Marvel is Pimp Slapping DC at the Box Office: A Fan’s Perspective



Yeah, I know that to kick sand into the eye of the old gods is utter blasphemy. For that, I may burn in comic book Hades, but at least I’ll die holding onto my beliefs.

Marvel is DUSTING its rival, DC, at the box office. But then, this should be no big surprise, since Stan Lee and his merry band of comic creators have been doing it on the printed page for decades!

I, like most folks my age, grew up reading comic books like biblical scholars read the Word. For my buddies and I, comics were the currency of our young existence. We traded them, we drew characters from them, and hell, we even BELIEVED them to a certain degree!

However, just as I eventually grew to realize that McDonalds’ burgers were not as tasty as I thought they were (to their credit, Ray Kroc once stated they were more a real estate empire than a burger joint), I understood Marvel was the superior product.

DC came off like the titans of Greek mythology. Once they wore out their welcome, they were taken out by the Zeus and his pantheon of gods. However, accepting that they were the top dogs on Mount Olympus, they did not see a reason to evolve or take any other challengers seriously.

But they were wrong. Enter Marvel, which had once had other names, like Timely Comics. They started up their own pantheon during the WWII era. In its Golden Age, heroes like Captain America, the Human Torch (not Johnny Blaze of the Fantastic Four), and the Submariner (who was more an antihero) held major pull. They were pimp slapping the Axis Powers all over the place. Marvel’s work was current for the time, keeping the readers’ interest.

Meanwhile, DC had rested on their laurels. Their own trinity of heroes (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) were not attempting to relate to readers. They came off like deities instead of human beings.

Batman, of course, was their most interesting property, and would go on to have some great runs on the silver screen. Tim Burton freaked it, while Christopher Nolan would come along years later and revive the entire franchise. Let’s completely forget the old TV series that starred Adam West and Burt Ward, though. I guess we should also overlook the two Dark Knight movies from the original run that almost derailed the whole thing…

Stan Lee, who was the face of Marvel (ask yourself, who was the face of DC?), dreamed bigger and hoped for more. DC had the golden ticket with Warner Brothers, whereas Marvel was tied up in all kinds of legal crap. Prior to the Disney buyout, they had no exclusive movie studio to back them. Again, DC simply accepted that they could put out flicks whenever they wanted, while Marvel’s stuff was shelved (Roger Corman’s original outing for the Fantastic Four), released as inferior product having little to do with the source material (Dolph Lundgren as The Punisher), or suffered in development hell (James Cameron’s Spider-Man).

This is how it comes around like a Kung Fu flick. The hero, who has had his entire family or crew killed off and his girl captured, is beaten within an inch of his life. Left in the wilderness, he uses his anger as rocket fuel to improve his skills and plan his revenge.

That dish, best served cold, has DC coming off more as Vanilla Ice than Ice Cube.

Marvel came out SWINGING, though there were hits and misses. People often forget the success of the first Blade movie. Spider-Man was a blockbuster. Fantastic Four was alright, but was nowhere near as interesting as the comic. The first outing of X-Men was so-so. Of course, things would improve with the unveiling of The Avengers Initiative.

Watching all those characters come fleshed out on the big screen was something of a family reunion. With Marvel, we could identify with Peter Parker’s awkwardness and failure to get the girl. We could understand how Ben Grimm felt, since he was stuck looking like a pile of rocks.

DC, however, had failed to make the connection. Superman and Wonder Woman were practically gods. Batman was flawed, but he was a multi-gazillionaire playboy (Marvel would do this one better with Tony Stark’s funds and alcoholism). Robin was outright irritating. In all, their characters paled in comparison.

So, how can DC level the playing field? It might be too late, but it’s time for them to pull from other parts of their arsenal. I know I would LOVE to see Mister Miracle on the big screen. Until DC begins to feel the milk money they’re losing at the box office, they’ll simply continue on in the same way. And that’s sad, considering Suicide Squad was supposed to allow them to flip the script a bit.

6 thoughts on “Marvel is Pimp Slapping DC at the Box Office: A Fan’s Perspective

  1. Moises

    Batman is not by a longshot the most interesting DC property. The best thing to come out of Batman was the Joker who is a great stand alone villain with or without Batman. In fact the onlything i find compelling about Batman comic is the Joker. But let’s face it, marvel and DC are very similar and many times when a writer left DC to work for Marvel or vice versa, they brought their characters with them, gave them a new name and back story. The real reason marvel is kicking but is their movies are bright, cheerful, fun, and more family friendly entertainment. It satisfies old man child fan boys as well as indoctrinates their children into the marvel universe spawning a new generation of fans. DC however has a more dark and brooding feel to their universe that parents may not be comfortable taking the kids to go see. So the sell less tickets and ultimately are less popular. But truth be told DC movies do a better job of capturing the feeling of the comic which tend to be darker in tone than many parents may be aware of.

