DC versus Marvel – The Philosophy
Jerry Lucky Commentary June 2016
Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2016 All Rights Reserved
If you’ve had the opportunity to read any of the over one-hundred commentaries here you’ll know that have I have more than a few pointed things to say to critics. I share the view that critics never really understood Progressive Rock music and they typically came at the genre with some preconceived notions that were false at best. So with that in mind I want to tackle a somewhat different subject this month and will do so at length.
I don’t do this very often but I’m going to digress from writing about music just a little bit to write about something else that has occupied a lot of my brain-space lately. That is the totally unfair trashing that the movie Batman v Superman has been taking lately. Having been a comic collector for most of my life and recently having read three detailed histories about Marvel comics and three detailed histories about DC comics along with at least four general histories about comic books in general, I feel I can approach this subject with some knowledge of history rather than simply opinion. I think there are some things that need to be said…so I’m going to say them. So much of this “Monday-Morning Quarter-backing” is painfully childish and really highlights the pervading flaw in our ubiquitous “ANTI-social media.”
Now then, a quick scan of YouTube will offer up no end of people who have jumped onto the negative-train seemingly delighted to trash the movie and only recently a growing number who I feel are putting some balance and supporting the picture. I watch virtually all comic book movies. I have seen Batman v Superman twice and have recently seen the new Captain America: Civil War movie. In the interest of full-disclosure, I will say I am first and foremost a Batman fan…have been since I was in grade school. In fact I was a Batman fan BEFORE the sixties TV show. Of all the Marvel movies I have to say I’m most partial to the Captain America series. And while I enjoyed the new movie it paled in story-telling weight when compared to the magnitude of the story-telling in Batman v Superman. If you are looking for a quality in-depth look at the shortcomings of the Captain America movie I highly recommend to visit The Daily YouTube channel and seek out Why Captain America: Civil War is NOT a Great Movie. And while you are there you can view the equally compelling video – An In Depth Response to the Critics of Batman v Superman.
It occurred to me while watching Captain America: Civil War in a somewhat heightened sense of attention; I can see why most critics and perhaps the general non-comic fan will enjoy a Marvel movie…they are even at their most serious…fun. I would suggest from reading the history of Marvel’s approach to comics and hence their movies is that they appeal to the adolescent in us. This is the vein that Stan Lee tapped into with the witty banter, the constant “bickering” and the angst laden inter-personal relationships. This is why in large-measure the college crowd of the late sixties and early seventies came to love the comics and from what I can see as grown-ups today, still love the Marvel movies.
This adolescent approach is not something you’ll find in DC comics or for that matter in their movies. This is not to say that DC Comics have never written stories that have taken a light-hearted, juvenile, fun or even downright ridiculous approach. They have. But they have never throughout their years taken the same attitudinal approach that Marvel did. The DC characters would not say or do the things that Marvel characters do. DC comics have over the years had many funny stories and funny characters but what they have never strived for is to duplicate the Marvel approach where the characters have a street-smart, flippant, in-the-know “attitude.” What I mean by that is this; take what you consider to be the most “juvenile” story DC has ever written and see if you could simply transpose a Marvel logo on the cover and sell the story as a Marvel story. You couldn’t, it would look and read all wrong. That’s because Marvel has their own very distinctive character style that is entirely different from DC comics. DC comics approach to characters and stories is entirely different, and so it is with their movies. Hold that thought for a moment.
Now let’s talk about critics. Critics are jaded…that includes not only movie, but music, food, critics of all stripes…it’s inevitable. It is a simple fact of life that if you do the same thing over and over again, regardless of how much you enjoy it, you will become desensitized to it. That’s why, similar to drug users who require a bigger fix to get the higher high…movie critics are unknowingly looking for something that shocks them or at the very least moves them out of the norm. However, in the case of the big block-buster superhero movies many critics feel they can set their brain to “cruise-control” since these movies come with pre-conceptions of a different kind. Here the critic is more likely expecting to see a movie that speaks to their youth or inner child. This becomes problem number one for the critic because Batman v Superman was for grown-ups, and it most certainly did not speak to that “inner-child.” In many respects the best we can hope to read from a critics words are context but sadly in the case of Batman v Superman all we got was preferences.