Since long before I was even conceptualized, the rivalry between Marvel and DC existed. The Hatfields and McCoys of the comic book universe. They've always been in direct competition, but that has only forced each side to step up its respective game and deliver quality products fans love. In this case, the cinema scene is no exception. Like a crazy arms race, each company is trying to put out as many films as they can. The ultimate showdown was suppose to take place during the summer of 2016 when DC foolishly decided it would schedule the release of its long controversial Batman vs Superman film the same weekend [Captain America 3](movie:994409) was set to come out. This game of superhero chicken would have ended in disaster for one (or maybe both) sides, but DC was unrelenting in its attempts to try and capture the movie gold that was Marvel's phase 1 and 2 films. DC recently released a soft schedule of film releases to compete with Marvel's. To our great disappointment, not only did DC back down from their challenge (moving Batman v. Superman 2 months earlier), but they also didn't specify what films were being released. How anticlimactic, but predictable. Anyway, we've heard this all before. but what you might not realize is how it affects us, the fans.
Warner Bros., the company that currently has the rights to produce any and all DC content (tv shows, animated features, films, etc). That is a lot of work for one company to do with a whole universe/multiverse of comic book characters and stories. DC has always dominated the small screen with tv shows and cartoons that give adults a reason to get up early on Saturday mornings. That hasn't changed one bit with the popularity of Arrow, the anticipation for the Flash spin-off, Gotham detective show, and the chilling Constantine. Marvel has the only recently watchable [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469). Sure Marvel is doing a huge Netflix-released event with 4 hero shows, but those a still a long ways away. So how has Marvel been able to release so many films in such a short time? Because they sold certain heroes to certain companies. Fox Studios owns the X-Men and really anything mutant related [*we're going to revisit this], along with the Fantastic Four. In case you're wondering, this DOES include Deadpool and the recently released test footage.
Sony owns anything Spider-Man related, including all the villains. Everything else belongs to Disney, including all of the Avengers, [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073), etc. Because each studio independently makes their own character's movies, they are able to release 2+ films a year. Your average fan and consumer loves this because there is a constant stream of comic book-related films being released. In that aspect, leasing out certain characters is preferable for the overall exposure/domination of Marvel. Where it really starts becoming an annoying pain is when you realize that some of your favorite cross-over story arcs will likely never become a reality on film.
As a fan of really anything Marvel/DC, I especially love when two different worlds collide. *Going back to Fox Studios, since they own anything mutant related, we can't refer to the newest members of the Avengers team (Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch) as mutants, even though that is what they really are. There lies the problem. So far, both characters have been introduced in two completely time periods from two different studios and in two different films. Aside from continuity issues when trying to compare them both, that also means no X-Men or Avengers can be seen together, at least not carrying their respective labels. Fans everywhere hate this because the Avengers have had some very prominent X-Men join their ranks, and even marry at least one of them (Storm and Black Panther).To my great devastation, that means there will likely be no Avengers vs X-Men movie while I live. This is where DC is superior. They are able to have any infinite number of crossovers they want. The proof will likely be in the Batman vs Superman film, which looks like it will try to cram every member of the Justice League it can so it can prepare for the a Justice League movie. We already have Wonder Woman cast (Gal Gadot) in her sensible high heel boots, we have the Flash and Green Arrow if they decide to go with the actors in their tv shows (but really, why wouldn't they?), there are rumors and hints that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will play kid superhero [Shazam](movie:738107), and the now confirmed rumor that the savage Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, Game of Thrones) will be playing Aquaman, but the most upsetting would be if they kept Ryan Reynold's terrible interpretation of Hal Jordan's Green Lantern. With all of these (and probably more) characters looking to get introduced in a single movie, there is little room for a story, right?
Only time will tell, but I think this marks the beginning of the end. Competition has always made companies try harder to make a superior product, like Marvel did with [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](movie:254973). The doubled-edged sword of competition is that it also forces each side to take huge risks. Guardians of the Galaxy was one of those risks that just so happened to work out phenomenally, but it could easily have been a complete disaster. Taking a less mainstream comic book series with a human, several aliens, a walking/talking tree creature and a genetically/mechanically modified raccoon could have easily pissed off film watchers with how ridiculous it sounds but the gamble paid off in a huge way (much like The Avengers film).
Although the controversy has sort of died down, let's not forget the monumental changes made in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. The non-traditional casting notwithstanding (which honestly doesn't bother me as much as purists), my main concern is what was revealed in an interview with Kate Mara. Mara said that director Josh Trank told her that there was no need to familiarize herself with the comic book universe because "the plot won’t be based on any history of anything already published." Yes, that means that not only will the film have color-blind casting, but it may also not even be based on anything comic book related. Can it even be called a Fantastic Four film then? 20th Century Fox seems to think so, but fans everywhere disagree.
While DC is (frantically?) trying to play catch-up to Marvel's successful gambles, they may just be digging their graves. Marvel's current line-up and risks may be working out for the moment, but what will happen when the next risk doesn't work out? What will happen when the fan favorite cross-overs (usually introduced to freshen-up a franchise) can't happen because the Marvel universe's rights are scattered among different studios? My guess is an irreparable avalanche that will swallow one or more studios in its wake. The only reason we will have another Avengers or Superman film is because of how much money they make. It doesn't matter if a film is good (in the case of [Man of Steel](movie:15593)), as long as it can turn a profit, they'll continue to churn them out. Eventually, with enough bad films being made, we'll stop paying to go see them. Then, as soon as even one film franchise in one studio shows even the slightest bit of inprofitability, the studio will jump ship and you can kiss your franchise good bye (at least for a little while). I could just be paranoid and inciting panic for no reason (wouldn't be the first time), but for now I'll just sit back and enjoy this Golden Age in comic book films and hope it doesn't go back to the Dark Ages of Batman suit nipples and failed Hulk movies.