No one could've predicted how the 2020 year in movies was going to go - not by a longshot. The Coronavirus Pandemic has shattered all scheduling expectations for major franchises - DC and Marvel movies chief among them. While fans will now have to wait longer for films like Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984, The Batman, and Thor: Love & Thunder, this chaos has also presented a rare opportunity for DC.
By the time fans are heading back into theaters, there will be a something of a fresh start feel to things, and at the moment, DC has all the right ingredients to actually get ahead of Marvel in terms of both branding and profits, with the upcoming slate of films. If you can get past that statement without already taking to the comments in anger, here's the breakdown of why DC and Warner Bros. have been setting themselves up to have a real chance to overtake the competition:
Trusted Brands vs. Newcomers
For the first time since about 2008, Marvel has the rare vulnerability of having to sell a whole slate of new character films to the public. Shang-Chi, The Eternals, a female version of Thor, Black Widow out on her own... These are all potential big new winners for Marvel, but they are not proven yet.
DC, meanwhile, has a slate of films coming in the next two years that are already poised to be hits. A Wonder Woman sequel, a new Batman movie, and a new version of Suicide Squad from one of Marvel's most beloved directors (James Gunn, a brand within himself)... As far as big "event" films worth seeing in theaters (an even more serious consideration nowadays), DC is stacked really nicely for the next year or so.
Competitive Star Power
Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman are Marvel veterans fans will rally to see, no doubt, and even the untested property that is Eternals is bringing out big guns like Angelina Jolie, and Salma Hayek, and Thor 4 will boast former Batman Christian Bale as its villain. Marvel has a pretty stacked deck, as usual.
However, DC isn't slouching, either. Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa are now international stars thanks to their DC films; Robert Pattinson (love or hate him) is a major draw for The Batman; and The Suicide Squad has names like Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Idris Elba, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, and Taika Waititi attached. That's just scratching the surface of casting we know at this time, with projects like Aquaman 2 and The Flash potentially nabbing more big stars to rival Marvel's lineup.
Marvel is bringing us a crop of new directing talent (Destin Daniel Cretton, Cate Shortland, Chloe Zhao) and some growing talent (Taika Waititi, Ryan Coogler). However, DC is about to come with lineup of not only proven blockbuster genre talent, but directors that have become distinguished for crafting their own unique visions of blockbuster genre blends.
The DC lineup includes Matt Reeves (Dawn & War For the Planet of the Apes) for THe Batman; Andy Muschietti (IT 1 &2) for The Flash; James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) for The Suicide Squad; David F. Sanders (Lights Out, Shazam!) and of course, Patty Jenkins' already-stylish signature for Wonder Woman 1984. In terms of standout cinema, DC has a nice edge in terms of creative talent.
Bigger Franchise Returns
Doctor Strange 2 and Thor 4 are going to be significant pieces of the new MCU Phase 4 saga, no doubt, and a third Ant-Man should also be on the way. And Black Widow already looks like a super-cool action prequel that could also open some new doors. However, if we're talking event movie-making on a global stage? The Wonder Woman and Aquaman sequels, plus bold new Batman and Suicide Squad reboots, are easily the bigger draw, when it comes to new chapters of established franchises. The exception is, of course, Marvel's Black Panther II, which is coming off the global phenomenon success of the first film.
Thanks to Joker's box office dominance and awards season wins, Warner Bros. now sees the benefit$ of DC movies that come in a wide variety of flavors. The door is now open for DC's massive library to be adapted to film in a variety of ways that keep the brand name fresh, and production costs low (with more indie-style features like Joker). Marvel's big blockbuster formula is locked-in, but the franchise now has to prove the formula can work with a growing number of second (or third, or fourth) tier characters, while DC can come at audiences from a widening variety of ways that never even feel like a "comic book movie."
The Batman Universe
We don't yet know how Matt Reeves The Batman will connect (or not) to any other DC movie properties. However, the director has indicated he will tell a detective story that takes us deep into Gotham City and its workings, which has the potential to open the door on a whole new world of Batman movies. Even now, films like Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, and The Suicide Squad are arguably spinoffs of a Batman Universe, with more films like Batgirl coming, and Joker showing just how much impact wildly different takes on Batman lore can have. As always, the Batman franchise is an entire cash-cow in and of itself, and so far, nothing in Marvel Phase 4 can hope to match that potential (looking at you, Spider-Man).
Unless Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans shock the world and suit-up again for a Marvel Phase 4 film, DC has a clear potential advantage here. If Warner Bros. finally officially, puts Henry Cavill back in the Superman suit, it's game-over as far as headlines. Same if (by some miracle) Ben Affleck would suit up again as Batman - if only to help Flash sort out some messy timeline stuff, leftover from Zack Snyder's day. We're talking worldwide hype potential.
Do you think DC's next phase of movies will be better than Marvel's? Let us know in the comments!