No comic book fan would have guessed just a few short years ago that the biggest superheroes from both Marvel and DC Comics would be gracing the same blockbuster summer, with budgets, action, and box office takes among Hollywood's elite. The release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War made that dream a reality, with one film launching an entire universe of hero teams and villains, and the other fracturing their existing world in ways that can't yet be measured.
And while the movies may differ in style, tone, and action, the battle between superhumans and their ideologies in a world divided over the future of superheroes runs through them both. Yet nothing could be less similar than the critical reception of each film, often claiming one to be a success, and the other a failure - sending the Marvel vs. DC feud to entirely new heights (or depths). But as scathing as the criticism of Zack Snyder's Justice League prologue may be, one Civil War star - who had taken shots at the director's work before - has nothing but praise.
Despite having his face covered for much of the story, Sebastian Stan - the Winter Soldier himself - punched his way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America's solo sequel, and learned fast just how loud and passionate the fans can be when choosing a side between superhero studios. And since he was rumored at the time to potentially replace star Chris Evans some years down the line, his thoughts on Marvel's long-time rival carried serious weight. Taking playful jabs at Green Lantern and Man of Steel director Zack Snyder for trying to "mimic a better Christopher Nolan movie", Stan stopped short of giving a full review.
But newly cemented as one of Captain America's closest friends, and likely to stick around for the next phase of the MCU, Stan was even more forthcoming when asked by TDB whether he had gotten a chance to see the critically-maligned Dawn of Justice for himself:
"I did see Batman v Superman,” he says with a grin, “and I enjoyed it.”
For those who would immediately interpret this is a new form of ribbing, Stan went into detail about the aspects of DC's superhero title fight - and Snyder's eye for action - that impressed him the most, and how the DCEU taking shape makes perfect sense, given the fan demand for bigger, and more densely-packed event movies:
"I think visually it was insane. I thought Ben Affleck was an incredible Batman. I thought that fight sequence he had against all the guys, that was sick. Even Jesse Eisenberg was cracking me up at some points. That’s all I got.
I also think that DC is at a point right now where, it’s been my impression, they want to get to Justice League. They want to go ahead and kind of get everybody fighting together. And I think the best way to jumpstart that was to get what I think most people wanted to see for a long time: Batman vs. Superman, two of the biggest superheroes in history."
There's no question that DC and Warner Bros. want to get their Justice League off the ground; after seeing Captain America: Civil War continue the title hero's own story, but call upon nearly every member of the Avengers and larger Marvel universe, solo origin tales seem to have already fallen out of fashion. With not one, not two, but three Justice League heroes claiming the spotlight in Batman V Superman - and three more making cameos - the universe is well on its way. And what better way to spark interest or launch solo films, their thinking clearly went, than to roll these seeds and glimpses into a story starring, in Stan's words, "two of the biggest superheroes in history."
The elements praised by the Winter Soldier are hard to dispute: Snyder is on his own level when it comes to CG visuals, and Affleck's performance escaped most criticism - and yes, that action sequence pitting Batman against a gang of thugs really is unforgettable. And coming from an actor who knows what it means to train, rehearse, and perform difficult fight choreography with the world analyzing your every move, Stan's praise will hopefully be heard by those responsible.
Hearing that an actor in the MCU enjoyed a rival product probably shouldn't be as shocking or divisive as it usually is: they have more in common, simply by being action blockbusters, than not. But fans are all too ready to see the men and women in their favorite movies support the feud or online war with the 'competition.' That's the reason that the presumed 'bad blood' between Stan and Snyder exists at all: Snyder's initial jab came when he stated Batman and Superman wouldn't fall victim to 'comic book movie fatigue' since they're more established and iconic than "Ant-Man—not to be mean, but whatever it is. What is the next *Blank*-Man?"
A comment he would later clarify by saying that the genre had to "evolve" beyond origin films treading familiar ground (a common criticism of Ant-Man), which both Dawn of Justice and Civil War have done. But even perceived shots at a successful franchise are taken as outrageous among the online set, turning Stan's response into an all-out 'feud'... even though his comparison between Snyder and Nolan's Dark Knight movies was valid. And, unsurprisingly, Snyder's departure into his own visual style earned a better response.
But before anyone thinks that Stan is calling for an end to the fun part of the Marvel/DC competition, he lets it be known that as much as he may dig Snyder's style, Affleck's Batman, or Jesse Eisenberg's Luthor, he still knows where his loyalties lie:
"But... I’m a Marvel guy, man.”
With Affleck, Stan, Snyder, and their cohorts looking to stick around for years to come, we can only hope that the studios produce films that they can enjoy - along with everybody else.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5th, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.
Captain America: Civil War is now in theaters, and is followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2– May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.
Source: The Daily Beast