If you know me personally, you’ll know that I am a superhero aficionado. If you know superheroes (or have been paying attention to movies in the past few years), you’ll know the titans of the industry — Marvel Comics and DC Comics — and the debates on which company is better. From my perspective, I find that Marvel primarily excels at live-action adaptations, while DC is more successful with the comics themselves.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) 2008 “Iron Man” was well received by audiences and critics alike, setting the standard for superhero movies. It was the basis for the rest of the MCU, and later led to the creation of its counterpart, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). One thing that the MCU is particularly praised for is its casting ability. Robert Downey Jr.’s casting in “Iron Man” as the titular character was regarded as spot-on with Downey’s prior struggles with drug-related charges in the late ‘90’s, closely mirroring those of his character, Tony Stark. Similarly, the casting of Chris Evans as Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America is also highly regarded, not only because he physically suited the role, but also in terms of personality, as Evans has demonstrated his beliefs in liberty and righteousness on social media and in interviews.
Conversely, DC has been praised for the gritty, dark nature of its art and characters. DC is particularly skilled with using this to develop more complex characters that are much harder for readers to decipher. “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” a series covering an alternate universe featuring a tyrannical Superman, highlightedthis aspect. Because of the complexity of DC’s characters, readers get less of a black-and-white, good-and-bad story and are left to question if heroes are truly “good,” or if they are just better than their villains.
However, it should be noted that neither company is worse than the other. In fact, there’s evidence for the opposite. For example, “Wonder Woman” from the DCEU is ranked the best superhero movie on Rotten Tomatoes, surpassing the MCU’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Iron Man” and “The Avengers.” “Wonder Woman” also demonstrated spot-on casting with Gal Gadot as the titular character. Conversely, in the comics realm, Marvel has presented the same grit in the “Civil War” and “Civil War II” series that is so often featured with DC, presenting the same complexity of characters that makes readers question if characters are truly “good.”
In short, the debate about which company is better is minute in relation to what the companies’ goals are: relating to people via the media they create. Critique their content if you’d like, but don’t bash only because of company affiliation.
Graphic by Jessica Mo