Imagine for a moment you’re not a comic book fan. I know, I know, I’m asking a lot of you. Just bear with me a moment. You have a general knowledge of superheroes from other forms of pop culture like television and movies but don’t necessarily watch either.
Someone asks you to name three DC Comics characters. Most likely your answers (along with millions of other people) would be, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Of course, everybody knows them! Now, same question, but Marvel. You name Spider-Man...Iron Man and...the Hulk? And the last two are probably only because of the recent films and their massive publicity campaigns.
Ok, you can go back to being your normal, comic-loving self again. DC’s Trinity are certainly their most easily recognizable icons outside our little book club but are those Marvel’s “Big Three” and do they really need one?
I’d answer not necessarily and no but how is such a thing determined anyway? Sales? Popularity? Through the years, sales have never been so divergent as to make a marked difference in status and, as a whole, Marvel characters are just as popular as DC characters. So what does DC have over Marvel that allowed them to evolve such an epic Trinity? Time.
Sure, Captain America (a definite contender for this hypothetical Three) first appeared in 1941 but DC’s Trinity have a 20 year (or more!) head start on other popular Marvel characters like Thor. That also means those characters were clearly established when their radio, television and film careers began. Before 2008’s Iron Man, Tony Stark wasn’t a character the general public really had on their radar.
And what about the females. Jean Grey, Ms. Marvel, Rogue and She-Hulk are certainly all powerful characters. Do I think there necessary has to be a woman in one of the top three spots? No, but it would be nice if at least one Marvel female had the iconography and mass recognition Wonder Woman has to be able to hold that place. If you showed their pictures to non-comic readers they’d be hard-pressed to name them.
Should Marvel try and develop their own “Big Three,” nurturing it until it becomes a powerhouse? Or like I said before, does it even matter? With the array of Hollywood films on deck for the company they’re likely to have a much broader recognition across the board in a few years. Will that count for more?
For my “Big Three” I’d say Spider-Man without a doubt, Captain America and leave it a tie for third: Hulk versus Wolverine. Heh, nothing new there.