It's going to be bloody, vicious, and slightly ridiculous! Welcome to The Versusdome, where two men enter...three men and a baby leave!!
This week’s match-up is Marvel versus DC!
Stephen – Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the jury. This case is simple…DC has the best comic book characters that have ever been drawn and written on a splash page. Superman alone should win this case because he is the most iconic character in the history of American comics. Have we forgotten about truth? Have we forgotten about Justice? Have we forgotten that Superman alone is responsible for carrying the mantle as the only main stream relevant comic character years before anyone else came along? He is not alone here, because while Superman was the only character on the big screen, Wonder Woman was on TV at a time when being a female protagonist wasn’t something that was seen on TV? Can you please remind me what other characters were on the air in 1966 when Batman was showing kids right from wrong?
Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman alone are enough to take the top spot, but let’s not forget how diverse DC actually is. The first and only openly homosexual character is Green Lantern. The first woman to lead her own comic in Wonder Woman. The first openly Martian character in Martian Manhunter. And please don’t forget about a young boy who watched his parents get brutally murdered only to rise from the grief to become Batman. Not because of his powers, he has none, but because he is simply smarter than everyone else. The world’s greatest detective. Ladies and Gentlemen, DC is clearly the best and we are here to prove that today.
Robbie – I’m going to keep my opening remarks as short as possible. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to look into your hearts and ask yourself what a hero truly is. Is a hero an Amazonian goddess? Is a hero an alien that is supercharged by the yellow sun of earth? Is a hero someone who slides on a ring from another world and can suddenly do whatever he wants in an animated green suit? Or is a hero an everyday human, like you and me, who is forced to face life, adversity, villainous beings, and the apocalypse to the highest capacity of which he/she is capable? My esteemed peers, a hero is someone who forces his or herself to rise to their foe’s level and go beyond by any means necessary. Iron Man. Spider-Man. Ant-Man. Black Widow. The Incredible Hulk. The Wasp. Doctor Strange. These are all men and women who are no more special than you or me, save for the fact that they’ve been put in larger than life situations that made them harness their highest ability and take control of the world around them. So from this point on, keep asking yourself this question: what is a hero?
Stephen – What does make a hero defendant? Is it coming from the Amazon or Space and being so much more powerful that you could do whatever you wanted, but choosing not too? No, it’s having special abilities and also a special connection with society and fellow man. So much so that you’ll risk losing your own life fighting for these people. Dianna could have stayed home, but she choose to fight injustice, even if it wasn’t on her own shores. Being human isn’t a requirement, but faith in humanity is. Does anyone care that Superman is an alien when he is saving millions of lives? That answer is no. Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steven Strange, they are all fine scientist, but this isn’t a science experiment we are dealing with, this is the entire human race and nothing is more heroic than that.
What these special abilities give this group of heroes is the choice and the CHOOSE to fight injustice. They CHOOSE to stand up for what is good about all of us. They are the definition of heroic by every sense of the word. They want to fight for what is good and do so without accolades. You’ll never see Clark Kent in front of the press claiming to be the savior and jeopardizing his family. No, he leaves that for Tony Stark. Green Lantern isn’t Green Lantern because he invented a way to be more powerful than everyone else. The galaxy choose him because of an inherent goodness he possessed. When it comes to being a hero, this group of men and women and Amazon’s and aliens all want the same thing. To protect the human race in a way that is selfless and truly heroic.
Robbie – I would argue that the opposition has more than proven my point. There is no greater choice than being nothing more than a regular human being and choosing to rise above whatever evil force you’ve found yourself against. Sure, Green Lantern was chosen. Yes, no one cares that’s Superman is an alien (except that that’s the entire catalyst of BvS. Bruce Wayne cares, but whatever). And no one bats an eye at Diana Prince’s Amazonian origin. But, to interpolate Uncle Ben, with natural power comes obligated responsibility. How much of the choice to fight is based on knowing the public relies on them?
Switching gears real quick, I’d like to talk about one hero in particular. I want to draw your attention to Stan Lee, the mastermind behind the Amazing Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and countless others (roughly 300 characters, both super and supporting). With the introduction of the Fantastic Four, Lee ushered in a new era of superheroes. He created the human hero. Stephen would have you believe that those born with powers protecting the entirety of humanity is “selfless” and “truly” heroic. But I’d argue much harder that there’s more than truth and selflessness that goes into heroism. To be born of this earth, a mere mortal (including Thor...a demigod who was born, will age, will die), understanding the consequences of engaging in a world ending battle, and willing to do so despite an almost certain doom, is more than selfless. It’s more than heroic. It’s noble and it’s pure.
Under Stan Lee’s direction, the Fantastic Four were dysfunctional and at odds with each other. Spider-Man battled his teenage years and dandruff. Iron Man battled alcoholism. But when the time came, they made the PURE choice to Avenge all of humanity. Not because they were born with it. But because they gave themselves the ability to. The found ways to fight bigger and badder villains. Constantly improving themselves. Even though they were terminally flawed creatures, familiar with doubt, fear, sadness, and constantly fending off their own inner demons, they still consistently and constantly rise to the occasion.
And THAT is the true difference between DC and Marvel. Between courage and bravery. Between a hero and a human.
To nip it in the bud, yes, Batman is a human who knows loss and supreme grief. But to become a crime fighting vigilante when you’re well into your 20’s and 30’s seems a bit dramatic. Sweeping declaration: Batman, even considering his knowledge and wealth, is nothing more than a two dimensional character and a flimsy history.
Stephen – The one thing that sets DC apart from everyone else is that stable of villains that our hero’s are standing against. Is there a better or more complex character in all of comic history than The Joker? Lex Luthor is just a human, but is the greatest foe to the greatest comic character of all time. The massive volume of well written, well designed characters from Batman alone is staggering. Catwoman, Bane, Penguin, Two Face, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Mr. Freeze, The Riddler, Clayface, and so on and so on! The best villains require the best hero’s and that is what you have with DC. In the darkest night, you need the best of the best. Look no further than DC.
Robbie – I want to steer my closing remarks away from a DC/Marvel standpoint and focus on something a little more inclusive. Instead of putting two groups of heroes against each other, we should be celebrating the fact that absolutely anyone, whether they were born with abilities, forced into their abilities, or found a way to gain their abilities voluntarily, are willing to be super and fight for all of humanity. EVERYONE can be a hero. I know DC has a lot of fantastic writers and artists. But there was one man who made us blissfully aware that there’s a hero in all of us. Stan Lee. I will never deny that DC has an extremely rich history of heroes (and villains). And you got me fucked up if you don’t think The Killing Joke is the best graphic novel of all time. But when I read any Marvel comic, particularly any character created by Lee, I see bits and pieces of myself. I see flaw. I see desperation. I see doubt. But more than that, I see the necessity of pushing on regardless of how hard things may get. I think Stan Lee really dialed in on the human desire to be better than our everyday selves. Both comic factions have their spectacular offerings. But I side with Marvel simply because Stan Lee keeps the microscope on how an imperfect being persists.
Please rise, the honorable Judge Dredd is presiding. Judge are you prepared to make your ruling?
I AM THE LAW!!!!
Yes, your honor, you’ve mentioned that. Could you please rule?
This argument is strong on both sides of the law….I AM THE LAW!!!….cough, excuse me……but true believers know that there is only one answer here. RIP Mr. Lee and thank you for all of the memories. I declare Robbie and Marvel the winner. Excelsior!
Stephen Balding is the founder of Cinema Soapbox. You can contact him at Stephen@Cinemasoapbox.net
Robbie Clark is a writer and contributor for Cinema Soapbox