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So there's something I've been wondering about for a while now. When people ask what the difference is between Marvel and DC, most tend to point toward the obvious. DC is the people we look up to, Marvel is the people we are. But is that really the case? On the one hand, that's how it started. DC's pantheon was full of upstanding, whiter than whitebread paragons who stood for truth, justice, and the American way, doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do. Whereas Marvel's characters were a lot more 'relatable' and down to Earth, with much more distinctive personalities and reasons for what they do. And for a while, you could argue that was what the difference was and nobody could say different.
But is that really the case anymore? In the decades since Marvel came onto the scene, neither company has existed in a vacuum. Both companies have influenced the other, with DC's characters becoming more believable and nuanced, and many of Marvel's characters becoming more morally upstanding. Batman is more often than not a grade A-tool while Red Hood is probably someone the Punisher could have a beer with. Spiderman is no longer the bitter 15 year old he started out as while Tony has long abandoned the whole 'doing what I can in the time I've got' shtick. And the Fantastic Four are celebrities.
Maybe there was a much clearer difference between the two back when they started, but now it's hard to point to any one big reason that separates them apart. The closest I can think of is that DC tends to have a brighter and more optimistic universe while Marvel's is more cynical and often treats its' heroes like shit. But even DC has its' downer moments. I guess what I'm asking is in this day and age, what defines Marvel and DC? What separates them apart? If there's anything that separates them at all anymore?
Edited by kkhohoho on Apr 24th 2019 at 7:21:01 AM
So I'm paraphrasing Kelly Sue DeConnick, who was paraphrasing someone else, I believe: "In DC, they are gods trying to be human. In Marvel, they are humans trying to be gods."
Now, she was speaking specifically about the Silver Age comics, because as time went on (and writers and editors moved between Marvel and DC) the companies different approach got...less different. In response to the X-Men, DC finally found a superhero soap opera that was a smash hit: The New Teen Titans. Both companies tried to tackle drugs at the same time, although Marvel got there first (with Amazing Spider-Man and Harry's drug problem), with DC's Green Lantern/Green Arrow "Snowbird's Don't Fly" coming a few months later, I believe.
Currently, the approach to each company is pretty similar, it's just the characters that differ. But in the Silver Age, DC tended to go for heroes who were stalwart paragons of virtue (and got into wacky adventures), while Marvel went with more humanized characters with realistic problems (and they also got into wacky adventures).
Although, one big difference between Marvel and DC in the beginning was the fact that Stan Lee hated kid sidekicks, which is why he insisted that they kill off Bucky when they brought back Captain America. This was in contrast to DC, where they gave pretty much everyone a kid sidekick.
The current approach by Marvel and DC is...well, actually, Marvel is a bit more optimistic, while DC is a bit more pessimistic.
Edited by alliterator on Apr 23rd 2019 at 4:56:53 AM
Tell that to the mutants and their latest extinction event.
So basically, both are pessimistic I'd say.
How optimistic or pessimistic the two universes seem depends on what book you're reading? For Marvel, things are more cynical for the Xmen, while stuff like Ms Marvel leans in the other direction. For DC, Batman leans on the cynical while stuff like Blue Beetle goes in the other direction.
Neither company is really more cynical and pessimistic than the other.
This line of thinking seems odd to me given how many myths from various cultures depicts humans and gods as being very much alike when it comes to how they behave.
Edited by windleopard on Apr 23rd 2019 at 11:13:54 AM
I think a large part of what created this stigma that DC heroes are not "relatable" is just how absurd a lot of the power sets for these characters get. Like how Batman, is not only the "world's greatest detective" but also this billionaire that has mastered almost every fighting style known to man, has a genius intellect and is one of the smartest characters in his universe, and "prep time" has been memed to hell and back.
Even that's not universal or company specific. Characters like Thor or the Silver Surfer can be pretty darn powerful or overly competent too. Even She-Hulk beat Aquaman in JLA/Avengers.
How powerful was Aquaman when that happened?
At that point he only had his basic powerset: Strength, enhanced durability, and control over fish. None of the later stuff. She-Hulk only has strength and durability bordering invulnerability, but she's so strong that that's all she needs. Aquaman's not a pushover by any means, but he's never been top-tier in terms of muscle.
Edited by kkhohoho on Apr 25th 2019 at 11:03:39 AM
In other words, it's only recently that he's been likened to being on par with Superman or Wonderwoman, and that incident predated it.
This is why I though he'd lose the Death Battle...that and Marvel vs DC.
Then again, JLA/Avengers was sometimes a bit too disproportionate concerning the gaps between some of the characters. A lot of times they weren't too far off the mark, but with others they didn't quite nail the landing. In one scene Wondy beats Wonderman in arm wrestling like a punk, but it's been stated repeatedly in other comics that he's about as strong as Thor and even on par with the Sentry. If anything, they should've been neck and neck.
Edited by kkhohoho on Apr 25th 2019 at 12:09:40 PM
I think on a whole, DC's heroes are supposed to be far more powerful physically.
Wonder Woman beat Thor in a recent Death Battle, and DC just has much higher feats.
The nature of comic books means there's a lot of Power Creep, Power Seep so that anyone can beat anyone however, so if they want the two Wonders to be even, that's completely within the realm of possibility.
Death Battles should not be taken as Word of God.
Also Thor said he could probably beat Superman in a rematch now that he's taken his measure. And the first one was still damn close.
