Marvel vs. DC: Where We’re At

Avengerinos

Could it be… The End of an Era?

No.

But I’d wager that 2012 is gonna turn out to be the turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where Agents of SHIELD is mostly doing nothing for nobody, and the law of diminishing returns is scheduled to arrive. But will the torch pass on to DC? If the “Justice League” movie ever happens, it could be, but for my money–

No.

There is some news in that department, that DC is attempting to compete with Marvel in this way, with the big movie franchise, but they’ll have to do a lot of image consulting to make up for the mistakes they’ve made along the way — the one positive being Nolan’s Batman Thrillogy, which is more critically approved than anything Marvel’s done since Spider-Man 2.

Marvel has just completely had it together for a long time, scrambling after Iron Man to do something very big and very risky. If I were an executive at Paramount at the time I’da gotten pretty fired for being like, this is too creative, get out of my awe-fice.

Getting fan-favorite, genre filmmakers — real, filmmakers — like Joss Whedon (Serenity was great), James Gunn (his superhero connection being the ultraviolent Super), Edgar Wright (everyone’s favorite ‘underdog’ with Scott Pilgrim), not to mention Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet). This runs perfectly opposite to how a studio would typically run this type of game, either with a singular player being the creative mastermind, because they can be trusted — Michael Bay with Transformers, Nolan with Batman — or with a cycle of directors, as unimportant as they are on television.

Only, the directors of TV dramas understand their supporting duties to the showrunner, and the script, the solid foundations of creativity that elevate shows like Breaking Bad and… last year’s Homeland. The directors of Harry Potter understand their supporting duties to the source material, and to the franchise. Moneymaking is king there, and moneymaking for Marvel almost seems accidental.

That’s how brilliant it is. I think the bridge between fans and creators is getting smaller on the Internet, and while this can be a bad thing, it can also work toward that elusive agreement, that if the movies are good, the audience will respond.

Which is not a guaranteed thing (Pacific Rim), but it’s a better gamble than Transformers, which was made for the same reason John Carter was — because it had to be. That movie worked because the fanbase was huge (the 80s kids were all grown up) and the irony factor was also huge, appealing to hipsters at the advent of hipsterdom.

You put a creative director with talent on your franchise movie, you’ll get Iron Man 1, you’ll get The Avengers. These guys have built-in fanbases themselves, so you’re even bridging that gap as well — I personally won’t see another Marvel movie but I will be there day one for something by the guy who did Slither, and similarly for the guy who did Scott Pilgrim and Shaun of the Dead.

DC’s strategy has been much more difficult to parse, and praise, so we’ll have to see. What do you think? Should they take the same route as Marvel, or would that cheapen what is such a beautiful thing? Add corporate cynicism to this celebration of creativity, who knows what you’ll get…

And in time, those Warner Bros. Executives will be watching Interstellar and being like… We should’ve offered him all the money we had for “The Boy Wonder.”