The Marvel Cinematic Universe began its ascension to the top in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. While at the time it was considered a risky move by the movie company, they were able to make it a success by carefully plotting out and staying true to his origin.
From there, the company brought Captain America and Thor to the silver screen and after modest success, they united their heroes in The Avengers. It was The Avengers that was the turning point for their universe and after its release, Marvel hasn’t looked back. Through careful planning and construction, Marvel was able to piece together its universe.
I have no doubt that DC had the same intention. After all, what company wouldn’t want even a small taste of Marvel’s success? But the way in which they did it leaves something to be desired.
Problems from the get-go
It isn’t news to anybody but DC rushed their universe to market. Frankly, I can’t blame them. If I saw my longtime rival achieving monumental success in my genre, I would do whatever it took to catch up.
The problem was that DC films were only out to catch up. They weren’t out to redefine the genre or add anything new and exciting to it. Worse yet, hey did it in 4 short years. Having such a truncated timeline didn’t provide enough opportunity for DC to flesh out their characters through a backstory or give the audience any time or reason to care about them.
When Marvel launched The Avengers, I felt a deep-rooted connection with Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. I knew them. I knew their troubles and why they were as they were. Sadly, I didn’t know the DC characters. I had no reason to care about Ben Affleck’s Batman or Henry Cavill’s Superman. Due to this, when it came to watching them on the screen, I just didn’t care enough about them.
There is no better example of this than DC’s attempt at their own version of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Suicide Squad. This movie placed a whole bunch of characters that nobody knew together, introduced them in 2 minutes each and begged that we care about them. No one understood why they weren’t together, nor did they understand the purpose they served.
Suicide Squad quickly became the definition of why the DC films are failing.
Time is of the essence
If you asked me which company would succeed in cinema before this started, based on the characters chosen, I would’ve told you DC. DC had a golden opportunity and missed it. While Marvel was busy assembling a group of B-List characters, DC was doing it with their A-Listers.
- Wonder Woman
It’s now obvious that Marvel was right. They put together a group of heroes that had no expectations of success. These characters weren’t their popular ones so Marvel could introduce them to a whole new generation and not fear fan backlash.
Too many people know about the characters they used. Ask any non-fan who Superman or Batman are and they will be able to tell you. Ask that same person 10 years ago who Iron Man was and I can assure you a blank stare would follow. Knowing what I know now if I were Warner Bros. I would’ve started with The Flash and Aquaman and then introduced the others.
Justice League could have waited
Justice League should’ve happened in 2019 and not 2017. It shouldn’t have introduced three characters in its truncated two-hour timeline. These characters deserved better.
Like Marvel, we would’ve paid to see them in a movie before they were assembled. DC is set to lose money on Justice League me I will argue until I’m dead that this would never have happened if the characters were introduced properly.
I’m reminded of the Tortoise and the Hare. Without being too prophetic, slow and steady wins the race. DC films need to slow down, assess and then reassess what is happening and what has happened. They need to stop trying to make money and start trying to make good movies. That’s how Marvel is doing it and that’s how people and companies come out on top.
Hook on a feeling
DC needs to scrap the idea of this dark universe where everything is going to shit. Parents don’t want their children to see that. I know for a fact that if given the choice between the fun-loving Spider-Man Homecoming and Man of Steel, my brother is taking my nephew to Spider-Man.
Marvel makes kids movies that are entertaining for adults.
- Pixar does this.
- Disney does this.
- Dreamworks does this.
DC doesn’t do this.
Children are what drive the industry. Do you think Marvel is successful only because of the movies? No, Marvel is successful because of all the stuff that kids want after seeing the movies.
These movies are the heroin that gets children hooked on the brand. If DC would learn this lesson, they would find themselves on top of the cinematic world like Marvel.
More than any of these, Marvel characters are relatable. Captain America is a man out of time, Iron Man is a man struggling with himself, and Thor is a God looking for his place in the world. I can’t say the same for the DC films.
Superman is a God who stands tall over his fellow citizens. Batman is a wealthy playboy, who uses everything he has to his advantage. And Wonder Woman? Well, Wonder Woman is the most relatable character DC has and in truth, nothing bad can be said.
What I’m trying to say is that any one of us could see ourselves in the exact place that the Marvel characters find themselves in. We can envision ourselves as if we were them. This is what has made Marvel so successful throughout the last 60 years.
The DC relatability just doesn’t shine through in their universe.
Is it too late or is there still time?
Oh, there’s still time.
They proved it with their introduction of Wonder Woman. That movie alone tells me that they know the formula for what works in a cinematic world. They just need to replicate it with each movie, while changing the sub-genre the movie speaks to.
Within the Marvel Universe, we have had a Spy Thriller (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), a Heist (Ant-Man), a comedy (Guardians of the Galaxy) and so much more. The Warner Bros. DC films need to do this. They need to vary what they are doing.
As it stands, their movies are very predictable. In fact, I can tell you how they will end before they end…giant, orange-firey background with the heroes battling the villains. DC needs to look into their laundry list of characters and start using them. And more than that, DC needs to stop playing catch up and start focusing on doing things right.