5 Pros and Cons to the DCEU and MCU
With the never-ending wars between DC and Marvel fanboys raging on and on, I thought it would be cathartic to go through what exactly is causing all the “Marvel sucks!”, “DC sucks!”, “Marvel’s too kiddy” and “DC’s too serious” debate. Hopefully this article will prove just as conclusive as the fan arguments of ‘Because he’s Batman’ or ‘The Hulk could beat anyone, even Superman!’ – okay, hopefully it’s a bit more factual than that.
So, without further ado, let’s cause some more arguments:
5 Pros of DC Movies
DC has certainly made a point to go in this direction to reduce any comparisons with Marvel. The stakes feel justified in a DC movie. You feel any of the characters could die or be seriously injured by the transpiring events. This is important for the audience as it keeps us engaged in what’s going on instead of looking up at the screen and waiting for the heroes to win…again.
While not always hitting the high marks we want them to, at least the DCCU has attempted to tell different and non-formulaic movies. The superhero movie genre has become over saturated with the same type of story over the last few years; having a different guy in a suit each time isn’t good enough. We need variety, innovation and new ideas to keep us in the cinemas. It may not always be great but I think we would prefer a little trial and error instead of the same safe, formulaic stories we seem to keep getting in other films.
Now this is a point I firmly believe DC has over its competitors. They have some of the best villains in all of comic book and film history. It’s the reason characters like Batman have remained so popular over the years. The Joker for example is up there with the greatest villains ever created because he is such a malleable character. DC can call upon a plethora of villains to go up against their heroes and most of the (non-comic knowing) public will know who they are.
This new DCCU is very much in the learning stages at the moment. With the Justice League fast approaching we will begin to see just how far they can take this new universe. Many had ‘mixed’ opinions on Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad but for the people who enjoyed them (and even those who didn’t) you can’t deny there are so many different, exciting possibilities that could be explored with the characters they’ve chosen as well the exciting introduction of future major characters.
The fact that the ’S’ symbol of Superman is one of the most recognised symbols in the world today is a statement of just how influential DC’s golden boy has become. Superman, along with Batman and Wonder Woman, make up the ‘Holy Trinity’ of superhero teams. This enduring popularity and iconic status have kept DC and its characters in the annals of pop culture since their inception. Simply put, make a film featuring any of the aforementioned characters and you have a guaranteed interest, or more specifically a guaranteed box office draw.
5 Cons of DC Movies
While not following the Marvel way of things was a bold move, it has ultimately caused a mixed reaction from fans and critics alike concerning the direction DC films are going in. From an outside view, it may seem that DC is eager to catch up with Marvel and compete with them head to head on the silver screen. One can only imagine that if DC took their time and planned out their movie universe more carefully these early entries could have been met with more favourable reviews.
MISSED THE BOAT
With the vast influx of Marvel movies there seems to be a real panic amongst the heads at DC. This is probably the main reason for every other con on this list. The fact that DC are trying so hard to capitalise on the popularity of comic book films is actually hindering their own goals in the process. They have to realise that the foundations have to be strong before spreading themselves further. Comic book movies will always be popular amongst fans and the general public. However, they are smart enough to see when films are solely being pushed out just to keep up with a rival.
NOT ENOUGH FUN
A common criticism for the DCEU has been the lack of humour or levity in their films. Batman Vs Superman for example was heavily criticised for this. Some fans have been clamouring for the charm, smiles and jokes of the Reeve era. Although Cavill has been great in the role of Superman, this has been a sticking point with some fans. While the brooding and dark sided nature of Batman is considered the norm for that character, people want to see a more approachable Man of Steel.
TOO MANY COOKS
This is something that has clearly damaged the opening films in the DCCE. Reports of studio cuts and director cuts are always a sign of troubled productions. This is clear for all to see in the structure of the films we have gotten. They seem to be veering all over the place in what they want to be. Do they want to be serious, dark impactful stories or do they want to tell entertaining, fun and more commercially viable films? There are sections in the movies which greatly complement either of these structures, but they then suddenly try to be something else. This is an extremely tight rope to walk and is very hard to make work. The heads at DC seem to have a decision to make; either they trust their directors or they hire yes men hacks.
