The DC-Marvel onscreen war
The time I became aware about the different Comic book companies who were actually a universe in itself was when i saw the huge 'Marvel' logo in the beginning of the first 'Spiderman' movie in 2002. By then, i was familiar with the common superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and a few others with animal names in front of 'man'. We also had an Indian super hero 'Shakthiman', which i understood was our own creation, and the answer to all those foreign 'man's. Later Marvel brought out X-men and Hulk, and then i understood there was a universe of characters there. Being a beginner, and being new to internet at that time, my first search was for Superman, but couldn't find him there. In another couple of years, i took my time to know who is who, and who is from where. By then, Christopher Nolan decided to make 'Batman Begins', and i was happy to see the rival DC's logo on screen.
By then the Marvel logo was very familiar to even kids here, with 3 Spiderman movies, 3 X-Men movies, a Hulk, and a fantastic four movie out in the box office glory. The little less known 'Daredevil', and 'Elektra' were for those who really needed to see everything. The Marvel universe though could claim genuineness and modernity in the portrayal of their characters, when 'Batman Begins' was released DC could have been proud of the huge cinematic shift they had brought about in its portrayal of Batman from all the previous versions (credits to Nolan). Though its true, Marvel could rarely boast of a dark superhero like 'Batman' in the mainstreams, Nolan's vision brought back a new perspective to the dead Batman franchise of the previous decade, and DC was brought up from the ashes.
DC had always invested in on one single character in their movies, until they had exhausted every bit from the franchise. It happened with the famous 'Superman' franchise with Christopher Reeve in the main role. Then came a 'Superman 2', which also fared well. A television series on 'Batman' was doing well, but then an adaptation onto big screen fell with mixed reviews, and DC was afraid to take up their second, most famous character again onto the big screen.With 2 hits in hand, Superman became the clear favourites for DC, and they continued to milk the cow with Superman 3, 4 and a Supergirl movie, all of which bombed at the box office. By then DC understood that they have killed the cow.
All this was before the 90's and Marvel was nowhere around for another decade. Since Superman was out of question, DC returned to their second favourite character again - The Batman. In the next decade, they did the same thing to Batman, that they have done to Superman in the past couple of decades...milk the cow. They did one Batman movie after another in quick succession, that they stopped only when the fourth installment bombed so miserably. Though the first three movies did bring in quite some cash to the producers, and were also critically impressive, it was also looked down as a dark themed superhero, which probably was not the approved trend back then. So, when the fourth movie failed to win the audiences hearts, DC withdrew and after a decade of silence came back with the reboot of both Batman and Superman by 2005 and 2006 respectively.
During that huge time space provided by DC, Marvel rose from nowhere and established itself in the movie world. Until Batman was released, nobody really bothered about DC for sometime. Not even the 'Catwoman' movie that came in between, got noticed. The first Batman did quite well, and earned some critical appreciation, while the Superman movie which wanted the 'Return' of superman did not do as expected at the box office, making the producers to rethink about its sequels. They understood that Superman cannot ride on the wave that Christopher Reeve created about 40 years ago. So somewhere the idea of a reboot was born. While Superman fell, the second installment of the Dark Knight trilogy became one of the most amazing superhero movies of all time, again thanks to Nolan, and Ledger. DC wanted to do nothing else but....to milk that cow...again. But thankfully, Nolan disagreed to do more than three movies in the Dark Knight franchise. So, unlike any of the previous DC installments, these three movies had something that made them a huge success - Planning.
Meanwhile, Marvel studios had already understood the necessity of planning. They were coming up with something that proved to be one of the most brilliant ideas at the box office. They started staging an entry for some of their most enjoyable characters to get together. They started with the 'Iron man'. With a suave Robert Downey Jr playing the arrogant missile maker-cum-superhero, tickling the funny bones and the adrenaline of the excited viewers around the world, alike, there was no stopping that franchise from being a cash cow. Then they realised that if they had to bring in their characters together on screen, the comic lovers favourites should be there. While Spiderman had had its run, with three successful installments, which almost looked like a dead end by then, Marvel had to bring in other superheroes. The first 'Hulk' by Ang Lee had bombed. But understanding the necessity of one of its mainstream superheroes in the Marvel Universe, they didn't stop there. They made a second one, and this time with a more commercially inclined director. There for the first time, characters from other movies in the Marvel universe started peeking in. While in this one, Tony Stark makes an introduction of himself to Banner(Hulk), in the rest of the movies Agent Fury comes and scares the heroes with news of an outside attack. Now, Marvel was clear about what they had to do first - introduce the avengers in their solo movies. So came 'Thor', and then 'Captain America'. 'Black Widow' was introduced in 'Iron Man 2', and by the end of the decade, they were set to bring them all together. In 2012, they brought out an extravaganza of an assemble in 'The Avengers'. The movie became a mass hit, and the director, Joss Whedon, was critically acclaimed for his capability to bring in the biggies and make them work together, in the film and outside.
