The debate of DC vs. Marvel has persisted for decades; long before the modern prominence of superhero movies. That being said, the growing acceptance of interconnected superhero universes on the silver screen has kicked the argument into high gear. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe continue to expand (and don convenient acronyms like MCU and DCEU) many have begun to subscribe to the opinion that Marvel's head start and overall better critical performance means that they're winning this fight.
However, we don't think that the answer is quite so cut and dry. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of seven ways DC has actually begun to beat Marvel. The debate continues to rage, but these specific points could lead to a major shift in the war within the near future. Take a look at our list and let us know what you think in the comments section below. Now let's get started with one of Marvel's favorite storytelling tropes that DC has very smartly eschewed...
They Aren't Focusing On Origin Stories
"So you're fast." "I was brought to life by Zeus." "I hear you can talk to fish." While Marvel's origin stories tend to take up half of an entire movie, DC seems to have decided to charge headfirst in the opposite direction by distilling its Justice League heroes' origins down into easily digestible bits. Sure, we see the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne in Dawn of Justice, but it's not given more screen time than it needs. Obviously DC hasn't decided to forgo the idea of origin stories altogether, but they seem to have caught on to the idea that audiences have grown tired of seeing the same storytelling device used over and over again. Bring us up to speed as quickly as possible and let us watch the hero act like a hero; that's what we're really here for.
They Have Access To All Of Their Heroes
This particular category has become one of Marvel's biggest Achilles heels in recent years. While many Marvel characters have become scattered between Marvel Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Sony, Warner Bros. has access to every single DC character that they could ever want to use. Marvel had to aggressively sell audiences on B-list characters like Iron Man and Ant-Man because they couldn't give us more popular heroes like Wolverine and Spider-Man at first. On the other hand, DC can come out of the gate sprinting with heroes like Batman and Superman, and still give us B and C-listers with movies like Suicide Squad. Second-tier characters can still tell great stories, but the icons are a guaranteed box office draw.
DC Has Been Quicker To Embrace Magic And Fantasy
By the time Doctor Strange premieres later this year and brings magic into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios will have spent the last decade avoiding high-concept ideas like magic and fantasy by attributing almost everything in the MCU to science. In comparison, DC put its cards on the table immediately by giving audiences an alien in Man of Steel, a mystical Amazon princess in Batman v Superman, and several magic-based characters in Suicide Squad. Three movies in and DC has already decided to dive headfirst into the meat and potatoes of the comic book world, while the MCU continues to slowly dip its toe in. By trusting audiences to immediately get behind these fantastical narrative elements, DC has wasted no time in opening up far more doors for storytelling.
DC Is Beating Marvel On Television
Sure, we all love Marvel's Netflix series like Daredevil or Jessica Jones, but those shows release their episodes one day per year and take about a full weekend to binge. They're not built for the sort of intimate relationships that audiences develop with their favorite weekly series. In the world of network television, DC has managed to maintain a vice grip on audience interest with its Arrow-verse while Marvel has struggled with the cancellation of Agent Carter and the overall lukewarm presence of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Marvel's TV properties are by no means bad, but they clearly play second fiddle to the film projects.
The Filmmaker Driven Approach Fosters Creativity
In recent months DC has moved somewhat closer to the Marvel method of production by giving Geoff Johns more creative control over the film department, but the DCEU remains a firmly filmmaker driven environment. While the MCU opts for visual and tonal consistency between its films, the DCEU gives directors more stylistic control over the aesthetic of its movies. This means that projects directed by Zack Snyder, David Ayer, or Patty Jenkins all look and feel decidedly different from one another. As a result we see more opportunities for innovation and creative risk taking. Think of it like the differences between actual comic book artists; a book drawn by Jim Lee can exist in the same universe as one drawn by Greg Capullo, but they will look wildly different. This keeps things interesting, and it will ultimately help stave off the dreaded effects of "superhero fatigue."
DC Has More Stars Who Can Carry Franchises
There's no denying that Marvel has enlisted talented actors and actresses across the board. However, the MCU seems to rely more on the strength of an ensemble rather than any single actor alone. Despite their immense talents, actors like Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and even Robert Downey Jr. have more or less become known specifically for their work within the Marvel films. By contrast, the DCEU has enlisted the acting talents of far more bona fide movie stars to take on its own iconic roles. Big names with even bigger personalities, like Will Smith, Ben Affleck, Jared Leto, and Margot Robbie can all have the sort of mainstream appeal that is far less present in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
DC's Animation Quality Far Surpasses Marvel's
There's no need to debate this point; DC has definitively beaten Marvel in the realm of animation. As far back as Paul Dini and Bruce Timm's work on Batman: The Animated Series, DC has managed to produce high quality animation for film as well as television that balances maturity with jaw-dropping, colorful visuals. From Young Justice, Justice League, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and the recent theatrical release of The Killing Joke. I could go on but I think the point has been made; Marvel's animation is good, but DC's is exceptional.
Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.
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