Marvel’s Avengers Or DC’s Justice League?
It’s been a while since we’ve digressed from gaming and with all the next-gen console talk and pre-E3 anticipation, it seems as good a time as ever to just set gaming aside for a short while and talk about something else. Something like the comic book equivalent of the console wars, or the publisher wars, or the FPS wars or whatever else you can think of which involves a whole bunch of people on either side, angrily shouting their support of that side for XYZ reasons mostly involving Batman.
It’s time we talked about Marvel and DC’s greatest teams of superheroes, in one article.
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To start off, the idea for this article arose when I had someone over a few days ago who pointed out an acute “indifference” towards an Avengers poster that I had on my wall. I would show you guys the poster in question but I am unfortunately unable to find a picture of it now, and it’s since been taken off my wall. That’s right, this person’s “indifference” towards my Avengers poster was enough to warrant a change of poster. (That and their opinion matters that much, to me.) Actually it was more along the lines of, “Okay you don’t like it? Buy me a better one and I’ll happily replace it.” Apparently it didn’t fit in with the rest of my posters because it wasn’t cool enough, or something. Whatever it was, I scored a really cool Assassin’s Creed poster for my troubles and my Avengers poster is now rolled up and hidden away from view.
That long story aside, this “indifference” towards the Avengers is what got me to thinking. What exactly was it about the Avengers that I liked enough to get a poster for my wall? If you take the Avengers as they are, you know, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, they’re actually quite the jock squad. I certainly never enjoyed watching any of the animated movies about them and I don’t recall particularly enjoying any of the comics with them in it. And yet when the movie came out, I was one of the first to queue up to watch it. This was more because I had already watched all of the lead-in movies and as we all know, seeing a live-action adaptation of the Avengers was the life-fulfilment of every comic book nerd and geek in the world who dared to dream. It was the culmination of thirty to forty years of effort and strife. Suddenly those kids who were ostracised for liking comic books had a place in the world. Suddenly being a geek was a cool thing.
I’ll leave the conflict of all of that for another time. The point is that the live-action Avengers marked a key point in time for anyone who has ever dared to enjoy a comic.
Sure we had Sin City, Watchmen, Scott Pilgrim Versus The World, but nothing quite on the level of the Avengers before. Nothing quite so star-studded. Marvel is a powerhouse of comic books and so many of their heroes have seen blockbuster films. The X-Men, Spider-Man, The Hulk, the world particularly fancies Wolverine since he got his own movie a while ago, and this year will get another. But never anything on the level of the Avengers.
Truth be told, if not for this very reason, this final affirmation of geekiness in the world, this validation of years and years of investment into things others would frown upon, I probably wouldn’t have cared worth a single solitary fuck.
The truth is, the Avengers are squad of jocks. You get the big boys, Iron Man and Captain America, always vying for supremacy, then (my personal favourite) Thor making up the main three with his godly splendour and surprisingly good jawline, then the fillers form up around them, whether it’s the Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye as we saw in the live-action adaptation, or Black Panther, Ant Man, Scarlet Witch and more, from the comics. Apart from Scarlet Witch, who is a walking, talking, living, breathing deus ex machina, the rest of the women in the Avengers are not what you’d call strong female archetypes, are they? No, make no mistake, this group of individuals centres around the main three. Just look at their regular villains. Loki, whom I adore to bits, being a fan of the Thor series, was the villain of the first movie. It’s expected that Thanos will be the villain of the second, possibly along with Galactus, but the typical Avengers villains just borrow a lot from other comics. Dr Doom, for example, is a Fantastic Four villain who regularly tangos with the Avengers.
Why are they so highly rated if they cannot even boast that many original villains or interesting characters?
Then I thought about the Justice League. Specifically, the idea of them making an appearance in a full length feature film. Word on the street is, the hopes for that rest almost squarely, and quite unfairly, on Man of Steel, which releases in a few weeks. I say unfairly because, I mean come on, Superman is the biggest douche in all of comics. Douchier (totally a word) even, than Taskmaster. That is seriously douche. And the hopes for a Green Arrow movie, or a proper Green Lantern (confession: I enjoyed the one with Ryan Reynolds) movie rest entirely on the shoulders of a kryptonian? I’m not xenophobic or anything, but GTFO.
Thing is, I’d really like to see a Justice League movie. Now you might argue that they’re a jock squad on their own, but they are immediately differentiated by the fact that one of their main contingent is a strong female character, in Wonder Woman. Further, each hero is not so egotistical and self-centred as to presume themselves above everyone else — that’s a trait reserved only for Batman. Then you get arguably more interesting characters in the aforementioned Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman. You know, as much as everyone gives Aquaman a bad rap, the truth is that he’s one of the more hardcore heroes in the DC universe and his talents are severely underrated. If you’d like proof of that, look out for a poem I will be writing in a few weeks. That’s all I’m saying…
The Justice League is not that much better than the Avengers in terms of storylines, but where they differ is that every hero is actually interesting, where you actually want to know what’s going on in Oliver Queen’s life, or with Hal Jordan or whomever else, where, in the Avengers you mostly just wanted Tony Stark and Thor to get as much screentime as possible, obstinately watching through the Hulk and Captain America segments and awkwardly bearing the torture that was anything that had to do with Black Widow and Hawkeye. No, in the Justice League, you have Superman and Batman having dialogues about the current situation and each other’s lives, you have Wonder Woman talking to Aquaman about the things going on back in the Amazon, and you have random sidekicks sometimes coming along for the ride.
Did you ever see War Machine join the Avengers?
Looking at their villains, with the exception of that atrociously badly written Doomsday, they have the likes of Darkseid, Lex Luthor, Sinestro and more. Sure some villains are shared, but some are unique to the Justice League and can at times present far more interesting obstacles. The Blackest Night comics, for example, provided some of the most interesting and downright shocking storylines of any comic involving superheroes.
I’m going to stop here because I think I’ve explained all I needed to. At the end of the day, I don’t particularly favour either super-squad. My tastes are a little more refined, where I favour reading about Deadpool, Gambit or Batman comics with The Riddler in them. I’m not particularly fond of Batman himself, but some of his villains are just awesome. With all of that said, here’s hoping we do get to see a Justice League movie. If only so that the geeks can truly take over, and I might finally get to see a live-action Green Arrow movie. (I’ve dreamed of that day.)
In the meantime, how about you tell us where your allegiance lies, and why, in the comments? Also, tell me if you agree with my reasoning for removing my Avengers poster. In the end, it makes good sense, since I don’t really like them that much; more what they signify, and that’s liberation for geeks across the world. Geeks such as myself who enjoy comics and aren’t afraid to say so.
Not any more.