10 things the MCU did better than the DCEU

See 10 ways the MCU triumphs over the DCEU.
TDW-11656_R.jpg / (L-R): Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool/Wade Wilson and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan 20th Century Studios/Marvel Studios' DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2024 20th Century Studios / © and ™ 2024 MARVEL.

The DCEU is long gone, and we’re gearing up for the James Gunn and Peter Safran era. Meanwhile, the MCU is undergoing a massive reboot with a new lineup of Avengers preparing to face Kang the Conqueror—or so we think. Anthony Mackie’s Captain America is set to lead what appears to be a mostly female Avengers team. On top of that, fans are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.

Decades later, Disney and Kevin Feige continue to produce movies and shows that fans are excited to see. In contrast, the DCEU left fans wondering what could have been. Here’s a list of things the MCU did much better than the DCEU.

Paul Rudd as Ant-Man in Ant-Man and the Wasp
Marvel Studios ANT-MAN AND THE WASP..Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018 /

10. Solo Films

The MCU has mastered the art of the solo film. Starting with 2008’s Iron Man, where fans were introduced to the first MCU hero, played masterfully by Robert Downey Jr., each character introduction has been meticulously crafted to stand alone while contributing to the larger narrative. Films like Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, and Black Panther gave fans a look at individual hero journeys, allowing audiences to connect deeply with each character. One of the more unique examples of this was with Ant-Man who made his big screen debut in 2015, giving the MCU a heist-like film and the first movie where the hero wasn't a genius or superpowered.

On the other hand, the DCEU looked to take a page out of the MCU’s playbook by having Zack Snyder as the lead producer of DC movies. Unfortunately, the DC Extended Universe couldn’t find its footing. Too often, the DCEU struggled with its solo films. While movies like Wonder Woman and Aquaman were well-received, others like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice received mixed reactions at best.

It wasn’t all Snyder’s fault; Man of Steel was a box office success and gave fans a unique depiction of Superman’s mythos. However, the tendency to rush into team-ups and interconnected storylines often hindered character development and cohesion. Batman v Superman and Justice League are prime examples of this rushed approach, which sometimes compromised the narrative quality seen in the MCU.

9. Cameos and Crossovers

Let’s get one thing straight: when it comes to crossover films and cameos, the MCU has absolutely nailed it, leaving the DCEU in the dust. Sure, the DCEU had some stellar moments, like Birds of Prey, which doubled as a team-up film and the emancipation of Harley Quinn, and watching Harley interact with several characters who hadn't made their live-action debut was pure gold. And let’s not forget those early cameos—a cool found footage scene teasing Flash and Aquaman, hinting at Aquaman saving Superman, and Batman’s letter to Wonder Woman.

But the MCU? They took it to another level. From Loki giving us mind-bending crossovers to WandaVision uniting Scarlet Witch with a Quicksilver variant played by Evan Peters, these moments sent shockwaves across social media. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier blew minds with the backstory of Isaiah Bradley, the first Black Captain America. And who could forget the jaw-dropping appearance of Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin in Hawkeye? Each of these crossovers was meticulously planned and executed, adding rich layers to the MCU narrative.

However, nothing compares to Spider-Man: No Way Home. Peter Parker and Doctor Strange merging Sony's Spider-Man Universe with the MCU was a seismic event, reshaping the MCU forever. The list goes on and on when it comes to the way the MCU seamlessly integrates these cameos and crossovers, creating cohesive arcs, and it is simply unmatched. They’ve turned these moments into must-see events, proving that when it comes to interweaving character narratives, nobody does it better than the MCU.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Avengers: Endgame
Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: ENDGAME..Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019 /

8. Character Development

Great solo movies have helped the MCU excel in character development over time. Through multiple films, characters like Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Thor have evolved significantly.

Steve Rogers transitioned from the early 20th-century war hero fighting Nazis to a man trying to find his place in the modern world. Similarly, Thor transformed from an arrogant and impulsive prince, eager to prove his worth through brute strength, into a wise and compassionate leader who values humility. These are just two examples of the deep and, in many cases, relatable character arcs the MCU offers. This gradual development helps build a strong emotional connection with the characters.

In fairness, the DCEU has seen some success with characters like Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, and Superman. However, it has often struggled with character development, frequently rushing it to keep up with the overarching plot. For instance, the rapid transition of Bruce Wayne/Batman from a vengeful hero in Batman v Superman to a team leader in Justice League felt abrupt to many fans. The DCEU's inconsistent character arcs have made it harder for audiences to invest emotionally.

7. Humor and Tone

Fans know the MCU for its light-hearted tone and humor, making its films accessible to a wide audience. Characters like Tony Stark/Iron Man and Peter Quill/Star-Lord provide comic relief, balancing action and drama. This consistent use of humor keeps the films enjoyable for both adults and younger viewers. Even in films like Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy, the MCU caters to adults with clever humor while remaining kid-friendly. Meanwhile, Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Black Panther took on darker tones yet found a perfect balance within their stories.

