It’s not a secret. For years, Marvel and DC Comics have been inspired by each other.
There have been very egregious instances of “inspiration” in the comics industry pretty much since its inception. Some of the more notorious comic book writers have “borrowed” ideas from time to time, leading to some characters sharing side stories and similar-looking characters. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but, sometimes, imitation can cross a dangerous line right into the straight line of flight. Flight might seem like too harsh a word for what this list is all about, but some of the cases we’re about to see are more than a little shocking, to say the least.
Here are ten times Marvel stole from DC Comics.
10. Captain Marvel Rides Wonder Woman’s Ponytails
In 2017, wonder woman managed to become one of the most popular female superhero films of all time. It proved once and for all that DC could make great movies that didn’t include Batman or Superman, and also reignited fans’ love for one of the most popular female superheroes of all time.
Two years later, the MCU attempted to replicate wonder womansuccess in featuring Carol Danvers with her titular film, Captain Marvel. Much like the reception the character has had in the comics, the response to his solo movie has been lukewarm at best, leading his sequel to become a split movie, Wonders.
9. Doctor Strange was “heavily inspired” by Doctor Fate
While the idea of a super-powered wizard isn’t new, there’s another one on our list below! – Doctor Strange takes the cake when it comes to blatantly drawing inspiration from a DC character.
Doctor Fate debuted in DC Comics in 1940, 23 years before Doctor Strange was created. Worse: Fate’s official title is “Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme,” which is the same position Doctor Strange holds in the Marvel Universe.
8. Flash leaves Quicksilver in the dust
When it comes to speedsters, there’s no super-fast hero as popular as DC’s Flash. However, depending on who you ask, Quicksilver is the fastest man in comic book history.
This is where things get tricky: The Flash appeared decades before Quicksilver, but there’s no denying that the x-men the movies have done the superspeed visual effect much better than DC has done so far. Here’s hoping the house Batman built manages to make The Flash more visually interesting in his next solo movie.
7. Scarlet Witch and Zatanna could be cases of simultaneous invention
There’s no doubt about it: Marvel’s Scarlet Witch is far more powerful than DC’s Zatanna. While the latter has a more interesting backstory, Wanda Maximoff’s reality warping powers are unlike anything Zatanna has ever done in the comics.
Scarlet Witch actually made her comic book debut a few months before Zatanna, which would mean DC is the one stealing from Marvel this time around, right? Well, yes and no. Zatanna might be somewhat based on Scarlet Witch, but she’s the daughter of John Zatara, another super-powered magician who debuted thirty years before Scarlet Witch.
6. The vision is dangerously similar to the red tornado
Unlike his wife, Vision is more obviously inspired by a DC character, especially in Red Tornado. Both characters are super-powered androids who started their careers as villains and eventually found their way onto great superhero teams.
The MCU version of Vision, in particular, looks dangerously similar to the Red Tornado. You can see Red Tornado in live-action on The CW super girl series, where the similarities between him and Vision are even more apparent than in the comics.
5. The X-Men are super-powered outcasts, just like the Doom Patrol before them
The concept of superhero teams is as old as comic books themselves. In 1963, a team broke new ground by introducing a motley crew of outcasts who were shunned by society for their unique abilities and bizarre bodies. We are, of course, talking about the Doom Patrol, released in June 1963.
A few months later, in November 1963, Marvel released the X-Men, who shared a very similar backstory to DC’s Doom Patrol. However, Mutants have proven to be insanely more popular than DC’s crew of crackpots, receiving several live-action TV shows and movies over the years, while Doom Patrol is only just getting the mainstream recognition that it was. ‘she deserves.
4. Deadpool is what happens when Deathstroke loses his mind
It doesn’t matter if you’re a DC or Marvel fan: everyone loves Deadpool. The Merc with a Mouth is known for two things: making outrageous fourth-wall-breaking jokes and killing – and he’s excellent at both.
Eleven years before Deadpool’s debut – and 36 years before 2016’s live-action dead Pool movie – Deathstroke made his first appearance in DC Teen Titans. Rob Liefeld, who designed Deadpool, acknowledges the similarities between the two characters. In fact, Deadpool’s name, Wade Wilson, refers to Deathstroke’s real name, Slade Wilson. It’s safe to say that there are no hard feelings between Deadpool and Deathstroke, as DC and Marvel have poked fun at similar characters in multiple comics.
3. Thanos and Darkseid are essentially the same characters
Both characters were born in the ’70s, and both characters are supervillains with a mad fascination with death – only Darkseid came three years before Thanos. Jim Starlin, the creator of Thanos, mentioned Darkseid as his inspiration when he created Mad Titan.
As is usually the case, Darkseid may have arrived first in the comics, but Thanos has taken over on the big screen. DC fans had to wait for the Snyder Cup until they got a live-action version of Darkseid, while Marvel fans have seen Thanos in multiple MCU movies for the better part of a decade.
2. Thanks to Captain Marvel, Shazam doesn’t have a superhero name
2019 Shazam! Possibly one of the best DC movies ever released. However, the live-action adaptation suffered from an annoying limitation: it couldn’t use its titular character’s superhero name. Shazam is the word Billy Batson utters to become superpowered himself, but his real hero name is Captain Marvel: the same name the character received in 1940 when he was created.
Marvel saw the chance to call one of their characters Captain Marvel since the original “Shazam” comics hadn’t been published for fifteen years. To make matters worse, both MCUs Captain Marvel and Shazam! came out the same year, leaving the DC hero to go unnamed for his live-action debut.
1. The Avengers owe most of their success to the Justice League
For most old-school comic book fans, the Justice League will always be the most prestigious superhero team to ever exist. Going back even further, you could say that the Justice League owes its popularity to the Justice Society of America, both of which were DC Comics’ creations.
Both DC teams predate Marvel’s Avengers by more than two decades, but the success of the MCU and The Avengers is undeniable. Live action Justice League film even enlisted the help of Joss Whedon, who directed The Avengers, but Marvel was simply more popular than DC at the time. All is not lost, however, as Zack Snyder and his vision for what the Justice League could become has some DC fans excited for the franchise’s cinematic future.