…and it’s really sad when you think you have to.
It’s easy to just say DC is lying, or misrepresenting, but let’s go further. Looking at just the movies released since DC’s huge success with Batman Begins, regarded by some as the start of comic book movies being taken seriously, this is blatantly false. The total box office amount for the eight movies Warner Brothers has released based on DC comics is $3.9 billion.
Now, yes, there are 2.5 times as many movies based on Marvel characters released in that eight year period, which total ~$9.5 billion at the box office. However, Marvel as a film studio has only released eight movies in that eight year period. The other 12 movies were released by Columbia, 20th Century Fox, and Lionsgate, with little to no input from Marvel. The box office total for the eight Marvel movies is still greater than Warner Bros. eight DC movies, at $5.7 billion. From this point out, I’m ignoring movies licensed to other studios, and focusing on the eight movies produced by Marvel’s film division.
Clearly, movies released by Marvel’s production company are doing better at the box office than the movies released by DC’s.
But hey, let’s go into more depth. The average box office total for a DC movie is just about $500 million. The average box office total for a Marvel movie produced by Marvel is just over $700 million. Marvel’s lowest box office gross, for The Incredible Hulk, is 24 times higher than DC’s lowest Jonah Hex. On the high end, admittedly, Marvel’s highest box office gross, The Avengers, is only 1.4 times higher than DC’s, Dark Knight Rises.
What it all comes down to is that Marvel just figured it out sooner than DC, and made a better plan. DC/Warner Bros. is always talking about how they’re working on a JLA movie. Marvel beat them. Badly. They released their big super team movie in 2012. DC has slated the Justice League movie for 2017. That’s a five year gap. Avengers Age of Ultron will be out in 2015! Marvel’s big super team will have it’s second movie out two years before DC even gets in the water!
The problem is that Marvel got their act together and made a five year plan to get an Avengers movie made. They laid the ground work in 2008 with Iron Man, and kept laying that groundwork with The Incredible Hulk reboot, Captain America, Thor, and sequels. DC appears to be laying groundwork by putting Batman and Wonder Woman in the next Superman movie. Getting the trinity out there is a good start. They’re also, however, shooting themselves in the foot.
The Avengers numbers six people–Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. The first four were introduced in their own movies, while the last two are relatively minor members who were introduced in Thor and Iron Man 2 respectively.
The Justice League has seven founding members–Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter (screw Flashpoint). Batman needs a reboot, because as it stands, cinematic universe Batman has retired (though Batfleck likely won’t follow the Nolan Canon). Superman is well established in the movies currently. Green Lantern is the Hulk of the Justice League movies, in that the movie was so poorly received it needs to be rebooted so people receive him better when the team movie comes up. Wonder Woman needs a movie in the current cinematic canon (I mean, unless they want to use the ’74 TV movie as her introduction which would be a… poor choice). The Flash, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman have not been seen in movies at all.
Sure, DC could just pile founding members into the next Superman movie like henchmen into Joker’s clown car. If they do that, though, they are denying themselves the money that they could be making by giving each founding member their own feature. An all-founding members of the JLA Superman movie would be unlikely to gross more than Avengers did by any significant amount. Best case scenario, it grosses $2 billion–.48 billion more than Avengers.
Marvel basically made $417 million for each major character intro film (average gross of Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, not counting sequels). If DC made a five year plan to introduce each founding member of the JLA in their own movie, including Batman and Green Lantern reboots (the former to establish a JLA friendly continuity, the latter to erase the poor reception of the character), they could based on that average, make $2.9 billion (including at least one Superman movie which grosses $417 million during that time). Given that Marvel produced eight movies in five years, this is clearly doable. DC just needs to sit down and make a plan and, despite what I say about being beaten to the pool, not rush a JLA movie.
I don’t think that DC is completely oblivious. If I can find these figures, they must know them already, they just don’t want to admit it. They think that they can keep up a happy hopeful face and keep people from realizing how drastically Marvel is outperforming them.