Marvel actor Anthony Mackie’s comments reveal the growing gap between the two comic giants
Anthony Mackie does not like Man of Steel? Let’s take a look. To begin with I ask that you all watch the clip from Collider below (bad language warning).
If you were unable to watch, the clip can be summarized by a few select quotes:
Interviewer: Marvel or DC?
Mackie: What’s the last good DC movie you saw?
Mackie: Exactly. So Marvel.
The interviewer then says that he loved Man of Steel and Mackie says, “You’re bananas”. While it’s hard to ask a cast member from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to come out in favor of the DCEU being superior, is Mackie a little too over zealous in calling Man of Steel fans bananas?
As a DC fan (and even a Superman fan), I secretly lament every new Marvel movie simply because they are better films than the Man of Steel, DC’s the only movie in DC’s Extended Universe.
Does it even matter that Anthony Mackie Doesn’t Like Man of Steel? I think he is absolutely right that the MCU is dominating the DCEU for a series of reasons, all based around the fact that:
Marvel is fun and DC is bleak and hopeless
Man of Steel is the quintessential example of the “gritty reboot.” Despite the term being mostly a mocking condemnation in the current cultural climate, DC seems to be clinging to this notion as what the people want. Batman V Superman is taking off right where Man of Steel left off by upping the “gritty” ante. The same could be said of the DCEU’s third installment Suicide Squad. As recent Empire magazine covers have shown Suicide Squad is poised to be the grittiest adaptation of anything ever.
This is all under the guise of gritty equaling profound. The DCEU has decided that movies can only be emotionally resonant if they are filled to the brim with gray motifs and hyper violence. It seems like Warner Brothers is focused on the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series of films, which took a notably more realistic approach to Batman’s universe (especially compared to the cartoonish Batman films of the 90’s).
But they seem to misunderstand that Nolan wasn’t successful because of his adherence to a dark aesthetic, but rather quality storytelling that happened to be decidedly gritty. There are numerous online comparisons of the two films’ color schemes so I’ll spare you too many examples, but it’s clear that The Dark Knight is a far more colorful film than Man of Steel.
Now what does Superman look like in the comics?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has flipped this script. From the first film of the MCU continuity, Iron Man, Marvel has focused their style and content on the basis of bright and colorful, fun films. Robert Downey Jr. made the Iron man films an action-packed laugh riot, Avengers was essentially an ensemble comedy, and Guardians of The Galaxy may have invented new colors just so it could be as vibrant as it was.
We, as an audience, have continued to consume Marvel movies like the cinema equivalent of junk food, which, for the most part, is exactly what they are – light, cheesy, delicious, and mostly unfilling. Then Captain America: Winter Soldier changed the game. The film was still every bit as fun and exciting, and vivid as we’ve come to expect from Marvel, but a new element was added to the mix. Winter Soldier tried to be about something heavier.
In the second Captain America film, Cap and his team (notably including Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon) are dealing with corruption in American and international political systems. The film is essentially a spy thriller, a notably gray and dismal genre and yet Captain America stands as a colorful beacon of hope and protection through out the film.
The movie takes Captain America’s precarious position as a military man and superhero and strikes up an internal conflict within his character. This Marvel popcorn movie quickly becomes an in-depth character study. But the film’s climax takes these themes a step farther. Rather than wallow in the dark misery of internal conflict, Captain America chooses to inspire the people around him and use hope and compassion to defeat the film’s villains.
Using hope and compassion to inspire? Bright colors and a fun story? This is all starting to sound very familiar. Maybe because:
The DCEU and MCU are the opposite of their comics counter parts.
Marvel Comics has long been the darker, pessimistic rival to DC’s cleaner, optimistic Superhero brand. In the Marvel comic universe it is a common theme that the entire non-superhuman world holds a hatred for the superhumans. In the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man universe this is taken as far as an all out war against the super-powered to the point that Ultimate Comics titles feature a US map updating readers on the war-time status on different portions of the country.
While DC also deals with world wars a great deal (usually revolving more around Extraterrestrial villains), there is a clear distinction between the publishers. In Marvel powers have almost always been treated as a burden (the quote “With great power comes great responsibility” comes to mind). This is usually for the sake of giving these characters an emotional weight. But in DC, the heroes are celebrated. Heroes with powers like Superman, The Flash, and Wonder Woman are treated like positive examples of humanity at it’s best, but are still allowed to have character flaws and deeply felt emotional weight.
This is still the case also in both publishers’ respective Television universes. Marvel is pushing the boundaries of dark and brooding with their Netflix line up including Daredevil and Jessica Jones, while DC has just unveiled the sparklingly positive Supergirl.
You can’t have Superman snap a guy’s neck in his ORIGIN STORY.
Anthony Mackie co-stars in the best superhero movie in the last several years so it’s only fair for him to criticize when the time comes. When compared to the Marvel canon, Man of Steel seems like a dim, gray ghost of what Superman and Superheroes are supposed to be. So as a die-hard, fight-you-to-the-death Superman (and all around DC comics) fan, it pains me to say I agree with Anthony Mackie, I do not like Man of Steel.
Much of this comes down to personal opinion, but it is my opinion that Anthony Mackie is exactly right to not like Man of Steel. The reason DC comics have always spoken to me more than Marvel is that I could read about characters facing real life emotional problems without also seeing…well this:
But when I go to the theatre it’s Marvel who gives me scenes with Captain America inspiring a building of regular people to risk their lives for the good of the world. And it’s DC giving me whatever the hell this was: