Marvel vs DC: why DC Extended Universe failed to match MCU's success –

The struggle of the DC Extended Universe is a topic I have written about extensively lately. The Warner Brothers’ plans, DC’s involvement in creating a movie universe, and the lack of direction are part of the reason why Marvel wins over DC on the big and small screens.
There is another important thing contributing to the failure of the DC Extended Universe besides the business part: Their characters just don’t connect to the audience for several reasons.
In July 2021, I wrote a piece called “The DC Extended Universe can be fixed” and I can see how optimistic I was back then. I guess I was still wearing my pink hippie glasses and thought that DC could turn this around. Little did I know then what I know today: The DCEU had no plan at all at the time.
They do now, however. They revealed their strategy on HBO Max, despite personnel cuts; HBO Max cut 14% of their staff. While DC just announced that Green Lantern and Black Canary are still in development and Batgirl got canceled. At the same time, The Flash seems to be in development hell again after Ezra Miller is seeking the mental health treatments he needs.
My previous posts included the lack of mission and vision in the DC Extended Universe to bring your heroes to our small and big screens. The mess that was the Snyderverse, was confirmed to be canceled recently. The box office flops such as Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad, both part one and two. But there are more reasons why the movies keep flopping.
It can’t be the casting directors, the directors (James Gunn is top notch for instance), or the writing team top-notch, the action on the screen looks amazing.
The difference between the DC Extended Universe and The Marvel Cinematic Universe on the creative and business side really is a visionary like Kevin Feige. Geoff Johns is a great writer and I really enjoy his writing style, but having him create an entire universe using all the comics ever written at his disposal has proved too much for Johns.
Take for instance the 10-year plan to create the DC Extended Universe. It’s a little late, I would say. And most DC heroes aren’t as universally relatable or as good as the Marvel heroes. Even DC admits that indirectly by publishing Batman comics 75% of the time. They just can’t do better. And to be honest, I have a hard time relating to Batman as well, I really tried to relate to a billionaire, it just didn’t work.
For example; Marvel can make an Ant-Man movie that even gets a sequel. I can’t find any comparable character from the DC stable that can do that. If you do, then you will find the C-lister hero The Atom and any character that is on that level if you made a chart.
And Atom just doesn’t work in a movie. It barely worked in DC: Legends of Tomorrow. The best storylines that featured The Atom in that show were him out of his suit.
On top of that Marvel has simply got more diversity because that’s what they focus on. So far we have a Black Panther movie, an Avengers movie, a Ms. Marvel television series, and a Loki.
DC Comics focussed too much on The Justice League and only came up with sidekicks that were “boy” or “girl” versions of their mentors like Batman and Robin. Aquaman and Aqualad. Wonder Woman and Wondergirl. The Flash and Kid Flash and so forth.
After Marvel made it big in cinema, DC Extended Universe tried time and again to match the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a result, they threw away an entire decade by setting up new versions of their big flagship heroes. A new Batman, a new Superman, a new Flash, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow.
They copied that from Marvel in the 1980s. Marvel in the 1980s had a lot of success with new looks for their flagship heroes. Spider-man in his black suit (even though that turned out to be his biggest enemy), Iron Man in his red silver suit. Captain America in his US Agent suit
While Marvel’s new looks were temporary and even served as plot devices like Spider-man’s black suit turning out to be a living symbiote who tried to take over his life, the changes were never permanent.
Spider-man’s black suit filled a void subconsciously created by writers of the Spider-man comic over decades: The black suit is a symbol of the dark side of Spider-man. A very dark and twisted version of the webhead. This mistake by DC is an absolute nightmare to set up a DC Extended Universe.
DC however made the changes permanent. With Wally West taking over for Barry Allen as The Flash. Complete with a new support cast to go with.
They fixed that by writing three mega crossover comics “Crisis on Infinite Earths“, which was also televised on The Flash to clean up the timelines in the DC Extended Universe, and right now the comic book counterpart is trying to fix and reset its’ universe again with Dark Crisis.
Too many times that DC has been abusing its’ own character continuity and now it’s missing a connection with its audience. The kind of connection that Marvel does have with its’ readers and moviegoers.
So while I was happy that many of my DC shows have their own shows and get to play in their own corner of the DC Extended Universe, I also realize that in order to create a cohesive movie universe, you need a cohesive comic book universe first.
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