Marvel vs. DC Comics: One Is Just Like Iron Man, the Other Like Batman.
At a tender age, most fans of superhero comics start honing their arguments in an ancient debate: “Which is better—Marvel or DC?” They may not yet realize that the fight has long been waged not just on the page, but also in boardrooms and on the NYSE. To understand the battle between the two major American mainstream comic book companies, we can go straight to the source material, because each is very much like one of its biggest franchise players. Marvel, it’s fair to say, is Iron Man; DC is Batman.
As with those two crime fighters, DC and Marvel are both colorful public fronts with staggering amounts of corporate cash and power behind them: DC Entertainment is owned by Time Warner, and Marvel Entertainment is part of the Walt Disney Company. That’s where the similarities end. DC, like Batman, is fantastically regimented, a little bit irrational, and hesitant to reach out beyond its home turf; like Bruce Wayne, its relationships with its extended family are fraught with resentment of its imperious ways. Marvel, like Iron Man, adapts to circumstances, makes endless duplicates of its biggest successes, and always seems to be a bit ahead of the curve; like Tony Stark, it can be slovenly about the details when they count. (Marvel’s book publishing program, for instance, has a longstanding reputation as a total mess, with popular titles falling out of print for years on end.)