All that is wrong with the world…

April 12, 2011

Thoughts on DC vs Marvel

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 7:17 pm

DC vs Marvel is an interesting issue for those who care enough, as people tend to have fairly strong opinions on it. For me, the issue is simple. DC represents quality while Marvel represents quantity. DC has a few key characters, all iconic and complex. All have been interpreted and reinterpreted in a myriad of ways, because doing so allows interesting things to be explored. Take for example Batman, where we had the campy 60’s version, the 90’s TAS, the appalling Burton series and the current Nolan series. Has anything similar even been attempted with a Marvel character, or is it even really possible? To be fair, Frank Miller managed this with Daredevil, but by adding a lot to what was a poorly defined character in the first place.

By contrast Marvel seems to bank on having a huge collection of characters interacting with each other in interesting ways. These characters always seem to simply be catalyst for the plot, without ever being interesting characters in themselves. If I read a story about Batman, it can be riveting if he is in his home for more than half of the story. I can’t see that working with many Marvel characters. To be fair, Marvel does have a few interesting characters, Wolverine (whose gain in popularity was also due to Miller), Silver Surfer, Hulk and sometimes Punisher. It’s not often however that these characters are really explored or have interesting story arcs. Indeed whenever I try to get involved I can’t help but feel they have just been stagnating, not having progressed much in the last few years.

One thing I have noticed anecdotally is that many marvel fans are really X-Men fans. They identified with the X-Men during childhood, feeling different or picked on for whatever reason. The thing with the X-Men is that it is so glaringly obvious that I can’t see what people get out of it. Oh look, a group of mutants (people who are somehow different) ostracized by society. I too am different and feel picked on, so I identify! Yeesh. DC comics may not have such superficial metaphors, but I’ll take carefully developed complex characters over that any day of the week. The other thing with Marvel characters is that they all seem to be fundamentally good or bad people. The heroes always end up doing the right thing more often than not, while the villains either try to do the right thing or go back to their villainous way. I mean, can it get any more obvious than a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?

This is a trivial post, but I would be interested if Marvel fans could defend their brand and maybe point me to some interesting counter examples. I still have yet to read Civil War which I hope will explore some interesting issues, although I can’t help but think it’s not going to get across the same message as Kingdom Come did in only four issues, which it does appear to be trying for. Still, if anyone can recommend me some interesting complex characters or story arcs, or just refute my assumptions/observations, it would be much appreciated.

Update 1 – September 19th 2011

Another thing that always irked me about Marvel was the amount of Characters who happened to be a result of radiation. I guess this is a result of many characters being created in the 50’s and 60’s….but still. Marvel has Spider-man, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, DareDevil, Phoenix and probably others I can’t remember right now. Radiation doesn’t seem to be the origin for DC characters nearly as often…instead we have humans with various personal motivations or scientists who discover something new they can use or aliens. Not simply coming up with a new power and using radiation as the explanation for it. It just seems lazy to do so.

3 Comments »

  1. Actually, most people think that DC has the good guys and the bad guys, while marvel has the shades between, marvel has many anti-heroes, dc has batman, so DC wins ImO.
    Your opinion seems like you just switched what people normally think about Marvel and DC, most say DC had no character progression back in the silver age, no personalitys, while Marvel where the first with character driven plots, but well, that’s opinional, marvel heroes failed, like spider-man, DCs not, for example many say back then you could exchange the dialogue between all the JLA members and it still would make the same story, but today, well, both get back to the basics, superman again was superboy, with the legion, spider-man is unmarried, hal and barry are back as Flash and lantern and so on and so on.
    but then again, JJJ is major of new york now, superman is no longer us citizen, bruce is no longer batman, there is a new krypton.
    i pray to god they will stop the multi title 100 part crossovers now, we had enough of them in the last 10 years.
    let the spidey books be spidey and supes be supes.

    Comment by Dominik — April 30, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

    • Hmmm, I don’t know that most people think that about Marvel and DC….my opinion comes from reading the comics and from hearing people talk.

      I’m not so familiar with silver age comics as I’ve read them mainly since the 90’s, aside from certain story arcs.

      I really don’t get how people could say DC characters are simply good and bad though….Batman and his rouges gallery would have to be some of the most complex and interesting characters ever printed.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — May 3, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

  2. oops

    Comment by nslakka — June 26, 2011 @ 1:27 pm


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