The current state of the big comic book movie universes

Feature Simon Brew 6 Jun 2014 - 06:03

Marvel, DC, Spider-Man and X-Men are each having their own cinematic universes - but how are they all doing?

Star Wars is the latest. With two films confirmed, and the plan being for a movie every year from 2015 onwards, Lucasfilm is set to follow the Marvel model and build a sprawling cinematic universe. But then, in the land of comic book movies specifically, there are four competing cinematic universes already in place, each of which is having successes and the odd problem or two.

So let's have a look at the current state of them all, and their plans for the future...

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

2014 has seen the Marvel movie universe in rude health, and also a potential crack or two beginning to show around the edges. That said, there's little doubt that Marvel is the template that everyone else - including Star Wars - is aiming to replicate.

The studio is halfway through its two summer 2014 releases, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier garnering strong reviews, and box office that significantly improved on its predecessor. Furthermore, there's growing enthusiasm for James Gunn's upcoming Guardians Of The Galaxy, which starts its global roll-out at the end of next month.

Were it not for issues surrounding July 2015's proposed Ant-Man movie, Marvel would look pretty much bulletproof right about now. After all, Avengers: Age Of Ultron is already the blockbuster to beat next year, with Joss Whedon reassembling the bulk of the original's cast, with some tactical new additions.

Ant-Man, though, has highlighted a problem in the Marvel world. You probably know the story on this: that Edgar Wright had been developing the film for seven or eight years, that he'd penned the script with Joe Cornish, and that he'd assembled a cast that includes Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas.

However, mere weeks away from when production would presumably need to start, Wright walked away from the project. Furthermore, it's since been suggested that he departed Ant-Man because he was unhappy with a revised script that he neither ordered nor liked. Marvel, on the verge of making a passion project film with a very individual director, blinked.

It drew attention to the fact that it has some form for this. There have been murmurings that neither Kenneth Branagh nor Joe Johnston (Thor and Captain America's directors) wanted to come back for the respective sequels. Furthermore, on Thor: The Dark World, Marvel removed Patty Jenkins from the director's chair weeks after giving her the job. Her replacement, Alan Taylor, didn't seem to have too happy a time either, and he's gone off to make the new Terminator film, with no obvious sign of a return to the Marvel fold.

Now, directors and studios disagree and fall out all the time. What's surprising about the Ant-Man parting is how close to production Wright walked, having invested several years and no small amount of creative energy.

It's shone a light on Marvel's Kevin Feige, one of the few studio heads within Hollywood with the power to get nine-figure movies made with a minimum amount of obvious parent company interference.

Feige is no passive collaborator in Marvel's films, and inevitably, some have suggested that in the 'showrunner' role he seems to have adopted over the Marvel movie universe, he's not afraid to pull things back if he's not happy with them. On the flip side of that, this is the man who hired James Gunn, Shane Black, Scott Derrickson, the Russo brothers and Joss Whedon to direct huge movies. But still: will Marvel be the place where interesting directors are welcome in the future, provided they're not too individual in their approach?

The biggest threats

The Captain America and Thor movies are both expected to stop at three, so Marvel needs at least one of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Doctor Strange or Ant-Man to generate enough interest for a sequel. If it does that, then it can move onto phase four of its films with a continual mix of reliably performing sequels and new properties.

Further, it ideally needs to quell the perception that it's not the most director friendly place to work (although it should be said that the likes of the Russo brothers and Joss Whedon have been firm in their praise for Marvel and Kevin Feige).

So, in good health?

Notwithstanding the current Ant-Man saga, it's still in incredibly good health. Marvel Studios is perhaps the healthiest major movie studio on the planet at the moment, in fact, with a run of hits and sequels that have, without exception, outperformed their predecessors.

Confirmed future projects

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015), Ant-Man (2015), Captain America 3 (2016), Thor 3 (tbc), Doctor Strange (tbc), The Avengers 3 (2018).

Fox's Marvel Movie Universe

To give Fox credit, it's been quite clever about the way that it's continually reinvented the X-Men series of movies without ever having to reboot them. Of the seven movies to date, it's effectively painted over the continuity of two of them where it needs to (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and even when it's done something approaching a reboot with X-Men: First Class, it's then tied it all back to the start with this summer's X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

After learning key lessons from its pair of Wolverine spin-off movies, there's also a fresh appetite at Fox for more films outside the main X-Men line of features. A third Wolverine film, with Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold returning, is already confirmed. Gambit is getting a film to himself, with Channing Tatum taking the role. And it seems as though that long-mooted Deadpool feature, starring Ryan Reynolds, may be quietly gathering momentum.

Fox doesn't just have the Marvel movie rights to X-Men though; it  also has Fantastic Four. It's got its reboot in the works, with Chronicle director Josh Trank calling the shots, and it's already announced a sequel (which Trank is unlikely to direct, given that he's now contracted to do a Star Wars spin-off movie). Simon Kinberg and Mark Millar have both been appointed to consulting roles to oversee all of this.

Mind you, until recently, the X-Men series lived in the shadow of many of its comic book contemporaries at the box office. The top grossing X-Men film, until this summer at least, was X-Men: The Last Stand. Arguably the least liked of the series, Brett Ratner's sequel took $459m, and only now has a film in the series broken the $500m barrier.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past, an ambitious blending of the films before it, certainly has problems, but it's also got plenty to like. Crucially for Fox, it's heightened interest in the cinematic X-Men saga, which it intends to capitalise on with at least three more films.

Fantastic Four is a less sure beast, but enough time has passed since Rise Of The Silver Surfer to let it have another try. The film has already generated plenty of debate over its casting, but the involvement of Simon Kinberg - whose presence hardly hurt Days Of Future Past - is surely a helpful one.

There's plenty of room across Fantastic Four and particular X-Men to keep Fox filling this particular movie universe for some time to come. It just needs to make sure it builds on the momentum it's finally found.

