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Thanos vs. Darkseid: Marvel overtakes DC with a ripped clone

Over eight decades as the world’s two largest comic book publishers, Marvel and DC have established many traditions – perhaps nothing is more obvious and repeatable than their absolute delight in unpacking. strong each other.

An age-old question that pervades entire pop culture: “Who will win?” That’s why we spent the week arguing that have shaped comic books, movies, TV, and games, for better and for worse. Prepare yourself Polygon’s Who will Win Week..

Many famous heroes began with the same controversy. Are the Fantastic Four really Marvel’s first family or are they just a re-read of Jack Kirby’s previous DC work, Unknown’s Challengers? Who is born first in their creator’s mind, X-Men or Doomsday Patrol? And in this current era, where comics are at the top of pop culture fueled by the massive success of the MCU, Nolan’s Batman, and that box office push, sequential storytelling , there is a pair of infamous duplicates that have shaped the Hollywood landscape as we know it: Thanos compare to Darkseid.

It all started – like so many epic comic book moments – in the mind of Jack “King” Kirby.

Was in the Fourth Period so far, so far away

To say Jack Kirby’s art and vision is a force of nature in superhero comics is an understatement. He scored his first success in 1941 with Captain America at Timely Comics – now better known as Marvel – and while continuing to co-create popular heroes like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Avengers, and more. In the late ’60s, he wanted more creative freedom, so he set his sights on Marvel’s most famous rivalry, making the leap to DC Comics to create a modernized myth. called the Fourth World.

While it may be hard to believe he is now one of the most powerful villains in comic book history, Darkseid made his debut in 1970 in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134, an idyllic and completely wild universe bearing the mark of Superman. The Big Bad is made to be the overarching villain in Kirby’s Fourth World, which is essentially a cross between all the books Kirby is working on at DC. Sadly, Kirby wouldn’t see that vision realized, as Fourth World never became successful enough to gain lasting support from the DC powers that be. But the impact of the Fourth World and its new Gods has already caused ripples in the industry, coming soon to Marvel Comics.

Darkseid and his Desaad administrator in Forever People, DC Comics

Ironically, in an early Darkseid appearance, he is using an amusement park to control humanity – and now has Thanos merchandise at Disneyland.
Image: Jack Kirby / DC Comics

At the contest, a young animator named Jim Starlin, just starting out, makes waves at the publisher by pushing the boundaries of the weird and sick it allows in the pages of his comic books. me. After reading Kirby’s Fourth World and becoming an avid fan, Starlin was inspired to create a masterful villain of her own. What happened next was common comic book knowledge, as Starlin decided to shape her new villain around a member of the New Gods. But it might surprise you that his original chosen inspiration wasn’t Darkseid. In fact, Starlin wants to reinterpret – read like a tear – Metron, the super-intelligent adventurer and person who frequently switches between the warring factions of the Fourth World. Marvel Editor Roy Thomas have other ideas. “Make him wake up! If you’re going to steal one of the new Gods, at least tear up Darkseid who’s really good! ‘ Thomas told Starlin. And so Thanos was born at the end of 1972 in the pages of Iron Man # 55.

Ironically, Starlin’s takedown will complete his twisted fate before Darkseid. Thanos, the Mad Titan, pursued the Cosmic Cube in a team battle between the Avengers series and Marvel two in oneeventually ended with the death of Thanos in 1977.

Around the time of Thanos’ creation and death, Jack Kirby was on his own journey of discovery. He returned to Marvel in 1975, as both an artist and a writer. Along with the above remarkable activities Captain America and Black Pantherhe also created the eternal, Demon Dinosaurand Mechanic, but his time there again did not last long. Quickly burning up in Marvel’s corporate culture – where editors often packed pages of text into the spines of his books with negative fan feedback – his last work with Marvel is the company’s first graphic novel, a Silver Surfer collaboration with Stan Lee released in 1978. The Creator took a break from the Big Two comics, moving into animation in 1979. It is that vehicle and Darkseid’s return that will bring him back to DC.

As the fame of both Fourth Age and Kirby’s career grew in the 1980s, DC Comics invited the legendary artist to be part of its Kenner toy line, the Superpowers Collection. It wanted Darkseid to be the big villain for new action figures, and this poured in Super friends cartoon series and a new comic book under the Super Powers label. The comic is based on the King’s own artistic genius, as the narrator was heavily involved in their creative process. This marketing push led to the commercialization of the Apokolips ruler; the kids might even take home a Darkseid cup from Burger King in 1988. That’s just a taste of the widespread commercial success that Thanos would have decades later, though.

Leftover photo of Darkseid from Justice League The Snyder Cut

Image: Warner Bros.

