DC vs Marvel: Who Has the Best Superheroes?

"Superheroes fill a gap in the pop culture psyche, similar to the role of Greek mythology. There isn`t really anything else that does the job in modern terms." -- Christopher Nolen

More and more comic books are being adapted for the big screen. Yesterday, the buzz in entertainment was which high profile celebrity would be cast as the Green Lantern, one of the next big superhero movies on the horizon (the frontrunners are Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds, and Justin Timberlake, but my personal pick is still Chris Pine). It's amazing that there are still so many great comic book characters that haven't been brought to life yet in live-action stories. There's a show this week on VH1 called The Great Debate that examines the big questions in pop culture (like "Ginger vs. Maryanne," "Star Wars vs. Star Trek," etc.) One of the biggest debates in fandom is which comic book publisher has the best superheroes. DC Comics has the big triumvirate: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Marvel Comics has Spider-man, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Daredevil. There are other comic publishers, like Dark Horse, Image, etc., but DC and Marvel rule the mainstream superhero marketplace.

With superhero movies being such huge moneymakers lately, both DC and Marvel are dishing out more and more of their heroes for film adaptation. Marvel has Thor, Captain America, and others coming up in the movie pipeline. DC is working on the previously mentioned Green Lantern as well as Flash, with rumors of Aquaman and others in the works.

Personally, as a comic book fan, I never leaned toward one publisher over the other -- I liked them both and enjoyed each superhero title on its own merits. There's no arguing that Superman and Batman were the big icons in the field. When it came to live-action adaptations, DC won the early laurels: multiple serials, television shows, and movies about the Man of Steel; a popular TV series starring Linda Carter as the Amazon heroine Wonder Woman; a hit 1960s show and blockbuster movies about the Caped Crusader. Lately, Marvel has had most of the bragging rights with movie hits about its characters, even lesser known ones like Blade.

One thing that does sway my opinion in one direction is the depiction of teams. Marvel definitely has the best teams in comic book storytelling: Fantastic Four, X-Men, the Avengers, etc. Even Marvel's lesser teams like the Defenders were still entertaining. DC had the great Justice League, but their stories never gripped me as much as the Marvel tales.

I think there's plenty of room for superhero films from all corners of the four-color publishing world. There's still plenty of adventures to tell.


Jeff Singer said…
Marvel's were more realistic. Peter Parker had to pay his rent. Ben Grimm gets dumped by his girlfriend. etc etc

How poor of a journalist is Lois Lane that she can't tell the difference between Clark Kent and Superman, just because he puts glasses on? And no matter how far out the Marvel Universe got (Howard the duck, for instance) some of the DC stories were blatantly stupid.

Marvel gets my vote.
MediumRob said…
DC obviously! Marvel and DC have both plundered the depths of stupidity, but Marvel far less rarely has entered intelligent heights whereas DC has had the Vertigo imprint over a decade, with Sandman, Doom Patrol, Hellblazer et al.

Equally, DC has Wonder Woman in its top three iconic characters, whereas Marvel's heroines are more or less non-existent: as a quick quiz, name one Marvel super-heroine who isn't basically a female version of an existing superhero (cf Ms Marvel, She-Hulk, Spiderwoman) - and who is any way iconic. We had a quick think and basically Black Widow and the Wasp are it, and even the Wasp is basically a female version of Ant Man and, erm, she's dead now and been replaced by Ant Man. And Black Widow isn't really even a super heroine and is only in any sense well known now because of Iron Man 2.

So DC all the way.