Coke versus Pepsi. Nintendo versus Sega. Religious fucks versus glorious nudie bars. These are some of the biggest corporate rivalries that this country has ever seen. But there is one rivalry that tops them all: Marvel versus DC Comics. Every boy who wasn't playing with Barbie dolls grew up buying comic books (or if a boy was poor as shit [and not gay] then he at least read through the comic book rack at the bookstore once a month to catch up on whose asses Batman and the X-Men were kicking at the time). Everybody (even women and the mentally handicapped elderly) knows all the main players in the DC and Marvel universes. Characters like Superman, Spider-Man, the Joker, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, and every other hot bitch or manly man in tight tights that was ever drawn. Comics ARE a major part of American culture, but nobody likes to say it out loud because it'll make them look like a complete fucking homo. Me, I'm above such name calling, you horse cock fuckers, so I now present to you with an in depth look at the Rivalry of the Millennium: Marvel versus DC!
The Marvel Universe has many many interesting players, on both the side of good and evil. Yes, it's true that most of them run around with their underwear on the outside of their colorful pantyhose (Who was the first schmuck who thought that costume design up?), but they're all captivating, charismatic, and have long pasts and histories which factor heavily into their storylines when the writers deem it worthy to remember them. Well, almost all of them are interesting (all the ones not called "Man-Thing" or "the Falcon"). The Marvel denizens interact with each other all the time too and help each other out when the going gets rough, tough and super villainy. As a kid it was always the coolest to see all the X-Teams or New York heroes join together to fight Sinister, Carnage, or Stryfe, or to see every heavy hitter in the Marvelverse get thrown into the Age of Apocalypse or the Secret Wars and fight like crazy muties to find their way out. What did DC have? Crisis on Infinite Earths? What the fuck was that all about? Yeah, I might be a moron, but that's who these comic companies should be catering to. If their grand opus of the culmination of the entirety of their total line-up and history can't even be comprehended by a 5th grader with a decent IQ, then they've FAILED.
This is not to say that Marvel hasn't dropped the ball on some of their major character crossovers. X-Tinction Agenda blew, as did Earth and Universe X, but their success rate far outpaces DC.
Yes, it all depends on who is writing for a certain character or group, as even the lamest of the lame heroes and villains can become really cool and not gay in the right hands (say all of DC's lamest B and C-listers in the hands of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini... which I'll hit on below in CARTOONS), and some of the coolest heroes can become rather pathetic if a talentless hack tries to leave his mark on them... But I'm just talking overall -- and overall this bout goes to Marvel.
Anyway, it's really not a big deal that Batman patrols Gotham and Supes Metropolis, but it's much much more rugged to know that Spider-Man swings through the streets of Manhattan on a daily basis, and if you ever visit the burg you might find yourself walking down a boulevard that some background artist drew in a past issue. Not that this makes Spidey, the Avengers, or the X-Men "more real" or anything. But it makes them that much more interesting. Another win for Marvel.
It's been said time and time before, and I'll say it again here only because it's so goddamn true, but before Stan the Man brought his characters to the page, all the heroes were fairly bland and way too perfect. Superman was indestructible. He was strong enough to punch planets out of orbit, and nothing (except pathetic and hard-to-find glowing pieces of rock) could stop him. Batman was a normal human without any special super powers, but he was an uber-rich bastard playboy when he took off the cape and cowl at night. This was also back before Bats became the brooding bastard that he's known as today. Back then he was just some goofy whacko who ran around with a mask and pointy ears punching out clowns and throwing boomerangs shaped like bats at crooks, while his ass-candy sidekick brought up the rear. Stan Lee made his characters fallible and gave them shitty lives that readers could relate to. Spider-Man didn't win all his fights, and he had a hard time getting any poon tang and making the rent. The X-Men were just a bunch of kids (most with powers they couldn't control) who humanity hated, and they questioned their Q-ball leader over their roles of protectors of those who thought they were the devil reborn. And the Incredible Hulk was just shat upon all the way to the nuclear testing site and back again, constantly chasing some Betty Ross ass that he'll never get (seriously, I dunno, did he ever tag her?). Yeah, Marvel's heroes had special and cool powers, but everything else in their lives seemed to constantly ass-rape them with a baseball bat wrapped in razor wire when they weren't looking.
