Stan Lee was very aware of the playful rivalry between his Marvel Comics and DC before his death in 2018. He also wasn’t afraid of playing into the fan feud, which will be explored in the upcoming documentary series Slugfest. It looks to be a cool window the rivalry between these two comic book giants.
Narrated by comic book aficionado Kevin Smith and produced by Marvel Cinematic Universe big wigs Joe and Anthony Russo (Avengers: Endgame, Captain America: Civil War), Slugfest is based on a 2017 book of the same name. It is a thorough investigation into the history of the rivalry between two of the most iconic comic book brands ever. In the trailer for the Roku Channel original, footage from some of the most popular movies in each franchise is shown as well as a ton of archival footage from conversations had with creators like Stan Lee throughout the years.
In one of the clips, Stan Lee fires some shots at DC Comics, alleging that the people over at Marvel “take the work a little more seriously.” It’s an ironic line given that, at least when it comes to the movies, DC is known for being the overly serious and melodramatic franchise while Marvel keeps things light and action-packed.
In reality, Stan Lee had a great deal of respect for DC Comics. His feelings on the matter were perhaps best summed up in an interview he did with GeekscapeTV in 2014 when he was asked which of his characters he’d trade with DC if he could. Lee made a joking grimace and said that he wanted to move on. However, it was just lip service to fans, a way to keep the playful rivalry going and make sure everyone on their respective creative teams was always looking to one-up the other. Lee indeed then took a moment to note that he loves the DC Comics universe and even went as far as to say he wished he’d created some of their iconic characters.
Stan Lee wasn’t kidding. In fact, the comic book icon even seized the opportunity to redefine some of the most iconic DC Comics heroes by way of the only run he ever worked on for the franchise — Just Imagine…
Similar to Marvel’s recent Disney+ series What If…? Stan Lee’s run of comics allowed him to step in and reimagine some popular DC hero’s origin stories like that of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more. This allowed him to put himself in the driver’s seat of popular characters but put his very own Stan Lee spin on them. It’s hard to imagine a comic book fan who isn’t curious what Stan the Man would do with a character like Batman (spoiler alert: he makes him an African American wrestler who got his skills after being in prison for a crime he didn’t commit).
The Marvel and DC rivalry had its place in comic book history that Slugfest will go into more in-depth. However, even the most cursory of fans should know that Stan Lee seemingly viewed it as a vehicle to get more people into comic book stories and to feel passionate about the ones they chose. Decades later and with both franchises being some of the most successful in Hollywood, it’s hard to argue his approach was anything but correct.