Hello, and welcome to Clash at the Stash, a staff collaboration series from those of us here at The Nerd Stash. This entertainment series pits two of our writers against each other over hotly contested nerd culture topics that have been going on from days to decades.
When Clash at the Stash was first created, there were several big-time topics we knew we had to cover. Tomb Raider vs. Uncharted, PlayStation Games vs. Xbox Games, and Mario vs. Zelda were just a few of those aforementioned projects. But this one is possibly our most important Clash at the Stash yet. It’s time for Marvel vs. DC: Dawn of Justice.
Wait, no. It’s… just Marvel vs. DC. However, if this article does well, we could release a lengthier and more coherent version of this Clash at the Stash called TheNerdStash-cut.
This debate can span over Marvel and DC’s animation, games, comics, television shows, and of course, the cinematic films. So that means every highlight of the MCU and the lowlights of the Marvel comics are on the table here. The same goes for DC’s tremendous catalog of animated content compared to its hit-or-miss DCEU. It’s a lot for our writers to cover so let’s get to the rules and introductions.
Here are the rules. Both writers will have 500-1,000 words to argue for their side or to bash the opposition. After they are done with that, I’ll direct you to our three judges (other members on TNS staff), who’ll give out their final verdict based on what the writers said and how entertaining they were.
In the metaphorical corner of Marvel, we have Erin Hagan making her Clash at the Stash debut.
And in the corner of DC, we have Billy Whitehouse. Billy’s sitting at 1-1 and he’s looking to climb the rankings with a win here. Under most circumstances, this is where I would ask our writers to provide proof of their fandom with some snarky comment or an interesting anecdote involving the subject they’re arguing for. Instead, I want to direct you all to Billy’s profile picture with The Nerd Stash.
Yeah, I don’t think we need any more proof. Erin, why don’t you start with why you think Marvel is the superior superhero brand:
Ask anyone on the street about superheroes and more than likely, the first thing that comes to mind is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The MCU is wildly popular (and for good reason). The characters are dynamic and the casting is fantastic. However, Marvel as a whole is even better than its cinematic counterpart. Marvel is a decades-old comic book creator and its movies have been around longer than what most people think. DC, Marvel’s major competitor, is an excellent comic book company but Marvel rises in many places where DC fails.
Instead of the traditional Clash at the Stash argument, let’s go with something fresh. Here’s a list of 10 reasons why Marvel is better than DC:
1) Marvel’s Comic Book Universe Is Bigger
Marvel’s comic book universe is expansive. There are several groups of heroes from the X-Men to the Avengers to the Guardians of the Galaxy to the Fantastic Four. There are heroes all across the spectrum and they hail from a wide variety of ethnicities and nationalities.
2) Marvel Isn’t Afraid To Showcase Heroes With Disabilities
Except for Hawkeye not being portrayed as deaf in the MCU, Marvel has a better track record of heroes that overcome physical and emotional challenges on their paths to heroism. Professor X can’t walk, Deadpool has schizophrenia, Tony Stark is an alcoholic, Hawkeye is deaf, Rogue can’t touch other people, Wolverine is an amnesiac, and Daredevil is blind. These heroes are still stellar at what they do and they turn their weaknesses into strengths.
3) Their Heroes Are More Relatable
Wonder Woman and Superman are amazing but it’s hard to relate to a literal Greek goddess and an ultra-powerful alien. In contrast, I can very much relate to Peter Parker. I completely understand the challenges of finding a job, paying rent, managing school, and still trying to have a social life. For all that the X-Men run around saving the world, they also live in a school and we all understand the struggles of high school. Deadpool may have schizophrenia and he may not be able to die, but he also struggles with wanting to connect with people. Rogue can’t touch another person without hurting them and the loneliness she feels is something we all have at some point in our lives.
4) The Comics Will Actually Make You Laugh
DC is extremely heavy. Batman is great and all but he’s not known for his jokes and playful banter. Marvel’s heroes, even the serious ones, are bound to make audiences laugh. Even The Punisher and the Winter Soldier have levity in their comics. There are times where I read a DC comic and feel like I need therapy afterward. Marvel is much better because of that lighter tone in its content.
5) People Of All Ages Can Read Marvel Comics
Marvel is something that people of all ages can enjoy, with a few exceptions like Deadpool and The Punisher. DC is very much for mature audiences; they even have a special line of comics that is not necessarily suitable for children. Marvel is accessible to all ages. Kids and adults alike can find something to enjoy in the majority of Marvel’s content.
6) Marvel Has Better Video Games
Marvel has cornered the superhero video game market in 2020. They’ve had several amazing games on different consoles, including 2018’s Spider-Man game from Insomniac. In the future, Marvel has a VR game coming out for Iron Man and an Avengers game planned for later this year.
