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Why The ‘DCEU Shouldn’t Compete With MCU’ Is A Stupid Idea

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Whilst anyone who has ever actually picked up a DC or Marvel comic actually likes both, but maybe prefers a certain character, it’s the movie fans who have more toxic debates about this on social media. Endlessly arguing over which one is better is great when you are 13, but just plain annoying when you are 31. But with passionately created art comes passionate fans. And with passionate fans, also come these debates.

Lets be real it’s also a lot of fun to debate sometimes. But some people generally cant like one thing without pissing on the other.

After the Loki season finale (wherein Marvel pulled off a stroke of genius and legitimized the existence of a multiverse), a lot many DC fans (including yours truly) have been rightfully pissed off about why DCEU didnt get to this before. A lot of pacifying voices are saying “You know its possible to love both right?” or “DCEU does not need to compete with the MCU. It can do its own thing…

Yes it is possible to like both..most people do but to say that DCEU does not need to compete with the MCU is a stupid notion. Yes Yes..voices much more talented than the writer of this article like Todd Philips, Chris Nolan and even Zack Snyder himself have said that DC does not need to compete with Marvel but here’s why it actually does:

Who made who

If you are a fan of Zack Snyder’s DC work or you loved Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman or heck even Aquaman, Birds of Prey or Shazam, then you should thank Nick Fury walking out of the shadows in Iron Man (2008). By the time Warner Bros. finished with Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Marvel/Feige had re-invented film watching as we knew it. Avengers 1 was released the same year as Nolans The Dark Knight rises and Warner Bros. could not wait to get its own sweet shared comic book franchise.

Man of Steel was originally supposed to be the start of a self–contained Superman focused 5 movie arc much like Nolan’s TDK trilogy with maybe other characters showing up. While the argument that it could have been better is best left to alternate timelines, it is definitely true that Warner Bros. looked at MCU’s success and gave a risk-taking director like Snyder the keys to the DC kingdom (relatively speaking. We all know how much the studio intervened).

Warner Bros. had tried to get Batman V Superman and Justice League movie made before but couldn’t make it happen. The stars aligned and Snyder was thankfully at the right place and time so that we got an avant garde timeless classic like BvS. Warner Bros would never have taken up a risky project like Aquaman or Wonder Woman.

Similarly, Warner Bros idea to make Batman V Superman inspired Feige/Disney to make Civil War. Wonder Woman convinced them that female led superhero movies can work. It also convinced them to make more diverse movies like Black Panther and Shang Chi. Snyder’s realistic take and epic scale inspired a lot of Infinity War, Endgame, Winter Soldier etc.

Trying to compete with the MCU literally made DC want to ‘extend’ itself thus giving birth to the DCEU.

New Rules

DC/Warner Bros, thanks to unimaginative bottom feeders like Walter Hamada and Toby Emmerich, have completely given up any notion of wanting to one up Marvel/Feige. The success of Zack Snyder’s Justice League should have convinced them they had a unique chance of competing and excelling on their hands. Even the billion dollar success of Joker should have convinced them to try and fight harder but in a different way. Yet even cancer can be cured but not a swollen ego.

However, DC does have a promising set of movies coming up. From James Gunn wacky The Suicide Squad to Matt Reeves’ detective Noir take on The Batman. Perhaps numbers wise—Warner Bros. is playing the safer game, trying to aim for characters which work. Making low budget movie like Birds of Prey and Shazam to targetted audiences was also a part of the same strategy. There is no doubt most of these movies will be successful yet nowhere nearly as successful as the MCU. They just acknowledged the existing of a multiverse of infinite possibilities, making solo movies aint gonna cut it.

Because things have changed. The success of any comic book media is not in terms of ticket sales in this era of streaming and social media. Its about generating hype and engagement that determines their success. MCU (or Marvel Cinematic Multiverse – MCM from now) manages to do this really well.   The fans discuss fan theories and they type on endlessly about who is going to show up etc. This keeps the Marvel a part of pop culture zeitgeist.

While Marvel Cinematic Multiverse has first mover’s advantage, all DC/Warner Bros. have to do is acknowledge the shared nature of their movies. Currently, there is no overall plan but just throw shit at the wall and see what sticks. Forget about interconnectedness, even the movies starring the same lead characters arent exactly connected to each other. Wonder Woman 84 is nowhere close thematically to Wonder Woman, The Flash has a different actor playing the Flash’s father than in ZSJL, The Suicide Squad (Yes that THE is always going to capitlized to highlight its dumbness) is sorta/kinda a sequel/reboot/reimagining/next mission for David Ayers Suicide Squad when it just could have been called a normal sequel. If Warner Bros. merely accepted and marketed this shared universe/multiverse it would definitely get the hype going.

Destined to do this forever

If you liked Thanos, Deadpool or Aquaman and many other characters, you have to thank the competition between DC and Marvel comics for that. The decades old competition between the two has made them want to choose different tones, copy interesting characters etc. Great writers have worked on both sides of the aisle and created fantastic stories.

A healthy competition between the two brands not only means that the fans get more variety, it allows the creators on these hugely popular brands to take more risks to win against the competition. Where Warner Bros/DC has gone wrong in their live action media is that they tried to copy their competition. Any sports person or businessman will tell you that trying to copy your competition will eventually result in failure.

We all hope to see a future where these creative giants duke it out as hard as possible, taking risks and going to places not gone before. Its the only thing that ll keep them from slipping into their comfort zone. To paraphrase a line from Alien Vs predator- whoever wins, fans will definitely win.

(All images copyright of their original creators) 

Writer, blogger comic book and movie geek offering a unique take on story-telling and narrative aspects

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