The superhero subgenre can no longer be analyzed independently on television and film. Both media to disseminate content, when they have adapted stories of characters from DC The Marvel Over the years, they usually went on separate strings. But that began to change in 2019, with the end of the television event “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, which showed the meeting of the Flash from TV (Grant Gustin) and the one from the cinema (Ezra Miller).
This connection of fictional universes, of one alternate reality with another, was always part of everyday comics. As it is a cultural product limited only by the cost of the paper and the salary of the creators; it does not require the high investment of a series or the hundreds of millions of dollars required to produce a film of the genre. That is why this 2021 is so crucial.
Kings of the Hill: Marvel and Sony
I start with the elephant in the room: “Spiderman: No Way Home” is already the gold standard of crossovers, since it places not only villains from previous sagas in the same film, but also their protagonists. The appearance of the Spider-Men by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who fought side by side in support of the hero played by Tom Holland, is already the greatest moment of the year in terms of superheroes, perhaps even in cinema in general; for uniting three generations of a very successful franchise. Quite the opposite is the sequel to “Venom,” which made money despite being mediocre.
The success of Spiderman is the main responsibility of Sony Pictures producer Amy Pascal, although it is Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios who takes the credit on social networks. On the other hand, Feige is directly responsible for the sudden incorporation into the MCU’s “canon” of the characters. Matt Murdock Y Wilson Fisk, both played respectively by Charlie Cox and Vincent D’onofrio, who appeared on the Netflix series “Daredevil.” While such stories were promoted as part of the MCU, they received no direct mention in the movies, so their situation was, to say the least, ambiguous.
It is curious that this “officialization” of the characters occurs the same year that Marvel Studios launched its first television series. It all started with “WandaVision” in January 2021 for Disney +, a remarkable series about the personal consequences of grief, and also a love letter to sitcoms. Then came “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, “Loki”, “What If …?” And, as of this writing, the premiere of the final episode of “Hawkeye” is pending. Several of these series have uneven quality, but even so they have had moments of brilliance.
In the cinema Marvel Studios has had a similar performance. Regardless of the always high income for his films, the quality of them this year has been, in terms of script, below TV. “Black Widow” did not contribute much except to present the excellent performance of Florence Pugh; what’s more, the interesting thing happened outside of fiction, with the legal process that Scarlett Johansson brought against Disney (which has already been resolved). For its part, “Shang-Chi” was good and “Eternals” had a rather ambivalent reception.
DC finds its way
With a robust TV series production in volume, Warner Bros. (owner of DC) has had a not-so-successful year with superheroes in film. “The Suicide Squad” loved critics and fans, but failed at the box office; something that would have influenced it to be released on par in HBO Max and theaters, as well as its title being so similar to the 2016 film. Even so, it is among the best that James Gunn has directed, which is in a unique position: he has projects in mind for both Marvel, where he will direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (May 2023); and for DC, where he will launch the series “Peacemaker” starring John Cena (January 2022).
But DC doesn’t just think about its future, it also looks to the past. Hence, a new version of “Justice League” has been released exclusively for HBO Max, this time with new scenes and reissued by Zack Snyder, who had to leave the original project due to a personal tragedy and gave the job to Joss Whedon. The fans of the “visionary director” loved her and the criticism was not so severe in general lines (although this editor insists that it is bad).
DC does better with its television series. Beyond “The Flash”, which despite its ups and downs still has an audience, and “Legends of Tomorrow”, which is always a delight; has received good reviews for the second season of “Stargirl” and the third of “Doom Patrol.”
Not everything is DC and Marvel
Netflix tried to produce another successful superhero franchise after hitting the nail on the head with “The Umbrella Academy.” This series was “Jupiter’s Legacy”, canceled just a month after the premiere and that arose after acquiring Millarworld, company of the creator of comics Mark Millar, author of the successful film franchise “Kingsman”. But this failure did not mean that the projects with this creator ended, hence the launch of the anime series “Super Crooks”; that has received positive reviews, but of which there is no news if we talk about a second season.
However, Amazon Prime Video’s “Invincible” was an indisputable success. Based on the comic by Robert Kirkman, Corey Walker and Ryan Ottley; follows the story of teenage superhero Mark Grayson, who discovers that his father is a supervillain sent to Earth to conquer it. Unlike such common subversions of the genre as “The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix) and “The Boys” (Prime Video), “Invincible” exudes affection for the genre, as well as a voice cast well suited to the characters (all the opposite of “What If…?”); Although in animation it is not the most innovative, perhaps due to a stylistic decision, to approach the DC animated series in the 90s and early 2000s. It will have a second and third season.
The case of “Invincible” is different from other film and TV adaptations, since its creators retain the rights to the comic strip and, therefore, receive more money. As reported The Hollywood Reporter, the writers and cartoonists of DC and Marvel cede to the company the rights to the stories and characters they create and, far from being fairly compensated while the movies and series generate millions of dollars, they receive only money “to shut up” and don’t make a fussmore details in this article).
The most recent discussion about the fair payment to creators occurred with Disney + ‘s “Hawkeye”, a series that bases its visual aesthetics on the work of the Spanish cartoonist David Aja, co-author of the homonymous comic with the American writer Matt Fraction and for which generated the #PayDavidAja (“pay David Aja”) campaign on Twitter.
There are no signs that superhero comic creators are going to be better compensated in the future. Maybe that’s why screenwriter Dan Slott, whose ideas inspired movies like “Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse,” “Spiderman: No Way Home,” and the upcoming “She-Hulk” series for Disney +, takes it sportingly, even comically. :
Slott: “Dear Hollywood, I wrote the original ‘Spider-Verse’ comics, and the comics that the new ‘She-Hulk’ series says inspired it. We should have some Hollywood gatherings. I have ideas. Lots of ideas. Let me give you money. Call me.”
13 years after the premiere of “Iron Man” (Marvel) and “The Dark Knight” (DC), films that in their own way made the superhero genre what it is today, there are only signs that the trend will continue. Stan Lee knew it well: if it gives money, it works.
- You can see “Spiderman: No Way Home” only in theaters.
- The other series are available in streaming.
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Recap 2021: With “Spiderman: No Way Home”, Marvel and Sony reigned with superheroes. DC did what he could