Mark Millar Has an Interesting Theory About Why Marvel Movies Work and DC Movies Don't

Tony Stark and Doctor Strange in Infinity War; Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg in Justice League.
Tony Stark and Doctor Strange in Infinity War; Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg in Justice League.
Screenshot: Disney/Warner Bros,

Marvel vs. DC is a debate that keeps on giving. It’s been filtered through every medium imaginable and, in recent years, played out in grand fashion at the movies. However, while Marvel Studios has had a very impressive string of critical and commercial successes, DC Films has struggled to do the same.


How and why this is the case isn’t a question anyone can definitely answer. Hell, some people would disagree entirely, saying the DC movies are wonderful and Marvel movies are bad. But one person who knows both the comic book and film business, Mark Millar, has an idea. Millar has written for both companies and has penned some of their most memorable storylines ever. He’s also created characters that have been brought to life on the big screen. And in a recent interview, Yahoo asked why he thinks DC hasn’t been able to match Marvel’s success.

I think it’s really simple,” Millar said. “The [DC] characters aren’t cinematic.”

Strap in everyone.

And I say [that] as a massive DC fan who much prefers their characters to Marvel’s. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are some of my favorites but I think these characters, with the exception of Batman, they aren’t based around their secret identity. They are based around their super power. Whereas the Marvel characters tend to be based around the personality of Matt Murdock or Peter Parker or the individual X-Men, it’s all about the character. DC, outside of Batman, is not about the character. With Batman, you can understand him and you can worry about him but someone like Green Lantern, he has this ring that allows him to create 3D physical manifestations and green plasma with the thoughts in his head but he’s allergic to the color yellow! How do you make a movie with that? In 1952 that made perfect sense but now the audience have no idea what that’s all about.

Millar continued, very aware his comments could start some major shit.

People will slam me for this but I think the evidence is there. We’ve seen great directors, great writers and great actors, tonnes of money thrown at them, but these films aren’t working. I think they are all too far away from when they were created. Something feels a little old about them, kids look at these characters and they don’t feel that cool. Even Superman, I love Superman, but he belongs to an America that doesn’t exist anymore. He represents 20th Century America and I think he peaked then.


Millar’s thinking here is sound but, of course, not all encompassing. We saw a Wonder Woman movie work perfectly last year. Superman movies have worked in the past as well. DC characters can make great cinematic heroes. But it’s a fine line—and, now, another interesting argument to throw onto the debate.

The next DC movie coming to theaters will be Aquaman this December. It’ll be followed in April 2019 by Shazam, which is currently filming. Marvel currently has Black Panther in theaters, with Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp due later this year.


[Yahoo, via Playlist]

Entertainment Reporter. NYU Cinema Studies Alum. Formerly Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and /Film. AP Award-Winning Film Critic & CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.



DC: Quit making your characters assholes and they’ll be more cinematic.

Just in case you need a reminder of how it’s done.