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WEEKEND SUPERHERO: Marvel vs DC, Take Whatever: Passive Aggression at the Top, Friendly Rivalry at Street Level

Marvel & DC heroes wind up sharing a pool hall....

WB film chief chimes in on Marvel vs DC, but honest fans still do it better. During an interview, for The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. Chief of Film Production, Greg Silverman, was asked about his overall task of putting Warner back on top – by way of more Lego films, more J.K. Rowling adaptations, and more DCU properties.

Where that last component was concerned, a comparison to Marvel’s movie success was unavoidable. Silverman’s response, however, was about as diplomatically back-handed as these exec exchanges have typically been. Bear in mind: the man does have a footprint larger than his title, regarding the subject. He was the exec in charge, for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and gets some credit for bringing/ keeping Zack Snyder & Ben Affleck under the Warner water tower (so if there comes a time for the handing out of torches, due to acts of Snyder – probably involving Batfleck, you’ll know whose effigy needs burning). If he can’t be masterfully matter-of-fact on the subject, I’d at least expect him to use the slow-blade method, to his fighting words.

Greg Silverman’s Q & A to THR’s Marvel vs DC angle:

How will you differentiate the DC Universe from what Marvel is doing?

We have a great strategy for the DC films, which is to take these beloved characters and put them in the hands of master filmmakers and make sure they all coordinate with each other. You’ll see the difference when you see Batman v. SupermanSuicide SquadJustice League and all the things that we are working on.

 There were some complaints that the Batman v. Superman trailer was too dark. Is this a trademark of a DC superhero film in the post-Dark Knight era?

There is intensity and a seriousness of purpose to some of these characters. The filmmakers who are tackling these properties are making great movies about superheroes; they aren’t making superhero movies. And when you are trying to make a good movie, you tackle interesting philosophies and character development. There’s also humor, which is an important part.

I don’t know what his threshold for humor is, regarding DC film adaptations, but I just heard him call DC film fans too sophisticated to care about a “fun time at the movies.” Take that and burn, Marvel.

This is the point where I turn to the Marvel mouthpiece, and demand to know if he/she is gonna take that… but I’m not going to.

I’d rather just go back to wading through the raving fan throngs. It’s been too big of a boom-time, for geekdom at large, to get hung up on partisan particulars. A true aficionado knows that competition strengthens the strain – or at least understands that rooting for one team only gets better if the opposition brings it’s A-game.

ItsJustSomeRandomGuy was among the first to get a running commentary going, regarding the Marvel-DC movie match-up, before it even really became a thing. He started with action figure parodies of the “I’m a Mac & I’m a PC” spots, just comparing any/ all film adaptations regarding the two rivals – regardless of studio. From there, he sort of backed into full-blown fan-fiction; eventually creating a sort of Amalgam universe of his own. By the time he settled into his groove, his demonstrated mastery of the source material not only made his YouTube channel a neutral place for fans of both houses, it got him some professional exposure, courtesy of Marvel (DC was a touch more self-conscious).

Just over six years in, since his “I’m a Marvel & I’m a DC” days, here seems to be one of his opening takes on the coming Joint Universe war:

Why, yes, I am a fan. Why do you ask?

What really makes my heart do reformed Grinch-like things is the notion that Random Guy’s brand of big tent geekery has caught on. Various fan conventions have become points of common ground (or is that “hallowed ground?”), where Cosplayers can appreciate the commitment & craftsmanship of their peers – regardless of which house their costumes represent. Throw in the presence of a true bridge-builder talent – like George Pérez – and a loving tribute, to World colliding violence, just has to happen.

Marvel vs. DC, Dragon Con 2013:

Now that’s some quality cheese, right there.

Heck, even the more high-minded masters of media seem to have risen above the occasional “here’s my guy beating your guy” YouTube vid. Alex Luthor has been making quality fan-fic trailers, to film concepts that focus more on bringing mighty houses together (albeit, with a customary lack of initial harmony), than banging out which is better.

Marvel vs DC Epic Battle Teaser:

A commenter mentioned an Amalgam vs Thanoseid culmination film. Who/ how many important people will my unwitting patsy have to lay down for/ threaten to make this happen?

Full disclosure: I’m a Marvel guy. I grew up during the domination years, afforded to Marvel by the Stan Lee revolution, and saw the DC Crisis years as a deepening hole, in the making. The maturing of certain DCU characters (like Frank Miller’s  Batman, or Mike Grell‘s Green Arrow), along with the British Invasion, gave me my first real appreciation for the contest. Works like Watchmen, Sandman, and Animal Man led me to J.M. DeMatteis’ Moonshadow, at Marvel, and broadened my appreciation for the original Dark Phoenix Saga – in hindsight.

Once the flash & gimmick event heavy 90s sorted itself out, and the focus returned to readership, rather than collectability, the mutual Darwinian growth continued. Marvel upped its mature readers game, with Ultimates & MAX, and DC, in turn, started to re-imagine their characters as less tights & heels, more practically tactical. Even better, the advent of DC You brings the promise of Ultimates-level re-imagining to DC icons – something DC has never been able to commit to, over the decades. I’m sure the efforts of the gaming community contributed to the evolution of the comic book hero, but I’m trying to focus, here.

The point is, the current crop of fans not only have the luxury of living in a quality driven comic hero world, they get to live it (as Cosplayers), and watch it come to life (through multi-media adaptation). With all the what-not, over who-brews-the-better-stew, I take a lot of encouragement from the fact that we live in a world where the very argument takes a village. Provided the villagers aren’t abusing web anonymity, such community guarantees common ground. Common ground guarantees more fun for all, since, in this case, I’d say the rivalry has become more important (and enjoyable) than any likely outcome.

Both comic houses are under renovation; Marvel needs to up its animation game; DC needs to deliver a comparable movie experience. I don’t just want to watch the comic world burn; I want to watch it turn into the biggest forge imaginable.

Let’s see what comes out of those flames….

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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