I’m going to say something polarizing: Marvel is better than DC. Now, I’m not unbiased in this regard. I come from a family of proud Marvel watchers (we have been known to miss exits on the highway due to deep discussions about the Marvel universe). That being said, we obviously had to go see the new Justice League movie over Thanksgiving break, just to make sure that Marvel was still top dog.
Spoilers ahead, so if you read on and haven’t seen the movies mentioned below do so at your own peril.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past nine years, you know that Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been hitting it big time with the super hero movies (aside from the drastic Fantastic Four remake). MCU has produced a total of sixteen films, starting in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. According to Forbes MCU has earned $12 billion, while Harry Potter earned $7.7 billion.
The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) started trying to compete with MCU in 2013 with the release of Man of Steel, a Superman reboot attempt. This movie organization has only released four other superhero movies since then. If I’m being honest, the Superman and Batman vs. Superman movies were kind of a flop. They boasted typical story lines and broody actors.
So, what does Marvel have that DC doesn’t? On the surface level, both the Justice League and Avengers teams look pretty similar – they are mostly comprised of white, good looking men and have the token black and female characters to round out the teams.
But now the Avengers team is expanded. There are two additions of African American actors: Anthony Mackie plays Sam Wilson/Falcon while newly introduced Chadwich Boseman plays T’Challa/Black Panther (whose movie will be coming out in 2018) while Samuel J. Jackson’s Nick Furry has left the franchise. In addition to Scarlett Johansson who plays Natasha Romanov/Black Widow, Elizabeth Olsen is a new addition to the team as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch.
On the other hand, nearly the entire Justice League Team is white, good-looking men. However, we do have Gal Gadot who plays Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and Ezra Miller as the Barry Allen/the Flash who will also star as the first queer superhero in later films.
I believe that DCEU owes much of its success to the previously released Wonder Woman. In this respect, DC one-upped Marvel in making a movie that centered around a heroine rather than a hero. However, I wouldn’t exactly call this movie a completely feministic classic. Whenever we see Diana in her costume, she is always wearing that dang miniskirt and most of time accessorized with high heeled boots. Let me tell you, if I were fighting the Lord of the Underworld the last thing I would want to be wearing is a miniskirt. And most annoying, she only gets the strength to defeat the bad guy once her boyfriend, Steve, dies. Really, a bad-a** Amazonian women only has inner strength once her man dies? I’m unconvinced.
I’m not denying this movie is refreshing and a step in the right direction, but it does have a long way to go.
Justice League just still can’t quite measure up to its Marvel counterparts. As Shonda Rimes would say, everyone on the team is kind of “dark and twisty.” There are some attempts at comic relief, but they peter out rather quickly (but in Marvel, when Captain America makes an offhand remark about swearing, the writers carry that punchline through the entirety of Age of Ultron!).
People are looking for escapism in their movies and I don’t believe dark lighting and brooding men are the way to do it. Also, there’s a weird quasi-messianic bend towards Henry Cavill’s Superman highlighting that only he can truly save everyone from the bad guys. You are telling me that a woman who successfully fought off Hades can’t handle this other enemy god that shows up? Uh huh, sure.
Sorry, DC, you were just too late to the superhero party. Might as well pack up your toys and go home.