Even though we just recently completed a podcast of all the awful things that are going on in regard to DC’s films I felt it necessary to lay it out visually so that way everyone can get a feel for just how pathetic DC’s movie attempts have been. Ignoring what I would call the out of date movies (original Superman films) and (I know I’ll catch hell for this) the graphic novel based films (yep, I’m not letting DC count The Dark Knight Trilogy, V for Vendetta, or Watchmen because, frankly, they are of a completely different design), DC hasn’t been able to score higher than a 76% (I seriously can’t believe Superman Returns got a 76%) on the trusty Tomatometer since Batman Returns in 1992 and for anyone who has recently re-watched that movie…. let’s just say it hasn’t aged well.
My question is why? It’s not as if DC doesn’t have the characters. In fact, I’m the first Marvel fan to admit that DC has much better villains. For whatever reason Marvel has a recipe that has been working and from what I can tell, it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down for at least another 10 years. So, all that said, let’s lay it all out to really put it all in to perspective. You’ll see below that I only include Marvel’s films before they went to Disney and while with Disney. Similar to my argument regarding graphic novel films, I don’t believe either genres exhibit the present state of both film studios.
|Howard the Duck||1986||14%|
|X-Men: Last Stand||2006||58%|
|Fantastic Four: Silver Surfer||2007||37%|
|The Incredible Hulk||2008||67%|
|X-Men Origins: Wolverine||2009||38%|
|Iron Man 2||2010||73%|
|X-Men: First Class||2011||87%|
|Iron Man 3||2013||78%|
|Capt. America 2||2014||89%|
|Guardians of the Galaxy||2014||90%|
*Everything after this date is under the the ownership of Disney
|Return of Swamp Thing||1989||33%|
|Batman & Robin||1997||11%|
|Man of Steel||2013||55%|
Now I know what you’re thinking, this is just critics and it doesn’t really mean anything because what really matters is the fans. To that I say, touché! But with enough mining around the internet you will find that the fans aren’t pleased either. These ratings are much more on point than they might be with other films. Here are a few bullet points I believe explain why Marvel gets it and DC doesn’t.
|Captain America||1944||1st - Dick Purcell|
|Captain America||1990||2nd - Matt Salinger|
|Captain America 1, 2, 3, & The Avengers 1, 2, 3, 4||’11 - ‘20||3rd - Chris Evans|
|Daredevil||2003||1st - Ben Affleck|
|Daredevil||2015||2nd - Charlie Cox|
|The Incredible Hulk||1978||1st - Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno|
|Hulk||2003||2nd- Eric Bana|
|The Incredible Hulk||2008||3rd - Ed Norton|
|The Avengers, Avengers 2||’12 - ‘15||4th - Mark Ruffalo|
|The Punisher||1989||1st - Dolph Lundgren|
|The Punisher||2004||2nd - Thomas Jane|
|X-Men: Days of Future Past||2014||1st - Evan Peters|
|The Avengers: Age of Ultron||2015||2nd - Aaron Taylor-Johnson|
|X-Men||2000||1st - Tyler Mane|
|X-Men Origins: Wolverine||2006||2nd - Live Schreiber|
|Spiderman 1, 2, 3||’02 - ‘07||1st - Tobey Maguire|
|The Amazing Spiderman 1, 2||’12 - ‘14||2nd - Andrew Garfield|
|Ironman||2008||1st - Terrance Howard|
|Ironman 2, 3||2010||2nd - Don Cheadle|
|Spiderman 1, 2, 3||’02 - '07||1st - James Franco|
|The Amazing Spiderman 2||’12 - ‘14||2nd - Dane Dehaan|
|Spiderman 1, 2, 3||’02 - '07||1st - Willem Dafoe|
|The Amazing Spiderman 2||2014||2nd - Chris Cooper|
|Batman: The Movie, Batman (TV Show)||’66 - ‘68||1st - Adam West|
|Batman, Batman Returns||’86 - ‘89||1st - Michael Keaton|
|Batman Forever||1995||2nd - Val Kilmer|
|Batman & Robin||1997||3rd - George Clooney|
|Dark Knight Trilogy||’05 - ‘12||4th - Christian Bale|
|Gotham (TV Show)||2014||5th - David Mazouz|
|Batman Vs. Superman||2015||6th - Ben Affleck|
|Catwoman||2005||1st - Halle Berry|
|Dark Knight Rises||2012||2nd - Anne Hathaway|
|Gotham (TV Show)||2014||3rd - Camren Bicondova|
|The Flash (TV Show)||’90 - ‘91||1st - John Wesley Shipp|
|The Flash (New TV Show)||’14 - ‘15||2nd - Grant Gustin|
|The Flash (Movie)||2018||3rd - Actor TBA|
|Green Lantern||2011||1st - Ryan Reynolds|
|Green Lantern||2020||2nd - Actor TBA|
|Batman||66 - ‘68||1st - Burt Ward|
|Batman||1986||2nd - Jack Nicholson|
|The Dark Knight||2008||3rd - Heath Ledger|
|Superman||’78 - ‘87||1st - Lex Luthor|
|Superman Returns||2006||2nd - Kevin Spacey|
|Batman Vs. Superman||2015||3rd - Jesse Eisenberg|
|Superman and the Mole Men, Adventures of Superman (TV Show)||’51 - ‘58||1st - George Reeves|
|Superman I, II, III, IV||’78 - ‘87||2nd - Christopher Reeve|
|Louis & Clark (TV Show)||’93 - ‘97||3rd - Dean Cain|
|Smallville (TV Show)||’01 - ‘11||4th - Tom Welling|
|Superman Returns||2006||5th - Brandon Routh|
