Here’s my take on why Marvel movies are better than recent DC movies
Marvel Comics invests in their characters, for the most part, which in turn makes us care about them. They also invested in effects.
Because Marvel is more effects based, if DC Comics were to compete using stories, they have to explain what’s happening and get buy-in for its characters.
This isn’t a revelation. I’m not saying anything that I’m sure hasn’t already been said. Before I get into the specific movies, I’d also like to state that I do not subscribe to what seems to be a consensus, that there is a large gap between the quality of DC and Marvel films. Most of what I see is a rushed storytelling issue. I just see so many people and critics reviews bashing DC films and it seems as if they forgot Dark Knight exists. Those weren’t great “hero movies” those are great films. Period. Christopher Nolan spent an extensive time outlining the hero. He gave us next to no history of the villains, but made their goals toward evil extremely clear and painted a massive line in the sand of morality. The mystery of his villains Ra’s Al Ghul, Joker, and Bane weren’t needed because we had the fact that they’d kill anyone and do anything it took to hurt as many people as possible. They all had justifications that were laid out in detail for we the viewers. What Nolan did was give us room for imagination with a few snippets/stories of these villains pasts to build them up on our own. That’s not an easy thing to do, but his dialogue and attention to nuances forced us to “understand” their evil and buy-in to the fact that they had to be stopped with urgency. The acting was great, the dialogue, the stories. Lengthy, but great.
It’s almost as if the current DC film makers are watching Marvel trailers and feel they have to compete and cram in as much content and add as many effects possible to get Marvel’s fans or the response Marvel gets…They don’t. They have to focus on making good movies with a beginning, middle, and end with a coherent plot and relatable dialogue.
‘Why are these guys fighting those guys? Why is it important? Are the protagonists likable, relatable, with a moral mandate to defend their cause? Are the antagonists evil, but with a logical, contextual purpose? what drives the villain?’
Which begs the question. Are these newer movies being hurt in the writing room or in the editing bay? I’m a huge fan of the Man of Steel movie. For a movie that had to revisit a story that was widely known, it’s very difficult to trim the fat and still have a good coherent story without assuming everyone knew Superman’s origins. They even did something that no previous Superman movie had attempted. A full Krypton depiction. But then again, Nolan played a part in that film.
As hard as Suicide Squad was to watch, it was the villain that was bad, not the movie itself. Why? The 1st thing they established was each character, why they were needed to achieve a specific goal, and why the audience should follow them in their journey against the real villain, the person compiling the group of misfits, Amanda Waller. (Not the token “evil” Enchantress and her brother). The movie went south when the hula hooping villain purposelessly stood around calling for random violence that was unprovoked other than Waller supposedly keeping her from utilizing (heart) power that she apparently could borrow from her brother, a character who was never explained. Worse, the people/Suicide Squad selected to stop her had really no way or powers, for the most part, to help fight her. They were just randomly selected prisoners who were cool characters. The best developed person in the movie was Will Smith’s Deadshot, then you had Killer Croc who’s a mutated man, a guy with a boomerang named…Captain Boomerang, El Diablo the fire starter who refused to use his ability…A woman who had a baseball bat and no abilities (Harley Quinn). Shes a psycho who is unpredictable and uncontrollable. There’s no reason to pick her for the Squad. I’m fine with the fact that she’s actually supposed to be in the Squad and that works for comics. Films have rules. There should be a reason for a character or they don’t need to be there. She has the look and Robbie was so perfect for the role that she ended up stealing the spotlight with Will Smith as the bright spots. She’s WAY more equipped to contribute to a Bat/Joker story where there’s context and a story to involve her. Harley and the fact that Leto was upset with the final cut leads me to believe the problem with that film was editing.
Batman v Superman was chaos. When they added deleted scenes after the theatrical version was released, it made more sense. Everyone I know was asking why Batman, who was originally furious about the cities destruction at the hands of Superman and his enemies, would lead a different and far more powerful enemy of Superman (Doomsday) BACK into the city opening it up to further destruction. The added back scene made sense and completely changed one of the worst, incoherent parts of all of the hero movies for the better. It made the whole movie better. Still not great, but that context, formerly laying on the edit room floor really helped fill some of the huge holes in the story. I’ll never get past the name Martha ending a to-the-death fight, but that’s another conversation all together.
