Comic Book Character Showdown: Marvel VS. DC On The Big And Small Screen

Pitting similar characters from different properties against each other and deciding who is better is always a fun exercise, so we’ve decided to do it again. This time we’re focusing on the characters of Marvel and DC comics. However, since that has been done to death, we will not simply be deciding which comic book character is better, but focusing solely on their most recent depiction in film and television instead. In that way, we’ll determine which brand is currently kicking the most ass when it comes to their iconic characters. Let the games begin…again.

Marvel VS. DC On The Big And Small Screen

Iron Man vs. Batman

character showdown marvel dc, iron man batman

What better place to start than Marvel and DC’s biggest solo superhero properties? Not only do Iron Man and Batman make bank whenever a new film is released, but they are also strikingly similar characters. Both are billionaires bankrolling their own personal quest to eradicate the world of evil one bad guy at a time as the result of a traumatic event. However, the biggest thing separating the two franchises is the actors behind the masks. Even though Christian Bale made a fine Bruce Wayne for three films, we highly doubt anyone regards him as the definitive person to play the character like they do with Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark. Now that Bale has been replaced by Ben Affleck, this is especially true. While Batman may be just about the coolest superhero of all time, as far as the cinematic universe is concerned, he’s got a little catching up to do.

Verdict: Iron Man

Captain America vs. Superman

character showdown marvel dc, captain america superman

Your classic case of super soldier versus super man, this would be no contest whatsoever if Captain America: The Winter Soldier hadn’t come out last year. Cap’s first outing was one of the more cheesy Marvel films in their newly constructed cinematic universe, and since Chris Evans had already played the Human Torch in the “Fantastic Four” films, no one was willing to take him seriously as a more straightforward and uptight hero. However, the sequel righted all the wrongs of its predecessor and then some, and it was in large part due to Evans’ performance. He took an otherwise boring, by-the-books character and gave him the heart he needed to make us actually grow quite fond of him. Meanwhile, Man of Steel starred Henry Cavill as Superman, and much like the case with Captain America, we’re hoping his next effort will bode much better in terms of giving the character some added depth. Until then, stars and stripes forever.

Verdict: Captain America

Bucky/The Winter Soldier vs. Robin

character showdown marvel dc, bucky winter soldier robin

We’re not intentionally making this list so one-sided, but moving on from Batman and Captain America to their respective sidekicks just makes logical sense. That said, it’s very unfortunate that a character as relatively unknown as the Winter Soldier is leaps and bounds more interesting on film than any iteration of the Boy Wonder has been to date. We know that Joseph Gordon-Levitt didn’t technically play the Dick Grayson version of Robin in The Dark Knight Rises, but we’d still put him up against Sebastian Stan before Chris O’Donnell any day of the week. Sadly, it’s still not even close to being a fair fight.

Verdict: Bucky/The Winter Soldier

Green Goblin vs. The Joker

character showdown marvel dc, green goblin joker

Sometimes it takes a villain to even the playing field. It really doesn’t matter who you put up against Heath Ledger’s brilliant take as Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker, they are going to lose. The Green Goblin of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wasn’t nearly as menacing as he needed to be, especially since the movie went the Harry Osborn route rather than his much more maniacal father Norman (played by Chris Cooper). We’re not saying a new approach immediately means it won’t work, but Harry’s transformation is so forced that it doesn’t even feel warranted, especially since he spends half the film as Peter Parker’s friend before turning on him rather abruptly due to a flimsy plot point involving needing Spider-Man’s blood. Actor Dane DeHaan certainly looked the part for the climactic final battle scene, but he ultimately wasn’t able to do much with the character, especially since he was splitting screen time with two other villains.

Verdict: The Joker

Gwen Stacy vs. Lois Lane

character showdown marvel dc, gwen stacy lois lane

Say what you will about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as a film, but Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone had such great chemistry that it made Gwen Stacy so much more than your typical damsel-in-distress. And while Amy Adams pulled it off as Lois Lane in Man of Steel, she didn’t bring anything more to the role than a dozen other actresses could have. With Gwen, the character was going to be hit or miss, as not that many people are even aware of who she is outside of comic book fans. With Lois, all you really have to do is show up and not tank, and people will still be rooting for you because you’re one half of arguably the most famous romance in comic books. At the end of the day, Gwen simply possessed much more personality than Lois, so her character’s journey felt more earned because of it.

