"The Avengers" is obviously a massive event for Marvel, culminating over five years worth of planning and scheming. Ever since Samuel L. Jackson wandered into the backdoor of "Iron Man" during a post-credits sequence, this has been a landmark not only for Marvel but for the comic book industry and its fans as a whole. In particular, it should serve as a big, giant wake-up call to DC Comics and parent company Warner Bros. to get their act together cinematically.
Sure, they've scored a massive hit with Christopher Nolan's Batman series, and "The Dark Knight Rises" may very well be the highest-grossing film of 2012. However, outside of that property and a solid series of animated films, DC has failed to generate much buzz in the multiplexes over the past decade.
"Superman Returns" had the albatross of a decade's worth of development hell around its neck, and, though it was decently received and made nearly $400 million worldwide, it was enough of a disappointment that Superman will be reinvented next year by Zack Snyder in "The Man of Steel."
Likewise, "Green Lantern" was hugely important for DC's further cinematic success. Once you get past Superman and Batman (and maybe Wonder Woman), general audience awareness of DC's properties dwindles significantly. However, it's difficult to mince words about the film that bowed last summer: It was a commercial and critical flop that failed to generate much interest for one of DC's most popular characters.
The failure of "Green Lantern" has to be disconcerting for the comic publisher if it wants to get in on this wave of superhero films. Attempts to get a Wonder Woman movie off the ground have bit repeated snags, and other heroes like The Flash and Aquaman are similarly stuck in embryonic stages.
By all accounts, "The Avengers" is going to be a massive success -- the early reviews have been glowing, and it's likely to draw big numbers at the box office weekend. You have to assume DC will attempt to replicate that with its own Justice League film at some point.
Such a project may be a long time coming, especially if DC goes about it correctly by giving each hero a solo film, but it's going to be an uphill battle. With Nolan and Christian Bale leaving Batman after their third outing, audiences may have to get used to yet another incarnation of the Caped Crusader. It's yet to be determined how Henry Cavill will be received as Superman. To its credit, DC did can a hot-shotted attempt at a Justice League film in 2010 that would have been helmed by George Miller (and would have featured Armie Hammer as Batman).
Such a quick cash-in would likely have been ill-conceived; while it's hard to say since the project never came close to filming, part of the appeal of a Justice League film (and, likewise, the "Avengers" film) would be seeing familiar faces joined together. Wisely, DC held back in the hopes of introducing these heroes on a solo basis first.
Hopefully DC can pull it off. While "The Avengers" is certainly something onlookers wouldn't have dreamed of seeing even a decade ago, it seems like the tip of the iceberg for comic book fans. Marvel seems to think so as well, already casting its eyes toward the future by developing sequels for "Iron Man," "Thor," and "Captain America."
By the time Marvel is ready to bow another "Avengers" movies, DC might be in a position to develop a Justice League movie. So, quite frankly, Marvel is running circles around them at this point.
It's easy to say that the last decade has been great for comic book fans, but it's probably more accurate to say that it's been a fine decade for Marvel. If the competition can get its act together, then the next decade may be a fine silver age for fans all around. Your move, DC.
Find showtimes and tickets near you on Yahoo! Movies.