Why A Marvel/DC Movie Crossover Will Never Happen

Published 8 months ago by , Updated August 19th, 2014 at 12:35 am,

Why a Marvel DC Crossover Movie Wont Happen Why A Marvel/DC Movie Crossover Will Never Happen

There used to be a time when one blockbuster superhero property was enough to keep fans satisfied, but Marvel changed all that with its Avengers movie universe. With Batman V Superman and even X-Men: Days of Future Past following a similar rule – that merging heroes and brands means bigger business – crossovers between rival studios seems inevitable.

But even if Marvel’s separation of properties across multiple Hollywood studios means that X-Men‘s producer wants a team-up with The Avengers or Fox may be building towards an X-Men/Fantastic Four shared universe, DC Comics is another story. While the two juggernauts may have joined/clashed forces in the past, fans shouldn’t expect DC and Marvel to share the same space anytime soon – especially not on the big screen.

Many cynics these days point to crossovers – whether they be between heroes under a single banner or across corporate lines – as a sign of corporate greed, unless studios “put in time” as Marvel did, establishing standalone heroes before uniting them in a single movie. It appears that DC Comics and Warner Bros. are also looking to create a shared movie universe sooner rather than later, with multiple superhero films slated for release in the coming years.

Once both Marvel and DC get their universes up and running – the two studios with the most known characters to draw upon – then filmgoers, like comic readers before them, will no doubt wonder what would happen if the two joined forces. A world-ending blockbuster with unstoppable potential, some would likely say. And there’s even a precedent set for it in the comics.

Marvel DC Comics Crossover Event Why A Marvel/DC Movie Crossover Will Never Happen

The most often cited crossover tends to be the 1996 “DC vs. Marvel” event, essentially pitting the two universes together with only the victor surviving. Long-debated fights between fans were put into action: Aquaman vs. Namor, Flash vs. Quicksilver, even Superman vs. the Hulk. When all was said and done, the two were merged into a single Amalgam universe, meaning that although the event produced some memorable stories and artwork, neither ended up on top.

The comic event – or the later “JLA/Avengers” event of 2003 – may seem like evidence that a movie crossover could happen, with a potential story in place to follow as well. But we would point out that in 1996, the world of comic books was a very different one. Not only did it seem that the medium’s best days were behind it (arguably, that’s still the case), but Marvel Comics was just a few years away from bankruptcy.

In other words: the two rival publishers both had something to gain by meeting fan demand, and were both sorely in need of a boost.

Marvel DC Crossover Problems Why A Marvel/DC Movie Crossover Will Never Happen

Those times have changed, with Marvel boss Joe Quesada (who helped save the publisher) claiming that the superhero or comic book genres of film aren’t going anywhere. That being said, the world of comic book talent is nowhere near as divided as film; artists and writers move from DC to Marvel to creator-owned properties in pursuit of steady work or more creative freedom. And there are already signs that creative freedom won’t be a top priority for big screen superhero films as shared universes become more and more rigid.

Is it the same case for the comics? When we sat down with writer/artist/creator/DC co-publisher Jim Lee and Marvel artist/writer Brian Michael Bendis at a townhall meeting at SDCC 2014, the question of crossovers was inevitably raised. Both legendary creators have seen the restriction and benefits of the comic book world close up: Lee may be cemented as a DC executive today, but made his start with Marvel before launching his own label and “WildC.A.T.s” series, among others.

As the mind behind “Ultimate Spider-Man,” one of the founding members of Marvel’s “Ultimate” Universe, and writer of the “New Avengers” relaunch, it goes without saying that Bendis has a passion for many Marvel properties, regardless of who owns the movie rights to either. And the pair reiterated that its the creators, artists, and writers who dream of crossovers just as much as their audience. And as fans have come to expect, Bendis spoke quite candidly:

“The last time I was in a room with Jim Lee, we were at LA Comic-Con… [looks to Lee] you came up and whispered in my ear: ‘WildC.A.T.s/Avengers…’ and then you walked away and I haven’t seen you since… But I thought: ‘I’d drop something to do that.’

“See, this is what happens when the creators get together and the whispers start, and then the ideas start running, and then the realities of corporate America stop it right in its tracks.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Avengers Crossover Why A Marvel/DC Movie Crossover Will Never Happen

It isn’t hard to grasp why corporations would put the brakes on even their own creators’ enthusiasm for cross-company collaboration, as it happens just as often in today’s film industry. An Avengers/Guardians of the Galaxy crossover is already in the works, but even when a producer of Fox’s X-Men universe expresses a clear desire to merge the series with Marvel’s, it’s immediately deemed a long shot (Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige has said it won’t be happening any time soon).

Still, the upside seems obvious to any optimistic fan: Marvel and DC both enjoy increased attention and sales with universe-wide ‘events,’ even bringing iconic super-teams to blows. While that may be easier when all characters are owned by the same company, Jim Lee offered his opinion on the less obvious challenges, and reminding fans that the main reason companies choose not to combine success is the same for comics as it is in film – they simply don’t have to:

“I think it’s a lot of work, it requires a lot of people working in good faith. I think the big questions is: both companies make a lot of money off their own titles, so what’s in it for them to share that revenue? That’s a big part of it. Obviously it would be huge news, and you would think that the increased sales would make up for that, but then, who’s throwing in what talent to the pool, all that kind of stuff.”