The biggest threats

Plenty still hinges on the Fantastic Four reboot, due in cinemas next year. For Fox to put its plans fully into place, it would want the core X-Men and Fantastic Four movies both performing well at the box office.

In terms of X-Men, even though X-Men: Apocalypse has been confirmed for 2016, the involvement of Days Of Future Past director Bryan Singer is less clear. He's been cited in a legal matter that's likely to take up his immediate attention, and may leave Fox needing a new director for Apocalypse, a film that Singer had seemingly been keen to direct himself.

Also, at some point, Fox will need to find out whether Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is the glue that holds its X-Men films together. Jackman had talked about walking away from the role, but he seems re-enthused by it, and is set to make at least one more film, and probably more. Beyond that? Fox will want strength in depth where its X-Men films are concerned.

Perhaps the biggest concern is the faster turnaround between movies. The two year gap works in some distances, but not in others. Can the studio build in sufficient breathing room to correct things between films if it needs to? Without that, it risks repeating mistakes that many before it have made.

So, in good health?

Yes. The X-Men franchise is at the peak of its box office powers, and there's little reason why it can't keep growing if Fox continues to be bold with the films. Furthermore, rebooting Fantastic Four makes sense, and Josh Trank, on paper, is a fine choice. There's still a long way to go, but Fox has made significant strides in the last few years.

Confirmed future projects

Fantastic Four (2015), X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), Fantastic Four 2 (2017), The Wolverine 3 (2017), Gambit (tbc)

DC Movie Universe

Of all the movie universes in this piece, it seems bizarre that the DC one is the least mature. After all, it was Superman in the 1970s and Batman in the 1980s that effectively kickstarted the superhero movie genre in the first place. And yet, with two runs at the Batman franchise having run their course, and with Superman one film into a reboot cycle, Warner Bros' DC movie universe is still in its infancy.

The one film we've seen under the current generation - it seems remiss to include Christopher Nolan's firmly completed Dark Knight trilogy - is Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel. This didn't do badly at the box office, even though it split audiences. It most certainly rebooted the Superman character on the big screen, grossing just over $650m. Interestingly, it was the non-US take that held this one back a bit, and that's where Warner Bros will want to see real growth with its next projects.

As such, it's done two things. Firstly, it's gambled hard on Zack Snyder in the same way it gambled hard on Christopher Nolan. Appreciating that not even the most ardent Snyder supporter would call him a match for Nolan, it's hard not to respect Warner Bros backing a filmmaker so clearly. Even if he's a divisive choice.

The second thing is it's basically throwing everything at its next two DC universe movies. Instead of giving us another standalone Superman film - and who knows now when we'll get another one of those - the studio has Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice lined up for May 2016. As you probably know, this one will have at least Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in it, and more DC characters besides, in all likelihood.

This, then, is set to lead into 2018's Justice League film, where DC borrows The Avengers' approach and mashes in lots of superheroes into one film. It's effectively doing Marvel in reverse: whereas Marvel built individual film series for its characters and then brought them together, Warner Bros will start by bringing them all together, and then launching individual series off the back of the Justice League film.

It's a front-loaded strategy, and one that depends heavily on Zack Snyder winning people over with his next two DC films. If he doesn't do that, then Warner Bros may find itself back where it was with Green Lantern - a movie that took nine figures at the box office, but had very few people thirsting for more.

The biggest threats

The all or nothing approach that Warner Bros has taken is perhaps the biggest cloud on the horizon. If the gamble works, it will make up the many years of head start that Marvel has enjoyed. If it doesn't, it puts the DC universe even further behind, at a point where other movie universes - off the back of several previous films - are finding their feet.

Furthermore, there's the Snyder factor. We maintain that moments in Watchmen are outright brilliant, but there's no getting away from the division over his Superman film. There's genuine hostility from those who don't like Man Of Steel, and that's not a small number of people. That said, it sold lots of tickets, and earned Superman lots of fans as well.

To hand one man the keys to DC's two biggest characters, however, is a massive risk. And, in truth, how many would have chosen Zack Snyder as the man to reboot Batman? It's a tough challenge he faces. But you can't accuse him, or Warner Bros, of shirking it.

So, in good health?

Hard to tell. There's a lot of interest in the DC movie universe, and you only have to check out the internet meltdown that follows anything to do with Ben Affleck's casting as Batman for proof of that. In fact, there's arguably as much interest in DC movies as there is in Marvel, certainly where Batman and Superman are concerned.

Man Of Steel, on paper, was a successful reboot too, although far from a perfect one. But it worked a lot better than Warner Bros' expensive attempt to get Green Lantern moving. So, at the very least, the potential is in place for the DC movie universe, and with a reported 11 films in development (although only five have effectively been confirmed), Warner Bros is heavily pushing this particular movie universe.

Confirmed future projects

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016), Justice League (2018), Sandman (tbc), Fables (tbc), Justice League Dark (tbc)

Spider-Man Movie Universe

Considering that The Amazing Spider-Man took $750m at the global box office, and that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 stands at $690m and counting, you could be forgiven for thinking that Sony is attracting no end of criticisms in spite of its movies being successful. Especially in the light of Fox celebrating X-Men: Days Of Future Past being the first in that series to pass $500m, it seems odd to bash Sony when its Spider-Man films have effortlessly passed that number each time.

What's more, Sony has ambitious plans, and has been recruiting successful filmmakers to help fuel them. At least one more Amazing Spider-Man movie is on the cards, and it's also recruited Alex Kurtzman to write and direct the Venom spin-off, and Cabin In The Woods' Drew Goddard to perform a similar job on Sinister Six. If all goes to plan, Sony will be releasing a Spider-Man universe film every year.

