DC has a pretty big movie coming out next year. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is supposedly going to herald the coming of the DC movie shared universe that will eventually culminate in a pair of Justice League movies. As a big Batman fan, I should be happy that this is happening. But I’m not. I have zero confidence that DC can pull off what Marvel have in their creation of a shared universe. And it’s not because I’m a hater. I mean, I do hate Man of Steel. But the reason I have no confidence is that DC hasn’t given me any.
I’m a huge fan of the Dark Knight trilogy. I think they are three excellent movies that manage to take the source material seriously and present it in a way befitting the cultural icon they are about. The problem with the Dark Knight trilogy is that DC took the lesson from their success that darker and grimmer was the way forward. That’s why we have Man of Steel, a movie that seems to be embarrassed to use the main character’s name and doesn’t seem to understand Superman or what the character is about.
The reason that Marvel is so successful is that they didn’t take one success and try to carbon-copy it. They have taken each character and made a movie about that character that suits them. Iron Man was a big, cocky action movie with a nice mix of comedy and robots blowing up tanks. Captain America was a blatantly cheesy Second World War movie full of aw shucks-ness and Nazis getting their asses kicked. Thor was a movie about gods that was bright and painted on a huge celestial canvas. Marvel didn’t hit the jackpot with Iron Man and then said, “Right, every movie needs a smug as hell hero who has a redemption story and acts like being a superhero is a hobby instead of a noble calling.” No, they took each movie and each character, went back to the source material, and built it from there.
Early images of Dawn of Justice have all been dark and broody, and they make me think that it’s just going to be the same angsty shite that Man of Steel was. When I saw the trailer for Age of Ultron with the contest to pick up Thor’s hammer, I thought to myself that that fifteen seconds of footage was going to have more life and character than anything DC was going to produce.
Now, obviously, I cannot completely write any movie off without having seen a single frame of it, and I will probably be in the cinema opening night for Dawn of Justice, but I won’t be there ready for something awesome like I will for Age of Ultron. And I will be ready for something awesome with Ultron because I’ve seen that Marvel have taken the time to build their universe and they have shown that they know how to write their characters with respect towards the characters, their creators, and the audience.
And that’s what makes all the difference.