DC vs Marvel feels like a battle that’s as old as time; it’s been raging for almost a century. Is it possible to pick a reigning champion? Some people will say no, but many have a favorite and will stick to their guns no matter what evidence you throw at them. So, to find out who the true champion is, you need to bypass favorites and take a look at the facts.
Marvel and DC both represent different themes in the differences in their storytelling. DC was from the get-go a vehicle for incredible superheroes (often in bright colors) who worked to protect humanity and the victory of good over evil. Superman is the obvious example of this, and his philosophy continues to inspire to this day. Batman was human, but he demonstrated that pushing himself to the limit could make him as powerful as any (in fact, fans of the 80s and 90s Superman will remember the prophecies that Batman would eventually kill Superman). Through their characters, DC encouraged an almost Kantian morality.
Marvel took a more human approach, with characters that had more flawed personalities (such as Tony Stark’s hubris) and themes reminiscent of Greek myths. Even God-like Thor has flaws, which shows readers that being a good human is something you learn – and that you will likely make mistakes as you do so.
The themes of the comics have blurred with time as DC and Marvel began to compete more with each other, but they remain a deciding factor for many people – which do you most identify with?
Marvel’s business decisions have led to it screening some of the bestselling films of all time. In fact, its venture into cinema is taught in 2800 business schools across the world as a perfect description of Blue Ocean’s influential strategy analysis. Marvel’s approach to cinema positions it as a clear champion over DC, as its movies make 45% more revenue than DC movies, even with monster hits like the Dark Knight trilogy. Marvel is already planning the next few decades of movies with overarching thematic changes, such as moving from more science-focused realism into magical surrealism in the next generation of Marvel films.
But revenue isn’t everything – if you examine the superhero study undertaken by CashLady, you get a good idea about regional dominance. Marvel characters like Black Panther and Spider-man are favorites of a whopping 123 countries across the world. DC characters are favorites in fewer than 40.
However, despite the modern emphasis on Marvel due to its excellent business decisions, you shouldn’t forget the importance of fame. Who is the quintessential superhero? Well, the most popular, according to Ranker Comics, is Batman, who has appeared in over 14,000 comics. The second most popular superhero is the man everybody thinks of when they think of superheroes – Superman, who has appeared in over 13,000 issues. The 3rd to the 13th most popular characters are all Marvel, but DC’s two most popular can be argued to be the most influential of all superheroes ever. Is that enough to crown DC as champion? It just might well be.