Cole Bennett

The Case for Marvel Comics: When it comes to the comics, DC and Marvel have a lot in common, but they also have a lot of differences between them. Different heroes and villains, different approaches to similar concepts, different inspirations, and above all, different styles. Now, there are tons and tons of writers who work on different comic series within these companies, but generally, they differ in style. One stand-out aspect of Marvel Comics is that they’re just fun. Batman is a brooding, dark, disturbed man who seeks vengeance and justice throughout a corrupted city. That’s a very cool concept, and it’s very entertaining to read. But all of that darkness can get a bit, y’know, dark. 

  In my opinion, the Marvel so-called equivalent to Batman is Spiderman. They’re both crime-fighters with fairly down to earth powers and abilities. They both experienced trauma related to their family, and it inspired them to make a difference, to try and stop those who would commit crimes like that in the future. Difference is, Spiderman has a bit more fun with it. He makes quips, he cracks jokes, and to add more levity to it, for a majority of the comics, he’s a kid. He’s a high school student, balancing his school life with his crime-fighting side hobby. That’s a fun time, and Stan Lee and Jack Kriby lean into it. It’s similar to the awesome action, thrilling chases, and wacky villains that you’d get in a Batman comic, but it’s just more fun.

  Another element of Marvel is just the pure scope of things. DC goes to places like Atlantis with Aquaman, Olympus with Wonder Woman, and way far out in the galaxy with the Lantern Corps. You get metahumans, you get vigilantes, you get incredible, nearly invincible aliens. It all feels very big. Marvel gets big too. I mean, you have stories about the conception of our planet, of entire galaxies with the Eternals, you’ve got the entire scope of time with the X-Men, and you’ve got the whole multiverse, the largest possible expanse of, well, anything and everything, with America Chavez. On the other hand, a lot of Marvel’s stories are very grounded. Characters like Captain America, Daredevil, Hawkeye, and Black Widow are all very down to earth. Their stories take place on a very simple, fairly small scale. Supervillains attempting to destroy the earth are fun, but so is a simple street level mafia boss or lunatic bank robber. You get some of that with Batman and Robin and all of them, but I just don’t feel like you see much of that once you get out of Gotham. You see it in every corner of the world with Marvel. They kinda just have it all.

The Case for Marvel Movies: The movie debate is simple. Nobody can deny that Marvel, on a consistent basis, cranks out good content. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has quite literally revolutionized the modern cinematic landscape of the present. Traditionally, in big franchises, the story is told in a linear fashion. The Fast and the Furious was followed by 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Toy Story was followed by Toy Story 2. That was the standard: direct sequels. Marvel tried their hand at a relatively unexplored concept; crossovers. Over the course of five initial movies, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, the foundation was set for what would become, at the time of its release, the third highest grossing film in history: The Avengers. This concept, a “cinematic universe”, was a carefully meticulated process. It took years of planning, years of establishing characters, years of taking risks. It was a gamble. But because they had put all of that time, all of that work and effort, and all of that general respect for creators into these movies, it worked. This process would soon after be replicated with diminishing returns by several franchises.
The Conjuring, a movie that I maintain didn’t even deserve a sequel, was granted an entire expanded franchise, debuting spin-off movies based around Annabelle, The Nun, and La LLorona. Godzilla and King Kong were thrust into a developing shared world of kaiju that had been popularized over the past 60 years. These two franchises have faced a difficult uphill battle, and though they persist, can rarely be called successful franchises. Both cinematic universes are owned by Warner Brothers. But perhaps Warner Brothers’ hardest battle has been the start-up of the Detective Comics Expanded Universe.

  So why didn’t it work for DC? It’s simple. Marvel had won the race before DC even knew it was competing. It was so far behind in the cinematic universe game that, in order to catch-up, it had to skip a few frankly important steps. All of that set-up, all of those independent movies devoted to establishing characters? Eh, let’s put out Man of Steel and call it good. It put them on the map. This was DC’s equivalent to the first Iron Man. Issue was, they didn’t spend time on another few movies. In chronological order, the DCEU has released Man of Steel, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and Justice League. Only two of those movies had ties to the events of Justice League, and neither were… good. All of the charm and charisma that Jon Favreau brought to the screen was gone, replaced with dry, boring scenery, dull lighting, and more edgy action. Zack Snyder has a certain vibe that he brings to the screen, and it works for a lot of things, and a lot of those things are not these movies. Not to mention, Suicide Squad, a bad acid trip of a movie, is widely regarded as one of the worst superhero movies of all time. 

  Now, the fault for these failures does not fully lay on the directors. The DCEU’s biggest struggle is studio interference. Often, Warner Brothers executives interfere with the production of a film, corrupting the vision of the director, which results in a muddled mix of tones throughout the movies. Although this is less of an issue presently, the beginning of the franchise had a very rough start due to studio interference. The DCEU post 2019 has been pretty good. I’m not gonna sit here and try to tell you that The Suicide Squad wasn’t amazing, because frankly it was. Birds of Prey, Peacemaker, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League are all legitimately good films. They just have nothing on the 27 movies, ranging from merely mediocre to downright fantastic, that have been produced by Marvel Studios.

  And all of this goes without mentioning that Avengers: Endgame is the second highest grossing film of all time. Out of the top ten highest grossing films of all time, spot number five, six, and nine are occupied by Avengers: Infinity War, Spiderman: No Way Home, and Avengers. Additionally, in the top ten highest grossing R-rated movies, spots number two, three, and seven are occupied by Deadpool 2, Deadpool, and Logan, all properties of Marvel. The numbers don’t lie. Marvel is dominating the superhero cinema-scape in every area. There is just no competition.