I think it’s fair to say, DC has not had a good run on the big screen in the last couple of years. From the disaster that was the Green Lantern film to the more recent Batman VS Superman fiasco, fans of the DC Universe are starting to regret hearing of plans for new films as opposed to looking forward to them. With the exception of the Dark Knight trilogy, DC have been failing fans. Especially when I compare DC films to the multiple success of the Marvel franchises. However, it is clear that for what DC lacks on the big screen, they make up for greatly on our television screens.
I grew up on DC television shows. In particular their animated series. They were more popular than any Marvel series and they were more plentiful. I don’t think there is a single person around who avoided watching at least an episode of an animated Batman series or didn’t know who the Justice League were. If somebody asked me who the X-Men were, I would immediately think of the film franchises and not the television shows. The DC animations are popular to this day with both children and adults alike.
While the animated series I grew up with have ended, I have heard on good authority from several younger cousins how much they adore the newer DC series, with Teen Titans and the more recent Teen Titans Go being the most popular. The popularity of DC shows on the TV screen has meant our favourite superheroes are more accessible in our homes, particularly for younger generations. Because of this, I know more DC heroes than I would Marvel and I enjoy them more because of it.
More recently, the DC Universe has had a great run with live-action genres. Since 2001, DC fans flocked towards Smallville, where we could find our favourite heroes on-screen. When the show ended in 2011 no fan could stay sad for too long, since we were awarded with Arrow in 2012, the small screen adaptation of the Green Arrow. This sparked three more series: The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, strengthening the DC name in our homes. Not to mention bringing lesser-known superheroes to our screens,
Some of these shows are more popular than others although there is no denying their combined universe has created a strong fan base far greater than that which Marvel has created for television. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Marvel characters however their stories tend to excel greatly in film were DC lacks, in my opinion. There is something clumsy and forgettable about Marvel shows.
Now, I’m not ruling out Marvel TV shows altogether. Although shows like Agents of Shield failed to grab my interest in its first season. DC seem to be better at managing the stories and keeping the characters constantly compelling on the smaller screen than Marvel. Like I said, I adore both franchises but DC wins over Marvel for me!
Oh sure, DC television is fun. The people in it are very pretty. Their bright and colourful costumes make a welcome change from Zach Snyder’s murderverse. Meanwhile, Marvel’s television series exist within the MCU. At best, they complement it and are enhanced by it. So answer me this: does having multiple Supermen and Flashes not smack of poor organisation and petty infighting unfit for the superhero genre?
Let’s leave the metatextual aside for the moment, and look at Marvel’s live action tv lineup: Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones. Just like the Marvel movies, each of these shows examines and exhorts a different genre. Spy-fi, superhero action mystic legal drama, and super-psychological thriller. DC has shiny happy punchy people. Now they’re lovable #ShinyHappyPunchyPeople, but the variety just isn’t there. We’re guaranteed exhaustive love triangles and ridiculous DC multiverse exposition. And that can be great. Or, it can be Caitlin Snow. (Yes, that’s a burn on Killer Frost, eat my icicles)
Now variety isn’t necessarily quality, but you’ve got to admit that Marvel’s cast, especially in its Netflix series, is spectacular. Where else would you find Charlie Cox, Jon Bernthal, Elodie Yung and Vincent D’Onofrio all scrapping over Hell’s Kitchen? Certainly not on the CW. David Tennant pouncing around Star City? Not on your life.
And won’t someone think of the action! The evolving kinetic aesthetic style of Daredevil’s boxing/ninjitsu is far more interesting than endless running/arrowing/sciencing and whatever the metahuman of the week happens to be. Even SHIELD, the most maligned of Marvel’s tv crop, has had action sequences rivaling a lot of modern action cinema. Ming Na, ladies and gentleman. Ming. Na.
Netflix has also given Marvel the scope and leeway to explore important social issues. In the first season of Jessica Jones alone, the show interrogated abusive relationships and toxic masculinity. Arrow still can’t decide if killing is okay or not.
Finally, the future. Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, The Punisher, Damage Control. The ducks are all in a row. The choice is clear. #CoulsonLives. Now, and always. Make Mine Marvel.
*Also I love DC television. It makes me squee.