Last week I discussed the differences between Star Wars and Star Trek. Today I will post a comparison between DC and Marvel comic book characters. This is another polarizing debate which has fans of both fighting angrily between them about which comic is better. DC was founded in October 1935 and is currently owned by DC Entertainment which is a subsidiary of Warner Bros, which is owned by Time Warner. The first characters featured in their comics were Doc Occult and Superman. Marvel was founded by Martin Goodman in October 1939 and is currently owned by Marvel Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. Their first characters were the Human Torch and Namor. They added Captain America during World War II. What are the similarities and differences between the two comic book giants? Why is there such a heated debate between fans?
There are many similarities between DC and Marvel comics. First, they both feature superheroes with extra abilities. These abilities are either naturally occurring or are caused by a freak accident. These individuals usually have to conceal their true identities to protect their friends and families (Badgett, 2016). Marvel introduced the mutants of X-Men in 1963 while DC introduced the metahumans in 1986. Second, both comics features the heroes teaming up against a threat or villain. Marvel has The Avengers and X-Men to name a few and DC has The Justice League, Teen Titans and the Doom Patrol. Third, both comics have similar characters. It is common knowledge that the comic writers created characters who were similar to characters from the other comic. For example, DC’s The Flash, who was first introduced in November 1985, is similar to Marvel’s Quicksilver, who was first introduced in March 1964. Another example is Marvel’s Deadpool, who was first introduced in February 1991, is similar to DC’s Deathstroke, who was first introduced in December 1980. What makes these characters similar is their abilities and the idea that they “steal” from each other is evident in the character’s first appearances. Deadpool, whose real name is Wade Wilson, is known as the Merc with a Mouth, an antihero is a mercenary and assassin. Deathstroke, whose real name is Slade Wilson, is a mercenary who is completed the contract his son started. According to Deadpool co-creator and writer, Fabian Nicieza gave Deadpool the real name of Wade Wilson as an inside-joke to being "related" to Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. Rob Liefeld, co-creator and artist, designed Deadpool and was also a fan of the Teen Titans comic in which Deathstroke appears.
As there are similarities, there are many differences. First, DC’s characters reside in fictional cities which resemble real cities. For example, Batman fights crime in Gotham City. Superman saves the day in Metropolis and Green Lantern operates in Coast City. While Marvel characters are live in real locations, New York City being the most popular location for many characters: The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Defenders and Spiderman. Second, the abilities of DC characters are often seen as gifts or blessings which calls them to action and they do their best to embrace it (Diedrick, 2016). The powers are usually developed at a young age or gifts. For example, Superman developed his powers as he grew up under the yellow sun of Earth and Wonder Woman receives her powers as a gift from the gods. In the Marvel universe, the abilities were from freak accidents or a product of evolution which are seen as curse and causing the individuals to be outcasts or seen as monsters and thus becomes a burden. For example, Bruce Banner becomes the Hulk after a lab accident and people fear the monster he becomes. Daredevil loses his sight after an accident with a radioactive substance. Upon losing his sight, he gains heightened senses. There are DC characters who receive their abilities from accidents: The Flash, Green Lantern or even a thirst for justice: Batman or Green Arrow. However, these characters are still treated as godlike figures (Diedrick, 2016). What makes the Marvel characters different is they still deal with real life issues like money, balancing responsibilities (Quora, 2014) or having a jerk of a boss (Mojo.com, 2016). Marvel characters have been featured in dealing with the aftermath of real events, like 9/11 (Mojo.com, 2016). Third, DC has cornered the market with their animation like Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) and movies like Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009), Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010), and Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) just to name a few. While Marvel has found gold in the live action movie market with the massive hit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which DC is desperately trying to catch up to.
While there are many fans of both the DC and Marvel comics, there are many fans who deeply feel you cannot be a fan of one, if you are a fan of the other. Why? To find out, I read different message board threads and the number reason people consistently agreed with is because people get strangely territorial. Look at the different rivalries, which are simply opinion based but because a personal insult when someone challenges that opinion. Coke vs Pepsi, Ford vs Chevy, PC vs Mac, Xbox vs PlayStation, the list can go on and on. According to the individuals who posted on these threads, the majority of comic book fans like both DC and Marvel, although they had a general preference of one over the other, however, not enough to keep them from reading both. One individual said the people who force others to pick a side are either newbies, fanboys or both. These individuals are using wiki as their source material instead of the actual comics. Another individual said fans discuss, fanboys argue and when you don’t share their opinion, the argument usually leads to insult which is how you can distinguish a fan from a fanboy. FYI, a fanboy is a male fan who is obsessive about comics, music, movies, etc. and there is also fangirls too. These fans are known for their complete lack of objectivity and will usually argue in a circular logic that they refuse to acknowledge. With the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the struggling DC Extended Universe (DCEU), the debate between some fans has become more polarizing than ever before.
In conclusion, I like both DC and Marvel. Both companies have been around a long time and with that time have borrowed from each other (one company has borrowed more than the other). My knowledge of the characters are from the 90s cartoons I grew up with and the current movies. I never enjoyed reading the actual comics but I enjoyed the characters. I’ve been a Superman fan since the 1990s show Lois and Clark (1993-1997) and more so with Smallville (2001-2011). I especially enjoy watching Henry Cavil as the current Superman. However, I have immensely enjoyed the MCU films much more than the DC films. But is Marvel better than DC? No, I think both comic books have their merits with different takes on the characters and stories. Most people I know who enjoy comic echo the sentiment I read in the message board threads, they like both but they are more likely to read one verses the other.
- Badgett, Emily. 8 Similarities between DC and Marvel. Fresh U.com. www.freshu.io/emily-badgett/8-similarities-between-dc-and-marvel. July 29, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- Diedrick, Alex. What Comic Book Rookies Should Know About The Differences Between Marvel And DC. Uproxx. http://uproxx.com/movies/differences-between-marvel-and-dc/. March 21, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- Mojo.com Top Ten Biggest Differences between Marvel and DC. YouTube.com www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3r2qF5_u_4. November 27, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- Quora. Marvel vs. DC Comic Characters: How Different Are They? The Huffington Post. www.huffingtonpost.com/quora/marvel-vs-dc-comic-charac_b_5689075.html. August 19, 2014 Retrieved December 6, 2017.