After a year of stunning poster releases, viral trailers, and fan speculation, Marvel Studio’s “Thor: Ragnarok” is finally in theaters. The highly anticipated addition to the company’s series of superhero blockbusters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), has arrived just before rival DC Entertainment’s “Justice League,” which comes out November 17.
Two of the most anticipated movies of 2017 are being released on nearby dates by some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. With all this hype, the age-old question has come back into play: who is doing it better?
While both studios are similar in genre, the rival companies have undeniably conflicting ideas on what makes a great superhero movie. Both films can be expected to be action-packed, but Marvel has put a fast-paced, humorous, and more vulnerable spin on Thor’s character in his third installment, delivering the relatable factor fans have come to know it for. On the other hand, “Justice League” trailers depict a much darker universe that resembles previous productions.
Overall, Marvel’s movies have proven to be more popular with both critics and audiences. Though the two companies are about neck and neck in the box office, the MCU consistently receives higher ratings on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb.
Non-comic book fans can appreciate the subtle humor and relatable flaws of Marvel heroes and enjoy the movies without having to think too hard about complicated storylines. The seamless connectivity throughout the MCU draws in viewers who want to stay in the know about connected Realms and Infinity Stones. However, some fans protest that they have become basic action films with predictable plots. Marvel has learned to make the perfect crowd-pleaser, but in turn they may be taking fewer risks.
DC has struggled to keep up in the movie industry after rocky success with the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). However, it should be noted that they are trying to do what Marvel has achieved over the course of nine years in just four. So far, key movies in that process, like “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” have been slammed in critic reviews as too dark, melodramatic, and weakly written. DC softened its intense tone slightly during “Wonder Woman’s” debut this summer with tasteful one-liners and lighthearted scenes, a pattern they may wish to continue because of its success. Joss Whedon, who directed the MCU “Avengers” series, will direct future additions to the DCEU, marking a turning point in their style for better or for worse.
“Zack Snyder and David Goyer’s DCEU hasn’t been working out. I mean, people liked ‘Wonder Woman,’ but it was a very average, cliche movie for me. It was like failing all your tests and then getting a C on your last test and saying it was good. Then again, if they started a lot earlier they wouldn’t have had Marvel to be compared to. On top of their crummy movies, that Marvel is making successful cookie-cutter action movies is not making them look good,” junior Shayan Moshtael, founder of the C.O.M.I.C. Book club at Granada Hills Charter High School, said.
As far as the big screen, what the MCU has gotten right in the eyes of movie-goers is their portrayal of characters. While superheroes themselves are unrealistic, MCU characters suffer realistic, humanlike shortcomings and weaknesses. Iron Man is egotistical and snarky, Spider-man is an awkward high school kid, and altogether the Avengers can barely get along with one another, but at the end of the day they still come together to save the world.
From the start, the DCEU envisioned its heroes as legends. Their heroes typically have one recurring fatal flaw, whereas MCU heroes have all the flaws that come with being human. The stoic, solemn persona that encompasses the majority of DCEU characters may not be wrong, but it is a less popular interpretation.
However, this isn’t to say that Marvel is outperforming DC overall. DC dominates the small screen on the CW channel, which is currently comprised of TV shows like The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. Though the show is produced with a smaller budget and the writing is cornier, the Arrowverse, as it is known, has become extremely popular. It is separate from the DCEU, which gives producers the freedom to use whatever storyline they want.
On the other hand, MCU TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil have interesting storylines and great ratings, but the fact that they are supposed to tie into the movie-verse without ever officially being acknowledged is difficult to reconcile.
Lastly, the quality of the companies’ comic books is one of the most controversial points of debate. DC is often considered superior in both artwork and storylines.
“I like both companies, but I have to give the edge to DC. DC consistently creates better stories, from the New 52 storyline to Rebirth, and every Batman story has been great in comparison to Marvel,” Moshtael said.
Some people claim that Marvel Comics are a copy DC Comics, but in reality, their first issue came out only a year after DC’s. On top of that, it is more difficult to be a hardcore Marvel Comics fan because everything is so connected in the universe. Thus, readers need to be fully immersed in Marvel knowledge.
It is difficult to determine an absolute victor in the infinite rivalry between Marvel and DC. Should there even be a competition? Now that you have the basics, you can decide. The only undeniable truth is that both companies continue to improve and draw in new fans with every production.