For as long as I can remember, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have been construed as the “Big Three” at DC. They’re the most famous, the most iconic, the most popular… and basically the superlatives of whatever else you can name for superheroes. However, this past Saturday, while I was walking through Studio City’s most excellent comics store, Comic Smash, I saw something that jolted my perspective a little. There were a lot of Green Lantern comics, toys, statuettes, figurines and other assorted collectibles. In fact, GL was represented far more extensively than any of the super folk in DC’s Big Three.
Times always change, as they say. I don’t presume Superman and Batman will ever lose their positions as the top two for superheroes, in general (although the precise number one spot waxes and wanes between them every couple years). Wonder Woman, however… well… while she’s certainly got the name recognition over GL (at least at the moment), but I think she’s only included in the Big Three out of tradition at this point. Think about it. Which character has a top selling book, month in, month out? Which character has a spin-off title starring an entire family of supporting characters? Which character’s mythos has been the basis for a company-wide crossover that’s gone on for almost a year? Which character a movie that’s actually going into production?
You might have to reassess a scheme you’ve understood for years, but I think it’s pretty clear that Green Lantern is the one who should be in the Big Three, not Wonder Woman. I don’t think WW’s really ever caught on with comics audiences over the years, anyway. I believe that has a lot to do with Dr. William Moulton Marston’s bizarre psycho-sexual political agenda for her creation. It’s something the character’s never been quite able to shake off… but that’s a rant for another time.
The funny thing is… I think that Marvel’s Big Three is going through a similar shift. While the Avengers has a Big Three for its line-ups that includes Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, I’ve always conceived of the Big Three for Marvel as a whole to be comprised of Spider-Man, Wolverine and the Hulk. Now, you won’t see those three in a TRINITY-style book, or arranged in however many iconic poses, but they’re the characters everybody’s heard of. They’re the ones who’ve had numerous movies, cartoons, TV shows, theme park rides, and so on.
One thing I can’t help noticing, however, is that I do believe Iron Man’s actually usurping the Hulk’s position. He’s the character who’s actually in the zeitgeist, right now - - the one kids want toys of, that the general public is actually interested in seeing. I can’t help smirking over the irony of Iron Man’s current mega-popularity. I remember a time not too long ago when the character’s whole storyline was a bit of quagmire and it felt like his book was being kept around just for the sake of tradition. Times change, like I said.
Anyway, this is, obviously, just my assessment. Think of this article as like a giant gumball machine and toss your two cents into it. Are my takes on Marvel and DC’s big three’s spot-on, or way off the mark?