Can Two Superhero Shared Universes Exist?

  • Superhero
Avengers: Infinity War is set for 2018. Marvel

Another extensive shake-up is reported to take place over at Warner Bros. in the wake of Justice League’s critical and commercial blunder. Ben Affleck is almost certainly going to hang up the cape and cowl after the slated Flashpoint film (assuming it still happens). I’ll also wager Man Of Steel 2 doesn’t happen for a while, and when it does, it won’t really resemble a sequel to anything we saw in 2013’s Man Of Steel. Joss Whedon probably won't direct Batgirl and a couple more Wonder Woman vehicles will probably go into production sooner rather than later. Godspeed to DC, but I’ve already relinquished all hope that the studio will get this thing on track. 

Meanwhile, as a decade worth of planning and world building comes to fruition in next year’s Infinity War, I can’t help but wonder if the MCU inspired a new filmmaking model or destroyed one. I understand and believe the too often recited dictum regarding how neither company, though rivals of sorts, doesn't want the other one not to do well. Good superhero movies are endorsements for more superhero movies, irrespective of the licensing company. However, as the only successful instance of a shared universe gets larger and more comprehensive, can there actually be room for another? Assuming Warner Bros. could correct every casting and narrative wrong that kept them from resonating with fans hitherto, how much space can we allow in our craniums for this stuff? There is absolutely a limit to how much we're willing to invest. 

I’m of the opinion that, even if Wonder Woman wasn’t the only film in DC’s silver screen canon that made an impact, even if all of their films had hit their mark, there would be hints of a box-office obstruction in the larger picture. After 10 films from two competing superhero franchises, unless you're an uber nerd, you just pick a team and cut your losses. These things demand that you watch all of them to enjoy any of them, and you simply can’t see all of them, especially as they expand into eternity. 

I don’t mind that Marvel is the only worthwhile shared universe. I’ll give a perfunctory effort to keep up with the new Star Wars saga, but my brain can only imbibe so much of this stuff. Even DC’s one good film, Wonder Woman, was the subject of comparisons to MCU properties. I’m starting to believe there can only be one superhero universe, even if the quality of the films were evenly matched. Sorry DC, but Marvel beat you to the punch.

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