Marvel and DC have both churned out more than their share of superhero movies. To its credit, Marvel has worked on a pretty solid formula, while DC has often struggled to find its identity. DC had a head start with the early Batman and Superman franchises, but those films don't exactly have the same voice. To Marvel Godfather Joss Whedon, however, there is a method to DC's seemingly scattered approach. When asked about it, he was very nice too.
Speaking at Comic Con to Screenrant, Whedon praised DC in a rather diplomatic manner when asked a question about Marvel's perceived superiority.
"I don’t think I would say that. I think that would be a little presumptuous of me. I think that both studios have kind of different agendas, different ways of approaching the superhero genre, and the ethos of the thing, and the esthetic. They go very dark and serious and sometimes it works amazingly, and Marvel tends to be a little lighter. Both have movies that I adore, and both have movies that I’m like… [pained expression]. Including bits of my own. I would not want them to do what Marvel does. I like what they do when they get it right. When you get a Heath Ledger, and Batman Begins, and those things that really grip you. That’s something nobody else is doing, and I like it. I want them to do what they’re doing."
This just in: Joss Whedon loves Jonah Hex.
Whedon is right when he says that there's a different, more serious approach within DC, not only within their stories, but in their budgets as well. Even when they're not very good, DC goes all-out with their superhero movies, spending like crazy and allowing directors free reign over their characters. Marvel's approach has been to suss out talented, low-budget filmmakers and let them play in the Marvel sandbox, while keeping the costs usually around $150-$175 million (for sequels, they'll spend a good amount more). But DC has made some of the most expensive films of all time with their superhero stable, without the sense of humor that buoys most Marvel movies. You walk out of Marvel movies with a smile. DC, thus far, has tried to send you out with a bit of a frowny face.
The key, going forward, is diversity. Marvel's got a unique brand that allows them to dip into different genres with their movies. DC is bringing all of its heroes together, but it won't have anything for certain until we know which filmmakers will be granted certain characters and what approach will be taken. Maybe the proposed Shazam will be apocalyptic, and Wonder Woman will be a lighthearted farce. In discussing DC's identity, Whedon might have been charitable because the truth is the studio may not have one yet.