The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is trailing behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and that is a fact. It’s not that DC has any less recognizable heroes. In all fairness, all I’ve seen in my years lurking Comicvine Battles and Death Battles and just simple fictional deathmatch material is DC having nigh invulnerable, crazy strong superheroes that are at the very least city level and at most can flatten universes if they want to. This is the problem that DC has: it’s hard to relate to the plight of their heroes and it turns people off.
I’ll preface my opinion with a disclaimer. This is not to decry what DC has done for its fans so far. I am a big fan of both Marvel and DC, though I will admit that the reasons that I’ll say are exactly the same reason why I prefer MCU over the DCEU. It’s a problem that gives the Justice League troubles in their fictional universe which puts my heart away from the big screen: DCEU heroes are so invulnerable, so untouchable and so out of this world that I simply don’t relate to them at all.
Superman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are my biggest problems. They are literally demigods that have the ability to pound against cosmic level threats, while Batman is a genius billionaire playboy who has detached himself from humanity in his obsession to fight crime. I find it hard to relate to them because they can literally solve their problems simply by punching it in the face.
The DCEU has also sold it that way to viewers like me. Any threat less than cosmic level to the Justice League can be resolved by flying in, swooping in and smacking it across five buildings. Their problems are so alien to me as a human that I don’t see how they can sustainably portrayed as having issues in the DCEU.
Marvel, on the other hand, has given me a tech billionaire who is also an alcoholic egomaniac, a patriot that is only a notch above human in strength but resolves his problems anyway, a scientist at odds with his own rage, a friendly neighborhood teenager who is attacked every day by villains while trying to keep his identity a secret and a literal god that is plagued in all fronts by betrayal, distrust and political unrest within his realm. All of these knock at my humanity. Superman? Wonder Woman? They’re just another set of flying bricks that can be punched across a continent and would leave without a scratch.
I feel no human touch in the DCEU, save for the lesser focused heroes. I mean, look at the TV Arrow and TV Flash: they’re successful because we see them simmered in their own humanity. I empathize with the guys in Legends of Tomorrow because they screw up. They have egos, they make mistakes, they bleed… they can’t catch a human whose only ability is immortality (and vast riches). I personally love empathizing with my superheroes, because they are not just power fantasies for me. My heroes are entities I love and respect, and DCEU is missing that aspect.
Batman v Superman failed because their problem was inhuman. Suicide Squad relatively failed because they are not relatable. Man of Steel failed because it is nothing but a show of what Superman can do, not who Superman is. Whenever I watch the likes of TV Ray Palmer, TV Leonard Snart and even the Nolan Batman that I detest so much, what I see are characters that can be empathized with. I’m hoping that the DCEU Flash and maybe a change in pace for the upcoming movies happen, because if DC is unable to resolve their flying brick problem, they might as well throw their movies in the dumpster.