Superhero Movie Crossovers X Men Avengers Why A Marvel/DC Movie Crossover Will Never Happen

The escalated pressure and workload can’t be understated when crossovers move from the corporate minefield of comics into the realm of blockbuster movies. While Fox’s Mark Millar might long for a world where competing studios compose a single superhero universe, someone has to actually run the project for all involved.

Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon has said he’s not interested in having to write a story with more characters than he has already, and it’s hard to argue that you could do justice to all heroes in such a packed cast – especially when the studio making the film has a clear interest in giving their own properties time in the spotlight.

Bendis – never one to shy away from bold statements – explained another core issue: if Marvel or DC ever actually planned to combine superhero franchises, somebody would have to lose.

“Also, there’s that element where people don’t want to see Marvel and DC beat up Lex Luthor – they want to see Marvel vs. DC. They want to see Thor vs .Superman, and then either Thor or Superman have to get their ass kicked for it to matter. And neither company wants that, you know… ‘It has been stated that Superman is stronger than Thor.’ They don’t want it, neither company would want that. And they’re all billion-dollar characters now, so no one’s interested in making them cooler than the next, so… I get it.

Superman Thor DC Marvel Crossover Why A Marvel/DC Movie Crossover Will Never Happen

“People want a loser. The reason ‘Civil War’ was successful was somebody lost, and they were shocked: ‘Oh my God, somebody lost!’ You know, they didn’t shake hands at the end and go: ‘Well then, we’ve both seen the light of day.’ You want to see Thor with his foot on Superman’s neck just grinding it in. That’s all they want to see.”

It may seem silly to get hung up on something like ego when movie franchises are on the line, but even the slightest mistake can mean lost millions for movie studios. That being said, comic book movies may end up changing just as much as their source material, so who knows what the future could hold.

Aside from the reasons mentioned above, the difference in tone between the two studios may be the largest hurdle in the end. For now, Zack Snyder is on record as loving Marvel’s brand of superhero movies, and Joss Whedon adores” some of the darker approach. But as we know, the creators aren’t the ones who get to decide if a crossover is in the cards.

It’s safe to say that movie studios won’t agree to share responsibility, share the talent, or share the profits until they absolutely have to. But if they get to that point, it’s anything but good news for fans – regardless of which studio you prefer.

What’s your take on the chances of a DC/Marvel crossover? Is it really a head-to-head fight you would need to make the event worthwhile, or is the difference in tone too much to overcome? Sound off in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Follow Andrew Dyce on Twitter @andrew_dyce
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  1. I’d pay good money to see a DC/Marvel animated feature

    • hell yeah!

    • +1

    • Absolutely!!

  2. Nah, I rather see the ff/avengers crossover. That won’t happen though because Fox tends to be a b***h.

    • Um. Hello? It says right over the comment box no profanity and personal attacks. Now are you so hard heads that you do both? Respect yourself enough to maintain dignity

  3. Interesting article in particular the part on…”crossovers – whether they be between heroes under a single banner or across corporate lines – as a sign of corporate GREED, unless studios “put in time” as Marvel…”,hhhmmm does this means that DC/WB is greedy by putting all its golden eggs in one basket too fast n too soon!!!

  4. think about this:
    what if they did solo crossovers movies kind of like how they did the last twilight movie the movie would be so long it would have to parts so everybody had screen time say a dc vs marvel with dc doing part one and marvel doing part two i would go one further and have an independent make a third to tie it all together think about about it each would get there money from there part and split the third

    • Interesting but I don’t see it happening just for the simple fact of competition. If there’s 3 parts and each company gets 1 whole part to themselves then that means both are gonna fight to get the first par. That alone creates a big competitive problem before the film even gets scripted. Once that finally gets settled if the second part isn’t as good as the first then there’s no point in making the third part. And sharing the money on the third part is a battle in its self seeing as both companies are gonna say they put in more work than the other making them feel they should get a bigger cut. The overall battle of sharing money and who gets the first part will be a bigger battle than the crossover action in the film itself and at that point that alone should be the movie versus the original idea of a shared film lol

  5. If Disney actually did end up buying WB then there would be absolutely no reason legally why such a film couldn’t happen. My problem is that such a film would have way too many characters for everyone to get their proper shine, and I don’t see how a real cohesive plot that advances each universe further could be made. The only way I think this could be done, is if they made it a 2 or 3 part epic in the vein of LOTR.

    • Uh, no. That’s not going to happen. Time Warner is Disney’s biggest competitor. One could never buy the other.

  6. Well nobody has to win actually. The Hulk is infinitely strong and so is Superman so just have them in the end of the comic become supercharged(Worldbreaker/Superman thrown into the sun) and punch eachother so hard reality breaks or they create a singularity or something. Everybody loses but it would be epic as sh*t.

