The MCU Becomes the DCCU

So I just saw my 20th official movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it remains quite unbelievable that Marvel movies have been on such a strong run since 2008 - a decade, wow - while DC's cinematic equivalent has had such trouble on screen and off, tonally, trying to do to much in too little time, etc. It seems to be getting on track, but it's nowhere near getting to the point where audiences will just go see a random title (looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy!) just because it's part of the MCU!

So here's my thought experiment for the day - accompanied by illustrations by Darren Rawlings, check him out on DeviantArt, there's a lot more where that came from - imagining that that incredible streak had been DC's instead. And to make it fun, I'm going to match characters to the one they got Amalgamated with in Amalgam Comics, where I can.

If Marvel had been DC, then we would already have 3 Green Lantern movies, 3 Superman movies, 3 New Gods movies, and 3 Justice League movies (with a fourth on the way because Darkseid just won). They'd also have a Solomon Grundy movie, believe it or not, 2 Legion of Super-Heroes films, 2 Atoms, a Dr. Fate, a Bronze Tiger, and Superboy Homecoming! Mary Marvel is on her way too.
Meanwhile, this alternate version of DC had started the ball rolling by selling the rights to some characters to studios other than Warner Bros. So we got another Solomon Grundy, 5 other Superboy films, 3 Challengers of the Unknown, 2 Demons, a Flash, a Catwoman, 3 Wonder Woman flicks (by way of Punisher, see Bullets and Bracelets), a whopping 6-7 Justice League Internationals, 3 Batman ones, and 2 Deathstrokes.

If you flip it, the WBed MCU focuses a heck of a lot on Wolverine (same as Fox, really), with Captain America as a strong second. Iron Man was an abortive attempt at a coherent movie universe. It really starts with Captain America, Man of War, then the controversial Wolverine vs. Cap, a bit of Thunderbolts, and then things start to get better with a Storm solo (again, Wonder Woman has a strange link to the Amalgam universe), followed by their first Avengers movie. On the horizon, Namor, Mar-Vell and Storm 2, with plans for Daredevil, Sabertooth, Spiral, and Deathlok.
Of course, this is all quite ridiculous. No studio would pick those exact heroes (and in one's case, villains) to be headliners. But then in a world that makes sense, the Guardians don't get their own franchise, do they? And neither does the Joker, I'm sure.

But it's a thought experiment, and admit it, there are a couple of those flicks you'd really want to see regardless of their commercial appeal, aren't there?

8 comments:

Brendon Wright said...

Great pics!
The DC thing IS sSUCH a quandary.

I wonder if it's 'cos so many fans "own" their own version of "how it should go"?
We're pretty vocal and put the fear into any studio who tries, resulting in a lack of artistic integrity from their poor, jellied hearts.

If I had any directorial skills whatsoever I can "guarantee" in my imagination that what I produce would be the greatest superhero movie ever, placing great writing before great profits. It wouldn't resemble anything made since colour telly and 95% of people would condemn it as irrelevant rubbish.

I've always loved Marvel as an outside observer, read the comics as if they were a curious alternative universe, so I've never been invested in whether a film is the "right" interpretation of my beloved character. I've said to the marvel screen "entertain me" and it did. VERY WELL.

Half of my comics were in this alternate world of Marvel, but Superman, the unbearded green arrow, the Batman who laughs heartily with Robin at the end of a story, and the married, middle aged, silver aged Flash were my childhood friends.

Of course nobody's gonna get 'em right cos they can't have known 'em the way I knew them.
And committee built versions to placate all fandom? Might be even worse.

LiamKav said...

I do get that argument, but I'm sure at least as many fans have their own idea of exactly WHO Spider-Man is. In fact, I can't think of any universe specific reasons as to why Cinematic DC is struggling compared to Marvel , so I can only assume it's an actual production and/or studio issue.

(By "universe", I mean something like "Superman is boring and too much of a Boy Scout". I don't agree, but it's an argument. One that is completely invalidated by Captain Freaking America , an arguably even tougher sell, having probably the best track record of all the Marvel films.)

Anonymous said...

While it's true you can't please all the fans, DC's big problem is that they don't have fans DIRECTING OR PRODUCING the movies.

Marvel got Joss Whedon to do "The Avengers", and his delight is all over that film, so it was inevitable that it would contain a lot of scenes that Marvel fans would love. Even if you've got an objection to, say, Banner's secret that he's angry all the time, you still got a lot of classic Hulk moments. Indeed, Whedon has a pretty good sense of things that just about any fan of Marvel would want to see, and he went there. Every character was given at least a couple moments to shine, doing what they're best at.

