According to a set of data from Finder.com tracking more than 40 years of superhero appearances in movies and television, Marvel beats DC at just about everything. Not only has Marvel delivered 47 superhero movies since 1980 compared to DC’s 29, but their films have proven more successful commercially and critically. And no, that’s not just looking at the MCU versus DCEU. This data includes everything from Tim Burton’s Batman to the X-Men.
DC shows and films brought in an average Rotten Tomatoes score of only 48 percent, brought down by garbage fires like Catwoman (2004) and Supergirl (1984) but also more recent failures like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). These three together average out to 13 percent, a score not even Wonder Woman’s 92 percent can fix in the data.
Marvel, on the other hand, sits cooly at an average Rotten Tomatoes score of 73 percent. While it’s easy to credit runaway hits like Thor: Ragnarok’s 92 percent and Iron Man’s 94 percent, keep in mind that Marvel also has to contend with the mediocre Blade movies and dismal ratings from the Fantastic Four and Ghost Rider films.
And yet, they still come out Certified Fresh.
Marvel’s also considerably more successful at the commercial level. Over the years, Marvel has earned $536.1 billion at the box office compared to DC’s $104.5 billion. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy might’ve earned over $2 billion by itself, but Fox’s X-Men movies probably earned at least twice that on their own.
Interestingly enough, DC also has a lot of commercial success even when films get poor ratings — take Suicide Squad’s $745 million in earnings alongside its rating of 26 percent.
The one area that DC excels at is in having the two most commonly utilized superheroes: Batman and Superman. Wolverine comes in third thanks to Hugh Jackman’s ubiquitous portrayal of the character in the live-action X-Men films,
The next 15 heroes, however, all come from Marvel. But most of them aren’t even in the MCU:
Over in television, DC also finds a decent amount of success. Its expansive animated universe has been mining the Batman mythos for years, and as such, the top characters in television almost all come from DC. Partially because the mantle is shared between several different characters and because he’s Batman’s sidekick, Robin appears more often than even Wonder Woman or Flash.
Hulk also appears far more in TV than he does in movies, which is an interesting disconnect:
In the past two years, more superhero movies came out than all other previous years combined, which can’t help but make you wonder if we’re hitting peak saturation.
Yet, if Black Panther’s ongoing commercial success is any indication, however, then people are still hungry for more superhero stories, and they’ll continue going to see them whether from Marvel or DC.
To read more from the full data, head over to Finder.com.