For the past few years, Marvel and DC have been building their respective superhero universes on the big screen. As the #MCU and the #DCEU keep expanding into new territory, both universes have seen recent success with cinematic hits like Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 and DC's Wonder Woman. Although it's not necessary to 'pick a side', many fans often support one company over the other. This is also true when it comes to Marvel and DC comic books, which is a supposed rivalry that existed years before either company decided to create a cinematic universe. Now, an interview from 1977 with Marvel legend Stan Lee has resurfaced, showing the king of cameos sharing a hilarious anecdote about how he used to drive DC crazy with some marvel-ous antics.
How Marvel Trolled DC For Years:
It appears that Stan Lee used to be a major troll when it came to Marvel's success in comparison to DC Comics, proving that this "war" has existed since for an incredibly long time - but also that it shouldn't be taken so seriously.
The then 55-year-old comic book icon showed off his sassy side as he explained how Marvel used to tease DC, their "miserable" competition.
"They've been trying to catch up. They're doing the best they can, bless their innocent little hearts. We used to have a lot of fun with them when we started outselling them."
"They used to, and I know this because we used to have friends working at that company and we'd get these reports, they'd start having conferences, 'How come Marvel is selling so much better?' and they'd study our books and they'd say 'You know, I noticed they use a lot of red on their covers. Maybe that's it' and they'd start putting a lot of red on their covers. The minute we learned of that we would take all the red off our covers. And our books still sold, and that would drive them crazy. Then they'd say they use a lot of dialogue balloons on the covers and they'd start doing that, so we would take the dialogue balloons off and that drove them crazy.
Finally, Stan Lee suggested that it wasn't Marvel's covers that boosted their sales, but their superior storytelling:
"It never occurred to them that we take the work a little more seriously and maybe we have a little bit more of a sense of humor. And maybe people don't like things that are a little bit stuffy. They like things that are whimsical or humorous."
MCU vs DCEU: A Transformed Rivalry
The two publishers have been competitors for years, and neither company has ever had a true monopoly over the other. For example, DC was almost sold to Marvel in 1984, but then Marvel had to declare bankruptcy in 1996. So, it's impossible to say that either company has continually come out on top.
However, when it comes to the big screen, the MCU has certainly been more successful than the DCEU so far, despite the latter having less years to develop. The superhero genre's rise in popularity has also given new life to the age-old Marvel/DC debate.
Forty years after Stan Lee's interview, it appears that DC maintains their more serious and darker tone while Marvel is still "whimsical" and "humorous." Chris Evans discussed this in an interview with Variety, where he explained that Marvel already have a formula that is unique to their cinematic universe.
“I say, let’s keep going, let’s let the wave get bigger and bigger. It’s not like they’re making bad movies, they’re making great movies and if you want to put them in this superhero box you can but they’re good movies.They’ve (Marvel Studios) got a monopoly on it, they’re doing it and no one else can try and copy it."
While this is true, some would argue that this is a beneficial for both franchises. Ben Affleck, the DCEU's Dark Knight, discussed the key differences between the two cinematic universes,
"It is more mythic, it is more grand in that way, and it is a little more realistic... Just by their nature, these films can’t be as funny or as quick or as glib as Marvel movies."
Ultimately, fans will never stop comparing the two franchises, keeping both studios on their toes, but the fact that fans now have two entirely different approaches can only be a good thing. In fact, some have been quick to relay that the Marvel/DC feud is purely among fans - despite what Stan Lee said all those years ago.
Not Everyone Supports The Existence Of The Feud
President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige recently spoke about the supposed clash in a Spider-Man: Homecoming Q&A, explaining that there simply isn't a feud to be discussed.
“There’s not really a rivalry. The rivalry is much more amongst the press, I think. Geoff Johns is a very good friend of mine. We grew up together in the business and recently celebrated Richard Donner, who we both used to work for. So, I applaud all the success he’s had. I really just look at it as a fan. When the movies perform well and are well received, it’s good for us – which is why I’m always rooting for them.”
Similarly, James Gunn, the acclaimed director responsible for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, follows a similar route when discussing the rivalry.
"I just don’t find any room in my headspace for thinking my movies are superior or inferior to someone else’s. I really just think about how can I make, for instance right now, how can I make Guardians Vol. 2 the greatest spectacle film of all time? That’s all I care about so that’s what I concentrate on. I don’t really think about Marvel versus DC." - James Gunn, Variety
And last but not least, who better to have the final word on the matter than Henry Cavill, DC's very own Man of Steel?
One could argue that the feud between the two companies isn't as prevalent nowadays because DC is no longer trying to replicate Marvel - at least not in the way Stan Lee described in his 1977 interview. This is a great move from the creative minds responsible for the DCEU for many reasons - not least of all because Stan Lee would have had a lot of fun trolling them on a cinematic scale.
What do you think about the Marvel/DC 'feud'? Let me know with a comment below.