Since Marvel came on the scene in the early Sixties, the age old discussion between many a fan-boy of which is the better company, which produces the superior story lines and crossover arcs and which sports the best cast of heroes and villains has raged incessantly.
Now, I’m not here to take up sides per se, but it WILL become clear that I am a huge Marvel fan from way back. One totally nonsense reason was that the iconic characters Stan Lee created and myself were born during the same time; the early sixties. HOWEVER, I did grow up loving a great deal of DC too. Sure, I was a JLA fan, but my favorites were not mainstream choices; Legion of Superheroes and the Metal Men.
But, then, in 1980, The New Teen Titans caught my attention and became a close second to the Uncanny X-men run at the time. I loved all of the writers and artists involved in both projects and couldn't get enough of Marv Wolfman and George Perez from Titans and Chris Claremont and John Byrne of X-men fame. Still my favorite runs to this day. So, I still believe I can be totally unbiased. For, you see, I am an old school fan-boy who just loves a good superhero movie. I don’t care who puts it out, but it needs to be good. And both companies have had their flops and box office smashes. Marvel sticks out because they have produced far more in the past decade than DC can seem to keep up with.
So, what’s the point of this little rant, you say? Simply, that if DC is to compete with the last 15 years of Box Office Marvel greatness, there’s a few things they need to get right.
1) To PG or not to PG
First off, I’ve heard some say that Disney’s dedication to FAMILY entertainment would be their undoing, especially when referencing their collaborations with Marvel. They told the WWE the same thing and, yet, they thrive today; almost a decade after going PG. But there IS a market for a grittier, darker type of comic book movies, as proven by the newest Batman series. They have pushed the envelope a bit farther with every installment. Even Superman’s latest ‘murder’ on screen doesn't so much take away from his ‘Big Blue Boy-scout’ image as I think it makes him more accessible and human (I’ll address this in another article).
But, if DC’s JLA is to go toe-to-toe with Marvel’s Avengers franchise, they will need to appeal to the wide range of viewers that PG-13 will bring. They need to continue to dance the thin line between Adult ‘R’ entertainment and the Disneyesque PG standard. To their credit, it was reported that Marvel struggled with this as they had to fight off an ‘R’ rating twice during final production. IT is proven that you have more of an audience with PG-13 movies because you bring in all ages. And, the WWE’s Vince McMahan can testify to the fact that, if you get the kids, the parents can’t be far behind. This quite simply multiplies the butts in the seats.
HOWEVER, I believe there is a market for ‘R’ rated comic book movies; even superhero offerings. When dealing with properties like Spawn, Daredevil, The Punisher, Venom, Carnage and, even Batman, there needs to be an allowance made for these to be darker, grittier and bloodier even that before (even farther than Dark Knight). BUT, the mainstream movies MUST be PG-13 at worst. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the sort need to appeal to the wider range that PG-13 offers. But, some, maybe even the next Batman series, should be allowed to push things over into an ‘R ‘ rating. The Punisher comes to mind. Nobody wants to see a PG Punisher movie.
But, I would be on board with an ‘R’ Batman family movie. Story-lines like the KILLING JOKE come to mind. The world that the Batman and Daredevil exist in needs to be let out of the mainstream and into the dark, gruesome corners that they were intended. In my opinion, Sony’s Venom story-line would benefit greatly with an ‘R’ rating. To see the symbiotic monster in all of his horrific glory would be a dream come true. That way the ‘Lethal Defender of the Innocent’ can take on subject matter that’s hard to deal with. And, as a side not to Sony, this would allow a great segue into a much wanted Carnage movie. And, as I think I can speak for all the fan-boys out there, when I say, “Please don’t give us a Pg-13 Carnage.”
I’m MOST interested in the ratings to be given on the upcoming Daredevil connected series that Marvel is releasing on Netflix. Will they keep the Disney standard or will they take advantage of the separation from the big screen and do what shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad have been able to do? All of the projects mentioned so far (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones) are to be ‘flawed heroes’ and centered on HELL'S KITCHEN, the roughest end of the Marvel Universe. Each of the four series is dedicated to, at least, thirteen episodes, and is being targeted over multiple years to culminate in THE DEFENDERS, a imagining of the classic team into a ‘dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters’.
But I digress. This brings me back to the subject at hand. Can DC stand mano-a-mano against Marvel? Will they need to go totally dark and bloody and, even, Rated R to do so? I just finished watching MAN OF STEEL where they destroyed most of Metropolis and an epic finally fight scene (something the fan-boys have been clamoring for)! It was as gritty and edgy as you can get with Superman. And, in the end, even, he killed Zod! (sorry if that was a spoiler-hecks, it’s been a year!) I think if this opening volley is any indication, they have a good chance.
Make sure you catch part 2 of How DC can compete with Marvel, CLICK HERE!!!
Uncle Excelsior also contributes to JACKEDUP TALES and PROJECT’S PLAYGROUND!