Thursday, July 10, 2014

True or False: DC's Trinity Remains More Iconic Than Marvel's Top Four Characters


Humanbelly said...

True, definitely true.
Regardless of relative popularity at any given time, you ALWAYS think of that Trinity as the Face of DC Superheroes. Marvel's Top Four (with the exception of Spidey) shifts with the marketing tides, and at one point would have been Spidey, Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Wolverine (remember that stretch in the FF?). Cap has been included more often than not over the years, as has the Hulk. Ben Grimm used to be a pretty visible spokes-face as well 'way back. But, fifteen years ago, would you EVER have thought that Iron Man would be considered one of Marvel's most publicly recognizable assets??

It does still make me sad that Marvel can't get a solid female hero to break into that group, though.


Anonymous said...

As a Marvel loyalist I'd reluctantly say true - as HB says, the Marvel iconic line-up changes over time but I'd still say that Spidey, the Hulk and Captain America are as iconic as anything DC has. Also the fact that the Marvel line-up changes shows how dynamic Marvel is - DC has those three and nothing else.

Murray said...

Right now, granted, the average putz on the street will recognize three of those Marvel heroes. S/he will be all muddled at who the guy in the yellow and black costume is, though. ("They should be ashamed for stealing the claws idea from Wolverine")

But the only real icons displayed are Superman, Batman and Spider-Man.

So, I'll give it to DC, but only with the World's Finest Team, not with this forced, "take your little sister with you!" trinity set-up.

Colin makes a good point that after the World's Finest gold, DC's characters all drop to a distant bronze medal finish, at best. Marvel has a heap of characters vying for the silver.

david_b said...

Agreed with Colin to a point. After the 'Big Three', what have you..?

Perhaps Flash and Green Lantern, who are pretty common on t-shirts and other paraphenalia. In terms of movies, direct-to-DVD animated stuff, figures, shirts, they run neck-to-neck with the FF, Thor and other heroes, depending on how DC pushes them.

Remember how big the Anime-style Teen Titans were for a spell..? DC has gotten much better in getting their characters out at big chains like Walmart, Target, etc.., but one could say they're just responding to the animated FF and Spidey shows from the '90s.

HB makes a great point on Iron Man, kudos to Robert Downey Jr for changing the face of Tony Stark.

Dr. Oyola said...


To me Wonder Woman is the ESSENCE of iconicity - she has had not recent very successful comics run, no TV show since the 70s, no movie as of yet, she was part of a cartoon, but the not the star and YET, she is still an archetype - an image everyone (in the West anyway) recognizes and many people identify with in different ways.

Regardless, this could also be true of Bats and Supes.

With Marvel, you have Spider-Man - but that's it - the others have had more recent popularity, but have not reached iconic status yet (save perhaps Captain America)

Humanbelly said...

There was a brief time in the later 70's/early 80's when Conan was being used in Marvel's promo spots almost as much as anyone. Man, and now they no longer even OWN that character-!

But I do agree w/ Colin that Spidey, Cap & Hulk have pretty much been the iconic promotional Trinity for Marvel. I still tote around a 30 year old lunch box that features them. . .

And I would definitely make a pitch for Flash as a member of a Quadrinity (??)-- I think it's something that the suits simply didn't pick up on for decades. Regardless of the fact that he didn't get cartoons or movies or as many multiple titles, The Flash is a character that EVERY kid I knew was aware of when we were all little-- and his book was a hot one in our interpersonal trading community. How do I put it? We all know & recognize the character far more than the front offices ever assumed we did (IMHO).


(PS-- DaveB, I daresay RDJr changed the HEIGHT of Tony Stark more than anything! Although Marvel now officially lists Tony's height at 6'-1", I am almost positive that he was listed at something like 6'-3" in the original HotMU. It stuck in my mind because Tony was actually taller than Rhodey in that iteration-- and Rhodey always struck me as being a pretty big fellow. RDJr? 5'-9"-- and I daresay that's with his agent's thumb obscuring the tape-measure. . . ! But you know what? I LOVE THAT! I LOVE that a major superhero can be a fellow that's on the lean end of the average-height scale-!)

(Tangenting wildly before a busy day at TheatreLab. . . )


Anonymous said...

True. DC's Big Three are recognizable to people who are not into comics, mainly because (until recently, anyway) DC usually had more success with multimedia adaptations. And, as HB noted, with DC, it's always been the same trinity, while Marvel's top four changed more than once.

The success of Marvel movies in recent years may change everything. But, in terms of "iconic," or even just familiarity to the general public, Marvel probably still has some catching up to do.

Edo Bosnar said...

I have to say true, as well. When someone says DC, I immediately think of one of those three characters or any combination thereof.
And I would disagree with Murray to an extent about Wonder Woman; I think she is in fact pretty iconic and also rather widely recognized outside of the realm of comics (thanks in part to the '70s TV show and Super Friends).

On the other hand, the only Marvel character who has consistently had that same kind broad recognizability for several decades now is Spider-man.

Anonymous said...

True. DC's big 3 benefit greatly from each of the three starring in popular TV series during the Baby Boomer decades of the '50's, 60's and 70's. The George Reeves Superman and Adam West Batman shows both had long life in syndication for still greater exposure. How many tens of millions of kids who may never have picked up a comic book know the Big 3 from television.

Garett said...

You could probably add Catwoman and Joker to the DC side as well. Even though they are villains, they'd be recognized by the average Joe on the street.

J.A. Morris said...

I'm going to say false, and I imagine it will be controversial.

