DC is dark

Why do people say that DC is darker than Marvel? I’m not saying that it isn’t (except I am), I’m just saying that’s a weird reason for it to be better. Does it make you feel more adult to read DC or something? I feel like to many people read DC based on what they feel they should be reading over whether they enjoy it or not. Also too many people get darkness confused for maturity. Mature storytelling doesn’t have to be dark, and many dark stories are far from being mature.

Thoughts on the topic?


And I’m not trying to attack anyone who enjoys dark stories, I just think that it’s important to know the difference between darkness and maturity.


yes! Maturity is about relatable inner conflict, complex relationships, and buying lamps. None of those things are necessarily “dark.” I mean I guess needing to buy a lamp could be.


DC certainly over the years been more vanguard in regards to material, hence the connection between the “dark” and “mature” descriptions. After all, the first time I saw the banner “For Mature Readers” was on the gloriously twisted WASTELAND anthology series written by Del Close

I personally think DC is darker. Both to it’s benefit and the opposite.

Writer who writes as dark is cool, is the worst part of DC.

Writers who can use the dark to fill the readers heart with light is where DC shines.


I think DC is truly darker in a sense of how DC comics initially portrays their characters and universe vs how Marvel portrays theirs. Especially in their cartoons and live action shows.

Whether we’re talking about hypersexualization of female characters in comica or openly depicting violence and more mature themes like prostitution in tv shows, DC has done it - while Marvel hasn’t really touched on that sort of issues.

I can’t help view Supergirl as somewhat of being a intergalactic victim to hunan trafficking when she was the leader of the female furies. She may have went willingly but the point is that she was brainwashed and other things. It’s no different of how young girls get selected and tricked into prostitution.

Barbara Gordon being shot, undressed and taken pictures of nude in The Killing Joke. Violation is a pretty mature topic that Marvel wouldn’t dare to touch.

Harley Quinn being re-invented for the Arkham series, wearing a gothic maid outfit to appeal to a younger audience, likely teenagers who are heavily into anime.

I still remember watching Titans and on the last episode when Dick goes back to Gotham, well at least in his head, we see a hooker making sexual contact with a man in the alley, though brief, it’s still there.

I’ve seen alot of Marvel, but never have I see them being so dark, daring or mature as SC in these types of ways.

As far as straight up darkness, gore and violence in tv shows, Gotham is far more violent than say The Punisher or Daredevil. You see things like torture and people getting limbs hacked off in realistic manners for filler.

But I guess these days, maturity can be arguable - in other words, what one person views as a dark topic, another person will make into a joke or make light of it. It’s 2019, anything can happen.

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Now if we’re talking about relationships, I think Marvel does a great job of mature topics with Spider-Man.

For ex. According to PS4’s Spider-Man dlc, Black Cat fakes having a son in order to trick Spider-Man into helping her. When Spider-Man calls MJ to tell her the news, he reveals to the players that in this storyline him and Black Cat had a one night stand. Aunt May helping others only to die from an air toxin, Harry Osborne being distant having cancer, etc. It’s just as dark conceptually as any of the Arkham games but in daylight, painted with brighter colors.

Let’s move onto Ultimate Spider-Man, where Marvel turns MJ into a psychopath Carnage, Peter goes crazy and Eddie Brock - although a good guy as Agent Venom, tries to move in on MJ while she’s evil lol I’d say the cartoon is just as dark as any of the DC shows in terms of relationships.

The Incredible Hulk tv show from the 1970’s is essentially Marvel’s Swamp Thing. But there’s too much to go into so Imma leave that alone for now.

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@Gibbyhertz If we’re talking about movies and shows, then I sort of understand what you’re saying if you ignore the Netflix series and Deadpool films. The comics, on the other hand, definitely are dark. At least from what I know from debates I’ve had about this topic with my friends that read Marvel

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I’ll try to think of some

As far as personal tastes go, I do really enjoy dark stories, given that they are done right. And for an overall perspective, DC is both more willing to go that route and does a more consistent job at using it to their advantage.

