With Marvel’s Ant-Man and the The Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting screens on July 17 and May 1 of this year respectively, there is a great amount of buzz surrounding the now Disney owned comic giant. It is no secret that they have been more consistent with both the quantity and quality of their content, whereas Warner Brothers and DC Comics’ productions always seem to be a gamble. In the case of DC, either it will be a hit, like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, or a massive failure, like the Green Lantern adaptation that starred Ryan Reynolds as the pilot-turned-alien-hero. This is just one example of a DC film not satisfying.
However, Marvel’s recent films have seemed to be sure-fire hits right out of the gate, whether it is The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, or James Gunn’s wildly ambitious Guardians of the Galaxy. Why is this? It could be the varied character base in Marvel’s arsenal, which leads to new scenarios instead of the stale “Hero Foils Villain’s Plot” storyline.
An example of this would be, a group of intergalactic criminals made up of a raccoon, a human, a tree, an alien without a sense of humor, the green alien love interest, and a host of bounty hunters led to the exploration of many worlds beyond earth and many comical situations as in Guardians of the Galaxy. Compare this to DC’s heartily macho and out-of-place Green Lantern, and the problem seems glaringly obvious. Marvel isn’t afraid to take risks. While DC seems to want to play it safe.
Many passionate fans however, point to a separate problem for DC, the source material. Marvel seems to revel in their expansive universe and explore any character they can fit onscreen, while DC seems to paste their heroes into blockbuster style situations to appeal to fans and casual viewers alike. Bane and the Joker are two characters who, in Nolan’s Trilogy, went through complete overhauls to make it to the big screen.
Rather than a terrorist with a luchador mask and a dependency on Venom, a steroid that causes Bane’s strength, size, and tolerance to increase exponentially, he had a simple respirator and was naturally strong. The Joker’s back story, design, and personality were all changed dramatically as well. While the movies were objectively good, the willingness to do away with the core aspects of a franchise can leave a bad taste in the mouths of anyone who closely follows the mythos of the comics. If they aren’t going to be appreciated, why go?
Marvel seems to enjoy the geek culture though, and rather than pandering to the crowd, there are often references and Easter eggs throughout the films that pay homage to their fan base. The most obvious example of this, is the clips spliced into the end credits that foreshadow upcoming films. If you are out of the loop, these references will often go right over your head, but will illicit an excited response from hardcore fans, who return to see what Marvel will do next. So what is the solution for DC? It is simple. DC needs to take what is on the page and put it on the screen. They need to remain faithful to the characters and story lines put forward in the serials, but render them in live-action for the screen. Without the faith in their established universe, DC will continue to alienate fans and flounder when competing with a juggernaut like Marvel. With Superman VS Batman’s arrival on the horizon, let’s hope DC learns to love its faithful fans and prevent more dissatisfaction.
Opinion by William Monteith
Photo by Thomas Hawk – Flickr License