David Ayer’s emphatic “Fuck Marvel!” may have been a bit premature. In the wake of Suicide Squad one thing is obvious, the critics don’t seem to be too impressed with DC's latest big screen offering. With just three movies under their belt, the DC Expanded Universe (DCEU) seems to be stumbling when compared to its cheerier cousin Marvel. It’s not all and doom and gloom though, while it may be an uphill struggle for DC, they are far from down and out here. Despite the reviews, the money made by their movies including the record breaking August release of Suicide Squad, pretty much guarantees that the highly anticipated sequels and spin offs will come out as planned.
So can DC turn it around and make up for the lost critical ground? It’s a no brainer. Of course they can! So sit back and let us tell you how and why the DCEU will be better than the MCU over the next few years and easily beat it out.
DC has the best characters, hands down. Surely that should be enough no? Let’s face it, Batman alone makes this statement scream true. Add in a supporting cast of Superman and Wonder Woman and you have the most iconic comic book characters of all time with a wealth of history to draw on.
Sure Captain America, Iron Man and that guy with the big green fists are all well known, but you can guarantee that more people know, and can therefore identify The Caped Crusader and Krypton’s last son. Their bat and S symbols are now as much a part of modern day iconography as McDonalds golden arches.
But it’s not just the big ticket characters who are so impressive. The supporting cast and characters are almost as iconic as DC’s Big Three. In Justice League alone by adding The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman to the mix they will be creating guaranteed movie greatness. Each one a great character in their own right. While not as well-known as the big three, these characters are the ones that will surprise and delight the masses hours after their have taken their last mouthful of overpriced movie snacks.
Let’s slam the cards on the table and say that Aquaman alone is going to get a lot of fans in the coming years. Forever the butt of many jokes, it seems as though everyone’s least favourite Justice Leaguer has had a pretty bad ass makeover. He’s lost his shirt, grown a beard and will hopefully have a hook for a hand. There is so much to this character that people don’t know and when they get accustomed to King of Atlantis it’s going to be glorious. Plus, who doesn’t love Jason Momoa?
What good is a hero if they haven’t got a nemesis to fight. The villains of DC are every bit as memorable and well-crafted as the heroes they oppose. Like the good guys of the universe, over 75 years of stories has given us some excellent antagonists.
Classic evil doers like Lex Luthor or the Joker generally sit atop of any lists of the best comic book bad guys you can find. But a secondary line of villains including Braniac, Darkseid, Professor Zoom and Maxwell Lord wait in the wings ready to be called up.
The depth of these characters is even more impressive, very few of them are two dimensional, evil for evils sake, people. You simply need to take a look at the tragic story of Mr Freeze (please ignore Arnie), the corruption of Sinestro or even how the evil Cyborg Superman came into existence to understand what we mean.
Aside from the enigmatic Loki, can Marvel boast this range of intriguing evil? Not when half of their bad guys are just evil businessmen.
You want to talk stories? DC has been cranking them out for over 70 years, so they may have a few on hand to craft into cinematic masterpieces. They have already started taking elements from classic stories, with Dawn of Justice showing nods towards *spoilers* “The death of Superman” and “The Dark Knight returns”
In fact, every member of the Justice League alone has enough stories to keep the DCEU in movie credit for a long time. Who doesn’t want to see something like the Sinestro Corps war with the Green Lantern or the Greek themed adventures of Wonder Woman.
Even better, once the universe is established, you can then start running adaptions of the big events, the Crossovers. Could you imagine Blackest Night on the big screen? Could they even attempt a Crisis on infinite Earths?
Here is where DC is already making its mark, it just needs to go the whole hog and commit to its more serious tone.
The Dark Knight trilogy proved that there is a demand for a more dark, serious and mature style of Superhero movie. Currently this demand is not being fulfilled on the big screen by anyone else. Sure Deadpool had a lot of swearing, but it was still very immature. If this is the best that Marvel can do then DC will have no concerns.
With Man of Steel, Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, we are being introduced to a much more cerebral type of story. Everything is being filtered through the impact it is having on the people. The movie doesn’t end when the credits roll, if you destroy half a city then there is going to be repercussions.
It’s this tone that is going to get DC it’s traction. It needs to not make Comic Book films, it needs to make compelling movies that just happen to feature Comic Book characters.
Here is the big rub that it all comes down to, can DC do better than Marvel? Obviously, the answer is yes. Marvel has the market cornered at the moment, but it’s starting to slip a little. Their universe is definitely the lighter side of the spectrum. All bold colours, talking to the camera and post punch quips.
The thing is, we’ve been seeing this for many years, it’s shiny, it’s noisy but it’s not doing anything special. If it wasn’t for the, admittedly exceptional, Captain America movies, Marvel movies may as well be a roller coaster ride. Each film with the same highs, lows, sights and sounds. You can almost predict how each movie will roll. The good guy wins, the bad guy is dealt with and children dance, puppies frolic and the sun shines again. Not in DC, you don’t get a happy ever after. The good guy dies, the bad guy escapes punishment, its always raining and there are no puppies… ever. It’s this kind of twist that we the viewer need from time to time. Life sucks, leave the happy ever after to Disney and let’s have some real life(ish) situations to tuck into.
DC is still finding it’s formula, but when it cracks it, the movies are going to blow everyone out of the water. Each of the three stories so far has added to the world in a major way, they are building a proper universe, not just a shared space that some comic book characters inhabit.
Each of the above reasons why the DCEU will be better than the MCU are all ingredients to add to the cake of DC awesomeness. If they can get the right chef at the top then the DCEU could finally realise its full potential. Then and only then can we wheel David Ayer back out to once again express his opinion on the enemy.
Disagree… Bring it!
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