George Chrysostomou on whether we could ever get to a Marvel vs DC movie…
It is often thought that a Marvel vs. DC film is a long shot, with very little probability of becoming made. Many point to studio executives and/or legal issues as the main reasons as to why there is no chance that this type of huge blockbuster could ever be made. There is however more to it than simply a legal battle. A number of different elements would have to line up in order to achieve a movie of this scale. Of course there is precedent within comics for a crossover like this, and some cinematic examples of character crossovers from one franchise to another.
This article will attempt to break down the elements that must be considered if there is to ever be a Marvel vs. DC movie. We know where we’re currently at with these cinematic landscapes, but how do we get from here, to a crossover of some of the most iconic comic book characters of all time?
Iconic Characters, Familiar Actors
For a Marvel vs. DC film to work first and foremost, the cast would have to be stellar. But it is a little more complicated than throwing some famous names into the mix and hoping that the chemistry works well and that the characters sell the fight. No. The actors chose must already be incredibly familiar to audiences as that character. For the film to become historic it must pit Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against the JLA at the height of their cinematic appearances. This may be problematic for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, as far as the MCU is concerned, the majority of the actors are synonymous with their characters. Whilst a case could be made for Spider-Man to be portrayed by Toby Maguire, for example, on the whole there would be very little issue with audiences accepting the like of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans in this fight. The wider Marvel universe may be a little more controversial. Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool for instance is a given but what about Professor Xavier? What version of Magneto would be chosen? Would Hugh Jackman come out of retirement for this or would Wolverine be recast? Are there any iconic versions of the Fantastic Four? These are some of the questions that would plague the wider cast.
DC is in a much worse state of affairs. With many now shunning the Batfleck, would Christian Bale take the role instead as the most iconic version of that character, or again do we recast? Some versions are obvious, with Wonder Woman of course being portrayed by Gal Gadot and Aquaman is probably self explanatory too. But what about The Flash? Audiences seem to be drawn more to the CW’s version of Barry Allen and since the DCEU does not have a Martian Manhunter, Supergirl and Green Arrow of their own, surely the world of TV could lend some of their talent?
This all further confuses timelines and the practicalities of having this many players from different studios is near impossible. Not to mention, how do you go about two characters being played by the same actor? J.K. Simmons, a phenomenal actor, is best known for his role as J. Jonah Jameson but also had a role as Commissioner Gordon in the DCEU. Choosing the role between these two options may be simple, with Simmons much more suited to the infamous Jameson, however who would then play Gordon? Putting the likes of Ben McKenzie in the role may not be suitable to audiences who are not aware of Gotham. Perhaps recasting the whole thing would be the most appropriate move, but would more than likely alienate audiences who have come to love previous iterations of the characters.
Studios Getting Along
Perhaps the biggest problem to face in all of this, is getting not only a cross-franchise deal made, but also a cross-studio deal. One the likes of which would never have been seen before. Of course, as I mentioned previously, there is a set precedent for this. The unparalleled deal struck between Sony and Marvel Studios in order to share Spider-Man was ground breaking at the time. FOX now being bought by Disney also simplifies proceedings. On the DC side, everything is owned by Warner Bros. In some ways, this could be a much easier negotiation than it was once before, with Warner Bros and Disney being the two main players in this. Of course, there’s been character crossovers in cinematic history before, with Alien vs. Predator and Freddy vs. Jason coming to mind, but never on this scale. If the negotiations involving the moustache can tell us anything, it’s that perhaps Warner Bros don’t know how to strike a deal at all, which might move us further away from the utlimate end goal.
What’s The Most Likely Outcome?
Honestly, the likelihood unfortunately of a Marvel vs DC film is very very slim indeed. What is more likely to happen is one of two things: an animated film pitting the sides against one another, perhaps using voice talent assembled from various versions of these iconic characters. Not only could this test the water of a deal of this kind, as well as being relatively inexpensive, but it would also allow for some confusion to be averted when including different versions of the characters. The other likely option and perhaps more fun would be a Marvel vs. DC game. With game crossovers becoming more common, this perhaps is the biggest possibility within the next five years. Maybe a fighting game akin to Marvel vs Capcom or Injustice, rather than a narrative-led title like Arkham?
Or, as it seems intent on monopolising all forms of entertainment, Disney will simply purchase Warner Bros., and then there’ll be nothing standing in the way…