An open letter to a Marvel fanboy

So. In the wake of Guardians of the Galaxy, a meme hit the intertubes claiming to describe the difference between DC and Marvel, through a fake internet chat in which DC is awkwardly trying to explain their failure to do anything cool while Marvel screams excitedly about everything it’s doing. This one here.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

It’s popped up enough times that I’m no longer able to resist the need to point out that, while funny, it’s not what you’d call… accurate. By any stretch of the imagination. So I now present an open letter to the meme’s writer. And at the end, I’ll be including a link to a video in which puppets make fun of the internet, because you’ll all have earned a break. And because Glove and Boots is very much my New Favourite Thing.

Must we do this

Hello there, Marvel fanboy who made this. I feel comfortable calling you a Marvel fanboy because, well, your little internet joke here exists to crow about Marvel while inventing reasons to take cracks at DC, and that’s not something you typically find in impartial fans of superhero stories.

First, may I just say, I don’t see why this is necessary, this continuous animosity between us. I was like you, once: I read DC almost exclusively, derided and mocked Marvel with their clone sagas and overexposure of Wolverine. But then a day came when I realized I was only hurting myself by shunning one of comics’ two largest publishers. Hell, by shunning any comic, movie, or TV show because I felt a need to take a side. Now, while I still prefer DC, because on the whole I find their comic storytelling more fun and engaging, I read plenty of Marvel. I own the Avengers Phase 1 special edition Blu-ray pack, which means I own a copy of Thor but not Dark Knight Rises.

And I know you can’t say the same thing about DC, sir (I’m also pretty sure you’re not a “Ma’am,” as we’ll soon cover). You’re hardcore Marvel. No time for the other brand. Which is sad. Geek culture should be the ultimate culture of inclusion, where people who’ve been outsiders for most of their life have a place to share their passions with like-minded people. But instead we keep getting bogged down in this petty, pointless Marvel vs. DC, XBox vs. Playstation, Mac vs PC, Us vs Them bullshit.

Also rampant, rampant misogyny, but nothing in this Marvel vs. DC post of yours makes me suspect you’re guilty of that, so we’ll leave that be for now. Suffice to say, fanatical brand loyalty is certainly not as bad as sexism, racism, or other forms of discrimination, but it’s still stupid. It’s pointless.

But since we’re here anyway, allow someone who HAS read a DC comic since the Clinton administration to correct you on some of your so-called points.

Black Widow is not the first female supporting character

I'm not sure you understand your own points. Or words in general.
I’m not sure you understand your own points. Or words in general.

Um. Okay.

I’m hesitant to speak on behalf of feminists for reasons that seem obvious, but… replying to “Making a movie starring Wonder Woman is tricky” with “Marvel is letting Black Widow be a supporting character in a male-driven action movie!” is weak sauce, man. No, it does not seem that Warner Bros. has been particularly motivated to make a live action Wonder Woman movie ever since they pulled the plug on having Joss Whedon write one (a move that earned that executive kicks in the junk until the end of his days). But Marvel’s not exactly racing to put together a Black Widow solo film, are they? Or Captain Marvel, one of the other new faces people have been saying should be in phase three?

Pretty much Starbuck with super powers. You would watch that, admit it.
Pretty much Starbuck with super powers. You would watch that, admit it.

Yes, Black Widow had a large role in the Winter Soldier. They even gave her a few things to do in the big explody climax (not as much as the Falcon, but hey). But I can say the exact same thing about Catwoman in Dark Knight Rises. Selina Kyle had “a ton of screentime and major asskicking skills” there as well. Okay, fine, Dark Knight Rises is not as good as the Winter Soldier, but Marvel’s not winning any diversity medals because they finally found something interesting to do with Black Widow the third time they made her a supporting character in a male-driven movie. Especially since they are on the record as not considering female-led movies a priority.

