Marvel played the movie game perfectly. What seemed like a crazy, impossible and very cool idea that I didn’t see working, has actually come to fruition fantastically in what I think is the best “proper comics film” ever. If you’d told me five years ago that an Iron Man film would kickstart a series of movies that would bring together all the coolest (except Spiderman and Wolverine) Marvel heroes and whatsmore, be an Avengers film, I’d have given you a long, boring list as to why that would never work.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been a perfect journey. The films between Iron Man and Avengers Assemble didn’t always do their respective heroes justice and some even felt slightly rushed to fit into the story in time for the 2012 Avengers release but what Marvel did was make sure they got the two most important movies right, the first and the last, Iron Man and Avengers Assemble. A couple of thoughts have hit me since I watched the brilliant Avengers film, some of which I’ll cover over the next few weeks, but the most pressing was, what should DC do now? How can they compete? Here’s my suggestion;
If I was the people behind the movie output for DC, I would give up. I would admit defeat and decide to concede this round to Marvel, who frankly out-thought, out-planned and completely out-played DC. When I mean stop, I obviously mean don’t introduce any new characters or try to establish any new series. Superman and Batman are obvious cash-cows and I would put money on Dark Knight Rises being equal or even (whisper it) better than Avengers Assemble and they can’t possibly mess up Superman again! I would say give it a ten-year rest (at least!) Let the dust settle on the Avengers or even, if lady luck is smiling on DC, watch the Marvel movies begin to drop in quality or implode as it gets far too big and successful – it could happen!
No more origin films!
On the off-chance that nobody from DC is actually reading this or worst, they are ignoring my sound and educated advice, I would strongly suggest to stay away from any origin stories! I recently watched Green Lantern (review coming soon) but to sum it up, if it had been released six or seven years ago, we’d be calling it brilliant! As a film it was perfectly average, not awful, there were even good moments, but unfortunately, even though Green Lantern is a pretty unique hero, we’d still seen it all before.
I could outline any origin story. It goes; Hero is too cocky/arrogant/shy/nerdy/sick/rich/poor (delete as applicable) but suddenly a life changing experience gives him powers/takes his powers away from him (delete as applicable) suddenly our hero is forced to adapt to his new-found situation with dramatic/comedic/dramatic and comedic (delete as applicable) results. Meanwhile his best friend/love of his life’s boyfriend/Dad/boss/brother/best friend’s Dad/best friend’s boss (delete as applicable) has also managed to get the same powers but with disastrous results. A huge showdown sees our hero get beaten/win but only just/wimp-out (delete as applicable) but consequently learn the error of his ways (see first choice and reverse it!) Now in a huge, final showdown, our hero manages to save the love of his life/the world/both (delete as applicable) and a new hero is born!
Try to think of any superhero origin film, Marvel or DC, that doesn’t fit that formula or one close to it. The only one I can think of is Batman Begins and even that has traces of cliché as well. Sorry DC, the same old origin story just won’t cut it anymore! So what should they do instead?
Go straight to a Justice League film…
Forget trying to repeat what Marvel did. DC can’t introduce enough characters to the same effect as Marvel without rehashing the same old origin films (see above). Marvel were suffering from the same thing but had this great idea (Avengers film, obviously) to tie the ideas together and to keep us interested even if the films weren’t brilliant! DC can’t get by, by just repeating what Marvel did. So I say skip the individual films and release a Justice League film.
Don’t worry about origin stories. In fact I’d do everyone’s origin story in the first twenty minutes, almost like a recap. The same way they remind you of a hero’s abilities in the first ten minutes of any sequel. In fact they did it in Avengers as they rounded up each character. Tell the individual hero’s stories through the film and bringing them together, Avengers showed us that there is time in a film to do that!
You could even have Green Lantern, played by Ryan Reynolds still, as the hero bringing the group together to defend his planet, maybe from the villain they set up during the credits of his film or maybe something even bigger and better! Who the Justice League are is a whole post in itself! What I do know is that it definitely shouldn’t include a certain two heroes…
…but don’t include Batman and Superman.
This is where I make a claim that could divide opinion. No matter what Marvel do with the Avengers or any of their heroes (Spiderman and Wolverine included) they will never ever replicate the popularity or pull of both Batman and Superman. These two heroes have been in the general public eye for far too long. The guy on the street couldn’t tell you who Thor’s girlfriend was but would almost definitely knows who Superman’s is. Ask anyone what Batman’s alter-ego is called and 9/10 people would say Bruce Wayne, now ask the same people what Captain America’s real name is.
I’m of course not talking about comic’s fans or huge Marvel films fans but these movies have to appeal to a wider audience than that. I’ve already had conversations with people who have seen Avengers but don’t understand why Thor can fly using his hammer or what Captain America’s powers are. DC have two heroes who are mainstream and will always be much more mainstream than anything Marvel produce, even Spiderman. This means they should always keep these two assets separate, even from each other! The damage to these two brands by associating them with any other hero could actually really hurt the best thing DC have and really the only weapon they have against Marvel’s clear dominance of superhero movies!
Overall, if I was DC, I would just stick with Superman and Batman and leave it at that. Man of Steel next year should get the series back on track but no amount of flops could really hurt that character and unless Nolan adds three villains, makes Bruce Wayne emo-dance in the street and loses track of the source material, there is no way he can ruin the last film in his trilogy. If they have to compete with Marvel, go straight head-to-head with Justice League but without the inevitably inferior origin films as prequels!