DC and Marvel have created complex intertwining superhero narratives that have have allowed kids like me to escape into endless worlds of science-fiction for over 75 years. Who knew men and women in tight spandex fighting clowns would sweep the world? Years ago, a comic book company measured their success by comic and action figures sales, but the new standard is the box office revenue of your feature-length. Being a decent artist and a geeky storyteller is not enough, now you need a director, beautiful actors, and a good sense of continuity.
By all definitions of the term, Marvel has been succeeding. They provide an exciting use of iconic characters and storytelling that link seamlessly by sticking to a safe road of kid-friendly stories that don’t deviate severely from the original canon. On the other hand, DC has done almost the complete opposite and rewritten characters, altered facts, and kept to a dark tone. Furthermore, they hit reset on the continuity of their universe so much that Spider-Man is getting reboot envy.
Warning: Below I’m going to go into spoiler territory for Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Proceed at your own risk.
In Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman used the Batmobile to blow up someone and then kill another individual by crushing him with a car. My heart sank. Did I just see Batman kill someone? The writers have devoted entire story lines to how anti-killing Batman is, and in that moment, they threw that arc away because director Zack Snyder wanted more explosions. Giving Batman a gun is equivalent to giving Sonic the Hedgehog a turtle as a steed.
Though Tim Burton’s Batman also killed guys by strapping bombs to them, this recent portrayal undoes all of Christopher Nolan’s hard work. Even worse, BVS‘s Batman’s favorite way to stop an enemy is to blow them up or gun them down with an assault rifle. This is supposed to be the same hero who wouldn’t even kill the Joker after he killed off his sidekick and crippled Commissioner Gordon’s daughter.
This is an abomination to DC canon. The Batman we got in the new movie had more likeness to The Punisher with Iron Man’s armor than our sleepless Dark Knight.
DC is trying so hard to be different and adult that they are disqualifying themselves from the comics race. For years, this company has been the perfectly good alternative to Spider-Man and Captain America and powerful enough to compete with the titan Marvel. However, DC’s desperation has set in, resulting in films such as Batman V. Superman. In the past, DC tried to force feed their fans with so many alternative universes, dream sequences, and foreshadows that it was more discombobulating than cool. There’s a place for toying with the comics universe by using sci-fi tropes, and DC has done it well with story lines such as Infinite Crisis, but somehow the formula didn’t work as well in Batman V. Superman.
Fellow DC fans, I fear that we are on the losing side of the competition. DC seems to be making the same business choices that WCW was making to compete with WWE. It would be dreadful for Marvel to actually try to buy DC as a means of destroying all competition.
To earn back their street cred and become a legit alternative for Marvel, I believe DC needs to focus on what they do well: full length animated stories (Justice League Vs. Teen Titans, Batman Arkham Assault) and television series (Gotham, Flash, Arrow). I know that these offerings aren’t as cool as Marvel’s puzzle piece-style movie legacy, but it lets you know what fans are pining for. We want to see the hero universe explored, dramatized, and filled with decent science-fiction. Can that be brought to the silver screen? Heck yes! Shoot, if you took the Batman and Superman animated feature made in the early 2000’s and modernized it that would be more of what we are looking for. You can see the full movie here.
DC needs to stop acting like they don’t have over seventy years of backstory that helped shape their superhero fiction. I admire them for trying something new, but their new material shouldn’t erase Batman’s character nor rely on plot techniques made famous by Marvel. Keep it simple, stick to the canon, and have fun with the franchise, and I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.
My last chance to prove DC is still relevant will be The Suicide Squad in August. Fingers Crossed. What do you think?