What's the difference between Marvel and DC? It's a simple question, asked by the casual comic book reader and by the casual comic book moviegoer. It's also a much deeper question, asked by loyal fanboys that can't get enough of the genre.
The answer can be big, it can be complex and it can be debated upon for days on end. In fact the debate is likely raging right now, it usually always is. However the answer itself can be boiled down to one very simple, very easy point.
The difference between Marvel and DC is Spider-Man. That's it.
He's Marvel's most popular character but that's not why. He's also Marvel's top moneymaking character of all time but that's not why either. Spider-Man is the difference between Marvel and DC because he is the most normal guy you've ever seen and DC can't do that.
Oh the DC Universe has normal characters, it's not like Marvel has cornered the market on them. DC's history goes back to around 1935 and in the span of these past 80 years, you'll find plenty of so-called normal men and women.
Vigilantes, non-powered ancillary characters, there's likely more than you can count and many of them have made more than just a minor impact in the overall continuity. So yes, they exist in DC's world.
But who among them takes center stage the way Spider-Man does for Marvel? If you say Batman, you're wrong.
Spider-Man is the quintessential everyman; he's the reason that word was used in the comic book medium and to this day, he is the best example of it.
Peter Parker has problems. He has bills. He has a job. He has responsibilities and he has great power. You'll notice the great power part came last. It came last because it's not the primary issue in Parker's life. The truth is, it's more of an inconvenience.
Kids can relate to Spider-Man because he's funny, he's cool and he's very dynamic. He's everything Batman is not; he's not dark, he's not brooding and he has hope for the future. He's also not stinking rich with state-of-the art crimefighting gear and cars at his disposal.
Not that this isn't cool. Let's face it; who wouldn't want all that stuff?
But adults can relate to him because he's very real. He's not consumed with evil around him or cleaning up a city that depends on him; a lot of people don't want Spider-Man around at all and would be much happier if he were behind bars.
Despite how many times he's been on another planet or how many times he's encountered larger-than-life heroes and villains that could crush him with just a thought, Spider-Man remains real. Whether it's Peter Parker or Miles Morales, the Spider mantle falls to a guy that doesn't want it and would probably get along much better without it.
In Marvel, Spider-Man is the mask, Peter is the real person. In DC, Bruce Wayne is the mask, Batman is the real person and that's not normal. I did say you were wrong, remember?
This is why Marvel is a more relatable, more believable comic book world and it really always will be. The Marvel Universe is a fantastic place with even more fantastic characters but it's all centered in a reality that has a better chance of happening than anything in DC.
The humanity is the story for Marvel. It's the driving force of so many titles and so many characters and it's the most important thing that separates them from the Distinguished Competition.
Spider-Man is the one creation that DC cannot duplicate or even match. He represents the real-world problems and life that most of us face everyday yet he continues to find ways to rise above it. He gives hope, he brings sanity to a mad universe and he embodies everything that's special about Marvel. He's also been doing it all from the moment he was first written into existence.
Spider-Man is the difference between Marvel and DC. That's it.