It’s interesting how Marvel and DC have discovered the same kinds of characters. I’m going to compare some characters from opposite sides of the mirror and see if they shed some light on heroic archetypes.
Superman and Thor
Superman and (current) Thor are both aliens, giving them both a bit of a fish out of water character. Each one, on his home planet, would be fairly unremarkable, though both are the sons of the leaders of their races. Both are incredibly overpowered, yet have an Achilles heel, Superman’s being kryptonite and Thor’s the loss of his hammer, Mjollnir. Each has a nemesis who is cunning (Lex Luthor and Loki, respectively).
Batman and Ironman
Both Batman and Ironman are normal men who use technology to achieve super human abilities. They are both orphans whose parents were killed by their enemies. They are both wealthy men who run their own companies and masquerade as playboys. Finally, they are both inventors of their own high tech gadgets.
Wonder Woman and Captain America
Wonder Woman and Cap are both patriots with origin stories in the world wars. They both carry a shield, and both, though American heroes, have become pacifists, only fighting out of a need to protect the innocent. They are both super-humanly strong, but neither is a Superman or a God.
Green Lantern and Starlord
Both the Lantern and the Starlord (Peter Quill, leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy) are humans who are part of a group of aliens that defends the Galaxy from evil aliens. While the Green Latern’s powers make him a superhero, both are very much science fiction characters.
Constantine and Dr. Strange
Both Constantine and Dr. Strange wield magic to defend the world from supernatural forces. They both have enemies (Satan and Dormamu) who inhabit another dimension, are far more powerful than any human, and threaten to destroy the earth entirely.
Other major DC characters have Marvel equivalents who are mere reflections of their counterparts. Aquaman can be seen in Namor, Prince of Atlantis, who started out as a villain in the Fantastic Four. The Flash is reflected by Quicksilver, Magneto’s lightning quick son. Green Arrow and Hawkeye also bear more than a passing resemblance to one another.
Is That It, DC?
That covers all of the major DC titles that aren’t focused on villains (like Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad). There are dozens of Marvel heroes that have no direct analog in DC: Spiderman, the X-Men, Deadpool, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, the Punisher, the Inhumans, Black Panther, Elektra, Silver Surfer, and more.