Marvel vs. Star Wars: An Intergalactic Debate

Marvel’s Avengers Endgame alongside Star Wars’ The Rise of Skywalker

Eleanor Ervine

Marvel’s Avengers Endgame alongside Star Wars’ The Rise of Skywalker

Eleanor Ervine

For many die-hard sci-fi fans, having to choose between the two feels like having to choose a favorite child. For others, the winner is obvious. I belong to the former group. Though Star Wars was the dawn of my sci-fi/cinematic infatuation, I later discovered the world of Marvel. Both series share many similarities, including plots that transcend planets and galaxies, with stories of many characters intertwined. Star Wars has undoubtedly left a brilliant legacy (though subseries are constantly emerging) while Marvel continues building its exalted narrative today. 

   Both series have had an immense impact on the global film industry, generating enormous fan bases and enormous profit. Initially, I wondered if the two could even be compared objectively. Regardless, I was determined to settle the long-standing debate. Here is a deep dive comparison between Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Star Wars.



   The narratives of both the Star Wars saga and MCU are complex–involving many characters and always leaving more to be uncovered. While the Star Wars saga is a series of 12 movies that are part of one extended plot, MCU is composed of over 30 films. Most of the MCU movies are individual hero’s stories that make up a larger narrative of the Avengers and the Universe as a whole. Both of these sci-fi/fantasy series depict epic conflicts and intergalactic battles of good vs. evil. 

   The characters in Star Wars are more compelling and flawed than the characters in Marvel, and therefore more realistic. Since the Star Wars saga has fewer films, the story revolves around fewer characters. As a result, the Star Wars films build a more complex background and story of development for each character. Viewers can relate on a deeper level to the stories of Star Wars characters whereas the superheroes of Marvel develop in a way that is entertaining, but not as raw and relatable. 

   The plot of Star Wars is also deep in the sense that many of its major conflicts are analogies to current-day world issues. For example, the recurring conflict in Star Wars is the power of the “dark side” and the Empire, a tyrannical government trying to dominate the Resistance or the “light side” of the Force. This is symbolic of the struggle some people face today in countries with corrupt governments.



   As many of us know, Star Wars takes place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, following characters from planet to planet, while Marvel mostly takes place on current-day planet Earth. Several Marvel films including Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame take MCU’s narrative to new worlds and galaxies, establishing dynamic settings, not unlike Star Wars. 

  That said, Star Wars does it better. The artistry and creative brilliance that went into each planet in the Star Wars saga is apparent. From the nearly inhospitable, icy terrain of Hoth to the lush, evergreen forests of Endor to the barren deserts of Tatooine to the picturesque, Arcadian landscapes of Naboo, the planets of Star Wars have it all. Not only is the setting elevated by the invention of planets, but also by the imaginative nuance of each establishing shot, each deep space scene, each battleship sequence, and each starship chase. I can’t think of another movie or series of films that continually makes me wish to transcend the screen into its universe like Star Wars does. Inflicting viewers with such a sense of longing is a feat of creative genius.



   The first Star Wars film, A New Hope (Episode IV in the series), made its debut in 1977. Now four decades old, the original Star Wars trilogy is said to have paved the way for modern cinema and special effects. The first film created by MCU, Iron Man, debuted in 2008. Film quality undeniably improved between the release of A New Hope and the release of Iron Man. Comparing the graphics, artistry, and animation between the two films, Iron Man beats A New Hope in visual appeal. However, it is important to consider the fact that the first Star Wars trilogy was extremely

advanced for its time. The first Star Wars films “pioneered the use of computers in special effects filmmaking, and essentially invented the modern Hollywood special effects house,” devoted film critic and Star Wars expert Peter Suderman said. MCU undoubtedly continues to produce some of the most visually stunning films in the industry. Needless to say, Marvel would never have been able to achieve the level of excellence it has today if Star Wars had not come before it. The three most recent Star Wars films display this same level of visual brilliance, with scenes that are true works of art.


Arguably one of the most iconic scenes in the most recent Star Wars trilogy, in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, Rey battles Kylo Ren along ruins of old ships as enormous swells form and envelop them.

Fanbase & Profit

   Both the MCU and Star Wars franchises are independently owned by Disney and are the two highest-grossing cinematic franchises in the world. Marvel takes number one and Star Wars number two, which is mainly because MCU has produced dozens of films whereas Star Wars comprises just 12. Both series have generated enormous fan bases worldwide. Their popularity has given rise to theme parks, a multitude of video games and subseries, as well as billions of dollars worth of merchandise, all inspired by the films. As far as global popularity, Star Wars expectedly takes the lead. While the plot and characters of Star Wars pertain to more universal themes, “Marvel’s superheroes are distinctly American icons,” superhero fanatic and journalist, Tim Webber said. Though the characters in Marvel never claim to be particularly patriotic, apart from Captain America, they “are still informed by American ideals on a foundational level,” Webber said. The creation of Star Wars, on the other hand, turned into a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon, bringing fans together around the globe. Sci-fi fanatics in other countries likely find the narrative of Star Wars more appealing and more relatable than that of MCU.



   Both the MCU and Star Wars saga are impressive. The series share elements of stunning cinematography, intricate plots, a multitude of characters, enormous and diverse fanbases, and extensive profit. As Star Wars preceded Marvel, it paved the way for future sci-fi cinema and, therefore, Marvel could not exist without Star Wars. Marvel, being the more current of the two series, is the “Star Wars” of a new era. Yet, there is nothing quite like the nostalgia that so many feel when rewatching the earlier Star Wars films, as its story transcends the screen and is held in the hearts of an entire generation. 


Winner: Star Wars