This year we have already had Batman vs Superman and seen the Captain square up to Iron Man, but perhaps the biggest showdown of all is that between Marvel and DC themselves. This battle has been reignited with David Ayer echoing the crowd last night at Suicide Squad's premiere by shouting an inflammatory phrase: “Fuck Marvel”. He later apologised for this comment in a tweet, but it shows how the competition is rife between both studios to create the ultimate superhero franchise. This is only the latest episode in a saga that has been going on for a very long time.
Whilst DC has had the more iconic characters in the form of Batman and Superman, Marvel has had the advantage by establishing its universe all the way back in 2008 with Iron Man, as opposed to DC’s 2013 Man of Steel. Perhaps Suicide Squad will change the tide, promising to expand upon the Deadpool mentality of antihero comic book adaptations by introducing an entirely amoral ragbag team of super-powered villains hired to do the government’s dirty work.
Will Smith claims that this is an advantage, claiming yesterday that “when you play a character that's completely immoral, as an actor, it blows the scene wide open.” We shall see if these claims of acting freedom are true when the film opens nationwide on Friday, but before that, lets see what other members of both studios have said about each other.
So, here is DC vs Marvel: An Overview.
Back In The Beginning
The rivalry between both franchises has lasted a long time, with Stan Lee claiming that Batman creator Bob Kane “always used to tease me about the fact that Batman was a big deal on television and in movies, and we at Marvel had done nothing."
Yet whilst Detective Comics dominated in the 60s, newcomers Marvel used their underdog status to create some of their most innovative characters, such as Hulk, Thor and Iron Man, who would later join Captain America to form The Avengers. Stan Lee took this opportunity in an interview to wish Bob was around to see the box-office domination Marvel has achieved today, with both Avenger movies grossing over a billion dollars. He stated:
"I wish he was here now so I could return that teasing. A character should be somebody that the reader, or viewer, really cares about, and maybe at Marvel we put a little more effort into refining the characteristics and the nature of our heroes, maybe a little more effort than they have on the other side of the aisle.”
Stan Lee later made some dubious comments in 2012 when he questioned the scientific rationale behind Superman’s ability to fly:
"You've seen Superman flying on the screen, haven't you? What is his means of propulsion? What makes him fly? He doesn't have a jet engine, there's nothing pushing him, he just sort of assumes a horizontal position, lies on the air and off he goes."
He went on to mention his empirical explanation of how he made the Silver Surfer take off:
"I gave him a flying surfboard—perfectly scientific, perfectly understandable."
Of course Stan. That makes perfect sense.
Why So Serious?
Whilst Marvel may have the supposed scientific explanations for their characters, Ben Affleck claimed in an interview this year for Entertainment Weekly that DC has philosophical superiority.
"It is more mythic, it is more grand in that way, and it is a little more realistic. Just by their nature, these films can’t be as funny or as quick or as glib as Marvel movies."
Both mythic and realistic? Seems like DC has it all. Maybe with Suicide Squad, we shall see some humour added into the mix.
The Balanced View
Kevin Fiege has been more magnanimous when discussing both films and their competition for Box Office Dominance:
“We are doing what we’ve always done, which is sticking to our plan and sticking to our vision for the movies going forward... just because another movie plops down onto one of ours doesn’t mean we are going to alter that. Maybe we should, but we’re not going to.”
As President of Marvel, he seems relatively unfazed by the expansion of the DCU, possibly realising that some fans just want to see everything.
Flavour Of The Week?
Last year Zack Snyder took some potshots at Ant-Man's hitherto small status:
“I feel like Batman and Superman are transcendent of superhero movies in a way, because they’re Batman and Superman. They’re not just, like, the flavour of the week Ant-Man – not to be mean, but whatever it is. What is the next Blank-Man?”
Whilst there wouldn't be much hope for Ant-Man in a showdown against the Caped Crusader (economically or in a fight), I don't think Paul Rudd minds very much.
Isn't The Movie Business Big Enough For Both?
Lucky for us fans, there is plenty of room for both studios to carry on creating great films, with over twenty films slated until 2020 between them. I suspect this enormous amount of superhero goodness will only fan further flames between both sides. But there's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition!
Maybe the ultimate showdown would be a movie adaptation of DC vs. Marvel, the limited comic book series which saw an epic smackdown between members of both comic books. The rights might be a little complicated, but surely both studios can see the economic potential in this! In the 1996 series fans were allowed to vote for who would win in battles between Superman and Hulk (Superman won), Storm and Wonder Woman (Storm Won) and Batman and Captain America (Batman won).
What do you think this time? Who would be the victors in the ultimate fight?