Superhero comics experienced a revival at the 1950’s and experienced a steady increase throughout the decade before becoming the leader of comics for the last 40 years. After the decline of comics in the mid 1950’s, Marvel almost disappeared in 1957, but revamped in 1961 with the creation of Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spiderman and Thor. Since the 1960’s DC and Marvel have been the two main front-runners in the comic book industry.
I will discuss two main points that I believe differentiate DC and Marvel. First I feel that DC characters are more legendary and mythological, while Marvel’s characters have a more in-depth history and chronological epics. For example you could pick up any Batman comic and likely assume he is still a single rich man who ventures out at night in a bat suit to fight crime; DC does have some history, but for the most part DC leaves their stories more open, which provides an easier understanding for readers to begin their comic series at any time. In comparison if you picked up a Spiderman comic, there will be clues as to where you are in the timeline. The history will be more defined and established. This makes it a bit harder for new readers, but Marvel also includes many references to past stories.
Second I believe the two companies developed their characters very differently. DC established its characters as heroes first, and later matured them as people. DC characters started as living legends with extraordinary adventures. Marvel heroes are the opposite; they reflect an ordinary person living a typical life who had to grow into fantastical roles. Though DC was focused on heroes that readers could admire, Marvel was about telling the humanity of its heroes so the readers could experience their transformations. Therefore I feel Marvel stories to be more inspiring.
In 1996 the two companies decided to give the fans what they wanted and put out a series called Marvel vs. DC where they put their flagship characters against each other with such epic matchups such as wolverine (Marvel) vs. Lobo (DC) and Superman (DC) vs. The Hulk (Marvel). The best thing about this series was that the fans of Marvel and DC had the opportunity to vote on the five matchups to determine which company was truly superior. Marvel ended up receiving more votes than DC resulting in 3 out of the 5 wins in the comic series but the storyline never showed one side being victorious over the other.
Although both companies have branched out into new media such as movies and video games, I feel Marvel has better taken advantage of these medias as an opportunity to bring comics to a wider range of audience. Since the year 2000, DC has made 9 live action films including Batman, Green Lantern and Superman, whereas Marvel has 28 films, some of which include Thor, Captain America, the Avengers, Spiderman and Iron Man.
Personally I feel that Marvel is the superior company, what are your thoughts?
Witek, J. (2009). A Comic Studies Reader: The Arrow and the Grid. United States of America. University Press of Mississippi.