Later this year, DC and Marvel’s biggest heroes go head-to-head as ideologies and viewpoints clash in visceral fashion. DC will debut their anticipated follow-up to Man of Steel with Batman v Superman, pitting the Dark Knight against Metropolis’ savior while Marvel launches their third grand phase with Captain America and Iron Man leading two factions of the Avengers against one another.
As is to be expected, the similar premises have already got fans of both sides hurling accusations of plagiarism and venom against one another. Amidst this hate-filled battleground, we at TopTenz have developed 10 logical reasons as to why we feel that, in the end, Captain America: Civil War will stand triumphant as the better comic book movie.
10. They’ve Been Building Up To It
Since that scene in the first Avengers where Captain America dared Tony Stark to put on the armor and go a few rounds, fans knew that this was the beginning of something serious. This came to fruition in the sequel, Age of Ultron, wherein we saw the two have a small-scale battle over the creation of the Vision, shortly before Thor’s interruption. With yet another major event to launch the government’s “Superhero Registration Act”, it can only stand to reason that third time’s the charm.
With Batman v Superman, the problem isn’t that there’s no build-up to the conflict seeing as how Snyder and co. are going with a “first encounter” type story. The issue is Batman and Superman’s conflict will be based off of preemptive fears over tactile information. In other words, Batman’s issue with Superman, as indicated by the trailers, has to do with paranoia concerning unchecked power, meaning that it will lack a gravitas to it that would be better served had the two characters interacted more beforehand.
9. We’ve Seen The Leaders Develop
It’s interesting to think that the private sector-loving Tony Stark and uber-patriot Steve Rogers from the first Iron Man and Captain America films, respectively, would end up taking opposing sides when it comes to government regulation, but that’s been the beauty of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With each leader boasting several solo outings showcasing the events that change their perspectives, it comes as no surprise to see their final stance in the upcoming movie.
In Batman v Superman, however, we have had no introduction to this universe’s interpretation of Batman, meaning that, to compensate, he will be thrown in as the representative of the xenophobic hate Superman receives rather than a completely fleshed-out character. While it is nice that we’re not getting yet another rendition of the Bruce Wayne origin story, the fact remains that we will have to glimpse into his past life as a crime-fighter while simultaneously showcasing Superman’s own reactions to the situations his presence creates.
8. It’s A War
Civil War is far from a simple grudge match between the MCU’s poster boys; it’s a battle that will encompass every hero featured on the big screen (sorry, Daredevil fans). From leaked promotional art, we’ve already got a feel about the scale this conflict will have, with supporting and main characters alike interacting, including War Machine, Vision, Falcon, and Ant-Man among numerous others.
While we don’t want Batman v Superman to be overcrowded, the struggle itself is depicted as being much more personal seeing as how Bruce Wayne was (retconned to have been) present during the final battle of Man of Steel. While The Dark Knight Returns is being used as a template for the film, Snyder seems to have missed the fact that the fight between Batman and Superman in that storyline was not the culmination of a rivalry but an attempt by the entire US government to suppress a rebellion. For a film that’s trying to set-up the Justice League, it seemingly lacks the kind of worldwide implications that a predecessor of that magnitude should carry.
7. It’s Not Balancing Several Different Stories
While Civil War is taking strong inspiration from the eponymous comic book event that ran for over a year, the movie will ultimately be telling one single story; how a registration act fractured the Avengers. It’s through this that the Russo Brothers will have an easier time telling a coherent story with a beginning, middle, and end that doesn’t leave any major plot threads hanging.
Director Zack Snyder, on the other hand, has the more difficult task of doing three different things with Batman v Superman. The first is resolving the xenophobic aftermath from Man of Steel wherein you now have two factions of people who either worship or hate Superman. The second is introducing this universe’s Batman and Wonder Woman. And of course, the last task is setting up the Justice League and, to a greater extent, the DC Extended Universe. We’re certainly not trying to dock on Snyder’s talents, but it seems the Russos have the simpler job, which will pay off in the end.
6. It’s Easier To Develop New Characters
Civil War will be introducing two new major characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first being Marvel mascot Spider-Man and the second fan favorite Black Panther. This may seem like a bad decision due to the wide cast of characters already in place, but given the fact that over 90% of the heroes fighting have already been introduced beforehand in at least one film, it makes it much easier for the writers to incorporate these new characters without coming off like a shoe-horned gimmick.