7) Marvel’s Locations and Themes Are Realistic
The vast majority of Marvel’s locations are realistic. For instance, you can visit New York and Washington DC — Metropolis not so much. Marvel also includes realistic themes in its content. The persecution the X-Men face is something that any marginalized community could relate to… to a certain extent. On a less serious note, the subtle acknowledgment between Captain America and Spider-Man about their respective neighborhoods is a thing all New Yorkers can relate to.
8) Its Heroes Are Standalone
Marvel’s heroes can stand on their own. Spider-Man does sometimes team up with the Avengers but he also does his own thing. Daredevil is largely a solo hero and, while he does team up occasionally, he’s his own character who can stand alone. Wolverine may be part of the X-Men but he goes solo all the time. Marvel devotes itself to making all of its heroes capable of doing things independently. Especially their female characters, who are often more powerful. Professor X might be a powerful telepath, but he’s got nothing on Jean Grey. Jessica Jones kicks butt on a regular basis and Captain Marvel is one of the most powerful Marvel characters out there.
9) Marvel Has Better TV Shows Than DC
CW has put out some decent DCTV shows. Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold in the Arrowverse is perfection, but those shows have deviated from the comics and drawn some criticism in doing so. Marvel has had some amazing TV shows, The Defenders and Iron Fist notwithstanding. Its series like Cloak and Dagger, Inhumans, and Jessica Jones have been great adaptations of fan-favorite characters. That’s not counting some of their wonderful animated series such as X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men, and Spider-Man.
10) Finally, The MCU (And Marvel’s Other Movies)
The MCU is one of Marvel’s biggest draws. Its cinematic universe is original. The movies don’t strictly follow the comics, but they’re still compelling and fun to watch. The casting is well done, and the writing is on point. It’s undeniable that the MCU has consistently outperformed any movie DC has put out recently. That’s not even bringing up other Marvel movies that aren’t part of the MCU but have garnered a faithful following of their own.
I enjoy reading both DC and Marvel comics but, if I have to pick, Marvel wins. The characters speak to me on a more personal level every time I read them and I find myself connecting with the Marvel universe a little more. That’s what I look for in a comic, something that pulls me in and leaves me wanting more.
First things first: The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been consistently top-notch and it’s made a huge cultural impact. The DCEU has… not. To argue that would be like saying 1×1=2. And I’m no Terrance Howard.
But we’re here today to discuss the entire body of work from these behemoths in the comic and entertainment industry. With that being said, I assert that while the quality of both brands has ebbed and flowed over time, DC has by far had more impact on culture and entertainment than Marvel.
Let’s start with the obvious. DC invented the modern superhero. Action Comics #1 featured a man who would shed his mundane clothes and identity to reveal colorful tights and use his super strength (and eventually flight) to punch evildoers into submission. Love him or hate him, Superman has been the template for the entire genre for almost 100 years. Shortly thereafter, Detective Comics introduces a more “realistic hero”; a man without superpowers who used his intelligence and vast wealth to also punch evildoers into submission.
Superman and Batman. Zeus and Hades. Yin and yang. Alpha and Omega.
Without Siegel and Shuster and Kane and Finger, we would not have had Lee and Kirby.
Comparing DC to Marvel has always felt a little strange to me for that reason. Marvel is great at telling human stories through the medium of tights and eye lasers, but the scope of DC is truly Olympian. It’s like comparing Homer to Hemingway. Both are great and valuable in their own way, but DC seems so much more epic and timeless.
But enough philosophizing. At the end of the day, comics are entertainment. So how’s DC been on that front?
As far as books go, both DC and Marvel have their fair share of quality stuff. All-Star Superman and Dark Knight Returns are absolute masterpieces. But so was the Civil War event. Then again, Watchmen (A DC property) is the most decorated and celebrated graphic novel of all time. Frankly, it’s tough for me to argue books because, as far as modern stuff goes, I’m more of an Image guy (if you’re not reading Saga or Rat Queens, do you even comics?).
Like I said up top, there’s no denying the quality of the MCU (especially in contrast to the DCEU). It’s even fair to say we may not have had Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series without X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002).
Those were the films that proved superhero movies could be successful. Also, for my money, those older DC films hold up better than X-Men or Spider-Man (although Spider-Man 2 is a masterpiece and I’ll fight you in the street if you say otherwise).
Additionally, DC is still producing quality content outside of its tent pole live-action films. The Arrowverse has been incredibly well-received and employed my old friend/acting buddy Zachary Spicer (Hey, Zack! Love your stuff!). DC’s animated features are also consistently top quality from the more mature Gods and Monsters down to the kid-friendly (and hilarious) Teen Titans GO! The Movie.
So, in conclusion, DC beats Marvel because it is the OG. DC created both comics and comic movies as we know them. And they’re still going strong after 100 years.
And there we have it. Erin gave out a ton of points on why she thinks Marvel is better while Billy focused on DC influencing Marvel comics and comic book movies as we know them today.
On Friday, we’ll release part 2 of this Clash at the Stash debate with verdicts from our judges. Until then, you can tell us your thoughts and who you think won either on Twitter or down in the comments below. We may even post some of your thoughts in part 2.