Comparing Marvel and DC superheros

Graphic by Alan Li

A superhero has been defined by major media as someone with extraordinary abilities who ensures the protection of others, sometimes by putting themselves in harm’s way.

The superheroes that have been a part of so many childhoods, however, do more than that.

The superheroes we see in the major companies, DC and Marvel, provide an escape from the real world into a universe where the everyday person can feel as invincible as Superman.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved and been inspired by everything from my childhood’s early morning obsession with Justice League, that aired every Saturday, to the blockbuster movies that seem to come out every single month.

Yet these characters do more than entertain and provide an escape; the movies, comics, and shows are a platform that have the ability to challenge how we run society in new and interesting ways.

Recently, both major comic giants Marvel and DC released a reboot on their respective universes. For DC, it was a chance to change the outrage from The New 52 while Marvel has taken the opportunity to show its readers it cares about real world issues.

DC Rebirth was launched in May 2016 and All-New, All-Different Marvel, also known as Marvel Now, came out in June 2015.

Each brought many changes and attempted to tackle real-life problems of racism, inequality and the past lack of representation and diversity in comic books.

For example, Iron Man, who has been depicted as successful Tony Stark for as long as the character was first introduced, will now be a young black student named Riri Williams who at only 15 years of age creates her very own Iron Man armour.

One of the things they did best was how they really shook up the roster of heroes. They really changed who was wearing the mask.

However, DC and Marvel have been in the spotlight for their questionable story arcs that exploit fascism.

Marvel infamously made Captain America a sleeper agent for the antagonist Hydra and DC introduced Nightwing New Order.

Wherein Nightwing introduces nazism as a method of heroism.

On the DC side of things, they are set to introduce a new Chinese Superman by the name of Kenan Kong, who will lead China’s version of the Justice League.

Brittany Tenhage, a comic fan for over seven years and an avid DC reader, felt the respective reboots were necessary and were a positive change, but feels that DC still has a long way to go.

“I really like that they have introduced John Diggle as a regular in Green Arrow. It adds diversity to its cast of characters,” Tenhage said.

“I like what they have done by adding new characters, and changing the races of some characters.”

“But at the same time, they took a character like Huntress, who was a woman of colour, and they made her white again in Rebirth. That was a poor decision on their part.”

In Marvel’s reboot the roster of big name superheroes saw a dramatic change, with a goal of reaching a bigger demographic while still appealing to its already massive fan base.

As Jaclyn Austin, comic fan of five years, puts it:

“One of the things they did best was how they really shook up the roster of heroes. They really changed who was wearing the mask: Sam Wilson became Captain America, Jane Foster became Thor and Miles Morales became Spiderman.”

“I think this was kind of awesome because they really changed up how people thought of traditional characters. Captain America was now a black man and Thor was now a woman. I felt it brought in more representation for their universe,” she said.

When looking at the two reboots, it seems that Marvel has made more significant changes than DC.

Marvel has created worlds where the casual reader can not only appreciate and understand the changes, but can relate them to everyday, real life issues.

Disclaimer: Brittany Tenhage is a staff writer for The Cord

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