From the first sign of Christopher Reeve's curl to Robert Downey Jr's overly mustachioed face, we always knew Marvel and DC would end up facing each other in the box office. With 'Avengers: Infinity War' and 'Justice League' giving most nerds the biggest goose bumps they've had since they watched (someone else) kiss a girl, this was a battle for the ages.
And now, even Superman's mama is involved in the great debate. Diane Lane, who plays Martha Kent in the new 'Man of Steel' series (e.g., 'Batman v. Superman,' 'Justice League') was asked if the new DCEU movie will be better than 'Avengers: Infinity War'. To wit, she said:
"No... Short but honest. I hate to disappoint.”
What the what, Martha?! Where's the loyalty to your Kryptonian kid? Everyone is having the conversation, so we will scribe it here in The Woodshed. Join us.
What we will attempt to do for you is review the pantheon of action movies and all their assorted Easter Eggs, then determine who is winning the race for box office supremacy.
What movies come to mind? What characters are already iconic? Where does your fandom lie? This is a PR question because it's about image, reputation, and much hullabaloo in the news. In "For Better...or Worse" we dare to answer the question posed to most movie aficionados, even the non-Comic Con-enthralled:
Who has the more developed & best cinematic universe, Marvel Comics or DC Comics?
Setting the Mood (MARVEL)
Thanks to Comics Amino, we have this perfect depiction of shedding "light" on a subject. DC Comics has always had a more morose tone to its subject matter (e.g., Suicide Squad, Justice League Dark, The Dark Knight), but when Zack Snyder got a chance to get inspired from the epic trilogy work of Christopher Nolan, he went all Zanax on his movie and made it rain for 2.5 hours. At least explosions create light in the film. Go ask Michael Bay.
That's why Marvel creates a lighter mood. We see relationships between the characters. We see how things are connected from origin to execution. We see the backdrop for crying out loud. Also, humor is a thing, if anyone wants to get that memo to Snyder. Just see the snarky relationship Hulk has with ... well, anyone. Anyone dare to bet if it's going to be cloudy or dusk in 'Justice League'? Sigh.
Tell Me a Story (DC)
Many believe that's the face the world saw when Henry Cavill realized that 'The Lego Batman Movie' would be better than 'Batman V. Superman.' When Christopher Nolan created his opus triune, we learned the entire backstory about Bruce Wayne. When Zack Snyder brought his 'Watchmen' somber setting to 'Man of Steel,' we got a nice chunk of origin. And it was great. Then, DCEU rushed it to offer 'Justice League' before we learn about anyone else... and oh yeah, Supes is dead-ish. C'mon man! Some things take time to develop!
When we met Tony Stark in 2008, we got back story on everyone then we got 'The Avengers.' People were vested. Fans were sold. And MCU was off and flying. DCEU got impatient, wanted to get the big payoff in the box office before fans got their payoff with learning how the Justice League was going to be put together, regardless of Ryan Reynolds crossing the universe line and doing that stilted 'Green Lantern' again. Oy.
In Review (MARVEL)
Excluding Christopher Reeve's iconic showing of Kal-El and Michael Keaton's inspirational and brave rendition of Bruce Wayne, beginning in 2008 with 'Iron Man,' the one thing Marvel has always experienced outside of bursting ticket sales is great reviews. Visit Rotten Tomatoes and you will see that anything in the MCU -- even the lesser known movies -- have averaged 81%. Although DCEU movies have less to work with, they have averaged only 37%. On other thing, the worst Marvel movie ('Thor: The Dark World,' 66%) has done better than the best DC Comics movie ('Man of Steel', 55%).
The thing is that Marvel got a great start with 'Iron Man'. DC Comics stumbled out of the gate, farted and fell down, all to give Zack Snyder the first movie it had for the public. Superman didn't have to bring such a dark aura with him with Krypton blew up, but sorry, General Zod brought a damper of misery with him too, so we got Metropolis looking like Beirut. Maybe Snyder directs in a dimly lit room, a closet with no light bulb, or some basement with dirty plastic dolls scattered everywhere. Who knows? Someone buy dude a desk lamp.
Seeing double (DC)
DCEU would never be in this position if they just stuck to the script. While many outside the throng of DC Comics fans aren't huge fans of 'The Flash' on TV, the show has done quite well to unveil the DC Comics Expanded Universe to new fans. The villains, the crossover, the acting -- it's all been pretty good. And then Ezra Miller gets cast as Barry Allen in Zack Snyder's vision of what The Flash should be and not be.
Grant Gustin was doing a good job as the fastest man alive but guess he didn't quite have the chops for the big screen. Think that would happen if MCU wanted to take Charlie Cox from his titular, blind attorney gone ninja post on Netflix? No way. DC's lack of commitment to its actors has already created a rift before Green Arrow makes it to the Hall of Justice. And that's not good as the Avengers are out capturing infinity stones.
Cast Away (DC)
Without question, Hugh Jackman will always be 'The Wolverine'. For that matter, Robert Downey, Jr. may forever be linked with 'Iron Man' but the rest? They are good -- the Scandinavian meathead, the aloof monster, the All-American boy -- all fit those bills. However, Henry Cavill is almost better at Superman than Christopher Reeve. Gal Gadot gives the great Lynda Carter a run for Wonder Woman's invisible jet. Jason Momoa is harrowing as Aquaman, the Lord of Atlantis. And believe it or not, Ben Affleck is really convincing as the troubled caped crusader. (Maybe it's the butt chin?)
Although DCEU screwed the pooch on keeping with who they originally cast for certain roles, the people they cast for those roles are pretty great (barring Jared Leto as the broke pimp version of the Joker). And then there's diversity. Three films into the DCEU, we have a female-led superhero flick with 'Wonder Woman.' It's taken Marvel 14, and we still have a few to go before we get to 'Captain Marvel' in 2019. That notwithstanding, hopefully DCEU can stray from the temptation to cast Mary Kate and Ashley as the 'Wonder Twins.'
Potentially, this is no joke! (DC)
Call me a hopeless romantic but I believe -- as do many lovers of this film genre -- that DC Comics will learn from their abysmal mistakes and realize the bevy of possibility they have at their disposal. Remember sitting through the credits for 'Man of Steel' and getting a big bag of nothing? What a let down. Social media blew up. They learned. Zack Snyder and his love for thunderstorms created some really negative reviews for 'Batman Vs. Superman.' They will learn.
And now is the time with Robert Downey leaving Tony Stark and Chris Evans departing Captain America, we are jonesin' for memorable characters. It's because of the potential DCEU has to make some slam-dunk classics, much like MCU has done before them. No two superheroes have more movies than Batman and Superman, and there's a reason for that. They are iconic characters and easy to share a story. Add to them the rest of the Justice League, and the rest of the possibilities in DC (e.g., Justice League Dark, Suicide Squad in a Rated-R film, Lobo, Black Adam, Nightwing, Red Hood, Deathstroke), DCEU could really get huge.
That's our opinion (well, his). What's yours? Which cinematic universe is better now... and which can be better in the years to come? Let us know in the comments and we'll take you out to The Woodshed if it's really good.