Fans of both Marvel and DC comics and graphic novels will generally agree that DC tends to be oriented toward a younger audience, with four-color heroes that always abide by the old comics-code of fair play. Marvel comics tend to be more real, with characters that are multi-faceted and appeal to an older crowd, generally young adult men.
So why can't Marvel remember its target market when making direct to DVD movies?
Planet Hulk was unquestionably one of the best series that Marvel has done recently. The writers and artists took the Hulk from a one-dimensional Hulk-smash, green monosyllabic monster to a master tactician dealing with the entire range of human emotions. He made friends, had enemies, fell in love and became, in essence, the hero of a planet.
The character development, not just of the Hulk, but also of the other characters in the books drove the story, taking Hulk from one of my least favorite Marvel characters to an thoroughly enjoyable read. So it was with some anticipation that I bought the Planet Hulk DVD from Marvel Studios.
I had seen how the stories transformed, badly, for The Ultimates story line as it was adapted to DVD, but thought perhaps that Marvel had learned its lesson and targeted Planet Hulk to the people who read the comics. I was mistaken.
The storyline in Planet Hulk is butchered for the DVD, including a strange choice to leave out one of the main characters, a member of The Brood. The screenplay writers also made uncomprehensible changes to the storyline, removing the Silver Savage aka the Silver Surfer and replacing him with Beta Ray Bill.
For someone who has not read the Planet Hulk book, the DVD is not a bad story, but for fans of the comic, the movie simply fell short. It also seemed directed at a younger audience.
It was disappointing, but not unexpected.
What was unexpected was the DC DVD Wonder Woman. Starring the voice talents of Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion, the story is a retelling of the origins of Wonder Woman, including the connection of the Amazons to the Greek gods. Admittedly, I am not as familiar with Wonder Woman and recent story lines as I am with Marvel plot lines.
However, the Wonder Woman DVD was far and away better than Planet Hulk in large part because DC seemed to understand who its audience was. The movie is smart and modern, with Wonder Woman more than willing to kill her enemies and kick a few in the balls if it helps her cause. The story even features quips from Fillion's character about Wonder Woman's "rack" and his attempt to seduce the Amazonian princess with tequila.
The animation of Wonder Woman left something to be desired as there seems to be no reason with modern technology that the Amazons, especially Diana, had very angular hair. And, Marg Helgenberger as the voice of Hera seemed stiff and dull, but otherwise Wonder Woman is a far better story that the movie version of Planet Hulk.
Disney and Marvel would do well to take a lesson from DC.