Also: The 10 Most Cliché Comic Book Covers

Verdict: Gwen Stacy

Ant-Man vs. The Atom

character showdown marvel dc, ant-man atom

We’re jumping the gun a little bit here, as we’ve yet to see Marvel’s Ant-Man movie in full form or The Atom from Arrow do anything more than briefly fly around the city at this point. Will we let that stop us from rushing to judgment? Of course not. We still know what both the Marvel and DC heroes look like fully suited up, and surprisingly Brandon Routh has a much more dynamic appearance as The Atom than Paul Rudd does as Ant-Man. Considering the production value of a Marvel film versus a DC television series, this should not be the case. Both Routh and Rudd are terrific actors, and we know for a fact that Routh kills it as Ray Palmer. We can only assume Rudd do the same with Scott Lang. Therefore, our decision has to be made on suit alone at the moment, and it’s a no-brainer to say the least.

Verdict: The Atom

Star-Lord vs. Green Lantern

character showdown marvel dc, star-lord green lantern

Of all the Marvel films to come out so far, Guardians of the Galaxy was the biggest gamble because its success fell on funnyman Chris Pratt. To put it bluntly, prior to playing Star-Lord, Pratt was mostly, um…a chubby TV actor. On the other side of the coin, Green Lantern had everything going for it from a recognizable and physically fit lead actor in the form of Ryan Reynolds to being one of the more famous DC properties in their superhero lineup. From that description, it would obviously take either a massive failure on the part of Green Lantern or an unexpected success story from GotG to turn the tables. Against all odds, we actually got both, with Pratt delivering a performance fit for a sequel and Reynolds ushering his film to non-canonical land, as his version of Green Lantern will play no further role in DC’s cinematic universe.

Verdict: Star-Lord

Deadpool vs. Deathstroke

character showdown marvel dc, deadpool, deathstroke

It’s just not Ryan Reynolds’ day. In fact, we’d be hard-pressed to think of a single comic book role he has played to date that actually resonated with audiences. While we are certainly holding out hope for his newest take on the Deadpool character when the solo film hits theaters next February, so far we’ve only seen him play the role in the laughable X-Men Origins: Wolverine. For a superhero that many consider Reynolds to be the perfect voice for, he certainly brought nothing special to the table in this abomination, which was so bad that X-Men: Days of Future Past had to virtually erase it from continuity. Great, now we’ve spent so much time talking about how badly Deadpool was portrayed that we don’t even have room to get into how badass Deathstroke has been on Arrow (Hint: enough for a much needed W in the DC column).

Verdict: Deathstroke

Hawkeye vs. Green Arrow

character showdown marvel dc, hawkeye green arrow

Even though the most recent season of Arrow has been largely hit and miss due to forced romances and a backstory that seems to be running dry, but we’ve still gotten more of a grasp on who Oliver Queen is than we ever did with Clint Barton in The Avengers. Sure, it’s practically a case of apples versus oranges considering Green Arrow is the star of his own series and Hawkeye was delegated to the role of mindless zombie for most of his biggest screen outing, but even Jeremy Renner himself admitted that his character was not someone he would have agreed to play had he known how bland the role would become. For now, this is a pretty cut and dry case of a character we have barely gotten to know versus one who has sustained a successful television series for three seasons and counting, but we’re guessing the fight will become a bit more fair with this summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Verdict: Green Arrow

Quicksilver vs. The Flash

character showdown marvel dc, quicksilver flash

Speaking of Avengers: Age of Ultron, since it’s not out yet, we can only gauge our vote on actor Evan Peters’ portrayal as Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past (Aaron Taylor-Johnson will play Quicksilver in AoU, as a legal loophole allows both films use of the character). Keeping that in mind, this is still as close of a decision as the two characters engaging in an actual footrace would be. The CW series The Flash possesses the comic book charm and silliness it needs to keep its otherwise unbelievable premise and lead character fun and interesting while not being overly cheesy. That’s a pretty impressive feat. However, the “Time in a Bottle” scene in DoFP is so well done it practically overshadowed the entire movie, which was already pretty spectacular anyways. Close as it may be, how could we not give the win to a relatively unknown character whose first ever appearance on the big screen took the world by storm?

Verdict: Quicksilver

Final tally: Marvel 6 – DC 4

As many probably suspected, the general lack in both quantity and quality in the DC cinematic universe of late has caused them to be of minimal threat to Marvel’s current string of massive hits. However, their unique ability to turn some of their slightly less popular comic book properties into successful TV series keeps them hanging on.

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