Marvel and DC Comics have been rivals for decades. Whether it’s comics, film, television or merchandise, these guys have been duking it out for a really long time. Sometimes Marvel comes out on top (MCU) and sometimes DC is the one that gets bragging rights (TV). Either way, there’s an unending debate about which company is better and it pretty much depends on who you ask, because both have rabid fan bases.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” The House of Ideas can run out of inspiration, just as the Distinguished Competitor can lose the plot. Often one isn’t better than the other and let’s face it, without this rivalry, we would’ve most likely missed out on some truly exceptional stories.
Every DC character seems to have a Marvel counterpart, but there are many for whom the similarities run much deeper than a power set. Some of these heroes share a great deal more. Here are 15 DC and Marvel Characters Who Are Strikingly Similar.
15 Deathstroke (1980) and Deadpool (1991)
This infamous knockoff is known to most comic fans already. It all started with Rob Liefeld's designs for the assassin that he and co-creator Fabian Nicieza wanted to incorporate into New Mutants. So the story goes: Niceieza took one look the sketches of this Deadpool character and said, "This is Deathstroke from the Teen Titans." Liefeld had grown up a huge fan of the Titans and the similarities were unmistakable. Deathstroke and Deadpool are master assassins who wield both guns and swords, and have regenerative capabilities. Not only were their costumes cut from the same cloth (if not color scheme), but so were their names. When Deadpool's creators realized what they were dealing with, they didn't dial it back, but rather, dialed it up, choosing to give Deadpool the moniker of Wade Wilson. This was an intentional riff on Deathstroke's name, Slade Wilson.
More so than any pair on this list, these two men have carved out their own separate niches in comics. Although both have gone from villains to anti-heroes, the evolution of Slade and Wade is completely different. Deathstroke and Deadpool don't just have dissimilar backstories; their personalities are also absolutely nothing alike. Marvel may have, admittedly, drawn a little too much inspiration from the DC character, but they most definitely made him their own. It's kind of the greatest rip off in comic book history!
14 Big Barda (1971) and Gamora (1975)
Initially, when you think about these two great warriors, not that many similarities spring to mind. They certainly don’t look alike. However, their power sets are fairly analogous. Aside from that, Big Barda and Gamora are far more powerful then most of the men they fight beside (fairly uncharacteristic of the time during which they were created). However, where these women wound up is not what makes them so connected; it's where they came from.
Big Barda was born on Apokolips, Darkseid’s homeworld. She was taken from her mother at a young age and groomed by Granny Goodness to lead the Female Furies, Darkseid’s fiercest warriors. This was the only life she knew. While Barda began as a villain fully prepared to “Die for Darkseid”, she switched sides after falling in love with Mister Miracle. Eventually, she became a valued member of the Justice League.
Gamora was also raised to serve an evil ruler: her adoptive father Thanos (basically the Marvel equivalent of Darkseid). She was also taken as an infant and raised to be a weapon against forces for good, all the while not realizing the true villainy that she had become complicit in. Once Thanos’s treachery was revealed, like Barda, Gamora became a soldier for the other side. She has since both aided the Avengers and become an integral part of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
13 Red Hood (2005) and Winter Soldier (2005)
Interestingly, these two dead sidekicks turned anti-heroes were resurrected in the same year. Both characters acted as backup to two of the biggest heroes of their respective publishing companies, Batman and Captain America. Bucky Barnes died a tragic, but heroic death while trying to defuse a bomb during WWII. Poor Jason Todd, aka everyone’s least favorite Robin, was killed off essentially by the fans, whose wishes were carried out by the psychotic Joker. He also died in an explosion (although he was pretty much beaten to death first.)
One of the coolest things about the way these guys were brought back is how, well-- cool they were. Arguably, Jason and Bucky were fairly lame characters before their deaths, but upon their returns they became two of the most awesome badasses in comics. Both men also returned in a manner that pitted them against their former mentors. Jason Todd arrived home fueled by the fires of vengeance, which of course, Batman could not get behind. Bucky was turned into one of the world’s greatest assassins and we know Cap couldn’t let that continue.
