The MCU Beats The DCEU Because The General Audience Doesn't Read Comic Books

Phew. That’s a controversial headline right off the bat. Of course we’ll have the regular suspects screaming clickbait when they’re actually too lazy to read further and feel the urge to give an uninformed opinion – but the headline is a strikingly true statement. If you allow me to elaborate, I think you might pick up some good points for my reasoning here.

MCU vs DCEU

The Truth

The comic book-buying market is getting smaller. Publishers have seen the numbers dwindle over the years, despite the growth of the comic book movie genre. Diamond released the North American sales figures for comic sales in August 2017, and it was down a whole 25% from August 2016.

Considering how the film genre dominates the box office, you’d think it would have a positive effect on the medium but it doesn’t. This tells us an important thing: most of the people watching these movies aren’t supporting the books. As such, the familiarity with what’s going on (and what has taken place) in the medium is limited at best.

Most people’s introduction to these characters is through previous films or popular-culture retellings. We all know that Superman is from Krypton, Batman saw his parents die, Spider-Man’s uncle died after a burglar shot him, and so forth.

While there’s limited knowledge about these characters, it means that the film and popular-culture versions become definitive narratives for them. This isn’t a bad thing as it provides a baseline for film-makers to use, and not have to explain everything to the audience over and over again.

MCU vs DCEU

The Baggage

The problem comes in, however, when the likes of Zack Snyder try to take inspiration from other material, such as The Dark Knight Returns, and apply his own twist to it. “Since when does Batman use guns?” “Robin died?” Suddenly, the audience is confused by what’s going on as they can’t equate it to anything else they’ve seen. Still, this is the studio’s fault as it should always keep in mind that not every person in the audience will be a fan of the comic book medium but rather the characters.

This baggage has harmed the DCEU more than anything else. If the film-makers do something different from the expected norm, the audience generally rejects it – mostly because it doesn’t understand it. Think of The Amazing Spider-Man series as an example of how the films suffered from trying to do something else – it’s a result of people know Spidey one way and the films going in another direction.

MCU vs DCEU comic books

The MCU’s Advantage

The MCU was lucky in the sense that most of their characters hadn’t appeared in a major motion picture until the formation of the shared universe. That’s why Kevin Feige and company were able to change Hela from being Loki’s daughter to Thor and Loki’s sister and no one batted an eyelid – since most of the people in the audience didn’t have a clue who she was beforehand.

Popular stories like Age of Ultron and Civil War were changed to suit the characters and world at their disposal, and the audience lapped it up. And to be clear, the comic book versions of these storylines were far superior to what we got on the big screen.

Also, let’s be honest here: how many of your friends knew anything about Iron Man or Ant-Man before the films were released? There was nothing holding them back from enjoying what was on screen. They were free from scrutinising the movie or accusing it of deviating from canon.

MCU vs DCEU comic books

Conclusion

All things said, this isn’t Marvel’s fault. They received a slice of good fortune and ran with it. If Warner Bros. and DC want to play catch-up, they’ll need to go back to basics and keep it in check. They can’t go and dramatically change the Joker’s look or a popular character’s attitude and expect the general audience to follow suit and accept it.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for the film-makers: people don’t read. It’s the harsh truth. So, play to what they do know and don’t try to reinvent the wheel.


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86 Comments

  1. Black panther is seen by so many non comic book followers. My friends did not no that Wakanda doesn’t exist, they watched it as it was supposed to serve as an inspirational movie. They did not even no it was a based on a comic book. It’s just one point that factors in why black panther is also doing so well at the box office.
    Marlon Sukhnunan

  2. Ricky on a recent post on Forbes I voiced my opinion that the movie apart from the race undertones and issues it portrayed, was a poor movie overall and had to endure the abuse from non comic fans for being salty and a racist. Racism has nothing to do with a badly put together movie with poor acting by the lead and that bad accent, but the lack of comic book knowledge from the legions of people that have watched it have made their assumptions without proper knowledge of the superhero multiverse. We always will live in a society where hype is followed by it’s flock of sheep irrespective of glaring omissions or additions to any particular super hero gendre movie, so the actual fans will become the minority in cases like this.

