Marvel vs. DC: Who came out on top?

With Marvel fielding the third biggest movie of all time with The Avengers, and DC about to have a huge smash with The Dark Knight Rises, you just know the two films are going to be compared to each other.

Indeed, box office pundits everywhere are laying down the gauntlet – can The Dark Knight beat The Avengers?


This press created rivalry won’t exactly be fair, because what happened with The Avengers was really a phenomenon that’s going to be pretty tough to repeat.

Still, for Fast Company magazine, writer Mark Harris compared the current status of both Marvel and DC, and who’s on top at the box office. 

Marvel clearly came ahead with The Avengers, and they’re ahead of DC with how many movies they’ve gotten made, 25 to DC’s 8, as well as films they have coming up. (Marvel has 9, DC has 2 with The Dark Knight Rises, and next year’s Man of Steel).


Batman is obviously DC’s biggest asset at the movies, and the Dark Knight also beats out Marvel in that it’s the only comic film which won an Academy Award, Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger. Marvel’s made $4.28 billion domestic with their movies, DC $1.25 billion domestic.

Yet Harris also points out that both companies have a “most under-exploited area.” 

With Marvel, it’s TV, “X-Men could be the series Heroes never was,” and with DC, it’s movies. “There are endless filmworthy characters not from Gotham City,” Harris writes. “And nearly 20 years of great storytelling from the more-adult Vertigo imprint that have barely been touched.”


Under the “Smartest Recent Gamble” category, Marvel’s was bringing together the whole gang for The Avengers, first building it up with five previous films over a four year period, and DC’s was rebooting their comics, and starting over at issue one for their characters, which “resulted in great press and amped-up sales.” 

Of course, even with all the facts and financial figures laid out, it’s all about quality rather than quantity. Comic book films were rarely taken serious before we turned the corner with X-Men, and judging by the success of The Avengers, the guaranteed box office juggernaut of The Dark Knight Rises, and the rave reviews for The Amazing Spider-Man, we’ve definitely come a long way since the old genre days.