Some thoughts on the DC and Marvel movies of late

While there are a lot of other decent comic book companies out there, the two big ones are still Marvel and DC. Those are the companies with cartoons, who have characters that people who don’t read comics might actually know. I’ve been a DC fan for most of my life; not to the exclusion of Marvel, but more by way of personal preference. This has slowly been shifting with recent events.
DC Comics did a line wide reboot a bit over two years ago now, and I didn’t like almost every change they made. Not only that, they are already contradicting themselves in their “new” world. Marvel did a bit of a reboot, but it was more re-launching titles and reorganizing teams. My preferences are slowly shifting. This is certainly true in their video projects.

For tv shows at present, I’d have to say they are tied. Marvel has Agents of SHIELD on ABC, which is doing fairly well in its timeslot. It’s not perfect, and a lot of folks complain about it, but it’s fun and has some good visuals. They’ve also made it a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the group of movies featuring Avengers characters (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk), even tying in an episode with the release of Thor II in December. DC has Arrow on the CW, a version of Green Arrow. This, too, isn’t perfect, but it’s enjoyable for the most part, and has had a fair amount of guest stars from the DCU on the show, and others mentioned in passing. Both Marvel and DC have more shows in production, but I don’t have any firm dates about when they’ll actually start airing. Both companies have had many cartoons, all of which for both companies seem to be in hiatus as I write this.

Then we get to the movie schedule for 2014. Marvel has Guardians of the Galaxy coming out. “Guardians” features a lot of obscure characters in space. The movie was teased at the end of Thor II, and there’s been a lot of speculation as to what will happen in the film. I admit, I’d be happier if these Guardians has anything at all to do with the comic book team I used to read (I think only one of them made it to the screen), but I’m at least mildly curious, and it holds the momentum of being part of the Avengers/Marvel cinematic universe.

Also from Marvel this year is Captain America II: Winter Soldier. This is Cap’s second feature film in the current franchise, and will show Cap, as well as Nick Fury and Black Widow. Making their theatrical debuts will be the Falcon, long time Avenger and former partner of Cap in the comics, and the Winter Soldier, from a really big (and fairly well done) story a few years ago in the comics.

Before the Avengers juggernaut got going, Marvel had broken up their film rights, so different studios have different movies coming out. Aside from the above two, later this year will be X-Men: Days of Future Past. Ambitiously, this movie will show the younger cast of “X-Men: First Class” and also the modern day characters from the three X-Men movies. Days of Future Past was a great story in the comics many years ago, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with it. While there’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong, I’m hoping they do it well.

Rounding out Marvel’s various releases this year is the second Amazing Spider-Man movie. I had my doubts when they rebooted Spider-Man, especially so soon after the other trilogy of movies which I really enjoyed (well, except the third one. That was just bad). I was pleasantly surprised to see Amazing Spider-Man was fantastic, and I’m eagerly awaiting this new one.

Looking across the hall, DC has… nothing. That’s right, while Marvel’s various interpretations are coming out with four movies, three of which I’m really excited about, DC is managing nothing. Marvel’s movies recently (from Iron Man forward, I’d say) have been great. In roughly the same time period, DC has done Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, and Man of Steel. Jonah Hex was horrible. I’d have said it was hard to screw up a cowboy movie, but they did. It was part steampunk, part supernatural, and almost nothing whatever to do with the character from the comics. Green Lantern was closer to the comics, but had too much going on as well as being miscast in my opinion. The movie was just plain bad. Also, interestingly, while Marvel is tying their movies closer together, DC went the other way in Green Lantern, with at least one line that made it sound like at the very least, GL and Superman were in different universes. That was a puzzling choice. The reactions to Man of Steel varied a lot. Some loved it, some hated it. I’d say it was a decent action movie and a horrible Superman movie. Tellingly, in the credits, the character is billed as Clark Kent/Kal-El. Maybe even they knew this wasn’t Superman as many enjoy the character.

The only DC movie buzz this year is about the forthcoming Superman vs Batman movie. It won’t be this year, and, last I heard, it was going to be delayed. There was also a lot of negative reactions from fans upon hearing that Ben Affleck will play Batman. Affleck was in the Daredevil movie in 2003, and it was really not a good movie. Many are surprised he’s doing another superhero film.

So, my once favorite company is really falling behind. DC had, overall, made more money in movies until the Avengers came out. Avengers set and broke box office records, and the movies associated with it continue to come out and do well. I can understand not wanting to seem as if you are copying your biggest competitor. But the Marvel/Avengers movies are doing well, and it’s working. Does running in the opposite direction make sense?