The Capulets and the Montagues. McDonald’s and Burger King. Marvel and DC; some rivalries stand the test of time. The latter has dominated the comic book industry for decades. Their characters and storied competition made the jump from panel to screen almost immediately. The contemporary era of superhero films arguably began with Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, evolved with Fox/Marvel’s X-Men franchise and Sony’s Spider-Man trilogy, again with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and then crescendo-ed when Marvel Studios launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. Like a match between two heavyweights, each studio has made move after countermove. It’s only a matter of time before somebody loses an ear or drinks poison to be with their “dead” lover.
Regardless of your preference, there’s no denying the fact that Marvel has been winning the battle on the big screen in recent years. The audience, critics, and money have been on their side. DC all but admitted the DC Extended Universe’s defeat after Joss Whedon’s dumpster fire that was Justice League. That said, it’s now fully committed to what it’s done best in the past: solo films and one-offs.
Given recent announcements (The Snyder Cut, Michael Keaton, multiverse, etc.), it would appear that DC is back in the game. Of course, it might only seem this way because COVID-19 has all but shut Marvel up. However, the MCU is still the MCU. Phases One-Three were not only critically acclaimed, they achieved something that was previously only thought possible on the page: a massive, coherent, and shared universe. Plus, it has “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters” on their side…kind of. (They need to rework that name.) Now that Marvel is into Phase Four and DC has flipped the script, who looks poised to win the next (live-action) round?
It’s not even close. DC’s future is filled with opportunity, but it’s going to be difficult to achieve the type of success Marvel saw in its first three phases of the MCU. It doesn’t have the MCU nor the other Marvel projects in the works at Sony (a la Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Morbius) that could very well cross over into the MCU. If you’re a gambler, it’s safe to drop dough on Marvel in Phase Four. It’ll take a few more phases and major missteps on the part of Marvel Studios for DC Films to even wipe Thor’s ass.
Overall Winner: Marvel (duh)
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