If November was any indication, Marvel Entertainment is still winning the fight against DC Films, and the overall margin is not even close.
Thor: Ragnarok, aka Thor 3, is performing beautifully at the box office ($279 million in three weeks), and receiving stellar reviews, the first for a standalone Thor film. Meanwhile, Justice League dropped more than 50% in its second week of release, grossing $41 million and sitting uncomfortably at No. 11 on the 2017 Box Office leader chart.
Furthermore, Thor: Ragnarok is set to become the third Marvel film in 2017 to pass the $800 million global mark, following Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Spider Man: Homecoming. All three films are certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with two of them landing in at 92% fresh. Justice League, meanwhile, sits at 41%. Sad, but true.
Why is Marvel winning this war in such a one-sided fashion? A few reasons, but let's do five, because it's a cool number.
Marvel Got There First and Took Their Time
Marvel started their run back in 2008 with Jon Favreau's little risky blockbuster that could, Iron Man. It starred the ball of risk with drug/alcohol problems named Robert Downey Jr. and had no probable hope. Favreau was unproven as a director and no one believed in Downey Jr. walking the line. Flash forward three films, and three Iron Man films have grossed over $2.4 billion. Captain America and Thor received standalone films, and then came Avengers in 2012. Finally, Zack Snyder got Man of Steel rolling in 2014 and followed with a team-up flick right away with Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The DC executives rushed it so badly that it showed and doomed the franchise. Marvel has more team-up films than just the two Avengers films, but it was done more subtly. DC Films is like the bad construction team rushing to make a deadline with four different blueprints, resulting in a faulty building. Marvel laid precise bricks and had one locked in blueprint that planned six films in advance.
Marvel Films are lighter, easier to love
No one likes a copycat, and Snyder has tried to copy Christopher Nolan's dark Batman trilogy for three films now. It's obvious, tiring, and sad. Get your own mood. 300 had more levity than the chronicles of the saddest superhero in Superman, which zaps the charm out of Henry Cavill that was on proud display in Man From U.N.C.L.E. Marvel prefers the lighter touch, and it started with the first Iron Man adventure, continued with Guardians of the Galaxy, and reappeared in the third Thor film. Sure, there can be pathos and quiet poignancy, but keep some smiles present for the crowd who wants an escape from their own dark reality. It's not slapstick comedy. It's legit humor between superheroes.
I know, Jeremy Irons plays Alfred in the new DCEU, but other than that, Marvel simply recruits better actors. Downey Jr. was an Oscar-nominated actor before he became Tony Stark, Robert Redford played a key role in Winter Soldier, and Samuel L. Jackson also owned an Oscar. Add in the sprinklings of Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, and it starts to widen. Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth found their careers in these roles. More popular actors flock to the Marvel Universe these days, like Michael Keaton in Spider Man: Homecoming straight off an Oscar nomination. Benedict Cumberbatch. Chiwetel Ejiofor. Tilda Swinton. Josh Brolin playing two different villains in Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2. brie Larson is set to bring the thunder in Captain Marvel. The rosters are far from equal.
Take Justice League's promotional campaign for example. Sure, there were a few minds in the process, with Snyder and Joss Whedon starting and finishing the film, but that doesn't account for the lack of focus in the trailers and final products. Every trailer had a different feel and promise involved. Darkness, forced humor, and darkness. "SUPERMAN IS DEAD, WHAT SHALL WE DO?!" followed by "Haha, you talk to fish!" Misguided and unoriginal.
Now look at the Avengers: Infinity War trailer released today. There was a laser-tight focus throughout the whole thing and you watched it endlessly scrapping the details missed the first six times. The Russo Brothers know how to lay an ice cube on their fans' lips, and they did it perfectly. There's laughs, drama, and relentlessly cool action. DC should take notes. Marvel has a plan. DC Films is drawing it up as they go along. Remember, it was supposed to be Man of Steel 2, and then it was Bat versus Sup. There's no confidence or proof of swagger in DC Films. Only trepidation.
It's no secret what Marvel has over DC and his name is Kevin. The Marvel President drew up a master plan full of phases that will play out over the next 10-15 years with familiar heroes, new ones, and a mix of supporting characters that you wish got their own film (Ruffalo's Hulk and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow to name a couple). Feige was able to get the rights back to Spider Man and recreate him so well that people now want him to do the same with X-Men. That is due to the fact that Feige is becoming a power player in the Hollywood superhero market, taking the right amount of risk and pivoting well off reward. The Russo Brothers were busy making You, Me, and Dupree before Feige tapped them to make Captain America: Winter Soldier. Favreau had done indie films before Iron Man. Whedon crowned Firefly, but nothing cinematically relevant. He is the master behind it all. DC Films wishes they had a Feige on board.
Marvel is winning now and will continue to win. If Thor: Ragnarok versus Justice League is any indication, the battle is mostly over. A standalone film will end up outperforming DC's team-up film-and it wasn't Iron Man or Captain, but Thor. One side makes better movies that are easily rewatchable and desirable to non-comic fanatics, while the other has no idea what it wants to be.
Need more proof? Check out the Infinity War trailer below. Try to watch it only once.