I may flirt with DC from time to time but Marvel is home. What seems to be the biggest divider among fans of the big two is whether you like your heroes relatable or larger than life. I’m a fan of both but the DC heroes seem more like a pantheon while Marvel heroes feel like people I could be friends with or fight alongside.
These superheroes have their stories so firmly set in reality that I feel as though I could step into their shoes. Of course there are fantastical elements such as radioactive chemicals giving the heroes superpowers but they live in real cities and deal with the same issues we do. Peter Parker has girl problems and trouble paying his rent, the X-Men face discrimination, Iron Man overcomes alcoholism, the Fantastic Four must balance their family life with their responsibilities as superheroes.
Marvel has never shied away from dealing with things happening in the real world like AIDS and concerns with homosexuality. The first openly gay superhero was Northstar, an X-Man who came out in 1992 when he was still a member of Alpha Flight. It was groundbreaking for Northstar to be gay in a time when the Comics Code Authority didn’t allow writers to do more than imply a character might be homosexual.
X-Men is my favorite Marvel property. I will watch/read/devour anything X-Men even if it’s horribly, horribly wrong (X3, I’m looking at you). This team of mutants lead by Charles Xavier has tackled tough issues such as racism and prejudice and drawn parallels to anti-Semitism. Stan Lee has said that the Civil Rights movement was part of the inspiration for X-Men and it’s an easy thing to see with how mutants are treated by people without the X-Gene.
One of the things I enjoy about X-Men is the international flavor; mutants come together from around the world to join a cause they believe in. I also like the idea that evolution has leaped ahead to make mutants instead of a radioactive chemical, magic or being an alien. It isn’t so difficult to believe that as we adapt to our environment, we may need the ability to heal quickly or protect ourselves from greater dangers with other mutant abilities.
Spider-Man is my second favorite superhero (I count the X-Men as one, collectively). His story shows that superheroes are not invincible, not all-powerful. I love that Peter Parker is a science geek who has girl troubles. It’s so human, so normal. His strength of character (and the radioactive spider bite, of course) is what makes him extraordinary but at the end of the day, he’s still got a paper due or photos of Spider-Man to turn in so he can pay his bills. Peter is the quintessential underdog but he still manages to make light of things and insert timely quips along the way.
It’s not just the good guys I love. Magneto remains one of the best written villains in comic book history; he’s still interesting nearly 50 years after his debut. Doctor Doom is so deeply wedded to the Fantastic Four story that I’m not sure I would want a FF team without him, Norman Osborne is a master at personal revenge (to the point of being deeply disturbing and gross) and Galactus eats planets. Don’t even get me started on the awesome of Dark Phoenix and Venom.
I’m also a huge fan of the many crossovers Marvel has done, two of my favorites being Civil War and Secret Wars. I’m not sure if many crossovers have been done with DC since I’ve only read Batman and a little JLA so maybe you can let me know in the comments – has anything has ever been done on the scale of Civil War? Was it as awesome? I can’t imagine so.
The 90s held some of the best animated television series I’ve ever seen, with two of the three best belonging to Marvel: X-Men and Spider-Man (Batman: The Animated Series being the third). Some of my newer favorites are Wolverine and the X-Men, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the short-lived Spectacular Spider-Man. Animated films and television shows might not have DC beat but they have some great ones to choose from.
An area Marvel does have an edge in is live action films. The success of the first X-Men film brought excitement back to superhero movies and ushered in a new era of comic book adaptations. Since 2002, we have not gone a single year without seeing a movie made from a Marvel comic. A few years have seen as many as three Marvel films released. Not all have been good (Spider-Man 3, Ghost Rider) but several have been great (X2, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, First Class, etc.).
Joss Whedon has said that one of DC’s biggest hurdles in getting their heroes on the big screen is that they’re not as relatable because they’re too mythological and god-like for audiences to connect with. I completely agree and it may be one of the reasons Nolan decided to go for a more realistic Batman.
Whedon is directing one of next year’s most anticipated films, The Avengers. When all the heroes come together on screen, it will truly be a sight for geeky eyes. I’m also looking forward to the rebooted Spider-Man. Garfield seems to be passionate about the role and I love that they are taking things back to the earlier Amazing Spider-Man with Gwen Stacy.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Marvel but I know it’ll be both Amazing and Fantastic. How about you? Marvel or DC?
Jen is working on Slacker Heroes, a young adult urban fantasy that follows Sam and his friends as they learn to control their newly acquired superpowers. Being a comic book aficionado, he knows the rules: don’t share your secret, help others when you can, and don’t fall in love with a normal girl. However, Sam and his friends are no heroes and they’re about to break all the rules.
Slacker Heroes will go on submission soon so keep your eyes peeled and fingers crossed!