Beyond that, Marvel did something with its comic book lineup that nobody had truly successfully accomplished in the past. It started its flagship series over again in the late 90s, early 2000s, with the Ultimate Universe. Yeah yeah, Batman Year One, and all the crap from the Crisis 1 did happen in DC Land, but they suck compared to their originals (and you STILL need to know what happened before Crisis 1 in order to fully understand the DCverse. Shenanigans!). And who really thinks it's clever that they turned the Catwoman into a hooker in the revamp of Batman? All DC tried to do was make their comics more "edgy" than they originally were (which was some 50 years earlier for god sake... Making them edgier than something written during the era when prohibition seemed like a good idea really didn't take much). I'm not saying that restarting some of DC's timelines was a bad idea (in fact it's a good idea if done right [see CARTOONS below for how to do it right]), just that this attempt was poorly handled. The entire 80s DC Universe was poorly handled. But Marvel in the 90s did it right. They brought Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers/Ultimates back to life, and without decades of confusing back stories to hinder them... And they were GOOD. They didn't follow the original storylines exactly, but they kept elements of them for longtime fans to nod approvingly at, while allowing n00bs to say "Oooh yeah, I remember hearing something about that Gwen Stacy girl. I like her. I hope she becomes Peter's new girlfriend." Overall I'd have to say that Marvel is now 3 for 3. But wait...
The 90s Batman cartoon was as close to perfection as one could have hoped for. The mood was bleak (but not disturbingly so), Batman was truly the real side to the man and Bruce Wayne was the mask, and the supporting characters (from Commish Gordon, to Alfred the butler, to all of both Bruce and Bat's friends and allies) were spot the fuck on. But past even that, the bad guys were portrayed even better than I could have dreamed. The previously mentioned Joker, Two Face (played by Bull Shannon from Night Court), and the imposing Ra's Al Ghul were all worthy opponents of the Dark Knight. And Kevin Conroy's voice for the lead was better casting than I think even Dini and Timm thought they'd ever get. Why the WB ever thought they could top this perfection (with the shitty re-restart to the timeline, The Batman) is beyond me.
And beyond Batman TAS, Bruce and Paul also gave us a Superman show (in which the flying boy scout wasn't gay or a total douche), a Batman Beyond show, and two Justice League series that kept (almost) perfect continuity with the previous shows throughout their entire runs. Beyond that, they did the impossible and made me care about such C-list DC heroes as Booster Gold and Vixen. I'd go on more about all of these series and accomplishments, but I'd just be saying the same thing over and over again: basically I'd suck both Dini and Timm's cock and balls for just one more show featuring the perfect cast that they've already assembled over the years. That doesn't make me a homo, does it? Nah, just a lover of the arts.
Marvel, on the other hand, has had a pretty lousy track record on the small screen. There were those two Spider-Man cartoons I already talked about, but there was also the revamped 90s Spider-Man toon, and the 90s X-Men series... Neither of which outright sucked, but when compared to both the Batman and Superman shows of the same period, you can see just how much Marvel missed the mark. The X-Men cartoon actually did a decent job of relaying a LARGE portion of the comic book's (convoluted) story into a weekly series, but the animation was TERRIBLE. The average frame looked like it was drawn by a combined effort between Corky and Rain Man. Definitely bad... Bad bad bad. Haynes on the highway, Wapner at 5... Definitely retardedly bad. The Spider-Man 90s toon had a decent animation budget, and tried hard to get all of Spidey's main villains and supporters in for some screen time, but it was ultimately aimed only at toddlers. The scripts and the delivery of lines by Peter Parker were pathetic. He would just wax on and on about "love, " or his lack thereof of "love" ... On and on and on. Seriously, Pete, just swing down to the street, grab a cheap hooker, and have your radioactive way with her while slinging through the valleys of skycrapers in downtown New York. That would probably be the greatest orgasm of your sad and lonely life.
