For as long as I can remember, since I was the smallest of children, I have loved DC.
To be honest, I’ve always loved superheroes. Something about them has always resonated with me in a deep way. But whenever people bring up the topic of superheroes, the ones I would think of would be exclusively DC. Superman and Batman were my bread and butter. I knew all about them, all of the associated sidekicks and villains. I didn’t read comics, I never really had a lot of money to buy them until I got older, but I watched the cartoons to death and beyond. By knowing them, I knew all kinds of other things about DC and its heroes, and kept up to date as they changed and evolved through the comics when I could finally start buying them on my own.
Iron Man drops when I’m still in school. I saw it and really loved it, despite it being from Marvel. I had never really known anything about Marvel, other than Spiderman and the X-Men, which I suppose was the case for a lot of people. Know one really knew who Iron Man or Captain America or even who the Avengers were (Crazy right?). All of that was still obscure nerdy stuff. Yet, here they were breaking box office records, and the MCU truly began.
Then Thor, then Captain America (no one saw Hulk, be real). Suddenly, we started to realize what was happening. All of these movies were going to link up into this epic compilation film of all of the heroes, something never really attempted before. It was really exciting, and even more so for me as I realized the obvious next step in the plan.
DC would have to rise to the challenge.
Marvel was having a blast, but surely, DC would be right around the corner with its own answer. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman… all of that was coming right up the street to bring the Superhero Movie Universe into karmic balance. Each company would make a movie bigger than the last, which would make both of them better in the long run. Batman had already had its time with the Nolan Trilogy, but people had already shown they were willing to immediately forget a previous movie if they could see their favorite characters again (Hulk would be an example).
And then, it finally happened.
Best Laid Plans
I still submit, even to this day, that the first trailer for Man of Steel is one of the greatest pieces of cinematography and editing ever made. Its better than some movies. I was in tears by the end of it. Its emotional and heavy and epic all at the same time. You can immediately tell what the flavor of the movie is going to be – a little dark, a little edgy, serious but epic in a way that really befits DC. The Justice League are kind of like gods, any nerd would tell you that, and having that kind of self awareness in the film would ensure that they would take the material seriously and inspire a new generation of kids who saw the movies to worship at the alter of Kal El like the rest of us.
All aboard the hype train, right? A train that had no breaks.
A train that couldn’t be stopped.
Man of Steel comes out as a Summer blockbuster as foretold in the prophecy. I saw it with some friends the first time and they laughed while watching my face. Was it the brain-melting, eye-dissolving experience that I had hoped for?
At first, yes. The first time I saw the movie it was epic and fun and punchy in a way that Superman Returns certainly wasn’t. I groaned and jumped and gripped my seat at all the right moments, and Superman taking flight for the first time was enough to make me lift off of my own chair in heroic empathy.
Yet there were already complaints about the film. Superman kills people, the city is destroyed, he doesn’t fight Zod the right way. The list goes on. At the time, still clutching onto my nostalgia like a shipmast in a hurricane, I thought it was a little unfair. Here were people trying to derail my hype train. Those who spoke out against the movie had clearly never really loved Superman, they didn’t understand him the way that I did.
Apparently, neither did Zack Snyder.
Because what I slowly came to realize was that Man of Steel seemed to have its own special power – the power to become progressively worse with each viewing. The first time was amazing, my brain was as off as it ever would be. But like an overloaded drug addict, every hit after the fact had diminishing returns of excitement, and the magic from the first viewing faded away.
Like Kryptonite draining my powers, I felt the hype train start to slow.
Dusk to Dawn (of Justice)
All was not lost, however. Even Superman came back from the dead, so surely it was just a misstep on the road to something better. Batman vs. Superman was on the way, and things would be better after that. The team up movie could seal the deal, and DC would get its act together and everything I had dreamed would come true, right?
