Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Marvel vs. DC

This subject's been poking around my brain again lately, and though other bloggers have really done a great job of examining the issue, I thought I'd throw in my own two cents. Scipio of the Absorbascon did a whole series of Marvel vs. DC posts are - if I recall correctly - nailed down that Marvel heroes are sympathetic, and DC heroes are inspirational.

It's kind of in that vein that I'm going to expand on the discussion to look at each company's appeal. Obviously, there are some exceptions on each side - I think Incredible Hercules is a very DC-style book, for instance.

A Marvel hero Makes Tough Choices. When confronted with horrible option A, and reprehensible option B, they agonize and analyze and pick the lesser of two evils, and forever after wonder if they did the right thing. This is relatable, and 'realistic', because everyone - even in the real world - Makes Tough Choices. That's part of Marvel's appeal, from the beginning. It's also why they've never been my favorite, because it's dull. EVERYONE Makes Tough Choices. The heroes aren't exceptional.

A DC hero Finds a Better Way. When confronted with horrible option A, and reprehensible option B, they punch out the villain and do unexpected thing C. This is inspirational, and 'escapist', because few people can do that kind of thing in real life, and of those that can, fewer still actually do. That's not a problem for me, though - because I think heroes should be exceptional.

In this regard, a Marvel hero is externally defined by the choices he is given by the universe at large. A DC hero is defined by himself or herself, from within. And while pondering this issue, I hit upon another unexpected parallel - the DC hero is Captain James T. Kirk. Confronted by the unwinnable Kobayashi Maru, he creates a third option and wins. The Marvel hero - well, I wanted to use Captain Picard, because who doesn't love a good 'Kirk vs. Picard', but honestly? They're the Captain Janeways of the universe. They're stuck in circumstances beyond their control, muddling through a series of decisions thrust upon them, doing the best they can.

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