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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Marvel or DC, who owns the media?

They’re on T-shirts, walls and TV. Superheroes are everywhere lately. They have experienced a resurgence, flooding theaters and leading TV channels, with Marvel dominating the movie industry and  DC Entertainment producing engaging TV shows.

Marvel and DC are the top comic book companies in the U.S. For instance, Marvel is responsible for the Avengers, Spider-man and the X-men, while DC owns Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman and the Justice League.  

Both have had recent successes, but Marvel has a monopoly on the media, with a plethora of well received movies and a popular TV show. DC’s TV programs have better quality shows, but they don’t have the widespread recognition or popularity that Marvel has cultivated.

Marvel produced “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” grossing $714 and $654 million respectively. In 2012, DC launched the show “Arrow,” the highest-rated show on the CW and, on Oct. 7, it premiered the spin-off series “The Flash.”

“Arrow” is based on the comics character Green Arrow, otherwise known as Oliver Queen, a billionaire vigilante who targets corrupt businessmen, drug lords and mobs. Halfway through the second season, the show introduced Barry Allen, the title character in “The Flash,” which premiered in October.

The two shows offer two different takes on the superhero genre. “Arrow” is grittier and (mostly) stays in the realm of plausible; there are no “supernatural” superpowers. In the show, Arrow fights against the realistic corruption of big businesses with lethal force, if necessary. On the other hand, Barry Allen is a clumsy science nerd who obtains his super speed in a freak accident. The Flash focuses on fighting super-powered antagonists who are also metahumans.

While Marvel has its own live-action TV show on ABC, “Agents of SHIELD,” the second season of which premiered in September, it doesn’t quite match up to DC’s recent successes. It doesn’t have the dark realism of Arrow, and it seems more like a cartoon show which tries to be serious while retaining it’s lightheartedness.

That’s not to say that the show is a failure; it garnered almost 6 million views beginning its second season. The show also ties into the Marvel movie franchise seamlessly and explores aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the storyline of characters in Marvel’s movies, separate from comics) that movies are unable to cover due to time constraints.

In the movie industry, Marvel clearly reigns supreme. Between 2011 and 2014, DC released three movies: “Green Lantern,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Man of Steel.” Only the latter two were considered financial successes, earning significantly more than production costs. The Batman trilogy was an exceptional set of films that blended terrifying villains and a sense that justice would always prevail. The other two just seemed to lead up to a final battle that never looked at the impacts beyond beating the snot out of the bad guy.

Marvel, however, had seven films between 2011 and 2014, all of which were financial successes: “Thor,” “Captain America,” “The Avengers,” “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Marvel’s films, unlike DC’s, don’t focus on the horrible dark storylines. Marvel’s characters have humor, they often fail, they grow into better people, and there’s always always hope at the end of each movie.

While DC has some popular TV series, it must rework its cinematic approach if the franchise wants to catch up to Marvel. DC’s next movie is planned for 2016. “Batman vs. Superman,” could be the one to turn the tides. If this film is a success, DC could go on to create a whole Justice League cinematic lineup, similar to Marvel’s strategy in leading up to “The Avengers.” If DC manages to awe audiences with character development and engaging story lines, Marvel will find itself facing some grave competition. 

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