As Kirby did before him, Starlin left Marvel for DC in the 1980s. During his time with DC, he had huge success with Batman titles. But Starlin was drawn into the universe again, putting her own spin on Darkseid and the Fourth World in the miniseries. Space journey. This experiment will prove to be accidental, as less than a year later Starlin will return to Marvel, resurrect Thanos, and soon focus him on his own cosmic adventure in the popular and hugely popular miniseries. the language is called Infinity Gauntlet. While there’s no such thing as a fast food toy, Thanos and his quest for power laid the groundwork for Marvel’s unending legacy of interstellar comics in the 1990s. And of course, decades. After that, the popular manga will change the face of cinema forever.

Marvel Studios makes the inevitable decision

Founded in 1996, Marvel Studios was the last-ditch attempt to save the failing publisher from bankruptcy. Licensing and packaging movies like Tongue, X Men, and many other outside studios have given Marvel a strong foothold in the film industry. Then, in 2003, a producer named David Maisel invited Marvel Studios to make his own movie. It was the spark that lit the MCU’s fire, but previous licensing deals meant the company didn’t have access to its most popular heroes, including Daredevil, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. And that forced the studio to re-imagine who could be an A-list hero in its burgeoning cinematic universe.

In 2022, it’s clear Marvel Studios has done it with an unbelievable degree of success, recounting lower-level comic book heroes like Tony Stark, the Avengers, and Captain America as the biggest superheroes on Earth soil. However, the licensing deals also left the company with a lack of villains. Galactus, Doctor Doom, Magneto, and the Spider-Man team are all elsewhere. But while that may have shaped the choice, ultimately choosing Thanos as the MCU’s biggest bad guy has its own meaning. If you’re going to make a series about the comic book event, why not use Marvel’s most successful comic book event as a template?

Thanos’ smiling face will popularize the now-anticipated mid-credits and post-credits scenes of MCU movies. Originally portrayed by Damien Poiter, the Mad Titan was later recreated by Feige et al. played by Josh Brolin. From there, he became a cosmic puppet master who controlled the fate and enemies of the Avengers until the inevitable trap struck in 2018. Avengers: Infinity War. During that time, Darkseid did not appear on the silver screen. While his existence was implied in 2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justicein a sepia dream sequence where eagle-eyed comic book fans might spot the Omega symbol that signifies his home planet of Apokolips, he won’t be joining the DC action real-life battle until 2021 in Justice League by Zack Snyder. There, viewers meet him as a younger iteration of the intergalactic deity known only as Uxis. And even then, it seems to many people unfamiliar with history that this strange almighty alien is nothing more than a Thanos-killer. It’s ironic.

Thanos reigns!

From Infinity Gauntlet #1, Marvel Comics (1991).

Jim Starlin, George Pérez / Marvel Comics

In the four decades since the pair’s debut, Darkseid and Thanos have had huge hits with each other, the comic book industry, and even Hollywood. But in a world saturated with the MCU, there’s only one winner: Thanos. Not only is he still a well-respected force on comic book shelves, but he’s also arguably the most popular screen villain of the 21st century. While Darkseid has made its way into the minds of manga fans, compete with many successful animated adaptations in the DC Animated Universe and even more recently Harley Quinn shows, he doesn’t get instant recognition. Most of your family members probably know who Thanos is, but those family members probably won’t pronounce Darkseid’s name the first time. There is also Disney’s vending machine, which cannot be underestimated in this battle. You can go into any Target and potentially get some comic book version of Thanos. The same is not said about Darkseid, whose business boom more than decades ago.

It’s important to note that DC hasn’t been able to deliver some of the most dynamic and poetic ideas Fourth World has to offer on the big screen because they’ve inspired one of the biggest franchises ever. All Time. Star Wars takes its theme from lore and lore established by Kirby in the Fourth Period. Force? Well, in the Fourth Period, there was an energy connecting all beings called the Source. Darth Vader and Darkseid are not only similar in aesthetics, but they are both cruel lords with tragic backgrounds and estranged sons. Heck, even Darkseid’s name became the standard of Star Wars in The Dark Side. Lucas is a famous comic fan and here his inspiration is clear. But that means if DC gets a chance to explore the Fourth Period, their ideas will appear as derivatives.

Comic books and pop culture history show us that Thanos vs. Darkseid is not one. The nature of two publishers jostling for supremacy in a niche industry means publishers, books, creators, and fans are always talking to each other. But in the case of Thanos and Darkseid, there’s a voice loud enough to be heard throughout the universe – and box office history – and it belongs to the lovable purple alien known as the Mad Titan.

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