The Daily Gamecock

Column: The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s rivals failed because they were rushed

Godzilla battles Kong in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action-adventure “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
Godzilla battles Kong in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action-adventure “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) stands as the highest-grossing film series of all time, and while many studios have attempted to compete with it, the competition failed because of one reason: It was rushed. 

Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse, Warner Brothers’ DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and Universal’s Dark Universe are examples of cinematic universes that attempt to compete with MCU. 

Of those competitors, the Monsterverse released its most recent film, "Godzilla vs. Kong" (2021) on March 25. "Godzilla vs. Kong" may be the last film in the series

Meanwhile, the DCEU is largely over, with Warner Brothers preferring to move to more self-contained projects such as "Joker" (2019) and "The Batman" (2022). Several key actors, such as Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck, are reportedly gone from future projects.

And Universal’s Dark Universe, which planned to bring its legendary classic movie monsters such as the Wolf Man or Dracula to modern times, flopped after the release of "The Mummy" (2017).

And this is honestly disheartening to those that love these characters. On paper, cinematic universes with DC’s superheroes or Universal’s classic monsters should have been successes that rivaled Marvel’s. But they both failed. And oddly, it’s because they didn’t understand the lessons of the MCU.

The MCU began with "Iron Man" (2008). The key lesson of it was that it could stand on its own as a good movie. One could watch "Iron Man" and have a good time without even knowing what the Avengers is or who the likes of Thor or Captain America are.

After that, the MCU took its time to establish its setting and other key characters such as "Thor" (2011) and "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011). Because of this, we got to know who these characters are and what the world was like before the big crossover.

Then "The Avengers" premiered in 2012. It didn’t have to waste time establishing who everyone was. It trusted that its audience had seen those previous films and didn’t waste time getting to what they wanted to see: The team interacting together.

Comparing with the DCEU, which should have been as big a deal as the MCU, "Man of Steel" began it in 2013. While the film was a mixed bag in terms of reception, it was still a solid foundation for a universe.

Then "Batman v Superman" (2016) came out. What should have been a story about the title alone was far more than that. The writers crammed so many plotlines and future setups into this movie to the point it felt bloated.

Instead of just Batman vs Superman, audiences were forced to endure the introduction of Wonder Woman, elements of other storylines from the comics such as "The Dark Knight Returns" and "The Death of Superman," and worst of all, set up for a Justice League movie.

The DCEU was only two movies in before it had started production on its big team-up film. And when that movie actually came out, it was only be the fourth movie of the series, with the only release between this and "Batman vs Superman" being "Wonder Woman" (2017). The MCU meanwhile had made five movies before "The Avengers."

And because of that lack of setup, "Justice League" suffered immensely. Its box office was a disappointment. And while the Zack Snyder Cut was better, both suffer from having to spend so much time introducing who the new heroes are and what the world is like. All of that could have been erased if these heroes had movies beforehand.

The weirdest thing is that the DC movies after "Justice League" have been great. "Aquaman" (2018) and "Shazam!" (2019) were both fun and entertaining comic book movies. But the damage has been done.

Unless the campaigns of #RestoretheSnyderverse succeed, it would appear the DCEU is dead, and the MCU remains unchallenged. And that honestly is a shame. Fans don’t want the MCU to become complacent, and I feel having a competitor would challenge that.

Maybe one day, one studio might learn this lesson and make a universe that can compete with the MCU. But until then, all we can do is wait.