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The Marvel vs. DC Flame War Needs To End

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Iron Man vs Batman comic

While it's true that there are some seriously poor comic book fans out there who can only afford to go to the theater a couple of times every year, for the most part it's pretty feasible to (for example) go and see Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in March, and then head out again to see Captain America: Civil War a couple of months later.

One of the reasons that the Xbox vs. PlayStation rivalry among gamers is so intense - perhaps even more so than Marvel vs. DC - is that for many people buying both an Xbox One and a PlayStation 4 (which retail at a few hundred dollars each) just isn't financially possible. Furthermore, since the number of video games released on both consoles far outweighs the number of exclusives, there's little reason to buy both consoles unless you seriously love both the Halo franchise and the Uncharted franchise. Circumstance forces people to choose one console or the other, and human nature often leads them to develop an intense defensiveness over their choice of console - coupled with virulent disdain for the alternative choice and for anyone who opts to buy that instead.

To a certain extent the same is true for Marvel vs. DC; a lot of people can't afford to buy all of the titles being released by Marvel and DC, and the interconnected nature of their respective multiverses means that subscribing to one series often means subscribing to others set in the same world in order to stay up to date with all the characters. When it comes to the movie universes, however, things are quite different. Not only is it not necessary to have read all the source material (these movies do cater towards general audiences, after all), there a lot fewer comic book movies than there are comic books.

Missed Opportunities

Superman and Captain America

When it comes to comparing Marvel and DC properties, "Which one is better?" is probably one of the most boring questions you can possibly ask. The movies and TV shows emerging from both companies are ripe for integrated discussion, since they share not only a niche genre that's exploded in popularity, but also a similar business model of shared universes that other studios are hastening to emulate. This year in particular sees the release of a Marvel movie and a DC movie that compliment one another extremely well, with both Batman V Superman and Captain America: Civil War tackling the problem of superhero accountability.

Unfortunately, the "Which one is better?" conversation has a tendency to drown out all other conversations. For a site like Screen Rant, whose focus is largely on mainstream adaptations of comic book properties, articles are subject to keen scrutiny by readers who are all too eager to claim "Marvel bias" or "DC bias" based on a perceived tally of positive and negative comments about each of the major houses. This environment can make it exhausting to try and draw comparisons between Marvel and DC; it's a constantly balancing act of trying to discuss both in detail without ever saying anything that could imply one has more worth than the other.

When corporate loyalty crosses the line from friendly jousting into constant, high-strung antagonism, it has a tendency to poison the well of discussion. This isn't so bad if you're arguing over the respective merits of Coke and Pepsi, but for complex and fascinating works like films, comic books and TV shows, there's so much that can be missed out on by getting hung up on in-fighting.

Conclusion

Screen Rant's Marvel DC bias

Perhaps it's futile to try and fight the trend of arbitrary rivalries. Warner Bros. certainly understands the power of competition in marketing, as evidenced by the current #WhoWillWin marketing push for Batman V Superman. Interestingly, Captain America: Civil War's tagline is the considerably more sober "Divided We Fall". And no, that's not an invitation to start arguing over which tagline is better.

Ultimately, the Marvel vs. DC rivalry is a false dilemma. It's fine to pick sides when it's all in good fun, or to prefer one studio's style over the other, but when every conversation about comic book movies seems to dissolve into petty bickering and people refer to the divide as a 'war' unironically, it might be time to take a step back. After all, we're entering a true golden age in which several big budget movies featuring Marvel and DC superheroes are being released every year. If they can co-exist peacefully, why can't their fans?

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Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.

Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange– November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018;Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.

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