Friday, October 25, 2013

Cinema Showdown: DC vs Marvel

Booked my tickets to the Thor/Avengers/Thor:  The Dark World marathon and yesterday watched the Captain America:  The Winter Soldier trailer half a dozen times.  It's a great age to be a comic book and film fan.  Marvel has been knocking it out of the park since they launched their own studio and carefully constructed an interwoven cinematic universe of safe and entertaining if not daring movie fare.  Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor have all been given big budget, semi faithful adaptations on the big screen culminating in mega hit, The Avengers.

Meanwhile DC has struggled outside of the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman universe to capitalize on the thousands of characters at their disposal under Time Warner's vast multinational media network of film, television, print, video games, etc.  Justice League?  Scrapped.  Catwoman?  Please.  Green Lantern?  See ya later Ryan Reynolds.  The casting of Ben Affleck as the new Batman rankled more than a few movie going and comic book reading patrons but hey, never forget that Michael Keaton did a great job.

Why?  Because for Marvel it's all or nothing.  After years of selling off their titles and seeing cheap adaptations like 1990's Captain America (ehhhhh) and 1989's The Punisher (still best adaptation to date!) the stars finally aligned when Fox and Sony put up decent cash and directors for X-Men and Spider-Man in the 2000's, showing audiences that superhero movies could be equally exciting and dramatic.  Marvel Studios was formed to corral the remaining unlicensed characters and voila, 2008's Iron Man hit the mark and now we're moving into Phase II and Phase III of Kevin Fiege's legacy.

It's a different story for DC and Warner Brothers though, WB is only interested in the properties as brands and franchises, fodder for toy and tee-shirt deals and product in the company pipeline.  Harry Potter, Ocean's 11 and Nolan's Batman have run dry while Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit only has two more entries.  That's not a bad thing, they have to run their business.  But how else could you quantify the disjointed efforts of Superman on television, Shaquille O'Neal as Steel, the expensive mess of Green Lantern and Halle Berry as Catwoman?  Oh and it doesn't help they have David S. Goyer as their in house authority, remember when he was handed the keys to his own franchise then drove it into the fucking ground and gave us Blade:  Trinity?  The white-washed, slow motion fest sitcom?  Didn't think so.

Warner Brothers may have started the conversation with Superman and Batman but now they can't keep up because they're making the movies for all the wrong reasons.  How else can you explain Batman's inclusion into the rebooted Superman sequel?  A)  It shows how desperate they are to start their cinematic comic book universe and B)  Shows you how boring Superman is as a character.

Just like the comics, Make Mine Marvel!  With these mash up Hulk credits!

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