“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a paper about the makers of them comic books! “ There’s no question that the battle between comic book companies will never end. But nothing stands out more than the feud between Marvel and DC. With both companies, having their ups and downs, we can only compare whose moment is now, and whose moment is coming. With character development and storylines are too opinionated to compare, like comparing an apple with an orange, we can only judge on who’s making more money. From a financial analyst’s standpoint, Marvel would be the clear winner.
Marvel stocks have seen a huge increase in the past few years, after grossing millions of dollars with the Spiderman movie alone. Not to mention the huge success of the Iron Man films, it is no doubt that Marvel is better in terms of making more money. Marvel stock has shown a definite increase with the release of the Spiderman series, and according to Chris Lefkow (2009) the company grew financially so much that Walt Disney decided to acquire Marvel Entertainment for 4. 24 billion dollars in 2009. (Inquirer. net, Disney buys Marvel for $4B, p. 1)
From a movie critic viewpoint, the best quality of superhero films would be by DC. Why? The best superhero movie of all time would have to be the sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight. Plot-wise the film is better than any other superhero film, containing layers and layers of plot twists and Oscar worthy performances from A-list actors, not to mention a great director and crew, as well as highly acclaimed special effects and scenes. No other superhero movie would be able to compare to the standard set by The Dark Knight in terms of character depth and plot while staying true to the comic.
C. Robert Cargill (2010) said, “Not simply the best comic book movie ever made, it is one of the best films ever made, period, and will forever have a place in every top ten list” (Marvel vs DC, p. 1). And yet, how can we measure a company’s real success? It seems we would have to make a compromise between these two viewpoints and come up with a consolidated measurement of who really is the better comic company between Marvel and DC. To come up with an acceptable measurement of success for this discussion, it is important that we lay a few ground rules:
1. With movies being the most being the most advertised form of media on a global scale when it comes to story and character, let u focus more on that area and place comic books and tv shows on the sidelines as sales and popularity of these elements are indirectly connected to the film industry. 2. To limit the range of this discussion, let us only include the top three most iconic superheroes/superhero teams for each company (as using all characters would turn this paper into a novel that will never end).
For Marvel, we are going to use the following: Spiderman, Fantastic Four and the X-Men. For DC, we are going to use Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The reasoning behind these choices lies in their character concepts being the foundations for successes of each company as well as being cornerstones for the comic book industry. 3. It is also important, in discussing these companies tat we take into account that character and plot wise, the two companies are at par with one another, or to be more blunt.
Equal with one another in terms of quality. The reasoning behind comes from a recent review of Marvel and DC by C. Robert Cargill, as well as a recent interview with Stan Lee that suggests that Marvel and DC have been adding fuel to the comic company feud from before but were in reality, just improving each other’s characters and storylines based on each other’s ideas and concepts. 4. The audience/general populace’s relatability to the comic companies would discount everything.
5. Only films from the year 2000 up until now will be considered part of this paper, to account for a more modern view of comic book companies. With these rules in mind, let us begin our discussion with regards to film. Quantity wise, Marvel has more films than DC. If we were to count the number of movies that have been released to the public, there have been 3 Spiderman movies, 1 upcoming Spiderman reboot, 2 Fantastic Four films, and 3 X-Men films with 1 released stand alone film (Wolverine) and 1 upcoming prequel (X-Men: First Class).
Comparing this to the number of DC films released since 2000, which includes Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Superman Returns, 1 upcoming Batman film and 1 Superman Reboot, Marvel still by far outnumbers DC even by the standard of the rules we set up. (If we were not to consider the rules, we would have to include the Iron Man series, the Hulk films as well as the upcoming Thor, Captain America, Avengers films and more.
And these movies would only count those that are the most popular and haven’t even considered movies such as the Blade trilogy, the Punisher series, Daredevil, and many more. While DC has the Watchmen, Constantine, Catwoman and Green Lantern films, DC is still by far outnumbered by Marvel. ) In terms of audience impact, it is safe to say that Marvel films are more successful than DC films. In a survey consisting of 30 random people, 16 were pro-Marvel, 8 were in the middle and 6 were pro-DC, in terms of character and ability to relate to them.
The important thing to note here is that even if we were to consolidate those in between the two companies into DC, Marvel would still be ahead. According to the 8 people who were undecided in choosing just one company, the factor that contributed the most would be DC’s The Dark Knight film. Still, the numbers don’t lie. Aside from The Dark Knight’s sales, the combined sales of the Spiderman franchise would either be at par or even outweigh the combined sales of the films by DC since year 2000. Also, looking at Marvel movie sales, the trend is evident.
Marvel films consistently make money and we can see this in their sequels. Thus, we are able to say that audiences are most likely to return for Marvel film sequels, which just says that Marvel, when it comes to movies, can consistently make money, a lot of it. Why are Marvel films so successful? People like the Marvel stories so much. Now why would people like Marvel stories better and feel more attached to it than the DC stories? It’s in the emotional attachment that we attribute to these stories.
Marvel stories are easier to connect to, because from a first glance, they already offer something that is possible, that is more normal. Spiderman leads a normal teenage life, The Fantastic Four is just a normal family while The X-Men are just a bunch of people who are different from other people. Teenage angst, Family life and Race are just common concepts that we can easily attach ourselves to because they aren’t just present in comic books or movies, they are present in the real world.
Unlike DC, whose first impression offers us an alien who disguises himself as a reporter, or a billionaire who is scarred by his parents’ death or a Greek princess who lives in a no-man’s land (literally), Marvel offers us something grounded in the real world. Hanks Stuever (2006) said: “DC was about younger kids in back yards, wearing bath towel capes, leaping from tree houses. Marvel was about older kids in basements, possibly stoned, deconstructing Thor. DC invented places to go — Metropolis, Gotham City, Paradise Island.
In the Marvel universe, New York is New York, and it’s nothing but trouble. “(Clash of the Comic Book Titans p. 1) In conclusion, Marvel and DC are fictional literatures that are equal on paper due to their current state and constant adaptation to be closer to the characteristics of the other. And yet, overall, Marvel is the better comic company de to its capacity to excel over DC in terms of film due to their initial concept of being relatable being a more powerful attribute than DC’s concept of being fantastical.