Mark Millar, the renowned comic book writer whose done work for Marvel, DC, and his own comic book series (Wanted, Kingsman, and Kick-Ass), recently shared why he thinks Marvel films are doing better than DC’s Extended Universe.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Movies about the upcoming Kick-Ass reboot, he shared his theory why Marvel is doing better at the tills:
“I think it’s really simple the characters aren’t cinematic and I say this as a massive DC fan who much prefers their characters to Marvel’s. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are some of my favourites but I think these characters, with the exception of Batman, they aren’t based around their secret identity they are based around their super power. Whereas the Marvel characters tend to be based around the personality of Matt Murdock or Peter Parker or the individual X-Men, it’s all about the character. DC, outside of Batman, is not about the character.”
He also adds that DC’s characters are reflective of an era that has gone by. He says, “People will slam me for this but I think the evidence is there. We’ve seen great directors, great writers and great actors, tonnes of money thrown at them, but these films aren’t working. I think they are all too far away from when they were created.”
Is Mark Millar’s theory true?
When Justice League (2017) was launched, audiences knew little about three of its five protagonists, namely Barry Allen/Flash, Arthur Curry/Aquaman, and Victor Stone/Cyborg. In the film, they were introduced through narrations of why they joined the team. Allen was persuaded to join by Bruce Wayne/Batman and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, while Curry and Stone joined because of Silas Stone’s kidnapping and the attack on Atlantis, respectively. Prior to this, audiences were only able to see them in a surveillance camera clip in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg’s stories are coming this year and two years from now respectively.
So, it’s not entirely because DC is more about superhero abilities than character, but because Warner Bros. has failed to fully explore each character before taking on an ensemble superhero film. DCEU obviously has character origin films. Man of Steel and Wonder Woman explored character origins, but the latter enjoying positive reception than the former for other reasons than the narrative itself. Also, Bruce, Clark, and Diana’s stories aren’t just the really meaty ones. Barry Allen and Billy Batson/Shazam!/Captain Marvel’s background stories make for good cinema, so there’s a chance that the Flash and Shazam! standalone films will succeed on their own.
Compare this to Marvel Studios, which introduced four of its main characters (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Thor) before giving audiences their first superhero ensemble film, which is 2012’s The Avengers. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is also neatly arranged in phases, allowing for origin stories for new characters before the next ensemble film.
But all is not lost for DC’s Extended Universe. There’s a chance for DC to revive its cinematic universe with its upcoming standalone superhero films: Shazam! (2018), Aquaman (2018), Wonder Woman II (2019), Flashpoint (2020) and Cyborg (2020). Hopefully, they’ll be able to set everything up neatly before they go into another ensemble film in the future. We’ve also yet to see if these films will be closer to our era, and hopefully not like what Millar said (that these films’ stories are “too far away from when they were created”). With the success of Wonder Woman and Black Panther, there’s a possibility that these films will follow suit in reflecting progressive values without forcing beliefs down audience’s throats. And when they’ve updated and fixed everything to be relevant and run chronologically, then movie audiences will finally get the DC Extended Universe they deserve.
(Cover photo based on artwork from the DCEU Wikia page)