Despite the fact that both men returned under unfortunate circumstances, they are now both heroes. Jason partially redeemed himself over time and was reimagined with Red Hood and the Outlaws during DC’s New 52. Bucky eventually came to his senses and has been a hero ever since, even doing a brief stint as Captain America!
12 Swamp Thing (1971) and Man Thing (1971)
Two almost identical characters conceived by two different publishers at the same time! Both Swamp Thing and Man Thing probably owe a debt to the Heap though, a similar character that can be traced all the way back to 1942 and was published by Hillman Periodicals. This is probably why, although Marvel (their guy technically came first) and DC argued about the characters being too similar, they never took the issue to court.
Both Alec Holland and Theodore “Ted” Sallis were scientists. Ted and Alec were each working with a substance that, when combined with the swamp, caused them to rise again from the depths as a very similar looking creature. Then they both became heroes. However, the evolution of the characters is vastly different.
Swamp Thing was initially a straightforward horror comic. While those early stories were great, it was Alan Moore (Watchmen), who took over the book in its second volume, that made the Swamp Thing so much more. He maintained the comic’s roots in horror, but steeped it in existential philosophy. Instead of Alec Holland, Swamp Thing was a plant that simply thought he was a man. This not only defined the creature for all his subsequent years, but is at least partially responsible for ushering in an entirely new age of comics. Man Thing on the other hand, has remained largely unchanged since his inception.
11 Green Arrow (1941) and Hawkeye (1964)
This one is pretty hard to miss. Although the two heroes have very different backstories, they share quite a bit in common besides that whole bow and arrow thing (although let’s face it, that’s kind of a big one). Their temperament is pretty close. Both men are outspoken and known to be impetuous. They also both have tempers and have gotten out of many seemingly impossible situations. The most impossible situation Green Arrow and Hawkeye have escaped? Well, that would be death. Both men have died and come back to tell the tale.
Their love lives share a strange similarity as well. Both Clint and Ollie have been involved with ladies whose superhero sobriquet begins with the word Black (Widow and Canary, respectively). The two men both needed to teach themselves archery for survival from a fairly young age. Regardless of where they started out their hero’s journey, or villain's in Clint’s case, both wound up key members of the premier superhero squad in their universes. Clint has been an Avenger through countless iterations of the team and the same can be said of Ollie and the Justice League.
10 Aquaman (1941) and Namor (1939)
Here is another pair of heroes whose similarities are immediately apparent. Obviously, it’s easy to lump the two sea guys together, but the parallels go far beyond their affinity for the ocean. For one thing, their abilities are almost exactly the same. The main difference is that Namor can fly. Aside from powers, the two men share the same weakness: they cannot exist indefinitely on land. Both were born of Atlantean women who fell in love with mortal men. Namor and Arthur are considered royalty and their responsibilities to their kingdoms have always taken precedence over what goes on in the surface world.
Their love lives however, are pretty different. While Arthur’s one main squeeze has always been Mera, Namor has been married several times, but will probably always carry the biggest of torches for Sue Storm. Despite serving in many important storylines since their creation, the two have been relegated to relatively minor roles in their respective universes. However, in recent years, Geoff Johns has done an excellent job of reinventing Aquaman, while Namor has remained largely underused.
9 Elongated Man (1960) and Mr. Fantastic (1961)
While both of these guys certainly owe a debt to DC’s Plastic Man (1941), they are far more like each other. Putting their stretching capabilities aside (their power set is pretty much identical), one of the most important qualities they share is their incredible intellect. While Reed Richards focuses his energies on science, Ralph Dibny uses his amazing skills of deduction to solve crimes. Although their career choices differ, they are two of the smartest men in the Marvel and DC Universes.
