San Diego Comic-Con 2018 (SDCC 2018) recently took place from July 19 to July 22, 2018. It was an amazing year yet again for fans of geek culture, with surprising announcements and reveals galore. Comic-Con started almost 50 years ago primarily as a comics convention. As much as SDCC has evolved over the years to feature all aspects of geek culture like gaming and movies, comics will always remain the number one focus of the event. It is the world’s biggest comics convention, after all. As such, the highlight has always been on two giants of the industry, the so-called Big Two of comics: Marvel and DC Comics. Despite a decent showing from Marvel, DC Comics had the better showing this time around.
SDCC 2018: Why Marvel Lost SDCC 2018
Speaking of the Big Two, let’s not kid ourselves. For the past decade or so, Marvel has arguably been the dominating presence at SDCC. There are many reasons for that but the biggest contributor to Marvel’s overwhelming success over DC is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Since its inception in 2008 with the release of the first Iron Man movie, Marvel Studios has been adamant in making sure that there’s always something major to announce at every SDCC.
Unfortunately, this year, for the first time in ten years, Marvel had almost nothing to show. They had no trailers, announcements, confirmations, or any other exciting tidbits to reveal to its adoring fans across the world. In my opinion, just as the MCU was starting to turn stale, the likes of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War managed to revitalize the franchise. After releasing two of its best movies ever, Marvel could have followed that up with a surprise or two at SDCC to keep the momentum going. Instead, we were left with zero stuff to anticipate or get hyped for, and that’s when DC Comics swooped in to save the day.
SDCC 2018: Worlds of DC Featuring Aquaman and Shazam!
DC Comics has had a couple of decent SDCC appearances in the past several years. The fact that it couldn’t topple Marvel for the past ten years boils down to the state of its own cinematic universe, which fans refer to as the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). I’m not going to lie; the DCEU is a pile of grimdark horse manure and nothing like the source material it’s been adapted from. Man of Steel was decent if you leave out its murderous Superman (just to name one thing), but subsequent movies have been progressively getting worse. How could a movie featuring some of the most recognizable superheroes on the planet failed so incredibly? Just as all hope seemed to have gone away, DC Comics recently surprised us with its best SDCC showing in years.
Everyone was shocked to see not one, but two brand new movie trailers from Warner Bros. and DC Comics. We received our first glimpses at Aquaman and Shazam!. These trailers look amazing, and most importantly, exude none of the grimdark gritty nonsense of past movies. This rings especially true for the Shazam! trailer, which turned out to be more popular than Aquaman‘s. It showcased a different side to the once-bleak DCEU, one which comics fans like myself have been waiting for. Unlike the other DCEU films, Shazam! looks like it’s going to be a fun and quirky ride. On the other hand, Aquaman‘s trailer reminded me of Black Panther. Black Manta alone has made me unbearably hyped for the movie.
To further indicate their renewed commitment and cinematic vision, the DCEU has finally been given an official designation: Worlds of DC. That sounds much better, as it seems to hint at a larger focus on a “multiverse” at play, which differentiates it from MCU’s singular universe approach.
Movies played an integral role in why DC Comics won SDCC 2018, but that’s far from the only reasons why. DC Comics also dominated TV shows and animation, as the company seeks to promote its upcoming DC Universe exclusive digital streaming service.
SDCC 2018: DC Universe Streaming Service
Let me be clear: DC Comics has always had one massive advantage over Marvel and has failed to capitalize on it. Simply put, DC Comics has access to all its characters and IPs, thanks to everything being under the Warner Bros. roof. Marvel sold its rights to movie studios and other companies in the 1990s, which means that some characters like the Fantastic Four and X-Men are off-limits in the movies and games. (However, this was recently rendered moot thanks to the Disney acquisition of 21st Century Fox, which means that Marvel will probably regain the rights of those characters again.)
The upcoming DC Universe streaming service, which is slated to launch later this year, will be a huge trump card for DC Comics. At SDCC 2018, the company confirmed that DC Universe will have six brand new TV shows and animated series at launch. That includes four TV shows: Titans, Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol, Stargirl and two animated series: Young Justice Outsiders and Harley Quinn. DC Comics released trailers for Titans and Young Justice Outsiders, which was a good call, considering that those are the ones generating the most hype. Although Titans does not look as promising since it seems to feature a the DCEU’s edgy style rather than the lighter tone from the beloved Teen Titans animated series from 2003. Young Justice Outsiders alone might be enough to bring the fans to the streaming service, as they have been clamoring for a new season of the animated series since it was canceled back in 2013.
SDCC 2018: Lack Of Competition
Last but not least, the dominance of DC Comics at this year’s SDCC comes down to the fact there’s little to no competition this time. I already mentioned Marvel not showing anything of note but even other usually major franchises like Game of Thrones were noticeably absent. No other brands posed much of a threat, especially with DC giving the show its all. As a comics fan, it’s great to see DC Comics back at the center of attention again (in a good way). Marvel has been in the spotlight long enough and it’s time people realize that DC Comics has a lot more to offer than simply its iconic trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
It remains to be seen if DC Comics will be able to maintain its SDCC 2018 momentum, but we’ll be seeing that soon enough. The launch of the DC Universe streaming service and Aquaman will make or break DC Comics current running streak. Aquaman is already leaving its mark on games, with an upcoming DC Universe Online expansion slated for release just a month before the actual movie launches. Let’s forget about the age of the Suicide Squad and look forward to a future with more Shazam! instead.