If you regularly read my blog, you may have noticed this post that my friend decided to write when I foolishly left my WordPress account logged in on his laptop. It was a very good joke, I must admit, as I have always been passionate about Marvel being the best creator of superheroes. That’s why I’ve decided to write my own response as a follow-up: I must right these wrongs!
Spider-Man has been my favourite superhero since I can remember. Something about his underdog status, awesome superpowers (how handy would it be to climb up walls and swing across a city?!), range of unique villains and inappropriate quips meant he was easy to both empathise with and envy. The Sam Raimi-directed and Tobey Maguire-led film trilogy largely confirmed this delight in the character whilst bringing it even more into the mainstream.
Although Spider-Man 3 received rather more negative reviews than the other two, and Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the character was nuanced with a lot less humour than Andrew Garfield’s more recent embodiment, the films overall created an interpretation of the Peter Parker and Spider-Man story that is both loyal and accessible, keeping everyone happy. The aforementioned new reboot is strong in different ways- the villain was less developed, but Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone created a better central chemistry and appeal.
Similarly, there’s a reason The Avengers movie was so successful; the build up in the years before its release with Iron Man, Thor and Captain America solo movies meant that we were emotionally invested in the world that S.H.I.E.L.D. presides over, but we were admittedly lucky that these were all made so well, with only a tiny blip in Iron Man 2. There was a lot of risk involved in launching franchises around so many characters within a short space of time, but Marvel pulled it off (note: DC weren’t so successful with their launch of Green Lantern!) The mixture of humour, action and gritty issues alongside otherworldly intervention is well continued from the comics and sets a consistently excellent tone.
Of course, the Fantastic Four films weren’t particularly well done, and the X-Men films have been hit and miss overall, but the former has an interesting and less cheesy sounding reboot coming soon, and the latter has become more clever and interesting with the period setting of X-Men: First Class and the upcoming X-Men: Days Of Future Past.
To sum up Marvel: they have The Avengers (including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk and Ant-Man) who are all equally great on their own, as well as other troupes such as the X-Men and Fantastic Four. They also have great enemies, including Loki (now immortalised by Tom Hiddleston), Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Red Skull, Galactus, Magneto and the Mandarin (although the success of his use in Iron Man 3 is hotly debated). The company also consistently knows how to address both light-hearted fun and more serious issues.
So what about DC?
There are the two obvious titans: Batman and Superman. Batman is particularly well loved, with the Nolan-helmed The Dark Knight film trilogy now basically considered a masterpiece; the Tim Burton ones are popular too, but the less said about Joel Schumacher’s take, the better. In the comics world, The Dark Knight Returns and Year One are in particular both rightly lauded; the fact that they share Frank Miller’s expertise can be no coincidence, and DC were lucky to have him to bulk up their legacy. Overall, Batman is an impressive superhero, with great depth and the brilliant combination of money and talent, but he shares with Iron Man the problem of not actually having any super powers. Many insist that this doesn’t lessen Batman’s appeal, but it surely detracts slightly when his competition is overwhelmingly super.
On the contrary, Superman is rife with alien power, from super strength to super speed, but his big weakness of Kryptonite does often set him back a bit too easily; the fact that the climax of Superman Returns was essentially a fight against a rock with Lex Luthor not needing to do much else ruined the drama a bit. Of course, the recently announced Superman vs. Batman should be very, very awesome, if done properly. One problem with it is that both superheroes are now associated with very dark and moody stories, which is fine to a point but can also detract from the sense of fun for the audience as there is one tone and few mood-lightening laughs as in The Avengers.
DC’s other stars (who may be coming together for a Justice League movie soon) include Green Lantern, The Flash and Wonder Woman. All three star in some good comic book stories, but nothing on the level of Superman, Batman or half of the Marvel characters. Ryan Reynolds was unfortunate enough to star in a cheesy, jumpy mess of a Green Lantern movie, and the mainstream public know comparatively little about the other two. I have a friend whose favourite superhero is The Flash, but I know few who actually agree; with the right work behind him, he could easily shine with such spectacular powers, but he hasn’t done enough so far. We don’t even need to mention the Catwoman movie.
Admittedly, DC does have some spectacular villains in its rogue gallery, ranging from the Joker and Bane to General Zod, but it certainly doesn’t have the number of memorable ones as Marvel does, nor the same calibre of actual superpowered ones.
To sum up overall:
Marvel’s strengths are Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., Electro, Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Red Skull, Loki, wit and a wide range of colours. Also many more films (so even though there are some duds, it’s not too great a percentage).
DC has Superman, Batman, the Justice League, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Lex Luthor, The Joker, Bane, General Zod, lots of darkness and taking itself very seriously.
Needless to say, it’s Marvel all the way for me.