The Difference Between Marvel and DC’s Hero Film Strategy
First of I should say, I’m a huge comic fan. I have been for years, starting out reading them as a kid and have kept the faith with the format ever since. So as a result I’m a sucker for all the comic-related films that come out. A couple of days ago I went to see Green Lantern and it was, well a bit meh. I’d seen X-Men: First Class before this and thought that was really good. What has interested me in the general apporoch that the two holding companies, Marvel and DC are taking. If you don’t know much about them DC is the older company and is home to major characters like Batman and Superman. Marvel is the younger of the two and owns X-Men, Iron Man and Hulk amongst others. Both clearly (and understandably) see films as one of the main ways to push forward given the decline in sales of comic books. They both own a huge roster of characters, each with a fan-base and with loads of stories that can be plundered for material.
Marvel have sencently taken much more direct control of thier characters and worlds. They been putting comic creatives deep into the process. The other big thing they have been doing is cross linking the films, making sure we get to see that all thier characters exist in the same universe; so in the trailer for the new Captain America film there is a reference to Tony Stark’s dad (Tony Stark is Iron Man). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D pop up in both Iron Man films and in Thor. From a fan point of view it works great, it ties them together and makes it seem much more of a bigger story. By contrast DC do not seem to have been doing this. They seem to be a little further from the films creation that Marvel are and each character thus far seems isolated by comparision. They’ve also been struggling to make thier characters work; Batman being the only noticable exception. The Dark Knight was an amazing film and I’m looking forward to the next. But the Superman reboot did not work out well, Green Lantern is a bit meh and they’ve wasted what in my opinion is one of thier best characters, Constantine. DC has an inprint, Vertigo where the more mature comics were housed which is brimming with great characters and stories; but like the Marvel univerise, they work best when interconnected. Ironically I was more of a DC-fan as a kid that Marvel and overall I think many of DC’s characters are more powerful archetypes than Marvel. However that is only part of the creative battle and so far Marvel are winning.