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Marvel vs DC

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
I mostly agree with @Dire Bare, but with Hell's Kitchen TV shows DC has managed to create relatable characters such as Dare Devil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Punisher. Teen Titans is also grounded in reality.
Thanks for the nod, but . . . um, actually, the "Defenders" of Hell's Kitchen (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and the Punisher) are all Marvel characters, not DC.

SEE!!! YOU CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE!! ;)
 

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Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
It's all of these things. Marvel's characters had real-world problems and "feet of clay" while DCs were impossibly impressive. Marvel's existed (for the most part) in real places (yeah, mostly New York) while DCs cities had aspects of real places, but were also fantastical.

This is historically true - and still "feels" that way, most of the time.

There's a reason you're questioning it now though: Marvel quickly became more successful than DC, so DC tried to "Marvelize" their characters, making them more flawed and relatable (and generally less powerful). More recently, writers started to go crazy amping-up Marvel character's powers. (I think they were foolish to do so - now you have Spider-Man healing as fast as Wolverine used to do, while Wolverine can regenerate from a nuclear blast. It's a disservice to the characters, IMO.)

So yeah, they're closer than ever before. It's still generally true that Marvels are relatable and DCs are epic, though. Which isn't to say that you can't make your DC characters more relatable (you're better of if you do) nor can you not find epic moments for your Marvel characters (but that shouldn't be done by making them overpowered, IMO.)
The success of the MCU is definitely at play here, but . . . again, both houses have been copying each others success for decades now. Is DC trying to match Marvel's success on both the big screen and on television? Oh yes! But, nothing really new here.

The current Superman show, Superman & Lois, is the most relatable Kal-El I've ever seen! Every episode I feel so bad for the guy as he blows his "dad skills" saving throws at every opportunity!
 

As I said in the WandaVision thread, I believe that this is generally true, but there are big exceptions to this standard. To me, the Flash is more relatable than Doctor Strange, Batman is more relatable than Falcon, and Wonder Woman is a better made character than Captain Marvel (going by the movies). Besides those glaring outliers of this rule, I think this is mostly true.

Spider-Man has more real-life problems than Superman. Superman's "real life problems" are so non-existent that the only disguise he needs to hide his identity are a pair of glasses. The most relatable thing about Superman are his relationship problems, but even those seem to be easily solved and less relatable than those that Spider-Man has, who has to balance work, school, and a girlfriend with his crime-fighting.

Iron Man's origin story is more relatable than Batman's. Though they were both able to get their "powers" from being born into incredibly wealthy families that met an untimely end early in the heroes' lives, Iron Man's origin of being able to escape from terrorists with the help of a mentor using their natural skills in order to help the world just feels more drawing than that of Batman's, where he just decided to fight crime because he still hadn't gotten over his parents' deaths and fear of bats.

The X-Men are discriminated against because of their powers that they received at birth, which is very relatable to a ton of people that suffer discrimination in the modern world. This is just hands-down more compelling of a story than that of Aquaman (IMO, of course). Though Aquaman is Half-Atlantean, Half-Human which has caused him to face discrimination from both Humans and Atlanteans, he easily overcomes this and is able to become the King of Atlantis and get "everyone" to love him. The most compelling part of the X-Men is a better plot point because it is not easily resolved, and both sides have good points. Mutants are dangerous and can cause huge catastrophically disastrous events that have the potential to destroy the world, but they didn't choose to be born that way and should not be discriminated against because of how they were born.

These are just a few examples to support my point, but I could bring up others if I needed to. On the scale of "Epic-ness" and
"Relatable-ness", I feel that Marvel heroes generally leans more towards being relatable while DC heroes lean more towards being epic. (That is not to say that these are incompatible characteristics. There are indeed very "epic" characters that are also very relatable, like Wanda, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, Post-Ragnarok Thor, the Flash, and others.)

So, I guess my answer is "Sometimes no, but usually yes".
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
The movies are a slightly different beast than the comics, as they (all of them!) were made after the "great shifts" where DC became more like Marvel, and Marvel more like DC.

Though it's still a bit true of the movies, but that's only because you have "big moment" directors like Zack Snyder doing DC movies, vs character-driven directors like Taika Waititi and James Gunn. Sure, there's exceptions (and we'll see how much better Suicide Squad 2 will be over the first one). But I think that has less to do with Marvel vs DC than it does to do with studios and who they hire.

Flash is more relatable than Doctor Strange

Now, Doctor Strange was always one of Marvel's LEAST relatable characters, so that makes sense, but Flash has only been relatable in relatively recent years (Barry Allen was pretty boring - the Barry you see in the TV show is far, far more like the comics version of Wally West than he is like Barry, although the comic version of Barry has changed in that direction as well.)
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I keep mixing up which characters are part of which Universe, much to my sons' occasional bemusement and frequent annoyance. So, for a non-hardcore-fan, I don't think the epic/relatable differences are that obvious.