|Man of Steel, Batman Vs. Superman||’13 - ‘15||6th - Henry Cavill|
|TWO FACE/HARVEY DENT|
|Batman Returns||1986||1st - Billy Dee Williams|
|Batman Forever||1989||2nd - Tommy Lee Jones|
|The Dark Knight||2008||3rd - Aaron Eckhart|
|Gotham (TV Show)||2014||4th - Nicholas D’Agosto|
When I first started to make these tables I began with the intent of only doing the past 15 years because I thought that time period truly exemplified my point but as I dug into the data I realized that this isn’t just a recent problem but one that spans the entire history of both companies. I know I started this post by not including the graphic novel films and the films made outside of Disney post-purchase but I thought it was necessary because the argument here is slightly different. Viewers who aren’t comic book fans are trying to follow these characters and when the actor who plays Batman changes every 3 to 5 years, it makes it incredibly difficult to follow. Below are some of the major points that I thought should be noted.
- 12 different actors have played just Superman & Batman.
- 30 different actors have played 8 characters.
- Batman’s origin story has been done 5 times while Superman’s origin story has been rebooted 6 times.
- The major players of the Justice League (Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and The Flash) have all been rebooted on multiple occasions.
- They have repeated 3 of their most important villains a collective 7 times (The Joker, Two-Face, and Lex Luthor).
- They started off both of their 50s and 60s TV shows, Superman and Batman respectively, with a movie. It seems DC intended to introduce their early TV shows by using the big screen which is reminiscent of what Marvel is doing today.
- 7 different actors have played just Captain America & The Hulk.
- 23 different actors have played 10 characters.
- Spiderman’s origin story has been done 2 times while The Hulk’s has been rebooted 4 times.
- Green Goblin is the only major villain to encounter a reboot.
- Of The Avengers, only The Hulk and Captain America have had actor changes.
- Chris Evans is set to play Captain America for a total of 7 different released/announced movies and has been quoted as saying he will end his acting career as Capt.
I’m not trying to say that you can’t change actors, sometimes it is necessary. War Machine is a great example of Marvel making the necessary to changes to keep quality actors in the right seats for the future of the Marvel universe. The changes at The Hulk were somewhat unavoidable; Eric Bana was awful, Ed Norton lacked interest in the franchise, and Mark Ruffalo was the actor willing to sign on for the long-haul. I’m not saying Marvel is perfect, in fact, far from it! Spiderman is one of the franchises that Marvel lost control of prior to the Disney purchase and you can tell that the Marvel recipe isn’t in place considering Sony is looking to reboot the character a third time in under 10 years. With all of that said, and being that Spiderman is arguably NOT a Marvel film, what makes Marvel solid is the fact that they’ve only had an identity crisis with one of their major characters, The Hulk.
DC, on the other hand, has not only had a consistent problem with its identity but seems to show no means of stopping. With The Flash being played by a different actor on the big screen then on TV, Batman coming off The Dark Knight series into a recast with Ben Affleck and the introduction of the Gotham TV show, the actor playing the Green Arrow has already expressed his frustration with DC and has a lack of interest in playing the character on the big screen, and Superman having his re-intro to the limelight in 2006 and then rebooted again in 2013, DC still doesn’t have its major players under control.
With all of these points made, the final thing I’d like to add is that science may be the factor that sets these magnificent companies apart. Whether it be in regard to flight, energy, speed, or ability, Marvel does its best to take science into account when doing its movies. Let me clear, I’m not saying that everything that happens in Marvel films are possible I’m only saying that the mere fact that Thor exhibits a form of “locomotion” prior to flight (spinning the hammer) and Ironman has thrusters and engines keeping him airborne gives it some form of realism. Our friends at DC, on the other hand, give Superman the ability to keep himself off of the ground and able to fly fast enough to change the speed at which the earth turns and they exhibit this by him laying down, with his arm extended and looking stoic…. But don’t take my word for it:
Sound off in the comments and let me know if I either missed anything in these tables or if my opinion is wrong. Lets hear it Dweebs!