OVER-RELIANCE ON ESTABLISHED HEROES
The constant reliance on DC’s biggest heroes has always been a disappointment. Whenever DC panic or need a profits boost, they know they always have Batman and Superman to push out. There are signs of improvement with the introduction of the Justice League, however some of the characters are not even getting their own film before teaming up. They are making sure everyone knows that Batman and Wonder Woman (thanks to BvS) will be assembling the team. When they eventually give these characters their own stories to tell I really hope they keep it as just that.
5 Pros of Marvel Movies
A massive reason Marvel has had so much staying power in the box office has been thanks to their ‘Phases’ strategy. They made sure to set up their universe slowly and carefully before going all out with the team up movies. There have been some misses along the way, as there was always going to be, but the hits have been so huge that most have just forgotten about the misses. The bottom line is Marvel have done it the right way in terms of setting up a universe.
Another reason the box office has always been kind to Marvel is the light hearted, family friendly approach to most of their films. You are always guaranteed a fun time for all the family with Marvel and you will certainly get your monies worth from the action set pieces and one-liners from your favourite heroes. I don’t think anyone has got tired of watching Tony Stark make his sarcastic and droll comments about his team mates, let alone the villains.
From the career renaissance of Downey Jr to the discovery of Chris Hemsworth, Marvel has certainly done a great job with their casting choices. At this moment in time it’s hard to see anyone else playing the established characters in the MCU. Each character has become very popular amongst the fan base, even ones that maybe could have fallen by the wayside e.g. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. The fact Downey Jr turned Iron Man from C list to A list is a testament to how important casting the right actor for the role can be.
Although this has already been wonderfully explored by Marvel (i.e. Guardians of the Galaxy) with the introduction of Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Captain Marvel to name a few, Marvel are clearly showing a statement of intent to start moving into different and challenging directions. This is not to mention the possible introduction of The Defenders into the MCU and if you’ve seen Daredevil and Jessica Jones on Netflix you’ll know how exciting that is.
From seeing Cap fighting Iron Man to Ant Man going all Giant Man, there have been some truly memorable moments in the MCU, and that was just in Civil War. Marvel know what the fans want to see in their films. They know the iconic covers fans have dreamt about seeing on the big screen all these years. While seeing buildings fall down and cities levelled has become the norm for these types of films, Marvel has begun to realise that it’s the personal moments that make it truly engaging for all moviegoers.
5 Cons of Marvel Movies
While the Marvel world is certainly more upbeat you can always rely on DC to bring you down to earth with a loud thud. When watching a Marvel movie you can never really feel any sense of danger for the main characters; the stakes are just not up to par with DC movies where you feel anyone could die no matter who they are. Marvel have had the opportunity to kill off even minor characters but had them come back anyway. This creates a sense that there is no possibility of death or danger for the heroes.
A major sticking point amongst fans and critics alike has been the strength of the Marvel villains. Apart from Loki there really hasn’t been a memorable villain to cause any trouble for our heroes. They have all been relatively standard stereotypical obstacles to be shunted aside. This has to change in future. With Tom Hiddleston making his final appearance as Loki in Thor: Ragnarok, I’m sure Marvel will be hopeful that Thanos will become the next major force to be reckoned with. After all this build-up to get to him, he’d better be.
This may seem a little counterproductive considering the amount of money it has made Marvel over the years, but the Marvel formula does need to change. We have seen enough movies with the same plot and structure for almost all their heroes. The villain has the McGuffin which the hero needs, the hero gets the McGuffin and then hero and villain fight it out for the McGuffin. There is obviously a bit more to it than that but you get the general idea. I’m hoping with the new characters Marvel is introducing this means new stories to follow.
Subtlety has never really been one of the strengths of the Marvel universe. The themes explored in the MCU are often so glaringly obvious it seems pandering at times and they often just spell it out for you. This may be due to the fact they know a large section of their target audience are children so they have to do this. If they could think more of their audience and have a bit more ambiguity in the stories they tell, it would be a better experience for all involved.
Over the years there have been many reports of studio interference and the directors finding it difficult to make the film they wanted. This has of course often resulted in the weaker films of the MCU; the most recent example being the ejection of Edgar Wright from the Ant-Man film. We will never know what kind of Ant-Man film we would have got with Wright in charge, but no one can say that there’s a very high chance that it would have been amazing. Who knows how many more times this has happened? Favreau stated that studio interference hindered his experience on Iron Man 2 as another known example. Let’s hope this is the last time we hear of this kind of conflict.