Batman Vs Superman: What Marvel Can Learn From DC

As it enters its third week in cinemas, ‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’ continues to be one of the more divisive superhero movies ever. It might even be the most divisive movie of 2016. While the film had numerous problems, including throwing casual fans at the deep end of DC Comics’ continuity and a number of narrative conveniences done to progress the story, it was certainly ambitious, and Marvel Studios could learn a thing or two from said ambition.

That’s not to say Marvel has to go “dark and gritty.” The company has R-rated Netflix series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones that show a different side of the comic book-influenced material. Still, competition only helps the superhero genre improve itself, so here are a couple of things Marvel Studios can learn from DC.

Heavy Themes

Say what you will about ‘Batman vs Superman’ or Man of Steel, but both films weren’t afraid to use the “Last Son of Krypton” as a messiah allegory. While it was clunky and messy at times, it’s still deeper than any of the themes the Marvel movies have taken, which is odd considering that the company has an actual God of Thunder as a film property.

To be fair, Captain America: Civil War is set to handle more political issues, which technically started with its predecessor, The Winter Soldier. That being said, it would be nice to see the other Marvel films, particularly Thor: Ragnarok, handle some more interesting themes aside from “heroes are good” and “villains are bad.”

Kill The Heroes

If there are any serious complaints about Marvel films, it’s that they have constantly teased the death of a beloved character, tugging at the heartstrings of fans, before revealing that he or she is just fine. Loki seemingly died in Thor: The Dark World, though most comic book fans knew better; Groot almost met his end in Guardians of the Galaxy; and Phil Coulson, who died in the Avengers movie, a death fans actually cared about, was brought back in Agents of SHIELD through some sort of contrivance.

While Superman’s death might not be permanent, it was still a gutsy move to end the film with it, as very few superhero films have killed their lead characters. Comic book fans might know he’ll be back for Justice League, but a more casual viewer might actually believe he is dead and go crazy for his eventual return.

Dastardly Villains

Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor was heavily criticized and reviled by many, but the character proved to be a solid threat to our heroes. He was constantly one step ahead of the protagonists and barely got what he deserved in the end, truly earning the hatred of the audience.

Aside from Loki and maybe Ultron, the Marvel films haven’t had any compelling villains. Each villain in the Iron Man films were just evil businessmen in suits, and even the energetic Guardians of the Galaxy film had a weak antagonist who simply wanted to rule the world. At least Loki and Lex had character traits and motivations.

This is something Marvel desperately needs to work on in its films. While the company’s Netflix shows have had very good villains like “The Kingpin” Wilson Fisk and Killgrave, the movies really only have Loki. The film version of Lex Luthor might have been too odd and poorly written to some, but he wasn’t just a means to an end, like most antagonists in the Marvel films; for better or worse he was an actual character.

Captain America: Civil War comes to cinemas on May 3. On the DC side, an R-rated “Ultimate Edition” of ‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’ will be getting a blu-ray release later this year, with plenty of new footage.
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