Didn't see this thread when it started...
I've discussed this with a coworker who is a long-time DC fan, and we both agree on the same fundamental state of affairs:
- Marvel, since it took over their movie production, has been knocking movies out of the park, while DC has been floundering.
- DC has been consistently making fun, interesting TV shows (both animated and live-action), while Marvel's TV offerings have mostly been lackluster.
- Both companies are floundering badly in their print comics, with too much focus on mega-cross-title events, too much sliding toward darker, edgier storytelling, and the apparent dismissal of stories/comics that are fun and silly.
DC's biggest problem on the movie side of things is that they hit the cultural conscious too hard with Superman and Batman in the past, while neglecting the rest of their library. They relied too heavily on those two characters, because they were the ones that became popular and known; they chose to go with the sure-fire profitable asset, rather than building awareness of more of their less-known characters. Marvel, at least, experimented in the 70's with the Spider-Man and Captain America light movies they ran in the summer for several years. They've been making up some of this problem with their television offerings, with Justice League
and Teen Titans
helping broaden the awareness of their characters, but in the box office, they're still relying too much on Superman and Batman.
Marvel, on the other hand, is putting all of its eggs on the movies, and the animated TV shows are, at best, "passable." The only out-of-the-park TV show they've had in the past two decades is the first X-Men animated series, and while it certainly helped bring the X-Men into the public awareness, their follow-ups have been less powerful and less interesting... and it ended
almost two decades ago, in 1997. Looking at their list of shows
, it's clear that they've been trying
to claim some presence in the television world, but as the majority of their shows have been 1-2 season flops, it's hard to say that they're succeeding.
But both companies are having a serious problem with converting their fans from TV and movies to comics, and a large part of that is that they're either basing the movies off of old versions of their comic history - there's a distinct disconnect between what they're doing with their comics characters, and how they're using them everywhere else. There have been dozens (if not hundreds) of blogs complaining about DC's treatment of Starfire in the New 52
, but one of the most significant is one I can't find again - someone talking about their teenage daughter, who loved the Teen Titans
animated show, being thrilled to find out that Starfire, her favorite character, was going to be in a new comic, in the New 52, and being horrified that the character was essentially a brainless sex doll. Yes, they've partially rolled back some of that, but she's still a very
different character in the New 52 than she was back in the 80's, or in the animated series.
But that's not only DC, as I said - both companies have this problem. Marvel has made a huge success with their Avengers
movie, by taking characters that people already knew about thanks to other movies, and threading the movies all together, rather than each one standing alone. So what's wrong with that? Well, let's take a list of who is in the Avengers movie. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. That's a solid line-up of characters, right? But if someone who loved the movies goes and picks up an Avengers comic today, what do they get?
No Hulk, Hawkeye or Black Widow at all. Female Thor. Black Captain America. 8 other characters that they may or may not know from other sources (Scarlet Witch has been in quite a few animated series, Winter Soldier is obviously in the most recent Captain America movie, Deathlok was heavily-featured in Agents of SHIELD
). The only character that's consistent is Iron Man... and from all reports, he goes from egotistical to tyrannical in this story arc.
Now, don't get me wrong. I actually have no objection to the Femme-Thor* or Black Captain America**, or adding new and different characters to the Avengers (but how the heck are they accepting Angela
, who is a VERY new face in the Marvel world?), just that this is a terrible
time to be doing it. By having such a dramatic difference between what they're showing in the movies and what's going on in the comic, they run a very strong risk of turning away potential new readers. The bigger the difference, the stronger the effect... and man, is this some huge difference.
Both companies need to balance better between attracting new readers and not alienating the long-time fans, and both are failing on both
of those now.
* The new woman using Thor's hammer has several appearance traits very similar to Valkyrie
. That's my guess, but I'm not confident enough in that guess to bet money on it.
** Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon, is arguably one of the BEST people to pick up the Captain America mantle if Steve Rogers is busy playing super-spy since he's spent years as Cap's partner, and people can identify him from Falcon's appearance in the Winter Soldier movie.