I made this proclamation back in December, and was nearly burned alive in the resulting flame-war, but I'll say it again: there is no longer any "Marvel vs. DC" competition to even debate. Marvel Studios and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have spent a decade building and crafting its cinematic universe, and in the year when that work is about to pay off in big milestones profits, DC Films is barely on the radar.
Black Panther is the current king of entertainment, creating an entire new cultural conversation in the process. Not only that, but the movie is breaking records for a February release and Marvel Cinematic Universe debut, and now we can add one more milestone to the list: Black Panther has officially embarrassed DC Films, Warner Bros. and their lackluster attempt at a Justice League movie!
After a major holiday weekend opening and some stellar Monday returns, Black Panther has already earned $242M domestically; that's $14M more than Justice League made in its entire theatrical run! This comes after Black Panther doubled Justice League's opening weekend haul, which was a quick and decisive sign that DC Films was in for a thrashing.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that this was a Marvel solo character debut, with middling star power aside form the likes of icons like Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker; Justice League had a whole lineup of big stars (Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Mamoa), and was supposed to be the kind of team-up "event film" that reaps big at the box office. Black Panther comes from an up-and-coming (read: largely unknown) young director (Ryan Coogler) and the stigma of being "risky" for featuring a majority black cast and African setting; Justice League had the combined talents of Zack Sndyer and Avengers' Joss Whedon, and some of the most worldwide iconic superheroes around. That's all to say: this wide gap in success between the films is not the result of subject matter, as it is branding and strategy. Marvel took a risk and is winning big, while DC Films tried to hedge its bets and mettle with its director's vision, and lost big.
The competitive spanking is only going to get worse: Avengers: Infinity War is going to be one of the biggest movies of all time, and is already guaranteed to earn the bank to back that statement up. Even Ant-Man and the Wasp is a bright blip on fan radars after the first trailer. Meanwhile, we're still waiting to see something, anything, from James Wan's Aquaman movie. As DC Films' only tentpole release this year, it's the only hope the studio has at showing any kind of continued shelf-life for its cinematic universe - before the MCU paves over it entirely.
Black Panther is now in theaters. It will be followed by Avengers: Infinity War on May 4th, Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6th, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.