DC vs Marvel: The Big Screen

In this life there are a few questions that, when answered, can destroy families, friendships, reputations and send nations to war.  And in the nerd community there is no greater polarizing question (Wars vs Trek is a close second) than ‘DC or Marvel?’  Fans of the 2 comic giants have been battling and arguing for decades and so far it has all just been a matter of OPINION.  And it really is all fiction (although some talk like it is otherwise).  How do you prove which made up universe is better than the other?  Is there was a way to actually gauge which one was better?


You can’t pick and choose movie for movie because both DC and Marvel have had their hits and misses.  You can’t, under good conscience, criticize DC for Catwoman when Marvel spawned Electra.

Also, DC properties have been on the Silver Screen for far longer than Marvel.  DC had 8 movies under their belt before Marvel finally hit theaters with Howard The Duck.  But since then Marvel has leapt forward, with a total of 46 films compared to DC’s 32.  There have also been numerous studios producing these films, all with their own different style and take on how to present and market the stories and characters.

So how do you size up these two challengers side by side when there are so many variables involved? I have compiled statistic in 3 categories:  ratings, box office & prestige, from the films based off of both DC and Marvel.  We’ll go round for round, looking at the stats from both camps, to see how they stack up against each other.

Round 1:  Ratings

When there’s just one opinion it is just that, an opinion.  But when you get a collective opinion it becomes something a little closer to fact.  There are several ratings aggregate sites (Rotten Tomatoes, imdb, Metacritic) but I have always been a firm believer in Rotten Tomatoes.  I compiled both the critic and user scores, since I know people have strong opinions about which opinion really counts.  (So many opinions)  But, just for fun, lets take a look at the best and worst.

As you can see, DC at it’s best tops Marvel at it’s best.  And Marvel at it’s worse is worse than DC at it’s worse.  So it’s easy to say that DC takes the round, but let’s look at the averages to make sure.

  • DC Average Scores – 53.96% Critic, 57.09% User
  • Marvel Average Scores – 57.8% Critic, 64.53% User

As you can see, a pretty close finish, but in the end, despite good critical runs from Batman & Superman, DC was weighed down by stinkers like Jonah Hex, Steel, Supergirl and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Winner:  Marvel

Round 2:  Box Office

It’s true what they say, cash is king, especially in Hollywood.  Let’s compare the box office numbers, which I compiled from IMDB, between DC and Marvel.DC Average Budget – $94 million

  • DC Average Gross $244 million
  • DC Average Margin – 62%
  • DC Total Budget – $2.7 billion
  • DC  Total Gross – $7.1 billion
  • DC Total Profit – $4.4 billion
  •  Marvel Average Budget – $131 Marvel
  • Marvel Average Gross – $428 Marvel
  • Marvel Average Margin – 69%
  • Marvel Total Budget – $5.5 billion
  • Marvel Total Gross – $18 billion
  • Marvel Total Profit – $12.5 billion

So, it’s plain to see Marvel is playing with much bigger toys.  Bigger budgets, bigger grosses and bigger payouts.  Also, more movies in a shorter period of time.  Could it be since Marvel has more money behind it, it is doing better overall?  We may never know for sure, at least until DC’s shared cinematic universe is further along, but until then, we have to proclaim a winner.

Winner:  Marvel

Round 3:  Prestige

What good is comparing movies without measuring accolades?  If both competitors would please approach the line and drop trow, I will grab the yard stick.

  • DC Nomiations – 28
  • DC Wins – 5
  • Marvel Nominations – 14
  • Marvel Wins – 1

The clear winner here is DC.  Batman & Superman literally save the day with some help from DC imprint Paradox Press’ Road to Perdition & A History of Violence big screen adaptions scoring a total of 28 nominations with 5 wins for DC compared to Marvels meager 14 nominations with 1 win.  It should also be noted that of Marvels 14 nominations, 9 are in effects and only in 5 categories total.  Where DC had nominations over 10 categories, several of which included nominations in more high profile categories like Acting, Writing and & Cinematography.

Winner:  DC


If you didn’t pick it up somehow in the article, while I like both, I am a bigger DC fan.  So it pains me to announce that in a score of 2 to 1, Marvel is the winner in the world of cinema.  This may all change however, as DCCU is gearing up to having a shared cinematic universe with several released per year, just like Marvel’s MCU.  We’ll have to check back in a few years to see if DC is on top.  Or perhaps cut the fat and do a MCU vs DCCU.

Either way, its just great to have these great characters on the big screen, in the hands of talented professionals who love them and the worlds they came from.  Does it REALLY matter which is better?  No.  We’re just glad to have them.  All of them.

Plus, I can also take comfort in knowing that DC rules the small screen and animated movie sectors.  🙂

Sound off in the comments below with your OPINIONS, as if we didn’t have enough of those.  And if you want to look at the stats I compiled, hit me up through the contact page in the menu.  


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