But all isn't going to plan. Irrespective of your views of the Spider-Man films, the harsh numbers tell that Sony is still being punished for its decision to reboot the series back in 2012. It could have had Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 4 ready for the summer of 2011, but instead went back to basics with a new team, and the box office has fallen off since. It's not that there's no interest in the Marc Webb/Andrew Garfield reboot. It's just that there's less enthusiasm than there was in the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire run of films. The lowest grossing of Raimi's Spider-Man films, without any 3D revenue bump, was Spider-Man 2, which grossed $783m worldwide.

Yet look deeper into the numbers, and Sony is getting half the battle right. The non-US grosses for the two Amazing Spider-Man films have been $495m and $497m respectively, with the second still bringing in money. Sony is seeing growth there. Spider-Man 3 was the peak of the series' international box office to date, but the trend just about remains upwards.

Where it's gone wrong, commercially, is that Spider-Man has lost its footing on home soil, but then this is a problem Sony has faced since the first movie. Whilst the non-US gross has increased, every Spider-Man film since the first has taken less money at the US box office. That's where Sony has its shortfall. It needs to win back America.

There's a broader problem too, in that the last two films have been less well received that Sam Raimi's first two movies. Sony would also have wanted the Marvel trend to kick in, and for the second film to make substantially more than the first. That's not happened though. But a $700m global take is still comfortably enough to springboard a few more movies.

The biggest threats

That Sony isn't winning over fans with what it's doing. And in particular, it's not winning over American fans. The US audience for Spider-Man movies is less than half what it was when the first film was released, and - crucially - there's little sign of that decline being arrested. Appreciating that major comic book movies need to be aimed at a broader audience than the core fans, there's still a lot of value in keeping the fanbase onside.

Andrew Garfield has also suggested - although crucially not confirmed - that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 is likely to be his last turn as the webslinger. That leaves Sony with a huge headache if true. It needs core Spider-Man films to keep this movie universe going, in the way that Fox has effectively built its X-Men universe around Wolverine. With Garfield gone, would the studio have to reboot again? Could it even get away with rebooting again? That's a question that it may just have two years to come up with an answer to - and the health of the planned spin-offs may just depend on it.

One more big challenge: its most intriguing spin-off movie, The Sinister Six, will be a big Hollywood blockbuster with, presumably, villains as protagonists. That's a huge gamble. We'd wager that Sony had an office trip out to see Maleficent, to see just how Disney managed to make that work.

So, in good health?

Stable, but with no dramatic signs of growth.

Confirmed future projects

The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (2016), Venom (tbc), The Sinister Six (tbc).

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You made a mistake there. Should be "Ant-Man (TBA)".

The current state of my interest in big comic book movie universes:

X-Men : Suddenly reignited by the excellent X-Men DOFP.
MCU : Waning a little after recent phase 2 movies but excited for Age of Ultron.
Spider-Man : Completely uninterested after ASM2.
Snyder : Pfftt.

If someone gives Zack Snyder a Justice League graphic novel to copy panel for panel then he'll make a great Justice League film, I loved both 300 and Watchmen, where he falls down is not having that source material to rely on hence both Sucker Punch and Man Of Steel sucked

... so now are we comparing STAR WARS to Marvel? Marvel didn't create the "film or shared universe" thing. Supergirl was a spin-off of Richard Donner's Superman. Star Trek has seen many spin-offs from the original series. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Elektra, the multiple NCIS and CSI, Angel, The Cleveland Show, Frasier, The Scorpion King... shall I go on? Star Wars has had this little thing known as Expanded Universe almost since it was created with the story taking place in the past in the future with both known and new characters. Warner had been planning a Justice League and a Batman/Superman films well before Marvel Studios even existed so it's not something new for them. I know most people are in love Marvel Studios, but they are not the creators of everything. All they did was reverse engineer multiple character spin-offs into one film for the first time.

I dont get why everyone hates on Man of Steel. Especially that superman destroyed many buildings, properties and the "neck thing" (to be spoiler free). What is wrong with that? Look at other super-hero movies where good wins over bad ones but they wont hur them much (or impossible to kill some of them). I really enjoy Man of Steel to turn off from such "happy endings" like other movies do.

I can't talk for other people. but I personally hated Man of Steel because it lacks substance. It was visually stunning but the script was flawed and the characters were bland, no matter how beautiful a film looks, you need a solid script and/or interesting characters to make it work. Snyder is a great visual director, but that's it, there is no depth in what he does.

The finale was excellent. It's the superhero fight I've been waiting to see.

I'm worried you could be right. Maybe they should win everyone over with a female or non-white led film

Eh... I'm more worried I'm wrong. :P

When/where is 'The Wolverine 3' going to be set?

Probably should have mentioned the TV and Netflix Shows for the MCU section.

I don't understand either. This movie was truely epic. My favourite Superman movie yet !

Agree. There was also article on some movie review site (i will try to find and post link here) were they reviewed super-hero movies and its villains that they dont hurt or even killed off. That article was published before Main of Steel. And when Man of Steel shows other approach, some folks hates this. I DONT GET IT.

The first 3 I totally agree but Snyder well even though I thought Man of Steel was mediocre I can't quite give him a Pffft because I loved Watchmen

ANY other comic book hero is allowed to get away with this stuff. Just not supes! He is the pinnacle of goodness. He basically would never kill anyone, ever unless it was 100% necessary. The neck thing was completely avoidable. He could have taken the fight into space? / reduced the collateral damage? 1000s died in metropolis, there was acres of skyscrapers lying in ruins. It didn't have to go down that way and in comics wouldn't have, that is just the tip of the iceberg as to what is wrong with Man of Steel. I had really high hopes, it was just darker than the character should ever have been. Just didn't fit.

By and large I really enjoyed it - there was just something about the end fight that had me checking my watch for whatever reason. Seemed to be a lot of generic 'BOOM SMASH CRASH' between two CGI characters, and not much else.

You sound angry.

