With the recent news that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice moved its May 6, 2016 release date to March 25 in order to avoid Marvel’s Captain America 3, the interwebs are ablaze with speculation as to why. Is Warner Bros. scared of Marvel’s Cinematic Juggernaut? Is there a lack of confidence in BvS?
With so many rumors being spread across numerous sites, it felt appropriate to list and evaluate the most popular theories for Batman v Superman’s change of release date.
The Four Year Long Wait
Fans last saw Superman in 2012’s Man of Steel, and are waiting four years to see him again alongside a cowl-covered Ben Affleck. Filmgoers can lose interest fast, and Warner Brothers’ choice to play the long game may have them questioning whether they could have matched a hero like Cap who had already been featured in three films. The Star-Spangled Avenger will be seen again in 2015 in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Audiences will have already been able to experience another Marvel adventure with Cap before BvS hits theatres in 2016. Not only will viewers be more intimately familiar with Steve Rogers and his place in the Marvel Universe, it is possible that they would be more willing to see what he does next.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Chris Evans really came into his own playing Captain America in The Winter Soldier. He didn’t have to play second fiddle to Robert Downey Jr., who can chew scenery to a fault in films like The Avengers. It was his movie, and he showed that playing a hero with absolute altruism could be just as endearing as a hero who liked to crack snarky jokes. Audiences embraced Winter Soldier, and it’s considered to be one of the most commercially and critically successful films of 2014. With all the positive buzz surrounding Cap, DC probably took note of that and considered what it could mean to face off against its sequel.
Man of Steel
Man of Steel was a commercially successful film with a large number of supporters, but the film did receive a fair amount of criticism for its take on the Last Son of Krypton. The often talked about final act of the film, in which Superman and Zod destroy entire blocks of Metropolis, depicted a Superman that filmgoers and comic readers didn’t expect to see. This Superman was a being that may have talked about hope and peace, but didn’t often show much remorse when contributing to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians when battling across his native city. It turned a lot of people off, and turned even more people against director Zack Snyder’s take on the Man of Tomorrow.
The mixed reaction to Man of Steel could be a contributing factor as to why Warner Bros. opted to avoid pitting their team-up sequel against a hero like Cap, who has often put the lives of others above himself.
The Marvel Machine
No one can deny that Marvel’s cinematic universe has been successful. Sure, you have some pretty big missteps like Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World, but you have some wonderful cinematic achievements like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Everyone questioned whether Marvel could actually bring together their heroes into one cohesive universe. Not only did they do that, but they made sure that several sequels and numerous films featuring little known heroes like Ant-Man were already in the works.
Audiences who aren’t even familiar with most Marvel properties can recognize that Marvel Studios regularly puts out cinematic content that is pretty good. While you may not always receive gems like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel movies can at least provide 2 hours of escapist entertainment. It is possible that Warner Bros. blinked in the face of the Marvel Machine.
The Box Office
When it comes right down to the nitty gritty, both Disney and Warner Bros. want to make money. There is no question about that. Had Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America 3 gone head-to-head, the financial loss would have been catastrophic for both films. One of them balking first because of this fact isn’t that surprising.
If they had gone head-to-head on that May weekend, who would have come out on top? I’d probably have to give it to BvS on account of the fact that no one has ever seen a theatrical live-action appearance of both Batman and Superman on the silver screen together. The idea of DC’s most iconic heroes fighting for supremacy might attract the larger audience, an audience that has already seen Cap in four Marvel films to that date. Again, this is pure speculation on my part. Regardless, both films are more likely to do better financially now that they are separated than they would’ve on that weekend together.