We never did get that balance consistently with DC’s Extended Universe. The studio faced criticism for its darker and more serious tone. While this approach worked for The Dark Knight trilogy before the DCEU, it didn't sit well with fans once the shared universe began. Man of Steel and Wonder Woman were notable exceptions, but attempts to incorporate humor in films like the original Suicide Squad and Justice League felt forced. Fans noticed, and the dissatisfaction was clear. Birds of Prey, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman managed to strike a better balance, but Warner Bros. often stumbled by trying to mimic Disney instead of finding its own unique style.

Thanos sits on his thrown in the MCU
Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy..Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel 2014 /

6. Villians

Who would have thought the MCU would be praised for having better villains than the DCEU? After all, the MCU initially faced criticism for its lackluster, superbland villains. However, over the years it has significantly improved. For some, it started with Thanos, who had us thinking that maybe he was right. Of course, Loki and Killmonger had also been well-received for their complexity and depth.

Loki, introduced as Thor's mischievous brother in Thor, evolved into a fan-favorite character due to his nuanced portrayal. His motivations stemmed from deep-seated insecurities and a desire for approval, making his actions more relatable and tragic. Over time, Loki's journey from villain to anti-hero added layers to his character, making him a standout in the MCU.

Killmonger, from Black Panther (2018), brought a fresh perspective to the villain archetype. His grievances were rooted in real-world issues of racial injustice and historical oppression, which resonated with audiences. Killmonger's desire to right the wrongs done to his people, even through extreme means, made him a compelling and sympathetic antagonist.

But it was Thanos who became an iconic antagonist due to his well-developed motivations and presence across multiple films. His belief in a brutal solution to overpopulation challenges led to the infamous snap, which wiped out half the universe. Thanos's chilling resolve and philosophical convictions added a layer of complexity, making him one of the most memorable villains in cinematic history.

And then there was our beloved DCEU. We all had hope, but they struggled with creating memorable villains. To be fair, villains like General Zod in Man of Steel, Orm in Aquaman, and Black Mask in Birds of Prey were really solid big bads. others like Steppenwolf in Justice League and Enchantress in Suicide Squad were rightfully criticized for being one-dimensional and lacking depth. The inconsistent quality of villains has been a sticking point for many fans.

5. Post-Credits Scenes

Because of the MCU, we sit for an extra 10 minutes after every film. It's not just the fact that they use post-credit, scenes, but they popularized turning them into a signature feature that builds anticipation for future films. These scenes often tease upcoming movies, introduce new characters, or add humorous moments. Look no further than the first post-credits scene featuring Thanos hinted at the larger cosmic threat that would culminate in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.

The introduction of Adam Warlock in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 post-credits scene teased a powerful new player in the MCU. The reveal of Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, being in Wakanda set the stage for Black Panther and his role in Avengers: Infinity War. More recently, the scene with Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine recruiting Yelena Belova in Black Widow hinted at the formation of the Thunderbolts, promising future storylines.

The DCEU has utilized post-credits scenes sporadically, and they have not been as impactful or anticipated as those in the MCU. While there have been some intriguing teasers, such as Lex Luthor’s meeting with Deathstroke, these scenes have often amounted to absolutely nothing. More times than not, there is zero follow-through. Case in point, the post-credits scene featuring the epic face-to-face showdown between Superman and Black Adam, a confrontation no one asked for and that we won't ever see happen again. These attempts at building excitement have been all for nothing.

Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) in Marvel Studios' BLACK WIDOW
(L-R): Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) in Marvel Studios' BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

4. Female Representation

It’s a bit ironic considering how long it took for the MCU to truly allow their female heroes and villains to shine. Yet, over time, the MCU has made significant strides in female representation.

Characters like Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel have become central figures. Black Widow's sacrifice etched her legacy in stone (a Soul Stone, to be exact), while Captain Marvel became arguably the most powerful hero in all of the MCU. She also became the inspiration for Ms. Marvel, and the MCU gave us an all-female superhero film, The Marvels. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever continued this trend by featuring a female hero as the lead. And let's not forget the Scarlet Witch, who quickly became a fan favorite both as a hero and as a formidable villain.

Speaking of female evildoers, Ghost was another great villain fans got to see in Ant-Man and the Wasp. The MCU has consistently placed female heroes in the spotlight, such as Echo, who transitioned from being a big bad in Hawkeye to getting her own show.

As for the DCEU, they had a strong start with Wonder Woman and Birds of Prey. Unfortunately, projects featuring Supergirl and Batgirl got canned. Let’s hope James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DCU will make strides in ways the DCEU could not.