The fact is, neither of us are winning this race. The next big female-driven superhero movie won’t star Wonder Woman, Black Widow, or Captain Marvel. It won’t be from Warner Bros. or Marvel Studios. It’s going to come from Sony, and will probably star the Black Cat as part of their ongoing desperate attempts to weave an Avengers-level franchise out of Spider-man and his amazing friends. And the problem with that is that based on everything else Sony’s been doing in that world, Black Cat is going to be terrible, probably fail, and give everyone who holds up Catwoman and Elektra as proof that “female driven action movies don’t work” one more bullet in their idiot gun, and Wonder Woman and Natasha Romanov will be supporting cast only for another decade.

And without Iceman, what's even the point?
Plus without Iceman, what’s even the point?

In conclusion, letting a woman be a supporting character in a male-driven movie is not the same as doing a female-driven movie, don’t pretend that it is.

DC does not hate lesbians

In your next point, you claim that DC is forbidding Batwoman from marrying her fiancee, Maggie Sawyer, because they refuse to allow lesbians to get married. But hey, check out the gay wedding on the cover of the X-Men!

Don’t be an ass, guy.

First off, yes, it’s great that Marvel let one of their D-list X-Men get married, and made a big deal out of it so that everyone could see how gosh-darned progressive they are.

However.

Saying that DC is forbidding Batwoman from getting married because they hate the gays would be like me saying that Marvel annulled Black Panther and Storm’s marriage because they hate black people. I mean, sure, there isn’t a second high-profile black couple in Marvel comics, but the decision to split them up was not born out of racism any more than the decision to stall Batwoman’s nuptials was born out of homophobia.

Batwoman isn’t getting married any time soon for the same reason Spider-man isn’t married anymore: because she’s a superhero, the title character of her book, and married superheros are fewer and farther between these days.

And it’s not like they’ve pushed her sexuality into the background, here. She didn’t sell her marriage to the devil or something idiotic like that. She’s still being a kickass hero, capable of giving the Batman a run for his money in a fight, who is also an out-and-proud lesbian in a stable if complex relationship with police captain Maggie Sawyer (who, by the way, has been out and proud as a supporting character of Superman and Batman since at least the early 90s).

I know, fanboy, you haven’t actually read a Batwoman comic, so you’re unaware that Batwoman’s origin is an indictment of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. You’re probably unaware that it’s started examining child custody challenges faced by the LGBT community. You couldn’t have known these things, or when you were shouting to the rafters about how awesomely diverse Marvel’s being lately (we’ll get to that), you wouldn’t have brought the most high-profile gay lead character in comics into your argument.

Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, is here, she’s queer, where she’s at, she’s a Bat, and she’s awesome. If she’s having a long engagement, it’s because comics are nervous about marriage of any kind, not because Kate Kane loves the ladies.

“Dark, mature, and cynical”

I will grant you: Loki did go speed-dating in his new book. And it was amusing. But you probably shouldn’t bring it up as a counter-point to accusing DC of making everything dark, mature, and cynical, because Loki going speed-dating was the follow-up to evil Loki murdering his younger, more heroic self and taking his place (see the excellent Journey Into Mystery: a Comedy in 30 Parts or a Tragedy in 31).

I will also grant that DC movies leaned too much into the dark. DC saw the success of Nolan’s Batman and learned the wrong lesson, and as a result, Man of Steel was darker than it should have been (although I would still describe Man of Steel as ultimately hopeful rather than cynical). But the comics have been trying to build a sense of fun ever since the New 52 relaunch. Even the horror books have a sense of humour. Whereas Marvel’s endless slog of massive crossover event books have been embracing “grim” in record quantities. Hell, the Ultimate books seem to exist solely to watch the world nearly end in high-casualty catastrophes over and over (well, that and Ultimate Spider-man, and they day Brian Michael Bendis leaves that book the Ultimate line may finally fold completely).

But since the New 52 relaunch, high-flying adventure or epic sagas have been the order of the day. Okay, yes, Forever Evil wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but it wasn’t as oppressively dark as some Marvel events. Read Larfleeze and tell me it’s all dark and mature. Or the new eagerly anticipated Batgirl run. Or Harley Quinn.

DC could stand to make their next round of movies less dark and grim, sure, just like Marvel could get more creative with their plots than “Guy gets his hands on a magic space rock and uses it and his army of faceless minions to rule/destroy the world for reasons that are vague at best.” But accusing the entirety of DC’s product line of making everything dark, mature, and cynical is foolishness.