The thing that has appealed most to me about the Marvel Universe is the diversity it shows. Am looking forward to Guardians. Now, I appreciate that other studios are restricted by rights etc but Im a bit bored by their whole approach.
I loved Nolans Batman but was pleased when the trilogy ended. Incredibly disappointed by Green Lantern (my favourite comic book character along with Doctor Strange). I enjoyed Man of Steel but wasnt excited. Nor am I that excited by the thought of the B&S team up (for me its just too soon after Nolans trilogy). I know Im probably in a minority of one but there you go.
I wish DC had done individual movies of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg etc prior to any team ups to try and freshen up their universe.
Although I liked DoFP I wasnt excited by it (but can see and appreciate why people loved it) and I again think its because its all too familiar, too soon. As for Spidey. Oh dear. To reboot a series so soon reeks of desperation to me and thats how I felt.
I dont know, maybe Im just getting old but I feel Im getting bored with all these comic book movies despite having been a massive fan.

Why oh why do studios always seem re-booting as the only choice. Thake the best of the comics and inject new avenues. One could be that Peter Parker is the only blood group to save another kid and in doing so births a new Spiderman that he can train-up in preparations for leaving and following his path in life. There are so many ways one could write in a new actor to take the role of Spiderman. Open minds!

oops - Thake = take

You don't want an Ant-Man film?

Money? It's a lot easier to sell a Spider-man film if it's got Spider-man in it. The new Spider-man film had a disappointing domestic opening (compared to Raimi trilogy and recent competition). I'm pretty sure box office would be even lower if you were trying to sell a Spider-man film without Peter Parker.
I agree it's not the only choice. But it's the best business choice. Look at ANY other film franchise. You could have another spy when you need to change actor. But people want to see James Bond.

I do! I want it done right, though. And with principal photography to have started already (or very close to) and still no director in sight, I feel the only good cause of action would be to delay it to get it right.

And my fear is they won't.

Erm for me it's because Superman isn't "any other superhero". He's a 75 year old icon. He's why they are called superheroes. Just one or two small scenes where he's a bit concerned about civilian casualties (don't forget it's Superman who smashes up the gas station in Smallville-his hometown-by flying Zod into it). If they'd have had that concern I could maybe live with him killing someone in his first time in the suit.
Oh and letting Jonathan Kent die in front of him. Did not like. Especially since everyone in his school knows he's got super powers anyway.

Also why would you spend a fortune on the Spider-man rights and then turn him into a new different character?

Plus why would you spend a fortune on the Spider-man rights and then turn him into a new different character?

You don't get that not everyone has the exact same opinion as you? I enjoyed MOS as a movie but did not care for a lot of the decisions it made on Supes and his character. But I can understand why other people love it. It's a flawed film-there's some excellent stuff and some less good stuff so will always split opinion.

No-one is saying that Marvel were the first to create a shared universe. They are, however, the first to truly implement such a successful multi-franchise with such a high and consistent output of films. 2 films per year every year (as well as multiple TV shows) until the audience wanes. That's the business model that studios are looking to emulate.

Star Wars have confirmed to 1 movie per year for the next 6 years, as well as spin-off TV show(s). Fox is looking to pump out at least 1 X-Men/FF film per year. Sony are less confirmed for timings, but seem to be on track for 1 film every 1-2 years.

Prior to Marvel, unless it was a planned trilogy, studios would look at films on an individual basis. Stick it out there, hope it does well, then plan the next one if it does.

Great article... The Fox studios conundrum will be interesting to see how it plays out...Can they replace their leading men effectively? The Jack Ryan changes have only been so/so... (Baldwin to Harrison Ford yes... Ford to Pine via Affleck..errmm..) Can what Marvel did in comics with the 'Ultimate Universe' really apply to movies?? Can they continually reinvent the same characters again and again? I for one love the comic book movies... but should Movie execs. just keep on flogging a franchise? I think not... Cynically however I think they will...

It's interesting to see in the wake of the events of the Ant-Man change of directors, much has been made of previous directors (Branagh, Johnson, Patty Jenkins) but it may also lend some credence to the issues that Ed Norton reportedly had with The Incredible Hulk. Granted, Norton has form in the area but one has to wonder if it wasn't all one sided.

It's because of the final fight. Zack Snyder loves his big battle scenes, but he brought a similar feel to the 300 as he did to that final battle scene, a battle which raged on too long and was too eager to show us how much destruction and violence was going on. I loved everything else about Man of Steel, but not the battle scenes, because they were just...grim.

Man of Steel lacked humor, and killing off Jonathan Kent in such a stupid way left me fuming. Zack Snyder makes good movies, this being the exception.

Superman was also devoid of any personality.

the only thing I enjoyed was the new superman outfit, don't miss the red underpants..

"There's plenty of room across Fantastic Four and particular X-Men to keep Fox filling this particular movie universe for some time to come."

Here we go again, another person not keeping up with their news. They will be universes, not one. Fox have done a U-turn and scrapped all plans to have a shared universe between these properties.

He would still be Spider-man, just not Peter Parker. The rights are for Spiderman the hero, the costume, the ability etc.

You miss my point. Films make their money from the general public, not the fan boys. As far as the general public is concerned Peter Parker IS Spider-man. Anyone else is an imposter.

If I spent a lot of money buying the rights to Spider-man movies you better believe I'd be making Peter Parker ones.

I did like it, it was best before he got the suit

The common criticisms you mention are the sorts of superficial things most people are prepared to overlook - but only if they are captivated by the story and characters. I found the film cold and utterly charmless - the characters were completely one-dimensional. The script frequently tells instead of showing (sample dialogue "Lois, you are a pulitzer-prize winning journalist!") and the story (which incidentally was crammed full of plotholes and leaps of logic) did nothing to define the cast or show us who they are, instead relying on the assumption that we all know them already because they are Superman and Lois Lane.

