Fans of the DCEU have taken the cinematic journey for granted. With the bar already set high by the success of Marvel and their franchises, DC has got a late start. With critics hammering the extended universe it seems they’ve fallen way behind. However, too many have been swayed by social media in their opinion that they’ve missed out on the scale of what the studio is trying to build. So much of DC is built on the heroes and the villains they face. With some of the best stories, comic readers have come across, bringing these characters to life should be a walk in the park. Unfortunately for them, playing catch up will always draw a comparison to their counterpart Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For DC, they’ve been criticized a little unfairly when it comes to their own shared universe. Fans and critics alike have come to expect a certain quality of film out of these characters and held them to very high standards. But there’s a huge difference between Marvel and DC when it comes to the movie making process. With DC they’re not only competing with Marvel, they’re also competing with themselves. Other than some X-Men and Spider-man properties from Marvel along the way, before 2008’s Iron Man, there wasn’t a ton of content to compare characters. When it comes to DC there’s always a demand to make Batman better than Bale/Keaton or to make Superman better than Christopher Reeves. The reason the DCEU has a much larger microscope is they’ve already created the characters like Heath Ledger’s Joker that people fell in love with. Unless you’re into comics, before the MCU what did you have to compare Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, a goofy cameo in the 1987 film Adventures in Babysitting? Marvel essentially started their cinematic universe with a clean slate. It’s easier to create likable characters when you’re starting from scratch rather than building off of an already beloved character.
It all started with Henry Cavill as Superman. The DCEU was shaping up with 2013’s Man of Steel. While MoS wasn’t the first Clark Kent/Superman we’ve seen, it kicked off what will now be known as the DCEU. The film itself was released well into the MCU’s run, starting with Iron Man back in 2008. Marvel had a 5-year head start to build Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, and The Avengers before DC even pushed out Man of Steel. If a Superman film came out at the same time as Iron Man, maybe the critics wouldn’t have been so harsh. Compared to more recent versions of Superman, Man of Steel was everything we wanted to see out of the Last Son of Krypton. In their first film, DC metaphorically painted a picture of an outsider who struggled to find his way in life and be accepted in a society that both admired and feared him. Unfortunately for the studio, the ability to relate to the character’s struggles was lost in comparison to the happy-go-lucky, action-packed, humor of the MCU. By the time it was released, people didn’t want to relate to the character, they just wanted fun filled adventure, handcuffing the growing process and character development that will unfold as the years go on.
Man of Steel isn’t without its faults. So much more of who Superman is and what he represents is left off screen. However, based on what we’ve seen so far out of the DCEU there is plenty of room for the character to grow. Audiences have to be patient. Where Marvel has built their own stand alone films that will eventually all tie together, DC has been building one universe that will expand with each new story told. As the stories unfold, your opinions of the original films ought to change with new information from each story. Superman is just the tip of the DCEU iceberg, will fans have enough patience to stick it out for the payoff?
Check out Building the DCEU Pt 2: The BvS Debacle (coming soon).