Not sure you’ve been watching Phase II

Now your next point goes beyond “Not knowing anything about DC” and into “Have you even been watching the Marvel movies?” Let’s review:

Your exact words. Your exact stupid words.
Your exact words. Your exact stupid words.

First, a couple points about your shot at DC. Marvel fans attacking DC for changing actors is beyond the pot calling the kettle black. Marvel has recast three characters so far: James Rhodes in Iron Man, Fandral in Thor, and Bruce Banner in Avengers. And that’s fine. Don Cheadle, Zachary Levi, and Mark Ruffalo were all excellent choices. Probably going to need a new Iron Man eventually, and that’ll be okay too. Just like bringing in a new actor for Batman, when it’s a different continuity than Nolan’s Batman, is not only fine, it’s expected.

And also, unless you wrote this last year (you didn’t), Wonder Woman is not “maybe doing a cameo” in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Embarrassing Subtitles (see? I can make fun of my side). Wonder Woman is happening.

 

And she's gonna be hardcore.
And she’s gonna be hardcore.

That said, let’s examine why your boast about Marvel is shockingly divorced from reality.

“Everyone is in everyone’s movie.” Wow, that’s just… no. No, not at all. Which movies have you been watching? Because in the sum total of Phase II, excepting Age of Ultron, there have been two, count ’em, two Avenger cameos in other Avengers’ movies. Bruce Banner popped up in the end credit scene of Iron Man 3 (not to do anything, he was just there), and Loki briefly impersonated Captain America in Thor: the Dark World. In the four Phase II movies thus far, there have been two cameos totaling less than two minutes of screentime.

Hardly “everyone appearing in everyone’s movies.”

If everyone were in everyone’s movies, we wouldn’t be asking why the Avengers and SHIELD gave zero shits that terrorists blew up Tony Stark’s house and then kidnapped the president off of Air Force One. We wouldn’t be asking why Captain America didn’t think Tony Stark or, say, the goddamn Hulk might be useful in taking down three flying aircraft carriers filled with heavily armed hostile soldiers. Or hey, forget them, where the hell was Hawkeye? SHIELD is revealed to be compromised, Cap and Black Widow are on the run, and Black Widow doesn’t think it’s worth at least trying to contact her partner and friend Clint Barton, the guy she signed on with the Avengers to save from Loki?

I mean, “ain’t no stopping us now” seems to be fair, at least until we see how Ant-man does, but let’s keep our boasts within the realm of reality, shall we?

“A few” people of colour?

Again, your exact stupid words:
Stupid point 2

I’m not going to say anything negative about the new Muslim American Ms Marvel (except that Muslim isn’t an ethnicity, and last I checked Americans didn’t need to be sorted by their faith). This is partially because I haven’t read her book, and as I’m trying to make clear to you, you should always be familiar with things you criticize, lest you just look like an idiot. Also because the character seems pretty cool and like a good idea, but I really wanted to remind everyone how shockingly little you knew about DC when you wrote your little screed.

What I will do is remind you of the “one or two” people of colour DC introduced prior to the new Ms Marvel turning up.

  • Simon Baz, the Arab-American (think that might be the term you wanted) Muslim Green Lantern, still playing a key role in Justice League
  • John Stewart, the black Green Lantern who’s still the primary character in Green Lantern Corps
  • Jason Rusch, the black Firestorm, who remained a key part of the character following the reboot
  • Jaime Reyes, the latino Blue Beetle, who’s had the publisher’s support for nearly a decade despite low sales, and was even written into Smallville
  • Miiyahbin, aka. Equinox, the Cree teenager joining Justice League Canada
  • Batwing, the Batman of Africa
  • Nightrunner, the Muslim Batman of France
  • Fan favourite character Wally West, formerly the Flash, finally being reintroduced into continuity, but as a mixed-race teenager instead of a white redhead
  • Ryan Choi, the asian Atom, confirmed as still existing in the New 52 (but only partial credit, if/when the Atom is introduced to the New 52, it’ll probably be Ray Palmer, because Arrow)

And that’s just off the top of my head. You’ll notice a few marquee names in there, like Green Lantern, Flash, and Batman. But hey, the only way you could’ve known any of that is by making even a token effort to understand the thing you’re criticizing.