If we’re being 110% honest right now, I haven’t seen Dawn of Justice yet, and I don’t plan on it unless someone can show it to me (I don’t want to pay for it). Its not that I won’t pay for films, I want to support the media I enjoy, but I won’t give money to them after what they did to me.
This is unacceptable.
I may not have seen it, but I’ve read the reviews. The consensus is undeniable. There’s no way that so many people could agree that the movie is a sack of shit without having some kind of reason to. At least for Man of Steel, there was some debate on whether or not the movie was good, and I could plug my ears enough to stem the tide of crappy reviews coming in. I’m the perfect movie-goer, in that while I’m seated in the theater, I can (usually) turn off my brain and just enjoy the experience without nitpicking.
But I’ll put my reasons aside for just a moment to have a quick conversation with DC. To all of the exectutives and people that worked on the DCU, you have all let me down.
Shame on you.
How could you take the very essence of storytelling and tear it down around its foundation? Why would you punish me so hard for liking your things? How can you even mess up this hard? It required almost no effort, only a respect for the material and a solid vision. And this was what you came up with? This was the big idea that was going to bring Marvel to its knees and finally reward me for a lifetime of dedication to these superheroes? How dare you. You took some of the most fond and fun memories I had from childhood and robbed me of the chance to return to them. You made fun not fun. How do you even do that?
You have sucked the soul out of this experience. And do you know who you let down the most? Children. That’s right, and they didn’t even the see the movie. Because its rated R. How could you deny kids the chance to see superheroes they love? Just to please the Gen X and Millennial audience? What were you thinking? A whole generation is going to miss out on a chance to experience DC heroes on the big screen. They’re not going to talk about this movie, or show it to their kid when they come of age. It will be lost to the annuls of time, and a whole generation will have no idea of what could have been. Nice fucking jobs, guys. Way to give it your all.
Yet, strangely enough, I find there is a new avenue for my nostalgia and I to walk down. Out of nowhere comes whom I thought was the runner up all these years.
It’s a strange feeling. I spoke a lot of evils against Marvel back in the day. It wasn’t the one I grew up with, so it was inferior in my eyes. People told me that the heroes were weaker, so that made them more relateable. At the time, I didn’t really get that. All that meant was bad writing. You could have really powerful heroes and still have relateable characters. Superman was the best example for me.
But now, I see there is some wisdom to that statement. DC is so well fed on the idea that all of the Justice League are gods, they forget to make them real. They act so godlike, its almost childish. And they don’t really shut up about how God-like they are, going on and on about their self-importance and how much its up to them to save the world.
Cut to Marvel, and although there is some of that, the characters are so much more relatable and easy to enjoy. And do you know what Marvel has that DC doesn’t? More than anything else?
The movies are inescapably fun. You can’t not enjoy watching a Marvel movie, at least, so far. The shows on TV are hit or miss, but when they hit, they’re home-runs (thanks Jessica Jones). Marvel knows how to make a superhero movie better than anyone in the business. So well, in fact, that its only major competitor is itself. DC shot itself in the foot like a horse trying to use an M-16 – thus Marvel is forced to try and outdo itself. But that’s all it has to to, it will never have DC as a rival as long as I’m alive. Everyone is waiting for Suicide Squad to ressurect the dream, but hopes aren’t really high right now.
I watch Avengers and feel the same kind of thing I used to feel when watching the old Batman cartoons. I have a strong feeling of, “when I grow up, I want to be a superhero”. Weirder still, I know the powers and the heroes almost as much as I’ve ever known about DC, and I find myself looking up more and more as the MCU continues to expand and add new people to the roster.
Are there too many superhero movies? I don’t think so. Is it taking away from writers and directors trying out new IPs? Sure, I would say there’s some truth to that. But as of right now, I can’t help but admit that my favorite movies right now are Marvel movies, with Avengers being the best of all. I haven’t seen Civil War yet, but despite the fighting and the crying I’m sure will ensue, Marvel has already won it out for me.