Notably, neither Reed nor Ralph has a secret identity and they were two of the earliest individuals to come out of the superhero closet. Another substantial aspect these two characters share: their marriages. Not only were both men married to ladies named Sue (Storm and Dearbon), but also their relationships have been relatively trouble free. In the soap operatic world of comics, that is a huge feat! While their fellow heroes were falling in and out of love, these two men were happily settled down (at least until Ralph tragically lost his wife in the pages of Identity Crisis).
8 Atom (1961) and Ant-Man (1962)
There have been a couple incarnations of both of these guys, but the two with the most in common are Ray Palmer and Hank Pym (both of the Silver Age). The ‘60s was very much a time of reinvention for comics. Out with the Westerns and in with the superheroes. While many science-based heroes were created around this time, these two were the only two who had used the research they were doing to manipulate their size. Aside from that, each of them was regarded as top-notch in their fields. They are both physicists who used their newfound powers to become superheroes.
The Atom and Ant-Man each started out with shrinking technology, but later discovered that they could grow themselves as well. They also both had happy marriages that ended in bitter divorce. Although the two heroes were very much the same when introduced, they have since majorly diverged, especially personality-wise. Hank’s hero’s journey has been a difficult one ever since creating Ultron in 1968. Following that, he was plagued by problems in both his professional and personal life. Ray never suffered the same type of mental torment, at least not until his ex-wife became a supervillain.
7 Red Tornado (1968) and Vision (1968)
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Both Red Tornado and the Vision are androids. That’s hardly the end of the comparison though. They were both created by villains that were attempting to use them against the Justice League and the Avengers, respectively. Red Tornado turned on his maker, T.O. Morrow, just as the Vision turned on his, Ultron. Both are synthetic creations that long to find their humanity.
Also, both take their names from obscure characters from the Golden Age, although the Vision bears a much stronger resemblance to his namesake. The silver age characters, aka the iterations that we know and love, made their first appearances mere months apart (although a version of RT known as Ulthoon was created in 1960). Aside from all that, they have both fallen for human women. Red Tornado dated Kathleen Sutton and the two adopted a daughter. The Vision married the Scarlet Witch and they had two children (who she essentially willed into existence). It is their power sets that truly differentiate them. Red Tornado can mainly, well, create tornados. The Vision, on the other hand, can do pretty much anything.
6 Doom Patrol (1963) and X-Men (1963)
Doom Patrol made their first appearance in My Greatest Adventure #80 in June, while X-Men #1 debuted in September. A few months isn’t much time to steal an idea and execute it. However, their creator, the late Arnold Drake, was convinced that Stan Lee did steal the idea. Due to the fact that many writers were working between both Marvel and DC, Lee could’ve had much more of a lead than it seems. When you get down to it, the similarities are fairly astounding.
Doom Patrol were freaks, while the X-Men were mutants labeled as freaks. Both were bands of misfits fighting on behalf of a populace that feared and hated them. Their main enemy was the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! Also, let’s not forget that an older gentleman in a wheelchair led both teams and that they were described as the world's "Strangest Heroes”. It is true that over the years the books have deviated enough that they are now completely separate entities, and if you haven’t read Grant Morrison’s run on both titles, you’re missing out! However, at their inception, the teams were unmistakably alike.
5 Catwoman (1940) and Black Cat (1979)
Selina Kyle and Felicia Hardy are instantly recognizable as kindred spirits. First of all, they both have that whole cat thing going on. Second, both are thieves and not just competent ones, but pretty much the best in the biz. Next up, both have serious romantic ties to the heroes headlining the books they first appeared in, Batman and Spider-Man. Also, their costumes bear a certain uncanny resemblance and these two ladies have each walked the line between villain and anti-hero.
