DC versus Marvel: movies and comic books


Come on, who wouldn’t want to see Superman and Spiderman duke it out in a DC versus Marvel battle to the death?

Eileen Sabrina Herman, Pop Culture Affair

Popular culture is a subjective thing, and changes depending on who you talk to.  Recently (within the last year) the big thing in Cleveland has been the Avengers movie that has had parts filmed in the city, with regular citizens getting to be a part of Marvel-movie history.  In Pittsburgh, Pa., Batman took the city by storm, and many people got an eyeful of Batman chasing down Bane in downtown Cleveland.  What I’m trying to say here is, popular culture in the comics and movies is no longer restricted to the ‘nerds’ of the world.  It has hit the street hard and taken off running. I don’t want to be a hipster, but I was in the world of comics…before it was cool. Why do I feel like I should put on my Horatio Cane sunglasses now?

Not to diverge into a history lesson, but Cleveland has a huge comics history.  Case Western Reserve University as a whole is no slouch in the comics world, but the city has a much greater presence.  When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman in 1932, they had no idea what kind of fame it would eventually bring to the city.  Superman is a DC property that has small-town roots and a small-town character, and was a symbol that the United States needed when war broke out.  Today Superman is still awesome, but he is a little too perfect for the big movies that DC wants to put out, and so Batman and other gritty characters are pushed on the public’s consciousness.

With regards to keeping comics in popular culture, I think that DC may be doing a better job than Marvel, because even though Marvel puts out all of the movies that do well in the box office, DC rebooted their entire universe with the “DC-NuU” that came out last fall.  All of the origin stories rewritten, a huge marketing campaign was put out, and they tried to get a new and larger audience.  The fans of the original comics are aging and dying, so a new generation of comic-fans needed to be cultivated, something that Marvel has not been focusing on.

It is unfortunate that a lot of the original artists passed away in 2011, because they could have been used in a reboot scenario for Marvel.  Gene Colan (Daredevil) and Joe Simon (Captain America) are two examples of artists who could have been valuable, if only for ideas.  Stan Lee is currently the most famous Marvel artist, with millions of fans, a bit part in every Marvel movie, and very little innovation.  He is the one Marvel artist who knew how to market himself, and it shows.  As someone who works in the popular culture industry (my other job, outside of The Observer, is at a publishing company, Hermes Press), I hope that all the old, forgotten artists get recognized in this new era of reboots and rehashing.

CWRU has many students and professors who are interested in popular culture in comics.  Bradley Ricca is the most well-known affiliate of the university who specialized in comics, but I’m sure many students know the history and the facts.  Whether they came in during the movie craze or grew up in the medium, comics have definitely grown in the public consciousness.  I hope to be there to see how it evolves, if movies trump comics, if DC beats Marvel, and if Superman and Batman can beat the Avengers. I think they can.