The on-screen battle of Captain America: Civil War may be limited to the Marvel heroes, but there's an off-screen battle of a different kind brewing between fans. The battle has been quietly brewing since the release of Man of Steel. It reached a fever pitch with the release of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It's the battle for bragging rights. While casual viewers might not have much interest in the argument after they leave the theater, hardcore fans are out for blood.
Some media outlets are getting caught up in the spin.
According to Showbiz 411, Captain America: Civil War took in an estimated $75 million during opening weekend. The $75 million opener, if true, is a blow to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The almost universally panned Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice raked in $166 million and broke a box-office record during its March opening weekend.
Take heart, Marvel fans, the $75 million figure isn't accurate.
According to Deadline Hollywood, Captain America: Civil War is on track to gross an estimated $180 million and $183 million over opening weekend. That would put Captain America: Civil War at No. 5 on the highest grossing opening weekends of all time. When the dust clears, Captain America: Civil War will finish well ahead of fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe release Iron Man 3. Captain America: Civil War will finish ahead of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and yes, Captain America: Civil War will finish ahead of Batman v. Superman. Of the films outpacing Captain America: Civil War, two are Marvel films. The remaining two are Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World, both reboots of beloved franchises. Not even Marvel can compete with that level of nostalgia.
The fact that Captain America: Civil War is outperforming Batman v. Superman right out of the gate shouldn't surprise anyone. Batman v. Superman has 27 percent aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes. By contrast, Captain America: Civil War hovers at around the 91 percent. For a brief, shining moment on opening day, Captain America: Civil War had a 100 percent rating. Several of the critics who panned Captain America: Civil War had similar disparaging remarks for Deadpool, which raises the question if perhaps the slick hyper-comedic drama served by Marvel associated movies just aren't their thing.
According to Box Office Mojo, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice suffered a 69 percent week-to-week loss during its second week in theaters, higher than any other top 10 films on the list of highest opening weekends of all time and higher than some of the films lower on the list. This means all the people who bought tickets opening week not only didn't go back for a second viewing of the iconic DC superheroes, they told their friends not to go either. There's no way to spin that in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice's favor. The economics of tent-pole movies rely on repeat viewings, and so far, DC hasn't been able to deliver.
Make no mistake: Captain America: Civil War isn't competing with Batman v. Superman -- it's competing with other Marvel movies. While the media are waiting for Marvel Studio's first flop, fans are waiting for the DC extended Universe's first clear hit. With the smashing success of Captain America: Civil War, a similar story received better by almost everyone, the pressure is mounting.
This weekend, news broke that Warner Bros. made Ben Affleck an executive producer on Justice League, DC's answer to The Avengers. It may prove to be a smart move for Warner Bros. Sad face memes notwithstanding, Ben Affleck is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter and producer. Ben Affleck knows stories, and if his performance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is any indication, he knows DC too. With a little more power, Affleck may be able to deliver the movie DC fans hope for. The question is will it be too late to stop Marvel's domination of the superhero box office.
[Image via Disney/Marvel Studios]