    • Dhold

      I used to read the comics as a kid, then I grew out of them, when I went back they were all different and weird and was never able to get back into them. Now I enjoy the films as they come out. If I am expecting Oscar worthy acting then I don’t go to a MCU or DC movie. The acting in this movie was on par with most MCU movies, I would have liked more action, but I left the movie satisfied. It is not for everyone, but then again many are not used to not seeing themselves represented in movies, but don’t worry, Avengers Infinity war will come out soon.
      I am not sure why comic fans are not cheering this movie, it is true many who go to see it are not comic book fans, and many will not be, but many of them who had never been to this type of movie will be willing to give other movies like Avengers a chance. Some of them will become comic book fans. This means more ticket sales and more comic book movies a win win for everyone.
      I am still pissed that thanks to nit picky Star Trek fans, they gave up making Star Trek tv series until recently. If the movies annoy you stay at home and read your comics and let the rest of us enjoy a movie even it it is not faithful to the comics.

    • Palesa

      Bad acting?? You can literally say anything you want about Black Panther but not only is that a trash opinion, it’s a blatant lie. Also, how do you separate the movie from its message to claim that it sucked when the whole story was developed around that message??

  3. That’s why agree with this article that when DC does something, even a slight change in a story the whole world goes crazy but in the MCU the lack of knowledge saved their movies.
    #sadreality

    • Comic book collector for a long time bud. Big DC fan actually. Nice hiding behind Facebook name calling. How do you live with yourself knowing you are an absolute coward. I fight my battles face to face.

    • Haha that explains it a loser from philly. At least thats what ur troll account says. The writer is bitching about a movie adaptation being changed for the big screen. Well duh numbnuts that happens with all of them. And no not all who watch marvel dont read comics. Reason why marvel is doing better is because the majority of their movies are just better. But its ok Steve Hoffman just keep trolling like the lil fag u are lol

  4. Article is spot on. As a collector for 47 some years, I see things in some modern DC movies (easter eggs) and think it’s great, my wife (who puts up with my Comic Book habit), says “It’s alright” (she doesn’t get it). I’d love to see some Comic Book promotions from the companies, on screen, before the film, and see the prices drop so that parents would purchase them for their kids.

    • I understand what you’re saying Brett, but for a mother or father to buy a kid 5 or 6 comic books (most at $3.99 plus tax), your talking over $20. Not gonna happen (and doesn’t happen). Soooo…beside losing 2 or so generations so far (plus many children, rather than read ANY book, would rather play a video game), the purchasers of books is drying up. Lowering the price of the average Comic Book to $1 (if the companies can somehow make it work), would allow parents to buy again (maybe).

  5. Agreed. But, if you look at the animated universe, DC is doing a lot better on that front.
    Don’t understand how they can translate their story and action so much better when animated, but not live-action. If they made movies like Under the Red Hood exactly the same, just live-action, it will be amazing. But they don’t. Very frustrating.

  6. Chris

    DC’s movies fail because most of them are terrible. Wonder Woman is the real exception, and it performed great at the box office.

    DC and WB just needs to make good movies, which they haven’t been.

  7. This is bullshit…we should act like responsible people for once!!.. Because the general audience doesn’t read comic books that makes them go watch marvel movies.. Lol.. So if people don’t read DC comics..automatically the dceu movies gets seen by a lot of fans?? Nah fuck no… You think people don’t have brains or Aren’t smart!? Marvel makes comics as well..and their comics are read by their fans also..especially spiderman comics and others.. The mcu beats the dceu because they started their universe long before the dceu came in trying to catch up… The mcu has established their characters too well over the years..so the audience can actually connect with them and understand the movie…and not like the dceu which rushed right into a justice league movie..without proper introduction of these specific characters.. Until the dceu learn to take things slow & steady ..marvel is just gonna keep wining..take it or live it…hate me for all you care..but its the damn truth.