FWIW, I find Superman to be one of the most relatable characters in the genre. Maybe its growing up in the midwest with family who are farmers, but what makes a character relatable is not so much limitations on their powers but how their backgrounds and experiences shape how they see those powers, what sense of responsibility or lack thereof they have, and how they struggle with the fact that even god-like powers are limited when you are not god.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I think its about the prevailing zeitgeist when were created. DC properties were imagined in the pre-WW2 era as larger than life new mythology, so Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman were largely modeled on Greek gods. DC’s identity is that of Superpowered beings living in a human world.

Marvel on the other hand was created in the counter culture 1960s and did just that - create superheroes with flaws who stand as counter culture icons that the rebellious youth of the 60s can relate to. You get the likes of mentally unstable Hulk, alcoholic warmonger Iron Man, poor struggling teen Spiderman, disabled Donald Blake - they are Human beings who gain superpowers.

that was initially, but it may not apply anymore - DC keeps trying to give Superman some human foibles and Marvel keeps ramping up Spidermans powers
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Only New York though? Maybe it's different for Americans, but I wouldn't recognize any other American city. I can't believe that the difference is simply that most Marvel heroes operate in a single city though.

You seem to be missing the point - the point is not, specifically, NYC. The point is REAL PLACES. That includes NYC. But it also includes Chicago, LA, Washington DC. It is New Orleans, Jersey City, and so on...

When a story is placed in Metropolis, you can't really assume much - we only know what the author specifically tells us about Metropolis, and that typically isn't much. In doing so, the author is positioning their story such that the location doesn't really matter. Metropolis becomes code for "abstract clean large city" and Gotham is code for "abstract gritty large city", but the particulars beyond that are not relevant.

We know a lot more about NYC, and the author can use that understanding to great effect, if they know what they are doing. To see an extreme example of this, see Amazing Spider-Man #36, from 1999. Fans may recognize the cover:

1615987004338.png


The characters lived there, and so their emotions about their home became relevant, and connected to ours. To have this happen in Metropolis includes a layer of abstraction that gets in the way of relating to the story.

There's a genre point here - the original technical difference between "high fantasy" and "low fantasy" was not how much magic was in the world, or how epic the storyline. It was location. Low fantasy took place in our world, high fantasy took place on some other world.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
You seem to be missing the point
I assure you I'm not. I understand the point fully and exquisitely, and comprehend it in its entirely; it's not a difficult concept to grasp.

I just don't really agree with it. I accept that that is how you feel about it. I personally don't find that list of real locations more relatable than the fictional ones, other than NYC because it's just so recognisable. Maybe London would have a similar effect for me, but I can't think of anywhere else that might.

So yeah, for me, it's just NYC. That's the point -- I'm describing my personal relationship with the fiction, not yours.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
that was initially but it may not apply anymore

Miles Morales (Spider-Man, biracial). Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel, Pakistani Muslim). America Chavez (latin-American, LGBTQ). Wiccan and Hulkling (perhaps the highest profile LGBTQ relationship in Marvel comics). The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Ironheart. The Unstoppable Wasp.

Marvel continues creating relatable characters - but the middle-aged white guys probably aren't reading much of them, because they are no longer aimed at relating to middle aged-white guys.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I just don't really agree with it. I accept that that is how you feel about it. I personally don't find that list of real locations more relatable than the fictional ones, other than NYC because it's just so recognisable. Maybe London would have a similar effect for me, but I can't think of anywhere else that might.

Yes, well, I'm terribly sorry if an American media company doesn't set the majority of its comics in the UK. Though, Excalibur may do for you, as it is nominally set in Britain.

So yeah, for me, it's just NYC. That's the point -- I'm describing my personal relationship with the fiction, not yours.

You may not realize, but... You asked everyone about their relationship to the fiction. But, the positioning on your responses is to argue with our relationship - telling us you "can't believe" our experience, and focusing on single items when folks have mentioned several that impact how relatable things are, effectively creating a strawman.

I get that the locations I mentioned may not make them more relatable for you. But you asked what makes them more relatable to us. If they are more relatable to more people (the audience being primarily American), then they are more relatable in general, even if they don't connect to you.
 
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You may not realize, but... You asked everyone about their relationship to the fiction. But, the positioning on your responses is to argue with our relationship. I get that the locations I mentioned may not make them more relatable for you. But you asked what makes them more relatable to us. If they are more relatable to more people (the audience bieng primarily American), then they are more relatable in general, even if they don't connect to you.
For a short time there was the 50-State Initiative in Marvel's main earth 616, which was pretty cool since the idea was that each state would have it's own team of heroes.

There's a joke floating around that the only Hero who really knows how to manage stuff is Daredevil because instead of attempting to save a world or city, he's micromanaging the hell out of 10 blocks in midtown Manhattan.
 

Carlsen Chris

Explorer
Like most things fantasy (movies, books, characters, etc...) it comes down to relatability and character development. Some of my favorite PCs are ones that have the best story and bits of roleplay that come through. Movies are better when the character are defined and have development.