Reestablishing Batman following Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is one thing, but major supporting characters like Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor will have to be developed to a decent extent to prevent them from feeling like fan service. In addition to this, the superheroes Aquaman and Cyborg are confirmed to have minor roles in the movie, meaning that they will be present for more than just a cameo (and rumors have circulated that the Flash will make some sort of appearance, as well). Again, the problem isn’t Snyder so much as it is the scope of the film.
5. The Third Threat
If there’s one similarity that the plot synopses of Civil War and Batman v Superman have, it is that the two sides will ultimately resolve their conflict through the rise of a third threat. In Civil War, this obviously will revolve around Baron Zemo, portrayed by Daniel Brühl, who is a fresh face with connections to Rogers’ past. What this means is that the film does have a chance of living up to its title as a Captain America movie by bringing the events of The First Avenger full circle.
Through common sense interpretations of the movie’s marketing, it’s clear that the third threat in Batman v Superman involves Lex Luthor doing some sort of modification to General Zod’s body. The recent trailer (see above) for the film seems to confirm that the abomination created is, in fact, Doomsday. Unfortunately, shoehorning in a famous villain into an already overcrowded film will likely leave him lacking any personality or characterization. Aside from Superman perhaps having to relive the moral dread of being forced to kill again, this third threat will exist solely for the purpose of uniting the World’s Finest and setting up Lex Luthor as a future villain. In that regard, Civil War wins.
4. Love Interests
When it comes to superheroes duking it out, the idea of love interests playing a part can feel like filler to fans who just want to see a focus on the action and development of the conflict. Captain America: Civil War is wisely following that template with Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter) either mostly or wholly absent from the film’s cast (it’s unclear at this point whether either will make a small appearance).
On the other hand, Amy Adams will be reprising her role as Lois Lane in Batman v Superman, presumably to provide moral comfort for Kal-El in a world polarized by his presence. While we do appreciate good character development, it appears as though Lois has been reduced to the obligatory anchor a hero needs to maintain their humanity over the full-fledged, active character she was depicted as in Man of Steel. In addition to this, you also have the appearance of Wonder Woman who, judging by some early press junkets and clips from the film, appears to potentially be a love interest of Bruce Wayne’s…hardly what we want to see from the Amazon Princess.
3. The Source Material
As stated before, Batman v Superman will be taking partial inspiration from Frank Miller’s seminal The Dark Knight Returns while Civil War will be adapting Mark Millar’s 2006-2007 crossover event of the same name. While both will be taking liberties with the source material, there’s still a lot to gleam from this simple fact.
While The Dark Knight Returns was critically-acclaimed, it’s unfortunately burdened by the same problems plaguing another universally-beloved work Watchmen, which is that it’s ultimately too tied to the climate of the mid-80s, wherein you had generic superhero fatigue settling in the genre that caused these deconstructions to be widely accepted. Compare that to today where the superhero genre is very fertile, and you have a work that, like Zack Snyder’s 2009 Watchmen adaptation, feels out of place at this point in time. That, coupled with the Cold War setting, lends The Dark Knight Returns a period piece feel, however revered it may be.
Mark Millar’s Civil War storyline, however, is relatively recent and tackles many themes that have arguably become more relevant thanks to worldwide events like the Iraq War and Snowden leaks. Themes such as patriotism, national security, government authority, and liberty seem much more visceral than the suburbia corruption and 1984-esque fears that The Dark Knight Returns indulged in.
2. Marvel Has a Better Track Record
If there’s one external aspect worth touching on outside of the narratives of both films, it’s the track record. Marvel has established a winning formula among critics and fans (the overstuffed and, in retrospect, not that good Age of Ultron aside) that has guaranteed even their lesser-known properties a baseline gross of at least $300-$400 million.
DC and WB, on the other hand, have a more mixed back. While the Dark Knight trilogy and Watchmen opened up to positive reviews from audiences, films like Green Lantern and Superman Returns were derided while Man of Steel itself received mixed reviews. While pushing back Batman v Superman a year to avoid rushing is a good sign, it is justified in saying we are a little cautious for it compared to Civil War.
When it comes to superhero iconicity, there’s no question that the only Marvel hero that can equally stand among Superman and Batman is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. In a lot of ways, Spider-Man actually transcends even those two because, while Batman and Superman are representative of larger human ideals, Peter Parker is the grounded guy. The Average Joe everyone can relate to because of his constant balance of being a hero and having a social life.
By reaching this deal with Sony and incorporating him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney has opened up new doors to breath fresh air into future phases, starting with Civil War. By having a character that can really ground the drama amidst all the action between Cap and Iron Man, it really gives Civil War an edge over Batman v Superman.