I'm saying false because DC doesn't have the guts to use the "iconic" costumes for the current movie versions Superman and Batman.

I guess Batman's outfit got a makeover because Tim Burton wanted to distance himself from Adam West. But come on, it's been 25 years since the first Burton Bat-movie, can't Warner Brothers give the gray suit a chance?

And in the case of Henry Cavill, the decided that "underwear on the outside looks dumb." Right.

Yes, X-Men movies did that with Wolverine (and the rest of the X-Men), but that still gives Marvel an advantage in this equation. Also, Wolverine's had several costume changes over the years(yellow,fang,yellow,brown,back to yellow,patch), while Superman and Batman have had the same suit for most of their 70+ year histories. In fact, one could make the case that Logan's hair and claws are more iconic than any of his costumes.

Ewan said...

Another vote for true, I'm a slightly bigger Marvel fan but the DC Trinity still feels more iconic to me. I agree with Spidey, and to some extent Cap being the classic Marvel icons. What's not as clear in my mind is if you limited it to just one icon each...Superman versus Spidey.

Man, back in the day I would have put Aquaman in the Quadrinity. He was the fourth core adult member of the aforementioned Super Friends, and perhaps most importantly, he joined those elite icons as a founding underoos character.

Humanbelly, is your lunchbox the old 76 one with the FF on one side and Spidey and other characters on the other (and around the edges)? I had that as a kid and just found and bought one in good condition last week!

Anonymous said...

Well, Spidey will always be my favourite, but as for who's more iconic...yeah, I'd have to say it's true--the DC trio is more iconic overall (mostly Superman and Batman now; WW has kind of slipped out of the public consciousness lately).

Mike W.

Pat Henry said...

Question sort of answers itself in terms of the definition of "icon." Both Superman and Wonder Woman are the idealized form of superhero man and woman. Batman rounds out a durable holy trinity.

As Dr. Oyola says, these characters have endured even as the stories and props around them have gone stale and rancid, even ludicrous. They are more potent than the actual material that supports them.

That's an icon.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, as a US American, the argument falls on both sides. For many of us, The Bronze Age peoples, we have deep rooted memories of Wonder Woman, especially the TV show. There was even a run during the mid 80s to early 90s where several shows had their female leads either in THE COSTUME, Tea Leoni, or in a version of the costume, Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill, I forget which. IIRC Bones dressed as Wonder Woman for their Halloween episode.

But for now, in the post 00s decade, I don't think Wonder Woman even blinks on the national radar. Just because 11 out of 10 of us can correctly identify her doesn't mean much.

For Marvel, again, who are their BIG FOUR? I think Spider-Man is definitely the guy. The Hulk has such a history that he was the lead movie when Marvel was starting it's movie line. And now....? We're waiting on another Hulk movie.

So in a nutshell, DC has a big 2, not 3. Marvel has Spider-Man.

Again, that's how I see it as a US American.

An unabashed aside: Last weekend, my youngest had a tournament. At the park where we were playing, one of the local clubs had a group of kids, under 10 years old, doing agility and conditioning drills. In the group of six kids, there was one girl. Often out in front or finishing first. Her shirt? Blue, with a shield on it.......
Stay gold, Ponyboy.....

The Prowler (weaker than a man should be, can't help himself).

Jack Alberti said...

The question is a sort-of-trap. Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman are iconic - yes. The so-called-trinity vs the four is not a valid question.

Doug said...

So I guess you'd be marking "false" on your paper, then, JalRod?


Humanbelly said...

Lookin' for at least partial credit on true & false test, arentcha JalRod? Heh. (Doug spots 'em every time.)

Ewan, the Cap/Hulk/spidey edition is a later lunchbox (1981, I think)-- but I do also have the one you describe in MIGHTILY beaten-up shape. Got it heavily used on ebay 'way back & both HBSon & I put it into regular school/work rotation. I'm sure you've noticed that for some unfathomable reason, Spidey is swinging on a ROPE rather than on a web-line-? The peripheral images are particularly cool because they're direct lifts from the comics, and you can impress everyone OUT THE DOOR by identifying who each individual artist is--! (Chick-MAGNET, baby!)

HB (always the end of the magnet that repels. . . )

Doug said...

By the way, since no has mentioned it... All of you Alex Ross detractors have GOT to say that the DC image is light years better than the Marvel art I chose for today, huh? Right??


Redartz said...

Another vote for "true" today. DC's big three have been cornerstones for the company since the forties; and though Captain America is contemporaneous (my big word for today) he still trails them in recognizability ( going for the most syllables in a sentence record).

Spider-man may be equal to either Supes, Batman or Wonder Woman, but I don't think he has enough prominent friends to match them together.

Oh, and am loving the lunch box tales. Perhaps a subject for a future discussion?

Anonymous said...

Already voted above as "Anonymous" - just another observation - Marvel's Big 3 through much of the '70's and early '80's was Spider-Man, Hulk and Conan. Those three seemed to appear most often in company ads and merchandising.

William said...

Even though I'm a day late, I'll say TRUE. There are really no more iconic superheroes than DC's "Big Three". I mean, you can't buy brand recognition like that. Which is why it still boggles my mind that they changed their classic looks for the New 52. I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!!!

I believe the only truly iconic Marvel character is Spider-Man. Iron Man and others have become mega-popular just recently due to the movies. So, I wouldn't really consider them as "iconic" as Spidey and the DC Trinity.

Anonymous said...

Despite my being a Marvelite-centric fan, I gotta say that DC's trio is definitely the most iconic one out there!

- Mike 'Batfleck' from Trinidad & Tobago.

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