Sometimes we watch a superhero film and think to ourselves, “This looks familiar.” That’s because we have most likely seen the same story before. It’s not relevant whether DC and Marvel comics were influenced by or directly copied each other. We know these movie universes are based on the characters and stories from original comics.
Let’s go through the dates these characters first debuted, and point out similarities and contrasts between characters who appear to be “counterparts.” You can later decide if it’s copy and paste work or merely a coincidence. You can compare if certain characters have a few idiosyncrasies but are otherwise distinct, or if the parallels are tenuous and the characters are distinct enough on their own.
Marvel’s Iron Man (1963’s Origin of Suspense #39)/ DC’s Batman (1939’s Detective Comics #27)
Iron Man and Batman may appear to be opposites on the surface, but their personalities are inextricably linked. Both men lost their parents in horrible circumstances. Stark Industries and Wayne Enterprise are both successful multibillion-dollar businesses.
Both men have exceptional intellectual ability, which they put to good use in the creation of suits, weapons, and robots. The primary distinction is that no one knows Batman’s true identity, whereas everyone knows Tony Stark is Iron Man.
Marvel’s Spider-Man (1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15)/ DC’s Nightwing (1940’S Detective Comics #38)
While Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) are different people, they do have similarities. Both guys began their epic escapades at a young age and they also have the same ambition: to join something greater (Avengers/Justice League) rather than remain a small-town hero.
The key difference between the two of them is that while Nightwing is extremely talented, he lacks superpowers, whereas Spiderman acquired his spidey abilities from a small radioactive spider bite.
Marvel’s Ant-Man (1962’s Tales to Astonish #27)/ DC’s The Atom (1961’s Showcase #34)
Both Ant-Man (Henry Pym) and The Atom (Ray Palmer) developed a suit that allows them to shrink and increase their physical power. Without the suit, neither man has any extraordinary skills.
The key difference between the two is that the Ant-Man suit can also grow into a giant whereas Palmer’s technology hasn’t demonstrated this potential. Another distinction is that, whereas Henry invented the Pym particles, Palmer developed his technology after discovering a white dwarf star.
Marvel’s Deadpool (1990’s New Mutants #98) / DC’s Deathstroke (1980’s New Teen Titans #2)
Deathstroke (Slade Wilson) and Deadpool (Wade Wilson) have a lot in common. Both of them, for example, are skilled swordsmen and marks-men. While Deathstroke’s healing factor is expedited, Deadpool’s healing power is regenerative. Regardless, they both have healing abilities.
The biggest distinction between the two is that whereas Slade is a villain, Wade is more of an anti-hero character. Wade is funny and frequently breaches the fourth wall, whereas Slade is always serious about business.
Marvel’s Hawkeye (1964’s Tales of Suspense #57) / DC’s Green Arrow (1941’s More Fun Comics #73)
Despite the fact that Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) and Hawkeye (Clint Barton) come from diverse backgrounds, they share the same place in the superhero universe. Both men are masters of martial arts and archery.They both lack superhuman abilities.
The most significant distinction between the two is Oliver’s upbringing, since he comes from a wealthy family, which has influenced his demeanor. Clint, however, came from a shattered household and eventually ran away to the circus.
Marvel’s Quicksilver (1964’s X-Men #4) / DC’s The Flash (1940’s Flash Comics #1)
The Flash (Barry Allen) and Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff) both have superhuman speed, strength, stamina, durability, and reflexes, allowing them to phase through solid things, having rapid metabolism, and possessing quick/enhanced intelligence.
They also both have a twin with superpowers. The biggest difference between them is how they came about their incredible abilities: Barry got them after being struck by lightning, whilst Pietro was born as a mutant. Nevertheless, their characters are very much alike.
Marvel’s Black Cat (1979’s The Amazing Spider-Man #194) / DC’s Catwoman (1940’s Batman #1)
Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) and Catwoman (Selina Kyle) both have a connection to felines and a history of burglary. Black Cat and Catwoman both fall in love with the heroes of their city, Spider-Man and Batman. Furthermore, while Catwoman is more on the wicked side, both anti-heroes struggle between heroism and criminality.
They started off as normal people with gymnastic/acrobatic ability, but while Felicia inherited supernatural powers, Selina’s claws are part of her gloves.
Marvel’s Colossus (1975’s Giant-Size X-Men #1) / DC’s Citizen Steel (1978’s Steel, the Indestructible Man #1)
Citizen Steel (Nathaniel Heywood) and Colossus (Peter Rasputin) have certain physical resemblance. Both guys have superhuman strength and endurance. Peter has been known to change into his steel form whenever he wants. Nathaniel, on the other hand, has a suit that he uses to control his strength.
