It’s clear that the comic book/movie titans DC and Marvel have thrown the gauntlets at each other at Comic-Con this weekend.
Both companies attempted to one-up each other with surprise announcements regarding their film franchises.
It all started innocently enough when the famous convention opened on July 17. Marvel hawked their upcoming comic book developments (remember those?), as well as the highly anticipated Agents Of Shield TV show. DC provided news on future comic book projects and celebrated the 75th anniversary of Superman with a tribute to Action Comics #1.
Then the first bombshell was dropped yesterday. Warner Bros. and DC announced that the sequel to the film Man Of Steel will feature none other than the Caped Crusader himself, Batman! True, it’s not the Justice League film that fans are slobbering for, but it’s the next best thing, a live-action version of World’s Finest, the comic book series that teamed up DC’s most popular heroes. Seeing them on screen together was unwittingly foreshadowed in the Will Smith movie from a few years ago I Am Legend. A careful eye will spot in the movie a film poster that blends the two iconic symbols together as was done at Comic-Con.
Some may complain that Superman should be granted another solo film to develop his world. The success of Man Of Steel warrants that idea. But the problem is that DC and Warner Bros. are now in a race against the other big kid on the block. With the announcement, DC is acknowledging that they are competing against the Marvel movie behemoth, but in a different way. Rather than rushing out with a Justice League film to compete against the next Avengers film, or carefully building up the DC movie universe with references, DC chose a compromise. A Superman/Batman film allows for a new, re-imagined Batman to be introduced, while giving justified screen time to Superman. If they’re smart they should introduce elements and references to other DC characters to nicely set up the eventual Justice League film. Superman will get a chance to have another solo movie later on. There are also percolating, unofficial rumors about a Flash movie in 2016 and finally a Justice League film in 2017. To date, those two films haven’t been confirmed by Warner Bros. or DC.
One would think that Marvel would try to raise the ante of that announcement. And they did. At Comic-Con, the company lauded their upcoming releases, principally, a well-received presentation of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 film. In that presentation, they had Spider-Man, the character himself, make an appearance at the official panel for next summer’s film. Meanwhile, footage from the film X-Men: Days Of Future Past was shown and it whetted many attendees’ appetites. Other showcased films included Thor: The Dark World (Tom Hiddleston appeared in character as the villainous Loki), Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the eagerly awaited Guardians Of The Galaxy.
The big reveal came when The Avengers director himself, Joss Whedon, presented a preview trailer for the 2015 sequel. No new footage was shown, just a montage of previous Marvel movies. But the end of that montage electrified everyone when the helmet belonging to the villainous android Ultron was unveiled, along with the film’s title: The Avengers: Age Of Ultron! For non-comic book fans, Ultron is an android created by Avengers member Hank Pym that went rogue and became one of the team’s deadliest foes. He was the featured villain in this year’s comic book mini-series event Age Of Ultron. This stunned many who were expecting the big heavy to be Thanos as hinted in the end of The Avengers. Ultron’s appearance in The Avengers: Age Of Ultron also indicates that the Marvel movie universe will be expanded significantly. This also cements the fact that while DC has two titan character franchises, Marvel has shown that they have successfully created a solid film universe. These films feature many middle-ranged characters that are now well-known properties for Marvel.
Many will argue over which of the two companies will be the winner in the new comic book movie war. The clear answer is that the fans will be the victors as they finally behold their wildest dream. Now if they could just get Spider-Man or the X-Men to appear in a future Avengers film! LOL
Lewis T. Grove