Can DC beat Marvel?

Nope. Maybe that’s not fair to completely discredit DC and everything they’ve done, but things aren’t looking too good. I recently read in the back of a DC comic that Dan DiDio, Co-Publisher of DC Comics, claimed he would bring DC to the top and be the number one publisher. This stuck out to me, because he didn’t say “best” publisher, because that’s subjective, but he said “number one”, which is a lot more subjective, depending on which aspect you’re looking at. However, DC is pretty awesome, and despite not really being number one, in quite a few ways, I figured I’d take this opportunity to compare the two in the various realms in which they compete with Marvel.

Comics

This is what these two companies are about, so it’s important to look at the numbers and see who is winning. As far as units sold, Marvel is typically a big chunk ahead of DC, month after month. However, as far as quality goes, it’s really up to who is reading the books. What I’ve always said about DC is that they have a smaller roster of substantial characters than Marvel has, but the amount of titles you can milk out of those characters is a lot more than with Marvel. For example, one of the strongest characters from DC would be Batman, who currently has over a half dozen titles that focus on him. Compared to a character like Iron Man or Spider-Man, who only have a couple of titles with their names on it, yet make appearances in quite a few other books. Marvel’s advantage is the amount of characters that they can pull from, and whenever you need a new team, just put a bunch of characters together, use the word “Avengers“, and you’ve got yourself a few years worth of stories. However, DC has recently started a campaign about “holding the line at $2.99”, or in other words, they aren’t increasing the prices of any of their comics, compared to Marvel, who sells books anywhere between $2.99 and $4.99. The price difference doesn’t mean much to me, because I’m still going to buy this stuff, no matter what it costs. Also, the price on the cover doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of the work inside the pages, and I’d rather pay more knowing I’ll enjoy it more, despite that not always being the case. Another issue I typically have with DC is the way their major events and crossovers are handled. With most Marvel events, to get every issue of everything involved with that event, you are looking at buying dozens of books. However, if you only like one character in that event, you can read their title and learn what their role was in that event, for the most part. Even though DC doesn’t necessarily have more tie-in issues for their events, they seem to link the storyline to other books too regularly. For example, if I am only reading Batman, I don’t want to get to the back and read “Look for the conclusion in next month’s Batman Detective Comics!” Not a major issue, and I’m sure some people will defend that format of storytelling, but it’s just kind of annoying to me.

Advantage: Marvel

Movies

It’s going to end up being the same result here as with the comics themselves, in that there is a larger pool of entertaining characters with Marvel than with DC. Nobody can argue the fact that the original Superman movie series, the Tim Burton directed Batman movies, and most recently The Dark Knight were some of the best movies that were released in the times they came out, let alone the fact that they were movies based on comics. Then again, out of those 11 movies, they were about two different DC characters. Conversely, since the release of Blade in 1998, Marvel has released 22 movies theatrically, with another two coming out in the next few months. They didn’t necessarily all do that well, some of them were just terrible, but these generally aren’t considered losses for the company. For every Elektra, you have two good Spider-Man movies. For every Ghost Rider, you have two good X-Men movies. I don’t think there has been a single Marvel film that has been as critically or financially successful as The Dark Knight, but they continue to produce quality films every year, sometimes even twice a year.

Advantage: Marvel

Television

Let me just clarify that my use of the word “television” should define weekly, live-action series, their success, and longevity. I think once again, we can refer to DC and the depth of their characters for being able to make multiple installments into the continuity of one television universe. In the 50’s, there were Superman TV shows, in the 60’s, there was the campy Adam West Batman series, the 70’s had Wonder Woman, the 90’s had Lois & Clark, and only recently did Smallville have its series finale after ten seasons. DC characters have spanned multiple decades and had quite a few years of successful franchises. Compare that to Marvel, who has attempted this format, yet really only found success with one, which was an Incredible Hulk series in the late 70’s. I’m sure they will be attempting more in the future, but as of right now, they haven’t found their stride.

Advantage: DC

Cartoons

Whether it be Saturday mornings or weekday afternoons, these cartoons are the ones that are syndicated and play on multiple channels frequently, and are shown for quite a few years after no more new episodes were being created. In recent memory, both Marvel and DC had success with critics and fans with X-men: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series. I’m gonna say these two cancel each other out, just to make things easier. There haven’t been too many long running series, or at least, series that last more than two or three years, but it once again comes down to quantity over quality. Since these cartoons are generally geared towards a younger audience, it’s hard to accurate judge how good the cartoon is, based on faithfulness to comics, writing, and animation style. When it comes to quantity, we are going to have to once again hand this one to Marvel and their rate of production.

