The Marvel vs. DC debate has been raging for decades now and spread to almost every form of media that the companies’ respective roster of superheroes have appeared in, from comic books to animated shows, live-action movies to video games and everything in between. For years, the DCEU was viewed as Warner Bros. attempting to capitalize on the success of the MCU as soon as possible, but rushing into Justice League far too quickly was the least of the theatrical edition’s problems.
While Marvel’s position as the premiere comic book franchise is virtually unassailable at this point, DC’s output has noticeably improved. Shazam!, Aquaman and Birds of Prey were three very different movies tonally, stylistically and thematically, and standalone projects like Joker brought in billions at the box office and awards season glory. In fact, the only thing the two rivals really have in common is that they churn out big budget blockbusters, and in a recent interview, Zack Snyder tried to explain the difference between the shared universes.
“Well frankly, I just love that they decided to kind of embrace their personality. I think that there was always this sort of criticism and or the middle step. What’s the middle step? Ya know, trying to be like Marvel? Trying to do your own thing? Like, what are you going to do? But I think now, it’s kind of locked in to this very specific trajectory where, I think and I hope, the idea is that it’s filmmaker first. Which is basically what the multiverse allows for, filmmaker first and then, here’s the characters, bringing the characters together.”
The DCEU has always aimed for a reputation as being the more filmmaker-orientated of the two, but David Ayer definitely wouldn’t agree with that sentiment having seen his vision for Suicide Squad butchered in front of his very eyes. That being said, Warner Bros. do tend to give their directors a longer leash than Kevin Feige typically allows for over at Marvel.
Snyder also went on to acknowledge the success of DC’s animated output and the roster of CW shows, admitting that they all have a built-in fanbase of their own, which could be construed as a dig at Feige wiping every Marvel TV series from official canon when he became the company’s Chief Creative Officer.
“Even when I was doing Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League, there were DC animated films that had nothing to do with what we were doing, and there were DC TV shows that had nothing to do with what we were doing, and there was no way to seam those up without alienating a giant fandom by saying ‘Your Flash doesn’t count’ or ‘Your animated show doesn’t mean anything’.”
“I think that Marvel, they’ve built over a long period of time, so by the time they got to their later movies, everything had kinda locked in, and it was all sort of moving in the same direction. But that was just never going to happen with DC because the DC TV shows were so popular and because their animated shows were so popular. I mean that was a success that they had. And Christopher Nolan’s movies sort of had another tone and other universe. So there was no way that those things were going to ever like, ‘Okay, we’re going to say those things don’t exist now, and it’s this’. And I think there was that thinking for a while, but I’m glad that it kind of settled into a much more diverse approach.”
Regardless of whether you prefer the MCU or the DCEU, there’s no denying that the future for both is looking incredibly exciting, with Snyder of course at the forefront with his upcoming HBO Max exclusive redux of Justice League.