It would seem that Marvel drew their inspiration from DC here, but interestingly, that isn’t the case. According to creator Marv Wolfram, he got the idea for Felicia Hardy from a Tex Avery cartoon from the ‘40s, called Bad Luck Blackie. And if we look at who Catwoman was when Black Cat made her comic book debut, the two look almost nothing alike. Although Selina sported a catsuit in the campy ‘60s Batman TV show, her comic counterpart was stilling wearing a purple dress. Catwoman was completely redesigned in Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One, which wasn’t released until 1986.
4 Green Lantern (1940) and Nova (1976)
Green Lantern and Nova each belong to an intergalactic Corps. They basically act as space cops. It is true that Hal Jordan (the Silver Age GL) and Richard Rider are completely different guys. Jordan was pretty much the cockiest dude ever, while Rider was a shy kid (although becoming Nova increased his self-confidence). Regardless of their personalities, their place in their respective galaxies is the same. While the ring picks a Green Lantern based on worthiness, members of the Nova Corps are chosen differently. However, both Jordan and Rider were granted their new titles by a dying member of the Corps.
While their abilities aren’t quite the same, they both have nearly unlimited power, which each one receives from a specific power source. Nova gets his juice from the Nova Source, while GL gets his from the Central Power Battery. Both men have led their Corps and died in the process. They have also both returned from the dead.
3 Batman (1939) and Moon Knight (1975)
While there are many heroes that share certain characteristics with the Dark Knight, none are quite so apparent as Moon Knight. Marc Spector is no carbon copy of Bruce Wayne, but the similarities are hard to miss. Both men are driven by vengeance, although for Batman, this is on behalf of his parents, while for Moon Knight, it is the god Khonshu for whom he battles. They both use their wealth to fight crime with an interesting array of gadgets and have no superpowers to speak of.
Although these are obvious parallels, the men are not too different underneath their disguises either. Both Bruce Wayne and Marc Spector are pretty much the masks, while Batman and Moon Knight are who these guys really are. Wayne is a genius, but he’s also kind of a crazy person, a subject that has been explored many times over the years. Spector is basically that broken psyche taken one step further, with him descending into actual madness.
2 Wonder Woman (1941) and Power Princess (1982)
Although she has a couple of somewhat close counterparts in the Marvel Universe, perhaps Thor or Captain Marvel, none share quite as many similarities with Diana Prince as Power Princess. Princess Zarda was most definitely meant to be Marvel’s version of Wonder Woman from the moment she was created. The two share little in common personality wise, but that is literally the only thing that separates them.
Both are goddesses that were raised on completely isolated islands. Wonder Woman grew up on Themyscira, while Zarda lived her early years on Utopia. Like Diana, Zarda became an emissary from her homeland and both ladies fought in World War II. They are both fierce warriors with near identical power sets. Aside from all that, Zarda, like Diana, fell in love with pretty much the first guy she met. Over the years, the Amazon Princess has become an unparalleled icon. Wisely, J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank chose to reimagine Zarda in the brilliant Supreme Power, an update of Squadron Supreme, which definitely gave the character her own identity.
1 Superman (1938) and Hyperion (1969)
Speaking of both Squadron Supreme and Supreme Power, Hyperion is another hero that began as a thinly veiled attempt to copy a DC hero, only to later be reimagined into something else entirely. Hyperion was initially conceived as a villainous version of the Man of Steel. Not long after, a different iteration of Hyperion, known as Mark Milton, showed up on the superhero team, Squadron Supreme. There have been several versions of the character. The most well known: a boy with Superman’s power set, who happened to be an alien sent to Earth from a dying planet and was raised by a kindly couple. No one strained too many muscles there.
However, like Zarda, Hyperion was given new life (as in, his own) in the pages of Supreme Power. While his origin was largely the same, rather than being brought up by people who instilled an unwavering sense of morality in him, it was the government that found Milton. They allowed him to be raised like a normal kid, all the while monitoring him and calling the shots, wanting only to use him as a weapon. Once Hyperion learns about his life of deception, he finds his own way and his journey there is an awesome one!
Do you prefer the DC or Marvel versions? Let us know in the comments!