It's been a very long time since Marvel and DC officially crossed over, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon given the stories DC and Marvel rivalry is essentially dead.
But with the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic still affecting the comic book industry, we're still going to keep arguing that the two powerhouse publishers might be perfectly and uniquely poised to deliver a shot of blockbuster entertainment that could give a boost to comic book shops – and to the spirits of creators and fans looking for ways to deal with this year-and-a-half-plus nightmare.
Last year we had some extensive thoughts on what such a crossover could mean for the industry right now – but while considering the idea of a modern Marvel vs. DC, we couldn't help but daydream some fun inter-publisher fisticuffs that would be fun to see play out on the page, one way or another.
Understand, this is just one way to execute a potential crossover, but it's pretty simple and straightforward without a lot of moving parts. And the bonus part is, it really hasn't been done before.
What we're suggesting is a series of one-off showdowns between Marvel and DC's most iconic superheroes versus its publishing counterpart's most iconic villains.
And yeah, we even got a few match-ups in mind, as you'll read about below.
Daredevil vs. Sinestro
Daredevil usually deals with street-level threats – guys like Bullseye and the Owl, who have very little in common with the cosmic power of a villain like Sinestro.
But who wouldn't want to see a guy with the power of fear go against the guy who is known as 'the man without fear'?
Aside from the philosophical clash, there would be some fun questions of comic book physics at play. For example, could Daredevil's radar sense detect Sinestro's light constructs?
It may seem like DD would be outmatched, but he's faced worse odds before and always comes out on top. And honestly, there's a good chance that Daredevil would wind up with a yellow ring of his own when the dust settles – and we know how cool he looks in yellow.
Wonder Woman vs. Red Skull
Backed by his Nazi history, the Red Skull is portrayed as a power-hungry madman who is intent on tearing down the United States and, in particular, the symbol of its heroism, Captain America.
Among all the major characters in DC's stable of heroes, Wonder Woman has become similarly symbolic of American freedom. Since she hails from the mythical island of Themyscira, she's essentially an immigrant, living up to that American dream. She's often had a bit of a political slant to her heroism, and there's no doubt the Red Skull represents a foreign threat to all things American.
The Red Skull would undoubtedly rankle at Wonder Woman's message of love for all things, multiculturalism, and peace. And she'd have a strong fist ready to show him exactly what she thinks of his fascist views.
And, with Wonder Woman's WWII history in some iterations of DC's history, the idea of her clashing with the Skull isn't much of a stretch at all.
Fantastic Four vs. Brainiac
In many ways, Brainiac should've been a Fantastic Four villain all along. After all, he comes from this strange, abstracted science fiction background that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would have approved of; shrinking alien cities and stealing them to add to his collection and increase his knowledge base. You can imagine that Reed Richards would feel some sense of empathy for the scientific curiosity that drives Brainiac, even if he would also find himself horrified by the lengths that the alien goes to to ensure that he keeps assimilating new ideas and new cultures.
It's not too difficult to imagine that any fight between Brainiac and the FF would come down to brain versus brain - can Reed's genius out-think the 12th level intellect of Brainiac's cybernetically enhanced mind?
But he'd provide enough problems to keep the rest of the team busy, as well: What if his robots invaded the Baxter Building's system and attacked the team when they least expected it? The FF have experience being shrunk down to visit the Microverse, but what would happen if they were trapped within one of Brainiac's shrunken cities, and had to negotiate an alien culture before they could escape? And how much would the Thing want to go all "Clobberin' Time" on the alien's signature floating skull spaceship?
Brains, brawn, and the sight of a guy made out of orange rocks punching a giant robotic skull that flies around space: A Fantastic Four/Brainiac fight really would have it all.
Green Lantern vs. Thanos
The entire point of the Green Lantern Corps is to police every corner of the universe, and there are few cosmic threats quite as potent as Thanos, the Mad Titan who once wiped out half of all existence to impress a girl he liked.
In fact, given the 3600 sectors patrolled by the Corps, this crossover wouldn't even take much to justify (no 'Access' required). Surely Thanos could be hanging out in one of those spots, right?
Oh, and that "girl" alluded to in the first paragraph? That would be Death, who Thanos has been obsessed with throughout his history. So when faced with the power of the assembled Green Lantern Corps back-up, perhaps Thanos would enlist some back-up - in the form of Nekron and the Black Lantern Corps.
Then the real fun begins.
Marvel cosmic characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy, Beta Ray Bill, and Ronan the Accuser deputized with power rings? Ch'p meeting Rocket Raccoon, for some reason? While still avoiding the hero vs. hero cliché, Thanos vs. Green Lantern wouldn't simply be a one-on-one battle, but the best of DC Cosmic interacting with the best of Marvel Cosmic for a sci-fi epic worthy of Thanos creator Jim Starlin himself.
