Welcome to my first blog post on the new website! There is a lot of debate on the Marvel vs DC cinematic universes, or as I like to call it “slap-boxing with pancakes!” Some prefer the light comedic action that Marvel brings to the table while others prefer the dark gritty films that DC has pelvic thrusted into theaters. One thing is for sure though, comic films have dominated at the box office in recent years. I wanted to take a look at each cinematic universe with an eye on writing. I’m not going to bring up films outside of their cinematic universes even though I really want to talk about Deadpool and how excited I am for the sequel.
Marvel has put together a formula that works for its films. It goes something like Pi + Pie = OMG PIE. They have done most of it the right way even though they have the Hulk fumbles in his solo films, so they stopped giving him the ball. Ever since they came up with their phase 1 plan to build up to the Avengers movie, their cinematic universe has been all of the rainbow grenades and unicorn farts.
The biggest successes they have had because of fantastic writing and planning. They have build everything from the ground up. This gives us a rich history of interactions between the characters they can reference. The sibling rivalries Thor has with Loki and Hulk paid off huge in Thor: Ragnarok. The jokes all hit their mark because of that history which made Ragnarok the best of the Thor films. The tension built up between Captain America and Ironman began with the impromptu jazz dance battles they engage in going back to the first Avengers film. That led into the epic disco rap battle in Civil War that helped to introduce the next line of characters to have solo movies within the MCU like Black Panther, Spiderman, and Disco Man 2000.
The other thing that Marvel does extremely well is to build up their villains. Thanos is one of my favorite villains in all of the comics and I cannot wait for the next installment of The Avengers because I know Marvel will make it the awesome that I cannot wait for! My only hope is that they will be able to get the Silver Surfer into the film. I know it is not likely, but the Surfer is a huge part of the storyline in the comics and one of my favorite characters. The villains aren’t always the most epic, but they take the time to build them up just as much as the heroes. The depth of their backstory goes beyond the generic bad guy because bad guy.
The Marvel films follow a coherent storyline that doesn’t try to do too much or mislead you into a plot hole. The scripts have had enough comic relief to make you smile often while the heroes deal with their impossible tasks. They use the loose ends to tie the other movies together, so you feel the progression build up with each new volume added. The cameos from the other characters help as well. It makes for a neat bundle that is known as the MCU, and we know to expect all the weeeeeeeee when one of their films comes out.
DC handed the reigns of their cinematic empire over to Zach Snyder beginning with Man of Steel. I think this was a mistake as Zach has been very good at making films that are flashy, but he is not much of a storyteller. That has proven to be true with his 2 lackluster efforts Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman. The true dark and gritty tone began with Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy that was so artistically fantastic that I cannot sing the praises enough. Please… don’t make me sing. It won’t be pretty. Unfortunately those do not qualify as part of the DC Cinematic Universe in the buildup toward Justice League.
DC has rushed to push their Justice League film without laying any of the ground work to build up the surrounding universe. The 2 precursor films being Batman vs Superman and Wonder Woman. Batman vs Superman was a mess of a movie where they tried to mash 5 different comic book stories into 1 mega comic story. That story was as awful as making an Abominable Snowman out of 5 different kinds of moldy mashed potatoes then eating it. They also wasted one of the iconic Superman villains by changing the origin, not building the villain up, and then killing him off with a stick.
Suicide Squad showed that they could make an entertaining film. They built up Harley Quinn to perfection in that film. The villain was good as well, but everything else ended up being a mangled mess. They had characters that they didn’t know what to do with who ended up having awkward one liners just to have something to say. The editing was shoddy and the story was kind of cobbled together like a kid forcing a jigsaw puzzle piece into a spot where it doesn’t fit. It was still mildly entertaining, but it could have been so much better.
Wonder Woman is where they finally started to put everything together. It is the best film of the DCU, but it still falls short of the Batman masterpieces that Christopher Nolan put together. Those films cast a shadow over the DCU showcasing what these newer films could be when placed in the right hands. Wonder Woman came the closest to reaching those heights. Justice League has cartoonish CGI in spots which is not something we expect from a big budget blockbuster type comic book film. Yet still it was a step in the right direction if you consider it as more of a sequel to Batman vs Superman instead of a progression from Wonder Woman. Justice League has a storyline that you don’t have to be on drugs to understand, but the tone is all over the place. It goes from quaint and charming to dark and serious. Justice League is like a bag of hard candy that tastes like chemical coated plastic until you get to the gooey center of chocolate goodness.
It’s easy to point at what DC has done wrong with their cinematic universe in contrast with Marvel. It isn’t a matter of liking light and comical films over dark and gritty films. It is a matter of enjoying films that have a coherent story over ones that make everyone want to throw things through the plot holes to see where they land. DC also needs to do a better job of developing their villains. So far their cinematic efforts have produced some of the most generic villains with little to no back story, and that is a major problem. It’s like having a bad paper cut when you have to slice 50 lemons. The heroes can only be as good as their villains, and that is what those in charge of DCU need to learn most from Marvel. They can be the dark and gritty behemoth of comic book films, but they need a good villain with a back story. The Christopher Nolan Batman films proved that it can be done. Either way I will be there to root for my favorite comic superheroes in both universes. The Marvel films are going to continue to have more success until Warner Brothers and DC can figure out how to properly harness their rich catalog of comic stories. Justice League, which is worth seeing, is suffering at the box office for these missteps leading up to it.
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