The Donner films, though somewhat dated now and by no means perfect movies, understood that we have to like and sympathise with the characters we are watching. They played up the romance between the naive, idealistic Clark and the cynical Lois. They had a lot of heart - we would like Christopher Reeve's Clark Kent even if he WASN'T a superhero. Snyder's versions were blank canvasses completely lacking in warmth. The best bit of the film for me was right at the end when Lois says to Clark "Welcome to the Planet". It was a moment of welcome sweetness and human interaction in a turgid, grey, characterless mess of a film.

I was monumentally bored by the end, and was very close to walking out before it finished. Snyder is partial to excess - the first time we see Superman he is holding up a burning oil rig - where can you go from there? The Donner films teased his abilities out in a much more satisfying way and understood that a film needs to build towards something. By contrast, Man of Steel was all pointless noise, fury and unconvincing cgi body-doubles in place of genuine awe and wonder - which is what I, and many others, want from a Superman film.

I also disagree about the ending. I'm not a huge fan of the Superman, but as I understand the character, he shouldn't have to actually kill someone in order to realise that killing is wrong.

Too true. Spider-Man films without Peter Parker? No thanks.

Agreed. With all that's happened, it's difficult to see how that film will be any good if they still aim for the original release date (2015 I think?)

Sony could only get away with another Spidey reboot if they team up with Marvel Studios.
Another question with the DC universe is, are the TV shows Arrow, The Flash, Constantine, Gotham and more unlikely iZombie part of it. If so they are already a lot further than Marvel Studios. Arrow introduced the Batman training League of Assassins and Harly Quinn, which means The Joker is there, which means that Batman is there. There are also ongoing rumours that Nightwing will show up in season 3 and they stept off the no powers rule might indicate a connection. Gotham seems to be set in the 80's so it can be a DCU Batman prequel.

See? Lose Peter Parker and interest drops. And movie producers don't like gambling with their money (which is why we get so many remakes, sequels and big stars=safe bets)

As far as I'm aware Arrow and Flash share a universe.I'd imagine the new films and Gotham will be their own entities.

Good article. Everything explained. Nothing to add. I hope for the best in the Warner/DC department, as they are doing all in. I am not interested in Spider-Man any longer because the last two movies were abysmal. Marvel is always fun. Fox does a very good job, but they clearly have issues now and then. Sums it up, I guess.

Nothing is really new in Hollywood. Just look up what they did in the 30s with Frankenstein, Dracula, Tarzan and King Kong. Sequels, Remakes and Reboots all the way. Even Spin-Offs. Some are good, some are bad, some are ugly. Brilliant article, by the way.

Oh, I forgot all the spoofs. Now that is a film genre that isn't doing well. But they will come back as well. Perhaps some will turn out to be good...

I've enjoyed the new Spider-man films. I don't understand the hate for them, although I don't think that the Spider-man comics have a supporting cast strong enough to create an expanded universe like the MCU.

P.s. I really, really hate the term reboot.

Raimi SPider-Man movies are trash, it baffled at why people like them.

I have very little interest in DC's attempts to do a Marvel. With the exception of Batman (who is arguably my favorite comic character), none of the DC stable has ever outshone their Marvel equivalents in comics, cartoons or even in general concept for me. Although it is true that I also had no interest in Captain America or Thor before the films came out, nothing DC has pumped out so far shows any sign my mind will change on any of their characters any time soon.

As for Sony, they just need to stop with this crap. I never much liked the Sam Rami films (despite loving Spiderman thanks to the 90s cartoon), and the first Amazing Spider-Man was truly terrible (despite Garfield being a great choice for the role). What's most annoying to me is they only rebooted Spiderman to stop Marvel getting their hands back on him, and judging by everything else Marvel Studios has done, that's a *really* bad thing even if you ignore the tripe that they pumped out.

The Xmen franchise is a bit different. I'd ideally like Marvel to get that back too, but it might be overkill if the same studio has two inter-related multi-hero groups in the same universe. Add that to the fact that Fox's last two Xmen movies were my favorites to date (perhaps not as big a compliment as I'd have liked it to be, but at a time when Sony can't do anything right, Fox are finally beginning to win me over).

Yup. First one's boring, second one's retarded and the third one is flat out terrible.

Sadly though, the new ones are worse still.

But they are terrible. Neither film even manages to succeed at basic story telling...

And they *are* reboots, so I'm not sure how you can not use the word.

It was a film that needed to win me over on a character I have never much liked. It failed. Utterly.

In a world where Marvel can convince me I want more Captain America and Thor movies, DC making such a hash of it's second most bankable character is bizarre.

Personally I couldn't care less about the two issues you mentioned. My own issues stem from the fact I found the film unbearably dull, unengaging and, in parts, implausible (within it's own logic).

Not fun, not emotional and uninteresting, for me. I'd have been more than happy with Superman as a serial killer if it had achieved any if these!

All those utterly terrible spoof mashup movies have pretty much destroyed that genre for a generation...

It's the actual term for it that makes me annoyed. It is gimmicky, it implies a quick fix and I think it epitomises the culture we live in in which things are just being rehashing and regurgitated out to us. It's like the lazy film makers option, it doesn't work properly? Reboot it!

The new version of the amazing spiderman just came out too soon after the Raimi trilogy but I enjoyed both film series as I was a big fan of marvel comics growing up in the 80s and 90s, for me these latest films with Andrew Garfield in have captured the essence of Peter Parker and Spidey's personality a lot more accurately than the original depiction.

Neither of the two series' are masterpieces, but comic book films rarely are (despite the praise for the marvel films, they are fun blockbusters and not in my opinion to be viewed as art) so I don't really get the complaints about basic story telling, so many of the comic book movies out just seem to have mcguffin style plots that are very predictable but redeem themselves with spectacular special effects. I'm not complaining about that though, sometimes I like a cheeseburger and sometimes I want a filet mignon, for me TASM was a good, slightly different take on one of my favourite comic heroes; it got the tone right, had a decent cast (Ifans was miscast though I felt) and entertained me.

