe always felt more like a family to me. Not in the corny way, but more in a familiar way. It is just warmer. The stories seem more wholesome, even when the Joker is literally killing a short bus full of handicap children just for the fun of it. Or raping one of his henchmen’s girlfriends to prove a point. It has always felt like a grittier, darker, sicker home to me. Now, Marvel on the other hand is broader. It is brighter and larger in scope. The major characters are fine, but the only ones I’ve ever connected with are Ben Grimm and Peter Parker, sure you have awesome team-based comics, and fantastic galaxy-spanning stories, but it just seemed to flashy to me while growing up. I’m in love with both companies and have read just about every comic to be published by them in the past 15 years.
With the films, DC has had one problem. Warner Brothers. They own the rights to the films, and they have always stuck their hand in the cookie jar. There has never really been a truly good DC live-action film (maybe the exception of TDK). They just don’t trust their talent and don’t seem to grasp the importance of staying true to the rich material they have at their disposal. They are thinking about making money, not making a film that will make money FOR them. Look at the GL film. The GL mythos is my favorite in the DC universe. Hall Jordan is tied for my favorite human* hero (Nightwing is second. Batman is GOD, but Dick Grayson is fantastic), and I was excited to see that hero and mythos come to the big screen. You know what? WB screwed the pooch. They changed the story too much. You know you’re in for a bad time when Blake Lively (who’s last name is in stark contrast to her boring acting ability) is playing one of the most progressive characters in the DCU and RYAN REYNOLDS is cast to play a gruff, serious, womanizing, daredevil of a man and you write the film as a comedy. The best part of the film was seeing my all-time favorite GL come to life (Kilowog–Google him, poozer), as well as perfect casting for Sinestro and Amanda Waller (I wanted her to be fat, but I dug the new look). Everything else about that film was goofy and comedic. Why? We’re talking about the same company that originally wanted to make a GL film as a comedy with Jack Black as the lead. They didn’t understand the source material and instead were set on a comedy from the get-go. A man finds a wacky alien ring! They never cared to give it the time of day because they feel the mythos is too childish. It is the same reason why we still haven’t gotten a Wonder Woman film/TV show. They feel that you can’t just have a demigod from a Warrior race of females be a diplomat. I mean, just look at the new 52 WW comic book. They could easily set the show/movie among the Greek Pantheon. It would involve contemporary versions of classic heroes and villains while WW takes a road trip through Olympus and mythical situations. THAT isn’t marketable. She’s a female. This is how WB see’s their characters. It is also why you have a show like Arrow, where the lead isn’t the billionaire, highly trained hand-to-hand combatant emerald archer from the comics. Instead, he is a gritty, murdering sociopath. They made a murderer out of Batman and gave him a bow. They take shitty ideas and screenplays they bought for little to no money (this same tactic lead to the horror franchise boom in the eighties) that have nothing to do with any existing franchise/property and add iconic heroes from the DCU in order to turn a quick buck and USE these scripts. They need a kick in the ass to do anything right; however, there is a bit of hope as the animated DC features are fantastic. They still change things from the very real, and very awesome comic book arcs they are adapting, but they do it out of necessity (and a bit of laziness).
