Odds are if you've ever seen a discussion comparing the Comic Book companies of Marvel & DC, someone (usually on the DC side) has probably brought up how Marvel has "ripped off" a large amount of their characters, events, etc, from the DC universe. Though this claim has some validity (barely), it seems these very same people always ignore how DC has "ripped off" just as much from Marvel as well. They also seem to draw "ripoff" conclusions over characters who barely have anything in common, except maybe one trait or ability. I feel that this is extremely unfair towards Marvel, that they are being ridiculed and belittled for mostly baseless ripoff claims, while DC is getting praised when they have done the same practices towards Marvel as well. Someone should educate the masses on the multiple lies that come from this myth that Marvel is some cheap ripoff, while DC is some all-great company that never does anything unethical and is completely original in everything they do.
Let's start looking at some obvious DC ripoffs of Marvel characters.
Doomsday is a Kryptonian monster and enemy of Superman introduced in 1992. He's known for having extreme Super Strength, healing and durability. He is so strong he even once defeated Superman himself (Albeit, not permanently). He really is a strong foe in the DC universe and has even become a burden to the entire Justice League from time to time. But what if I told you, this character was actually a ripoff of another one from Marvel? It's actually pretty obvious who, if you really think about.
Ripoff: The Hulk
Like Hulk, Doomsday is extremely strong and has beaten some of the greatest and most powerful people the DC Universe has to offer (as did Hulk in Marvel), they're both extremely durable and have advanced healing that makes them even more dangerous. There personalities are also very similar, they're mindless savages who out of rage destroy everything in sight with their massive strength. Even Doomsday colors are the same as the Original version of the Hulk, gray skin and green pants. Another similarity just like how when Hulk is beaten and gets angrier he becomes stronger, when Doomsday is beaten he comes back even more evolved and tougher. Almost the exact same character when it's thought of, except Hulk was released in 1962, a whopping thirty years before Doomsday. You might think I'm too general with this, but if the roles were reversed and Hulk was DC and Doomsday was Marvel, this would most definitely get listed as one of the biggest examples of Marvel copying of DC. At very least he's inspired by The Hulk.
Contrary to what some DC fanboys might claim, Hulk is actually not a ripoff of the Batman & Green Lantern monster villain Solomon Grundy (who came out in the 1940s). Grundy when he originally debuted, was just a zombie who went after The Green Lantern, he was durable and not that strong and didn't have an angry attitude like Doomsday or Hulk. He only got strong and even angry after The Hulk was already introduced, meaning that if anything Solomon Grundy would be a ripoff of The Hulk, since he only became strong after Hulk already made that strong, mindless monster gimmick popular. Kind of funny a lot of people consider the Hulk an "obvious Grundy ripoff", yet rarely is Doomsday connected to any of them.
Deathstroke (Slade Wilson) originally appeared as a villain for the Teen Titans. He was an enhanced soldier and Mercenary who went after not just them, but multiple heroes in the DC Universe, and was actually able to hold his own against even the likes of Batman. He's (personally) one of the coolest villains in DC, in my opinion.
Yes, Deathstroke is kind of a ripoff of Marvel's Taskmaster. They're both extremely well-trained Mercs who completely cover themselves in cloth (or sometimes armor). They have the same style of attack with a mixture of guns and blades, and they are both thorns in the side of their respective universes' main superhero teams (Avengers for Taskmaster, Justice League for Deathstroke), and they also both have special superhuman powers to help them fight (Taskmaster's copying of fighting styles, and Deathstroke's superhuman strength and speed). They even both have a knack for being Anti-Heros from time to time. They both even came out in the same year (1980). Taskmaster though was released in the May issue of Avengers, while Deathstroke got released in the December issue of Teen Titans. We also shouldn't forget how similar's Slade's backstory is to a certain test subject of the Super Soldier Serum in Marvel.
Lobo is pretty much a walking stereotype of badboy cliches. The hair, the motorcycle, the big weapons, the villains (Sometimes Anti-Hero) allegiance, etc. Let's face it, he does look like a real muscle-head dirtbag but that's not say it isn't cool. He definitely looks great, and has even gone toe to toe in Superman. Definitely one DC's better characters here.
Ripclaw is a member of the Cyberforce team and a Native American. One day, he noticed his hands were forming into sharp claw-like things and after being trained by some Shamans he was taught how to access the world of the spirits and gained animalistic features, like teeth of a bear or something, etc. He also got Cyber enhancements to replace his bone claws with metal ones (against his will) and has an advanced healing factor. Anyone who knows Comic Books, who does this sound like, to you?
Let's start with Lobo. He doesn't have Wolverine's claws, but that's pretty much it. Other than that, his whole badboy gimmick, the hair, the motorcycle the attitude is all from Wolverine really. I get that some of those have been around before Wolvie, and you could say they were inspired by other things, maybe they were. But even DC has confessed of Lobo's inspiration from Wolverine.
