LA Times on DC vs. Marvel

Posted by · 4:39 pm · July 21st, 2010

Full disclosure: I don’t do comics. It’s not a matter of snobbery or dislike — I quite admire the medium, in fact — but I wasn’t brought up on them and can’t fabricate the kind of lifelong enthusiasm they inspire in others. The pile of unread novels on my bedside table is high enough without bringing graphics into the equation.

This is a roundabout way of saying that talk of the rivalry between Marvel and DC Comics means about as much to me personally as that of the teams atop the German Bundesliga table — I understand both the game and the stakes, but my knowledge of the players themselves is elementary at best. So I found this LA Times article, in which Geoff Boucher and Ben Fritz break down the recent fortunes of Marvel and DC’s respective film production divisions, rather enlightening.

With DC Entertainment’s extreme polarities of success (Christopher Nolan’s Batman pictures) and failure (the still-reeking “Jonah Hex”) putting them on shakier economic ground than the more consistent Marvel, the studio has appointed former “Harry Potter” brand manager Diane Nelson and comic-book writer Geoff Johns to take the reins. Nelson’s background is telling: parent company Warner Bros. will be relying heavily on DC Entertainment to plug the gap left when the Potter film series concludes next year.

In this regard, then, Comic-Con is a crucial showcase for DC and its new captains — and much more is riding on “Green Lantern” than I could have imagined for any film starring Ryan Reynolds in a glowing emerald suit. (Full extent of my knowledge displayed: the Comic-Con geeks would be eating my liver for breakfast by now.) The film, which will unveil footage for the San Diego hordes on Saturday, is intended to usher in a series of tentpole films built around other long-gestating DC properties like Wonder Woman and Flash — as well as a Nolan-conceived reboot of the Superman franchise. (Between that and his Bat-duty, I guess my wish for the director to return to a smaller canvas isn’t being granted any time soon.)

Boucher and Fritz report that while Nelson (like me, a comic book novice) is aiming to broaden the audience for DC’s film output, Johns is on hand to ensure the geeks are still appeased:

“It’s no small challenge how few people have heard of these properties or understand their stories outside of fans of comic books,” [Nelson] said. “Sometimes the comic-book fans who love this stuff want us to get too precious about this stuff and if we do, we’ll kill it off. We need to figure out how to evolve and grow it and bring it to more people.”

Johns, meanwhile, is as deeply immersed in the DC mythology as any hard-core fan. After starting his career as an assistant to Richard Donner, director of the 1978 “Superman” film, he became one of DC’s top writers … That made him a perfect fit when Warner executives started looking for a creative executive to work under Nelson. “Geoff knows how to make these characters contemporary and yet stick to their core values, which is a fantastic asset for us,” said [film group president Jeff] Robinov.

Sounds like a solid balance in theory, and I hope it works out for them. I’m rooting for DC — they’re the ones who didn’t make “Kick-Ass,” right?

Read the rest of the LA Times piece here.

[Photo: /Film]

→ 13 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

13 responses so far

  • 1 7-21-2010 at 5:00 pm

    mrmcfall said...

    In a few years there could definitely be a shift in confidence from Marvel to DC if the former’s “Avengers” project flops at the same time that the Nelson/Johns team are putting together some solid, stand-alone movies that exist outside of a team-up movie crescendo.

  • 2 7-21-2010 at 8:27 pm

    Filmoholic said...

    I frankly couldn’t care less about Green Lantern, Captain America, Thor, The Avengers or any of those comic book movies. It’s not that I have anything against comics (the only comics I’ve ever read are by Alan Moore), but studios aren’t doing anything remotely exciting with these properties.

    The formula of introduce-superhero-introduce-villain-superhero-kicks-villain’s-ass-the-end needs to fucking die. And that’s what most these movies are going to be: inconsequential, formulaic fluff.

    Ironically, Guy, you take a shot at Kick-Ass. While I don’t think it’s anything important, its hyper-violence made it more watchable than most of these family-safe superhero movies. That’s how much I find these movies boring; some violence and kid-swearing made a movie stand-out from the crowd.

    Most of the movies that will introduce new characters will have no choice but to go through the same formula. And even sequels can’t do much more than that (Iron Man 2). Out of all these upcoming blockbusters, the only one I’m looking forward to is Batman 3.

    The saddest part of all this is seeing great writers waster their time writing and discussing and speculating about these movies (of course, I’m referring to you, Guy). How many of these movies will turn out to be anything more than forgettable time-wasters?

  • 3 7-21-2010 at 8:28 pm

    Filmoholic said...

    *not referring.

  • 4 7-21-2010 at 9:18 pm

    j said...

    Articles like these are exhausting and why I can see the appreciation for Inception not being a total retread.

