Having seen an article on the SMH which raised the obvious question about Marvel movies vs DC movies, I wrote the comment below in response.
Of all the other comments made on the article, I found the one regarding Marvel’s tactical decision to release films with individual superheros for Iron Man, Captain America and Thor prior to the release of Avengers most pertinent. It has to be said that hearing about a film which will feature multiple characters you have been watching and enjoying over several years generates a fair bit of excitement all by itself. It didn’t hurt in the end that Joss Whedon’s handling of Avengers was utterly superb.
It does concern me that even I, as an avid comic reader had never heard of Martian Manhunter until Grant Morrison took over the reigns on JLA in 1997. I can only imagine what the viewing public will make of “all these second-string characters” like Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Especially if Aquaman is all nice and has two hands.
I will make a couple of apologies – first of all The Flash is one of my favourite characters of all time. I am most enamoured with the Mark Waid interpretation (as you can see in the article), but I have always found the basic “runs really fast” concept of the Barry Allen (and every other random speedster) to be a bit blah.
I will also apologise on behalf of the universe to anyone who reads the “Flash Gordon” posts. I have no idea what they’re about, when I read it the article did not mention Flash Gordon at all. I can only imagine some poor, confused baby boomer sitting at their computer trying to make sense of “all of this comics nonsense”, then posting something about the only comic they’ve actually read.
Short answer: No.
Long answer: DC comics have always been targeted at younger audiences – pre-teens. Marvel comics have always been targeted at teenage and young adult audiences (ie. the single largest movie-going demographic) and their characters have, respectively, been designed to appeal to those different demographics.
Think about Spider-man: a geeky orphan, raised by his aunt & uncle who is given amazing super powers, then confronted with the death of his uncle which he COULD have helped prevent! Angst factor: 10.
The X-Men: Mutants who do not fit in to society and are shunned, hated, hunted, but team up to prove themselves, do completely awesome stunts and save the world a lot.
Iron Man: “Genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” with a weakness for women and booze.
Captain America: Honourable hero in a dishonourable time.
Superman: Stronger, faster & tougher than anything else in the world. Feels threatened by smart, bald men.
The Flash: Runs really fast (Dear Mark Waid, please write a goddamn film).
Hawk Man: Has wings. And a funny hat.
Actually regularly used DC Villains: Angle Man; Captain Boomerang; The Blue Snowman.
The only exception is Batman who has a backstory not a great deal different from Spider-man. It’s not a co-incidence that Batman movies have been the most popular DC movies.
Now…if DC could just find it in their apparently caged imaginations to come up with a solid story for Wonder Woman (not the best name either, but she is a BLOODY FANTASTIC character), then they would have a mega-hit on their hands to rival Twilight.
But of course Wonder Woman apparently “too hard”. Lose the cage, DC. Grow a pair of hips.