The problem for Sony is their universe is based off villains, not heroes. Without being able to involve Black Widow or Wolverine or the Fantastic Four or Avengers like in the comics all they've got is Spidey and his rogues gallery. I can't see them being able to create as big of a universe with that. And my personal opinion is that the movies aren't that great, not really offering much of value to those who enjoyed the first batch.

Yes, thats how I rate those flics (especially this latest SPIDEY flic. In my opinion, the WORST of any comic book-based film. Orci and Kurzman are dumpster divers posing as writers.) I enjoyed the new Superman, despite its flaws. Not sure how else to do a "gritty, realistic" version of such an outlandish character.

Well, it's up in the air at the moment.

"With Garfield gone, would the studio have to reboot again? Could it even get away with rebooting again? That's a question that it may just have two years to come up with an answer to - and the health of the planned spin-offs may just depend on it."

... time to switch to Ultimate and break out Miles Morales!!

I *really* hated TASM. I was exceptionally angry when I left the cinema after that one. Apart from Garfield (who is, in my opinion spot on for the role) there was no redeeming features for that film.

Whats so frustrating for me is, all that money that has been spent on 5 movies and counting, and they haven't come close to anything as good as a cartoon from the 90s...

This article was really light handed on the critism on Fox, especially when it comes to that F4 reboot. Sure fans would like to see another crack at it on film. Just not at Fox. Bad cast, low budget, "grounded" tone, this is clearly the weakest link of any CBM releasing in the foreseeable future despite Ant-Man's director issue. And anything you can say about Spider-Man's US Box Office you can say about X-men's whose second weekend drop was even larger than ASM2 despite that overrated RT score.

MOS was my favorite CBM of 2013, sadly most of these jokers were looking forward to a Smallville movie or something. Which doesn't mean squat since they'll all be watching this sequel day one anyway.

And who can blame them? As much as I loathe the whole Fox-men premise, this F4 reboot is dead on arrival.

When I watched spiderman 3 at the cinema I found myself apologetically looking at my girlfriend (who I had been excitedly building the film up to for weeks) as the film went on and on. The highlight of the film for me was when a young boy in the cinema ran to the screen during one of the melodramatic scenes between Peter and Mary Jane and just shouted "Shut up!!" At the screen. That was exceptionally angry. It totally made the film worthwhile.

I don't know how they can make a credible Spiderman film, the cartoons were great but they didn't have the baggage of having to explain his origins and please the critics, I'd love someone to just do a straight adaptation of some of Spider-mans better story lines like Kraven's last hunt or something dark and low key like Mcfarlanes run of 'Spider-Man' (I remember a really good morlock storyline).

Do we really need to have Spiderman's origins explained? I loved the cartoon, and had *no idea* what the origin story was.

It seems that every superhero movie franchise feels the need to give us the origins of every character, but why? That's not how most comics start, nor most cartoons. The Closest James Bond has come to an origin story came 50 years (and several actors) after they started making James Bond films. Didn;t seem to slow that series down any.

Alternatively, there's the approach Tim Burton's first Batman took, the origin stuff was a side story, which meant the film was allowed a proper story arc, most origin stories (in movies at least) seem not to come with any sort of obvious final act, so you end up with a dumb transformers style action piece which is normally completely at odds with the rest of the movie's tone (Marvel are *very* guilty of this, it's virtually my only complaint about their stuff).

While Iron Man III and Thor : Dark World were disappointing, Captain America: Winter Soldier was awesome. I predict that Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be for the MCU what The Empire Strikes Back was for the Star Wars universe - the best of the best!

You think Marvel is waning after Cap 2? Check the numbers bud

I found DOFP dull, but seem to be in the minority. And I can't for the life of me understand how they managed to raise more continuity problems, when the film seemed like a perfect excuse to fix them.

Man, it's so unfair they got _our_ comic book character, Green Lantern wrong. So many great comic book movies, and they stuff up our one. Condolences, my friend :-)

It was 100 percent necessary. Superman also killed Zod in the 80's film and in the comics.

Check my comment, bud. I said "my interest".

Well actually they haven't really confirmed anything, Kinberg has said nothing against them being in the same universe, but that there are no plans to unite them on screen.

Marvel is amazing (IMO).

X-Men is rising fast with DOFP. Another few successful movies will likely place it among Marvel.

I am predicting the fall of DC right now.
It's not because of the Justice League movie. It's because of Batman Vs. Superman.
Batman is basically the perfect enemy for Superman.That's pretty obvious. But for a movie franchise to be successful, they have to continually make better and better (or at least consistently good) movies. Who is Superman going to face after Batman? Who is Batman going to face after Superman? The outcome of the movie is one of the following:
1. Superman kills Batman. Then Superman has no one equal enough to his power for people to care. Also removes Batman fans from the picture.
2. Batman kills Superman. Same problem.
3. Superman and Batman team up. The worst possible outcome because they're like invincible.
4. Superman captures and takes Batman as a prisoner or vice versa. Unlikely, but one of the only ones that I can see leading to a sequel of anyone's interest. Also only creates one or two sequels.
5. The battle doesn't end and continues in a sequel. Yawn.
6. They get separated by another force and each sent elsewhere in the galaxy. Highly unlikely, and would probably lead to nothing for Superman and an origin story for Batman, because we totally need another origin story. Then leads to another battle. Again, yawn.
7. A greater force enters the picture forcing Batman and Superman to work together against their will.. Creates the problem of Batman + Superman = invincibility that comes with 3. Then again, the only one that could really make more than one or two non-origin sequel involving Batman and Superman as leads, as the two of them still being enemies could increase their vulnerability, creating the slightest (yet hardly there) feeling they won't make it.
8. Any ending of the above followed by reducing these two characters to cameos films based on other DC characters. One of the riskiest, considering Superman and Batman are the DC big-names and they would want to keep them going as leads as long as possible.
The only endings that might result in a successful universe are 7 or 8, as they are basically the only possible endings that results in multiple successful sequels and spin-offs. No one needs 4 + hours of Batman and Superman fighting or another origin story or one of them dying or them being invincible.