Ugh, and let us not forget the more modern Marvel attempts at "cutting edge" animation: the MTV Spider-Man computer-animated show, the poorly written X-Men Evolution (well, the third and final season was alright), and the straight to video Ultimate Avengers (which did a FANTASTIC job of butchering the great storytelling of the original Ultimates comics)... But the less said about these the better.
DC rules the world of animation. Now if only Timm and Dini would make a theatrical Kingdom Come I could die a happy geek.
Anyway, there have been movie serials made about Superman and Batman since WWII (Batman even fought Nazis and Japs in one series if I remember correctly), but none of them really floated my boat. Most were done on the cheap, and I don't think they even utilized any of the heroes' already well known rogues galleries in them (don't correct me if I'm wrong, I don't really give a shit). Then came the 1970s and Richard Donner. Dick took hold of the Superman legend and turned it into box office gold. He made us believe that a man could fly, and that that flying man had to look like the wimpiest fucking alien who ever crash landed on the planet (with the stupidest haircut and no real physique) in order to do it properly. The 70s Superman flick wasn't totally terrible, but it was totally terribly miscast. Margot Kidder as Lois Lane? Lois is supposed to be HOT HOT HOT. Margot was never in her entire life described as "attractive" let alone "bangable." I'm sure that people blind for life, who miraculously found that they could see after a risky occular operartion could be shown pictures of ugly things in a scientific experiment (like dead, bloated rats, diseased and dying leprosy patients, and pictures of women shitting into guys' mouths), and then they'd show them a picture of Margot Kidder and these newly sighted people would scream in terror. She's a fucking dog. And I'm sorry, but Christopher Reeve wasn't the best person to fill the role of Supes either. He played Clark Kent as a total pansy and a pussy, and he just didn't look anything close to intimidating or tough as Superman. Look at the Bruce Timm and Paul Dini animated Superman cartoon. THAT'S how you do Superman right. Clark isn't a lame goofball who only wears suits 10 years out of style -- he's just a regular joe who sometimes acts a bit klutsy and dorky. And Superman is an IMPOSING figure. He's a bad ass when he wants to be, but he's still a boy scout most of the time. Not a pussy.
Aaaaanyway, then came 1989 and Tim Burton's retelling of Batman. Back in '89 I thought that this was the coolest, most badass movie ever made. Then I forgot about it for a few years and watched both Batman and Batman Returns in a row. I then cried at how I just ruined my childhood memories. They are both really... not "lame", and not "faggy"... but just not "good." The other 90s Batman movies (starring Val Kilmer and George Clooney) are like that make believe Superfriends cartoon that never really happened, but up until this point it was pretty much DC who ruled the theatrical grosses with their creations. All Marvel really had going for themselves was some really shitty straight-to-video movies starring Captain America (and his old girlfriend's granddaughter or some such shit) and the Punisher (starring Dolph Lundgren... who unfortunately could do nothing to save this piece of filth). It wasn't until Marvel took a chance with a secondary character in their line up of heroes, and let David Goyer go apeshit with the violence in order to turn Blade into an R-rated action tour d' force, that the big M was able to get its greedy little paws into the box office bank itself.
Then the theatrical tide totally turned towards Marvel. Spider-Man (1 and 2), the X-Men (1 and 2), and the Hulk... Wait, no, but Spidey and the X-Men did a good job of earning greenbacks and critics' respect in theaters. But then Marvel got greedy and started shitting out stuff like the Fantastic Four, Elektra and Blade Trinity... but as long as X-Men 3 and Spider-Man 3 are not outright eye-gougingly bad, then I'll forgive them. Just like I forgave DC for their movie intestinal expulsions because of the greatness of Batman Begins.
This is a tough call, but I think I have to pick Marvel for their mastery of the movies. Sorry, DC.
THE POINTS ARE TALLIED