BLOG A Cinematic Universe Too Far?

There seems to be a lot of talk about Man Of Steel being a possible gateway film for DC; that it might lead to a Justice League film and other DC characters appearing on the big screen; that this latest Superman outing could, ultimately, be the start of DC’s “cinematic universe”.

And I’m not sure I want it to.

To be honest I’m starting to get a bit worried about the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe plan too. So far Marvel hasn’t put a step wrong with its films. Sure, some of the films have been better than others, but on the whole I think it’s been a great plan, a great series of films and it’s worked very well. But with a Thor follow-up, a Captain America sequel, a Guardians Of The Galaxy film, an Ant-Man film and a second Avengers outing all planned to be released over the next three years from Marvel’s cinematic universe the superhero cinema line-up is starting to look a little crowded. Add to that several X-Men related films and a second Amazing Spider-Man movie, along with another Superman film from DC and it looks even more crowded.

And when you consider that there’s also rumours of Black Panther, Cable, Iron Fist, Blade, Vision, Doctor Strange, Ka-Zar, Luke Cage, Miss Marvel, Dazzler, Power Pack, The Runaways and a solo Hulk outing for Mark Ruffalo all being considered for possible film development, the it starts to look a bit more than just crowded. It starts to look like overkill. And that’s just Marvel characters.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have recently come out as saying that the Hollywood film industry is running the risk of imploding with fewer and fewer small independent films being made and more money being put into huge multi-million dollar films to the detriment of the rest. Funny that two of the creators of the concept of “summer blockbuster” as we know it are now so against the rest of Hollywood doing it, but still, I can sort of see what they mean, and I wonder if having Marvel and DC churning out film after film is part of what they’re talking about.

Superheroes in cinema have been around for years and there have been some very successful series. From the first Superman films of the ’70s and ’80s, the Batman films of the ’90s and the X-Men films in the noughties, there have been some very good superhero movie series. Not all the superhero big screen outings have been good. There have been as many bad ones as there have been successes. And even the really good ones have suffered diminishing returns, poor sequels and reboots. But there was never much effort to create the same interconnectedness which is so prevalent in the comics and with the advent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has changed.

One aspect of superhero movies which is a blessing in my eyes is the fact that some of the characters are owned by different companies. This precludes the possibility – at least for the moment – of having certain members of the X-Men (Fox) show up in a future Avengers (Marvel) film, or Spider-Man (Sony) appearing with the Fantastic Four (Fox). I think that’s a good thing because some of the crossover possibilities are staggering and if that path were to be taken I’d worry about the whole thing disappearing up its own back-story.

I’ve never been a big fan of Marvel or DC comics; to be completely honest I’m not that big a fan of superhero comics in general. I’ve read quite a few in my time, including Iron Man, X-Men, Superman, The Justice League and many more, but they always seem to descend into crossovers and alternate universes or kill off a character who you just know will be back or start in on massive storylines that require you to go out and buy books you didn’t plan to to get the whole story. Every time I’ve tried I’ve ended up giving up in frustration. There are of course a few gems hidden away in both Marvel and DC’s and it’s not crossovers and fake death all the time, but it does seem to happen sooner or later and it always tends to put me off.

Regardless of whether you think DC has earned a cinematic universe to rival Marvel’s, I wonder whether the cinema can actually take it? Sure we’ve had superhero movies for years, but can cinema support two separate interlinked superhero universes in the same way that comics have for years?

So what do you think? Are we in danger of being overrun with superheroes? Or do you think the more the merrier and would happily see a DC cinematic universe to rival Marvels?

Steven Ellis