DC, on the other hand, hired Zack Snyder. They hired an OBJECTIVIST, of all things, to give us the adventures of an indestructible farmer without a mean or selfish bone in his body. You know that scene in "Superman II" where Zod speculates that Kal-El cares about human beings as his pets ... ? Zod had a better understanding of Superman than Zack Snyder did. Same problem with Batman, but it was easiest to see in Superman.

As Starlord has taught us, there's probably no character so fundamentally uninteresting that they can't make 'em appealing with the proper treatment. A few suggestions:

- Flawed heroes are okay, but show early on that they're good-hearted people. Just give us a scene or two that make us like the hero. Like in "Casablanca" and the young bride who is willing to sleep with the police captain to get money to leave town, and Rick gets her the money via the roulette wheel: he's a good guy, even if he doesn't like to admit it.

- There is a movie structure I like that is worth employing: the hero starts out ruining his own life in some fashion, and the external action of the movie helps him learn to fix that internal problem. Your basic character arc, pared down to the essentials. Consider "Casablanca" and why the ending is so satisfying: it's because Rick has figured out how to move past the heartache and be "whole" again.

Brendon Wright said...

Liam, you discovered a great, whacking hole in my thought. Spidey totally won me.

A sidetrack about Superman "the Boyscout": I remember thinking that same thing back in the eighties (Mickey Mouse lost me then too. I was all for Donald)...
More recently I've delved into the 1940's Radio serials and discovered that, to bad guys at least, Superman was in every sense a bully. He used the threat of his strength to intimidate and control "think you're tough now eh?" he'd say in a big alpha male voice.
But at the same time he fought prejudice... dang, testosterone AND acceptance in the same package??

LiamKav said...

Oh yeah, Superman used to be much more proactive as dishing out social justice (a social justice warrior, if you will). His first appearance involves him stopping a wife beater, and (in an almost Batman like move) getting confession out of someone by grabbing them, jumping to the top of the Capitol Building and threatening to smash them to the ground. That sort of pro-active superheroing largely disappeared as Superman got more and more powerful, but it does sometimes resurface (such as Grant Morrison's New 52 run).

Superman-as-Boy Scount is more me referencing the common image. Personally, I think the most important elements of both Captain America and Superman is that they should be physically intimidating but, as long as you are a good guy, you should never, ever feel even slightly threatened by them. They are both guys that make everyone they talk to feel important, by bringing the other person up to their level. But they must also have a steel to them. (The scene that comes to mind is Cap's "Does anyone want to get out" from The Winter Soldier. He gives the guys a chance to escape without a fight, but you are also under no delusions that he can and will absolutely wreck them if they stay.)

Anon: I do get the "fans" argument, but even then, you get different people being different fans of different interpretations. I bet there are a lot of Superman fans who LOVE it when comics go "mature" and think that Identity Crisis is great because it deals with "real issues" rather than it being a terrible story that ruined comics for about 10 years.

Brendon Wright said...

Ohhhhh!
Identity Crisis. It was so hard to unread that.
If I recall the artwork was irresistible eye candy which commanded the eye to read... and then tears your heart out.
I do remember a brief highlight along the way, Hawkman's no nonsense character and Slade's powers of strategy, but I was sick for days when I got to the end. Not fun.


Cap and Superman- terrors to the bad guys but nothing to fear for the good guys: that really, really resonates.
In many ways your description of Cap and Superman describes an ideal author's writing too: "as long as you are a good guy, you should never, ever feel even slightly threatened by them. They... make everyone they talk to feel important, by bringing the other person up to their level. But they must also have a steel to them."

Man! I wanna be just like that.

Anonymous said...

"Anon: I do get the "fans" argument, but even then, you get different people being different fans of different interpretations. I bet there are a lot of Superman fans who LOVE it when comics go "mature" and think that Identity Crisis is great because it deals with "real issues" rather than it being a terrible story that ruined comics for about 10 years."

While it's true that there are always people who think Superman "should" be more of a jerk or whatever, I don't think they always count as fans. Like let's take Superman under the nu52: I think DC was trying so hard to appeal to non-fans who said "Superman should be less powerful / less trusted / less of a boy scout / less etc" that they tried to turn him into something he wasn't, and hasn't even resembled since 1939. Thus, nu52 Superman had a bad attitude, rode on a motorcycle, was hated and feared by the public and the authorities, had very limited powers, got a bad haircut, was always bloody and wounded ... DC tried to turn Superman into Wolverine, and the experiment failed miserably. And, I bet they didn't win over a single one of his non-fans.

There aren't many actual Captain America fans who would hate to see Cap face off against Loki in Berlin and talk smack about Nazis. There ARE lots of Superman fans who would hate to see him behave like he did in "Man of Steel", where he seemed to give almost no damns about people.

Brendon Wright said...

*Sigh* We're gonna have to make the next movie ourselves, ain't we...

 

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