  7. I don’t see a big screen movie crossover working.

    Miniseries on HBO, on the other hand…

    • I do not understand the fixation fan-atics have concerning crossovers … why? Why do the xmen need to crossover to the avengers? Why does spiderman need to crossover to the avengers? because the comic books? there have been nearly 50 years of marvel comic history … in the comics. We have had only 10 years of MCU … can we build that with characters and stories before we have pointless crossovers? And why crossover to the DCU? To satisfy some fanboys fantasies? I don’t see the point … unless there is a great story or reason to do it I don’t think it’s needed … I don’t care if the Hulk is stronger than Superman … I want a great Hulk story …

      • You may not see the point but it’s very simple. It’d be really f****** cool. That’s it most people would pay good money (including me) to see a crossover like this regardless of the story. It’d just be cool

        • It would also be very expensive and potentially fall flat. How much screen time is going to be enough for every fans favorite character and how many lines will be enough for the dozens of actors that would have to populate such a film?

          And at a point what else are they going to do with a gigantic crossover movie that they are not already doing in all these other films? Are they going to destroy every major city on Earth and possibly the Moon?

  8. Well I heard Time Warner is looking to sell, and that Disney is looking to buy, so it may happen.. One day.

  9. It will happen once/if the superhero bubble bursts in the movies – I’d see it as a last throw of the dice – kind of like The Expendables movies for 80′s action stars.

  10. MCU/DCCU of course!! Y’ALL need to ask? o.O O.o

  11. Yeah, the whole Disney buying WB is never gonna happen.

  12. It would be epic. But i would rather see a couple off the wall crossovers like batman vs predator my favorite crossover in the books.

    • Y! Batman/Grendel also :D

  13. I would love to see a cross over of marvel and dc, it would be just so cool and epic, gigantic, I believe we are going to see it happen. None of us know when but once it starts getting talked about, and teased enough by us fans the powers be will listen. But first to be real about things there is allot going on in both camps, with talks of cross overs with ff4 and xmen, and what have you.

    So i think these next cross overs of marvels heroes with x men and ff4 , and many of the other proposed cross overs in marvels universe have got to be looked into. the whole process that goes into getting these projects greenlit for screen has to take time and allot of consideration.

    When cross overs films are made in dc after Batman v Superman along with the Jla has come along and a success and marvel and their own cross overs are done and have success. Then I think it maybe considered, also money is a big factor, finance, planing, management.

    How do you manage such a gigantic project of DC and Marvel in the one film.
    There might be a root to even possibly bringing such a project maybe sooner than we think, it would be awesome, but it would require allot of real down to earth negotiations and serious consultation of how to go about this.

    I think it is possible, and it think it could happen after BVS and JLA and the next Avengers, we will wait and see, keep the debate going on this its very interesting. all the best from Dvalley

  14. Who would win? neither studio would want any of their characters killed, defeated, etc.. You could fill the screens for hours: the Avengers, X-men, FF, solo heroes like Daredevil, Spidey, Dr. Strange…versus Justice League, Justice Society, legion of Super-Heroes, etc.

  15. The Marvel & DC universes don’t necessarily have to collide to do a crossover. You can make one superhero or hero team crossover into the other universe. Like say the FF do another mission in space & get sucked into a wormhole that sends them into the DC universe. They land in Metropolis thinking it’s New York & then have to explain that they’re not Krytonians like Supes, but mutant humans from a parallel earth. s*** Marvel already does s*** like this in their own Marvel Multiverse. You don’t need to involve every character from both universes to create a good crossover. All you need is a good story. Just sayin…

    • that story has already happened

  16. If it does happen, I just want Ben Affleck’s batman to meet the new daredevil and have some joke made about it

  17. It took years but aliens vs predators eventually happened (I know, it was terrible though).

    But I agree with the comments regarding screen time. For this to work it would need to be more than one movie, or a series, or on netflix…
    Hmmm… It would be really cool to have a netflix avengers vs justice league series. Imagine, 15 episodes of crazy fights…
    Netflix would be ideal, we would already get the whole season in a day…

    • I did contemplate the idea of a DC/Marvel crossover film- I was thinking more of a Roger Rabbit-like story involving comic book characters. As for possible DC/Marvel crossovers in the future, I don’t know how that’s going to work; WB owns DC but Disney NOW owns Marvel and Disney and WB have been rivals for years. As it was pointed out, what would both both comic publishers gain from future comic crossovers since both companies are doing well financially without that? More DC/Marvel crossovers would be interesting.

      • a lot of money

  18. The crossover and clash actually happened. While it is true that at the end of the fight both universes (DC and Marvel) combined into one, what the writer of this article forgot to mention was that Marvel actually won. There were 6 published fights between DC and Marvel characters and 5 additional fights decided by Fans. The six matches were tied 3 and 3. As for the Fan-decided matches Marvel beat DC when it won 3 out of 5 matches. DC’s Superman and Batman defeated Hulk and Captain America, respectively. While Marvel’s Wolverine, Spiderman, and Storm beat DC’s Lobo, Superboy, and Wonder Woman. I remember this event. For Comic book fans, this excitement was like our version of the Fall of the Berlin Wall!