Cinematic showdown: Marvel vs. DC

Opinion Piece

Alex Winter, Staff Writer

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There’s no denying Marvel has had both critical and box office success over the past decade, whereas DC has only achieved the latter.

Marvel broke out in 2008 with the release of Iron Man featuring Robert Downey Jr. as the protagonist Tony Stark. The movie was well received, currently sitting at 7.9 stars on IMDB, and using that movie as a jumping point, Marvel has branched off to create a large expanded cinematic universe of 20 movies. Marvel has also branched out to create TV shows, such as Daredevil which is one of the highest rated shows in history. With DC Comics’ massive success from the Dark Knight Trilogy, which started with the release of Batman Begins and ended with The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, they branched out to create the DC extended universe (DCEU) starting with Man of Steel and TV shows such as Gotham and The Flash.

Both universes had successful launches. After Iron Man, Marvel divided their movies into multiple phases that act as chapters in the MCU. In phase one they struggled with some average movies, but in phase two knocked it out of the park with almost every movie. Phase two they delivered Guardians of the Galaxy which proved to audiences that comic book movies could also be comedies. They also released Captain America: The Winter Soldier which is considered to be one of Marvel’s greatest films. The success of Marvel’s movies can be partly attributed to the fact that they were both well-received by critics and were coming out consistently twice a year.

DC followed Man of Steel, which received mixed reviews at first, three years later with Batman vs. Superman, it received poor ratings and, even though it was a hit at the box office, left a bad taste in the audience’s mouths. In fact, most of the DC movies were hits at the box office, averaging over $200 million per movie since 2005, but failed to please critics and the general audience. Another pothole for DC is their inconsistency to stick with one tone for their universe. In 2017, Justice League had characters like Batman completely switch personalities from dark and brooding to witty and comical throughout the Justice League.

One major difference between the two is that Marvel’s stories are generally about ordinary people humans being granted powers. DC, however, focuses on God-like superheroes protecting humanity. Over time both companies have copied each other’s ideas for superheroes, like DC coming up with Aquaman after Marvel came up with Namor, and their themes have become less distinct but it’s still a differentiation that’s especially present in both cinematic universes today. The biggest example is between both of universes’ best movies, Man of Steel (DCEU) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Man of Steel revolves around DC’s most famous character, Superman, and through the plot he has to make choices to save humanity, while the Captain America movie is showing how one man, who happens to be an enhanced super soldier, can stop a threat for the greater good while protecting his friend.

In summation, DC has a strong setup and the company looks like they have learned from their past movies and releasing movies like Aquaman which was very well received by audiences and critics alike. When compared to Marvel, DC is nothing but in a few years they’ll be a real competitor that Marvel can’t ignore.