While Peter was born with this gift that developed when he was 13 years old , Nathaniel obtained his powers from the unfortunate exposure to the villain Reichsmark’s blood.
Marvel’s Mr. Fantastic (1961’s Fantastic Four #1) / DC’s Plastic Man (1941’s Police Comics #1) / DC’s Elongated Man (1960’s The Flash #112)
Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), Elongated Man (Ralph Dibney), and even Plastic Man (Patrick O’Brian) are all superheroes with comparable abilities. They all have plasticity or flexibility in their bodies.
In the case of Reed and Ralph, they have been shown using their malleability to conceal themselves (by adjusting their faces) and shape flesh into weapons (by changing the density of their limbs). Reed and Patrick, however, are quite famous for being resistant to big blasts.
Marvel’s Scarlet Witch (1964’s X-Men #4) / DC’s Zatanna (1964’s Hawkman #4
Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) and Zatanna Zatara both have capabilities based on magic or reality distortion. Both can control the elements, as well as are telepathic, telekinetic, and able to teleport.
While Wanda is skilled in battle and sorcery, Zatanna is an illusionist who is skilled in hand-to-hand combat and is able to astral project. However, Zatanna’s spells need her to speak or read, whereas Scarlet Witch’s hexes are non-verbal. Fun fact: they’re both vegetarians.
Marvel’s Wasp (1963’s Tales to Astonish #44) / DC’s Bumblebee (1976’s Teen Titans #45)
Wasp (Janet Van Dyne) and Bumblebee (Karen Beecher) share many of the same talents, such as stinging effects, flight, and a special helmet that grants them power. Janet’s exposure to Pym particles enabled her to shrink in size and fire “wasp” stings without needing to wear her suit. After Karen’s body was exposed by radiation, she grew six inches.
The biggest differences are that Janet can control insects and also expand and shrink her size.
Marvel’s Namor (1939’s Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1) / DC’s Aquaman (1941’s More Fun Comics #73)
Aquaman (Arthur Curry) and Namor are very similar. They are both half-human, half-Atlantean and became rulers of Atlantis as sons of nobility on their mother’s side. They were both founder members of crime-fighting groups (Defenders and Justice League respectively).
Both have superhuman strength as well as aquatic eyesight and the ability to breathe underwater. A shared flaw is that their health decreases if they spend too much time on land without access to the ocean.
Marvel’s Mystique (1978’s Ms. Marvel) / DC’s Martian Manhunter (1955’s Detective Comics #99)
Mystique (Raven Darkholme) and Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) are multilingual, have increased senses, great intellect, and metamorphic talents that enable them to conceal their natural blue/green skin.
While Raven possesses poison resistance, psychic defense, and is a skilled shooter, J’onn possesses far more. J’onn possesses telekinesis, superhuman speed, telepathy, and invisibility as well. The main distinction between the two is that Mystique is a criminal, whereas Martian Manhunter is on the side of justice.
Marvel’s Thor (1962’s Journey into Mystery #83) / DC’s Orion (1971’s New Gods #1)
Orion, the son of Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips, and Thor, the son of Odin, the All-Father of Asgardians, are godly. Orion’s New Gods physiology and Thor’s Asgardian/Elder God biology allow them to share similar skills. Both have superhuman stamina, strength and durability, as well as a higher healing factor.
The biggest distinction between them is that whereas Orion uses the mother-box, Thor is known to use a range of weapons with their own power.
Marvel’s Carnage (1991’s Amazing Spider-Man #344 and 1992’s #361) / DC’s Joker (1940’s Batman #1)
Carnage (Cletus Kasady) and the Joker appear to be polar opposites, but they have a lot in common. Both of these mad villains enjoy torturing their sworn enemies (Spider-Man/Batman). Both maniacs are supposed to be unpredictable, killing anyone for no apparent reason.
The key distinction between the two men is that whereas Kasady obtained several talents by mating with an alien symbiote, Joker’s toxin/pain tolerance is due to his intellect and strong will.
Marvel’s Electro (1964’s Amazing Spider-Man #9) / DC’s Black Lightning (1977’s Black Lighting #1)
Electro (Maxwell Dillon) and Black Lightning (Jefferson Pierce) both use electric manipulation and have superhuman strength, speed. Black Lightning, on the other hand, appears to have more abilities, such as electrical healing, magnetic manipulation, and electroporation.
