Since the dawn of time, mankind has witnessed a brutal and never-ending battle between two extremely successful comic book publishers. The war of Marvel and DC has yet to see a victor, and even today, the two companies do everything they can best each other!
Okay, I'm clearly being over-dramatic. The "war" between Marvel and DC has actually only been going on since the '50s or '60s, and it's not really a war either. It's more of a friendly rivalry between two publishers who want nothing more than to satisfy their devoted fans.
In a lot of ways, Marvel and DC wouldn't be where they are today without each other. The companies have pushed each other to do better, and get bigger, resulting in several ages of comic book greatness!
Believe it or not though, there was once a time where Marvel nearly ended the rivalry for good. How so? By buying the competition! In 1984, Warner Bros. was looking to drop some of their assets that they considered to be dead weight.
Surprisingly, WB was actually considering getting rid of DC and selling it to Marvel, who they believed could do a better job than it. The deal was that Marvel would own the rights to the DC universe, and would continue to publish their biggest series- Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Teen Titans, the Justice League, and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Marvel would have kept these series alive, and been able to expand to other DC titles later if they wanted. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Apparently, Marvel didn't think so. The company actually declined WB's deal, believing there was no place in the Marvel universe for DC's characters.
I'm not sure what's harder to believe — that WB actually wanted to get rid of something as huge as DC Comics, or that Marvel declined their offer! Could you imagine it though? You pick up a comic book from your local comic store (or in today's case, Amazon), and look at the title to see "Marvel Comics Presents: Batman".
Well you don't have to be daydreaming to see what that would have looked like. Believe it or not, there is a Marvel-esque version of Batman out there in the comic-verse! Stan Lee, the godfather of Marvel comics, has offered his steady writer's hand to DC comics before- in a limited series known as Just Imagine....
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Just Imagine... was Stan Lee's chance to recreate some of DC's most popular characters in his own vision, as if he had made them during his early Marvel days. The result was a pretty interesting series of DC Comics that were essentially Marvel-fied!
Since Marvel declined WB's offer, we'll never know what their version of DC's popular heroes would be like- but thanks to Stan Lee, we have some idea. Check out Stan Lee's version of DC's Holy Trinity below!
Batman (Wayne Williams)
Stan Lee's Batman isn't billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne. Instead, he's Wayne WIlliams, the wealthy son of a policeman who was killed in an ambush when Williams was younger.
After being framed for a crime he didn't commit by a gang leader named Handz, Williams seeks revenge. Once he gets out of prison, he becomes a professional wrestler in order to hide his identity while looking for Handz. His wrestling moniker, "Batman", becomes insanely popular, and after finding Handz and beating him, he decides to use his wrestling identity to fight crime and protect his city.
This Batman started off much more brutal than Bruce Wayne, with his origin story centering around themes of revenge and redemption. Other than that, the two versions were essentially the same. I guess Batman's character would fit into the Marvel universe pretty well.
Unlike his fellow Trinity member, Superman's origins were drastically altered to fit Stan Lee's vision. Instead of young Kal-El being sent to Earth as a baby, Lee's Superman story begins with a full-grown Kryptonian by the name of Salden.
Salden is a member of the Kryptonian Police Force, and he was quite a good officer at that. While everyone else on the KPF used cybernetic enhancements, Salden opted to use nothing but his own brain and brawn! One day, Salden follows an escaped convict to planet Earth, where he learns that he has tremendous abilities while on the planet.
Adopting the secret identity Clark Kent, Salden became earth's "Superman", protecting the innocent and spreading the message of justice across the world! Unlike the original Superman, this version didn't necessarily protect the earth out of the kindness of his own heart. He actually just needed earth to focus their time and resources on a better space program so he could get home, so he decided to deal with their crime problem for them. Thank Supes!
Wonder Woman (Maria Mendoza)
If you think a wrestling, revenge-seeking Batman, and an officer Superman were pretty big changes, just wait till you read what Stan Lee did to Wonder Woman! Instead of Amazonian princess Diana, Wonder Woman's real identity is Maria Mendoza, a social activist.
When Mendoza protests against the excavation of a holy site near her village in Cuzco, Peru, the CEO of the excavating corporation kidnaps her father. Unfortunately, she is unable to stop the CEO from killing him.
Heartbroken, Maria vows to avenge her late father. She's given the power to do so by an ancient magic staff that she finds on the Cuzco site. Following the CEO to Los Angeles, she uses her golden staff to defeat the CEO (who also found a magic item on the site). Like the other trinity members, Mendoza decided to continue her heroic duties, taking the name "Wonder Woman" and protecting the city of Los Angeles!
There you have it, Stan Lee's take on DC's Holy Trinity! That was only three of several comic book one-shots that Lee made, and they're all definitely worth checking out! Like I said, we'll probably never see what a Marvel-owned DC universe would be like, but seeing as how Stan Lee created so many Marvel characters, it's safe to say that Just Imagine... is what it could have looked like.
Thanks For Reading! What do you think of WB trying to sell DC to Marvel in the '80s? Let me know in the comments — and if you can't get enough of the Holy Trinity, check out our Justice League trailer breakdown below!