Marvel and DC comics are still considered as rivals to each other.
Although Kevin Feige (President, Marvel Studios) and Geoff Johns (Chief Creative Officer) said that they don’t see each other as rivals, there’s a constant fight among the fanboys.
Here are some instances when both these comic giants came into one frame together. Sometimes they fought and sometimes they worked together.
The first time they met!
In the year 1958, DC comics (that was National Comics then) came to aid for Marvel comics, as the later lost their distribution deal. Marvel was on the verge of losing their business if DC hadn’t saved them.
The year 1961 marked the Marvel era, with the debut of the Fantastic Four. A year later the Amazing Spiderman became a smash hit.
Back then Stan Lee didn’t treat DC comics as his rival.
Although Marvel comics were rising to newer heights, DC comics still were the top seller.
Stan Lee named DC comics, Brand Echh
In late 1965, Stan Lee came up with a fantastic idea. He used comic books to interact with the readers. He used the column to promote other comics.
In a column, Stan Lee called out some publishers for trying to alter their comic books so that theirs can look similar to the Marvel comics.
Probably it was the first time when Marvel hinted a competition with their saviour DC comics.
A reader then ignited the war by writing to Stan Lee and calling DC Comics as Brand Echh.
Stan Lee confidently responded to the reader and called DC comics as “ill-advised” competitors.
The name “Brand Echh” became famous.
In 1966, Stan Lee stated that smart people read Marvel comics, and the other comic book publishers aren’t for smart readers.
However, Stan Lee publicly said that he didn’t mean DC comics when he said “Brand Echh” instead it’s for all non-marvel publishers or companies.
A DC writer/creator Bob Haney wrote Brave and the Bold #68 where he made Batman as Bat-Hulk.
In that issue, he made a joke about Stan Lee saying that everyone was copying Marvel.
The rivalry became fierce!
In 1967, Stan Lee took the whole rivalry to another level when he launched a new comic-book series and named it “Not Brand Echh.”
The series had specific parodies of DC characters.
Meanwhile, DC comics launched their parody comics too. It had characters like Inferior Five, and they also poked fun about how Thor was treated differently than the actual version in Norse mythology.
In 1971, Jack Kirkby moved to DC comics. Jack Kirkby was not happy with the way Marvel comics treated him and took part in the whole rivalry game.
Kirkby made fun of Stan Lee with a character called Funky Flashman. Stan Lee got offended and changed his looks after the issue released.
Jim Starlin followed Jack Kirkby and joined DC comics too.
The DC/Marvel crossovers
DC and Marvel comics stopped the rivalry for some time and started doing crossovers.
Spiderman and Superman met up twice, and the Incredible Hulk had a team-up with Batman. There were other crossover events too.
In 1983, DC and Marvel comics had an eventful crossover; the Avengers/Justice League of America.
The project failed, and both the parties started blaming each other. As a result, all future crossovers were cancelled.
The then Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter tried explaining his part but didn’t get a response.
Jim Shooter left Marvel soon, and the rivalry died down.
The rivalry returns!
DC and Marvel comics again came back to do crossovers. They even went on to combine characters for the Amalgam comics.
Joe Quesada joined Marvel as Editor-in-chief and said that he liked the rivalry between the two companies.
He went on to bad-mouth DC comics and even compared Superman and Batman with pornstars.
Bill Jemas who was the Chief Operation Officer then even created a parody of Superman’s Smallville stories. He named the comic series as “Marville.”
Further, in Amazing Spiderman #516, there’s a shot where a news reporter says on the TV that the stock of Time-Warner went down because of DC comics.
The distribution game
In 1995, Marvel comics challenged Diamond Comic Distributor (DC comics’ publisher) and bought the world’s third largest comic book distributor, Heroes World Distributor.
Marvel started their own in-house distribution.
Diamond Comic Distributor, meanwhile, acquired the distribution rights of DC comics fully.
In 1997, Heroes World Distributor failed, and Marvel was again in a loss.
Marvel selling the characters’ movie rights
Marvel sold the movie rights of their characters to different studios.
From there both the comic book companies struggled to keep up with the time.
However, Marvel comics and Stan Lee sometimes poked harmless jokes towards DC, but DC comics stopped responding.
The ruler in theatres
Now that the heroes have stepped in the movie theatres and Marvel became the undisputed ruler of the theatres, the rivalry is ignited again among fanboys.
The companies don’t see each other as rivals anymore. Both of the companies congratulate each other on their successes.
However, if the rivalry is forgotten or reborn, only time will tell.
Again, despite the love-hate relationship between the two comic book companies, readers and audiences love them both.