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DC vs. Marvel: An Ageless Debate

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DC vs. Marvel: An Ageless Debate

Dairian Bowles, Staff Writer

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, MCU, has been prevalent in the film industry and dominant in the box office ever since the release of the first Avengers movie. There is no doubt that for actors and directors alike, being a part of one of these movies guarantees considerable income.

As for fans, they can always expect to receive a decent film experience. Since 2009, Marvel has been crafting an intricate universe full of vibrant heroes, with for the most part subpar villains.

Even though occasionally questions such as “Where is this superhero in all this” arise when catastrophic and world-threatening events occur in a character’s solo movie.

The MCU has done an amazing job at connecting all of these characters and their stories, especially with the epic ongoing finale of this phase of the MCU, in “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Obviously, with this massive success that the MCU has garnered, reeling hundreds of millions of dollars in, their largest competitor, DC, was looking to profit off of today’s new superhero wave.

Unfortunately, DC seems to have completely missed the mark, with insufficient pacing and a shoddy attempt of the Marvel success.

To begin investigating exactly where they went wrong, we can begin with an analysis of the movies that kicked both universes off, so let’s begin with “Man of Steel” and “Iron Man.” It seems fitting that DC would want to begin their universe off with their oldest and possibly most noticeable heroes, despite Batman’s popularity, which rivals Superman’s.

From the beginning, things seemed quite promising with “Man of Steel.” Actor Henry Cavil was seemingly a good fit visually for the superhero movie. They had director Zack Snyder attached, who, despite receiving some flak for the story elements of “300,” was mostly known for his ability to direct action scenes.

Now people could finally get what they had been waiting for from Superman, which is large scale, all-out battles of superpowered beings. Unfortunately, many fans would come to notice that they should be careful what they wish for, as the movie was full of multiple action scenes of indestructible beings punching each other repeatedly, with little in the way of creativity.

Making the villain of the movie Zod instead of Lex Luthor seemed like a good call, especially considering it would have made both the MCU and DCEU start off with bald villains in big suits if Lex was chosen.

Either way, the film was divisive, with people on multiple ends of the spectrum. Some hated the movie, some loved it, but most seemed to be indifferent about.

Now let’s get to the “Iron Man” comparisons. One of the strongest elements of the first “Iron Man” movie wasn’t its action or its flashy set pieces; it was the character of Tony Stark. Actor Robert Downey Jr. practically seemed born to embody this role, and he completely engrossed himself into this character.

The movie did something that is chiefly important, which was to get you invested in the main character of the movie, Tony himself. The movie was also much more focused on being a great standalone movie, something both the MCU and  DC will struggle with in the future. The problem is that we as an audience aren’t interested in Clark Kent (aka Superman). For most of the movie, he is as dark and dull as the color palette of the film. He is uncharismatic and fails to even pull off Superman’s main schtick, which is saving people.

He has about as much character as a cardboard box, becoming akin Batman in his brooding. This is the main problem of the movie; our lead, the Man of Steel himself, is boring. We don’t care about his struggles, and we don’t care about him, and thus we can’t care about the story.

The movie fails to make its action have weight because we don’t care about the stakes or anyone involved.

Now it is time to tackle broader reasonings for why DC’s cinematic universe called the DCEU, which is short for the DC Extended Universe, is inferior to the MCU. One big reasoning is the pacing of the DCEU as a whole. Instead of following the Marvel formula of making multiple standalone films for major characters and then making the big team-up movie, DC decided to rush things on a little more quickly.

Right after releasing the standalone Superman film, they release “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” This movie introduced two of the biggest superheroes DC has to offer in one film. This movie saw the introduction of Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.

DC hadn’t even managed to make us care about one of their heroes yet, and now they expected us to be interested in three. In this movie, which coincidentally released around the time Captain America Civil War was released, Batman and Superman face off.

Now, this battle isn’t really too interesting, with the limited abilities of Batman and the godlike powers of Superman, but the movie still mainly focuses on their conflict throughout the majority of it.

Behind all of this, we have intrigue about Wonder Woman’s identity, distrust of Superman by the general public, and Lex Luthor creating another one of Superman’s biggest villains, Doomsday. And spoiler alert for all of those who haven’t seen the movie, Superman also dies, in his second appearance in the DCEU. Their biggest hero dies, and no one cares, because he is bland and uninteresting.

Despite Marvel’s notoriety with giving audiences bland uninteresting villains, they at least provide fleshed out and fun heroes in their movies. DC can’t even manage that.

DC has hit the mark at least once, however, with their adored release of “Wonder Woman.” Although the movie wasn’t spectacular, it was a nice change of pace from the usual drivel that DC puts out.

Then after releasing “Wonder Woman,” DC released their equivalent of Marvel’s “Avengers” with “Justice League.” Unlike “Avengers,” which had years of buildup and insurmountable amounts of hype surrounding the release and the movie itself, “Justice League” wasn’t very sought after, and most people seemed like they were just going to see it on the off chance that it was entertaining.

Unfortunately, those people were left sorely disappointed. Instead of releasing multiple standalone movies to get people accustomed to the main characters, DC decided to release the standalone movies after their big team-up film which made no sense.

Hopefully, with “Aquaman,” DC can fix some of their past mistakes and make an interesting movie with a likable protagonist. Only time will tell.

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