It’s no secret. For years both Marvel and DC Comics have taken inspiration from each other.
There have been some very egregious cases of “inspiration” going around the comic book industry pretty much since its early days. Some of the most notorious comic writers have ‘borrowed’ ideas from time to time, leading to some characters sharing parallel backstories and similar-looking characters. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but, sometimes, imitation can cross a dangerous line straight into the straight of theft. Stealing might sound too harsh of a word for what this list is all about, but some of the cases we’re about to see are more than a bit shocking, to say the least.
Here are ten times Marvel stole from DC Comics.
10. Captain Marvel Rode On The Coattails of Wonder Woman
In 2017, Wonder Woman managed to become one of the most popular female-led superhero movies of all time. It proved once and for all that DC could make great films that didn’t include Batman or Superman, and also reignited the fans’ love for one of the most popular female superheroes of all time.
Two years later, the MCU tried to replicate Wonder Woman’s success by introducing Carol Danvers with her titular film, Captain Marvel. Much like the reception that the character has had in the comics, the response to her solo film was lukewarm at best, leading to her sequel becoming a shared film, The Marvels.
9. Doctor Strange Was “Heavily Inspired” By Doctor Fate
While the idea of a superpowered sorcerer is nothing new — there’s another one on our list down below! — Doctor Strange takes the cake when it comes to blatantly take inspiration from a DC character.
Doctor Fate made his DC Comics debut in 1940, 23 years before Doctor Strange was created. It gets worse: Fate’s official title is “Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme,” which is the same position that Doctor Strange holds in the Marvel universe.
8. The Flash Leaves Quicksilver In The Dust
As far as speedsters go, there’s no superfast hero as popular as DC’s the Flash. However, depending on who you ask, Quicksilver is the fastest man in comic book history.
Here’s where things get tricky: the Flash came decades before Quicksilver, but there’s no denying that the X-Men movies did the superspeed visual effect much better than DC has done so far. Here’s hoping that the house that Batman built manages to make the Flash look more visually interesting in his upcoming solo film.
7. Scarlet Witch And Zatanna Could Be Cases Of Simultaneous Invention
There’s no question about it: Marvel’s Scarlet Witch is way more powerful than DC’s Zatanna. While the latter has a more interesting backstory, the reality-bending powers of Wanda Maximoff are unlike anything Zatanna has ever done in the comics.
Scarlet Witch actually made her comics debut a few months before Zatanna, which would mean that DC is the one stealing from Marvel this time, right? Well, yes and no. Zatanna might be somewhat based on Scarlet Witch, but she’s the daughter of John Zatara, another superpowered magician who made his debut thirty years before the Scarlet Witch.
6. Vision Is Dangerously Similar To The Red Tornado
Unlike his wife, Vision is more evidently inspired by a DC character, particularly in the Red Tornado. Both characters are superpowered androids that began their careers as baddies and eventually found their place in big superhero teams.
The MCU version of Vision, in particular, bears a dangerously similar look to the Red Tornado. You can see Red Tornado in live-action in the CW’s Supergirl series, where the similarities between him and Vision are even more apparent than in the comics.
5. The X-Men Are Superpowered Outcasts, Just Like The Doom Patrol Before Them
The concept of superhero teams is just as old as comic books themselves. In 1963, a team broke new grounds by introducing a ragtag team of rejects that were shunned by society for their unique abilities and bizarre bodies. We’re talking, of course, of the Doom Patrol, released in June of 1963.
A few months later, in November of 1963, Marvel released the X-Men, which shared a very similar backstory to DC’s Doom Patrol. However, the mutants proved to be incredibly more popular than DC’s team of weirdos, receiving multiple TV shows and live-action movies over the years, while the Doom Patrol is just recently receiving the mainstream recognition it deserves.
4. Deadpool Is What Happens When Deathstroke Loses His Mind
No matter if you’re a DC or Marvel fan: everyone loves Deadpool. The Merc with a Mouth is known for two things: making outrageous fourth-wall-breaking jokes, and killing — and he’s great at both of them.
Eleven years before Deadpool’s debut — and 36 years before the 2016 live-action Deadpool film — Deathstroke had its first appearance in DC’s Teen Titans. Rob Liefeld, who designed Deadpool, acknowledges the similarities between the two characters. In fact, Deadpool’s name, Wade Wilson, is a reference to Deathstroke’s real name, Slade Wilson. It’s safe to say that there are no harsh feelings between Deadpool and Deathstroke, as both DC and Marvel have poked fun at the similar characters in multiple comics.
3. Thanos And Darkseid Are Essentially The Same Characters
Both characters were born in the 70s and both characters are supervillains with an insane fascination with death — only Darkseid came three years before Thanos. Jim Starlin, Thanos’ creator, mentioned Darkseid as a source of inspiration when he created the Mad Titan.
As it’s usually the case, Darkseid might have come first in the comics, but Thanos got the upper hand on the big screen. DC fans had to wait until the Snyder Cut until they got a live-action version of Darkseid, while Marvel fans saw Thanos in multiple MCU films for the better part of a decade.
2. Thanks To Captain Marvel, Shazam Doesn’t Have A Superhero Name
2019’s Shazam! Might be one of the best DC films ever released. However, the live-action adaptation suffered from an awkward limitation: it couldn’t use its titular character’s superhero name. Shazam is the word Billy Batson utters to become his superpowered self, but his real hero name is Captain Marvel: the same name the character was given in 1940 when it was created.
Marvel saw the chance to call one of their characters Captain Marvel since the original “Shazam” comics hadn’t been published in fifteen years. To make matters worse, both the MCU’s Captain Marvel and Shazam! were released in the same year, leaving DC’s hero to remain nameless for his live-action debut.
1. The Avengers Owe Most Of Their Success To The Justice League
For most old-school comic book fans, the Justice League will always be the most prestigious superhero team ever to exist. If we go even further back, you could say that the Justice League owes its popularity to the Justice Society of America, both creations of DC Comics.
Both DC teams predate Marvel’s Avengers by more than two decades, but the success of the MCU and The Avengers is undeniable. The live-action Justice League film even enlisted the help of Joss Whedon, who directed The Avengers, but Marvel simply was more popular than DC at that point. All’s not lost, however, as Zack Snyder and his vision of what the Justice League could become has some DC fans excited for the cinematic future of the franchise.