An “Age-Old” Dichotomy: Team Marvel or DC Comics?

The Age of Superheroes transcending onto the big screen.

By Simbarashe Mawere (Arts and Culture Editor)

“People said the Age of Heroes would never come…” (Justice League, 2017) is a sentiment comic book fans shared amongst themselves in the past when their passion never made it to mainstream media or the limelight of film. The cultural shift began with Iron Man, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie. The Incredible Hulk is still questionable despite other comic book adaptations into film and television media like Sam Raimi’s Spider-man trilogy. Today, the ubiquity of comic book culture is almost undeniable as the media begins to promote more and more content inspired by the inked pages of comic books.

In modern-day mainstream culture, if you are under 30-years-old and have a decent coverage of the media that floods the internet (American-based television, music and film), then you have probably encountered an MCU movie, and that is no accident. Disney’s investments over many decades helped Marvel to develop a long-standing film franchise that has penetrated the market and turned into one of the greatest cultural phenomena of the 2010s. With the pre-planned “Infinity Saga” franchise, Marvel managed to sway viewers of comic-book-adapted media towards their half of the dichotomy.

Their long-standing rival, DC Comics,  arrived at the scene a bit later, trying to insert their own poorly developed film franchise into the mix despite critical results. While Marvel took ten years to build up their characters, DC attempted to continue the age-old rivalry between the two by creating their own cinematic universe, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), which lacked all the elements of a successful franchise: mainly investments in character and story development. The DCEU falters in comparison to the love that the general audience has for MCU movies, but the tides have begun to shift, restoring a certain balance to the existing rivalry.

With the recent DCEU releases like Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Shazam! and The Suicide Squad being critically acclaimed as well as grossing huge figures at the box office, the DCEU has managed to stay afloat in the race against Marvel.

The Suicide Squad has strengthened the DCEU’s fanbase, being highly rated among critics for its very imaginative and compelling story. It does not fall short of genuine comedy and running gags to enjoy throughout the movie, with enough development from Peacemaker who was brilliantly portrayed by John Cena. The remaining cast members also deliver in the performance of returning characters like Viola Davis and Margot Robbie as Waller and Harley Quinn respectively, and a new assortment of wacky superheroes portrayed by the likes of Idris Elba, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior and Sylvester Stallone who deliver very stunning first performances for the DCEU. Without revealing much of the film’s content, one can only recommend this movie to comic book fans and film watchers in general as a productive two hours filled with good laughs.

Not to say that this might be a discussion of overstated importance, but the world of comic-book adapted media has changed how modern viewers regard the comic book culture. Regardless of how much DC and Marvel duke it out for control of the market share and public opinion, the bottom line stands: as non-partisan profit-uninterested viewers, like me, will keep enjoying this newly developed enthusiasm for unnatural fictional beings who fight physical battles that reflect our moral and emotional struggles in real life. And as if not enough, this battle of the titans has given rise to the popularity of adapting content from comic books into the limelight of animated media with the likes of new unrelated content such as the recent Invincible and The Umbrella Academy television series. As the adage goes, a little competition never hurt anyone. In our case, it has provided us with an abundance of content to enjoy from a neutral standpoint.

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