Marvel, on the other hand, is different. While they seem to be doing well with their live-action films, their animated stuff is terrible (for the most part). You don’t believe me? Look at their one fantastic animated show(they don’t have any good animated films)–Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. You can’t because they cancelled it after being praised by fans for doing a great job. Why? Because toys. They weren’t getting toys sold fast enough because kids don’t have the patience to keep track of the adaptations of AMAZING story lines. One of which is going to be the basis for the Ant-Man film (and that means it will be amazing). Another problem that Marvel has is their property rights. Unlike DC, Marvel’s live-action rights are spread across Hollywood. This makes things complicated because they have to tailer their films around not having certain characters. Case in point: They wanted to put Scarlet Witch and Pietro (Quicksilver) in Avengers 2–they can’t mention their father Magneto or that they are mutants (that term is owned by Fox). You know the aliens from the Avengers film? They are the Chitari. They are the Ultimate Universe’s version of the Skrulls–a shapeshifting race of aliens that infiltrated the planet a few times, most notably during the Kree-Skrull war and the recent Secret Invasion. This ability of theirs, not to mention genetic engineering to mimic Earth heroes’ abilities would make for a fantastic villain, right? The end reveal would have been better in the film knowing that some of the higher ups, maybe even those people Nick Fury was speaking to on the screens, where actually part of a shapeshifting invading force, eh? Too bad. Fox owns the Fantastic Four. That means they own the Skrulls and a ton of other villains (including Galactus). While Marvel’s films are great, they get changed because of the tightrope act they need to do in order to keep from being sued. Which is why you won’t see a few of the more epic stories/characters on the big screen under the Marvel family. As you can see from the films, though, they differ more from DC. Marvel is owned by Disney now, which means toys. Now, Disney doesn’t hinder the films, but the look and feel of those films? They need to be bright, shiny, and larger than life. They also need to be believable, so as a result, you get these films that ignore the very real death of many characters and the more harsh implications of some of the character’s choices (Cap in WW2 with NO concentration camps, no Red Skull making speeches about a master race? No bloody battles/deaths in a Nordic setting full of gods that battle with hammer and blade? No bloody gashes during major battles? No alcoholism and torture for Tony Stark?) There is never any real danger in the Marvel films. That, coupled with the mandatory toy sales means we will NEVER see a hero die (and be brought back to life), especially not a main hero like Cap, even though it happens in the comics all of the time. We will never see Hulk crush a man, or Tony stark blow up a school. It just won’t happen. You think we will ever get a Civil War storyline on film? Maybe portions of it, but no matter how big the MCU gets, we’ll never have Nitro blow up a school in Stamford, CT. Even with Doctor Strange, we won’t see the gruesome demons and such. That’s the problem with Marvel. They think they are marketing to kids. The fact is, the kids DO buy the toys, but the parents/adults are the ones that buy and read the comics. The kids may watch the cartoons, and get the toys, but they only get the safe version of the characters that their parents show them. They aren’t reading Marvel Max, or even the latest storyline involving the Avengers trying to save the universe where Thor, graphically, throws Mjolnir through the chest of an alien. Or where villains torture, grotesquely disfigure, maim, rape and murder in the panels on the page. We will NEVER see an Avenger murder a person, or innocent bystander by accident, or in the case of Fear Itself, for pleasure. Regardless of whether they are being controlled by an outside force. Marvel caters to kids. They don’t cater to their customers.
I’m equally found of both comic book companies, but when it comes to films? DC wins with their animated films, while Marvel wins by default in the live-action category. Only time will tell if DC can get their act together long enough to put out engaging adaptations. With the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman in the Superman/Batman oriented sequel to Man of Steel, they’ve shown that they are taking the steps needed to really go for the gold ring. WB just needs to hire the right talent and let them do their jobs without interfering out of fear of the bottom line. If you hire people that understand the source material and allow them to craft an adaptation with the public’s trust and anticipation in mind, the money will come. As it stands, the route they are currently choosing definitely hinders any project before it’s even released. With that said, Marvel needs to understand that, while their films will sell toys to children, that is no excuse not to give your comic book readers –adults–the benefit of doubt and not try to change/cut out everything that makes the characters and their stories so compelling. Much like the lesson DC needs to learn, Marvel needs to heed what it has already learned and stop augmenting their properties. Especially when they have VERY graphic characters waiting in the wings to be released. I’m referring to Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy (which should be nothing short of amazing, but will undoubtedly be VERY kid-friendly), Nova Corps, and Ant-Man ( this version has an old, bi-polar, psychotic womanizing wife-beater mentoring a young, alcoholic, thief).