Marvel vs. DC


Liron Brunner, Staff Writer


Since the dawn of comics, there has been a war between two worlds, or should I say multiverses? Every superhero nerd – and friend or family member of a superhero nerd – has heard of this universal conflict. No, it is not the Avengers vs Thanos, nor Batman vs the Joker. It is bigger than that: it is Marvel, my personal favorite, vs DC.www

What is considered the most iconic characters are in the eye of the beholder. To viewers who devote many hours to the worlds of DC and Marvel, iconic characters can be Poison Ivy, Wong, Jessica Jones, or Bizarro, but based on a study done by Geekspin focusing alone on the number of searches per character, Joker is the most searched character, then Spider-Man, followed by Black Panther, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, Batman, Harley Quinn and so on.


When you view the debate from a generational standpoint, you will see that in the early 30s, which was when DC Comics was created, they were much more popular, since Marvel was only created in 1939, giving DC a five-year head start in establishing a reputation and building its characters. Without DC, comics would not be as we know them today. As they were the first company to create such a style of comics, they set the bar. At Marvel’s inception, they were known as Atlas, a name which carried until the 60s, the decade when the rivalry between DC and Marvel truly began.


In 1961, Stan Lee was asked to create a revamp of the Justice League, so he and a legendary comic artist, Jack Kirby, created the Fantastic Four, which, unlike Justice League, was marketed to not only kids but people of all ages. Even with the success of this franchise, Marvel was still a fairly small company, so Stan Lee took an initiative to create the “Bullpen Bulletins”, which were letters from him to the targeted younger audience, aimed at teens rather than children. By changing the target audience, Stan Lee was able to change the course of Marvel’s future.


Now, this doesn’t sound like it would change the tide of the comic war. One small letter at the beginning of comics from a small company vs an incredibly popular comic company, but in 1972, DC had to change the name of their most iconic superhero (who at the time was known as Captain Marvel). Since the title of “Marvel” was taken, DC renamed him Shazam, rebranding their biggest selling point. What made Marvel incredibly popular, however, was what is known as the “Marvel Method”. The artist and writer would collaborate, the artist would draw a sketch, and only after that would the author start to add dialogue.


I know it sounds like a history lesson, but it is important to understand the basic roots of the rivalry between Marvel and DC. Now, we jump to the modern-day. As I am a nerd, I have an app with access to thousands of Marvel comics, but that is the unpopular source of science fiction adventure these days. Now, it is all about the movies and TV shows. At the beginning of the live-action superhero TV shows, DC had the lead once again with their first-ever TV show in 1953, Adventures of Superman, while Marvel’s first show was made in 1977, The Amazing Spider-Man. So, how did Marvel make such a comeback in movies and on TV if they were 15 years behind DC?


There were plenty of successful TV shows and movies before 2008, but that was a pivotal year for the comic industry because on April 14th, 2008, Iron Man was released, changing the balance of popularity entirely. It was a box office hit, with a global grossing of $585.8 million, and it set up the start of the MCU; even though the Amazing Spider-Man duology with Andrew Garfield was released after the start of the MCU (2012 and 2014). They were not in relation to the MCU because Sony has the rights to the character of Spider-Man. Where Marvel succeeded was by giving each hero a riveting origin story. 


Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and (if you count it as canon to the MCU) the Incredible Hulk, all had their introductions before the first Avengers film. It gave the audience a way to connect with the characters on an individual level, and provided reasoning for each characters’ rationale, unlike Justice League, which was the audiences’ introduction to Aquaman, Cyborg, and Flash for the first time, or Batman vs Superman, which was the first appearance of Wonder Woman.


Currently, the DC universe gets rebooted every few years. There have been many Batmen, including a new one just this year – another issue for the DC universe. The movie Justice League starred Ben Affleck as Batman, and Henry Cavill as Superman, but now both of those actors are on different projects. I am not certain how DC is planning on continuing the Justice League story with different actors, especially after we as the viewers have gotten so accustomed to them playing these iconic characters.


Marvel has a much more personable and stable universe, for when an actor leaves, the character disappears as well. I love the DC universe, but maybe rather than rebooting these characters, they can explore new stories that were never created for film. After all, there is nothing like a Stan Lee cameo, and we all know that DC stole their post-credit scenes from Marvel.