"I have no idea why Lobo took off... I came up with him as an indictment of the Punisher, Wolverine hero prototype, and somehow he caught on as the high violence poster boy. Go figure." - Keith Griffin (Wikipedia).
Now Ripclaw is way more obvious of the similarities. They both have original bone claws, that were upgraded to metal against their will, they both have advanced healing factors, they both have animalistic abilities besides the claws, they both grew up in rural North America, and they're both part of some organization for Mutants after gaining advanced claws.
Now some DC fans say Wolverine himself is a ripoff of Timberwolf, a character from DC who looks and acts similar to him. Though, like the Hulk and Grundy claim this doesn't hold much weight. Especially with the fact before Wolverine, Timberwolf didn't have many of the "similar" features, he only got his Lycanthropy and aggressive temper and behavior, after Wolverine was already introduced and established in Marvel Comics.
Aquaman actually in my opinion isn't that bad of a Superhero. I mean, yeah his ability on paper might sound a little lame, but DC has really done a good job making the character more serious and more badass. But even though he was one of DC's original Superheroes and Justice League members, it doesn't mean he was the first Atlantian King and Aquakinetic(?) in Comic Books.
Ripoff: Namor The Sub-Mariner
Namor, one who appeared in 1939 in one of earliest issues of Marvel's comics is quite similar to our favorite Superhero, Aquaman. They're both kings of Atlantis, they both have abilities revolving around swimming and talking to (or controlling) Marine beings, they're both half human half Atlantian, and they both have the same Gold Trident (as shown in their respective photos). The only differences between these two are, Namor is slightly more hostile, has Black Hair, and doesn't cover himself as much.
Nightwing used to be another character people made a mockery of. Batman's side kick Robin, who didn't really have any of the charm or skills that Good old Batman had. But once he got re-introduced as Nightwing in 1984. There he got his own electric nightsticks, a newly designed costume and much more somber and darker attitude and setting, even gaining his own city to look after and villains to fight, like the powerful Blockbuster. But, poor Robin here wasn't the first to do any of this.
It seems like everything Nightwing has done, Daredevil did first. Let's go through some of the similarities, they both use the same weapon of Clubs, both wear the same type of costume (skin-tight ninja outfit), and both go out and night and walk around through the rooftops. They're both trying to save a city (Nightwing with Blüdhaven, and Daredevil with Hell's Kitchen) from a muscle-bound crimelord, Nightwing's Blockbuster is essentially a DC version of Marvel's Kingpin. They also both started out as much lighter heroes, before being re-written much more brooding and grittier.
Now, you could say Daredevil didn't invent those tropes and ripped them off himself from other dark heroes and characters, like Zorro or The Shadow, and I think you would have a fair point, but Nightwing's would still be very close to Daredevil in a ton of things, and as I said before it the roles were reversed DC fans would more than likely call Daredevil a ripoff.
Bumblebee is yet another Teen Titans character, who actually pretended to be a villain to the group once in order for her boyfriend Mal (IHerald) to save them, and look better for the team. She has a light colored armor and can shoot yellow blasts.
Ripoff: The Wasp
Let's see, both women in yellow costumes, named after an insect who can shoot yellow blasts and can both shrink down, yup sounds pretty similar to me. I mean, outside of being different races the two characters are virtually identical. In looks, abilities, etc. Maybe it was DC's way of getting back at Marvel for copying Atom with Ant-Man, but the point still stands of this ripoff claim.
Steel, real name Henry John Irons was a brilliant inventor for Amertek industries, but soon left after creating a powerful weapon that got into the wrong hands. He worked on a Skyscraper and almost fell off before Superman saved him. After Superman's defeat from Doomsday (as said above), where Henry was buried from rubble, due to the fight, he recovered created a metal suit and fought for Metropolis.
Ripoff: Iron Man
Though Steel definitely has inspiration from African American folk hero John Henry and of course Superman. The DC character still is kind of similar to Marvel's own Iron Man, considering they both got wondered by attacks and made a suit of metal shortly after, even his original suit looks like Iron Man's original (he's even called Man of Iron sometimes). He is also a brilliant engineer and inventor just like Tony Stark is, and constantly made upgrades to his suit of armor and different versions for multiple purposes. This one I'll admit is a little stretch, but I still wanted to add it.
Guardian or Jim Harper is a Police Officer and American Patriot who due being poor in New York, was taken in and trained, he gained extreme speed, strength, and durability. He is a brilliant tactician and officer and has an indestructible metal shield.
General Glory on the other hand was a Soldier from WW2 with an extreme patriotic american gimmick and was granted enhanced, strength, speed, agility, etc from Lady Liberty herself. During the war he managed to crash into ice, and came back to America with little memory of the entire incident.
