ByFergus Coyle, writer at
Movie lover, wannabe director and resident DC nerd. Get more from me at:
Fergus Coyle

The Marvel vs. DC battle is one that always has, and always will, rage onward with no victor. It's an arbitrary debate, with the fact being that it all comes down to preference and that they aren't really in direct competition. However, that's a topic for another time. The one comment most often used to criticize the characters on DC's side of the fence though, is that the vast majority of their superheroes are too overpowered to relate to. I've been a DC reader for most of my life by now, and when you contrast someone like Superman with someone like Iron Man, it has to be said that upon first glance, there's definitely something to this overpowered point.

The thing is though, I disagree. Not on the fact that many of the DC heroes are overpowered, which creates tonnes of continuity errors, it always has annoyed me that [The Flash](series:1068303) ever gets hit by anything. But I do disagree with the idea that characters like Superman, Wonder-Woman, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman aren't relatable. And now I shall try and convince you of my proposal.

What a great show
What a great show

Let's take Superman as an example, as most people tend to do when arguing against DC. While I won't deny that at many times in the comics he has been given an unrealistic and over-the-top power set, I will fight until my last breath against anyone who says that he isn't a great character. Pretty much the main selling point of the last son of Krypton is that anything you can do, he can do better. You can run: he can run faster, you can jump: he can fly, you can see: he can shoot lasers from his eyes, etc... you get the idea. But that doesn't give you a full look at who he is. The underlying (but in my eyes, more important) point to Superman is that despite having all those powers, he's a human (sort of). He was raised as a farm boy and that's who he is. While relatively few comics manage to capture the humanity of Clark Kent, they are out there in 'All Star Superman', 'Superman Unchained', 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow' and a good many others. To take 'Whatever Happened to...' as an example, his greatest moment of heroism in that novel, and one of his greatest in the hero's history, is when he casts aside the ideal and symbol of Superman. It's not him breaking free from chains, or fighting Doomsday to the death, it's him giving up his ancestry and a large part of who he is to save the person closest to him. That is what defines Clark. Not his ability to fly to the edge of the universe and beat down literal gods, but his heart. He represents the ideal of the person we can all be and is, in that sense, relatable as he is a representation of our own struggles and a symbol of our ability to overcome them.

THIS is why I love Superman
THIS is why I love Superman

Similar things can be said for most of the other characters. We can't relate to their powers of course, but these characters haven't lasted over 70 years as pop culture icons without having something more to them than super strength. [Wonder Woman](movie:45787) is a warrior, honourable and noble: the leader and strong individual we all aspire to be with depths of kindness. Martian Manhunter is a fish out of water: a god-like alien who fears how he will be judged if he reveals himself, and has suffered such pain through the loss of his race yet manages to retain his faith in his fellow man and motivate himself to protect humanity. [Aquaman](movie:264237) is a king who leads his people and manages to shoulder his responsibility with dignity and govern his people with a fair yet firm hand, as well as raising a family and recovering from the loss of a son. Green Lantern is a man with an iron will, who presents a fun and quirky exterior that he puts aside under the heat of battle to rise above his limitations and unleash the deep extent of his will as a weapon against evil. The Flash is a young scientist who still struggles with normal day-to-day aspects of being a nerd in daily life and has to grapple with very real problems that we all face, he just happens to have super-speed and needs to learn to discipline himself in order to be more effective as a hero. Cyborg has to cope with disability and learn to adapt to a new life as only half a man in a shell on top of his issues with his father. And Batman is Batman, because words don't describe that.

I could keep going, but you're probably getting tired of me already. So allow me to get to the core of my point. DC characters aren't flawed in the sense that Marvel's heroes are, though they do have their faults. Instead they represent what we can be, and show us ideals of humanity. They aren't relatable in the sense that you see yourself in them, but rather that you can see what you aspire to be in them as well as serving as an example of how we can cope with the struggles anyone can face, even if you are a virtual god.

Wrapping Up...

So, I hope I managed to convince you that DC has some fantastic characters in their ranks, and that despite their incredible power, that they still hold something meaningful when written properly. And thank you for reading my semi-rant on the matter. But do you agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to let us know below and until next time guys, enjoy your lives!


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