On the 31st of July I reviewed the newest Comic Book cinematic experience – Guardians of the Galaxy. It features what we can call a B-list team of space superheroes, trying to defend the Galaxy whilst getting their fair share of loot on their way. The movie deals with serious topics, but most of it highlights how these heroes are goofballs – in the best possible way. The movie is lighthearted, and as you can see in my review – I loved it. But I’ve come across a lot of people hating on the tone of the film, as well as the fact that this specific franchise gets more praise than its main opponent, the DC franchise. So, today I thought I’d go over some of the criticism directed Marvel’s way, and how you can defuse these situations calmly.
There will always be these trolls, some that try to attack the popular opinion to ignite a certain type of fire within you – try to make you lash out in the comments. We will always have these ‘trolls’, and therefore they don’t deserve a high spot in this post, in stead I’d like to talk about a group that sounds like trolls – when in truth, they are just of a different mold.
The two main comic book companies are DC and Marvel, and they’ve both started creating their Cinematic Universes. While Marvel is closer to finishing their projects, DC is stuck a couple of steps behind them. Now, the ‘either you are with me or against me’ battle will often ensue between these types of opponents – just like PlayStation and Microsoft fanboys have their battles. These people have a different perspective on comic book movies than one another, and I believe it doesn’t simply stem from cinematic opinion or tonal preference. It stems from the origin of their comic book interest.
While both of these universes focus on the same things, their approach is very different. I’ve always said that Marvel’s the bright-eyed kid standing in line for comic books, hoping for these very overall things to come through – whereas DC is the more realistic kid, the pickier one (for the better) – but also the one with a grounded reality and a realistic view of the world. If that makes any sense. If you look at the heroes and villains they are very similar (in most cases, on purpose) – we have Marvel’s Tony Stark to DC’s Bruce Wayne, Marvel’s Captain America to DC’s Superman, Marvel’s Thanos to DC’s Darkseid (and don’t get me started on Deadpool vs. Deathstroke).
The universes that these characters inhabit are actually very different from one another. Where Marvel oftentimes stay in the ‘real world’ and have the cities of Los Angeles and New York as the normal hangouts – DC goes in a different direction, in stead going for the grounded, dirty and filthy streets of Gotham and the stereotypical city of Metropolis.
The difference in film, in present day, is also very clear. The tonally dark Gotham of the Nolan-Batman trilogy has sparked the new Cinematic Universe of DC, with Man of Steel even becoming this rough portrayal of a scared and scarred alien. In Marvel’s corner, we’ve gotten something remarkable with the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the introduction of the Tony Stark to rule them all – Robert Downey Jr. The cocky playboy that is Tony Stark, is indeed fitting within this universe, at least for the True Believers. Here we have the want of core-Marvel movie-goers personified – standing on the line between cocky and confident, but mostly happy and gutsy. The spirit of Marvel-Moviegoers is of pure joy, and that’s not a knock against the spirit of DC fanboys and moviegoers. I simply think they look for something else.
I consider myself a core-Marvel fanboy, and I find myself wanting something set in reality, something goofy and confident – with references to top them all (with some even being too convoluted). I don’t care if they stray somewhat from the source material, as long as they do it in an imaginative way, a way that gives a different spin on things – something you can only do on film. Iron Man 3 is perfect for this, and though I know some fanboys hate this film – it pushed on the boundary of what these films can do. They can veer a great deal from the source material – but only in a soothing way.
I think DC fanboys and moviegoers want the source material to be handled with a greater deal of respect, and would also like something more set in the comic book – i.e. a detective style Bruce Wayne (a la Arkham Asylum). While Adam West is a legend, the kitsch Adam West-Batman does not work for them today, and would really only work in a Marvel story (In my humble opinion).
Here’s the thing. I love going to see both Marvel and DC movies, but I’m also in a situation wherein I expect something else. I don’t expect a deeply serious portrayal of Drax the Destroyer – a homicidal maniac. I go into the theater, with expectations of a comedic tone to a somewhat serious source material. I go into DC-productions with an expectation of a grounded film – something Marvel’s not that good at (if the recent Hulk film starring Edward Norton is to be taken seriously). Both things work. DC’s been great at creating serious and grounded films starring a scary joker, an undersized brute-like Bane – and the perfect portrayal of The Scarecrow.
Defuse these battles by coming clean, explain your comic book origin, your expectations – don’t overcriticize source material that you are not familiar with. Defuse the situation. We are all comic book fans here, and in the end – don’t we just want to feel like kids again? That’s what I think you do, and Guardians of the Galaxy is a perfect example of that.