The biggest fault of Batman v Superman was that there was no Affleck/Batman setup movie.
They didn’t replace Christian Bale, it was a totally different Batman with totally different actors. It wasn’t even the same timeline. Everyone was replaced. Unless you’re a pretty serious comic follower, you don’t know that Batman. Matt Reeves’ upcoming Batman movie should have come before the Justice League. Cyborg and Aquaman, should have come before the Justice League. Hell the Doomsday angle should NOT have come before the Justice League. I personally would have liked to see the full 3 hour original version of this movie to see the quality of character development, and writing that went into this movie.
Lex Luthor was poorly cast. I like Eisenberg as an actor, but he was trying to act more like a Joker/Riddler type of villain rather than a billionaire schemer who runs Metropolis and its underworld, simultaneously. Lex Luthor conveys arrogance, power, and calculation. Eisenberg came across as a spoiled rich kid trying to bully as a side hobby.
DC filmmakers have got to stop watching Marvel movies as a barometer to how they structure their own movies. It’s like a prevent defense in football. It’s reacting to competition instead of creating movies. It’s a completely backwards approach to filmmaking.
They seemed to have released this movie simply because we had Avengers movies. It’s unfortunate because a build up would have made this movie a very good one. Steppenwolf didn’t look as bad as it’s being portrayed. I’m curious to see if Thanos gets the same criticisms when Infinity comes out. I liked Justice League, but much like Thor Ragnarok, the comedy crosses the line into the realm of goofy, for me. It was out of place in the context of the former movies. Flash could have introduced that element into the DC movies and I would’ve have no issues with it, but of course, Flash the movie is coming after the Justice League for some reason.
All in all, the DC universe hasn’t been ruined, but is in danger of people deciding to no longer give them the benefit of the doubt or waiting for them to get their act together. Stop trying to appeal to comic die hard comic fans or critics and focus on good old fashioned movie making and for god sakes use Dark Knight and Christopher Nolan as your barometer. No matter what “critics” say, Justice League was one of the better DC movies, despite its rushed storytelling.
If I were to put it up against Thor Ragnorok, it’s right there with it. Oddly, critics have Justice League at a 41 while movie goers have it at 82. Critics have Thor at 92. Movie goers only have Thor at 6 points higher than Justice League at 88, while critics have it at a 51 point positive differential in quality? Really? How is it that the audience can be more fair than the critics? Critics have long been more willing to pick at DC movies as of late than they are the non X-men Marvel counterparts.
I think part of it is there’s much more star power involved with the Avenger characters. Another part is the darker nature of the DC movies isn’t received as well as the outgoing comedy aspects of Marvel. DC also attempts to appease/appeal to the comic fan base. Finally, even when Marvel struggles with coherency in plots, the superior writing of their filmmakers and wit jousting between characters distracts us enough to forgive flaws and allow us to remain in their suspended reality. Marvel has made many very good comic movies, but DC has also. On that same note DC has had some failures, as have Marvel. I really wish this wasn’t a mean girls comic book society where we pretend like some are better simply because of the label. Let’s not overhype one to knock down another or vice versa. It’s silly. Doing that risks is not being able to see some characters that we’ve never been able to see portrayed on the big screen, because the names on the marquee aren’t as famous, you don’t like the filters used, or you just don’t know anything about them and feel that they should be funny like a character in the other universe. These characters in most cases have been around for decades. The portrayals are better than ever and I would like to enjoy an age where the capabilities are finally here, instead of pretending a “brand” is superior. Let’s judge the movies in an individual basis. Not doing so would be pretending horrible Marvel movies don’t exist or there aren’t any that are worse than what DC puts out. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can explain the X-Men movies timelines, but they continue to get ignored as critics declare DC films to be the worst or complete failures while pretending the Fantastic 4 atrocities don’t exist or that Thor The Dark World, Ironman 2 & 3 were great cinematic feats…Let’s be fair, shall we?