How Marvel Beat DC With Spider-Man’s Multiverse Movie – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

How Marvel Beat DC With Spider-Man’s Multiverse Movie

Introducing an awkward teen with a traumatic past who gains a superpower and sets out to rectify a mistake, The Flash and Spider-Man are two vastly different superheroes who share a similar storyline. However, one movie outshines the other with its exceptional execution. The beauty of timeline movies lies in their endless possibilities. When done correctly, these films can take characters to new heights by allowing them to learn from their alternate selves (as seen in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse) and have a blast doing so. By putting characters in front of others they already know, audiences get to know them even better.

The issue with such movies is that they can easily become messy. While superhero films have their own logic, the fact that timeline movies tend to get bogged down in pseudo-science and temporal questions can be painful. Additionally, worlds and characters must be distinct yet not dull. Sadly, some studios fail to grasp this, resulting in a poorly executed timeline movie.

Spider-Man: No Way Home, on the other hand, hits all the right notes. Despite its messy start, the movie gradually builds up to a satisfying conclusion by bringing different worlds to the character rather than sending him out to explore new ones. The film’s biggest draw was, without a doubt, its cameos. Marvel made an interesting move by incorporating characters from the already beloved Sony films. However, it wasn’t just a quick nod; the characters were an integral part of the plot. When Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield appear, they aren’t mere copies of Tom Holland’s version. Instead, they are individuals who have gone through their own journeys and can impart wisdom to the young protagonist.

In contrast, The Flash fails to deliver. DC and Warner Bros. are trying to rectify a mess by transitioning from the DCEU to the DCU. However, their approach is vastly different from Marvel’s, with no clear endgame in sight. Instead of bringing the timelines to Barry Allen, the character enters alternate timelines and gets stuck. This results in him losing his powers and encountering a world-weary Batman. The film introduces new characters and fractured timelines, but the fan-service cameos do little to serve the plot. While the movie appears to have everything figured out in the end, a twist ending leaves the protagonist in the wrong universe, leaving fans wondering about his fate.

Marvel’s ability to keep a story going is why they won the timeline war. By resetting Peter Parker and his world, the MCU moves forward with a character who has grown and learned from his mistakes. In contrast, The Flash leaves viewers uncertain about Barry Allen’s future. While DC and Warner Bros. may think that they can have their cake and eat it too, the DCU is here to stay, and with someone at the helm, it shines brighter than ever. Marvel may have won this round, but only time will tell what the future holds.

So you have an awkward teen trying to find their way with some type of trauma. They develop a superpower and try to fix a mistake. They find a mentor to help them but are met with an imminent threat they must face head-on. Ultimately, their lives and the fate of the multiverse may be affected.

Welcome to The Flash and Spider-Man. Two very different superheroes with two very similar movies. However, one did it way better than the other.

The Joys of Movies About Timelines

The Sacred Timeline begins branching in Marvel's Loki on Disney+
Disney Platform Distribution


Timelines provide so many possibilities. At their best, these timeline films can elevate characters to the point that they learn quite a bit from their alternate selves (See the best version of this in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse) and have fun doing it. Audiences often find that they get to know the characters more when they see them placed opposite characters they may already know and understand.

Related: Everything Marvel and DC Can (And Should) Learn From Spider-Verse’s Success

The problem is that these movies can get messy. As superhero films, they have their own wonky logic, but even then, the fact that they get bogged down in pseudo-science or temporal questions can be painful, not to mention the fact that worlds and characters need to feel different without being boring (Unfortunately, see Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness).

It all adds up to one fact: In the wrong hands, a studio can really whiff a timeline movie.

Spider-Man: No Way Home – When the Timeline Goes Right

Spider-man No Way Home
Sony/Marvel Studios

Regardless of your opinion, Spider-Man: No Way Home succeeded in such a way that it started with a mess, got messier, and did some much-needed housekeeping/resetting at the end. Rather than throw the character out into the multiverse to explore new worlds, it brought those worlds to him.

Of course, one of the biggest reasons people flocked to the film was for the cameos. This, again, is an interesting move on the part of Marvel because they leaned into their relationship with Sony and the Sony films that people have already shown they loved. Yet, in this case, it was a matter of not just tossing in a quick wink and a smile; it was about truly incorporating characters into the plot.

When Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield arrive, it is not as exact copies of the Tom Holland version. We see two people who have been on the Spider-Man journey in their own ways and can teach this kid a few things. When Andrew Garfield talks about his life, we hear the pain and anguish of what he’s been through. At the same time, Tobey Maguire leans into being older and wiser. Tom Holland sees these two first as mentors and then as brothers.

In the end, the problems are solved, but only because Peter takes all the pain and suffering that he’s caused and chooses the world over himself. He is left alone, unknown, and fresh.

The Flash – When the Multiverse Goes Wrong

The Flash movie 2023 cast
Warner Bros.

DC and Warner Bros. are attempting to clean up a mess. They are in the middle of switching from the DCEU to the DCU and already had a significant amount of money steeped in The Flash. However, their attempt was far different from that of Marvel’s, as it seems they had no true endgame in mind.

Start with the setting. Instead of the timelines coming to Barry Allen, Barry Allen went out into the timelines. The difference was that he wound up stuck in an alternate timeline and even lost his powers (something Spider-Man films have already covered as a standalone problem). Add to that the fact that there is no Superman even though DC has already confirmed that Christopher Reeves’ Superman and Michael Keaton’s Batman exist in the same universe. It is sloppy for a studio that is exploring its own lore.

Barry Allen is attempting to fix his mother’s death but ends up in an alternate timeline where he would never have received his powers (but does because he shows himself how to acquire them), finds Michael Keaton’s world-weary Batman, and learns that not only has Zod shown up (Barry has arrived not only at a different universe but a different time as well), but Superman never made it to earth. Only his cousin, Kara Zor-El, actually made it, and she has been imprisoned in Russia.

Related: Sasha Calle Has Spoken with Peter Safran About Returning as Supergirl

New characters, fractured timelines, and fan-service cameos for the sake of cameos hardly ever service the plot. In the end, The Flash seems to have figured everything out but, twist ending; he’s still in the wrong universe. This leaves us with an issue because this is meant to be one of the final films in the DCEU. For fans old enough to remember, Quantum Leap (a show from the early 90s) did the same thing by leaving us with the main character doomed to never find his way home. Barry Allen’s fate may be left to the imagination.

Why Marvel Won the Timeline War


The one thing that Marvel has learned is how to keep a story going. For better or worse, they are always looking toward their next project. Peter Parker needed to learn some tough lessons, and the only way to get him back on track was to reset him and the world around him. As the MCU moves forward, we still have a character people know, but he’s learned more and become a better person.

Barry Allen couldn’t even make it home.

The DCEU is coming to a closeand DC and Warner Bros. seem to think they can have their cake and eat it too. However, Barry is part of a dead language that people no longer need to speak. The DCU is here, it’s shinier, and it has someone with direction at the helm. Marvel won this round, but we’ll see what happens in the future.

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