There are literally thousands of comic book characters in both the Marvel and DC pantheons, but only a handful of them have managed to make the jump from the page to the screen. Both companies have their iconic, flagship characters that stand out among the rest; Marvel has Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America, while DC's "trinity" of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are three of the most recognizable characters in fiction. Both power houses also have a fair share of heroes and villains that are remarkably similar, whether in appearance, origin, super powers, or even all of the above. Normally, this would serve as nothing more than a matter of taste on the part of the reader. But as the superhero film genre continues to grow, these characters are beginning to show up on screen at the same time and are starting to run the risk of some audience confusion. So, on that note, here are 14 characters that, despite their differences, are awkwardly similar and may require that we geeks provide some explanation for modern audiences and the uninitiated.
The Archers: Green Arrow And Hawkeye
Despite Arrow star Stephen Amell's wish for the contrary, he won't be heading to the big screen along with Batman and Superman any time soon. However, Green Arrow will likely join the ranks of the big-screen Justice League eventually, and audiences will have to pick between the superhero genre's two cinematic archers.
The Cats: Catwoman And Black Cat
These two femme fatales share more than just their penchant for cats and leather. Catwoman and Black Cat are both antiheroes and theives, who strike up romantic relationships with flagship heroes, in and out of costume. Catwoman famously courts Batman, while Selina Kyle has a thing for Bruce Wayne. Likewise, Black Cat has the hots for Spider-Man, while Peter Parker dates Felicia Hardy. Now, let's see if audiences call Sony a copycat when that tentatively-planned Black Cat solo film hits theaters in 2017.
The only things really separating DC and Marvel's two stretchy heroes are their color schemes and personalities. Patrick O'Brien is a care-free, humorous criminal who gets his powers after a chemical accident during a heist. Genius scientist Reed Richard gets his when he's bombarded with cosmic radiation on a spaceflight. Still, those differences likely won't stop moviegoers from blaming Warner Bros. for copying Fox if they decide to bring Plastic Man into the DCCU... unless the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot is unsuccessful, of course.
The Fallen Sidekicks: The Red Hood And The Winter Soldier
Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes are both former sidekicks of flagship heroes, who were thought dead but came back as gun-toting assassins who faced off with their former mentors. Todd, the second Robin, was supposedly killed by the Joker but reappeared years later as the Red Hood, an antihero unafraid of using guns and lethal force to clean up the streets of Gotham City. Bucky was Captain America's best friend and sidekick in WWII. It appeared that he was killed in action, but he was actually found by Russians, given a robotic arm, and brainwashed into becoming the deadly assassin known as The Winter Soldier. Bucky made it to the big screen first - he was the eponymous antagonist of this year's acclaimed Marvel film Captain America: The Winter Soldier - so it may be some time before WB finds a way to bring the Red Hood to cinema screens.
The Big, Rocky Bad Guys: Thanos, Darkseid, And Apocalypse
The similarities between Thanos, Darkseid, and Apocalypse - the upcoming "big bads" of the Marvel, DC, and X-Men cinematic universes - will be the hardest for casual audiences to swallow. The studios will have to effectively and faithfully adapt the villains in order for anyone unfamiliar with comic books to tell them apart (outside of their different color schemes and chin sizes, of course). Still, one has to wonder if such a task can be pulled off effectively.
The Sea-Dwellers: Aquaman And Namor
Of all the characters on this list, Aquaman and Namor are perhaps the most similar. The half-human, half-Atlantean heroes rule over Atlantis and often wage war on surface dwellers. They even both use a trident, are members of multiple superhero teams, and possess super strength. Luckily for Aquaman, he'll likely hit the big screen first. Marvel currently has no plans to bring Namor to the big screen, and at this point, it's unclear if they own the rights or if they reside at Universal.
The Size-Changers: The Atom And Ant-Man
Ray Palmer and Hank Pym are just two of DC and Marvel's size-changing heroes, but they're arguably the biggest. WIth The Atom currently gearing up for a debut on Arrow, and Ant-Man getting his own film next summer, it's just a matter of time before we find out if this town is big enough for these two pint-sized superheroes, or if they're too similar for casual audiences to embrace equally.
The Space Police: Green Lantern Corps And Nova Corps
As comic book films head deeper into the cosmic realms, DC and Marvel will likely bring their intergalactic police forces - the Nova Corps. and Green Lantern Corps. - to the big screen. Luckily, the two Corps. are mostly similar in concept alone. The home planets of Oa and Xandar are unique enough to effectively differentiate them on screen, and the power sets between the corpsman aren't very similar either. Add the fact that James Gunn marginalized the Nova Corps.' abilities in Guardians of the Galaxy, and WB should find it easy to make the Green Lanterns stand out when the reboot hits theaters in 2020.
The Androids: Red Tornado And The Vision
The similarities between Red Tornado and The Vision go far beyond the fact that they're both androids possessing high levels of artificial intelligence. They were both created by supervillains for the sole purpose of defeating their respective superhero teams, and both had a change of heart, opting instead to turn on their former masters. With similar powers and The Vision getting the live-action treatment first in Avengers: Age of Ultron, will Red Tornado become obsolete?
The Speedsters: The Flashes And The Quicksilvers
Two speedsters currently occupy screen time in the superhero genre; The Flash is enjoying a successful television run on the CW, while Bryan Singer gave Quicksilver a scene-stealing appearance in X-Men: Days of Future Past (the character will also appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Marvel and Fox co-own the rights to the Quicksilver, and both plan on using him, while DC will also double down on The Flash (using him on both television and in film). That means that, before long, we'll have four different speedsters in the mix, and they'll be based on the same two characters. Just try explaining THAT to casual moviegoers.
The Bees: Bumblebee And Wasp
There's really no denying the major similarities between Bumblebee and The Wasp, DC and Marvel's two bee-themed, size-changing heroines. Wasp has telepathic insect control, but other than that, their skin color, and personalities, there's not much differentiating the two. Perhaps DC should shy away from introducing Bumblebee anytime soon, considering that Wasp will be seen later this year in Marvel's Ant-Man.