Granted, they don’t always work. I found the show “Titans” to be a show that was just dark for the sake of it, never realizing the story telling possibilities that come with it. It just wanted to be dark and shocking because it felt it needed to be. And Marvel has gone in the dark territory before and has found some success with it, whether it be with shows like “Daredevil” and “The Punisher” or with comic stories like “Old Man Logan”.

I just think the dark angle feels more at home with the characters of DC. And like I said, most of time it is used to effectively explore mature themes and ideas, adding complexity to the heroes and story. But I agree that just because something is dark, that doesn’t mean it’s better or automatically mature

  • Avengers #200 (not sure if that’s the right issue)
  • Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do
  • Marvel Zombies
  • Spider-Man: Sins Past
  • The Superior Spider-Man
  • Ultimates
  • Ultimatum

Certain series, like Daredevil, Punisher, and Deadpool are dark by nature.

DISCLAIMER: I could be 100% wrong about any of these seeing as I do not own and have not read any of them. I based this list entirely off of conversations with friends and what people have said about them online. In fact, I could be entirely wrong about this whole situation seeing as the only Marvel comics I own are the first few volumes of Ultimate Spider-Man and this Darth Vader comic someone gave to me as a gift. Basically, there is very little authority backing up what I’m saying and I’m probably the last person who should be judging anything about Marvel. I just want to try to be fair.



I do not know much of their actual comic books but I’m guessing they would be like you said, just as mature themed. Can’t imagine Polaris’ story being watered down on pen and paper.

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See, Marvel fans always say that THEIR series are the gritty, down-to-Earth ones, and DC is basically Superfriends, which is not any more fair than DC fans saying that DC is somehow the only company capable of dark stories. Recently, DC has done a lot of darker stuff and Marvel is experimenting with a lighter tone in a few places, but it’s not and shouldn’t be a race to see who can be the edgiest. I find there’s more of a difference between individual characters and teams than between companies. Most Superman or Flash stories are a heck of a lot lighter than most Daredevil or Punisher stories, but Batman is always going to be darker than the Fantastic Four.


Just spitballing, I’d assume the DCU early movies’ tone and Batman being the most prominent character at DC have a lot to do with the perception of darkness.

I don’t know if one company is actually darker than another.

It’s ultimately all up to the director and the writing, I think.

In cinema, you can’t go any darker than Tim Bruton. His almost demonic depiction of Penguin with black blood almost made Penguin something other than human. Burton is known for that, for turning everything darker than what it really was intended - you either love it or hate it.

There aren’t any MCU movies that match that tone, Deadpool is dark comedy but without the comedy, there’s no “serious” darkness to talk about. I’m waiting for an MCU movie to go to that Burton darkness mindset with those mature themes, Venom almost went there but not quite. If any movie had potential it will be Venom 2.

DC has always been a bit more controversial in the past for that reason, hasn’t it? Not too different from Mortal Kombat being a controversial fighting game vs Street Fighter (a non-controversial fighting game). The content is there and arguable for both but one takes to the extreme due to development decision and overall vision.

Either way, we can’t deny that Burton’s controversial Batman is still the most iconic Batman film, changing how Batman was to be perceived forever. Without Burton’s films, Nolan’s films and Snyder’s films would hage never happened. It’s all part of the plan…

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Even Bob Kane said Burton’s Batman Returns was to dark.

I will give you that Batman ‘89 changed the film going public’s perception that Batman can be dark. Breaking the Batman ‘66 mold. “Batman Forever” showed the mentor/fatherly Batman, and “Batman & Robin” showed that Batman can be light & fun. Those 4 movies really show they versatility of the character.


It really depends on the writer and platform. Brian Michael Bendis’ new Wonder comics are really good, and NOT AT ALL DARK! DC has a reputation for being “dark” bit that’s the “gotham effect” where Batman made a ton of money being dark, and the gritty sepia tones just sort of took over everything for a while.

But Krypton, OA, and Themesceria are not at all dark. Atlantis is downright gorgeous.

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It’s that damn Superman sucking up all the solar radiation