The origins of these two differ, with Black Lightning’s capabilities originating from a belt, while Electro was struck by lightning while hooked to power cables, he gained his abilities. While Black Lighting is a hero, Electro is a villain.
Marvel’s Bullseye (1976’s Daredevil #131) / DC’s Deadshot (1950’s Batman #59)
Mercenaries Deadshot (Floyd Lawton) and Bullseye (Lester Benjamin Poindexter) are skilled marks-men and assassins. Both were also pushed into joining a task force-like group (Deadshot became a member of Suicide Squad and Bullseye joined the Thunderbolts).
The biggest difference between the two of them is that Bullseye’s bones are practically unbreakable due to adamantium implants in his head. Deadshot is reported to have a death wish, while Bullseye is rumored to have a mental illness.
Marvel’s Hulk (1962’s Incredible Hulk #1) / DC’s Solomon Grundy (1944’s All-American Comics #61)
Not only do the Hulk (Bruce Banner) and Solomon Grundy (Cyrus Gold) look alike, but they also have similar skills, such as superhuman strength. When the Hulk transforms back into Bruce Banner, he has a genius-level intellect; yet, most appearances of the Savage Hulk depict him as having a decreased intellect, comparable to Grundy.
The main contrast between them is that Grundy is a zombie, whereas Bruce changes into the Hulk when he gets upset.
Marvel’s Sif (1964’s Journey into Mystery #102) / DC’s Wonder Woman (1941’s All Star Comics #8)
Wonder Woman (Diana Prince), Goddess of Truth, and Sif, Goddess of War and the Hunt, have more in common than meets the eye. They both have superhuman strength and durability, as well as slow aging and a healing factor.
They also speak multiple languages. While Wonder Woman has a lot of empathy for humans, Lady Sif doesn’t see their appeal.
Marvel’s Vision (1968’s Avengers #57) / DC’s Red Tornado (1968’s Justice League of America #64)
Vision and Red Tornado are both androids who were trained to kill superheroes. Ultron developed Vision to destroy the Avengers and Red Tornado was intended to kill the Justice League of America.
The key distinction between the two of them is that while Red Tornado creates wind blasts and tornado formation, Vision uses the Mind Gem to fire sun blasts.
Marvel ‘s Dr. Strange (1963’s Strange Tales #110) / DC’s Dr. Fate (1940’s More Fun Comics #55)
Both Dr. Strange (Stephen Strange) and Doctor Fate (Kent Nelson) are highly skilled sorcerers. Following a calamity, both men were trained to become masters of magic. The main contrast between the two of them is that Kent is weakened without his helmet.
Another distinction is that, whereas Stephen is mortal, Kent is immortal and untouchable. Furthermore, Doctor Fate is emotionless.
Marvel’s Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (1941’s Captain America Comics #1) / DC’s Jason Todd/Red Hood (1983’s Batman #357)
Bucky Barnes and Jason Todd have certain life stories. For example, until their presumed deaths, both of them were hero sidekicks. Bucky, Captain America’s sidekick, “died” while defusing a bomb. Robin, Batman’s second sidekick, was “killed” by the Joker.
Winter Soldier’s acts were against his will because his memories were partially erased, whereas Jason was fully aware of his actions.
Marvel’s Daredevil (1964’s Daredevil #1) / DC’s Doctor Mid-Nite (1941’s All-American Comics #25)
Daredevil (Matthew Murdock) and Doctor Mid-Nite (Charles McNider) are two blind men who went on to become superheroes. They both went blind while attempting to assist someone else. Doctor Mid-Nite has great night vision and uses specialized lenses for daytime vision.
Daredevil had his senses enhanced after being blinded by radioactive substances. He can “see” by using his radar senses.
Marvel’s Magneto (1963’s X-Men #1) / DC’s Doctor Polaris (1963’s Green Lantern #21)
Doctor Polaris (Neal Emerson) and Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr) can control magnets. They both became evil after experiencing severe trauma as children.
The fundamental difference between them is that Magneto was born a mutant, but Doctor Polaris’ power came from the special suit. It wasn’t until later that he developed into a meta-human in order to naturally possess the superhuman abilities.
Marvel’s Punisher/ DC’s Vigilante (1941’s Action Comics #42)
After losing their families to mobsters, the Punisher (Frank Castle) and Vigilante (Adrian Chase) both became vigilantes. Organized crime societies sent to kill their wives and children.
Adrian left his profession as a Judge/Lawyer and Frank retired from the Marine Corps. These guys were brutal in their pursuit of justice, but unlike the Punisher, Vigilante avoided killing his foes.
