This is undoubtedly going to be the most controversial article I have ever written. Just remember that this is an opinion, my opinion and just like any other opinion, is open to debate. I am not a Marvel fan or a DC fan. I did not grow up reading comics or have any particular favourite superhero or super-villain. Rather, I watch the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe as a neutral party, as a lover of movies in general. I’m going to attempt to prove why I believe the MCU is superior to the DCEU, considering the films both the universes have released until date.
12. The Infinity Stones
The Infinity Stones, besides being the most powerful stones in the MCU, serve as a link, a bond between all the films of the MCU. The audience eagerly watches every MCU film hoping one of the stones will turn up and loves to see what each stone is capable of. These stones have perfectly set up ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ with the gauntlet wielding Thanos in search for the stones looking more menacing at every turn. The DCEU should come up with a similar concept that links the films together in order to increase interest in their films.
11. Guardians of the Galaxy
Why does this film get a separate mention on this list? Because it proved what Marvel could do, what Marvel was capable of. I have to admit, I didn’t have any idea about who the Guardians of the Galaxy were until this film came along. And I’m pretty sure most of the audience who weren’t die-hard comic book fans had no idea about who they were either. So how did a group of relatively unknown superheroes make a film which turned out to be an international blockbuster? It took us less than a minute to fall in love with Groot. The anti-hero raccoon Rocket voiced by Bradley Cooper had us in a hysterical state, every time he appeared on the screen. Chris Pratt was the perfect choice for Peter Quill and suddenly, these group of seemingly unknown superheroes became your favourite crime fighting band of misfits. What Marvel did with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ cannot be appreciated enough.
10. Better Villains
Tom Hiddleston as Loki is a terrific super villain. The character is very well written, he comes across as menacing and evil and is given a great origin story in ‘Thor’. By keeping his introduction to a separate film, Marvel was able to instantly throw him into the mix in ‘The Avengers’ since the audience was already familiar with the character. Michael Keaton was also splendid as the Vulture in the recent ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, he was one of the best parts of the film. By writing and casting it’s villains perfectly, Marvel has an edge in this matter over the DCEU. Ares wasn’t a particularly memorable villain and General Zod wasn’t exactly a great villain either.
9. Post Credit Scenes
Only Marvel can make cinema-goers sit right through those long credit screens which show who the assistant to the assistant director is. The move is actually very ingenious, besides actually making the audience see everyone involved in the making of the film, post credit scenes also create a feeling of suspense. One of the most talked about topics which create a buzz on social media and in the news is what the post credit scenes signify. Is there a popular new villain appearing in the next film? Has Thanos found all the infinity stones? The element of suspense which these scenes add have an almost priceless value.
8. Stan Lee Cameos
Every Marvel fan loves Stan Lee. Stan Lee is the lynchpin of Marvel comics, much of what it is today can be credited to him. Right from the moment where he was mistaken as Hugh Hefner in the first ‘Iron Man’ to shouting from the window to his neighbour in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, Stan Lee cameos are a treat to watch. They have become an almost integral feature to the film as the audience keeps a sharp eye throughout, looking for an appearance from the god of comics himself.
7. Robert Downey Jr.
This point speaks for itself. There is no way this list would be complete without mention of the dynamic, vibrant Robert Downey Jr. The actor adds another dimension to every scene he appears in. He manages to be serious, sarcastic, funny and wise, all at the same time. Iron Man seems to be a superhero built for him to play. ‘Iron Man’ was one of the early films of the MCU, its success was essential for the MCU to find its ground and RDJ was one of the driving factors behind its success. It is also interesting to note that ‘Iron Man’ sparked some new life into RDJ’s fading career, as he went on to star in hits like ‘Due Date’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes’.
6. Action Sequences
The airport scene in ‘Captain America 3: Civil War’ was just an example of the intensity and brilliance of the action sequences in the MCU. The audience wants every superhero to showcase all of his/her superpowers and fight to his/her maximum capabilities. When you throw in a large number of superheroes, it becomes hard to focus one each superhero without having too much going on in the screen at a particular time. Marvel has executed group fights really well in all its films until date, which has us hyped up for ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, which is to be the biggest superhero film till date.
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5. The Television Series
Marvel’s TV shows are an added bonus. We were enchanted by the brilliance of ‘Daredevil’ when it released in 2015 and turned out to be one of Netflix’s major successes. What more, the show was set in the same world that the Avengers fought Ultron in. There is nothing like the thrill of an entire elaborate connected universe of superheroes that extends from the cinema to your television at home. ‘Jessica Jones’, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and the much awaited ‘Inhumans’ releasing in August, have only served to bolster the popularity of the MCU. The same, however, cannot be said for the DCEU. The shows ‘Arrow’, Legends of Tomorrow’, ‘Flash’, etc. besides not being set in the same universe as the films, (The creators have said that the TV shows and the films are unrelated.) are nowhere near the quality of the Marvel based television shows.
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4. Well Placed Easter Eggs
This is a direct continuation of the previous point. Marvel films have better overall continuity and connection. In ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, the Vulture attempts to steal from the Avengers plane carrying the Hulkbuster suit. There are several shots of the Avengers tower and the film stars prominent MCU characters like Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. As I mentioned in the last point, it is an absolute delight to follow the journey of these characters over the span of many films.
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3. Spot-On Casting
Robert Downey Jr. was only an example. Marvel generally gets its casting spot-on, the actors seem to be meant to play the superheroes they play. Mark Ruffalo is a splendid Hulk, his calm personality is a perfect contrast to the big angry green man. Scarlett Johansson also seems perfect for her role as Black Widow, she definitely does look the part and seems pretty natural in the action sequences. Paul Rudd was also a great pick for Ant-Man, considering some of the previous work he had done. The casting of Tom Holland as Spider-Man in the recent ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ was a good choice as well, he really has the potential to the best Spider-Man on the big screen in the coming films.
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2. Good Editing
The editing in Marvel films is borderline perfection. The scenes rarely ever lack continuity and the transitions between sequences are smooth. A major problem with ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ was the quality of editing in the film. Some scenes were cut abruptly and the film jumped between story lines rather erratically. Movies like ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Captain America 3: Civil War’ on the other hand, are prime examples of good film editing. However, it must be said, the recent ‘Wonder Woman’ was some good progress on DC’s side towards a finely edited film.
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1. Substantial Humour
Marvel movies are better at making their audience laugh and employ humour more effectively. A common counter-argument people raise are that DC movies are supposed to be dark and gritty. 70% of cinema-goers aren’t particularly DC fans or Marvel fans. They watch movies just for the sole purpose of entertainment. So it’s natural that when they see a movie about grown men with superpowers playing dress up and saving the world, it’s very hard to take things seriously when the entire film is dark and gritty. Marvel is wise to this, however. With remarkably self-aware humour, Marvel is able to keep its films entertaining enough without seeming ridiculous. The recent release of ‘Wonder Woman’ and it’s success isn’t hard to understand. The DCEU has finally learnt about the power of humour as a universal language, the middle act of ‘Wonder Woman’ is hilarious, a driving reason for the film’s success.
In that sense, the future is indeed bright, the DCEU is younger than the MCU in terms of the number of films produced and if the recent ‘Wonder Woman’ is anything to go by, the DCEU is learning fast and getting better at an impressive rate. While the MCU might currently hold an edge over the DCEU, tough competition for the top spot is in the horizon.
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