Is the DC Universe copying Marvel’s MCU formula? Annlyel investigates.
The DC Extended Universe and Marvel Studios; two monstrous franchises with the determination to stuff our gullets with superhero content. Marvel Studios began the powerful superhero trend that is society today with 2008’s Iron Man, a film that would go on to massive critical acclaim and box-office success, at the time. Now, fast forward eleven years later, and the three movies Marvel Studios has released this year have all made over a billion-dollars and broken box-office records left and right. The DCEU has not been so lucky but a new trend is arising.
Shazam! has become the DCEU’s second-highest-rated film according to Rotten Tomatoes with a delightful 90% score. Personally, it’s my favorite movie in the DCEU as it delivered a fun experience with plenty of legitimate surprises and a good enough story where now I’m clamoring to see what happens in the sequel.
Next year, the DCEU returns with the sequel to Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 1984. With the trailer dropping last week, fans around the world were given a chance to see what to expect in next year’s highly-anticipated movie featuring a rather fascinating Amazonian warrior we all know and love named Diana Prince.
However, as I watched the trailer and grew peeved with Steve Trevor’s major presence in the trailer, I realized something. Wonder Woman and Captain America’s storylines seem very similar. Both of these characters have different movies in different timelines because they move through time in strange ways but most importantly, they both found love in a very similar fashion.
For Steve Rogers, he was an unwell young man who wanted to serve his country more than anything else in the world. He was chosen, along with several other candidates, to take part in a science experiment that would turn him into the world’s first super-soldier. During his time under this experimental process, he would meet Peggy Carter, a leader in the army. He would ultimately fall in love with her and she would fall for him. He would be the one to sacrifice himself (in a plane) while Peggy would have to go on through life devastated in knowing that she had lost the man that she loved.
For Diana Prince, she was an Amazonian warrior whose first contact with mankind would be via Steve Trevor, an American spy fighting in World War I. Learning that there were those that were suffering outside of her Amazonian haven, Themyscira, she left the island with Trevor to go help mankind and end Ares’ influence. Over her brief (emphasis on brief) time with Steve Trevor, she began to garner a comprehension of love as she gradually fell for Trevor. And like Steve Rogers, (heh, both of their names start with Steve) he would sacrifice himself by piloting a plane, hence saving the world from Red Skull’s horrifying plans (like Rogers.)
Throughout the MCU, Captain America’s love for Peggy Carter never faded and she continued to have a small presence pertaining to his story in the MCU, making an appearance as an elderly version of herself in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. She would return in a flashback sequence in Avengers: Age of Ultron has a tiny presence in Captain America: Civil War with her death, and would return for one final role in Avengers: Endgame as Rogers found a way to go back in time and spend his life with her.
Now in Wonder Woman 1984, we’re seeing the same trend. Diana Prince has a black-and-white photo of Steve Trevor like Peggy had a photo of Steve Rogers. She hasn’t fallen in love since knowing Steve (like Rogers never was able to settle down with another woman because of his longing for Peggy) and now, suddenly, Trevor is back in her life for some reason or another.
DC Comics is seemingly trying to recreate the same impactful storyline, however, Marvel did a far better job executing Captain America’s storyline. First of all, he knew and fell in love with Peggy Carter over the course of months so when he sacrificed himself you could really feel the impact of such a drastic decision. Diana only knew Steve Trevor for a few days, making her love for him seem a bit rushed rather than natural.
Secondly, Peggy Carter’s presence in the remainder of the MCU after The First Avenger would be eensy-weensy. Steve Trevor’s presence in this sequel is much larger as the writers are placing him heavily into this story, a decision that I’m not so sure I’m thrilled about. Of course, we know that at some point Steve Trevor will eventually completely disappear from her storyline, considering that he is nowhere to be found by the events of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice or Justice League, but until then, will he continue to play a role in Diana’s life as Peggy played a heavy influence in Steve Rogers’ story? I’m afraid so.
Ultimately, this post comes down to questioning DC Comics’ decision making (or storytelling.) The key to DC Comics’ success will be their willingness to move away from the Marvel formula and so far it doesn’t seem like that’s the case.
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was practically a poorly made version of Captain America: Civil War. (Each movie even included using parents as plot devices for the main characters; Iron Man would fight Captain America after learning that Bucky assassinated his parents and Batman would not kill Superman because both of their mothers’ names were Martha. Lol.) Justice League was a rushed and terribly CGI-ed revision of The Avengers formula. Aquaman was practically Thor, as it introduced a fantastical fictional world and its main villain is the title hero’s angry brother. Shazam! is DC Comics’ equivalent to Spider-Man: Homecoming, as it introduces a kid superhero into the universe.
And now it seems that the writers of Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984 are modeling the story after Captain America‘s movies. If that’s the case, and Wonder Woman 1984 is a slightly different remake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier it should be extraordinary.
This is just an observation I wanted to share after watching the official teaser trailer for Wonder Woman 1984.
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Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!