Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) in December 2014 for The Juice.
There’s a storm coming, superhero fans. While the ongoing battle between the two top comic book houses, Marvel and DC, was on full swing over the past few years on the big screen, starting October, things got way more intense.
To do a quick recap, it all began when Kevin Feige launched an independent movie studio, Marvel Studios, and put into motion plans to conquer the world of cinema by unleashing on to the world lesser known Marvel superheroes through their own individual movies and a shared Marvel Universe, starting with Iron Man, and leading up to this thing you may have heard of before, The Avengers.
Many billions of dollars and a buyout by Disney later, DC woke up to the potential of a shared universe too and struck a partnership with Warner Bros to create a DC Universe in the same way. The first movie as part of the universe was 2013’s Man of Steel and 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, will begin DC’s slow but steady march towards The Justice League featuring Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and more.
While both companies now have a total of over 30 movies planned up to 2020 and things are on autopilot in films, the focus has now shifted to TV. DC was the first to capitalise things here with 2012’s Arrow. The Flash, Gotham and Constantine launched in October this year, and although apart from Arrow and The Flash they don’t share the same universe, that’s four DC shows as opposed to one of Marvel, Agents of SHIELD, launched last year. But Marvel is trying now to replicate the success of The Avengers on Netflix, and it has lined up four individual series of superheroes like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, leading up to a miniseries team up called The Defenders, so s**t’s just got real, folks.
Why So Obsessed?
Paul Blackthorne, who stars as Detective Quentin Lance in the DC Comics’ hit Arrow that airs on Star World in India, says the reason such shows or movies work is because there is “such a deep wealth to go to in terms of mythology.” “There’s so much going on in between the characters even in scenes where nothing is said,” Blackthorne says. “Because of the iconic mythology to them, there’s a lot of emphasis on the characters and on the development of the characters. You see the comic book context but within that there are absolutely solid characters and great storytelling too, and if you’ve ever been to the writers room, it’s like kids in a candy store down there! That’s why this genre is so successful.”
And if you ask the fans, they just can’t seem to have enough of this battle between giants DC and Marvel, where the ultimate winners are the fans themselves. Superhero film fanatic Preeth S Kumar, who’s doing a PG Diploma in Film Art in USA, believes Marvel has the edge in this war. “Marvel has clearly stolen the march on launching and setting up the comic superhero cinematic universe, and they are constantly getting better at it as was seen with Guardians of the Galaxy,” says Preeth. “DC, in the meanwhile, still seems to be testing the waters and tinkering with their properties, although as a filmbuff, I have enjoyed DC’s superheroes on the big screen more.”
Comic Con India regular and comics enthusiast Utsav Chakravarty, whose views on the superhero genre are well documented through his online moniker Satan Bhagat, also concedes that while DC has the leg up with its TV universe, every Marvel releases are their fans’ dream come true. “Marvel isn’t ‘ashamed’ to be associated with its smaller characters or TV as a medium,” he says. “Marvel’s entire TV and movie universe is interconnected (can you imagine the cameos!) whereas all of DC’s properties are in different universes and don’t even acknowledge each other. By the time DC cuts through the hubris, Marvel Studios will no longer a superhero collective, it will be a superhero conglomerate”
Here are the top 4 new comic book hero releases to look out for:
Daredevil (Marvel): Because it is Netflix’s foray into the superhero genre and Netflix has a history of going ALL OUT. And because it is developed by Joss Whedon associate Drew Godard.
Agent Carter (Marvel): Because this is the first major Marvel movie lead character to get its own TV series. And because it stars Hayley Atwell, who is reprising her role from Captain America: The First Avenger.
Shazam (DC): Because it stars Dwayne Johnson as Shazam’s arch-nemesis Black Adams, and this is possibly the most positively buzzed about casting in the superhero universe since Robert Downey Jr was cast as Iron Man.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Because it will lay the groundwork for the Justice League movie. Because Ben Affleck stars as Batman. Because it stars a host of other superheroes and we don’t even know who yet.
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Note: This piece first appeared in The Juice in the December 2014 issue.
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