• JuJu Ling

Marvel vs. DC

Is this even a debate?

Ever since I was a little girl, my dad had me watch superhero movies and introduced me to the various cinematic universes that existed. My favorite series must have been Justice League (TV series), which began in 2001 on Cartoon Network. I wanted to be Wonder Woman; a want so bad that on numerous occasions I tried to jump off mini hills and fly. I had the biggest crush on The Flash and his speed. The Joker was so sinister, so cool. It’s no coincidence that today, I’m still obsessed with superhero movies. The biggest question that everyone asks superhero fanatics: Marvel or DC?

source: DC Comics

If I’m going to be quite honest, for most of the world right now it’s an easy choice: Marvel. But why? Why is Marvel reigning so supreme over DC, when the characters within the DC universe are so loved and appreciated by so many? When you take a step back, I think the answer is clear. The first being: DC has always had to play catch up, forcing them to rush some of their movies. While DC flourished with The Dark Knight trilogy (a Christopher Nolan gem), these movies are separate from an entire comic universe. Each, a massive movie, but together they stand alone, apart from joining or relating to something larger. Christopher Nolan even stated he wanted his movies to stand alone from any comic universe. While these movies were being made and produced, Marvel was slowly creating their cinematic universe, projecting Robert Downey Jr. to the presence he is today.

source: Marvel

Marvel was able to create five movies to add to their universe in the time that the stand-alone Dark Knight trilogy was being made and finished. The Avengers (2012) became my go-to answer as my favorite movie during this time. The movie invoked feelings of pride and heroism within everyone watching. DC was able to release Green Lantern during the Dark Knight era, but this turned out to be a commercial dud (Green Lantern being played by a white dude. What?). Marvel already had established their universe, but DC now had to figure out a way to successfully create theirs.

source: Marvel

In 2013, DC released Man of Steel. Honestly, I was excited for Man of Steel. I truly was. Then I went to the theater with my family. I endured the movie, and I was disappointed. While Henry Cavill may be one of the most attractive people on Earth, this couldn’t stop me from noticing plot holes in the movie. The plot dragged, Russell Crowe’s appearance confused me, and the whole thing was a little too serious. I didn’t hate it, but when you already have a slew of Marvel movies to compare it to, it’s hard not to notice the difference in tone. I guess the feeling I had after this movie was...optimistic. It wasn’t god-awful; DC is just getting started. I thought, “They can improve.”

Then came Batman vs. Superman. This was DC’s attempt to really jumpstart their cinematic universe, and what an attempt it was. Man of Steel seemed incredible next to this battle between Batman and Superman. Honest questions: what happened during this movie? What was the point? Why was Wonder Woman there? What do I think of this new Batman? I had and still have so many questions. This is where it really felt like DC was playing catch-up. The plot was too forced and the character’s were too forced. In turn, we were forced to rely on our past knowledge of who the characters were to carry the plot in our heads. DC only half established everyone. DC let me down. I didn’t want them to, considering the Justice League was my childhood, but they just couldn’t seem to get it right.

source: DC Comics ^(See, this is in he dark. Why is everything in the dark?)^

The second difference that I think sets Marvel apart from DC is the cinematic style of the two universes. There are critics of Marvel’s universe in about every aspect of their post-production. Some say the pictures look cheap, some say the pictures look muddy, etc. While there is maybe a grain of truth to each of those, I think because of the overall stylistic arch over all the movies, the attacking should be lifted. Marvel’s movies are derived from comic books. Comic books are colorful, cartoon-ish, imperfect freeze frame shots of characters in action. Critics of Marvel’s “cheap” style are really just criticizing the movie for not looking like Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. Marvel is not trying to create beautiful, cinematic scenes, but rather intense VFX filled action sequences. CGI is used, but in my opinion, the style matches the comic style I’m looking for. The cinematic style within the DC universe is much closer to what some artistic directors would prefer. Instead of seeing all of the action, I feel like I see numerous close-ups of the characters expressions during action. The wide-angle shots of characters fighting against each other is important, and in my opinion, DC misses the mark. Additionally, they seem to film every action sequence in the dark. Kudos to the final battle in Man of Steel, probably the best action sequence in the DCU and filmed in daylight.

Much of these debates are largely up to personal opinion. Others can argue against me and I’m sure I’d be able to understand their arguments, but for now, Marvel is winning the superhero genre. What are your opinions on the comic universes?


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