After years of success and failure and the quintessential one-sided pop culture fight, Marvel and DC finally had two days in which they both reigned supreme for completely different reasons. Marvel has constantly assumed the big brother role over the years, especially doing things in the MCU that the DCEU could only dream of, but for once, the two superhero giants felt like they were on even playing fields in terms of quality.
Last week saw the back-to-back release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on Thursday and the premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Friday. The key to this whole nerdy affair is that DC finally released a project that didn’t feel like it was overtly trying to be a carbon copy of its competing company.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier brought the world of the MCU back down to Earth a bit after the craziness of WandaVision. It wasn’t an insane, breathtaking opener but one that really demonstrated the positives Disney+ is going to bring to characters like Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. Without series like this on the platform, what have previously been side characters likely would never get the character building and time they can get now. The characters received plenty of backstory and reintroduction to set up some great stakes in watching what comes next.
Meanwhile, Zack Snyder’s Justice League did everything the trailers seemed to promise it would do. Sure, it’s still an over-bloated crazy CGI fest of a movie with a runtime of more than four hours, but it corrected all the wrongs of Joss Whedon’s version of the film. Flash, and especially Cyborg, received the background and build up they deserved. Darkseid was as menacing as ever, enough so that he easily merits a couple Snyder-verse sequels. And, truly, the film understood what it was and delivered in a way that was true not only to Zack Snyder's vision but DC’s film adaptations as a whole.
DC isn’t Marvel, and they’re never going to be. The thing is, though, they don’t have to be. The Snyder cut shows that DC can make into comic book adaptations simply for the sake of making movies. Even the few scenes of the Knightmare sequence felt like a beautifully done proof of concept for a larger one-off centered on that reality of the DC universe.
While Marvel has perfected the art of the large crowd-pleasers, for comic book fans and not, perhaps DC should strictly stick to its source fans. From Zack Snyder’s Justice League to Joker, it’s clear fans will eat this stuff up. Without having to worry about the broader public or creating a universe of connected projects, DC should really think about creating honest and true adaptations for the millions of fans who know the source material. There’s more than enough support out there, even if they won’t necessarily be the mega blockbusters that Marvel has risen to.
There doesn’t need to be this competition or goal to overcome what Marvel has done, though. Obviously, with the slate they have ahead and the already promising start to the second Disney+ series, it’s just never going to happen. There’s an overabundance of DC storylines that would be fantastic to see played out on the big screen that don’t need to be built up to through the formula established by the MCU.
Last week showed what the future might and should look like between the competing comic book companies. Marvel will stick to what they do best, and DC might benefit from forgetting about the DCEU entirely and just moving forward with DC. It’s up to them to notice the support for Zack Snyder’s version of the Justice League and reevaluate the plan moving forward.
Only time will tell where this all leads, but at least for two days in March 2021, all finally seemed right in the world of comic book adaptations.
Jackson Horvat is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.