With the recent release of Endgame, and the upcoming release of Joker, it’s high time we talk about the biggest comic book rivalry. It’s Marvel vs DC with both fared to win in this long fought battle.
When Action Comics first released its first edition, starring Superman, back in 1938, it set a lot of things in motion. The popularity of the character that almost exploded in a short while made other creators come up with their own versions of overpowered characters to woo readers. Timely Comics, the predecessor of Marvel Comics, had other plans. They leaped on the opportunity of getting a piece of the booming comic book industry and introduced the iconic character, the first Avenger, Captain America. Stan Lee, on the sidelines then as an assistant, had become a part of something colossal, the magnitude of which neither he nor Marvel Comics could’ve imagined back in the day.
After this there was no turning back. DC released Detective Comics starring Batman who went on to become the face of DC universe after Superman. Marvel wasn’t too far behind and brought out new characters to build its so-called Marvel Universe, like the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and Spiderman.
The Knight and his sidekick
DC, despite its success in comics, failed to create an impression when it came to movies. The Batman and Robin franchise which spanned several movies with actors like Michael Keaton, Van Kilmer and even George Clooney reprising the role of the iconic Gotham’s vigilante, did little to impress critics and fans alike. Though adjusted to inflation, the movies didn’t do bad at the box office but it was a sign of how incompetent the filmmakers were in their attempt to bring the characters to life on the silver screen.
This meant that Batman Begins, released in 2005, was being written off as another failed attempt until its release. With Christian Bale in the lead, Christopher Nolan brought out the best in Batman, with a well paced drama, that changed the entire image of the franchise and brought it closer to reality. The two movies that followed enjoyed even greater success, mainly due to Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance in the second installment. The underlying dark tone in the trilogy defined what DC wanted its universe to be like.
Man of Steel further strengthened this thinking. It faltered along the lines with movies like Batman vs Superman, Suicide Squad and Justice League but saved face with Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Its most recent venture, Shazam was marketed as a light superhero comedy, taking inspiration from the hit Marvel movies like Deadpool.
The Webslinger impresses
On the other hand, Marvel with its Spiderman trilogy starring Toby Maguire in the lead, went on to become quite successful till the third installment, which faced flak from the audience and led to its end. Iron Man released in 2008, in the same year as The Dark Knight, was a blockbuster, paving the way for creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Captain America, Hulk and next Iron Man movies in line for release, Marvel had made its intentions clear as to how it will go about in the movie industry.
Avengers went on to become the highest grossing Superhero movie of all time and every other movie released after it by Marvel, broke existing records and made new ones. All of the movies released were culminating to something massive, an end which we all were waiting for. Avengers Infinity War and its second part, Endgame set new records once again and proved how lucrative this industry can be if you make the right moves.
What lies ahead
Marvel was always seen as very different in its approach from DC, with the former cashing on intelligent humor and friendly banter between the superheroes, which was rarely seen in DC movies, which fell prey to their tactic of sticking to a dark theme throughout their movies released in the 21st century, barring Shazam.
Both Marvel and DC have slated quite a few releases in the next couple of years. Though Marvel is in a solid position as of now with its immense fan base and past success, DC can revive its fortunes if it makes up for its past failures. They will rely heavily on the reception that Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker gets in 2019.
Written by Prabhat