  • 5 7-21-2010 at 10:17 pm

    Zac said...

    Looking at the list of live-action films from both brands, I can see that I like them about equally. Push comes to shove, I’ll pick DC since IMHO, they’ve made the 2 best comic book movies of all time in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

    Like you Guy, I never got into comic books, but I find the good movies based on them fascinating.

  • 6 7-21-2010 at 11:25 pm

    Bobmcbob said...

    kick-ass was great and matthew vaughn is one of the most talented directors in film

  • 7 7-22-2010 at 3:03 pm

    Angry Shark said...

    if by great you actually mean terrible and by talented, you mean inept. Otherwise, no.

  • 8 7-23-2010 at 9:49 am

    Mark Kratina said...

    There’s Superman I & II, and Nolan and Burton’s Batman flicks.

    Everything else (maybe with the exception of the first two X-Men films) is junk. Which makes sense since most comic-book characters came after Supes and Bats and copied it anyway.

  • 9 7-23-2010 at 11:58 am

    mrmcfall said...

    @Mark Kratina Well, I thought the second Spider-Man movie and first Iron Man movie were fun

  • 10 7-23-2010 at 12:24 pm

    Clayton said...

    I can understand folks not going for Kick Ass, but I just went with the absurd premise, and had more fun at it than any comic book related property since The Dark Knight. I’m not going to go out of my way to defend it (I’d probably classify it as “good trash”), but I probably laughed more during that film than any other movie I’ve seen this year. It’s gotten some pretty strong reviews in a number of places (suggesting I’m not alone in my feelings about it), so I think it’ll become a popular cult item on DVD and Blu-ray. We’ll see how it stands up to repeat viewings.

    Superman 1 and 2 have not aged well at all, for me, mostly because the villains are, IMO, godawful (just about Hackman’s worst film work ever, and don’t even get me started on Ned Beatty), with the initial sense of large-scale adventure being continually undermined by incredibly flat, and broad, attempts at humour. And though Reeve’s Superman has a quiet dignity about him, his fidgety, spastic Clark Kent is just plain idiotic. The villains in the second installment (well, Zod, anyways) are wildly overrated, and completely one-dimensional. I’m not going to call Superman 1 and 2 flat-out “bad”, but rather uneven, and in no way worthy of being held at a higher pedestal than, say, Spider-Man 2, X-Men 2, Iron Man (which I’m not even that big a fan of), or the Nolan or Burton Batman films. When certain critics criticize the vast majority of comic book films (which I only have a passing interest in, mind you), and then go on to heap praise upon those old Superman flicks, they almost completely lose me.

  • 11 7-23-2010 at 12:32 pm

    Mark Kratina said...


    Okay, I’ll roll with that, but you have to admit that Spiderman 2 is a complete rip-off of Superman II with Peter Parker, like Clark Kent, deciding to give up his powers to be a normal, everyday guy.

    I couldn’t stand any of the Spiderman films. The first one was awful, the second a rip-off, and the third looked so terrible, I didn’t bother to go see it.

    I’ll stand by my comments of Superman I & II. The first Superman might have had a lackluster ending, but they nailed the origin of the character and the sight of Superman manipulating time by circling the planet was pretty unique.

  • 12 7-23-2010 at 3:16 pm

    Clayton said...

    Mark —

    Well, on the whole, I’m not that keen on the Spider-Man franchise, either, but I thought the second one was reasonably compelling as melodrama (soap opera, really), and had a decent villain in Molina, and some good action. Re: being a rip-off of Superman II, it’s possible, but then again, a hero giving up his powers to pursue a “normal” life is pretty par for the course with these things…it’s the logical next step after the superhero begins to feel worn down by his overwhelming responsibility. And that Spidey story was apparently drawn right from the comics, so if anything, the comics version ripped off the Supes 2 premise first…hehe. Mind you, I doubt the idea was all that original even when Donner/Lester did it, to be honest. I also felt it was sort of given the rushed delivery in Superman II…he gets beat up in the diner, sees the carnage on TV, and goes to get his powers back. Re: circling the planet, it might’ve been unique at the time, but most would concede it’s a blatant deus ex machina, and in some ways, smacks of rather lazy writing. Of course, the erase-the-memory kiss in the Lester version of #2 was even worse. I think the origin is pretty well told, but heck, I didn’t think the origin was necessarily badly handled in the first Spider-Man, either…it’s the lame villain (Green Goblin) that ultimately sunk that, for me, as well.

    To be clear, I don’t take issue with folks criticizing most comic book films, but I do think it’s a bit hypocritical to turn around and treat Superman I and II as unassailable. Not saying YOU did that, of course, but some do.

  • 13 7-23-2010 at 3:34 pm

    Mark Kratina said...

    @ Clayton:

    Fair enough.