The comic movie wars are on. With DC/Warner making the big push with Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and a whole parade of Justice Leaguer movies waiting in the wings, the universe of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest are making their case against the building Marvel universe of the Avengers and Guardians. I welcome the competition, frankly, competition usually means more quality. Each will continually be trying to one up the other and I just can't wait. I'm an old school comic nerd, so I can't get much more excited.
Just recently, Warner Bros chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara made an interesting comment:
“The worlds of DC are very different...They’re steeped in realism, and they’re a little bit edgier than Marvel’s movies.”
Ok, let's take that last comment first. There's been a lot of talk recently about the edgy nature of DC's approach to movies. They cut their teeth on the Batman franchise which, as a genre, must be 'gritty' and dark. With the debut of the darker MAN OF STEEL, they proved they could carry on that feel without destroying the last son of Krypton's boy scout image. If you watched that movie and felt that the killing of Zod was against character, then we were watching different movies. It was a dark choice. But good people have to make dark choices and they're not always right or wrong, but just the one choice you have in front of you. The struggle is to see this pure heart, Superman, keep his morals in a world that grows darker by the minute.
I think DC has to play it 'edgier than Marvel's movies' just for contrast. It won't make it better or worse than Marvel/Disney's take on superheroes. It will just make it different. But, now, with Marvel debuting its Netflix series Daredevil, Luke Cage, AKA Jessica Jones and Iron Fist, it may be more of a challenge to look DC is promoting. Seeing that Marvel, once again, gets to show their 'edgy' style before BatmanvsSuperman, this may push the envelope on how we see 'dark and gritty'. Once Daredevil hits the streets of Hells Kitchen with a rated R, how 'edgy' will DC heroes look to us? Hard to tell.
But despite this challenge and the fact that DC can't go to an R rating and compete, I still think their more raw take on the old school Justice League will be to their advantage. They need their own look. They definitely don't need to try and look like Marvel's Avengers. That would be an absolute train-wreck. Don't imitate. Innovate.
Of course, everyone knows I'm just a sucker for a super hero movie.
But let's get to the one word the WB exec used for the DC Cinematic Universe that just doesn't take. And that's REALISTIC.
To stand there with a straight face and tell me that DC can pull off a more realistic story than Marvel is just denying comic history. Let's step back to 1962-3, comics were kiddy books and massive flights of fantasy. Suddenly, Marvel Comics breaks open the market with heroes with real life problems. A spider-man who's an awkward teenage. A behemoth called the Hulk struggling with the monster within. Iron Man, Tony Stark, who brought a tech edge to comics along with a swagger and a drinking problem. The Fantastic Four who were a family of adventurers with normal relationship problems between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives and, even best buds.
Marvel schooled the world on how to write comics. We passed the age of goofy, unrelatable characters to a new age of real humans who just happened to have super powers.
Even in the first round of Marvel movies, they made their case with real characters. The arrogant, ADD driven Tony Stark who doesn't play well with others. The American icon, Captain America, a man out of time and struggling with this brave new world he has woke up in. Black Widow and Hawkeye who have seen the world for all of its darkness and struggle with what it means to be a hero. Bruce Banner comes off the most accessible of them all as the kind doctor holding back the raging beast. If we were to be honest, compared to the alien superman, the Amazon princess, the guy with the magic ring, etc, the Thunder God, Thor ends up looking nearly normal. But you have to admit, Marvel brought him from lofty Asgard and made him just a man with a heart bigger than any of us.
Am I saying that DC can't pull off real? No, not at all. But I don't think that will be their selling point and I don't think Warner Bros will be able to 'out real' Marvel. I've read several opinions and tend to agree that there is a place for the fanciful and overpowered. The Justice League has always been over the top as characters. Making them relate-able will be only part of DC's job. Making Superman look almost human. Already done. MAN OF STEEL did it's job there. The other's will have to show a bit of humanity also if we are to care. But the selling point won't be how real these heroes get, but how well the story is written and how much we stand in awe of their power. Much like the roundhouse shot of the Avengers readying for battle gives us chills, that shot when the members of the Justice League finally stand together will be epic.
Bottom line? We do have to care about these people so getting real is a bit of the given. But we've been waiting a LONG time to see the Justice League ban together on the big screen. You have one job, Warner Brothers. Make it AWESOME!