  8. Joey

    In other words, for the DCEU to be successful, it should dumb down the story lines and ignore DC’s rich heritage. Nah! I’d rather put up with all the “DISNEY RULES!” BS from Marvel jr. millennial fans than sacrifice good storytelling.

  9. The worst part about some of these comments is that some people have again only read the title and started commenting without reading through the article. Which proves our point exactly. People have become so lazy.

    • i read ur article, its still stupidity at its finest ur bitching about something that is done to EVERY book to movie adaptation, problem with comic books is there are SO MANY and so many storylines, that of course shit is gonna be left out and condensed to make them into a feature film, but to say people who watch DC read comics more than people who watch marvel movies is moronic at best

    • Fortress of Solitude so that has nothing to do with the movies, im sure there are years marvel outsales DC and so on, but u cant make this moronic comparison, there are so many comic characters, so many timelines, different people playing the same character, and different universes, u cannot expect the average movie goer to know all about them

    • Some of DC’s films had frames taken directly from the comic books. They also relied heavily on comic book fans understanding the Easter Eggs and the backstories. I can’t think of one Marvel film that worked that closely to a comic book. Not even Civil War was that similar to the comic book version.

    • a feature film is condensed and made for the viewer to enjoy in an hour to two timeline, any more and people get bored, and the reason why Marvel movies are doing better is that they are made better, the stories are better and the characters are better

    • I must have missed the part of the dark knight returns where superman is haunted messiah figure who dies in the end when twitchy, spastic Lex Luthor creates Doomsday out of Zod’s corpse. Just copying and pasting images from comics to film isn’t some get of jail free card.

    • Making a good movie is about way, way more than just lifting a few panels from comic books.

      If anything, doing that kind of thing is a pretty low-level attempt at pandering.

      Like “Hey, instead of actually trying to make a good movie, let’s just put some scenes from The Dark Knight Returns in it. That’ll make those nerds happy, lol!”

    • “OOOOOH SHIT BOI PARADEMONS DAT MEENS DARKSEID.”
      ” that’s all well and good but What’s this got to do with the whole lex luthor thing?”
      “Shut up, you don’t know comics.”

    • Then there’s the part where Wonder Woman emails batman leaked comic con footage of Hawaiian water Thor and fast spider-man. Zack Snyder reeeeeeaallly gets us, you guys. Don’t agree? Well you just don’t know comics.

    • The DCEU is about as thought provoking as the dump I took.

      Anyone remember that comic where Jimmy Olsen got shot in the head? That was

      C L A S S I C
      L
      A
      S
      S
      I
      C

      • garretthawke

        you mean the new52 comic where jimmy olsen has head blown off by an evil superman with his heat vision ? yes classic.

        and you honestly sit back and have long deep thoughts about you dump ? such an intellectual.

    • Again. You’ve missed the point of the article. The fact that those stuff aren’t comic book accurate irritated people. But the comic book inaccuracies in the MCU don’t because people don’t care about those comics. Someone in the comments said that Marvel has better characters. Really? Better than Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman? Nobody cared for Iron Man before the movies. Hulk and Spidey were the only really popular ones.

    • People who read comics, in my experience, are quick to realize there’s many, many great characters besides Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

      To act as if they’re the standard for quality characters is, imo, to be ignorant of the comics medium.

    • No nobody cared for Spidey and hulk before the movies…you must be sick in the head then..spiderman is one of the most popular superhero on planet earth…dude I loved Spidey even before movies started being made…marvel also make comics ..stop acting like DC is the only into the comic book business.. And people read only dc comics…its obviously a sick fanboy that created this bullshit of a page.

    • You claim DC brings comics to screen…which is bullshit…no one wants to watch what they have read before..it becomes unpredictable and boring…people would be like…
      Man is the same old bullshit story from the comics…don’t bother watch it..cause they added nothing new..

