Why Marvel wins the box office

I’m going to come out and say it: I vastly prefer DC over Marvel, hands down. It was an obsession that began with the Bat family comics and grew to following several storylines in the DC universe. I’ll forever line up religiously to see a DC movie, as well. But, I’ll always go to see Marvel movies, too. In the bitter conflict nerds face over which is better, when it comes to the movies, Marvel will always win, and there is one reason why.

Comics rely very much on continuity. If it is screwed up, it won’t translate, and nerds will struggle to keep up. It’s why we see troubles from time to time, most recently with the New 52 line that DC launched, which was essentially a half-ish reset-like thing they did to their own continuity. Marvel’s had its own troubles, too, don’t get me wrong, but this is a blog post why DC will not see Marvel’s successes in the box office in the near future.

Again, continuity. You see, Marvel has spent the last few years establishing its universe in the movies and making a continuity we could follow. I came to this realization while watching Iron Man 3. Fair warning: Some spoilers from the movie below.

Tony is having trouble throughout the movie. Anxiety attacks hit him as he has flashbacks of what happened in New York during the events of the Avengers movie. He’s stressed and can’t sleep. He’s invented 40 more Iron Man suits. He works nonstop so he doesn’t have to think about it. But, if Marvel hadn’t been establishing this continuity, from the first Iron Man on up, tying it into other movies, like the Incredible Hulk and The Avengers, then you suddenly have to make something up for more than half the movie, something that wouldn’t have made much sense to us.

But it clicked! We saw Tony reeling from the effects of entering a different dimension in a completely separate movie that wasn’t even part of the Iron Man trilogy. It worked so well with the rest of the movie. Never mind the hardcore comic book nerds who disliked IM3, because they failed to see the point. This is a different timeline than the comics. It’s the same heroes we know, just following a different set of adventures.

By doing so, Marvel does two things:

1) They establish something that comic book readers recognize – a linear, coherent timeline that is interwoven with all parts of the universe in which it resides.

2) They establish an overarching story non-comic fans can understand and interpret. They get it now in a way that they couldn’t just looking from panel to panel.

It’s because of this that Marvel will dominate the box office for a few years. In order to come up with a Justice League that can compete, DC will have to hurry out some hit movies with the icons – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, etc. and tie them all together without it seeming like they’re just copying the Marvel Formula. I dunno if they can, honestly, but I am serious when I say Snyder and Nolan working together on basically all of them is about what it would take.

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