Tuesday, July 22, 2014
In which I admire Marvel and damn DC
DC asks the question, "Is this character sufficiently popular and iconic to sustain a film?"
Marvel asks the question: "Is this character sufficiently unknown that we can use a film to make them iconic?"
DC is cowed by their trusteeship of important cultural icons and afraid to misstep. Anything they do can only damage the character's reputation, they feel.
Marvel is content to keep throwing liver at the wall to see what sticks. "Oh, THAT"s what will make Hulk work...!" Anything they can do to put their characters before more people improves their reputation, they feel.
DC is afraid to make a Legion movie because the Legion is such a notoriously niche-y property. I mean, how well can a movie do that's gotten nothing but teenagers in it? With superpowers. And ethnic diversity. Who live in space in the future. With lots of relationship drama and sexual tension. Whose every financial need is taken care of, and live in one giant awesome house with space cruisers. Who fight crime and galactic-scale villainy. Yeah, there's no way to sell that.
Marvel looks at Guardians of the Galaxy and says, "A talking racoon! Voiced by an Oscar nominee! The kids'll love it!"
DC inherits a universe that was originally separate characters in their own separate worlds, interacting sparingly. As a result, each character that's old enough has a grand legacy around them, but they don't fit well together in the same space. DC inherited characters and then had to try to form a continuous world around them, something they still can't get right, which causes them to reboot every few years, in an ongoing attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable..
Marvel created a universe and start populating it with characters, who therefore all fit in it quite nicely. Their interaction was their selling point, and while, as a result, none of them stand out too far apart from any of the others, Marvel has a very easy time selling its entire universe in the medium of cinema. No one seems ridiculous or off-the-table because they are all of a piece.
DC is terrified people will laugh at Aquaman.
Marvel intends to sell people on Ant-Man.
DC is terrified any movie it creates won't satisfy existing die-hard fans.
Marvel is focused on making sure their movies satisfy everyone else.