Spider-Man is a universe? Stick it in with another universe if you can or its only path is down.

Batman will revitalize DC.

I thought it was pretty good, but two things kept me thinking it was more average than great. One was the script. Cheesy, bubblegum lines like "I'm from Kansas, General. That's about as American as it gets" and a soldier giggling after Superman flies away, only to sheepishly admit "I think he's kinda hot" were wince-inducing. The second was the sheer length. Some of the fights were spectacular and I didn't mind the destruction so much, but they lasted for so, so long. And when you have a hell of a lot of separate fights throughout the film, that makes fights boring. Fights should never be boring.

Great article. I really like DOFP and it totally kickstarted my interest in X-Men. Nonetheless, I can't help but think where MCU would have tread differently if they had the movie rights. I love the idea of Wolverine teaming up with the Avengers.

Meanwhile poor Punisher gets nothing, NOTHING!!

very nice article. i was surprised that tasm2 made less than the first, i personally liked both very much

i hope dc knows what they are doing, but it does look weird

and if thor, cap and iron man finish with 3 films, marvel is gonna have to work hard to get solid new franchises

and i've never been more excited for x-men since dofp

good time to be a nerd

punisher would fit nicely as a netflix show, if the first marvel shows are any good

Man Of Steel was hit and miss for me. Lots to like (Visually stunning, great action, decent origins story, the costume) Lots to hate (Jonathon Kent's death - walking into a tornado, because a dog cannot die in a film...like ever, The neck snap, c'mon, Supes would never kill! OTT action at times, no humor) Even The Dark Knight and Batman Begins had some humor. Hopefully they expand on the neck snap in B V S.

I absolutely loved Man Of Steel.I thought it was easily the best Superman film ever made ( and thats coming from someone who grew up with the Reeve flicks ).The hate toward it in certain geek circles is truly bizarre.Superman killing Zod? He had to do it or Zod would not only have killed that group of people with his heat vision, he would have kept on killing and killing people the world over unless Superman stopped him.

As for the supposed lack of humour, its a serious movie.If you want silly slapstick comedy, go watch Avengers or any of the other MCU movies.I like the MCU films but im pretty tired of the rabid fanboys on here who seem to think that they are perfect.

And once again id like to remind the haters that Reeves Superman has killed in the movies.He crushes ( a depowered ) Zods hand and throws him to his death in Superman 2 ( with a big grin on his face! ), he STRANGLES his evil twin to death in Superman 3, and he kills Nuclear Man in Superman 4.

Zack Snyder rocks and i cant wait for BVS and Justice League.

People don't want a realistic and grimdark Superman movie where he kills even for the right reason even if it was done in the comics with no backlash.

Personally i felt like the last third of the movie was where it fell apart where the action became unrelenting and not mixing it up with anything interesting.

The only movie i really liked was his Dawn of the Dead or whatever.

What plotholes was in Man of Steel im curious?

I agree with this.

To be fair it's sometimes hard to keep track of all this stuff.

At least they finally brought his sense of humor to the movies instead of Emo Spidey.

He's had three chances at a hit movie.

And thats the problem. You say "People don't want', but there are 2 groups of people. One as you describe (dont want relastic MoS) and the others who really enjoyed MoS and like realistic!

That's probably the worst thing. Had Garfield been in the original trilogy, I'd have liked them a lot more than I do.

The most recent explanation from Kinberg:

"They are definitely different universes in that all of the X-Men films have never acknowledged a superhero team called The Fantastic Four who live in New York City, Fantastic Four has never lived in the X-Men world, the world we're creating - which is a much more grounded, realistic, more like Chronicle, much less than the original Fantastic Four movies - if there were mutants in that world they wouldn't be that fantastic. They would just be another four people with powers. So they are distinct worlds these movies take place in."

That comes from an interview with Digital Spy on the 19th of May. First they decided against a crossover movie, and have now gone one step further and separated them completely.

Agreed. Lois Lane was a non entity throughout the movie. The kiss was sudden and unsupported by ANY previous chemistry between the characters. It was there because Superman and Lois Lane have to kiss. No other reason.

I saw no hero in Man of Steel. No character development. No build up.

The article above says "its sold tickets" I was one of those tickets. One had to buy a ticket to see it. Now, knowing the product, I know what to expect from the next film. I will not be buying a ticket for BvS. And I think Affleck will prolly be just fine as Batman. I have no issue with that casting choice.

But Man of Steel did not leave me wanting more. It left me wanting less.

How about the fact that the Kents spent years telling Clark to keep his powers a secret and the second a reporter shows up on the doorstep, Martha invites her in and spills the beans?

Or the fact that Lois is calling in costume Superman "Clark" right in front of the cops at the Kent farm, but hey, whats a secret identity right?

Arrow and Flash are indeed in the same universe. Barry Allen has appeared on Arrow and Green Arrow is shown in the extended Flash trailer.

I agree with Sean as well. With Harley Quinn in there, that means theres a Joker out there as well and that means Batman.

I think DC should pursue the TV angle. That seems to be where they are strongest right now.

But with Daredevil coming out next year and the announcement of Vincent D'onofrio cast as Kingpin, I couldnt be more hopeful for that series.

