There has always been a weird competition when it comes to certain things being a nerd. Marvel and D.C, in particular, have always been competing with each other and copying off of each other since they started. The biggest difference notably right now is in the movies that they produce. Two very similar films came out last year: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. They both have similar plots with two known superheroes fighting each other but each of them got very different responses.
The problem with appealing to comic book fans or just a literature fans in general, they are hard to please. They will always compare it to the source it is coming from. If you do it correctly, you will be praised like a god but if you do wrong, you will be forever shunned. For example there is a large difference between the fan reaction of Deadpool in his own film and in his first cinematic appearance in Wolverine: Origins. Wolverine: Origins wouldn’t have been that bad but what they did to Wade Wilson made every comic book fan super furious with Fox and demanded for a right adaptation of him, which they eventually made, like 10 years later.
Now my knowledge of comic books greatly relies in Marvel for the most part. I have read a large amount of Deadpool and the Winter Soldier comic books. Though, I have a general amount of knowledge about D.C but not nearly as much as I do for Marvel comics. When I go see a D.C movie though, it is purely based on entertainment alone. The darkness that surrounds D.C comic books has always be there and it works for them with one of the most revered and famous characters of all time: Batman. The Dark Knight stands out to be not only one of the best D.C films but as one of the best superhero movies of all time. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was Oscar worthy.
Lately though, D.C has been lacking something, most notably in Batman V. Superman. The script was bad, the plot was unmotivating, and the editing was horrendous. I found the movie dull especially in the first half of it where I almost fell asleep. The anticipation to see two of the most well-known superheroes fight each other did not live up to the hype at all. I felt everything was drawn out and the writers were just constantly trying to wow the viewers with everything they did, and failed miserably. The first half of the movie was terribly put together with way too many dream sequences and pointless fight scenes of Batman. Don’t get me mistaken but I’m pretty sure Clark Kent maybe had two lines of the first hour and a half of the movie and he is half the title. There was a lot of stuff going on in the movie, but none of it really tied together for me. Just when I thought the movie was getting good when the action actually finally took off, that hope got crushed by one word: Martha. The fight between Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne ends because of them having mothers with the same name. What are the odds? The writers could have used anything to stop the fight and that is what they used? That plot point ruined the whole movie for me. Still, this movie is just the beginning of their Justice League. Batman V. Superman slightly introduced the members of their team including Wonder woman, the Flash, and Aquaman. Hopefully, with their upcoming films they will be able to win over their depleted fanbase.
D.C wasn’t the only comic book franchise to have two of their heroes go head to head. Captain America: Civil War came out as well last year. The original civil war comic book storyline is probably one of the most top selling marvel comic books of all time due to the amount of characters added and at the end Captain America dies. Now the fact that his main assailant that kills him, Crossbones, in the comic books dies in the first 15 minutes of the movie I had a feeling it wasn’t going to happen like the comic books. Still the movie drew in a lot of people. According to Box Office Mojo it made it the 12th highest grossing movie of all time. Even without following the original comic book storyline, which is usually a big no no, they were able to do something right. What made Civil War such a big success?
I honestly think it is because of the comedy Marvel not only adds to their comic books but to their movies as well. Civil War is an emotional rollercoaster for the viewer. It has you siding with one of the two biggest names in Marvel comics who are introduced and heavily involved in the Marvel cinematic universe. They beat each other senseless during this film and have you rooting for at least one of them throughout it. Even through all this, this movie is dosed with one liners that is able to make you laugh through a very emotionally draining storyline. This is something Marvel has always been good at in their comic books with characters such as Deadpool, Spiderman, and Rocket the Racoon. The movie is also highly action packed with the Winter Soldier chase scene to the airport scene to to the final fight scene. There was a perfect balance between comedy, action, and plot which D.C movies often lack. The fact that one of Marvel’s well known fighters, Black Panther, makes an appearance in Civil War took also took a heavy toll. I jumped up with joy when I heard he was going to be introduced and I’m sure other marvel fans did too. Also, the dream that Spiderman would be fighting along his fellow superheroes took place due to the fact that Marvel finally got the rights to him in their movies. They finally found a person who can play a socially awkward Peter Parker and a sarcastic and witty Spiderman makes me really excited for future plans for Tom Holland.
Even though the movie doesn’t follow the comic books that well it still has certain additions for any comic book nerd would be able to recognize. The first being one of Captain America’s most famous quotes, “When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the world, ‘no, you move.’” The quote was changed slightly to fit the script more and it was not said by Captain America himself but it was a nice surprise when it was said at Peggy Carter’s funeral. The second being the shot of Captain America and Iron Man towards the end of the film is almost identical to what is in the comic books (this is pictured below).
The movie wasn’t perfect though, it did have its problems. The romantic relationship between Agent 13 and Captain America was a given due to the fact that’s who he dates in the comic books. Though, in the plot of this movie it seemed rushed and the whole Sharon being Peggy’s niece thing seemed to be kind of farfetched. The biggest problem of this movie, however, is that it doesn’t add all the characters it should have in this film. The Civil War comic books adds just about every character you can think of including Daredevil, Mr Fanastic, Doctor Strange, The Punisher, The Thing, Venom, various X-Men, and so much more. I get that they had to cut it due to the fact that if they added everything about Civil War from the comic books it would have been like an 8 hour film but still a few other key characters would have been nice.
This does bring a key advantage D.C has over Marvel though: the rights to their characters. D.C comics currently owns all the rights to their characters. They are able to add any comic book character from any arch they want to their movies and T.V shows. This gives them a whole lot of leeway. Marvel on the other hand is strict and is split into three companies Sony, Fox, and Disney’s Marvel. Sony used to own the Spiderman tag until they had it bought out but the only real thing they own currently is Fantastic Four. Fox owns the rights to every X-Men character including Deadpool and Wolverine. As much as I want Deadpool to make a guest appearance in one of Spiderman’s films, I don’t see them giving up their rights any time soon due to their overall success with their latest R-Rated films. Finally, Marvel owns just about everything else from Daredevil to Iron Man. This split between rights is what is holding Marvel back, if they could somehow get the rights to all of their characters they would be unstoppable at this point. D.C has the power to do a lot of good things if they do it in a tasteful manner. Hopefully, with the start of their Justice League that are able to do that.
It’s interesting to see somethings so similar have two very different reactions. This just goes to show how cynical fans can be and the barrier between the two comic books. And even though I’m a deadpool loving enthusiast, I’m still excited to see the new D.C films they have coming up. Most importantly, the adaptation of Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman because my undying love for Game of Thrones. We live in a time where nerd culture has grown to be “the norm”. There are more people playing Dungeons and Dragons, going to comic book stores, and going to comic book conventions than ever before. Hopefully with the new installments of both sides the barrier between the two fandoms will be able to come closer together.