Ever since I have been into comic books, there have been Marvel fans and there have been DC fans. A quick google search will find a ton of links to the debate between the two camps. I don’t really care about that because I like properties from both sides. My point with this article is to discuss the differences in the two companies when it comes to developing movie properties. The whole idea of this blog entry came from the following tweet from Brett White:
DC/WB is all like "Wonder Woman's too confusing for a movie!" and Marvel/Disney is all like "Here's a raccoon with a machine gun"
— Brett White (@brettwhite) August 12, 2013
After I was done laughing hysterically, I really started to think how true this really is. So I did a little analysis. I got together a list of all the films based on DC Comics and did the same for movies based on Marvel Comics. I got rid of anything that was based on imprints. So gone were A History of Violence, Road To Perdition, Red, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Kick Ass, Men in Black, etc. Then I narrowed it down to the last 25 years (that’s 1989 for all of you that are bad at math).
Once you whittle that down, DC did movies for Batman and Batman sub-character Catwoman, Superman and Superman sub-character Steel, Green Lantern, Watchmen, and Jonah Hex. In 25 years, they basically worked off 5 properties. Really?!?! The publisher has been around for 80 years and in the past quarter of a century have only done films based on 3 of its top 5 properties, the greatest comic ever written, and a comic that was published for 35 years. Just think about that for a second. If that doesn’t make an impact on you, then maybe this will:
Comic Vine published a list of their top comic book characters and HALF were DC characters. 37 of IGN’s top 100 comic book characters of all-time were DC characters. And 18 of Wizard Magazine’s top 50 comic book characters of all-time were DC comic characters. So, despite owning some of the greatest characters and despite owning over 1/3 of the current comic book market share, the publisher still hasn’t done a film for all of its A-list characters. Nothing for Wonder Woman (well…she is getting a bit part in the new Superman flick), nothing for The Flash, no movie for Green Arrow (despite a very well-received television show), nothing for Shazam.
In comparison, let’s take a look at Marvel. In the above mention polls, Marvel has similar statistics and has just a touch more of the market share (about 3 more percent). However, in the same time period (the last 25 years), Marvel has done movies for The Fantastic Four, Captain America, Punisher, Blade, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Wolverine, The Incredible Hulk, Elektra, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider, Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, and an upcoming film for Guardians of the Galaxy. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!?!?! Think about it for a second. When I was a kid, Iron Man was a B-list character. Thor was a once-popular character that was fading into oblivion. And Guardians of the Galaxy was a no-longer published flash in the pan featuring a raccoon with a machine gun. Yet Marvel was not afraid to make movies which is turning them all into huge mega pop-culture characters.
Now if you look at the quality and popularity of the films. Batman 89 was well-received and did well at the box office. The Christopher Nolan Batman films did amazingly well and people loved them. The 89 Batman sequels were awful. Steel was bad and nobody saw it. Catwoman was a disaster. Superman Returns did OK at the box office but fizzled with fans. I absolutely loved Watchmen, but it was not that well received. Jonah Hex was terrible and bombed. Green Lantern bombed. Man of Steel was a split by fans. So basically, in 25 years, DC only figured out how to make a Batman movie. Good job, DC!
You have a blockbuster on your hands with a Wonder Woman movie. Women are more and more becoming not only present in geek culture but important voices (cough Felicia Day and Blair Butler). She is a blockbuster, universally known, certified A-list superhero. Yet you want to lump her as a sidekick in the Man of Steel sequel? Hell, if you want to test the waters with a female character and you only really feel comfortable with Batman, I have three words for you: BARBARA freakin GORDON.
Hell, if you really want to take some chances, I absolutely promise you that the world is ready for a Booster Gold movie. You think people are freaking out about a raccoon with a machine gun? How about team Booster up with Blue Beetle! Movie fans are royally upset with how Fox ruined Deadpool. How about capitalize on that!?! Give us a badass DeathStroke movie!!!! Want to steal the thunder from Thanos and Avengers 3 for Marvel? GIVE US AN AWESOME DARKSEID MOVIE FIRST! What about Hawkman or Martian Manhunter? I’m standing here holding my $10.
I know I’m just a jerk with a computer, but DC seems to want to play things so conservatively that they are getting left in the dust by Marvel. Marvel has a vision. Marvel is taking chances. MARVEL IS GIVING US ROCKET RACOON! DC wants to keep throwing things at the wall trying to figure out a decent Superman film while rehashing Batman over and over. The iron is hot right now for superhero movies. Who knows how long this will last. Get with it, DC. Give us, the geek fans, what we want.
Viva la nerdgasms.