Ain’t reading Batman? Don’t talk about Batman.

There’s not much I can say about accusing Batman’s personality of being “like wet cardboard.” I could say that clearly he’s never read a single issue of Scott Snyder’s excellent, game-changing run on the book. I could say you’ve missed Peter Tomasi’s exploration of Batman the grieving father, pushed to the edge as he tries to move past his son Damien’s death. But that’s all pretty clear. None of the things you’ve written so far indicate knowledge of anything that happens in DC comics, so why start now?

I could also stoop to your level, and reply that you must be confusing Batman for Captain America since Rick Remender took over the book. But that would be petty.

Also, nobody cares about street-racing latino Ghost Rider. That book will be gone by this time next year. But for the record? “Latina” is female. I know reading a Batman book, or realizing that Marvel characters are also capable of being bland as hell, is difficult, but try to at least get that part right, could you?

Speed round

It gets purely stupid from here, so let’s bring this in for a landing.

“We can’t mention any superhero titles in our movies?” I don’t… what? What are you even talking about? What movies are you watching? Surely not the Dark Knight, everyone knows the Joker’s line about “Simple… we kill the Batman.” Not Man of Steel. They waited a while, sure, but he’s going by Superman by the climax. Are you miffed that they trusted that if they called the movies “Dark Knight” and “Man of Steel,” audiences might recognize the nicknames that have been around since World War II and know which characters they were referring to? If so, does the upcoming movie title Superman v. Batman not help you out?

Guardians of the Galaxy was amazing, I’m not gonna fight you on that, but could you possibly refrain from just making shit up out of whole cloth? If you don’t want to watch DC movies, fine, but maybe just leave them alone instead of dreaming up imaginary offenses. ‘Kay?

Claiming DC just panders to white males? Ballsy, after the creative team of Batgirl, one of their more high-profile books, openly said he’d rather attract one teenage girl than twenty white dudes. Also, do me a favour and remind me how many people on the poster for the Avengers aren’t white dudes. Is it still just one? And she’s sexually posed? Right. And Age of Ultron… one added woman, everyone else is a white dude? Okay then. And Justice League will have at least two characters who aren’t white men, Wonder Woman and Cyborg? Three if they use John Stewart instead of Hal Jordan? Care to crunch the numbers on that?

No, you’d rather just bring up the female Thor and Falcon taking over as Captain America again. I covered this last time, but just to recap… when Bucky took over as Captain America, it was also only ever going to be temporary, and they didn’t pretend it was some new huge progressive change. They didn’t scream from the rafters “Captain America is an amputee now, aren’t we the best.” But sure, there they are, she-Thor and Falcon-as-Cap. Remind me to revisit this topic with you in May 2016, when Marvel needs everything back to normal before Captain America or Thor’s next movie comes out.

Now, as to your claims that Agents of SHIELD is amazing and the DC TV shows are… wait. Hang on… can’t… can’t seem to find anything here about Agents of SHIELD…

Huh. Guess even delusional Marvel fanatics are running out of ways to pretend Agents of SHIELD wasn’t a disappointment, and that Arrow isn’t the best superhero show on TV. Imagine that.

Look, Marvel fanboy… I respect that you like Marvel. And, cinematically, this is a great time to like Marvel. But it’s okay to also like DC, and if you’re going to claim otherwise, maybe try to know even a little about the Distinguished Competition, okay? I don’t know if there’s an easy way for us to find common ground, but I guess the important question is…

Do you want to see puppets make fun of Jim Carrey’s webpage? Because in the words of John Oliver, you sure as shit have earned it.

Take this cool shit, because this lifelong DC fan be outie.

4 Replies to “An open letter to a Marvel fanboy”

  1. That was freaking Brilliant!!
    God I hate marvel movie fanboys even though i read both marvel n DC. Why don’t u update abt the wonder woman film?

  2. Well said. Another thing that bugged me is that in GoG the aliens could be interpreted as people from different races (different skin color, culture background, etc.), but the main character is STILL a white straight (?) man.

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