Advantage: Marvel

Home Video

The term “home video” seems a little antiquated, but I am referring to the movies that are produced by these companies that go straight to DVD or Blu-ray and are typically at least 60 minutes each. It seems as though Marvel tried to set the bar by starting things off a little earlier with an animated adaptation of The Ultimates with the movie Ultimate Avengers back in 2006. They generally release one or two a year, but they are fair, at best. I haven’t seen all of them, but I’ve seen a fair amount, and I’d say the only one I’ve seen that holds up to repeat viewings would be Hulk Vs., but that’s it. DC had a few back in the 90’s, and then didn’t really start up again until Superman: Doomsday in 2007, and every release since that has been quite entertaining. One standout was Batman: Gotham Knight, not only because of the animation styles, the writing of the stories, or the mature subject matter, but also because it filled in gaps between the Batman Begins movie and the events in The Dark Knight. It was a great link for fans and novices alike who were pumped to see Batman beating up bad guys.

Advantage: DC

Toys

I’m not talking about special edition figurines that are sculpted out of marble and placed on a shelf after being purchased for hundreds of dollars, I’m talking about toys, the things you see at Toys R’ Us or Target. Yes, I am a grown up who frequently checks the toy aisle at Target and drags Rampaige along to Toys R’ Us, and it’s evident that DC needs some new toys. The toys themselves are a weird size and look awkward, and I wouldn’t really want anyone to look at them on my shelf. I really do want to buy more DC toys, but it’s hard to find anything worth purchasing. Marvel, on the other hand, is constantly rolling out new toys with new colors and new packaging and variant costumes. They give you a reason to want to buy them, because they just look so fucking cool. The Marvel Select figures come with sturdy bases and the packaging art looks awesome, and the Marvel Legends figures are released in a series, and each toy in that series comes with one part of a larger figure, so if you buy the whole series, you get a bonus large figure. Another advantage might also be that with more movies and cartoons coming out, Marvel can make more toys related to that, but they are still in the lead. However, I must admit that compared to Thor and Captain America toys versus the Green Lantern toys I saw, the Green Lantern ones were a lot cooler.

Advantage: Marvel

Kids

This one is a little bit harder to quantify, trying to figure out which characters kids like more. Working in a public place where I see thousands of people every single day, there’s one thing I know for certain…KIDS WEAR MARVEL SHIT. Whether it be shirts, shoes, backpacks, lunchbags, water bottles, whatever it is, I see plenty more Marvel. I think there are a couple of reasons why, one of them being the subject matter of their characters. Plenty of kids like Batman, but after seeing a movie like The Dark Knight, most parents don’t run out and throw their 5-year-old in a shirt with the Joker on it. Older audiences wear these things, but as far as little kids, it seems as though parents are a lot more willing to toss their kid in a Spider-Man shirt, because he is a high school kid, or Iron Man shoes, despite the fact that he is an alcoholic. Big surprise that the company who is now owned by Disney has a lot more kid-friendly products. I also think another factor in this is just the licensing rights, and with Marvel overseeing the production of more of their movies, TV shows and cartoons, that shit can just get pumped out nonstop without being slowed down with paperwork. Even though I don’t have any statistics to back it up, it appears that kids support Marvel more than DC.

Advantage: Marvel

Videogames

I have played my fair share of comic book based videogames, however, it’s mostly just shitty sidescrolling games where all I am expected to do is mash buttons and kill things. I do own Arkham Asylum, which was extremely successful and has a sequel coming out, but I haven’t beaten it yet. I also own Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, and quite enjoy it, but it’s basically an updated button masher. I think both publishers have success and failures in this area and it might be too close to call. In case you would like to chime in with your opinion on that, you can check the list of Marvel related videogames here and DC related videogames here.

Advantage: Draw

It’s like picking out which one is funnier!

