I’m a Marvel guy. I’m not happy about it, though. And I blame DC. Before I start, I want to be clear this is not about the quality of Marvel vs DC. It’s about the marketing their products to someone who has been on the outside of their worlds and wants in. In this, I feel that Marvel has succeeded in getting me excited about their product, while DC has had some missteps.
As a 42-year-old guy, I should be a DC guy. I didn’t grow up watching Marvel cartoons. I grew up watching Super Friends. While I did watch the Incredible Hulk and Spiderman TV shows, it was Shazam! that I yelled before attempting to fly down a set of steps. (It didn’t end well). As kid and a teenager respectively, it was Superman and Batman that made me fans of comic book movies.
But they didn’t make me want to read the comics. Part of this was my own geography which prohibited buying comics regularly. Part of this was the lack of the internet to say that this movie was inspired by that series. This should have changed with Christopher Nolan’s Batman, but it didn’t. Even the games didn’t make want to buy comics.
Then comes along the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The keyword is the last one. For someone who never stepped into a comic book shop until he was in his 40s, I didn’t really understand comic books had their own universe(s). I didn’t realize how detailed these could be. Marvel didn’t market their movies in a way to make people buy books. They marketed them as movies. Movies that worked with each other. Then they let the fanboys/girls do the work. They let them speculate on what would happen in the universe based on the comics, especially when they announced titles straight from the comics. Plus, they had a secret weapon, Marvel Unlimited, which allowed people access to most of their rich comic history.
DC, from my point of view, hasn’t done this. First, they didn’t connect their television universe to the film universe. I understand the reasoning for this, and actually agree, but looking at this as an outsider to the comic world, it can be confusing. This especially true when you look at the tone of the tv shows, especially Flash and Supergirl, and compare them to the tone of the movies. It also doesn’t help that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has less moments of comic relief than David Fincher’s Seven. Because the movie had trouble telling a coherent story, it got bad reviews. There was a split between the fanboys/girls. Some see it the way I see it with bad story telling. (You can check out our podcast on BvS here). Others pulled the, “Oh, if you read such and such comic you would get it” card. If this logic is true, shouldn’t I have been told that ahead of time? No, actually I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t have to do homework before going to watch a movie (unless it’s a sequel to another movie than you should watch the first one.) But if I have to do homework, then promote the comics. This would have helped with the “dream” sequence. Sorry super fans (sorry for the pun), but a sequence that is that long without explanation doesn’t build up excitement. It builds confusion. I had to do research, but I’m an industrious nerd. When I explained to Cristina what character that segment is alluding to, she had yet to hear of it. When Marvel introduced Thanos, with a 2 second smile, she knew about him within hours of going home, because her facebook and twitter feeds were full of stories about it. We both follow a lot of comic related sites on both platforms, and she hadn’t heard of Darkseid till I told her.
Now, I didn’t check DC’s website the week BvS came out, but I did check this week when it’s still number one in box office. There is a link to learn more about Superman but there is nothing on the front page about learning more about BvS. They should have something like “Enjoyed BvS and want to learn more, click here” front and center on the DC Comics main page. Nor do they have anything on Flash, Supergirl, or Arrow on the main page. Thankfully, they do have required reading under the movies and TV links, but that needs to be front and center on the home page so they can attract new fans. That’s what new fans are going to the website to see. Older fans know the navigation of the site so they will find what they need. Marvel advertises everyting – comics, TV, and movies – on their website. They do have an unfair advantage in that they do have the muscle of Disney behind them. Yet, here is where Marvel Unlimited is brilliant. When a movie or tv show comes out, they promote it in Marvel Unlimited. This includes movies, like Deadpool, that are not part of Marvel’s cinematic universe nor was released by Marvel. If DC had a subscription service, they could push me to the comics that explained the dream sequence. Sure, my local comic book store clerks could do this, but I usually only go once a month and a half and collect a bunch of comics at once. We went before we saw the movie. Plus, I’m more apt to spend $9.99 a month to read all the comics, instead of $16-$24 for each trade paper back. Of course, there are exceptions such as Year One by Frank Miller which I will and have purchased. I am more than willing to spend $9.99 for each Marvel and DC. In fact, don’t tell them, but I would probably go up to $15 for each. As said in a previous post, I still collect Marvel comics in the tangible form. This weekend I started collecting the Kevin Smith/Joe Quesada Daredevil run and the Joss Wheadon/John Cassaday Astonishing X-Men series. Why? Because I read them and love them, and want to own them. And I found them for cheap.
Now, I will start collecting some titles from DC when Rebirth starts. I plan on doing Justice League because I like teams and I figured that would be a good way to get to know the main players. I probably will collect Green Lanterns, because I know nothing about that series and that intrigues me. I didn’t even see the movie. Cristina will buy Harley Quinn after reading some of the New 52 titles, but more so because she had a great time meeting the series writers, Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti, at Wizard World New Orleans.
Reading over this, it does seem that I’m asking DC to be Marvel. For God sakes that is not what I mean. I don’t want just fun movies. Plus not all the MCU movies are great (Iron Man 2, Thor: Dark World). I do want darker movies in tone (but not in color, please), but ones that have moments of comic relief. In fact, the darker Netflix Marvel series are far superior to their lighter ABC counterparts. I do want DC to tell stories in their movies in the DC way. And I have no problem with straying from canon. I think people put too much into canons and don’t just enjoy each thing for what they are. I don’t want DC or Marvel movies and TV shows to be slave to the books. I just want good story telling. Again, this blog is not about the quality of DC products or them making products tailored to my tastes. I just want them to do a better job of marketing their products to possible new customers like myself.
The big exception to this so far is the DC Television universe. They make me want to read comics, yet at the same I don’t because I’m enjoying being surprised by the shows. That’s good for DC. That makes me excited about DC. Also, they have also created an excellent one-stop app which is making me check it almost daily.
My main gripe is that I shouldn’t feel like an outsider to DC, but I still do. Maybe Rebirth will help the TV shows change that.