Marvel feels more developed to me. I know that there are examples in DC, but this is just me. I relate to the heroes better and feel them. Not sure how this is defined.
I've never understood why character development is so important for internet fiction consumers. Do you like Crime and Punishment because of how well developed and relatable Raskolnikov is?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Yes, well, I'm terribly sorry if an American media company doesn't set the majority of its comics in the UK. Though, Excalibur may do for you, as it is nominally set in Britain.



You may not realize, but... You asked everyone about their relationship to the fiction. But, the positioning on your responses is to argue with our relationship - telling us you "can't believe" our experience, and focusing on single items when folks have mentioned several that impact how relatable things are, effectively creating a strawman.

I get that the locations I mentioned may not make them more relatable for you. But you asked what makes them more relatable to us. If they are more relatable to more people (the audience being primarily American), then they are more relatable in general, even if they don't connect to you.
OK. As usual, not what I said. Never mind.
 

Spider-man has always appealed to me, because despite his super powers, Peter Parker's life kinda sucks. He's constantly juggling jobs, relationships, and other real life responsibilities, along with super villains making his life miserable. Spider-man also has quite a lot of antagonists that know his real identity, which must suck!

Being Spider-man is not easy. He has to sacrifice a lot to protect people, and then gets blamed for it in the newspaper. He can't form a relationship with anyone, without putting them in peril. His work is a terrible thankless one, and that makes him likeable. I like seeing characters be put through the wringer like that.

That is not to say that Superman has an easy life. But at least people appreciate his heroics. In comparison, I find Superman a bit bland and boring. For me, a compelling superhero is one with an interesting unique power, a struggle to keep their identity a secret, weaknesses, and a lot of hardship. Superman's only weakness seems to be one invented for the comic, and it seems like he has ALL of the powers. Not very compelling.

Batman is more relatable, although his vast fortune clearly is not. But what I like about him, is that in the end he is a vulnerable human being. He relies not on super powers, but on gadgets, martial arts, and detective work. His villains therefor don't need to rely on super powers either, and this adds a thin layer of realism to his adventures. Sure, 'some' of Batman's villains have super powers, but his best antagonists don't. They are 'normal' human beings, with a quirk that counters one of Batman's weaknesses. And to me, it is especially this last detail that makes his adventures intriguing.
 
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Ryujin

Hero
When I was a young kid, my guy was Superman. As I approached my teenage years, it was Batman (maybe a little Green Arrow). As I hit my teens and 20s I found those two not particularly nuanced (Sun God, Night God) and drifted to the rock-solid morality of Captain America who was, for all intents and purposes, still just human and the X-Men, for their political commentary.
 

ART!

Hero
I think saying one is more relatable than the other is actually saying one or the other is more relatable to/for you. I don't see how either could be more inherently relatable, given the subjectivity of relatability - "enabling a person to feel that they can relate to someone or something". Lots of things can do that, and degrees or kinds of verisimilitude is only one factor.

The "epic" thing is also very loosey-goosey. I mean, how can Superman be more epic than Thor, a character intimately connected to Norse mythology? Are Superman's powers "more epic"? Is "epic" synonymous with "power"? I'm confused. I think epic scales - Spider-man can have epic stories without leaving NYC and without encountering any cosmic beings.
 
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Janx

Hero
if by "epic" you mean "munchkin", sure. the only reason Batman can beat everybody is because he's written that way. Superman can eyebeam Bruce at will. Flash can zoom by and jam a fork in his eye.

DC has a lot of capes. I'm surprised there's not more injuries and accidents due to them.

I'm not a fan of DC. Their sales # reflect that others aren't as well. 'Nuff said.

Make mine marvel.
 

MarkB

Legend
The "epic" thing is also very loosey-goosey. I mean, how can Superman be more epic than Thor, a character intimately connected to Norse mythology?
Well, as mythologies go, Norse mythology is on the less-epic and more-relatable scale. It's the Marvel to Greek mythology's DC.
 

Shadowedeyes

Explorer
Nowadays the two are pretty similar. When Marvel was new on the scene the characters definitely have flaws and more varied personalities than DC did, and Marvel was put together as a shared universe compared to DC sorta doing it after the fact. But after time, not so much difference. Which makes sense, given writers, artists and editors would often go to the other company at times.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Miles Morales (Spider-Man, biracial). Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel, Pakistani Muslim). America Chavez (latin-American, LGBTQ). Wiccan and Hulkling (perhaps the highest profile LGBTQ relationship in Marvel comics). The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Ironheart. The Unstoppable Wasp.

Marvel continues creating relatable characters - but the middle-aged white guys probably aren't reading much of them, because they are no longer aimed at relating to middle aged-white guys.
Wasn’t Northstar (Alpha Flight) also revealed to be gay? And I believe Marvel retconned one of their cowboy characters as gay as well. All back in the 1990s, as I recall.
 

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