Alright, folks... Let me preface this by saying that I realize how bold of a statement this is, especially considering that DC has only released one film so far. Based on what we know right now I truly believe that DC is going to best Marvel going forward. Many of you are probably already thinking "Oh here we go... Another DC fanboy hipster trying to get people to hate Marvel just because it's popular..." Well let me just say no to that. I love the Marvel universe and what they've accomplished. I am not here to trash Marvel, but rather to tell you why DC is setting itself to surpass the success that Marvel has gotten. And if the upcoming DC films do turn out to be garbage I will eat all of these words. I promise. I will print this post out, and I will eat the paper. Maybe. Probably not. So here we go...
DC Has Batman
Batman is, by a long-shot, the second most iconic superhero behind Superman. But when it comes to popularity, Batman takes the cake here. Why is that you ask? It is because Batman is one of the most relate-able heroes because he is just a man with no superpowers. Is he a billionaire with all the resources he could ever need? Yes, but he is still just a man. Batman is a hero that the general audience can relate to because he is a man who has risen above tragic circumstances and dedicated his life to helping people. He is fully aware of the threats that he is up against, but still willing and confident enough to take on any challenge. Sometimes almost to a fault. This is a man who is (for lack of a better word) a vigilante who can stand beside aliens, gods, goddesses, meta-humans, and cyborgs, and be looked at as an equal or even a threat.
Batman's fan base has done nothing but grow over the years, and a large contribution to that is the fact that his recent films have been nothing less than spectacular. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises has outperformed all but three Marvel films in worldwide box office earnings. Bear in mind that 'TDKR' was not connected to any other superhero and thus did not take part in a shared universe. That being said, it still managed to conclude one of the greatest film trilogies of all time. Two of the three films that surpassed 'TDKR' in earnings were both 'Avengers' films. The third being Iron Man 3, which was riding on the success of the Avengers and is considered by many as one of the lesser films in the MCU. If I could invest in Batman, I would definitely do so.
And now we get to Batfleck...
When Ben Affleck was first cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the internet exploded. The haters made their voices heard and the response was comical to say the least. Needless to say, not very many people had faith that this man could make us proud as Batman. I for one, was not one of those people. As proof, attached here is a post I wrote not long after Affleck's casting was announced. And let me make this very clear, Affleck's casting and the fact that he is one of Hollywood's ELITE directors today is no coincidence. This is made more obvious by the fact that there is a planned new Batman trilogy where Affleck will at least co-write and direct the first film. Warner Bros' hopes and dreams lie with the success of their bid on Ben. This was by design. And as new trailers featuring footage and photos of Affleck as Batman have surfaced, the initial Batfleck haters have gotten awfully quiet.
Another thing I've pondered on for quite some time is the fact that they once again are putting a retired Batman on film. In Batman v Superman this makes perfect sense for this universe as we have a seasoned Batman who will be bitter and angry and ready to kick Superman's super-butt at the first sign of trouble. But this makes me extremely optimistic about the new Batman solo films. Zack Snyder and his marketing team have made it very clear that they have aged Ben Affleck in 'BvS' quite a bit to the point that they actually made Affleck wear a wig for his scenes as Bruce Wayne. Now this is where things get interesting. Why age an actor currently in his prime to play a retired superhero? BECAUSE THE NEW BATMAN TRILOGY (or at least the first film) WILL BE PREQUELS!!! Maybe... At the time of 'BvS' there is already a prominently dead Robin that has most likely been killed by the Joker. Recent rumors have stated that the first Batman solo film will be an interpretation of the Under the Hood and Death in the Family story lines from the comics where Jason Todd (the second Robin) is killed by the Joker and later returns as the Red Hood. A character similar to Batman, but with no remorse and a taste for killing the bad guys. This makes sense as they can remove the artificial aging in order to portray him before he is the broken, regretful man in 'BvS'. With Affleck at the helm directing himself, I have a hard time seeing this film fail. Keep in mind that the last film this man directed (Argo) won the Oscar for Best Picture. And his prior film, The Town was one of the most critically acclaimed films in the year of it's release. Just imagine a movie with the tone of The Town, but throw Batman in the mix. My mind is exploding just thinking about the potential this has. I am beyond excited for what the future holds for Batman.
Marvel may have caught lightning in a bottle making a B-list superhero like Iron Man into an A-lister, but even he doesn't hold a candle to Batman.
DC is going all in on their cast
Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Mamoa, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Joel Kinneman, Lawrence Fishburne, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Diane Lane and Common are not even all of the huge names that DC now has portraying their beloved characters. I mean really. Look at that list of names. LOOK AT IT! Marvel has done a great job with their casting choices, choosing mostly B-list actors and letting them blossom into household names. DC/Warner Bros have taken a different approach by hiring movie stars and annual Oscar contenders to star in their films. Many look at these moves as WB not being fully confident in their content and hiring established names to bring people to the theaters. While this is a valid argument, I see it differently. I look at it as WB/DC telling their fans, "Don't worry everybody, we know what we are doing. We are bringing in the big guns to do your favorite characters justice."
DC caters to a more mature audience
Marvel is owned by Disney, which means that every movie must lighthearted enough for kids. They are centered around family entertainment, which means that they will naturally have a more difficult time adapting the darker storylines from the comics. For instance, one of Iron Man's greatest story arcs is Demon in a Bottle, which heavily focuses on Tony Stark's alcoholism. Director Shane Black actually planned to fit at least some of that story arc into Iron Man 3, but Disney and Marvel would not allow it as children would be watching. The closest Marvel has gotten to covering that side of Tony Stark is the drunken party scene in Iron Man 2 where Tony fights Rhodey, but even that is extremely watered down.
DC/WB does not quite have that problem. Zack Snyder has said that Man of Steel and all future DCEU movies are the legacy of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, which as we all know is grounded and significantly darker than any given Marvel film. While the future of the universe was uncertain at the time of release, Man of Steel adequately set the tone of the universe from the get go. Though the film was met with mixed reactions, most of the criticism was towards things that people had been asking for for years. There were complaints that there was too much inconsequential action, and that the movie is too dark and brooding for a Superman movie. People seem to misunderstand what Man of Steel is. It wasn't really a Superman film until about the third act. Prior to that, it was a Clark Kent story about discovering who he is and what he is capable of. Now yes, Man of Steel was a bit somber in its tone, but it is not "dark". Just because a film lacks some color and excessive jokes and goofiness does not mean that it is dark.
One huge reason that DC/WB is able to make their movies with more diversity in their tone is that they do not have to submit to a creative committee like Marvel does. DC/WB has chosen to take a different route by allowing their directors complete creative freedom as long has they stay within the continuity of the established universe. Many have criticized DC/WB for their approach, because in theory it almost seems like there is nobody steering the ship. This is in part because they don't have an official head of the universe much like Kevin Feige is for the MCU. I actually think this is better as each film in the DCEU will be able to have its own identity instead of fitting into the cookie cutter generic category that the Marvel movies have become. This way an upbeat character like the Flash doesn't have to be brooding and dark like Batman naturally is. As comedian Patton Oswalt once said, "Stop with the brooding! The only one who gets to brood is Batman! They can’t all be brooding!" I personally think that DC/WB was listening.
Now I'm sure many of you will disagree or have many good points that debate my ideas, and my word is far from gospel. But as you can probably tell, I am extremely excited for what DC/WB is bringing to the table with this universe. That being said I've been a DC fan for maybe twenty years now, so I am very eager to hear what opinions those of you on the other side of the table have!