Ten years ago, a Batman V Superman movie would have ruled the summer and been the biggest movie event of the year. The excitement alone would have made it successful. Although there was some anticipation around this year’s Dawn of Justice, it wasn’t quite the hype you’d expect. People went into the movie with a reserved hesitance, almost knowing it couldn’t live up to the expectation.
Compare this to the excitement and confidence that everyone had in Civil War. Even before the preview reviews were released, fans almost knew this movie would live up to expectations. This did manage to be the case, with Marvel, yet again, blowing DC out of the water.
It didn’t have to be this way though and there are at least five things DC did wrong or Marvel managed to do better that made the superhero clashes so wildly different in quality.
Make the audience care
Regardless of how much of a Batman fan you are or whether you were biggest advocate for Man of Steel, audiences did not care enough about the individual characters of Batman and Superman. These were “new” characters. It wasn’t Christian Bale’s Batman up against a Superman we have seen in at least three movies. The movie had to try to make us care about not just the battle but also who won – and it failed.
Compare that to Marvel who did this movie 13 films into their franchise. We knew who Tony Stark and Steve Rogers were. They had a past, a friendship which had been developed so when the fighting started, it actually meant something.
Give them a decent reason to fight
When you boil it down, the reason that Batman and Superman are fighting is quite weak. Superman doesn’t like vigilante justice (ironically) and Batman doesn’t trust a super-powered alien. It is a thin reason pulled over the 2 hour plus running time. It is also dismissed as quickly as it is set-up, with Superman almost forgetting how Batman doles out his brand of justice when he needs him later.
Civil War has an argument that means something. The first act sets it up, quite brutally, and then you see the characters decide their opinions and draw their lines. There is also no black and white decision here. Both Iron Man and Captain America have valid reasons and at times you agree with both. The rug-pull at end couldn’t be more personal either.
Actually have them fight – a lot
Batman V Superman is a tease title. The actual battle doesn’t occur until the final act and when it does it lasts about twenty minutes. It is hardly a battle worth warranting the title of the movie.
Civil War has the characters fighting a lot. They battle in different combinations, at different points in the movie and in varied ways. The airport battle steals the movie but that doesn’t take anything away from the very violent finale. This is clearly a Civil War, although not necessarily a Captain America movie.
Make your movie stand-alone
Marvel didn’t necessarily do this either but they did it better than DC managed. Civil War doesn’t foreshadow too much, although the introduction of two new characters and the finale leaves questions to be answered for the sequel.
DC spends far too much time setting-up Justice League that some of the movie’s plot makes little sense. Dream sequences, a weird visit from future Flash and the rushed ending muddy the waters. A little foreshadowing goes a long way, a lesson Marvel already learnt with Iron Man 2.
Overall, these are four reasons why Civil War worked and Batman V Superman didn’t and they are hardly out of DC hands. These were all problems/issues that DC could have rectified. Nevertheless, the biggest movie of the year falls short and Marvel’s dominance of the superhero market continues with little to no real competition.