DC vs Marvel – Battle of the Ultimate Show
You don’t need me to tell you there’s an ongoing battle between Marvel and DC. It has been been happening for longer than most of us have been alive – practically since their inception.
The rivalry was originally limited to comic books, but as the two universes expanded into the realms of cinema and TV shows, it took the competition with it. Like a nasty itch you can’t shake.
When it comes to the world of film, it’s easy to see that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) takes the cake. Its movies are carefully plotted and intricately connected to form a strong unified front.
On the other side, DC has been struggling to make a movie worth watching, as it keeps recycling origin stories and struggling to keep directors onboard. Even its most popular characters somehow come out flat and it’s fair to say it seems to be lacking vision when it comes to films.
However, things are less than clear-cut when we wander into the world of TV shows.
As TV shows are a completely separate medium, they give the show runners more time to explore character arcs – with storylines spanning across entire seasons.
Let’s evaluate what both companies have to offer, before listing our top picks.
Marvel Netflix&Friends Assemble
Marvel garnered critically-praised smashes on Netflix—shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage didn’t take long to win over a large following, exposing us to the world of lesser known heroes.
The Defenders combines heros from other shows, seeking to replicate the Avengers on a smaller scale. If we could describe this show’s reception and plotline in one word, it would be “lukewarm”, so take from that what you will.
For those looking for brutal honesty and grit – there is the Punisher. And the younger generation can relate well to the Runaways, where teens have a chance to face off with their evil parents. Interesting premise, all in all.
Then, there is the unavoidable Agents of Shield, where we can see some of our favs from the MCU on a weekly basis.
Back in 2017, FX premiered Legion, a series detailing the events surrounding a mentally ill mutant. The show’s main character, David Haller, is the son of Charles Xavier – providing for a connection with the X-man franchise.
However, Marvel always seemed to be dragging a bit behind when it comes to both animated shows and TV series, with DC having the upper hand. It came close to coming on top with Daredevil, before cancelling it prematurely.
All things considered, Marvel appeared to be hesitant to employ its B-rated comic books heroes and always tried to connect their shows back to the more popular characters.
In recent years, they have evolved and changed up their tactic in order to catch up to DC, so there is still hope.
DC kicked it out of the park when it made the Arrowverse – a series of shows connected through several overlapping characters. The Arrowverse world kicked off in 2012 with the premiere of the hit CW show Arrow. When the CW unveiled the show, there was nothing like it on TV, so it soon became a huge hit!
While DC’s TV shows often crossover with each other, the tone for each one individually is decidedly different. Arrow operates as the grim, violent narrative. The Flash is devoted to the relative insanity of its comic book source material. Supergirl is the optimistic, happy alternative to both.
DC has had many shows over the years, but the Arrowverse is the most consistent in terms of continuity, storylines and characters.
DC Added Magic
Over the years, DC has made some amazing shows that don’t belong to the Arrowverse.
Black Lightning is a big fan-favorite, realistically portraying the struggles a superhero might face if they start a family.
Gotham brilliantly portrays the origin story of Batman and his villains, coming close to some of DC’s most popular animated shows.
Doom Patrol is a classic story of how being different is perfectly all right, while Swamp Thing formed a nice following before it was (unrightfully) cancelled.
Coming soon is Watchmen, which we’re extremely pumped for – especially considering how good the comic book is!
DC’s been around longer and has a wider offering. Its shows were once considered dark and gritty, but it has lately moved to the world of lighter, comic-book-feely TV shows.
The golden age of DC TV shows came with Smallville, where the character of Superman was explored in a never-seen-before way. It was new, it looked great for that time period and it lasted 10 years – with a runtime starting in 2001!
DC also wins points for originality – it is not afraid to explore the world of its lesser-known heroes and it (mostly) steers clear of recycling plotlines.
Marvel definitely dominates when it comes to the sheer quantity of material – with quality improving over time, but with the curse of the boring plotlines. It’s become unafraid to portray the darker side of superheroes, so that gives it extra points in our book. We love to see progress.
When you’re a fan of both company’s work, it’s difficult to pick favourites. That being said, we put our big boy pants on and made the hard choices, so that we can compare our list to yours.
5. Agents of Shield
This show gives us a chance to have a glimpse into the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division) – which (if you’ve been living under a rock) is a law-enforcement organisation that deals with strange occurrences around the world. It’s well-established in the MCU, so it falls in the category of comfort-zone Marvel shows.
4. Black Lightning
Black Lightning explores the world of fatherhood, being African American in the US and being a vigilante all in one. It provides for wonderful source-material for numerous debates and makes us put on our thinking caps. It also has great light elements (both literally and figuratively) and some of the coolest villains out there.
3. The Punisher
One of Marvel’s out-of-the-comfort-zone shows, which proves how well they do once they start taking risks. Frank Castle leads us through the brutal reality of conspiracies in New York, forcing us to face our demons along with him. It’s a show that’s hard to look away from once it gets your hooks in & a definite recommendation.
Gotham explores the world of young James Gordon and baby-faced Bruce Wayne. It lays out the character arcs of our favourite Batman villains – the Joker, the Penguin, Two Face, Fish Mooney, the Riddler & so on, while also exposing us to young Catwoman and her relationship with baby-Batman. If there is one word to describe this show, it’s A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. You simply can’t call yourself a Batman fan if you haven’t seen it.
The quirky character of the Flash was always a fan-favourite, but even DC was surprised at the response the show got. It’s one of DC’s lighter shows, but still delves deep into the darker side of life. With parallel timelines, exciting plot points and Flash’s very own team of supercharged humans, it makes for a good watching experience. Especially if you’ve been dreaming of a particle accelerator explosion that would grant you superpowers.
We are extremely thankful for the DC and Marvel rivalry, as it has pushed both companies to make extraordinary shows for our entertainment. Hopefully, they will continue pushing each other pass the limits of our expectations & we’ll get to enjoy their shows for decades to come.
Do your agree with our list & our conclusions? Let us know!
by Milan Radovanović & Kristina Mitić