Batman versus the Joker. Spider-Man against the Green Goblin. Superman opposite Lex Luthor. Captain America facing off with the Red Skull. All of these classic match-ups pale in comparison to the real greatest rivalry in comic book history: Marvel vs DC. While Marvel and DC have been duking it out in theaters across the globe for the better part of the 2010s, their duel extends back for more than half a century when it comes to publications. Unlike the battle on the silver screen, neither side has ever been able to gain a permanent advantage over the other on the four-color page.
Perhaps this is due to the frequently parallel nature of the rivalry between Marvel and DC. Whereas music contemporaries, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, make every effort to differentiate themselves, or sporting rivals, like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, develop drastically different playing styles, Marvel and DC have always sought to keep things pretty similar. This has led to characters that are direct analogues of their rival’s best qualities, frequently identical merchandising, and, most notably of all, the occasional freakishly similar storylines that leave readers feeling like they’ve just read the same thing twice. Whether Marvel stole from DC or DC stole from Marvel, here are some of the most egregious times Marvel and DC ripped each other off.
Black Cat is already a blatant ripoff of Catwoman, but their storylines ran ridiculously parallel in 2014. The year before, Catwoman had turned fully towards a life of crime in her self-titled series, becoming the head of organized crime in Gotham City. Black Cat followed up by becoming the new Queenpin of crime in New York City during 2014’s run of The Amazing Spider-Man.
In each case, these characters were motivated by perceived slights at the hands of their frequent love interests, Batman and Spider-Man. Catwoman’s antics landed her in prison, but Black Cat is still at it.
In 2014, Thor lost his title when something whispered by Nick Fury made him unworthy. The mantle was picked up by his on-again, off-again love interest Jane Foster. Superman’s occasional partner Lois Lane repeated this trick in 2016 when she became Superwoman following the apparent death of the New 52 Supes in the series of the same title.
Both characters also happened to be dying because of their new powers. In the case of Jane Foster, her transformations into Thor were negating the effects of chemotherapy on her cancer. When it comes to Lois Lane, her new powers actually already killed her in a similar fashion to Superman’s death, although all may not be as it seems. Another Superman love interest, Lana Lang, has now taken up the Superwoman mantle.
Both Captain America and Batman were killed at the culmination of major crossovers; Cap with Civil War in 2007 and Batman with Final Crisis in 2008. Both heroes were gunned down, as Cap fell to a sniper’s bullet and Batman was struck by Darkseid’s omega beam. However, in each case, not all was as it seemed.
In 2009, it was revealed in Captain America: Reborn that Steve Rogers had actually been deliberately sent careening through time by the Red Skull. Cap had to fight his way back to the present in order to confront Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign. Batman waited another year to return in 2010’s The Return of Bruce Wayne, where he too was revealed to have been sent back in time. Batman fought through various time periods in what proved to be a convoluted plan by Darkseid to turn Batman into a literal time bomb. Of course, he figured it all out in the end.
In a much-needed move towards diversity, Marvel Comics introduced a new Hulk in 2016: Amadeus Cho, a Korean-American character who had been a frequent sidekick of the original Hulk and also Hercules. Cho first appeared as the Hulk in Totally Awesome Hulk. The DC Comics 2016 Rebirth series also included their strongest character getting an Asian replacement, as The New Super-Man featured a Chinese citizen gaining Superman’s powers.
Both series furthered the cause of diversity by actually hiring talent that reflected their characters. Totally Awesome Hulk is written by Korean-American Greg Pak and Frank Cho and The New Super-Man is written by Gene Luen Yang, a Chinese-American. Diversifying comics is important and necessary, but replicating your rival’s move right after they’ve done it really makes the sentiment seem less than genuine.