If there’s one major debate in the comic book world, especially since the dawn of shared cinematic universes, it’s the rivalry between Marvel and DC devotees. Since the comic book giants clearly compete for sales, the commercial conflict is often healthy and helps push both purveyors to generate fresh ideas. However, some fans take the rivalry to an unhealthy level.
Many stalwart supporters may not realize or have forgotten that, at several points, the two four-color titans merged their sigils in epic crossovers. Although a modern day Marvel/DC exchange would be complicated, at least one comic book luminary wants to see it happen.
In a recent appearance at MegaCon in Orlando, Marvel mogul Stan Lee was asked about the possibility of an epic cross-company movie (via Comic Book). His initial response, while skeptical, hearkened back to the days when the comic book properties – at least on a cinematic level – weren’t as mired in licensing concerns. Still, the iconic comic creator expressed a degree of optimism as he explored the possibilities:
“Well, you know, that would really be terrific. We did a Spider-Man vs. Superman comic book years ago -- a big, giant-sized book which sold really well, and I had Spider-Man win. I don't think there will ever be a movie like that only because of the lawyers and the businessmen and the contracts. They'd never be able to figure out who gets what and whose name comes first...but if they ever could do it, man, I think everybody would want to see that.”
The recent history of the two cinematic universes certainly hasn’t lent itself to crossovers. Marvel began constructing the MCU, the model all shared universes now take pointers from, in 2008. While Warner Bros. could have kick-started its DC efforts earlier, the disappointing box office from Superman Returns, as well as the pointedly standalone nature of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy precluded any sort of early DCEU.
Still, the historical precedent exists for a crossover between the two comic book giants. After Marvel and DC co-published an adaption of The Wizard of Oz in 1975, they kept the doors open for other possible exchanges. The Spider-Man/Superman cross-label battle, which took place in 1976, is merely one pertinent example. The comic impresarios also crossed universes in a big way in 1996, with the Marvel vs. DC (or vice versa) four issue run. They also created a non-canon convergence that same year with their Amalgam character run which merged the Justice League with the X-Men (JLX) and Superman and Captain America (Super-Soldier), among others. Their most recent superhero mashup was the Justice League-Avengers team-up in 2003.
However, interweaving the two comic book properties is one thing, combining the two cinematic universes is an entirely different animal. At this point, Marvel and Disney are having a hard enough time attaining the rights to their own properties (see Spider-Man’s slow entrance into the MCU and the Fantastic Four conundrum). In addition, Warner Bros. itself is struggling to bring the DCEU online. Between the myriad legal issues and property rights, the possibility of an MCU/DCEU swap seems extremely remote.
At the same time, despite the legal issues involved, Warner Bros. and Disney would be foolish to ignore the potential rewards of such a crossover. The entertainment giants were allied in the past, from 1988 to 1993, on an international distribution-basis. While a mashup of the popular superhero film world would be tricky, if the studios cross-licensed for some sort of a competition-team up (similar to the 2003 crossover miniseries), they could hook ravenous fans from across ‘enemy’ lines, as well as scores of curious filmgoers, creating something, to paraphrase Stan Lee, “everybody would want to see.”
Do you think the licensing and/or studio competition will ever allow for a DC/Marvel crossover? If so, how would you connect the two comic book universes?
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters now. Doctor Strange opens 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.
Suicide Squad will hit theaters 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 5, 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 July 24, 2020.
Source: Comic Book