Why Marvel Vs DC Will Destroy The Superhero Genre For Everyone – Screen Rant

Superhero movies are insescapable and the continuous war between Marvel and DC has the potential to ruin the superhero genre if they’re not careful.
The long war pitting the DCEU and the MCU against each other will result in the superhero genre being ruined for everyone. This popular genre has existed since serials dominated local theaters in the 1940s, long before it was developed into Hollywood’s biggest moneymaker. Though independent comics have been increasingly optioned and developed for film and television, Marvel’s MCU and DC Comics’ DCEU continue to dominate the space. With each studio continuously turning out multiple films a year, the superhero genre has transformed into a virtual printing press for Disney and Warner Bros. However, despite the success, the intense rivalry spells danger for the future.
Long before Disney’s acquisition of Marvel, Warner Bros. had produced critically acclaimed superhero films including Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Nevertheless, the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe prompted Warner Bros. to rush into production on a slate of DC films including Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel in 2013 which kicked off the official DCEU. However, by this time the MCU was already a worldwide phenomenon. At the time of Man of Steel’s release, the MCU already consisted of seven films including The Avengers. These MCU movies redefined the superhero genre and became the gold standard. Ultimately, the MCU also started a trend of transforming film into a more television-like viewing event.
Related: Marvel Is Beginning To Damage The Superhero Genre
Today, the rivalry between Marvel and DC has become a Cold War-style arms race with DC desperately trying to catch up to the success of the MCU. Unfortunately, their rushed projects and overambitious goals resulted in a slew of poorly received films (such as the notorious Green Lantern). While some praise the Snyderverse for its dark and gritty interpretations of DC’s beloved heroes, most were left severely divided. With poor reviews hindering the success of the DCEU, Warner Bros. continued to double-down in their greedy war with Marvel. Meanwhile, Marvel continued to turn out overwhelming hits and line their pockets. Though DC’s films have improved in recent years, their conflict with the MCU will likely end with the implosion of the superhero genre.
No matter how one looks at it, DC is losing its cinematic war with the MCU. It has been from the start and no amount of “course-correction” has allowed them to catch up. In their attempt to compete with The Avengers and the MCU’s unified story, the DCEU was not allowed time to properly develop. Unlike the MCU which introduced each major hero in their own personal film, the DCEU attempted to introduce all its major players in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the DCEU’s second film. As a result, the film suffered and was met with fierce backlash both critically and among general audiences. DC’s characters were never provided the necessary time to be properly developed and stand on their own.
Consequently, their subsequent ensemble films failed to take off. Films like David Ayer’s Suicide Squad and Joss Whedon’s Justice League simply did not have the foundation to succeed like The Avengers had with the five films that came before. Consequently, DC’s poorly received films hurt not only the studio’s reputation, but also the entire superhero oeuvre in general. This is because these poorly received films are now part of the body of work that comes to mind when the genre is examined as a whole with no distinction between Marvel and DC. Bad movies give ammunition to the genre’s critics and respected directors who speak against the popcorn nature of the genre.
The Cold War raging between Marvel and DC has no end in sight as each studio continues to develop interconnected films and an increasing number of television series. Both are locked in a perpetual cycle of content creation in a desperate attempt to prevent the audience from looking away. However, like all great genres, nothing can last forever and eventually the superhero fad will go the way of other cinematic trends, such as the Western. Eventually, there will be a sense of audience fatigue, brought about more quickly by the escalating war between Marvel and DC. So far the studios have avoided this burnout, but there are only so many stories and so many characters available in their arsenals.
Related: Why Marvel Is Losing Rights To Spider-Man, Avengers & Other Characters
Additionally, this cinematic Cold War has the potential to become even more perilous if the quality of content begins to deteriorate. This ever-present danger was already seen in DC’s early films. Though Marvel has been able to avoid a similar situation, it remains a possibility moving forward as they continue to build out their ever-expanding cinematic universe. Each studio will remain under immense pressure to ceaselessly create these blockbusters as the companies have now grown accustomed to the immense profits they are able to generate. After all, even bad movies make money. David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, for instance, brought in more than $700 million worldwide. Increasingly, this war between Marvel and DC isn’t about characters or fans, it’s about the enormous revenue superhero films bring in. Inevitably, this can only be bad news for the genre.
The answer to preventing Marvel and DC from ruining the superhero genre lies in each studio’s ability to craft genuinely unique releases. This means original stories that are not necessarily trying to set up multiple other films simultaneously. After all, it’s by and large been DC’s smaller properties and more character-driven stories that have been its most successful. Films like Shazam! and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad were able to take quirky and off-beat characters and turn them into overnight sensations. DC is already moving in this direction by shifting its focus to individual characters instead of extravagant ensemble films. Ultimately, these movies must also be unique even within their own cinematic universe.
To keep things fresh, both Marvel and DC will have to allow each film to take on a unique tone and personality of its own. Much of this boils down to the studio’s ability to choose directors with strong creative visions and empower them to execute said vision. Fortunately, DC has discovered the success of letting directors put their own spin on a property. This is even evident in Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman. The tone of this film is noticeably different from any previous DC property, including Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy despite both interpretations of Batman being heavily grounded in reality. By creating wholly original films with strikingly different tones, Marvel and DC will be able to keep audiences engaged and prevent their films from losing quality.
If the Cold War between Marvel and DC does not end, the entire superhero genre is at risk of being ruined. This does not mean Marvel and DC should stop making movies, it’s merely to say they must not let their “arms” race affect the quality of their films. This is without a doubt the golden age of the superhero genre, but like the Western, the golden age will eventually end. The MCU vs The DCEU is ultimately doing more harm than good for the genre and at some point, their war will need to reach its end. Fortunately, if each studio shifts its focus to individual stories and doesn’t pressure itself to continuously fill out a larger interconnected universe, they can prevent the ruin of the genre.
More: Every Failed Marvel Movie Before the MCU (& Why They Didn’t Work)
Anthony Borrelli is a TV/Movie News writer for ScreenRant and a recent graduate with a BFA in Screenwriting. Anthony has been immersed in the world of pop culture for years and is an annual WonderCon attendee. He has previously written for FandomWire and Moviepilot.


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