ByAlexander Sly Shaddix, writer at
A huge geek with a passion about Superheroes, yet still find time for Fantasy and Sci-Fi. DC specialist.
Alexander Sly Shaddix

The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie is almost upon us and while it is one of the most hyped movies of 2016 it has also dealt with a lot of criticism. The bulk of that criticism can be divided into two categories, those who believe that the DC movies and subsequently BvS, are too dark, and those who hate the quip in the end of the second trailer and want DC to remain as dark and different from Marvel as possible. Yet this is a phenomenon that doesn't apply only to BvS. Many and all Superhero movies undergo the same trial, whether they had to be lighter or darker.

In this article we will examine these two clashing ideas and reach a verdict, in which (I hope) we can agree that these movies should be and feel like.

Dark and Gritty


One of the most common type of criticism, usually attributed the DC movies, is that they are too dark and gritty. This criticism can be summed up into a number of accusations:

  • They do not capture the spirit of comic books.
  • They are too dark for broader audiences.
  • They take themselves too seriously.
  • These movies are unnecessary dark.

To really tackle these accusations we will have to answer them point by point:

  • This one is really not true. Many comic books, especially the Batman ones, are really dark, sometimes bordering horror genre. Storyline like the Civil War, the Punisher series, Batman and many more, are known for their dark and gritty storylines which would not translate well, in a more fun setting.
  • This is indeed an issue. One big mistake the studios do is making dark, gritty storylines, rated PG-13. A true comicbook-esque, dark storyline should be an R-rated movie and targeted to adults not a broader audience.
  • This is too far away from the truth. With the exception of the Watchmen and Batman the Dark Knight, we haven't yet seen any adaptations of really dark and serious storylines. Even in the cases of these two movies, they were able to create true tension that echoed and justified their dark and gritty tone.
  • This is usually attributed to the Man of Steel movie. Most of the times it is pointed towards the last few scenes of that movie, the death of General Zod. While there is truth in that, that scene could have been handled better, it is through tragedies and hardships that we see our superhero really grow, and it was just that kind of moment for Superman. It made him a better person.
  • Light and fun

    On the other side of the spectrum are the lighthearted and fun movies, usually Marvel ones. These movies too have an array of accusations to go through:

    • Their job is not all fun and games.
    • Their tragedies are not taken seriously, even by themselves.
    • The jokes can be repetitive and boring.
    • It's hard to create real tension

    Following the pattern set by the previous analysis, let's go point by point here too:

    • This is actually true. Having a very happy go lucky and lighthearted superhero movie restricts you from adapting or creating storylines that are really dark. A good example is the Captain America: Civil War movie. The people involved in this movie have been friends, and really close ones too, making jokes and laughing with each other for more than one occasion. Therefore it is hard to imagine them fighting each other in brutal battles. While I do have faith in the Russo brother, it is still a great plot hole that they will have to address in the movie.

    • This is not really true. In some instances, mostly those of Tony Stark, tragedies do seem to have little to no impact to that person. In most cases, though, even in fun movies like those of Marvel, tragedies can be seen to take a great toll on the characters involved. A good example would be the Carter-Rogers relationship through the Captain America movies.

    • This clearly depends on the joke, and the one telling it. While it is a danger that still looms over some movies, especially after the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie, groundbreaking and fun movies like Ant-Man and Deadpool proved that humour in superhero movies can still be a refreshing and fun thing.

    • This is something I believed for a long time myself. Then the Guardians of the Galaxy happened. While humour and lightheartedness might seem to weaken the odds and making it an obvious win for the heroes, that movie managed to create some real tension. The moment that the Nova corps broke from Ronan's blast, the way they died, and Rocket's destructions of the falling vehicles and desperation after thinking his friends dead, all created some neat tension that resulted to an even more fun pay-off.


    The true spirit of the comicbook genre, doesn't lie in one of these two categories, it lies on both of them. A true superhero movie, should both get dark and gritty when the circumstances call for it, and be fun and adventurous whenever it has room for it. A true to the comics superhero movie would incorporate both, in a way, like peanut butter combines with jelly. A good example of this, would be the Deadpool movie, that combined the meta-humour Deadpool was always famous for with the tragedy of his backstory.


    Which Clash of Ideas would you like me to write about next?


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