    • Moises, you’re right: there are far more intriguing characters than Batman in the DC Universe. So then, WHY DA HAM SAMMICH WON’T THEY INVEST INTO OTHER FRANCHISES?!!! Superman is boring as hell–that story has been told a gazillion times! Ain’t Nathan gonna change with his story! Wonder Woman should have had her own flick years ago (as you know, they’re just now showing previews for that).

      What it is is that DC has been sippin’ the fruit punch just a little too long. They need to try something new. This is where Marvel puts their size 12 Chucks to their asses. Marvel isn’t afraid to have FUN. They’re not afraid to have characters who let it all hang out.

      Batman needs counseling. He doesn’t even look like he’s enjoying himself.

      You’re on point about the Joker: he’s what MAKES Batman as interesting as he is. As dark-minded and psychotic as he is, the Joker is the very essence of fun. He even kills in the name of it!!!

      • Moises

        Like I said before batman has never been a compelling character to me because his revenge narrative is one note and its boring. Joker made Batman comics interesting because Joker is a complex character you can spend months analyzing. It wasn’t until later justice league comics when batman began hashing contingecy plans to be able to neutralize each of the members of the Justice League (particularly superman) did he start becoming more interesting.

        As for superman that’s as boring as it comes, the guy doesn’t suck at anything, he has no weakness other than a rare mineral. Most heroes weaknesses are based on a character flaw which makes them more human, something they struggle to overcome. Not superman he’s awesome all the time to the point of not being awesome anymore. He stinks. Furthermore he ruins all other characters in the DC Universe because when you have an in vulnerable hero who is good at everything, the bar is set so high everyone else is crap in comparison. Particularly when superman makes a cameo in their storyline. Thats y justice league is never as much fun to read as avengers…too much superman.

        I think one of the best concepts for a comic lives in the DC universe. The idea behind the green lantern corps is interesting as hell and has real potential for movie cross over. DC started out in the right direction for the green lantern movie but then blew it. The villian sucked, the costume sucked, the choice of lead actor was not right, i like Ryan Reynolds but hes no Hal Jordan.

        So DC has a lot of problems to overcome. If superman is in the picture then everyone else suffers, stop spending so much effort on batman. Hes already been in a dozen blockbuster for you and if you keep it up ppl will tire of him as I did. And explore some cool characters without making all your movies so doom and gloom. Ppl want heroes that inspire them not ones that ate all emo. Who wants to bring their kids to see that?

      • Moises, you hit the bull on the nose about Superman AND Batman! I think the best thing to happen to the former was WHEN HE DIED. Sadly, DC couldn’t release the teat and had to bring his perfect ass back to life.

        Christopher Nolan did an AWESOME job of (1) making the Batman story cool and (2) reviving the franchise after it was COMPLETELY WRECKED by Schumacher.

        I tried watching Green Lantern and was completely turned off by that abortion of a film… As you said, the Green Lantern Corps has a serious following with fans already in place. They need to do something worthy of that.

        There are other DC characters that could really get some shine. Since they’re so good with the darker stuff, they may wanna give Neil Gaiman’s Sandman a go on the silver screen. Deadman and the Phantom Stranger could team up like they did in the comics and do some things, too.

  2. Jaxn!

    Dc shouldve followed Marvel’s route: develop a character or two (shouldve really focused on getting Supes on deck sooner), release movies, then go for ensembles. Honestly, I think DC suffers from so-so writing. Yes, both powerhouses have similar characters but we’re more engaged with the Marvel ones. And really, where IS the face of DC??

    • DC has no face. They seem so corporate, they never bothered to have a Stan-Lee-type of person to whom we could relate. Of course, by now, it would seem contrived for them to do so.

      I know several artists and writers have bounced back and forth between DC and Marvel. However, the lesser known creators from DC (not counting the likes of Neal Adams, Mike Grell, or even when Jack Kirby left Marvel and began creating the entire Darkseid ethos that included Miracle Man and Big Barda) seem to be faceless. Marvel always made it a point to provide images (often caricatures and nicknames) for the folks in the Bullpen.

      DC seemed old, played-out, and stodgy when I was young enough to still actually read every comic that fell into my grasp. Seems they haven’t changed anything about that.

      Their saving grace is the television universe. Given a full season or two, they can develop characters and make them interesting. However, they shot themselves in the foot by doing silly shyt like having two Earths (Earth One and Earth Two Batmen, Flash, Green Arrow, etc.) and by making the universes on the small screen and the big one not match. Sometimes, I wonder if there is a laboratory full of chimpanzees runnin’ the place…

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