Words by Megan Ayscue
In the DC and Marvel universes, there are a lot of superheroes that share similar costumes, names, stories and abilities. But who copied whom? And which one is better? I’ll guide you through a few of the best duos.
The Flash vs. Quicksilver
Two speedsters that are most notable in the DC and Marvel universes are The Flash and Quicksilver. While Quicksilver isn’t the oldest or the fastest Marvel speedster, he is one of the most relevant. The Flash was first introduced in 1940, 24 years before Quicksilver. Barry Allen has more than just age on Pietro Maximoff, though.
The Flash supersedes Quicksilver in a number of ways. First of all, Barry is the ultimate one-line master; he can’t go a day without making jokes. While Quicksilver, especially in his depiction in recent media of both “The Avengers” and “X-Men,” can be witty, Barry is ultimately a more fun and energetic character, despite dealing with misfortunes in his own life. Barry is also a better speedster. Without even delving into Quicksilver losing his powers because of his sister, he was never even close to Barry’s speed. Quicksilver was able to get up to Mach 10, while The Flash can travel … well, much faster. Definitely faster than the speed of light, sometimes up to 13 trillion times the speed of light, if you’re looking at the math.
Not to mention “The Flash” even beat all of the Marvel speedsters in a race once. I say “The Flash” because it was a Marvel comic and they never technically said who it was. The man that won the race was a speedster that came from another universe, donning a red and yellow torn suit and couldn’t remember his own name, but was pretty sure it was something like “Buried Alien.” Not very sly, Marvel. The Flash also raced against Superman, arguably DC’s second fastest hero, several times. While Barry did lose a few of those races, he claimed those were for charity. When Superman is trying to keep up with Barry, and Superman mentions he’s beat him before, Barry speeds away with ease.
Not only is Barry Allen a more fun character to read about, he is also significantly faster and more powerful than Quicksilver.
Green Arrow vs. Hawkeye
Between comics, TV shows and movies, DC and Marvel share several characters that are very skilled with a bow. The ones I’m focusing on are Oliver Queen as Green Arrow and Clint Barton as Hawkeye. Hawkeye first appeared in 1964, a good year for Marvel comics, it seems, but Green Arrow did appear several years earlier in 1941. However, age doesn’t really help Ollie on this one.
Hawkeye is a better hero. I’ve never really been that entranced in the “playboy turned hero” plot of Green Arrow to begin with, but beyond that, he’s just not nearly as fleshed out or as interesting as Hawkeye. While Clint was never shipwrecked on an island and beaten for years, he has his own problems—what if his apartment building gets blown up?
The biggest difference between DC and Marvel comics is that usually with DC there are superheroes who are people and with Marvel there are people who are superheroes. With a character like Green Arrow, you’d think they’d change up the formula a bit. But no. Oliver is basically a green, less cool Batman. He’s rich and has a lot of toys. I’m not saying he can’t fight, because he can, and I’m not saying he doesn’t have to deal with problems, because he does. But with Hawkeye, we get more.
Hawkeye has had to deal with a lot. He’s gone almost completely deaf and wore hearing aids for years and he went almost completely blind (until he beat his brother in a duel [while still almost blind]). While he does work with The Avengers, a lot of his stories are about him trying to help local people or making sure his apartment doesn’t get blown up. Also, he has a lot of trick arrows, like net arrow, glue arrow and hacking arrow, which are amazing.
The Atom vs. Ant Man
This is going to a “small” comparison: The Atom and Ant-Man. Who copied whom‽ Well, probably neither. While The Atom did come out before Ant-Man, he only came out about three months before, and it takes a lot longer to come up with a comic than three months.
While both of these characters have the simplified superpower of “shrinking,” Ant-Man has the bonus ability of being able to control ants. However, that doesn’t win him any extra favors. One of my favorite things about The Atom I’ll say right away because I love it. Those of you that have read my previous blog know that I have a deep-rooted aversion to Superman. He’s the worst. So when The Atom had to shrink down, get into Superman’s bloodstream and rearrange his molecules into Kryptonite, I geeked out a little. In that same story arc, he also resized within another person, ripping them apart. It’s okay though, they were already (sort of) dead.
Also, similar to The Flash, The Atom is better than Ant-Man because he can be smaller than him. While both characters can be scientists, depending on who Ant-Man is at the time, Ray Palmer (The Atom) is more fun. His abilities are based on the idea that he harnessed the power of a white dwarf, which is just too fun not to love. He can reduce his mass and his size, and I have some problems with that as a sci-fi lover, but it’s still really fun. They explain it more later on.
Zatanna vs. Scarlet Witch
Similar to The Atom and Ant-Man, the gap between Scarlet Witch’s first appearance (March 1964) and Zatanna’s (Nov. 1964) was only a few months, not long enough to copy one another. “Who are these heroes?” you may ask. You may know Scarlet Witch as Quicksilver’s sister in “The Avengers,” and Zatanna is a magic-wielding superhero from the DC universe. And Zatanna beats out Scarlet Witch every time.
Scarlet Witch is a pivotal character in the Marvel universe as she is the cause of so many heroes losing their powers. When it comes down to it, though, Scarlet Witch has only had one or two really big feats, and even then it was on accident. She isn’t really in control of her powers. Zatanna, on the other hand, was trained by Doctor Fate and is a very powerful superhero and magic user.
When deciding which character I preferred, I was really torn. I liked that Scarlet Witch had chaos magic and witchcraft, but ultimately I still prefer Zatanna. As far as we know, Zatanna doesn’t have a power limit. While Scarlet Witch accidently rewrote her universe, Zatanna can willingly change time and space, if she wants. Both characters rely on spoken-magic as well, Zatanna having to speak backwards.
While Scarlet Witch has Zatanna beat on raw power, Zatanna has had time to practice and is better in that aspect. When it comes down to it, I just find characters that have controlled their powers and are still amazingly powerful to be more interesting than characters that just burst out power when they do or don’t want to (*cough* Jean Grey *cough*).
Deathstroke vs. Deadpool
Deathstroke first appeared in DC comics as The Terminator in 1980, but later received his own comic as Deathstroke the Terminator in 1991. Deadpool, a very similar Marvel character, came out in 1991 as well. Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson, has superhuman strength, speed, agility and durability (and healing a bit) and is an expert in swordsmanship, martial arts and hand-to-hand combat. Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, has a regenerative healing factor similar to Wolverine and is an expert in swordsmanship, martial arts and marksmanship. Deathstroke is a villain, and Deadpool started as a villain as well.
It’s a known fact that Deadpool is a direct ripoff of Deathstroke. However, Deadpool became his own thing, and he became better for it. Deadpool is now a wise-cracking, mentally insane, fourth-wall-breaking antihero. He’s transcended his creation and has become a pop culture phenomenon. Beyond that, he’s just simply great. There isn’t a Deadpool comic I’ve read that I haven’t loved. From freaking out children to traveling with dead presidents to killing literally everyone in the Marvel universe including the writers, Deadpool is actually insane.
In his moments of lucidity, however, he can be really genuinely nice. He’s helped a girl about to commit suicide get help and he pepped up a kid who thought he was only destined to be a weapon. In his own, unique way, Wade helps more than he thinks. So, from his absolutely bonkers storylines to his genuinely heart-warming ones, Deadpool beats out Deathstroke as far as the better super-copy goes.
There are a lot of other similar superheroes and villians between Marvel and DC I didn’t mention. Who are some of your favorites?
Did I miss anything? Don’t like my opinions? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org