Tuesday, July 28, 2015

MCU vs DCCU: Why Marvel Has the Upper Hand

I was skimming the internet today and came across an article discussing TV characters who were killed off after the actor that played them left the show. In the comments (always a bastion of amusement), someone mentioned Deadshot being killed off on Arrow because of the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. I hadn't heard that one before, but it got me thinking again about DC trying to match Marvel's success with a cinematic universe that interconnects its properties and allows for big team ups like The Avengers and the Justice League.

And I felt sad again because DC will lose this battle.

My apologies in advance; this is gonna be a long one.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not a Marvel fanboy. I enjoy titles from both companies equally. My two favorite superheroes were Spider-Man (pre-One More Day, but that's a rant for a different time) and Batman (pre-New 52). Most of the Marvel movies have been awesome, and Christopher Nolan did what no one thought he could when he made Batman a viable property again after the nineties killed him. But DC is missing a huge component in this war, and that's going to cost them.

What most people forget is that when Iron Man came out, the interconnected universe was a pipe dream. Marvel had discussed it in public with a "it would be cool if we could do this" mentality, but the post-credit sequence mentioning the Avengers Initiative was fan service. When the movie did well at the box office, they realized it could become a reality.

Then, they slow-played it. Iron Man and Incredible Hulk in 2008. Iron Man 2 in 2010. Thor and Captain America in 2011. Then, finally, The Avengers in 2012. Four years and five movies before we got the massive team up that sent us all into nerdgasms. They set up the individual characters to stand on their own before throwing them into a situation where it took all of them to prevail. Classic comic book storytelling.

Warner Brothers and DC are missing that point and seem to want to cash in on the formula's success without following the formula. Man of Steel fits the Iron Man slot in the list (makes you wonder if the title itself was a throw to Marvel, and yes I know Superman was called the Man of Steel long before Iron Man showed up in Tales to Astonish, I'm just making an amusing correlation here). Next up is Superman V Batman: Dawn of Justice (sorry Zach Snyder, you're not fooling anyone. We know it really means Superman versus Batman. We're geeks, remember?), which seems to be acting as a mash-up of Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor. Then we get Suicide Squad, which correlates to nothing on the Marvel side since it focuses on the villains. Yeah, we'll get Batman, but this seems more like a one-shot than a proper set up for an eventual Justice League movie, which comes next. THEN we get the individual member films, after they've been introduced in a two part movie where it's unlikely they will be developed enough to make anyone care about the solo films.

Money's been forked over and the plans are laid, so it's too late to change it now, but this could have happened so much better. They already had the groundwork out there to build from, but they elected not to: TELEVISION.

It would be stupid not to keep Superman and Batman as movie properties. They stand to make too much money to stick them on the small screen, but that's okay. There's your tent poles. Do a Wonder Woman feature film, and DO IT RIGHT, and you have DC's Trinity ready to recruit the League. Those three reformed the League after the fallout from Identity Crisis, and countless other times before and after that. It fits, and it feels natural.

Of course, the best part of the Justice League is that it's not just those three. There's some diversity there, but it involves characters that are not as well-known to the general public. Keep in mind, you're not making these movies to attract comic fans; they're going to show up anyway. You want the average guy who never read comics to come see one and want to keep coming back.

So who do you put? Let's go with seven members, since that's the number of power and luck. The easiest to introduce would be Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and The Flash. Why are they the easiest? BECAUSE YOU ALREADY INTRODUCED THEM! Arrow and the Flash are both among the top shows on CW. Anyone who's finished Arrow season three knows the setup is already there to introduce Hal Jordan / Green Lantern. Tell their stories on television so the average person already knows who they are and is invested in them. You've just added to your ticket totals if you then stick them on the big screen as part of the Justice League. Then, since that's coming out while the shows are on summer hiatus anyway, integrate the fallout of events from the movie into the next seasons. Make it count in both places.The sequel ends up writing itself.

Of course, that seventh member is the tricky one. DC is going with Aquaman, but they have a long way to go to make it work. Most fans seem to be willing to give it a shot, at least, but the character became such a joke for so long, it's going to take some selling to make him viable again. My personal choice would be to do the one and only J'onn J'onzz - The Martian Manhunter. How would that work? Easy enough.

Could you imagine a well done Arrow / Flash spin-off for Green Lantern? Not only would CW have a chance at a successful sci-fi show, you could introduce Martian Manhunter as a recurring character. Two birds, one stone.

And now you have something to play with. Cavill, Affleck, and Gadot stay Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman respectively.  You put Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin, and whoever you cast as Hal Jordan on screen with them in Justice League. I would almost cut an arm off to see that movie.

Like I said before; it's too late for it to happen now. But could you imagine it?

And that's why Marvel's got the upper hand here. If I can imagine it, and you can imagine it, the millions of people who are fans of the shows can as well. But they're not getting what they've been exposed to. They're getting something much much different. For comic fans, we're used to that. DC seems to have a Crisis event every other Wednesday, and Marvel "Shakes Things Up for the Entire Universe" with their own crossover every other Thursday. It's just par for the course for us. But for television fans? The ones you could lure with minimal effort to your multi-million dollar investment to recoup some of that cash? They're not big on change like that. Try it on TV and watch the advertising dollars start drying up.

Oh, and as for the Suicide Squad? Maybe I had it wrong. After all, Deadshot says they're "off to save the world!"

I think I just broke my eyes from rolling them so hard, so I'll hop off the soapbox. Am I nuts? Does this actually make less sense than what DC / Warner Brothers are doing? Sound off in the comments and let me know!

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