5-1 Blog: Top Dog Versus Underdog

by Tahor Graves
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What is the brand strategy being used by the top dog? What is the brand strategy being used by the underdog?

Marvel and D.C. Comics are the two leading comic book companies. The top dog, Marvel, was purchased by Disney for $4 billion according to Katz (2020). The underdog, D.C. Comics, is owned by Time Warner. Both companies have similar and interesting endeavors, but approach their goals differently. According to the article Marvel vs. DC: A Case Study, “The largest difference, and possibly the deciding factor over the last 15 years, seems to be Marvel’s dedication to continuity across its stories, characters, and universes vs. DC’s constant shifts towards rebrands and staying on the cutting edge of what audiences want” (Day One Agency, 2018). If we look into Marvel’s strategy, they do a great job connecting the story line of their characters to one story. If we look at the 7 of the top grossing Marvel movies, the Avengers and Spiderman make up the majority of the movies:

This is a great brand strategy by Marvel. Fans want to see a linear story line between the different movies; this is exactly what Marvel delivers.

On the other hand, DC’s approach in the TV world has been to try as many different approaches as possible and to run with the series that stick and show potential. If we look at the history of run-time between Marvel and D.C. Comic shows, we can see that fans have long enjoyed D.C.’s comics much better:

The brand strategy behind D.C. Comics has been to create characters who are diverse and adaptive. D.C.’s focus has been television rather films/movies. This has allowed D.C. Comic’s to thrive while Marvel, the top-dog, has been dominating in the film category.

How can the underdog improve its strategy so that it can gain more market share and surpass the top dog? Provide three recommendations.

Marvel has done a great job creating a linear story line between their movies and characters. They have created a universe where fans watching the movies are absorbed into another world. For example, the Iron Man series has been integrated in the Marvel universe for over 14 year since the movies release in 2008. Iron Man has had 3 single movies and has appeared in over 9 movies since his first film (Armitage, 2018).

  1. D.C. Comics should do a better job creating a linear story between their characters and films. The different movies and series should tie into each other. They should create a D.C. Universe that is consistent.
  2. They should be consistent with their actors for playing character roles. Robert Downey Jr. has been Iron Man throughout the entirety of the character’s life. The same could be said for almost all the Marvel characters in the recent movies. Unlike Marvel, D.C. switches between different actors all the time. For example, there have been over 7 Joker actors in the past years.
  3. They should expand beyond their most popular characters and bring back other characters in comics. If D.C. wants to continue reinventing the wheel and constantly adapting, they should bring new characters into their series rather change their current ones.

Why do you believe consumers prefer the top dog over the underdog? Which do you prefer, and why?

I think most people prefer Marvel over D.C. Comics because of their consistency and story line. Marvel has undoubtedly set themselves up for a phenomenal story. Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers series end, has become the 2nd highest grossing movie of all time; the movie grossed $2,797,501,328 (IMDB, 2021). The Avengers series has 4 spots on the list of Top 11 grossing films.

I prefer Marvel for the same reason. I’ve been hooked into the universe marvel created since the first Iron Man movie and Avengers. Then it followed with Captain America, then Thor, then Hulk, and so on… Marvel has kept me on the edge for years with their story line and how it all connects at the end. It’s amazing to see all the movies come together and it’s why I’ve become such a fan of the company.


Armitage, H. (2018, October 22). How to watch Iron Man’s complete Marvel Cinematic Universe journey. Digital Spy. https://www.digitalspy.com/movies/a868988/iron-man-movies-order-timeline-chronological/

Day One Agency. (2018, June 13). Marvel vs. DC: A Case Study – Day One Perspective. Medium. https://dayoneperspective.com/marvel-vs-dc-c90d56b982f8

IMDB. (2021, April 21). Top Lifetime Grosses. Box Office Mojo. https://www.boxofficemojo.com/chart/top_lifetime_gross/?area=XWW

Katz, B. (2020, September 22). The Walt Disney Company’s Major Recent Acquisitions, Ranked By Cost. Observer. https://observer.com/2020/09/disney-buys-star-wars-marvel-fox-hulu-pixar-cost-box-office/

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