WB vs Marvel – How Warner Bros Could Win
Marvel, Marvel, Marvel. When you look at the landscape of blockbusters it seems like we’re inundated with Marvel movie’s. Marvel now dominate at the box office and it doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon. However as each movie hits our screens we all are beginning to notice a pattern. There are a few mainstays in Marvel movies at this point you can expect, the first act and second act will be stunning while the third act will falter and will usually have some kind of aircraft crash into some kind of city. The sequel will deal with an internal problem with the hero which will deal with their place in the bigger Marvel Universe. Then there is the funniest and most tragic aspect, the villains are two dimensional and given nowhere near enough time on screen. The movies most guilty of this include Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World and sadly, even Guardians Of The Galaxy. In Iron Man 3 we got little to no time with our villain(s) we were given scant details about how menacing the Mandarin was and he was made out to be a kind of bogey man, even with the twist there was no real satisfaction. In Thor: The Dark World we were given no true motivation for our main antagonist Malekith, just some scary scenes of him giving Elvish dialogue. There were scenes of him lost simply for more screen time for already established baddie Loki.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier I personally found Alexander Pierce to be a two dimensional Saturday morning cartoon villain maybe with more history behind him in the cinematic universe I could have felt more of an impact with his true intentions but as it was his machinations were simply used as a plot device. Now the Winter Soldier himself was fantastic but he was given little in the way of meaningful dialogue driven scenes. A smattering of emotional scenes didn’t give enough weight to his character and his obvious tragic past. Now with Guardians Of The Galaxy you’re probably thinking, you’re a madman, that movie was flawless. It is close to perfection but there are problems, the third act is basically copy and pasted from Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Big bad crashes into planet to kill everyone on it, with a massive aerial battle and a final showdown with our heroes and said big bad. Not only that, but many complained that Ronan and Nebula were given little screen time and motivations. Ronan being a simple homicidal maniac out for destruction and Nebula a femme fatale with daddy issues. I personally enjoyed the two characters but I can understand where the criticisms come from.
I was discussing with a friend of mine about what needs to happen to make sure that Marvel doesn’t fall further into this trap and the answer was simple. More intimate and deep third acts and more engaging villains who are fully explored and not simply thrown away at the end of the third act. That’s where Warner Bros. come in, for all the problems audiences have with them you can definitely say one thing, their villains are iconic. Lex Luthor, Doomsday and the Joker. These are but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Each of them are in some cases bigger and bolder than their heroic counterparts and if Warner Bros. play it smart and make their movies all about the motivation of the villains they could have something really great on their hands. The greatest advantage Warner Bros. have over Marvel is that their heroes are so iconic, so famous that we don’t need an origin story we just need an actor who gets the hero. Then you bring in a wildcard villain with a great back story, if we fully understand our villain then we are fully invested with his or her motivations for doing the unspeakable actions he or she does. For example, in Man Of Steel General Zod was a fantastically deep character because we understood what he wanted and why he did it. You get why he does the things he does because we see his journey in Man Of Steel as well as Clark’s, you understand that if you were a Kryptonian you would see him as the hero and Superman as the villain.
In The Dark Knight we get such a memorable origin for the villain because we don’t get a true origin. We never find out who the Joker is, all we know is what he wants and how much he wants it. You’re interested in everything he’s doing because of the “magic” he can perform, he is a true entertainer in the most deranged way possible. Now with the aftermath of Man Of Steel being rumoured as an element of the plot for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice you can already see the motivations for Lex Luthor forming and in my opinion that’s really exciting. So much potential is waiting to be tapped in the Warner Bros. well, all thanks to the superb villains available. I remember someone saying that if a director or writer could combine the ridiculousness of some of the villains of Batman with the deepness of the movies of The Dark Knight we could have something remarkable. Imagine if you will, a Batman movie about the Court Of The Owls, imagine if Warner Bros. dared to use the Forever Evil storyline bringing in the Crime Syndicate of America. A full event all about the villains, their motivations, their feelings and their journeys to their goals. With all their characters in one sandbox there is a lot of toys to play with. That is the tremendous advantage Warner Bros. has, but has not fully utilized. Sony are trying to be the first ones on the block with this idea with their Sinister Six movie but they don’t have the same reliability or memorability of Warner Bros or Marvel so it’s a big gamble.
It’s been great to talk about this and I hope you enjoyed my ramblings, now it’s your turn. Do you agree? How can Marvel save themselves from themselves, how can Warner Bros. catch up and what villains do you hope come our way in the coming years? It’s funny, in the end what could save the comic book genre won’t be the heroes, it will be the villains.