Marvel’s Sandman (1963’s Amazing Spider-Man #4) / DC’s Clayface (1940’s Detective Comics #40)
The villains Clayface (Basil Karlo) and Sandman (William Baker) can both turn their bodies into sand/clay. They also can shape shift (their limbs typically turn into weapons such as an axe or hammer).
They’re both prone to water, with Clayface additionally being susceptible to cold temperatures, while Sandman’s weakness is heat. Both acquired their powers through radiation/blood exposure.
Marvel’s Boomerang (1966’s Tales to Astonish #81) / DC’s Captain Boomerang (1960’s The Flash #117)
Boomerang (Fredrick Myers) and Captain Boomerang (George Harkness) are two Australian villains who fight with boomerangs. They have both been known to have razor-bladed boomerangs, explosive boomerangs, and more. Nevertheless, neither villain possesses extraordinary abilities as other super heroes.
Fred and George have also joined government organizations like Marvel’s Thunderbolts and DC’s Suicide Squad. They’ve a record of criminal activity.
Marvel’s Thanos vs DC’s Darkseid: How The Justice League & Avengers Villains Are Different
Thanos’ aesthetic style was inspired by DC’s Darkseid when he first debuted in 1973. Thanos was designed as an Eternal, similar to Darkseid’s New Gods genetics, which means both characters naturally inherit superhuman strength and are considered to be almost immortal.
Thanos’ God-like status makes him feel superior to “lesser” forms of life, and Darkseid has a similar self-absorbed mentality.
Marvel’s Hyperion (1969) / DC’s Superman (1938)
Hyperion, like Squadron Supreme, started out an obvious attempt to imitate a DC hero. Hyperion was originally intended to be a malevolent version of Superman.
A new version of Hyperion, identified as Mark Milton, appeared in the superhero team Squadron Supreme not long after. He is also an alien child brought to Earth and given to kind people to raise.
Marvel’s Nova (1976) / DC’s Green Lantern (1940) And
Green Lantern and Nova are essentially space cops. While Jordan was the cockiest person on the planet, Rider was an introverted young man who later flourished.
Although their talents aren’t identical, they both have practically limitless power that comes from a different power source. The Nova Source provides power to Nova, while the Central Power Battery provides power to GL.
Marvel’s Man Thing (1971) / DC’s Swamp Thing (1971)
Two nearly identical characters created simultaneously by two distinct publishers! However, both Swamp Thing and Man Thing were inspired by the Heap, a similar figure who first appeared in 1942 created by Hillman Periodicals.
This is presumably why, despite their disagreements about the characters being too similar (Marvel technically came first), Marvel and DC never took the matter to court.
Marvel’s Gamora (1975) / DC’s Big Barda (1971)
Darkseid’s homeworld, Apokolips, gave birth to Big Barda, where Granny Goodness raised her to lead the Female Furies. Gamora, like her adoptive father Thanos, was raised to serve a wicked dictator (the Marvel equivalent of Darkseid).
She was kidnapped as a newborn and was taught to fight against good forces. They both turned sides when their fathers’ betrayal was revealed.
Marvel’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (March 1964’s X-Men #4) / DC’s Brotherhood of Evil (March 1964’s Doom Patrol #86)
There are super-villains who have come together to fight their adversaries/heroic squad and gain power. Magneto, Toad, Blob, Pyro, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Avalanche are members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, currently known as the Brotherhood of Mutants.
Trinity, Elephant Man, Gemini, Warp, The Brain, Plasmus, Phobia, Goldilocks, Madame Rogue, and General Immortus make the Brotherhood of Evil.
Marvel’s Young Avengers (2205’s Young Avengers #1)/ DC’s Young Justice League (1998’s Young Justice: The Secret #1)
There is a group of kids who are apprentices to big-name heroes. Hulk (Mentor: Hulk), Hawkeye (Hawkeye, Miss America (Captain America), Noh-Varr (Captain Marvel), Wiccan (Scarlet Witch), and Speed (Quicksilver) are among the young Avengers.
Robin ( Batman), Kid Flash (he Flash), Superboy (Superman), Miss Martian (Martian Manhunter), Aqualad (Aquaman), and Artemis (Green Arrow) make up the original Young Justice members.
Marvel’s Avengers (1963’s Avengers #1) / DC’s Justice League of America (1960’s The Brave and the Bold #2)
There are two main crime-fighting groups of heroes who fight evil forces and safeguard the planet; each organization includes extraordinary people from all over the world.
Batman, Superman , Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter are the founding members of the emblematic Justice League. Iron Man , Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp , and Hulk are the original members of the Avengers.