Superhero franchise universes are all the rage these days, with DC and Marvel both establishing cinematic worlds that extend from the big screen to the small screen. As TV has opened itself wider and wider to the possibilities of the superhero genre, it's created something a debate amongst fans about which medium - TV or Film - is the most efficient and enjoyable. Within the studios themselves the debate has also raged, as different departments (TV and Film) argue over everything from character use, to which storylines can be adapted, when.
While a lot fans would automatically select movies as their favorite way to experience modern superhero stories, we wanted to make the argument for the opposing stance. Here's Why TV is Better for Superhero Franchises Than Movies.
Better Character Depth
The first apparent advantage to television over film is that you get to know the characters a whole lot better. That's not just true for the main hero, but for the supporting characters and even the villains as well.
While movies are always fine showcases of the superhero origin story, or a traditional "good vs evil" story with clear archetypes, TV's longer format allows each character to become rounded and real over time, making our knowledge and association with them all that more interesting.
As a sub set of more character depth in general, television has allowed for some much better supervillain development than film has. It's not really all that much of a debate: whether DC or Marvel, fans tend to love TV villains like Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk (Daredevil), David Tenant's Kilgrave (Jessica Jones) or Manu Bennett's Slade Wilson (Arrow) way more than any of the one-off villains they seen in the films (with the obvious exception of Tom Hiddleston's Loki).
The key difference is screen time: TV has a lot more of it to invest in a villain's story and character, and so evildoers end up getting just as much attention as their heroic counterparts. And since a superhero story tends to only be as good as its villain, TV is nursing a clear advantage over film.
Right now there's a perception that Marvel and DC are diversifying their film offerings, with movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy or Suicide Squad also offering fans a mix of superhero formula and other genre tropes (mystery, comedy, political thriller, etc.). However, any close examination of things would reveal that - while the tones might be different, most (if not all) superhero blockbusters follow a similar blueprint.
TV, on the other hand, is better at keeping us guessing, and supplying us with promising new offerings that we have have truly never seen before. Even if the CW DC TV shows all follow a similar formula, Marvel Netflix offers something very different - in a variety of flavors, no less. Agents of SHIELD seems to reinvent itself every season, and if X-Men's Legion TV series is any indication, even more inventive and imaginative (even "high art") superhero TV is coming our way.
Compared to all that, the thought of more solo character origin films and team up event films isn't nearly as exciting.
Better Bang For Your Buck
Have you seen the ticket cost for a modern superhero blockbuster movie? It's approaching a $20 standard - more so if you include bells and whistles like 3D and IMAX. With so many superhero movies coming in the next few years, fans are literally having to budget themselves for what movies they can afford to see in theaters, and which they have to wait on to release on home video. And, even within that carefully selected fraction of films a fan chooses to spend his/her money on, only a fraction of that fraction will actually provide suitably entertaining returns.
With TV viewers getting more savvy every year and opting to cut the cord of cable to get their viewing a la carte, investing in superhero TV universes is actually a wise move - especially since the shows, on average, are more acclaimed than the movie releases. For a cheaper price per year, you can actually get more content, which you're more likely to enjoy more often.
From a business standpoint, superhero TV is the smarter move.