Marvel vs. DC: A Superhero Franchise Battle
Both DC and Marvel have made films for decades. DC pretty much introduced the general public to the idea of superhero films with Superman in 1978 starring Christopher Reeve and Batman starring Michael Keaton in 1989. Both films revolutionized the industry and pretty much led to where we are today.
Marvel, however, started off with straight garbage until the late 90’s. In 1944, Marvel came out with Captain America. It was a disaster. In 1986, they released Howard The Duck with Lucasfilm. It’s arguably one of the worst films ever made. Again they tried with Captain America in 1990… it made a little over $10,000 on a budget of $10 million. Marvel didn’t seem to have much luck until they tried something new…
Blade came out in 1998 and completely changed the comic book film game. It was dark, had one of the biggest stars at the time, portrayed the character perfectly, and was pivotal for comic book movies, but also other action movies. Do you think the heroes in The Matrix would be sporting sunglasses all the time without the influence of Blade? Hell no.
After Blade was successful, X-Men premiered and proved that comic book movies could really earn some coin in the box office. Since then, there has been Marvel releases (either by them, or the studio that owns the rights):
- 2000 X-Men
- 2002 Blade II
- 2002 Spider-Man
- 2003 Daredevil
- 2003 X2
- 2003 Hulk
- 2004 The Punisher
- 2004 Spider-Man 2
- 2004 Blade: Trinity
- 2005 Elektra
- 2005 Fantastic Four
- 2006 X-Men: The Last Stand
- 2007 Ghost Rider
- 2007 Spider-Man 3
- 2007 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
- 2008 Iron Man — Start of the MCU
- 2008 The Incredible Hulk
- 2008 Punisher: War Zone — Not part of MCU
- 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- 2010 Iron Man 2
- 2011 Thor
- 2011 X-Men: First Class — Not part of MCU
- 2011 Captain America: The First Avenger
- 2012 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — Not part of MCU
- 2012 The Avengers
- 2012 The Amazing Spider-Man — Not part of MCU
- 2013 Iron Man 3
- 2013 The Wolverine
- 2013 Thor: The Dark World
- 2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — Not part of MCU
- 2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past — Not part of MCU
- 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy
- 2015 Avengers: Age of Ultron
- 2015 Ant-Man
- 2015 Fantastic Four — Not part of MCU.
- 2016 Deadpool — Not part of MCU… I think?
- 2016 Captain America: Civil War
Every film that has become part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a hit. Films that weren’t like the original Spider-Man trilogy were hits, the X-Men trilogy were hits (minus the last one that made money, but literally made the studio semi-reboot it), and so on.
Unlike their film hits with the MCU, Marvel’s television programs have been hit or miss.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Agent Carter — Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Cancelled.
- Daredevil — Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Jessica Jones — Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Daredevil and Jessica Jones are both critical and commercial hits. However, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has nose-dived in the ratings despite its praise going up as it seems to separate itself from the MCU. Agent Carter is also critically praised, but no one seems to watch it despite being a great show. It also just got the ax. It seems the Marvel versions of heroes on Netflix seem to triumph over the Network versions.
Let’s take a look at the latest history of DC comic films:
- 1989 Batman
- 1992 Batman Returns
- 1995 Batman Forever
- 1997 Batman & Robin
- 1997 Steel
- 2004 Catwoman
- 2005 Constantine
- 2005 Batman Begins
- 2006 V for Vendetta
- 2006 Superman Returns
- 2008 The Dark Knight
- 2009 Watchmen
- 2010 The Losers
- 2010 Jonah Hex
- 2011 Green Lantern
- 2012 The Dark Knight Rises
- 2013 Man of Steel — Start of the DC Extended Universe
- 2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — Part of the DC Extended Universe
- 2016 Suicide Squad — Part of the DC Extended Universe
- 2017 Wonder Woman — Part of the DC Extended Universe
The Dark Knight Trilogy raked in the cash. The two sequels of Tim Burton’s two Batman films nearly ruined the franchise before Nolan had to fix everything. Green Lantern was a bomb, Man of Steel didn’t perform as well as it should’ve, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice couldn’t even reach a billion at the box office. So far, the new DC Extended Universe has started off with quite the bad start. Not exactly a bad start if you don’t know anything about film accounting, but not a good one as they lead into their upcoming film projects. What DC does have a stranglehold over Marvel in is television.
There are a few universes in the DC Television Universe.
- The Flash
- Legends of Tomorrow
While Supergirl is on another network and Constantine only lasted a season of Fox, they both managed to meet in the same universe. All of these shows managed to seamlessly crossover with zero difficulty. With the Marvel shows, they both seem to be forcing it by having cameos that don’t really fit. Most obvious is that no one has told anyone in the Avengers that Coulson is alive. That’s one of the biggest blunders for creating a show based on a dead character that created a catalyst to start the Avengers.
Not only does the Arrowverse exist, but DC also has other shows around as well:
Also in development:
- Static Shock
- Y: The Last Man
So it seems that were Marvel is dominate in the film business, DC owns everyone in the cinematic business. We’ll have to see if that DC can make a comeback with their movies after Zack Snyder has made both Superman and Batman incredibly gloomy, hopefully DC can push past the disaster that was Batman v Superman. Marvel should just stick to Netflix shows and film. Both have strengths and weaknesses. I hope this has shown you both. Also, FX better not mess up Y: The Last Man. That is my comic gospel.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post,UPROXX,BGR and by just looking up his name.