This November, everyone will be heading to their local movie theaters to see DC’s Justice League or Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok,whether that be for the popularity of the characters, the action, or the gritty storyline. Naturally, there will be a competition between the two films.
While it might seem all the superhero movies are the same, there are actually three separate studios that each own big superhero franchises, Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. (DC), and Fox. While each studio has its fanbase, Fox stands out among the others. Do you see Marvel Studios or Warner Bros. experimenting with R rated films like Fox? Fox, the leading bannerman in superhero movies can pull off funny R-rated films (2016’s Deadpool) but at the same time can make a gritty dark R-rated film (this year’s Logan).
Fox began the superhero franchise craze with X-Men (2000). Fox had time to stabilize the franchise with a groundwork of actors, directors, and producers. The X-Men are relatable because they are just normal people with special genes, not some Norse god frozen in time like Marvel’s Thor. They have real stories with real loss, like when anti-hero Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)’s adoptive father gets killed by his biological father or when 11-year-old X23 (Dafne Keen)’s own parents die in front of her.
As Fox developed a passionate fanbase, they also laid the groundwork for R-rated superhero movies. Initially, executives at the studio weren’t sure that Deadpool would succeed since it was rated R, but we fans pushed for it and we made it happen. “One year ago to almost today, some [explicit] in here leaked that footage, and that’s why we’re standing here,” said Ryan Reynolds, who played Deadpool, at Comic Con. “You guys, the Internet, fans, you guys made the studio do this. You bent their arms behind their backs, twisted their [explicit] necks, and here we are.”
The test for Fox is the departure of Hugh Jackman, who was the constant in the franchise that we could always count on. However, with new actors like Dafne Keen, Evan Peters and James McAvoy, the future of the X-Men franchise is in good hands.
After the success of Fox’s X-Men universe, Marvel Studios decided to begin a franchise of their own with Iron Man (2008), led by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), a playboy and egotistical genius. Since Iron Man, Marvel has added more and more new heroes and villains, but the villains have become dull and the action feels repetitive. Marvel just doesn’t seem to have the same flair as X-Men and Deadpool. The Avengers seem more like co-workers, while the X-Men seem more like family. I don’t dislike the movies—I go watch them because I like superheroes—but if it is The Avengers or X-Men, I’m team X-Men. Regardless, each of Marvel’s movies continue to score big at the box office, so you can’t deny that their films are the most popular and profitable.
The situation at Warner Bros. is complicated. They have superhero films, but they can’t seem to find a lead actor that can lead a series. Right now there are three main actors that are spearheading the studio’s franchises, Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), and Henry Cavill (Superman). The big film that started this universe is Batman vs. Superman because it introduced Batman to this version of the universe for the first time. Batman is my favorite in the DC universe. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was easily the best film franchise of all time. If there was an Oscar for the best trilogy of all time, the Dark Knight trilogy would win in a landslide. But now that Christopher Nolan has been replaced by Zack Snyder and Christian Bale has been replaced by Ben Affleck, their portrayal of Batman is entirely different. Zack Snyder’s DC movies aren't bad, but they seem like garbage next to Christopher Nolan, However, we as fans all have high hopes for the arrival of the Justice League franchise.
Now each studio is on an upward path, and the future's looking bright. This is the golden age of superhero movies, and we should all rejoice in its light.