Being a fan of comics, their characters and the multi-media adaptations, it’s hard to avoid the trap of comparing the 2 biggest IP factories in this sub-industry. Comparing Marvel and DC is an easy thing to start doing and less easy to stop. Each has their merits, each has their drawbacks. DC tend to do well with animated and network TV, whist through Disney, Marvel has done great with films and streaming content.
But films is one of the biggest, both in terms of differences and in scale. The Avengers movies alone have grossed billions and the unfolding MCU has broken all kinds of records and boundaries and I suppose it was inevitable that DC would do the same, especially after the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
It has become sort of accepted wisdom that the MCU is better than DC’s offering and whilst I can understand that idea, two things come to mind. 1 is that Marvel did the connected universe thing in a vacuum and there was no real pressure to succeed and much of the early successes have been happy accidents. 2 is simply the question if that’s true.
So I wanted to see if it was. Was the DCEU defensible against the MCU powerhouse, was it as bad as people think and you know what? It wasn’t.
Yes, the films started out ropey. Zack Snyder is a good if stylistic film-maker, but his Superman film (though excellently cast) sort of misses the point of this alien who sees Earth as his home and does good because he can, rather than some tragic back-story. But it was an enjoyable film. Batman vs Superman was a bit of a mess granted as was Suicide Squad, but once you get past those, they started to get better. The Snyder cut of Justice League felt more epic and aimed high. Aquaman and Wonder Woman were well realised action films with enough character and charm to make them worth watching and the films got better as they went along. Whilst the MCU keeps chugging along barely moving the needle, the DCEU films seemed to be taking chances and trying to give us something different. From dark humour, to family fun or slapstick violence, from the horrors of war to the majesty of the ocean there’s something different in there for everyone.
In my opinion, Marvel may have peaked with Avengers Endgame, but DC seem to keep going and have learned their lessons. These are not worthy films, but a couple of hours escapism based on characters that have been beloved for the majority of the last century and a growing portion of this one. It’s okay to like both and now that James Gunn has moved into a decision making position for the next phase of the DCEU (or now DCU) I’m excited to see what will happen next, because I’ll be honest good or bad, it’s going to be fun.