The future of DC Studios: Can they catch Marvel?



CEO of Warner Bros Discovery is currently mapping out a 10 year plan with James Gunn and Peter Safran.

Max Spiegel, Staff Writer

For the last few years, Disney, which bought Marvel Studios more than a decade ago, experienced huge successes at the box office with hits such as Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War. They pulled far ahead of DC in the war for superhero movies, even though DC owns the rights to some of the most iconic superheroes such as Superman and Batman.  

Despite their repertoire of heroes, DC has not had as much recent success at the box office as Marvel.  Several underwhelming movies such as Batman vs. Superman, Justice League, and Wonder Woman 1984, released in 2020, have made fans wonder if DC can ever catch up to Marvel.  There seems to be some hope, as the parent company of DC is promising to make changes.  

More than ten years ago, DC decided to follow in Marvel´s footsteps and created an ¨extended universe¨, which means bringing several superheroes together in films, like Marvel did.  But in my opinion, the big issue impacting DC is that it felt like they were trying too hard to catch up with Marvel instead of slowly building out an extended universe. They experienced several poorly reviewed movies as as Justice League and Suicide Squad in their attempt to replicate Marvel’s unique storytelling style.

Why did DC struggle, and why do I feel there is hope in the near future? Most people would argue that all the best DC movies are the ones outside of the DC extended universe because they were standalone stories. For example, The Dark Knight Trilogy, starring Christian Bale as Batman, told a complete story of the vigilante.  I really got to see the development of Batman as a person this way. I think Marvel has done a great job at having movies about many of its main characters first, before bringing them together for an extended universe, and it is an important lesson DC appears to be learning from.  

In the past two years or so, DC´s track record, both with movies and shows, has been mostly well received by both critics and audiences. With the release of The Batman back in March and the more recent release of Black Adam, critics had a lot of positive things to say about both movies.  My point is this – movies focused on the introduction and development of a single character helps build demand for future movie releases that include the extended universe.

Now, DC is following its recent success with several single character movies scheduled to be released in 2023 including long-delayed sequels for Shazam and Aquaman and a movie focused on the Flash.  In 2024, there are plans for a sequel to the Joker, which had a lot of success in 2019 and Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar for his portrayal.  But the biggest news of all was the recent announcement that Henry Cavill will make his much awaited return as Superman after many years of speculation.

When it comes to my opinion on all of this, I think this is a huge win for the future of DC. They finally have a definitive plan on what they are trying to accomplish and I think they are catching up or pulling ahead of Marvel.  Since Avengers: Endgame, Marvel appears to be struggling with its next series of movies as many of their productions since Endgame have not performed well with critics and audiences.  

A lot of hardcore Marvel fans will probably think I´m crazy, but looking at the current state of Marvel right now, they´re focused much more on quantity over quality. Don’t get me wrong, I love Marvel, but with this past year of content, it felt like Marvel was trying too hard to try new things and expand the franchise that they forgot to make it consistent with their history. Most of their content has mostly fallen flat for me, and while I respect them for trying different things, it feels like they’re trying the wrong things for the most part. 

I don’t know if everything DC is releasing will be a hit, but I feel it is a huge step in the right direction and gives DC a big chance to meet or overtake Marvel as the king of superhero movies.