What are the key differences between two of DC Comics top heroes, Superman and Batman that make them so different – and could a 1990s story written by Dave Gibbons and drawn by Steve Rude be a better example of illustrating them, rather than the grim and gritty approach of Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice?
Challenging the modern cinema take on superheroes is a fair question to ask our readers, given how the newly-released Batman versus Superman film seems to have polarised many comics fans on both sides of the Atlantic – and although it’s been a huge box office success and has already earned an estimated $682,857,793 so far globally, there’s been a huge drop in box office during its second weekend in the United States.
Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice has earned $261,457,793 in the US so far, ($421,400,000 internationally with £14 million plus in its first week in the UK), but its second weekend receipts for the film – planned as the first of several based on the DC Comics Universe – are, to say the least, disappointing.
Brook Barnes at the New York Times describes the box office fall of as a “superlunge”, noting second-weekend domestic ticket sales for Batman versus Superman is “less a single movie than an audacious effort by Warner Bros. to prime filmgoers for an 11-film superhero series, totaled roughly $52.4 million, a 68 percent decline from its opening weekend.
“That drop, which came despite little competition,” the paper notes, “was among the largest on record for a superhero movie, according to the database Box Office Mojo.”
While UK weekend box office estimates for this weekend aren’t yet in but the film opened strongly last week, with £14.62m over the three-day weekend, with Easter Monday pushing the four-day total to £17.96m.
Comparing that with other DC-inspired film releases in recent years, The Guardian, utilising figures from the BFI, notes Man of Steel began in June 2013 with £11.2m, while the Chris Nolan-directed Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight opened in July 2008 with £11.19m including previews of £2.5m, and The Dark Knight Rises with £14.36m (and no previews).
“Comparing the three-day openings, Batman versus Superman has debuted a tiny bit ahead of The Dark Knight Rises,” notes Charles Gant, “but with the benefit of four years of ticket-price inflation.”
Gant argues in terms of pure box office, that Warners and DC Comics can fairly claim bragging rights on the biggest ever opening weekend for a superhero movie at UK cinemas for the new film – whatever both critics and comic fans think of it. “For comparisons with the top Marvel titles, Avengers Assemble kicked off with £13.22m plus £2.55m in previews, while sequel Age of Ultron began with £14.42m plus £3.6m in previews. Again, ignoring previews, Batman v Superman has opened a tiny bit ahead of Age of Ultron, with the benefit this time of just one year’s ticket price inflation.”
Although the film has been a smash hit by any account, the New York Times reports the the movie faces financial questions. “Warner spent at least $400 million to make and market it, which means the studio will need to generate an estimated $800 million worldwide to break even, according to analysts.
Despite the drop off, Warner seems unphased. Other films have suffered similar box office drop offs but still proved a success (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” for example, fell 72 per cent after its US opening in 2011, but still went on to collect $1.3 billion worldwide).
Despite strong box office and the questions the drop off inevitably raises, many fans are still struggling with director Zack Snyder’s take on some of their favourite superheroes – and inevitably, many have asked: what’s the comic that best differentiates the worlds and world views of Batman and Superman?
Comic book historian Jim Thompson’s immediate nomination, for example, is the 1990 three issue mini-series, World’s Finest, written by Dave Gibbons, art by Steve Rude, Karl Kessel and Steve Oliff, where the heroes temporarily trade cities. I’d have to agree it’s a great choice – there are some sample spreads below.
Which story do you think perfectly captures both the differences in character and their worlds? Let us know below!
Art © DC Entertainment