So we here at Apartment 113 are a bunch of nerds, and we like our comic book shtuff. For me personally, I’ve always been a fan of the superhero-verse, all universes included (DC and Marvel in particular). And I don’t have to say too much about the differences between the two most popular superhero movie-verses to introduce this article, right? We all know that Marvel has seen gobs and gobs of success pretty much spewing out of its ears, nose, and mouth, while DC hasn’t delivered anything good since Christian Bale portrayed a smaller, less CGI Batman. As it stands, Marvel is everyone’s preference, while DC is the underachieving sister that everyone wants to be successful, but can’t do anything right.
But I look at things from a perspective of 20 years from now. That’s one of the first and main ways I non-biasedly (because everyone’s biased towards Marvel at this point) evaluate the worth of a movie: how will it be looked at 20 years from now? And I’m sure you can appreciate why I do this, since we can all agree that some of the movies that make our all-time favorites list were bashed by audiences and critics upon release, but are now iconic cult-classics. From this perspective, let’s assess the worth of Marvel and DC movies on this more neutral, non-biased playing field.
People nowadays ADORE Marvel movies, they’re like, America’s greatest pastime, and are of course deeply appreciated and recognized worldwide for their entertainment value. Why is this the case? Well, first of all and perhaps most importantly, they’ve developed characters that we’ve all come to be emotionally attached to as fans. It’s harder to fail with characters that people care about on the big screen in front of them. And of course the stories written around these characters and the action and adventures that ensue within those stories are very well written and developed.
But I believe that in the long run, none of these factors will contribute to these films as being memorable. I think that with time, people will start to see past everything these movies are accomplishing with regards to setting up this immense universe and presenting us with these deep characters. What is there to see beyond these accomplishments? I’ll probably be hung for this, but I truly believe that these Marvel movies will look and feel very cheesy and campy once the cinematic universe is wrapped up and takes a rest.
I look at these movies as being our modern day versions of the classic Superman films, the ones starring Christopher Reeves. Those first 3 movies were cutting edge technologically, captivating in their storylines, and were thus films that impressed many audiences worldwide and were near and dear to many fans’ hearts, much like today’s Marvel films. But looking back, those Superman movies were beyond cheesy and just all over the place with the writing at times. But, they’ll never be looked at as cinematic atrocities. I’m personally a huge fan of those movies as most people are till this day.
This era of Marvel movies will likewise never be looked at as bad movies. But will forever be cherished as representing a golden age for comic book movies, and admired for what they accomplish and for how much they became a part of so many people’s lives. But at the same time, people will look back at them and be able to see through the nostalgia and realize that they were simple, cheesy, fun, and cute, but will always be classics that lead the way in a culture that we all got to be a part of.
The DC comicbook universe offers an immense lore of characters and story arcs for the cinematic universe to pull from, so compelling stories and profound character arcs aren’t to blame for DC’s less than positive criticism. What’s the difference between Marvel and DC?
Well to examine any movie that is disappointing to most audiences without the influence of popular criticism of fans, we have to return to the basics of what makes any film generally and relatively “good”, namely: writing, directing, acting, production, and other aspects of film of that nature. We can all agree that DC movies are beautiful to look at. But what people complain about is the “dull” tone, the relatively flat character development and motivations, how the movies go out of their way to be dark and gritty to the point where everything’s either over the top or very underwhelming. There isn’t very much writing at all, Zack Snyder as a director is more concerned with aesthetics it seems, and the actors do their best with what they’re presented, but because of this they also fall flat. This is how DC movies are criticized, and I personally echoe those sentiments.
However, a lot of these criticisms and hate are spurred from DC being under Marvel’s shadow. People develop certain expectations for superhero movies now because the way Marvel handles the genre is the standard and reference point by which all comic book movies are measured. While I do hate that the direction the DC universe is taking feels like a knock off of Marvel, the feel and direction of the movies themselves chose to step outside of that scale Marvel set, and what we end up with are seemingly somber movies that do just enough to entertain us.
But looking at these movies non-biasedly, taking a time machine to 20 years from now, I have this feeling that, while Marvel movies will be looked at with sentimentality and nostalgia and be saluted as a part of cinematic history, DC will be looked at as a series of cult classics that tried to go against the grain. We feel these movies are low energy and tonally inconsistent now, but I feel that years into the future, we’ll realize that these movies were just very mature and patient. They are misunderstood because they choose to make the audience think, instead of holding their hands like Marvel movies do.
I compared Marvel movies to the classic and iconic Superman films of the 70s/80s because they’re campy but lovable and did a lot for fans and for the film industry as a whole. For DC, I can’t help but think of DC Movies as the “Fight Club” of our generation’s comic book movies. Fight Club wasn’t a comic book movie, I know, but just think of the response it got when it first hit theatres in America: weird, nonsensical, poor character development, inexplicable story arc, tonally inconsistent, sound familiar? It took a while for people to see the admittedly strangely directed movie as a cinematic masterpiece. Give DC films a decade or so, it’ll take a generation or two who isn’t blinded by a strong love and attachment to the polished, by-the-books Marvel movies to recognize that DC was aiming to be subtly intense and profoundly smart; that these movies aren’t trying to be good comic book movies, but rather have the goal of being good movies with comic book characters in them who just so happen to have super powers.
What do you think? How do you think these movies will be viewed in 10 or 20 years? Share your thoughts below!