Allow us to break some news: comic book fans of Marvel and DC tend to speak passionately about their favorite heroes. As Marvel has turned their superheroes into an ever-growing Cinematic Universe, DC and Warner Bros. have played a much slower game. And even though DC's 'Big Three' may be looming on the horizon with the arrival of Batman V Superman, fans on both sides of the feud are quick to advise the studio to simply follow Marvel's plan as quickly as possible.
The creative visionary for Marvel's latest films isn't among them, however. According to writer/director Joss Whedon (The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron), DC and Warner Bros. don't need to start copying the competition, since they're taking an approach that is all their own - and he's a fan.
Rivalry and heated debate is nothing new when it comes to comic book (or blockbuster movie) business, and the ages-old feud between Marvel and DC has resulted in two very different approaches to comic book adaptations. With Marvel now ten films into their shared Avengers universe - most recently taken into outer space with Guardians of the Galaxy - DC still claims only Man of Steel, with Dawn of Justice the next to introduce Batman and Wonder Woman.
So when Whedon was on hand (via remote video) at this year's NerdHQ during Comic-Con 2014, it wasn't a surprise to see an audience member ask the writer/director what advice he would give to DC to help them "up their game." But Whedon's response should prove as a strong reminder that different doesn't always mean worse:
"I don't think I would say that. I think that would be a little presumptuous of me. I think that both studios have kind of different agendas, different ways of approaching the superhero genre, and the ethos of the thing, and the esthetic. They go very dark and serious and sometimes it works amazingly, and Marvel tends to be a little lighter. Both have movies that I adore, and both have movies that I'm like... [pained expression]. Including bits of my own."
"I would not want them to do what Marvel does. I like what they do when they get it right. When you get a Heath Ledger, and Batman Begins, and those things that really grip you. That's something nobody else is doing, and I like it. I want them to do what they're doing."
We've long expressed our belief that comic book and movie fans are likely better off having movie studios looking to make BOTH fantastic, lighthearted superhero movies and grounded, more drama-focused stories than simply one or the other. It would seem Whedon agrees, singling out Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight's version of the Joker (perhaps the strongest result that WB's darker approach has yielded) as reasons he's glad to see his "competition" charting their own course.
Whedon's comments may not be as explosive as Zack Snyder's claims about DC heroes compared to Marvel's (that's not the director's style), but they make the same point: that differences in a genre of film are to be encouraged, not sacrificed for the sake of a speedy development and maximized profits. Warner Bros. has publicly shown that they're not interested in competing with Marvel's films, or even hinting that they're following a similar path.
Those differences in approach have proved divisive even among critics; evidenced in our own comments sections, split between those who feel DC must 'rush' to catch up, and those who attack the studio for 'rushing' their shared universe by filling Dawn of Justice with heroes. Neither is without some drawbacks, as Whedon implies that not every Nolan film or potentially Man of Steel was his cup of tea (clearly true of many moviegoers) - but they don't have to be.
It's unlikely that even Joss Whedon could quell the war of words between fans of their respective superhero studios, but his perspective has to be given weight. By walking two entirely different paths, both Marvel and DC can tell stories that the other simply can't. Fans should probably be thankful that they get to enjoy both.
Where do you sit on this issue? Do Whedon's words echo your own feelings that a lack of variety is to be avoided, or think that one studio's approach is better in the long run? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Source: Nerd Machine