Comics have been my passion ever since I was a little kid, growing up on Saturday morning cartoons like Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series. I remember watching Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in cinemas a whopping 15 years ago in 2002, at the tender impressionable age of 8. It was mind-blowingly life-changing for my 8-year-old self and managed to cement the foundation of my love for all things comics.
When I began to delve deeper into comics and started reading it, I was almost exclusively a Marvel guy. I hated DC Comics with a passion. As a teenager, I was utterly adamant that one was better than the other. I justified choosing Marvel over DC by believing that the House of Ideas (Marvel’s moniker) had more relatable and complex characters with flaws compared to the Distinguished Competition (the name Marvel uses to refer to DC in the past). I chastised DC characters, believing them to be too God-like and perfect, hence un-relatable and boring as heck with no room for character development whatsoever. I went on believing all this until I finally decided to give DC a chance by reading their comics sometime in my late teens.
It was another mind-blowingly life-changing moment for me, as I immersed myself in the DC Universe, beginning with classic iconic crossover events like Crisis on Infinite Earths and continuing on to other major Crisis storylines. I was captivated by how ‘human’ DC’s heroes are. Although they were like gods in terms of power and appearance, they’re selfless and seek to inspire hope in everyone, to be better and to do better. I’m not just talking about Superman but I can’t deny that he’s the hero that best encapsulates the overall themes and concepts inherent in DC’s heroes. If you don’t feel the same, I recommend reading All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely or What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way? by Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo.
Spider-Man has money and relationship problems as well as experienced multiple tragedies but he still strives to help people and prefers to look at the bright side no matter bleak the situation may be, hence why he makes witty remarks and wisecracks while fighting crime. He chooses not to let all that darkness consume him and chooses to be better and more positive instead. This inspired me to be a better person and more importantly, not to let my problems and sorrows affect me and strive to overcome them instead.
Superman never knew his parents and is the last of his kind. He’s raised by the Kents but he’s never really had anyone to relate to. He could have chosen to rule over humanity but he chooses to try his best to be one of them, even with the temptations to use his powers for his own gain and needing to hold back every minute. Instead, he joins humanity as Clark Kent and holds a normal job and even a family, although he doesn’t really have to do all that. He wants to do all that. Why? Because of his faith in the goodness of humanity, that human beings can choose to good amidst their physical weakness and problems, which in turn inspires Superman to fight for humanity by being the best example for humanity, which in turn also inspiring hope in people to be the best they can be.
How does Superman differ from Spider-Man? They’re more similar than you think. Both of them chose to do good with their powers when they had a chance to use them for their own personal gain. Both of them have problems of their own but chose to fulfill their responsibilities instead dwelling on those problems. They’re not perfect but they try to be, for the sake of inspiring hope in people to emulate their example. They’re both as ‘human’ as any human being although one’s an alien.
Still not convinced? Let me ask you this. If you had Superman’s powers, would you do all the things he does? Or would you use them to enact revenge on those who wronged you or to impress your friends with demonstrations and seek popularity or even use X-ray vision to peek inappropriately? Could you resist the temptation and be better, like Superman?
A cross-examination of Marvel and DC’s characters reveal that they’re not so different from each other, sharing the same values and traits that we loves in our heroes. Thus, why do fans need to choose Marvel over DC or vice versa? There’s so much more to comics’ Big Two (Marvel and DC) than I can possibly explain in one article. This has been merely a scratch on the surface of the topic at hand since I haven’t even touched on the feud between the MCU and DCEU, but I’ll save that for next time. I hope more people realize that you can like both Marvel and DC Comics at the same time.