The First DC-Marvel Crossover Was in (Wait for it….) The Wizard of Oz

First DC Marvel Crossover:

Marvel and DC Comics are the two greatest comic book publications on the planet. Their superheroes are the thing of legends. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash – these are some of the juggernauts of DC Comics. Marvel Comics has heavyweights like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Spider-Man. Both these comic book giants are so in the rivalry that they do not even look eye to eye. They never miss a chance to take a pot shot at each other.

Both come up with storylines and publicity stunts to belittle their competitor. But to think that these two maniacs had the audacity to have a crossover event long before 1976, which earmarked the peak of the rivalry between Marvel and DC is something nobody could have imagined. But it is exactly how it happened. And who is to be blamed for this?

First DC Marvel Crossover

The Wizard of Oz is forever considered a cult classic and a cinematic masterpiece when it came back in its days. The movie was known for its musical scores and amazing visual effects. It also had a rather ensemble cast and a pretty amazing marketing campaign for its time. But not everybody was lucky enough to watch it. Most of the people would have to wait for the movie to air on the TV with the networks only repairing content during that time to cut costs. So that was a possibility thrown out of the window for most of the American families. The option that was left for them was to own either a VHS player or a Super 8, both of which was incredibly complicated equipment to own and operate.

And that is when MGM thought of a very novel solution to reach the masses. Why go for only one form of visual media when there are others. They did not need to broadcast the story for the people to know about it. They just needed to print it out. Print Media was a rather inexpensive method of communicating and conveying the message of Oz to the people. And the means they chose was the mode of Comic Books.

A competitive spirit between DC Comics and Marvel Comics sure does exist in the comic book industry. Both of the giants take shots at each other. Both copy each other’s characters and proudly use it to take jibes at the other. But they also acknowledge each other when the other guy has done something truly remarkable. There is rivalry but there is also respect.

First DC Marvel Crossover

So Marvel Characters crossing over to meet DC Characters and the Vice-Verse was bound to happen someday. Batman met the Incredible Hulk. There was another arc where Avengers fought the Justice League. And in another arc called the JLA/Avengers, they fought again. 1976’s Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man is considered the first officially endorsed Marvel-DC Crossover event.

First DC Marvel Crossover

But the 1976 issue is not the first issue to drum up an idea of a Marvel-DC joint event. There already was another storyline that had dreamt up such a concoction. When MGM announced that they intended to take the Wizard of Oz to the comic books, both DC and Marvel joined the Bandwagon. They both created storylines that brought out the fantastic world of the Wizard of Oz within their own superhero universe.

Both had a different approach to how to make this happen though. DC decided to buy the hardback distribution rights to the movie from MGM and started working on its title pretty soon. Marvel decided to go for the original source material – Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz book, which was a public property now and anybody could use it. Halfway through development, Stan Lee gets word that DC is also working on their version of Wizard of Oz.

If both the comic book publishers came up with a similar title at the same time as Stan Lee feared, then neither of them would be able to achieve enough sales for the publishing line to break even. So Stan Lee put on his shoes and went straight to Carmine Infantino, the then shot caller at DC Comics. Infantino realized that Lee’s fears are legitimate and decided to join hands with Marvel.

And thus the 82 pages “Marvel & DC Present MGM’s Marvellous Wizard of Oz” came to be.

The comic book was illustrated by the legendary John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga. The writer of the series was Roy Thomas. The credit for the Back Cover went to John Romita. The entire storyline was the work of Marvel with DC halting production of their line in exchange for taking a part of the revenue earned. Marvel used its Treasury Edition serves as the medium to launch this new title. The Treasury Edition was mostly used to launch older vintage titles but they made an exception this time for a clearly unique addition to their gallery. The comic book even had a sequel titled The Marvellous Land of Oz. That comic book arc was owned and executed entirely by Marvel Comics though.

The Marvellous Wizard of Oz may look like a minor milestone to everyone but it was the reason Marvel and DC opened up their gates to entertain a concept of a crossover in the future. About a year later, the official Marvel-DC crossover Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, was launched which ushered in a golden era of superhero crossovers.

The 1976 arc was followed by Superman and Spider-Man as well as Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk. JLA/Avengers came to a little while later. Let us not forget about Marvel vs. DC as well as the infamous crossover storyline – Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans. There was a real upsurge in crossover events between the two rival publications and it all began with a single, seemingly inconsequential project.

The string of crossovers ended with the JLA/Avengers crossover that happened in 2004. After that, the entire phenomenon took a turn for the worse. DC and Marvel have decided not to put themselves in each other’s shoes ever again. Maybe the shared superhero movie universes are to be blamed here. Marvel returned to the Land of Oz of Frank L Baum with Skottie Young and Eric Shanower coming up with their latest title – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

DC might have teased a potential crossover between DC and Marvel Comics’ superheroes with their Doomsday Clock storyline. But situations look bleak as of now for a future Marvel/DC Crossover event. The question of whether any such event would happen in the future hangs over the shoulders of the fans like the Sword of Damocles.

First DC Marvel Crossover

Maybe the Wizard of Oz can give us an answer to address that dilemma.

The Last Solo Marvel movie to be released under the Disney banner is Spider-Man: Far From Home. The movie was released on the 2nd of November, 2018. The official film synopsis for the movie reads:

Spider-Man could be removed from the MCU

Peter Parker’s relaxing European vacation takes an unexpected turn when Nick Fury shows up in his hotel room to recruit him for a mission. The world is in danger as four massive elemental creatures — each representing Earth, air, water and fire — emerge from a hole torn in the universe. Parker soon finds himself donning the Spider-Man suit to help Fury and fellow superhero Mysterio stop the evil entities from wreaking havoc across the continent.

The last movie to be released under the DC banner was Joker. The official film synopsis for the movie reads:

Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks — the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.

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