The rivalry between DC and Marvel comics can be likened to Coca-Cola versus Pepsi. It has polarized the superhero-loving community. While both companies insist that there is no real rivalry and that people from both sides are friends, a closer look at their history serious banter suggests otherwise. Let’s dive in.

Stan Lee slammed the rival comics for imitating Marvel

In the Bullpen Bulletins, a page in every Marvel comic book where Stan Lee addressed fans directly about upcoming plans for Marvel and the industry, Stan indirectly threw shade at DC for allegedly imitating Marvel’s style. 

DC Comics apparently took offense and answered back in Adventure Comics #350. Using the Spidey reference, one of the comic’s characters said, “In case a certain web-headed character thinks I’m stealing his thunder, I’d like to remind him that I was changing to all sorts of weird shapes long before he walked up his first wall.”

Stan Lee suggests Marvel comics are for smart people

During the 1966 superhero comic book boom, new publishers chose to imitate Marvel’s style of superheroes in lieu of DC Comics. Stan Lee reportedly quipped that this was because Marvel comics were for smart people as opposed to “other comic book companies,” calling them “brand echhs”.

For the most part, DC ignored Stan’s tirades. But a DC comics creator named Bob Haney created “Bat-Hulk” — a Batman and Hulk hybrid — and other references parody to Stan’s comments about how everyone was copying Marvel.

Release of Mister Miracle #6, an intense takedown of Stan Lee

In 1971, DC Comics released Mister Miracle #6 by Jack Kirby, a legendary artist who left Marvel Comics after a dispute with Stan Lee. In it, Marvel was depicted as a former slave plantation run by a money-hungry villain called Funky Flashman (a thinly veiled swipe at Lee).

Stan Lee was deeply hurt, especially because Kirby made fun of his toupee. He consequently completely changed his look after the issue came out.

The rivalry rages on, with Marvel holding onto the lead. But blockbusters such as Dark Knight and Suicide Squad suggest that Marvel doesn’t have this market cornered, and need to watch the throne.