Marvel Studios is just getting started.
Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are getting more ambitious and more fun.
(SPOILER ALERT: This has some spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home, nothing too big, I don’t discuss any specific plot points, but you should skip this if you want to avoid spoilers.)
The new Spider-Man movie was released this week. It's an ambitious project. It combines 20 years of Spider-Man films, uniting the three film iterations of the character via multiversal shenanigans. It was a great superhero movie, massive in scope and that scope still felt deserved.
It is exciting to see that Marvel trusts their source material and audience so much. When the first Avengers was released, even the most optimistic fans did not dream of a multiverse-spanning Spider-Man crossover with three different Spider-Men and villains from decades ago. You only found these kind of stories in comicbooks, they weren't meant for the “less geeky, more normal” audience of film. Marvel has been leaning into the comicbook craziness for years now. They're growing more confident with each success. Each success makes their ambition more deserved. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the future, there is still so much left to explore.
Still, when I watch these amazing Marvel movies (The last two Avengers were more ambitious.), I rue the wasted potential of Marvel's counterparts at DC. DC had Superman and Batman. They also had amazing stories which are undisputed classics. I hate that DC wasn't able to adapt these stories on film. Two decades ago, Marvel was bankrupt. The comics weren't doing well, no-one cared about characters other than the X-Men and Spider-Man. How has Marvel done so much better than DC?
Marvel’s vision and patience gives them the advantage. They started small, built up momentum, waited things out before making their biggest plays. Thanos was built up and teased for half a decade before they made him the main antagonist of Infinity War. DC started reasonably with Man of Steel, an average movie. It did not understand Superman as a character (Superman killing Zod is wildly out of character), but still left you hoping that maybe there were better things to come. The follow-up tried to do too many things too quickly. It introduced Batman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday and Wonder Woman. It also adapted Death of Superman, which meant killing Superman in his second movie before he's had any real character development, and going into Justice League with a dead Superman.
All of this was so rushed. I care a lot about these characters, Superman is my favourite character in all fiction, but I still did not feel invested in these movies. If core fans don't care about your stuff, you can't remotely expect normal people to. DC is still making the same mistakes. The upcoming Flash movie is overly complicated already, it has two Batmen, introduces Supergirl and wants to adapt Flashpoint but there is zero buildup to any of this.
DC characters have always resonated more with me. It's been disappointing to see these characters being at less than their best for years. However, I find a lot of comfort in the fact that Marvel has been elevating their characters in live-action for decades now. MCU Iron Man is the best iteration of the character across media. I'm really looking forward to Marvel's future movies, and I hope they continue their brave venture into crazy comicbook territory. I also hope that DC finds their way back somehow, but that looks very improbable right now. Marvel, on the other hand, is just getting started.
Things of interest
The funniest thing I watched this week is this video of Eric Rosen defeating Hikaru Nakamura in a Lichess tournament after being down a piece:
The same tournament caused Lichess to go down for some time. They wrote a good blog post explaining, in some technical detail, what happened. Their queues went kaput because the tournament was creating too many events and their consumers couldn’t handle it.