This huge success Marvel created shook DC's world. DC, who had been happy with the returns of their sole hero 'Batman', had to sit up straight and rethink about cashing out their heroes one by one. So they changed tactics and started another franchise of which by now the viewers could easily predict the hero - Superman. They wanted to establish Superman again, in a total reboot, hoping to do what Nolan had done with 'Batman'. So this time they wanted someone who would just skip everything in the life of Superman, even though they wanted to start from the first, and give them the 'Bam's that Avenger was garnering worldwide. Thus came out 'Man of Steel', which was a roaring success, but not without a few disapproval nods from the comic fans and a few critics. Soon after that they also announced their next MoS movie, which also boasts of Batman in it.
Post- Avengers, the Marvel world continued to phase out more solo installments of the Avenger heroes, while planning to introduce more characters from the Marvel Universe in the next few years. They would also be bringing out a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' movie, and 'Avengers 2'. While neatly spreading out the menu on a platter for the audience, Marvel has kept them engaged, and would be able to continue to garner their presence for another decade if everything plays out accordingly. There seems to be very less chance of the already established franchises to misfire. But, they have to look out for their new heroes. 'The Antman' probably coming in 2015, would be one such endeavour.The reboot of 'Spiderman' is another cash cow, but I dont see it any different from the ones made by Sam Raimi. Plus, they should be careful not to exhaust all the weapons in their armour soon. Hopefully, Marvel should have more to layout even after the 2020s.
The DC world on the contrary is skeptical about any long term planning. Though they have announced the next MoS movie in another two years, having the fans excited about the possible Superman/Batman face-off, there isn't anything more to look out from their stables. The failure of their other superheroes, especially with the 'Green Lantern' franchise bombing at the cash counters, have made DC to reproach from looking beyond the two superstars. MoS seems to have been successful in starting a winning reboot for the DC, but the movie seldom tried to sync itself with the universe of any of its previous movies, or even with the successful Dark Knight trilogy. The introduction of Batman in the very next movie will easily bring comparisons with the record-breaking Christian Bale starrer trilogy, and it will prove a difficult task for the director, Zack Snyder to prevent any comparisons between his Batman and the predecessor. Moreover, as mentioned before, though a record-breaking success, the first MoS had its piece of controversies over the storyline. Fans across the world will be looking towards the next installment, and here nothing could go wrong, because having Batman and Superman in one movie is the ultimate dream of any DC fan.
While Marvel seems to have the upper hand in popularity and quantity on the big screen at the moment, DC comics have concentrated more on small screen. For ten years, a series on Superman, and his friends in the Justice League ran successfully in the last decade. 'Smallville', introduced Superman to every common man relaxing in front of their TV sets in their evenings. Maybe thats another reason why Zack Snyder didn't concentrate too much on the details of Superman's adoption in his MoS reboot. After 'Smallville', now DC has returned with another superhero series named 'Arrow' which features Green Arrow in the lead. Now Green Arrow has been a major character in 'Smallville' too. But unlike Smallville, which was more like the comics, bright and predictable most of the times, 'Arrow's makers have decided to follow the darker path this time, more on the Dark Knight's route. Now into the second season, the series has already started introducing other characters from the DC universe.
Marvel, feeling left behind here, started a new series looking into the lifes of the SHIELD agents post-Avengers. 'Agents of SHIELD' searches for people exhibiting powers similar to the Avengers, and helps them to deal with their powers. But SHIELD is not the only organisation looking for them. While this series came with the promise of Joss Whedon's supervision, now six episodes past, still has to engage the viewer with the excitements of the Marvel Universe. On the contrary, 'Arrow' has an upper hand by being already established in its last season. We know what we need to know about the origins of green Arrow by now, and we are looking forward to him meeting newer characters, which the series is currently successfully doing. Similar episodes from Marvel will be expected too, but lets just say for now, DC wins on TV.
DC or Marvel or fan of either, the viewers are surely having the best fan moments in the history of reel right now. An all-out, loud Marvel extravaganza, or a dark intense DC firework - both are winners at this time of fantasy cinema.