There you have it, the official score is Marvel – 5 and DC – 2. Granted, these are just my interpretations of these two publishing companies, and I wouldn’t have felt it necessary to compare the two, being two completely different companies that just happen to have similar goals, but that’s Dan Didio’s fault for claiming they were going to be “number one”. I still think both companies are awesome and will support pretty much anything they attempt, I just want DC to do more stuff with Green Arrow. I mean, that guy’s awesome! He doesn’t even have a movie yet!

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8 responses to “Can DC beat Marvel?

  1. Pingback: DC pulls a “do-over” « The Wolfman Cometh·

  2. I’m a bit surprised that you say Marvel has trumped DC in quantity of TV animation. Not counting Batman: The Animated Series, in the past 15 years or so DC has done The Batman!, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans, Young Justice, Legion of Super-Heroes, and uh… Krypto the Super Dog.

    Marvel meanwhile has had Marvel Super Hero Squad, Black Panther, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, The Spectacular Spider-Man.

    (I might be missing some…)

    • Valid point, you crazy robot you. I used these two lists to compare quantity, and looking at the list more thoroughly, yes, DC has more.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_series_based_on_Marvel_Comics
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_series_based_on_DC_Comics

      However, I’m not very smart and can’t keep track of things like “history” or “the past”. There are currently four Marvel ongoing series as compared to DC’s two. I guess that was what had swayed my decision.

      • Yeah, but with the exception of the current Avengers series, most Marvel animated TV shows suck. Ultimate Spider-Man is a waste of airtime and I can’t even take Iron Man: Armored Adventures seriously. I also can’t comprehend how the old Spider-Man series was in any way popular. It was a mess with bad writing and horrible animation. In my opinion, you should have DC winning the animation category because at least most of their animated TV shows have been successful.

        And the comics category should also be a draw. How can you even compare it and say that one should prevail over the other? Both have decades of stories (both good ones and bad ones) under their belt. Its like comparing Monet to Picasso. Both have achieved greatness in their respective universes and at the same time, both have produced crap. Saying Marvel comes out on top is just…bias.

      • Thanks for taking the time to read and offer up your opinion, rather than just a “Ur wrong and u suck” response. I tried using a more quantitative strategy when it came to determining “winners”, because as you mentioned, who can argue who has bad better comics over the decades that these companies have been telling stories? Who is to say that “Days of Future Past” was better than “The Killing Joke”? No one, I don’t think, because it’s apples and oranges. Quantitatively, I think Marvel has a larger roster from which they can pull characters from, and the format in which they tell their stories is a little bit more focused than DC’s, so that’s why I said that they “won”. Granted, this was before the new 52, and was over a year ago, so were I to do this comparison now, who knows what I’d say. And, not to sound sarcastic, but when was the last DC cartoon that was really good? I can’t really remember one that stands out since Batman: The Animated Series, because it seems like they’ve focused their energy on their home video releases, which are head and shoulders above what Marvel’s doing in that area.

      • Did you ever see Teen Titans or the Batman or even better, Superman or Justice League or any of the DCAU? Because all of those series were incredible and they pretty are what indoctrinated me into comics. Or how about the current Young Justice and Green Lantern: the Animated Series. Those are also great TV shows. I mean, can you really say that Marvel is winning the animated department when only one of their current four animated series is actually good. The reason why DC wins the animated department is because whenever they come out with a new cartoon, chances are that its gonna be good. Marvel, on the other hand, has only had a handful of good animated shows, but when they do get a good show, like Wolverine and the X-Men or Spectacular Spider-Man, or now even Avengers: EMH, it usually gets cancelled before a third season.

        And about your point about the comics being more focused. Really? Because I feel the opposite is actually true. It seems that Marvel is always in even mode and you have to buy like….10 different tie-in comics to get the whole story. Meanwhile, DC doesn’t have as many events and focuses more on self-contained stories. Don’t get me wrong, both have good stories overall, but I feel that Marvel makes you work more to get it.

  3. Marvel currently has four? I don’t get the channels that air the Marvel cartoons so I don’t know what’s on… but I had assumed that Super Hero Squad was the only thing on now. Is Iron Man still running? What are the others?

    (Oh wait… I just looked at the list. I thought that Super Hero Squad had essentially supplanted Avengers and I don’t think I had even heard of Marvel Anime!)

    • Marvel anime is going to be a Blade series and I think an X-Men series, possibly only airing on television in Japan. As you can see, the cartoons aren’t quite my strengths!

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