Why is everybody versusing? My sister once asked me. What with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last March, and Captain America: Civil War opening today. And I said, well why not? Pitting people against each other is a practice that has been around for ages. Team Edward or Team Jacob? Team Peeta or Team Gale? We love our teams. So here’s a question I am asking myself and you: Team Marvel of Team DC?
Marvel movies are generally lighter in tone, and more quippy. It also takes the fantastical approach with worlds that contain aliens, and robots, and mutants, and frost giants and kick-ass trees. DC movies tend to be darker and more serious, and almost always grounded on reality. Nolan’s Batman is a very clear example of that. The Joker is portrayed not as the goofy, cackly villain, I remember from my childhood. You know the clownish Joker with his exploding playing cards, and acid flower, and electrocuting joy buzzers. Heath Ledger’s Joker captures the idea of him as a psychopath, the disinhibition, the lack of empathy and remorse. It is absolutely sinister and emotionally disturbing, and tototally makes sense in the real world.
So is it all a matter of preference? Do you prefer the your superhero movies to be fun i.e. Team Marvel or serious i.e. Team DC? Well, I guess it makes sense why Marvel is miles ahead of DC when it comes to blockbuster movie making. Their movies, being lighter and funnier, appeals to a broader range of audience. Parents can take their kids to see Avengers and Ant-Man and Captain America. DC movies however appeals more to the mature viewers.
But I think Marvel is doing something more besides just making “fun” movies. They also know how to spin a very engaging narrative. Take Captain America for example, which I misjudged as something that won’t go beyond the first movie because The Captain is too much of an old fogey to fly with Marvel’s fun-loving crowd. He’s a stick-in-the-mud, conformist type and I predicted that he will be boring as heck. But no, Marvel aced it with a really compelling story, and a character development that actually centers around that feeling of being a fossil. And they put to brilliant use The Captain’s straight-laced personality, playing it against the radical ideologies of superheroes like Iron Man. So yeah, Marvel nails it when it comes to actually writing stories that are not only entertaining but make absolute sense no matter how fantastic they are. And having a really solid script also allows for a proper fleshing out of our comic book superheroes.
I can’t say the same for DC. They did score big with Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman. The whole dark, brooding, philosophical opera vibe truly made the character of Batman and his villains come alive. And the narrative is actually quite inventive and neatly laid out. Superman Returns and Man of Steel however were both dragging and lifeless. Green Lantern‘s (2011) plot was thin soup. Catwoman (2004) will forever haunt Halle Berry
Marvel also tend to be more of a risk taker, making movies of obscure characters. Never in a million years would I ever have thought about an Ant-Man (2015) movie making it to the big screen. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), I didn’t even know existed in the comic book world. Both of these risks paid off greatly. On pre-production are movies centering on unlikely leads like Doctor Strange, and The Black Panther. Fingers crossed that they nail it once more. Twice and thrice after that. Marvel’s track record isn’t blemish free though. We have Daredevil and The Fantastic Four movies to thank for that. And I think it takes guts to resurrect Daredevil and turn it into a TV show. I thought they’d never touch this character again. (I am sorry Sad Affleck!) But Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix is a killer show. (Season 2 is even better!)
But it looks like DC is finally cranking up their machinery with upcoming movies like Suicide Squad, Justice League, and Wonder Woman. And purportedly Aquaman, The Flash, Shazam, Cyborg, and The Green Lantern Corps. So yeah, I have high hopes for the DC Universe, movie-wise. I do hope they take a page from their CW TV series, The Flash (which I adore). DC can do “light and fun” you know. And Arrow is equally engaging, I am told.
But for now, consider me on Team Marvel.