But why is Spider-Man the poster child like good ole’ blue boy when Spider-Man is in fact more similar to everyone’s favorite vigilante, your friendly(? ) neighborhood Batman.
While Spider-Man’s ‘code of ethics’ in “with great power comes great responsibilit”’, which is something that Superman would adhere to, one must remember that it was Ben Parker, Peter Parker’s uncle, who said it first. It wasn’t a code Peter implemented in his life until his Uncle Ben died. THAT was the pinnacle moment when Parker decided that he must use his newfound powers for good, in essence for vengeance by helping others and taking justice into his own hands, just as Bruce Wayne dedicated his life to vengeance by protecting his city and taking justice into his own hands after his parents were killed. Parker’s motive for becoming Spider-Man is the same motive that Bruce Wayne had in becoming Batman. Clark Kent, on the other hand didn’t have to “become” Superman, he simply was Superman and his motive in being Superman has nothing to do with seeking vengeance or taking the law into his own hands.
While Superman is a welcome superhero to help Metropolis and other fictional cities in the DC universe, Batman not so much. Despite affiliation with the Justice League, he is and always will be a vigilante, a regular person who decided to take the law into his own hands, and though doing good for his city, he is NOT a welcome force amongst the Gotham City judicial system. These are elements that are a part of Spider-Man’s daily plight. Regardless of Spidey doing the right thing for the average citizen, police are out to detain him, J. Jonah Jameson is on a crusade to smear Spider-Man’s name, claiming that he is a menace to the city when he’s actually doing good. He’s pegged a vigilante (a topic for another day), just as much as Batman is. So while Spider-Man and Batman do their own personal job in protecting the citizens of their cities from nefarious villains and sending them to jail/Arkham Asylum, they could potentially get caught and end up in the very same jail for being vigilantes. Superman doesn’t have to worry about that; Superman helps the people of Metropolis and everyone, from the citizens to the mayor, accepts it.
Also, let us not forget the abundance of obvious similarities between Spider-Man and Batman in their supporting cast, just to name a few because I can go on about this for days.
The Joker = Green Goblin
When it comes to relationship comparisons for the spider and the bat, my personal favorite is the cat. A crime fighting vigilante needs a forbidden love interest, and in the case of both Batman and Spider-Man, that forbidden love which compels each to reveal their secret identities to comes in the form of a gorgeous villain skilled in cat burglary: Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) for Spidey and Catwoman (Selina Kyle) for Bats.
Returning to my main point, the poster child for the company comes down to marketability, a character who’ll appeal to any age/race/gender. Spider-Man has had two movie franchises, numerous cartoons and video games, multiple concurrent comic book titles, etc. If the poster child criteria is marketability and merchandising, then that’s also a field that Batman flourishes in. Batman has had two movie franchises, very successful video games in the Lego and Arkham series, more cartoon series than any other DC character, and various comic book titles that have spawned other similar characters for any age/race/gender to enjoy in Batgirl, Batwoman, Nightwing, and others. Plus, a majority of the DC animated movie DVDs have been about Batman. Fictional universe/character comparisons aside, when it comes to marketability and merchandise, Batman is to DC what Spider-Man is to Marvel.
So my question to you, dear reader is this: during a time where casual and overzealous fans alike flock more towards a character like Batman who is just a flawed human instead of a super powered being and if Spider-Man is the poster child for Marvel when he is more akin to Batman, then why isn’t Batman the poster child for DC instead of Superman?
In a time of comic book movies/characters where readers and viewers gravitate towards the dark and gritty like The Dark Knight, the anti-heroes like Deadpool, and the uber-violent do-gooders of Kick-Ass, are we ready and willing to have that style of character in Batman as the poster boy for a comic book company? Or is Batman his own entity among DC? Like when I ask people what they read and they say, “A lot of Marvel, some DC, some Image and Batman.”
Or is being the poster child based on who was there first which, in DC‘s case, would be Superman circa Action Comics #1 in 1938? Or is it just that red and blue is more marketable than black?
Who do you think are the true poster childs for DC and Marvel?