Marvel May Have the Big Screen, but DC Rules TV

15 May
Here is something interesting to consider for a moment. Marvel is totally kicking bad guy butt up there on the big screen, but for about ½ a century DC has been ruling the small screen. Interesting to think about isn’t it? Today, we’re going to look at the success of DC TV shows.

It’s funny to think about how one comic company can have great success in one area of live media and the other in another. At first DC comics had it all with Superman with Christopher Reeves in 1978 and then Batman with Michael Keaton in 1989 on the big screen doing quite well. Before that; however, DC had prominent serials on the big screen (for added fun click on the hyperlinks to see trailers for the serials):

Of course those were just the black and white weekly serials. Once television was a common household product DC brought their stuff to the small screen. Keeping in mind that this list is focusing only on live action and not animation. If we were to include the animated series that have been successful as well, this list would be a lot longer. For the sake of keeping in the context of “bringing heroes to life” we’re only going to focus on the live action series. Also the dates listed are when the series start and does not incorporate their duration. It’s just enough to get a rough timeline. So lets started (click on the hyperlinks to see the opening credits for the shows):
Now lets take a quick look at what Marvel has done for the small screen. Starting with the old black and white serials. Again keep in mind that this list does not include animated series titles (click on the hyperlinks to see a trailer for the Captain America serial and opening themes to the shows):
As far as the battle for TV supremacy is concerned the winner is clear, DC comics. Usually the only show people can recall of Marvel’s (again aside from anything animated) is the Incredible Hulk series with Bixby and Ferrigno. However, many people can recall the George Reeves Superman show or Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward or Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter. So what does this say about the two different continuities?
Is it simply because DC has a better time with budgeting a television series and coming up with different plot lines week after week? Is that Marvel simply thinks too big and needs the big screen to have room for the epic effects and epic stories to do its characters justice? Is it because DC can make the changes necessary so that their heroes fit onto the little screen, but don’t lose any of their prowess? Is it because Marvel doesn’t feel it can do a live action series with all of the flash and dash it deserves? We may never know the answers to these questions. To be honest it’s hard to tell if either Marvel or DC even know the true reasons. For right now, and for lack of any other reasons, lets just think of it as a sort of balance of the universes. 
Consider this though; out of the 4 comic book movie blockbusters slated for this summer 3 of them are Marvel while only 1 is DC. On the other hand this past Friday night DC just ended a 10 year show. Smallville ended after a 10 year run which rivals Marvel’s best running show The Incredible Hulk which ran for 4 years. Granted that doesn’t include the TV movies that came after it. Even still Smallville ran almost 3 times as long as The Incredible Hulk.
So dear readers we now ask you. What was your favorite DC show? Why do you think DC is better at TV while Marvel seems to have found the formula for success with movies? Write in and let us know. We’re always happy to hear what our readers have to say.

2 Responses to “Marvel May Have the Big Screen, but DC Rules TV”

  1. The Dude May 17, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    For the most part I agree completely – live action TV shows, DC has been better at it without a doubt. My favourite… hmmm… well I have fond recall of "The Flash" and West and Wards "Batman, but the one Im very fond of and think deserves more love is definitely "Birds of Prey". Not sure why Marvel has blown this, maybe its a difference in the nature of the characters and ease of making a show about it – the DC trinity are really very iconic. Marvel is more known for ensembles and teams imho and thats harder to put together and expensive. Guessing. But to be honest, I think DC has owned in animation as well, so basically the small screen is theirs – from the earliest cartoons like the Fleischer Superman Cartoons till the latest Young Justice and Batman:The Brave and the Bold. Nice piece, really enjoyed it! Got me remembering and thinking of much! 🙂

  2. spryte82 May 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Yeah, I know I could have kept going with all of the DC animated stuff including the direct to DVD movies they have been doing with amazing voice talent, but I was trying to narrow my focus and do a true comparison to the Marvel movies that are doing so well right now.I do agree that Birds of Prey was pretty good. The best portrayal I have seen of Barbara Gordon aside from the animated series.

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