Avengers vs. Darkseid
Despite existing in two separate universes, the Avengers and Darkseid are perhaps a perfect fit for each other; one represents the best of a universe built on concepts co-created by Jack Kirby (including, of course, plenty of Kirby characters: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk...), the other is Kirby's most fully-formed personification of evil. A potential clash between these titans could have everything you'd ever want to read, as well: how much trouble could a god with the power to enslave humanity with the Anti-Life Equation cause in the Marvel Universe?
It's easy to imagine the kinds of things we'd see as the Avengers faced off against Darkseid and his army: Iron Man versus the Parademons in the sky! Hulk versus Kalibak, on the rooftops of New York! Thor wrestling with Darkseid himself, as Captain America struggles to free humanity from the Lord of Apokolips's control! A story that mixes action, social commentary, and soap opera on the kind of grand operatic scale that Kirby perfected, and Marvel continues to trade in today.
Justice League vs. Galactus
If there is any group of comic book superheroes even more suited to fight off the devourer of worlds for the fate of the Earth more than the Fantastic Four, it's probably the Justice League of America, the team that inspired the creation of the FF in the first place.
Less traditionally 'evil' and more a cosmic force of nature, Galactus is the sort of nuanced 'villain' that helped Marvel redefine comic book storytelling in the '60s. Seeing the group that defined the modern superhero team book and who is still arguably the most power-packed roster in comic books square off against Antenna-head would be a particular treat, especially since Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, et al would be encountering Galactus - and discovering his peculiar nature - for the very first time.
Heck, if you really wanted to have fun you could reveal that what really happened to Krypton is ... okay, forget it, we won't go there.
But we would go straight to our local comic book store on Wednesday morning the day this came out.
X-Men vs. Lex Luthor
No matter how many people Superman helps or saves, Lex Luthor still hates him. Really, really hates him.
Because he's an alien. Xenophobia lies at the very essence of Lex Luthor's villainy.
That's what makes him such an ideal villain for the X-Men. As any die-hard Marvel fan knows, the whole X-Men series is a metaphor for fear of the unknown. The mutant vs. human theme of X-Men is often compared to the type of violent discrimination seen in the Holocaust or Civil Rights Movement. The fear and hatred of those who are 'different' is central to the X-Men story.
If there was ever a villain who could embrace that philosophy, it's Lex Luthor. And with his superior intellect and technological know-how, he would be a formidable match for Professor X and his followers as he took his fear and hatred to the extreme against more 'aliens.'
Luthor was even the sitting US President in the DC Universe for a time, and when you think about it, if the Mutant Registration Act could have been crafted by any character at DC, it would have been Lex Luthor.
Let's face it - these characters were custom-made for a crossover.
Batman vs. the Green Goblin
Batman has a lot of experience dealing with homicidal maniacs who have an affinity for gimmicky weaponry and enjoy wearing purple. It can't be denied.
But while the Joker and Green Goblin may both be crazy, Norman Osborn also has a lot in common with Batman himself. They're both businessmen, they're both inventors, and they've both spawned plenty of successors and imitators. (They're also both prone to fathering children out of wedlock, but that may not be particularly relevant in this context.)
So with all that in mind, the Green Goblin actually might be an ideal opponent for Batman, combining the ruthlessness and unpredictability of the Joker with an intellect that rivals his own. It'd be worth it for the props alone: Goblin Glider vs. Batmobile; pumpkin bombs vs. Batarangs.
Spider-Man vs. the Joker
We examined the potential of Green Goblin vs. Batman in the previous entry, and this is kind of the inverse of that. One thing about Spider-Man villains is that, for the most part, they're somewhat predictable. Whether they're hired goons like Rhino or the Shocker, mad scientists like the Jackal or Doctor Octopus, or even career criminals like the Kingpin, they have some kind of agenda. But they're rarely just murderers killing for fun.
That's exactly what the Joker is, and introducing his brand of chalky-white darkness into Spidey's world could provide a truly compelling contrast. And yes, Spider-Man does have one villain known to kill just for fun: Carnage. But that character is highly powerful with alien origins, and it's the relatively grounded nature of the Joker that makes for an intriguing match-up with Peter Parker. (Plus, Joker and Carnage already teamed up once, in 1995's Spider-Man and Batman.)
Spider-Man has often said it's his mission not to let anyone die on his watch - what better way to test that promise than against the most famous killer in comic books?
Superman vs. Doctor Doom
On a surface level, the idea of DC's biggest hero and Marvel's biggest villain squaring off is a no-brainer, even if Doom might seem like a pushover compared to a fully powered Superman.
But Doom has a few tricks up his sleeve. For one thing, Doom has one big advantage over the Man of Steel – his mastery of the mystic arts.
Everyone knows about Superman's weakness to kryptonite, but he's also incredibly vulnerable to magic, giving Doom – one of the Marvel Universe's greatest sorcerers – a distinct edge over Supes.
Of course, Doom is pretty weak to extreme punching, so Superman might be able to even the score.