Aside from that, I think it's all relative. If you wanted to compare both company's power levels side by side in a vacuum, then maybe DC might win out. But even if that's so, it's because there's a limit to how far each company is generally willing to let its characters go. If, say, Thor was transplanted into DC wholesale, you can bet that he'd be on par with Supes and the rest because DC's level cap is that much higher. Whereas if the reverse was done with Superman, he'd be that much weaker. The point being that Thor and others still have what passes for Superman-tier strength in their world even if it technically pales in comparison to the DC crowd, and that's something that should be taken into account.
Edited by kkhohoho on Apr 26th 2019 at 11:39:29 AM
I'm not terribly up-to-date on modern developments in either line (if anything they've converged closer and closer into a grand unified tone of bleh), but the way I see it...
The main difference is less in what the heroes themselves are like, and more in what the settings built around them are like. Classic DC is very much a world-tailored-around-the-hero school of storytelling (which is why, in my opinion, teamups between different big-name heroes so often fall flat; someone has to play by an aesthetic and rules they're completely alien to), while in Marvel the heroes and their world are a lot more... indifferent to one another. Not necessarily darker or crueler, just indifferent.
Put it this way: Hell's Kitchen could survive a lot more easily without Daredevil than Gotham could without Batman.
(This may just be a logical outgrowth of Stan Lee's professed dislike of "made-up" cities; jamming so many heroes into one city kinda makes all of them look a little more expendable in the big picture. So what if Doc Ock kills Spidey on this outing - the Avengers or Doctor Strange will probably kick his butt sooner or later.)
The difference between DC and Marvel, the main difference, is that DC's setting and characters come from a wide variety of writers while Marvel's largely originate from two men; Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
The reason for Marvel's more "mature" stance to DC's, as much as juvenile is more mature than infantile, is largely due to Stan Lee's mentality on Marvel's survival as a company, which was "war" on the "enemy". The reason that's not as pronounced anymore is because DC's entire strategy was taking from other comic book companies as it put them out of business. Despite DC's more iconic stable of characters, sheer familiarity didn't let them beat Marvel. Marvel's fan base, The Marvel Zombies, Lee's Loyal Legion, they were fanatically devoted to Marvel's success. DC couldn't beat Marvel with their purse, they couldn't beat them in court, Marvel actually beat DC in court. All of DC's usual tricks, which until then had steamrolled all competitors in the USA, failed against Marvel.
Still, one of DC's tricks was buying up the writers of other companies. One of the reasons no one else's creative spin never took hold on Marvel the way Lee and Ditko's did is because of DC snapping them up. But the Marv Wolfmans, the Jim Starlins, even Kirby himself after a spat with Lee, they changed DC fundamentally from a story telling perspective. They made DC more like Marvel. In a way this was sort of good for DC, as Lee's marketing tactics were no longer as effective. The zeal of the zombie legion waned, Marvel eventually even went into bankruptcy(and they deserved it after the tripe they put out in the nineties and even more so for the tripe of their bastard child Image) but Marvel slowly crawled its way back, leaving us with the comic book industry of this country today.
Yeah, power levels? You're kidding yourself. Marvel's are WAY higher. It's just that up until that Superman ripoff The Sentry, Marvel's trick was that when a character got too powerful they would send him into space or otherwise remove him from the Earth. After the fifteenth issue or so of some idiot in his basement with a silly mask threatening a team that had Thor on it, Marvel realized Thor was better served fighting living planets and reality destroying time twisters than mad men with wacky science experiments who somehow couldn't do better than New York apartment rooms.
No wait, let me rephrase that. Marvel's stronger gods and cosmic thingies have a much stronger presence in their universe than DC's. It's no so much that The Living Tribunal, Infinites, First Firmament, Beyonder or The Other are stronger than The Over Monitor, it's that as much as people complain about Tribunal doing nothing while TVA failure #25 destroys 75% of the multiverse, Tribunal still does enough to qualify as a character. When was the last time Over Monitor did anything? DC's space weirdos tend to be of the non interference type, so when Imperiex or Mandrak go rogue, it's weird and catches everyone off guard. Marvel's space weirdos are very much about interference, so there have to be entire systems in place for the inevitable Celestial dickery.
The end result is that Marvel has an absurd amount of "cosmic" level types, but a surprisingly small amount of them can be found around New York, where most of their stories take place. DC never saw much issue in Captain Marvel(Wisdom Of Solomon and the talents of several gods) vs Dr. Sivana(good with numbers), and while one writer(Gail Simone? George Perez?) did try to beef up Wonder Woman's rogues as she was in turn buffed up to Captain Marvel levels, for the most part it didn't stick. Rather than keep an ever stronger Wonder Woman off planet, DC ended up creating her own Sivana type(I'm a self made business woman, I sell stuff! I will destroy the demigoddess flying around at orbital velocity!) So DC has all these Titanic characters hanging out on Earth(though at least not all in New York). And again, that's down to Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the minds behind The Mighty Thor and Dr Strange. When Kirby was in DC he created cosmic mighty men the mites of Earth couldn't hope to defeat. And when Kirby left DC they were gradually all beaten up by Superman. Jim Starlin, Kirby wannabe, created great galactic conquerors not even Superman could take in a fistfight, and they were then castrated when Starlin was out the door.
Individual writers just don't have that kind of hold on DC, although DC taking so many Marvel writers has nonetheless altered it. DC chasing Marvel for four decades altered it, even with their temporary victory.
That is a surprisingly accurate description of Marvel and DC.
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