DC’s movie franchise has been chasing Marvel since Tony Stark set the stage for one of, if not THE, most successful movie franchises the world has seen. It’s not a secret DC hasn’t exactly been able to keep up, even though DC’s current run of comics might be better than what Marvel’s producing as a whole.
That’s because DC went about it all wrong. Instead of creating their own formula, they rushed a copy of Marvel’s by responding to the Avengers with a sad attempt at the Suicide Squad, and later the Justice League.
But DC had the upper hand when it all started, thanks to Christopher Nolan’s run with Batman. Bruce Wayne has always reached past the average comic book fan and DC didn’t run with him. When Nolan and Christian Bale left there was still so much to unload, between the bat family and his long list of powerhouse villains that rival all others in DC, and most of Marvel’s, too.
Let’s look at 4 reasons why the Batman Universe was DC’s correct response to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1. The Sons
Each Robin really deserves his own section.
Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne aren’t exactly all the same person, as much as they all have jet-black hair and rocked the red, yellow and green Robin get-up at one point.
Dick’s sarcastic and much more mature. Jason’s a rebel. Tim is probably the most brilliant of them all, and surely the best detective. And Damian . . . well, he’s just so angry, and he is Batman’s only actually son by blood in the bunch.
All of these characters present a different dynamic. And some, particularly Dick and Jason, have shown they can stand on their own – not only as fighters but as interesting characters. Once they’re introduced through Batman’s events that opens up the door to a Nightwing solo series – which DC is apparently working on – and Red Hood and the Outlaws. And much like Black Widow has done in the Captain America movies and Iron Man 2, Tim and Damian could float into the Nightwing and Red Hood series.
In addition to Batman integrating other DC heroes, his first two Robins could also introduce a few – Nightwing with the Teen Titans for example.
There are endless opportunities from this bunch alone.
2. The Villains
Batman’s fought his fair share of lunatics through the years. Obviously, the Joker, Bane, Two-Face, and Scarecrow, have been given a chance in the 21st century – so was Ra’s al Ghul, but c’mon.
There are so many more to pull from.
Harley Quinn and Deadshot were of course in Suicide Squad, but they haven’t really had their chance with Batman. If given the chance, both could do so much more.
Deathstroke started with Teen Titans, so there’s the Nightwing connection again. But Slade Wilson versus Batman is always an amazing battle of not only brawn but brains, as well. (Which is why Christopher Priest has them going toe-to-toe for six issues starting in April.)
Then there’s the crime boss Penguin, couple more loons in Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy (so long as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurmon don’t reprise their roles)
There’s also Hush and Lady Shiva, two amazing fighters. Mad Hatter is a loony as anyone. Clayface is another great option – again could be a connection with Red Hood if DC chose that route.
So many on this list could be paired off or even work solo against Batman and company to make an amazing movie.
3. The Gordons
Along with Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, Jim Gordon’s one of the staples in all the Nolan Batman movies. So it’s not so much him alone as it is Barbara and the father-daughter dynamic.
Much like the Robins, Batgirl offers another opportunity to present more characters within the universe. A Birds of Prey movie brings in Huntress – who’s had a thing with Nightwing – and Black Canary – who obviously can introduce Green Arrow.
More than anything, this can provide the female audience another strong character like Wonder Woman. While most probably didn’t realize how much of a hit Wonder Woman would be initially, it’s clear there’s room for other female heroes play a leading role.
And again, there’s the odd father-daughter dynamic Jim Gordon has sprung upon him and is forced to deal with; with the Joker taking away her legs being one of the toughest moments Jim’s dealt with.
4. Dysfunctional Family
As much as this group – including the extended Batfamily, which is a whole other reason to start with the Batman universe – can work in harmony together, they’re about the furthest thing from a functional family.
Alfred may love each Robin like a son, but Batman . . . let’s just leave it at affection isn’t really his thing. Which is why he’s had issues with pretty much everyone he’s ever worked with.
Nightwing was his most loyal Robin, and they’re almost always at odds now. Damian is more League of Assassins than he is Wayne. And there are already arcs written about Red Hood’s issues with Batman.
But that adds a level of relatability with this bunch. And relatability is something you find in almost every successful character in both film and writing.
Iron Man’s a man with all the money in the world but completely empty inside. Captain America wanted to help people more than anyone but was overlooked because he lacked the physical characteristics. Then, of course, there’s Batman, the regular guy who can do extraordinary things – someone people could actually dream to be – but still has family problems like everyone else.
This odd bunch was the only answer to Marvel’s fast rise. Too bad DC couldn’t see that.