Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Superiority of the Marvel Universe over the DC Universe Explained

Any all-encompassing theory that attempts to explain why the Marvel CInematic Universe is in fact a valid metaphor and framework for expressing the nuances of our civilization must also explain why the MCU appears to be so much better than the DC Extended Universe. I believe that there are three fundamental reasons why this is so and will expound on this today.

But first lets discuss where the differences do not lie. Films in both universes have to contend with world-threatening villains who plan to destroy all humanity, that goes without saying. Films in both universes also have to balance these terrifying cataclysms with threats that are closer to home, thus we see cruel intergalactic forces threatening school buses filled with innocent children or civilians in both movies, in which the occupants are saved in the nick of time. No cheap exploitation of the emotions of the audience here.

Nor does the difference lie in a sometimes bewildering network of plotlines of various meta-human, mutated and/or intergalactic good or bad guys or gals. This sort of thing naturally comes with the territory and both of these universes deal with the narrative implications in an adequate fashion.

And it is not in the quantity or quality of the visual effects per se that we see our major differences. Both of these universes have their share of chair gripping, physics defying, perfectly conceived and choreographed disasters that involve entire cities and thousands of innocents in a narrative of alien hatred or world dominating conspiracy.

Wherein lies the differences between the two cinematic universes?

1. The DC Universe is grim and the Marvel Universe is not.

In the latest Superman and Superman vs Batman films, I counted exactly two jokes in both films. Let me go over that again in case I was vague. There were only two jokes in the entire second film and none in the first, although it is possible that there was a 1/2 joke in the first film. Whereas in the Marvel films, there actually is some humor in the dialogue, and some of it is actually quite funny. For example, doing this from memory.

Dr. Banner: (referring to Loki) You can smell crazy on him.
Thor: Be careful how you speak, he is my brother.
Natasha: He killed 80 people in two days.
Thor: He is adopted.

2. The sheer mayhem of the visual effects in the Marvel Universe is without equal.

Sure DC has a huge quantity of stupid visual effects, like everyone does today. But I felt that these effects, although well designed, and sometimes even innovative (see for example the krypton / machine interface in the first Superman movie) they lacked the sheer exuberant madness of the visual effects of the Marvel films, or at least some of them. Consider these frames from one of the fight climaxes of the Age of Ultron monstrosity. I bet you can not even figure out how many good or bad characters are fighting, let alone who is decapitating whom. I think that it is this out of control mayhem combined with the humor mentioned above that lends a certain quality to the Marvel films.

3. We have seen the DC films before and we will see them again.

The greed obsessed studios behind the DC films have made it clear that sequels and reboots of previously examined properties will continue into the future over and over again. How many times will we see a reboot of Batman and Superman? They will be endless, they will be infinite. We will see Superman's father explain to Superman that he is not from Earth again. We will see the young Bruce Wayne witness his parents getting murdered and be horrified, again.

Whereas the Marvel films give the impression that they are actually going somewhere with their different phases and do not plan to revisit the same old material repeatedly.  At least not yet.



1. In Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice (2016) there may be two jokes.  One, when Batman rescues "Martha", Superman's mom, he says "I'm a friend of your son".  She says: "I could tell by the cape.". Not too bad. Better still is when Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are preparing to take on the horrible monster at the end, there is some references to this critter being from another world. Wonder Woman says, "I have killed creatures from other worlds". Batman looks at Superman and says, "Is she with you?" Superman says, "I thought she was with you." I may have this backwards, I am doing this from memory.  These are both pretty reasonable moments of humor but that is it, that is all there is.  Its not enough, IMHO, to alleviate the endless grimness. Yes, comic book superhero movies are important, God knows, but important does not have to mean unrelieved grimness. We are not talking about genocide here, you know.

Oh wait, in the first movie, Man of Steel (2013), we are talking about genocide.  Ok, maybe they should be grim.

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