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When heroes collide: DC and Marvel set for spring box office battle

Marvel Studios recently dropped the first trailer for their upcoming film, “Captain Marvel,” which will be released in Mar. 2019. This past summer, Warner Bros. and DC Comics also released the trailer for their version of Captain Marvel, otherwise known as “Shazam,” which will hit theaters in Apr. 2019.

Confused? Don’t worry, it’s understandable. The legal history of the two tales is long and complicated.

To make long stories short, DC Comics’ Captain Marvel (Shazam) was created by a separate comic company in the 1930’s and bought out by DC. Marvel’s Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) gets her title from Marvel’s Captain Mar-Vell, who was used to obtain the copyright to the name.
This is all the result of two publishing giants’ desire to gain a legal foothold and competitive advantage over the other.

These companies are competing once again with the characters whose similar names and titles give audiences headache, but these two films will attempt to answer their companies’ aspirations differently.

“Captain Marvel” is intended to have multiple purposes for Marvel Studios. Its overarching goal is to break more ground for successful, large-budget female-led superhero movies.

Although it might seem as though Marvel is following DC Comics’ strategy with the success of “Wonder Woman,” Marvel announced Captain Marvel’s impending debut all the way back in 2014.

Marvel Studios has also planned for Captain Marvel to take the lead from Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and the other original Avengers after “Avengers 4.”

Another approach they are taking is by setting this film in the 1990’s. Not only is this strategic for their film slate, as it is being released between “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers 4,” but is the first film to examine the 1990’s as a historical period in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The movie is also anchored by Academy Award winner Brie Larson. However, despite this new character taking the MCU in a unique new direction, it has the potential to fall into the often-critiqued “Marvel formula.”

While “Doctor Strange” was successful both financially and critically, most people have largely seemed to forget about it. “Captain Marvel” must do its best not only to distinguish itself among Marvel films and the slew of other superhero films, but hold off its biggest competitor: “Shazam.”

Warner Bros. and DC Comics are also moving forward with their current plans for their film universe, albeit much differently than Marvel. DC Comics has had to reassess its strategy after the financial and critical failures of “Batman v. Superman” and “Justice League.”

A common criticism is the tonal and character problems, specifically levied at the treatment of Henry Cavill’s Superman. The dark tone, as the criticism goes, does not fit the character and universe.

“Wonder Woman” was meant to be a course correction, and “Shazam” looks to be following with its vibrant color palette and quirky sense of humor.
The titular character is played by Zachary Levi, who is best known for his roles as the voice of Flynn Rider in “Tangled” and Chuck in the NBC series “Chuck.”

He is very selective with the projects he takes on and his visible enthusiasm for the part indicates DC has a great lead and the potential for an even greater movie.

Two of the aspects that make “Shazam” stand out are the young main character who changes into his super adult alter-ego and the movie’s self-aware humor.

This is character that can change the DC status quo in and offer a much more unique take on the superhero genre.

The concept also lends itself to the goofy vibes that the movie is going for. This will set it apart from previous DC films by being more upbeat, creative and playful. This is also a breath of fresh air in a sea of superhero movies that can seem very similar and get lost in the shuffle.

One thing is for sure: this spring will have no shortage of great options for superhero movie fans.


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