Ripoff: Captain America
Yeah, looks like DC really had their fun with Captain America, but who could blame them, he's essentially the Superman of Marvel Comics (not in a ripoff way though ;). But Guardian works for some branch of American Government, is highly patriotic and has an indestructible shield he carries around with him. Sounds a lot like Cap to me, and General Glory? Must I explain the obvious similarities between those two, even their costumes looks pretty much the same. I think even DC has admitted he was basically just a parody of Captain America.
Ah Imperiex, a being from the beginning of the universe who is known for destroying planets and terrorizing the universe for his own purpose. He is also extremely powerful and almost invulnerable to damage, he is quite huge as well. He also has the title "Destroyer of Galaxies", he sounds kind of like someone, however.
If you couldn't tell Imperiex was at very least inspired by Marvel's Galactus character. They're both giant, superpowerful beings that has existed since the dawn of each of their respective universes, who can destroy planets and other celestial objects for their own purposes (Galactus to literally consume them, and Imperiex, just because he likes breaking stuff, like a Child.)
It is ridiculous people think that Galactus is like Brianiac, other than being aliens the two have nothing in common. One is an android/alien who's goal is to spy and find other worlds for it's masters on another planet entirely, the other is an ancient force that devours planets for it's own consumption, not that similar really.
If Imperiex had a Surfer Harold to do some of his dirty work, and a Superhero team he fought often, they would be extremely identical. Speaking of which...
The Doom Patrol are a group of Superheroes in the DC universe, there first team consisted of Elasticgirl a brilliant scientist who can stretch to unusual lengths, Negative Man who can fly and become engulfed in his "Negative" ability when it's being used, Robotman a strong orange thing with enhanced strength and durability who is desperate to try and be human, finally Niles Caulder or The Chief who was sometimes missing from fights (almost invisible).
Ripoff: Fantastic Four
So these characters are pretty much The Fantastic Four. Elasticgirl is like Mr. Fantastic, Robotman is like The Thing, and Negative Man is like Human Torch. The only one that's kind of a stretch is Niles Caulder being like Invisible Woman, just because he isn't in all the fights. But three out of four characters being that similar, is definitely note-worthy. One of the only differences though is that while the Fantastic Four are celebrities and heroes to the people in Marvel, the Doom Patrol are feared and hated. That's one of the reasons people think the X-Men ripped them off actually
Some say the Fantastic Four copied the group called "Challengers of the Unknown" but I have not seen any proof of this. I've ever tried to research it, if anyone has proof that they're inspired from them, feel free to educate me. But I will humbly admit I have no idea if they are or are not.
Black Spider is a villain who has had multiple identities and has been mostly an enemy of Batman (and sometimes the Justice League). He also appeared in a certain Cartoon about the Young Justice, and there it was clear the character resembled a certain iconic Marvel superhero
Even the character besides the webs and colors, looks like Spiderman, not just in the suit design but the build as well. He also has the same voice actor as Spider-Man from his own cartoon series (I forget which one) and even uses some dark webbing similar to him.
Some people might think it's hypocritical of me to accuse Black Spider of being a Spider-Man ripoff when I don't consider Tarantula (one of DC's oldest superheroes) of being one. Well, the thing is Tarantula doesn't look, act, or sound like Spider-Man. The only similarity is one thing, a Web-Gun, but he didn't even use that the same way Spider-Man did (swinging and whatnot), so there is that
One of DC's most popular and infamous villains, Darkseid is one of the Justice League's greatest enemies, and is quite a foe to the ever popular DC hero, Superman. But what if I told you this legendary Jack Kirby creation, was a ripoff of another character he created, in Marvel?
Ripoff: Kang the Conqueror
Kang, like Darkseid is a dictator from a foreign world, who is obsessed with taking over as much as he can, to be the unquestioning leader. Darkseid has the planet Apokolips and for Kang it is Egypt in the past. They are also both huge enemies of the large superhero groups of their own universes, and both have traveled through space and multiple dimensions to achieve their goals. The thing is, Kang wants to conqueror multiple eras of history and most of existence, while Darkseid wants to conqueror just the universe, they also have different abilities. Outside of that though their personalities, attitudes, motivations, and to an extent are very close. Honestly, it's kind of like the other ripoff claims here, kind of a stretch but would probably he accepted if the characters were from different brands.
Okay, now with all those in mind. I hope some people here were educated on the fact that ripping off is a two way street in the comic book industry. This wasn't even made to try and prove DC is a cheap knockoff and Marvel is the best, it's more just to show how both brands do this, and that it's hypocritical for either side to attack the other for "ripping off".
Honestly, a lot of ripoffs here can even be explained, like some were made by the same creative minds (Darkseid and Kang were both created by Jack Kirby) and some are just parodies, or paying homage to something, it's not all terrible. And I also get Marvel HAS done it to DC as well, so please don't give me any crap about ignoring Marvel's ripoffs please.