Arguably the best comics in existence to have sired various franchises of film, series, and animated shows, DC and Marvel really made their mark in history, to say the least. Both are almost in existence for a century and it continues to give quality content which surely piques the interest of people on heroes and villains, but which is older, is it DC or Marvel?
Looking back at the publication release dates of both DC and Marvel in comics, DC came out first. It was first known as Detective Comics Inc. which was later changed to National Publications. Found by Entrepreneur Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, their first-ever release was in 1934 with Mandrake the Magician. In February 1935, they debuted with the New Fun: The Big Comic-Magazine #1.
Marvel only came out five years later, in 1939, with Marvel Comics #1. They published under the name of Timely Publications. Martin Goodman, the publisher of Pulp magazine, realized that a new medium of comic books has been picking up popularity and was starting to emerge in the industry.
Even Superman was older than Marvel. He debuted in 1938 in the subsequent anthology title of DC, Action Comics. In Issue #1, Superman was born from the pages of comics. He was followed by Batman who was released a year after, in 1939.
As for Marvel, their first-ever heroes to make a debut were Human Torch and Namor on the very first publication they released, Marvel Comics #1. Human Torch was an android superhero while Namor the Submariner was an anti-hero. They were followed by heroes like Captain America, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and many others.
Since then, both DC and Marvel have been toe-to-toe on which is better. There has been a lot of controversies circling around both, even accusations that Marvel copied DC. While there really are characters that are similar to each other, DC would surely have the “first in the publication” and it had been producing characters during the five-year lead it had with Marvel.
As for their cinematic universe which everyone is currently following, however, it could be argued that Marvel had a head start on DC. The Marvel Cinematic Universe predates DC Extended Universe by five years, the exact number of years DC had a head start in comics. While that was an uncanny coincidence, it is a fun thing to think about how the tides have turned on these amazing publishers.
The MCU started in 2008 with Iron Man being the first film to jump-start Phase One which was culminated by The Avengers in 2012 following the introductory films of Thor and Captain America and the second film of Iron Man, and even when there was a recast for Hulk, The Incredible Hulk forms part of it as well. Over the years, the MCU has built a solid groundwork on their films, now even getting into series.
As for the DC Extended Universe, it started in 2013 with Man of Steel giving a total overhaul on all the already existing films of Superman, making a reboot. Man of Steel laid the groundwork for all the succeeding films with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Justice League.
Much to the enjoyment of the fans, both are considered historical in their own right. Let the rivalry continue!