There is an ongoing feud between Marvel and DC comics. It has existed since their inception. The rivalry began with both sides wanting to be the best comic but now extends into the realms of cinema and TV with the DC Universe and The Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The best films
Nearly anybody who has delved into superhero movies in the past ten years will probably state that Marvel has won this battle hands down. At one point DC looked to have gained traction with their excellent Batman trilogy but those days seem long gone.
Marvel seems to have stolen the show with their clever strategy of introducing key characters via their own movies and then letting these characters all come together in the Avengers movies. They also scatter cameo appearances for characters throughout the individual films to offer fan service to their audience. This has seen the movies gain remarkable popularity.
DC has tried to follow suit. In Batman versus Superman, it introduced us to Ben Affleck as Batman and hinted at a future Justice League movie by having Batman research Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman. This was great and we have since had Wonder Woman and Aquaman movies. It is clear DC is trying to follow the pattern. They also introduced us briefly to a new incarnation of the Joker.
So why no success for DC
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say. However, DC has done a real hatchet job in trying to imitate the marvel recipe. Henry Cavill is yet to be even vaguely entertaining as Superman and he is one of their most iconic heroes. Neither Joker nor Batman will be played by the same actors going forward. There is no cohesion and it makes everything come across as just poorly thought out.
While Marvel is going to have to think about how they handle characters like Ironman and Captain America going forward with the contracts of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans running out. DC has far greater problems. You almost want them to be able to start again – although maybe keeping Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.
What about the TV side
To be fair the Defenders shows on Netflix have been quite popular. Although we don’t know the viewing figures for the likes of Luke Steel and Jess Jones they have received favourable media coverage. However, their show Agents Of Shield is their flagship show and hasn’t lived up to expectations.
It tries to recreate the tone of the movies and there is the odd cameo from the Avengers characters thrown in. but ultimately it misses the mark. Superhero shows without established heroes can absolutely work. You just have to look at the likes of The Umbrella Academy or Heroes. However, they were both great TV shows in their own right. Agents Of Shield isn’t a great TV show and it doesn’t have the star power to hide that flaw.
What DC seems to do well is to make TV shows about their big characters. Even going back and looking at their historical successes. Smallville was a great show with a loyal fan base. They have continued to do that with the likes of Arrow and The Flash. But where they really come into their own is with Gotham. Gotham takes a similar approach to Smallville. It focuses on a young James Gordon as he attempts to fight the corruption in Gotham. The great thing about the show is that the key villains are so brilliant. The Penguin, The Riddler and the character that may or may not be the Joker are all portrayed fantastically. So when it comes to the TV side of things it would appear DC have the slight edge when it comes to the film side – Marvel wins by a mile.