Superheroes are (so) hot right now, and Hollywood has been leaning into the trend for years. But…how did that happen?
A new YouTube video, titled “DC vs. Marvel: Box Office Battle,” from Wired’s Data Attack series breaks down how influential Marvel and DC Comics have become, and why the studios keep churning out adaptations from their libraries.
Created using stop-motion animation, the video jumps right into the first, great superhero flick with Richard Donner’s “Superman” — a risky, expensive venture, especially when you consider the negative public perception of comic books in 1978. As the video notes, to the surprise of all involved, the movie was a massive success and heralded a new era of superhero movies for DC Comics.
Moving onto Marvel, the video looks at how the publisher struggled to find similar success with its adaptations, opting first to produce a film version of “Howard the Duck,” directed by Willard Huyck and produced by none other than George Lucas. The film was so bad it branded many of its stars with a Hollywood scarlet letter for years. One rumor even suggests that two Universal Studios executives could have come to blows over the negative publicity.
The video also contextualizes some of the fragmentation among the Marvel Comics-based films. It explains how, at one point, Marvel filed for bankruptcy, selling off film rights for several of its characters. Thus, we were left with “Fantastic Four” and “X-Men” film rights over at Fox, and until very recently, “Spider-Man,” Daredevil” and “Ghost Rider,” at Sony.
As for what’s coming next for the two comic book titans, the video makes some prognostications, but you’ll have to watch to find out.
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