Marvel Cinematic Universe vs. DC Extended Universe
In a battle almost as iconic as Coke vs. Pepsi, two giants wrestle tirelessly to earn the title of box office king. It is an ever raging battle, with each new attack constantly upsetting the balance and threatening to win the war once and for all. . .
Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic here so I’ll get to the point: Marvel and DC movies are feverishly competing for box office success.
There’s no question that comic book movies in general have dominated the cinema over the past few years, and the biggest players in the comic book movie genre are, without a doubt, Marvel and DC. Just the Marvel and DC movie releases in 2018 brought in over 6 billion dollars… that’s some serious money!
But is one better than the other? Fans certainly seem to think so. A quick google search of “DC movies suck” brings up over 23 million results, while a search of “Marvel movies suck” brings up only 15 million. I know, I know, that’s not the most scientific way to look at it, so let's take a look at box office numbers.
In the last 5 years, Marvel movies have pulled in a whopping 19 billion dollars. That is a huge amount! In the same time, DC movies have brought in a measly 4 billion. How sad for them. But - and this is a big but - You have to take a look at what’s actually happening here. That 19 billion dollars Marvel movies have made? It has come from 24 releases. 24 movies in just 5 years. And DC? They've released only 6. Basically, Marvel is using the shotgun approach: throw out enough product, and some of it will hit the target.
In 2017, Wonder Woman ended up with over $820 million in global box office sales. Aquaman has made more than $600 million globally and is on track to make nearly 1 billion dollars. Obviously, these movies are exactly what the DC Extended Universe needs to thrive, but is their success enough to cover the damage done by box office flops like Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice? Let’s really look at that statement: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was supposedly a flop, but it grossed over 900 million dollars globally. Not bad for a failure.
So let’s look at the critic’s scores. According to ultimatemovierankings.com, a score of 60% or higher constitutes a “good” movie. Every comic book release in the last five years has hit that mark except Fantastic 4 (2015), Suicide Squad (2016), and Dawn of Justice (2016), Venom (2018). See that? The four worst superhero movies are an even split of Marvel and DC titles. Not so clear-cut when you consider that.
To be fair, I have a recurring stress dream that involves me screaming “Martha!” at the top of my lungs hoping that through some ridiculous turn of fate, my enemy, emo Spider-Man from Spider-Man 3 will also have a mother named Martha and stop throwing his finger guns at me. In this scenario, nobody wins, but I digress…
With Aquaman and Wonder Woman being such a great success, is it enough to pull DC into the lead? Some say that it will take more than a stroke of luck and a couple of good movies to undo the damage that’s been done by the Man of Steel version of Superman. I think DC’s future has some real potential though. After all, when looking farther back than just five years, DC movies have gotten more Oscar nominations and wins than Marvel movies and, on average, out earn Marvel releases.
I think at this point, it’s too close to tell if DC will ever truly redeem itself in moviegoers’ eyes. Will Shazam impress the crap out of us or will it be another lackluster release that tries too hard? Will Joker be just the right mix of darkness and realism to do the iconic villain some origin story justice? I hope so, but I will just have to wait and see.