Marvel has consistently delivered quality films since the early 2000s.
DC… well… they’ve been very hit or miss.
The difference between the two, however, is not that Marvel continues to garner hit after hit but rather that they’ve constantly fallen flat of delivering a contemporary film of importance.
Marvel is a fluff fair. You can count on their films for likable characters, over the top villains, and bright colors. You’ll leave the cinema with a smile on your face and eight dollars in your pocket to shell out at the nearest toy store to buy your child, niece, or nephew the latest action figure in their line of collectables.
DC is not primarily concerned with delivering a fun ride. DC wants you to take something away from their films. They want you to have a true blue cinematic experience that you’ll remember in six years time. When they try ‘fun’–they fail. Take a look at Green Lantern, Jonah Hex, or The Losers. Family fun and over the top fantasy is not their forte.
Marvel had monster hits with the first Spider-Man film, The Avengers, and the first Iron Man. But DC has had substantial monsters of their own in The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Man of Steel. Not to mention that no Marvel film has landed an intellectual punch as hard as the likes of Watchmen.
And so you have one company that is capable of delivering forgettable, smile-inducing movies with mainstream appeal and another company that is capable of creating remarkable stand-alone films and struggles to bring their characters together cohesively.
With Batman vs. Superman set to be released in 2015, we may see a change to DC’s formula. They are trying to accomplish something new. If rumors are correct and iconic comic book characters Wonder Woman and Nightwing are in the film, also, then we could see a monumental Justice League film as early as 2017. Not to mention that DC has monopolized the animated film and superhero-related television industries. Their line of DC original movies and TV series such as Arrow have helped them rake in sales as well as critical acclaim.
Meanwhile… Marvel is slowly becoming more and more ‘kid friendly.’ Although the recent deal Disney struck with Netflix to deliver four direct-to-streaming series centered around Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist seems promising, their feature films have panned off signficantly from where they’d once stood. Not to mention Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been considered a disappointment by many Marvel enthusiasts for its cheesy dialogue, floundering plots, and exclusion of comic book regulars.
I suspect that as we continue through this decade, the pendulum will swing in DC’s favor. With Iron Man 3 disappointing many fans with its reveal of The Mandarin, Thor: The Dark World receiving mixed reviews, and Guardians of the Galaxy propelling the once mildly-fantastic empire into the realm of unbelievable science fiction, Marvel Studios’ days as a box office juggernaut may be coming to a halt sooner than later.
2013, however, has proven itself to be a rebirth of sorts for DC. With one-off projects nixed, the company has set its sights on building the foundation of a new era for both film and television. Man of Steel gave Superman a necessary and extravagant reboot, and there are plans in the works beyond Batman vs. Superman to create a Justice League Dark film helmed by Guillermo Del Toro. On television, Arrow is soon to be joined by The Flash, Constantine, Gotham Central, and Blue Beetle–all of which are being developed for different networks.
If these company trends continue, I think we could see brand new versions of DC and Marvel–both for better and worse–in the not so distant future.