Let me start by saying that I am a huge Marvel fan, and am in no way trying to alienate the Marvel fans out there. However, it’s fun to take a look at this stuff from time to time.
Now, over the years there has been a few characters to come out of Marvel that have been suspiciously close to those of DC Comics’, and not small ones at that. Marvel is definitely not the only ones guilty of a bit of attribute borrowing as can be seen from DC’s clear doppelganger of “The Lizard”, “Killer Croc.” It can go both ways and I’m sure a lot of people will have different opinions and that’s great. Please feel free to leave your comments and opinions in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
6.) Deadpool = Deathstroke
The facts: Let’s start with the most obvious and widely accepted character semblance on the list: Deadpool. He is the Merc With the Mouth that we all love, but he is also (like only Deadpool can) a flagrant, unashamed, rip-off of another character; DC Comic’s Deathstroke. Deadpool’s first appearance was in “New Mutants #98” (Feb. 1991) and Deathstroke’s was in “The New Teen Titans (vol. 1) #2” way back in 1980.
Both genetically enhanced ex-soldiers who are now mercenaries for hire/pleasure, it is easy to see the similarities in Deadpool and Deathstroke. But just in case anyone had any doubts, the creators took the full plunge and even went as far as to name Deadpool after Deathstroke’s real name “Slade Wilson” and call him “Wade Wilson” as a sort of nod to their undeniable inspiration. Over the years they have differentiated themselves by Deadpool basically evolving into a crazier version of Spider-Man’s personality and attitude, with an insane healing factor, and by Deathstroke just by generally being an un-killable, relentless, one-man army and a stonecold bad**s!
5.) Quicksilver = The Flash/Quicksilver (Max Mercury)
The facts: The original Flash’s first appearance was in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940). Quicksilver’s first appearance was in X-Men #4 (March 1964). The lightning bolt theme is also very noticeable but obviously, most of all is the fact that they are both “speedsters” and much like another entry further up this list, is also what I like to call an “inevitable character scheme.” Meaning, that something like being super fast is just going to inevitably end up in a lot of character ideas. I mean, it is one of the big ones, up there with superstrength, power of flight, and invisibility.
There are obvious differences: The Flash got his powers in an accident whereas Quicksilver is the son of Magneto, born a mutant. Even though that is a pretty big difference in character origins, I am still calling theft on this one as Marvel knew what they were doing. They had 24 years to come up with a character just different enough to not get sued and when they started the X-Men series they knew a mutant birth was the perfect answer to their problems. Purely speculation of course, but it just seems too perfect.
It could also be said that he is a rip off of another character as there was a speedster called “Quicksilver” that first appeared in 1940 but it seems like just too much of an obvious one.
4.) The Avengers = The Justice League (or at least the concept)
The facts: In February-March 1960, inside the covers of “The Brave and the Bold #28” a team of superheroes hit the shelves from publishers “National Periodical Publications” or as we know them today, DC Comics; That team was “The Justice League”, and that team was about to change everything…
Not only were they responsible for the creation of the Fantastic Four as you can see from the reports below –
The title’s early success was indirectly responsible for the creation of the Fantastic Four. In his autobiography, Stan Lee relates how in 1961, during a round of golf, DC publisher Jack Liebowitz mentioned to Marvel-Timely owner Martin Goodman how well DC’s new book (Justice League) was selling. Later that day Goodman, a publishing trend-follower aware of the JLA’s strong sales, told Lee, his comics editor, to come up with a team of superheroes for Marvel. According to Lee in Origins of Marvel Comics:
“Martin mentioned that he had noticed one of the titles published by National Comics seemed to be selling better than most. It was a book called The Justice League of America and it was composed of a team of superheroes. … ‘ If the Justice League is selling ‘, spoke he, “why don’t we put out a comic book that features a team of superheroes?”
Goodman directed his comics editor, Stan Lee, to create a comic-book series about a team of superheroes. Lee and Jack Kirby produced the Fantastic Four.
But, they were also the business trend that inspired Marvel, in 1963 to put together there own team of powerhouses to create what we now know as The Avengers. This is a widely known and (at least by those who research) a non-debated fact. And, as you can see in the first picture (of The Justice League & The Avengers) above, it’s not the only thing that Marvel took inspiration when it came to character development over the years.
Obviously, at the moment, thanks to the blockbuster hit that the MCU has been it is The Avengers who are undoubtedly more known by the popcorn-stuffing-ticket-grabbers and the general public/people who don’t read comics (civilians) out there.
3.) Hawkeye = Green Arrow
The facts: Whereas “Green Arrow” first appeared in 1941’s November issue of “More Fun Comics #73”; Clint Barton/Hawkeye first appeared as a villain in “Tales of Suspense #57” (Sept. 1964) and later joined the Avengers in Avengers #16 (May 1965). Both use outdated bows with enhancements and trick/tech arrows, as well as being members of both company’s big powerhouse teams, Avengers and Justice League. I do think that Marvel changed just enough to have a fresh take on the character (even by trying him as a villain at first).
Okay, so this is one of the more apparent character semblances on the list and it is also (if you remember back to the section about The Flash) what I like to call an “inevitable character scheme.” Meaning, that something like shooting arrows (especially tech-arrows) is just going to inevitably end up as a theme of an attribute if you design enough characters. Proof of this being that yes, maybe Marvel got the idea from the success of the Green Arrow but DC very obviously stole the idea themselves from mixing Robin Hood with Batman.
2.) Sandman = Clayface
The facts: “The Sandman” first appeared in “The Amazing Spider-Man #4 (Sept. 1963)” whereas the original “Clayface”, Basil Karlo, appeared in “Detective Comics #40” (1940), only 13 issues after Batman’s first appearance in issue #27. Both are shape-shifting villains made up of a natural substance such as clay or sand. Although it is true that Clayface didn’t receive his shape-shifting powers until his second incarnation in 1961, it was still 2 years before The Sandman came about with similar abilities. Both are also known for pulling off heists/robberies and teaming up with their respective stories Rogue Gallery to stick it to the heroes of the story, Batman/Spider-Man.
I would go as far to say that shape-shifting could be counted as an inevitable character scheme; However, being both shape-shifters and made from basic dirt, as well as their general purpose/mission/demeanour in life are all just too similar to brush this one aside as coincidence. Even IGN.com rated these two characters as the 72nd/73rd best comic book villains of all time which I don’t think is just a happenstance.
1.) Thanos = Darkseid
The facts: “Darkseid” was first introduced in in “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134” (November 1970) and “Thanos” first in “Iron Man #55” (Feb. 1973). Both of these juggernauts are unfathomably powerful, demi-god, supervillains whose main modus operandi is complete and total control and destruction of the universe.
If you were in any doubt whatsoever about the fact that the character design has been stolen from DC’s Darkseid then below is a quote from Jim Starlin (creator of Thanos) describing the moment that Roy Thomas (Editor at Marvel) just straight up told him to steal from Darkseid.
Kirby had done the New Gods, which I thought was terrific. He was over at DC at the time. I came up with some things that were inspired by that. You’d think that Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case when I showed up. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said:
“Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!”
So there you have it, 6 Marvel characters inspired by DC superheroes.
As I said at the top of the page, it can go both ways and I’m sure a lot of people will have different opinions and that’s great. Please feel free to leave your comments, opinions and maybe some characters that DC have stolen from Marvel in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
This post was originally published elsewhere.