A few points. Man of Steel is not a documentary. He HAS to kill Zod to save those people because a scriptwriter wrote that scene. They could have written a movie where he doesn't HAVE to kill anyone.
I like the Marvel movies. Even if you don't (which is a valid opinion) they do not fall under the definition of slapstick. Sure they're funny in places. But not slapstick.
By your reckoning Lois Lane also murders someone in Superman 2 (we see them drop, we don't see them die-could be a five foot drop and a plunge pool for all you know-it's obscured by dry ice). For me the grin on his face and Lex not crapping himself that his mortal enemy has started killing folk that cross him point to the fact they're not dying.
I saw the evil clone fight as metaphorical in Superman 3.
Nuclear Man was a weird clone and that film is an abomination anyway.
Also, I think MOS should be judged on it's own merits and faults without referencing the Reeves films all the time. MOS was decent but there was some odd choices made with Superman's character (destruction/neck snap/watch dad commit suicide by freak weather event). Now if none of that bothers you (which is fair enough) then I'm pleased for you because you've got one helluva of a Superman movie to enjoy. But for some of us, it was hit and miss.

Well yeah it just seems to be completely conflicting reports right now, I'm against them being united as all it would be is an attempt to cash in on the success of The Avengers, about the only real connection the two teams have is The Richards son Franklin being involved in the Days of Future Past comic arc but they've sort of missed out on that opportunity now.

You do realise these characters are based on comics right? Superman has been invincible for 75 years and they've found ways to challenge him. Bats and Supes have teamed up a lot and still faced big hurdles.
This is a really long needless post. We all know they're going to fight for a bit and then team up (point 3 which you dismiss quickly) which will lay the grounds for the Justice League movie.
The only big question is who do they make look like a chump? Either powerless Batman gets battered by a god or Batman depowers Supes and kicks the crap out of a farm boy that doesn't know how to fight (MOS proves that). They're too mismatched so someone is going to look silly.

Not being united works perfectly for those against the Fox reboot, no connection to the X-Men series limits their audience slightly and reduces any potential success (not that it is looking good for Fox, US box office will almost certainly go down purely because its a reboot, and the international audience could be distracted by Jurassic Park 4 at the time).

Not that it should be a concern for the fans anyway, the MCU will by that point be the highest grossing film series of all time (if we follow current predictions for Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers 2 won't even need to hit the billion mark to reach that target) and with rumours of a crossover with Sony's Amazing Spider-Man series, the MCU looks potentially unstoppable so Fox's opposition isn't going to pose much of a threat.

I walked out of the theater 2/3rds of the way through DOFP because it was a boring, pointless muddle of a movie with no heart and nothing to care about. It was just a series of special effects scenes strung together, completely lacking in drama.

Basically after an hour and half, my ass hurt from sitting in the seat, and the movie just wasn't compelling enough to keep me sitting there.

And they were all good.

Marvel just doesn't know what to do with such an ultra-violent vigilant character. he certainly can't be integrated inot any larger worlds like other heros.

I have given up on Spider-Man, X men I still need to see DOFP. No comment really until I see where they are going with it. MoS ummmmm.... I liked it but for me it suffered the same problem as Nolan's Batman Trilogy, no funny bone. The ending was long and tedious I really don't care who Superman kills or doesn't to be honest. The best part of the film for me was the beginning on Krypton. More imagination and verve in the first ten minutes than the rest of it put together. Marvel will be fine, there is all this about Edgar Wright which is a shame but as far I can tell Feige is the driving force behind all these films. It's why he has pee'd of so many directors who want to put their own stamp on things, he is the boss! It might not be everybodies cup of tea but look at films we have had due to his interference! He knows what he is doin and what he wants to achieve and by the looks of things he is succeeding. Long May it continue.

1. Yes. I have known this, and if I hadn't that the title of the article would have given it away.
2. However,I have not read the comic books. I did not ever realize that Batman and Superman team up, which is the reasons for the long post (sorry about that) and for dismissing #3 so quickly.
3. I never meant to suggest that Superman on his own was invincible (though he is pretty strong, I don't think he's invincible).
4. Your last point made a lot of sense to me and somehow I missed that. They need to have a satisfying battle for not too long and then team up, then with sequels use the villains in the comic books.

I would have responded sooner but I have been caught up with things.

I know loads of people disagree but I don't think Superman kills Zod in the Donner film. If he does, Supes kills Zod, one kills himself and Lois murders the female Kryptonian. All with smiles on their faces. And Lex doesn't seem to mind that his mortal enemy has turned into a psychopath. The drop is obscured by dry ice. Could be five feet and a crash mat for all we know. There's even a cut of the film where the police show up at the fortress and arrest them.
Not that it matters. MOS should be judged on its own strengths and weaknesses. Having Superman kill on his first day in the suit is an odd choice. Some people liked it, some didn't. I'm the latter.

In MOS Superman kills Zod because as you say they've written a scene with no other option. But that's a choice the film makers made. Snyder and his script writers obviously decided to make a film that ends with Supes snapping Zod's neck. I don't care if he's killed once or twice in 75 years of comics. I don't care if he did it in the 80's films. It doesn't change my opinion of MOS. I did not like that scene in MOS and would have preferred a different ending. So you said what would I suggest? Write ANY other scenario. That's the beauty of fiction (especially unrealistic stuff). Send them back to the Phantom Zone. Depower him. Use his superior solar energy stores to exhaust Zod and lock him up in a dark cell forever. I'm assuming Batman has a chance in this vs. film. Use whatever method Batman will.
I liked a lot about MOS. But it would have been nice to have a Superman vs Batman film with a Superman that is actually Super. Instead we have one that led Zod to Earth (No Superman, no Zod invasion), smashes up Smallville (Superman starts that smashing himself when they touched him mum), smashes up Metropolis with Zod, watches his Dad commit suicide by wind for no good reason (his entire school already knows he has powers) and kills the last member of his species with his hands.

I don't see why not he shows up in other comics besides his own all the time and has even been on some superhero teams for a limited time.
I think the Netflix universe (if its gonna be all tied in) would make a great fit for him to show up.

I didn't hate the movie personally i thought the last third of the movie could have used some editing tho.

The Neck thing didn't really bother me.

Ray Stevenson as The Punisher again should be good when he comes back to the screen again or on netflix.

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