Marvel Wins the Superhero Fandom Wars of 2018

The Marvel versus DC rivalry has intensified over the last few years as the growth of both company's shared cinematic universes coincides with the combative and sometimes toxic nature of social media. In terms of a victor, movie ticket sales speak for themselves. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grossed around $7 billion so far, while the DC Extended Universe is lagging behind at $1.5 billion. Of course, Marvel had a five-year head start and a relentless release schedule, but the studio's Phase One -- comprising of six movies -- made double DC's combined earnings for its first five (The Avengers alone raked in just over $1 billion).

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They say money talks, and in this case the money comic book movie fans are forking over to Marvel -- and not DC -- clearly speaks to greater viewer retention, particularly as most of the MCU's most recent offerings populate the upper earners tier. Meanwhile, with the notable exception of Wonder Woman, the DCEU's have been sliding the other way.

Now, thanks to Tumblr's Year In Review figures, we can confirm that audience investment in the Marvel brand is more than monetary. Marvel appears third in the website's most popular fandoms of 2018, with Avengers: Infinity War taking eighth place all on its own. Where does DC rank? Not high enough to sneak into the published top 10 list, unfortunately.

Marvel also dominated Tumblr's top movies of 2018Infinity War came first, Black Panther second, Thor: Ragnarok fifth, Doctor Strange eighth and Guardians of the Galaxy tenth, with non-MCU movie Venom claiming third and Deadpool taking seventh. The DCEU doesn't clock in until number 13, with Wonder Woman.

As for the men and women behind the masks, beards and wigs, the MCU has a clean top-four sweep of the top actors of 2018, with Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan, Chris Evans -- who wins the war of the Chris's this year -- and Tom Hiddleston. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is once again the DCEU's shining star at third place on the top actresses list, with Zendaya and Tessa Thompson representing for Marvel in second and fifth place.

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Tumblr's more in-depth fandometrics also reveal that, while Loki may not have been able to hold onto the Asgardian throne, he has been crowned the internet's favorite Marvel character of 2018 -- though Shuri and Bucky are hot on the trickster god's pointy heels. Speaking of the "white wolf," #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend campaigners will be pleased to know that "Stucky" (Steve/Bucky) wins the Marvel shipping wars of 2018, though neither are the most ubiquitous in the top 10. That honor goes to Tony Stark, who appears six times on the list, more than earning his self-titled "playboy" mantle. Robert Downey Jr. is a charisma machine, after all.

Marvel's online supremacy is also reflected in a difference of roughly four million more Twitter followers than DC. The exact opposite dynamic could be said about the two publishing giants on the comics front in January of this year, but according to sales figures from Comicron, Marvel books have since made up ground with titles claiming seven of the top 10 biggest sellers of the year. DC managed to beat its main rival out of the top two spots with Action Comics #1000 and Batman #50.

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As the two company's mainstream presence has exploded to astronomic levels in the pop cultural landscape, the stakes of their historic competitiveness have also outgrown their once playful nature. While the MCU juggernaut marches forward into its fourth phase, the DCEU will be hoping to get back in the race with its upcoming slate of lighthearted releases like Aquaman and Shazam. We could be looking at a very different set of statistics this time next year.

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