    • You said no one cares about ironman before the movies.. Which is a big fat lie..and ironman isn’t the only one in the universe.. So list other characters no one knew before the movies.. And I would list Dc characters no one knew before the movies and the cartoons and TV series

  10. Dhold

    I actually think the reason is more basic than that. I found Justice League… depressing. The heroes and heroines are all down on themselves and angry with each other.

    It dawned on me that that is one reason I enjoy MCU movies more than DC movies. I almost didn’t go see the last DC movie, but I had seen everything else and gave it a chance. After I wondered why I hesitated to go see it for so long. It was not until I saw annihilation that I realized how tired I was of the ‘woe is me’ main character . I understand that part of the story is the self destructive nature of the main characters, but at the same time the scientists in them would have been excited and in awe of the phenomenon they were going in to see, despite their personal challenges, and there was none of that awe, it was all woe. I feel the same about the DC movies…depressing without awe, MCU has depressing, but they also have funny, they have awe they have…. hope.

  11. Beautifuly said. My opinion matched to yours 100%. Im so excited to see IW and Captain Marvel! Brie Larson is so enthuasiastic she even take the time to know the character she playing. And what sbout dceu? Aquaman? Meh! Whats that. Shazam? Meh.

    • Steve Hoffman oh fuck off you judgmental prick, I love dc just as much as marvel, I don’t have a favourite, why would I their both comic book companies, problem is they rushed their cinematic universe trying to catch up to marvel and screwed up character development, that’s it, this article does bring up good points but it has nothing to do with not reading comics, now go home kid

  12. Interesting take on it, but I disagree. Taking the movies alone, MCU has made better movies all around. DC has 3 of the top 5 superhero movies, but really nothing else in the top 10

  13. Haven’t read comics since early 90’s but I enjoy seeing those old characters come to life on the big screen. But as they slowly catch up to modern versions of those characters, then I’ll stop watching all together. DC makes some awesome animated movies , they just can’t seem to switch over enough to please the fan base. I enjoy then all. Movies, Netflix or tv it’s just a great time to be a geek even an old one like me.

  14. I read lots of comics. I vastly prefer DC comic books to Marvels. I like both, but DC is better.

    That being said the MCU is better. Hands down. I like MoS, WW and JL was alright. But don’t spread this bullshit that it’s because people don’t read comics.

  15. Honestly…? I’m not gonna lie with that. I’m only semi familiar with post of the Avengers but Spider-Man I know like the back of my hand. I’m talking from the Lee/Ditko era to Bendis/Bagley. I have close to every Spidey comic on hand, reprint or otherwise and I must say what I saw in Homecoming was not what I read in the comics.

  16. samalematina

    Well I did read your article and actually think your title is not click bait, you actually believe in your theory. Which is more shocking. You’re premise is that because not everyone reads comics DC\WB movies are not doing well compared to Marvel\Disney. That makes not sense.
    The movies that doing well are doing so because they are ‘Good’ movies. DC\WB movies thus far have been simply not been ‘Good’, ok at best and down right horrible at worst. They have divided fans of comics so even if you read comics you still can’t back what DC\WB is doing. So you can’t say if more people read comics DCEU would do better… actually it won’t and that what we are seeing right now with a DCEU reboot on the cards.

  17. Oethman Khan

    i agree with the article but its definitely not the whole picture. the DC movies just haven’t been up to scratch. yes they have baggage but they are relying on the super heroes to sell the movies. the movies just feel as though no effort was put into story or even choice of actors for the roles.
    Marvel movies feel right, they are entertaining well thought out, they have excellent memorable scenes and well chosen actors. DC just cant compete. I always preferred DC comic style to Marvel but those heroes are harder to translate to film and there just doesnt seem to be any effort made to make that transition easier.

    we accept the changes marvel makes because the movies are so good you dont mind
    with DC the movies have been poor and the changes made have just been salt in the wound

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