Case in point: Last week, I found myself more excited about two movies featuring DC Comics characters--Batman Begins and next summer's Superman Returns--than I was about any of Marvel Comics' upcoming films.
Understand: I've always been a hardcore Marvel fan. Sure, DC's big guns--Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman--are iconic, but they've never been half as interesting as the comedic angst of Spider-Man or the moral allegories of the X-Men.
But Batman Begins kicks ass. And the online production diaries that ex-X-Men director Bryan Singer has been using to build hype for his Superman Returns are confident, fun, and enthusiastic. And 2007's Wonder Woman just netted a serious writer/director--Buffy creator Joss Whedon.
Marvel's countering next week with Fantastic Four. But c'mon--its main draw is The Commish in a rubber suit, and it's directed by the genius behind the Queen Latifah/Jimmy Fallon debacle Taxi. (And sure, I'm moderately in love with one of Fantastic Four's stars, Ms. Jessica Alba. But can anyone else see a problem with casting the Hottest Woman of All Time™ as the Invisible Woman?) The rest of Marvel's upcoming slate doesn't look too great, either--a rushed, Singer-less X-Men 3, some intentionally vague Spider-Man 3 announcements, threats of Nicholas Cage in Ghost Rider, and future films with everyone's favorite jingoist, Captain America.
The shiny new DC logo that's attached to Batman Begins--which, in three weeks, has made more than $200 million--would be a battle cry in any other industry. (In comics, it's akin to a nasally put-down a la the Revenge of the Nerds flicks.) Marvel might still be the winning team, but it's getting harder to root for 'em--just as DC's figuring out how to play the game, Marvel's sending in their benchwarmers.