3. Box Office Success

Let’s talk numbers. When it comes to box office success, the MCU is an unstoppable juggernaut (pun totally intended). We’re talking about multiple films crossing the billion-dollar mark and consistently dominating the box office. This kind of success isn’t just about luck; it’s about Marvel’s magic formula of creating films that appeal to everyone while maintaining top-notch quality.

Let’s break it down. Avengers: Endgame didn’t just cross the billion-dollar mark—it destroyed it, raking in a jaw-dropping $2.798 billion worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing film of all time. Before that, Avengers: Infinity War made waves with $2.048 billion. Then there’s Black Panther, a cultural phenomenon that grossed over $1.3 billion, proving superhero films can be both critically acclaimed and box office gold. Even origin stories like Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: No Way Home have joined the billion-dollar club, showcasing the MCU’s broad appeal and consistent performance.

Now, let’s peek over at the DCEU. Sure, they’ve had hits like Wonder Woman, which lassoed in $821 million, and Aquaman, making a splash with over $1.1 billion. These movies show the DCEU can deliver. But then there’s Justice League, which grossed $657 million—a decent haul, but not when you consider the sky-high production costs and expectations. This inconsistency highlights the DCEU's struggle to match the MCU's financial dominance and widespread appeal.

In a nutshell, while the DCEU has its moments of brilliance, the MCU’s track record of producing both critical and commercial hits is a testament to its finely tuned storytelling, character development, and fan engagement. The box office numbers don’t lie—Marvel’s ability to draw in audiences time and time again sets a high bar in blockbuster cinema. Marvel's just got that superhero swagger down to a science!

Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. in The Avengers (2012) ©Marvel 2012 /

2. Avengers Were Better Than the Justice League

The Avengers movies are a testament to the MCU's ability to handle ensemble casts. Each film effectively balances character development, action, and humor, providing satisfying arcs for its heroes. The conclusion of the Avengers' story in Infinity War and Endgame was a cinematic event that resonated deeply with audiences, thanks to years of careful buildup.

Moviegoers shared chills during iconic moments, such as when Captain America wielded Mjolnir or when the portals opened, bringing all the heroes together for the final battle. And then there was the other snap, Tony Stark's snap, which defeated Thanos, leaving fans both devastated and awed, creating an emotional high point that is still talked about today. The blend of anticipation, surprise, and heartbreaking moments made the Avengers films an unforgettable experience in theaters.

Unfortunately, the DCEU’s Justice League did not come close to the same level of success. The film faced numerous production issues, including a change in directors and extensive reshoots, leading to a final product that felt disjointed. Audiences didn't experience the same emotional highs or the sense of cohesion that the MCU delivered.

While the Snyder Cut, released years later on a streaming service, offered a more cohesive vision, it lacked the immediate, shared cinematic impact of its MCU counterparts. On top of that, it took outcry from the fans to get the movie out to the public. Thankfully, the extended cut was a significant improvement, but it wasn’t enough.

1. Longevity

Say what you will about the MCU, but one thing is undeniable: it’s got longevity that’s unparalleled in the world of superhero cinema. Over a decade in the making, this cinematic universe has not only survived but thrived, continuously evolving and expanding without losing steam. Credit where it’s due—Disney’s Kevin Feige has orchestrated this massive success with strategic genius, making the MCU the gold standard for superhero franchises.

On the flip side, the now-defunct DCEU had high hopes and a promising formula. Whether it was Walter Hamada post-Snyder or a collective vision, the DCEU always seemed on the brink of greatness but never quite got there. Every year, Warner Bros. dangled the carrot of exciting new films like Supergirl, Batgirl, Joker and Harley, Green Lantern, and more. Yet, these promises often fizzled into nothing, leaving fans with a sense of unfulfilled potential. The DCEU could have been a fantastic alternative to the MCU, with its darker tone and unique approach, potentially outlasting its Marvel counterpart.

So, how did the MCU achieve this unmatched longevity? It’s all about regular innovation. By continually introducing new characters and story arcs, the MCU keeps its content fresh and engaging. This isn’t just luck; it’s strategic planning, robust storytelling, and an ever-expanding universe that keeps fans coming back for more.

The DCEU, on the other hand, struggled to maintain a cohesive long-term vision. Frequent reboots and shifting directions prevented it from building the kind of enduring universe that the MCU has mastered. While there were moments of brilliance and recent efforts that showed promise, the DCEU never had the chance to establish the long-term consistency seen in the MCU.

In the end, it’s clear that Kevin Feige’s approach at Disney outshined the efforts of the DCEU. With a strategic blend of innovation, strong narratives, and a relentless drive to expand its universe, the MCU has set a bar that’s incredibly hard to match. Sorry, DCEU, but when it comes to the superhero cinematic marathon, the MCU has left you in the dust.

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