Yesterday, Marvel finally unveiled what the entire world has been waiting for. After it initially leaked at their D23 Expo this summer, the Avengers Infinity War trailer finally debuted. From the onset, the trailer sets the tone for will be the most epic clash in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet. Meanwhile, DC is still reeling from what could be considered another miss with their Justice League movie. While both comic giants and their movie counterparts continue to dominate at the box office, there is a critical difference between them. Marvel has the distinct advantage of a longer, more consistent story arc. One that DC would be wise to start emulating.
As I sat and watched that trailer, I couldn’t help but feel an enormous wave of emotion rush over me. On one hand, I was overly thrilled about how cool it is to see all my favorite superheroes joining forces. On the other, I felt overwhelmingly sad about how the Infinity War trailer rocked the socks off the abomination that was the Justice League movie. Watching Thanos bully everyone from Thor to Vision was infinitely (see what I did there?) more entertaining than anything from the Justice League trailer. It actually left me wondering, can DC come back from this?
I have been accused of being biased (maybe a little), so I went back and watched the very first Avengers trailer. More of the same. Even that trailer did a better job of setting up the impending conflict with Loki than what JL did. We knew something major was coming after each Marvel movie, but not so much after Batman V Superman. Marvel left their audiences 10 years of breadcrumbs, while DC left theirs with nary even a morsel. We knew Loki would tangle with the Avengers, because he’d been established as the threat in the first Thor film. Steppenwolf quite literally came out of nowhere, with no back story, and no other motive outside of being generally bad. It took Marvel five films to build a narrative strong enough to introduce the Avengers, while DC trimmed theirs down to three (No, I don’t count Suicide Squad and you shouldn’t either). By the time the official Avengers film premiered, we had been battered with easter eggs and connecting characters all set within the same universe pushing the narrative forward. DC just kind of pushed everything together with little to no development, seemingly relying on the popularity of their characters instead of the strength of their writing.
The problem with that line of thinking, is the issue of translating a great comic book character into a great film franchise. Superman is a great comic character, but historically, his films haven’t done well since the Christopher Reeves days. Batman flourished under Michael Keaton and Tim Burton, but went way downhill until Nolan and Bale revived it. DC’s characters have always been a bit up and down, so it felt really impractical to see them rush through character development so haphazardly. Especially considering their biggest rival already set the tempo and tone to follow. Marvel dictated the pace of the market, all DC had to do was follow suit.
Now, DC is faced with dealing with what will no doubt be another record-breaking film under Marvel’s belt with Infinity War. The internet is already devouring the trailer (it sits at 53M views at writing), and with Black Panther still looming ahead of Infinity War, Marvel will once again jump ahead, and the Justice League team up will be a sudden afterthought.