Mark Millar’s connections to both Marvel and DC properties dates back to the 90s when he was under the wing of Grant Morrison and got his hands on titles like Swamp Thing and JLA. He then channeled these characters in his own style with his run on The Authority with Frank Quitely before getting a shot at Marvel with The Ultimates, Wolverine, Fantastic Four, and more. He has been highly influential on the current run of Marvel Cinematic Universe films through his work, but outside of that, he seems to have a handle on why those films are more successful than what we’re seeing from DC.
While chatting with Yahoo about his newest version of Kick-Ass, Millar is asked why he thinks the Marvel films are standing apart from the DC films, and he gives an answer that could be hard to swallow for some. But it makes sense. As he explains, those DC Comics characters lack the “cinematic” quality that we’re seeing from Marvel:
I think it’s really simple the characters aren’t cinematic and I say this as a massive DC fan who much prefers their characters to Marvel’s. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are some of my favourites but I think these characters, with the exception of Batman, they aren’t based around their secret identity they are based around their superpower. 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 colour 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.
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.
There is plenty of weight to what he’s saying, particularly with the track record for Batman compared to the other films from Warner Bros. over the years. He also seems to be right about Superman, though there are arguments to be made for Man Of Steel despite the criticism it received. It is what has followed that has squandered whatever we could have had with the newest version of Clark Kent.
Then again, the DCEU is just now trying to find its legs and has still found plenty of success with fans. So while it might not be on a Marvel level right now, those films have ten years on the current DCEU. The success of Wonder Woman and plans for the future might be a change for the better.