'Super Hero September' Only Latest Salvo in Marvel vs. DC War

Ultimate Spider-Man - H 2013
Disney XD
The battle for the hearts and minds of fans continues with a monthlong promo

For the last three years, DC Entertainment has dominated September in the superhero-related activities department thanks to monthlong publishing programs celebrating the anniversary of its 2011 line-wide relaunch. For 2014, Marvel is striking back — and it’s bringing in the big guns.

Marvel and Disney Consumer Products have declared September “Super Hero September,” with an online landing page announcing a contest inviting fans to “power up like a Marvel super hero” and win a weeklong trip on a Disney Cruise ship while also pointing them to retail partners where Marvel products can be purchased to help with said powering up.

“Super Hero September” will also feature in-store events at Party City stores, Walmarts, Kmarts and Disney Stores across the country, as well as print promotion in ESPN The Magazine and broadcast promotion on Disney XD. Marvel will also be relaunching its online MarvelKids.com portal during the month.

The timing of the promotion allows Marvel a chance to link its box-office dominance of this summer — both Guardians of the Galaxy and the home release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier feature as part of “Super Hero September” in different ways — with its television properties in the minds of the audience ahead of the return of Agents of SHIELD (Sept. 23 on ABC) and coinciding with the recently relaunched Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors and Avengers Assemble on Disney XD.

It also helps cement the association between superheroes and the Marvel brand in the public consciousness — not that such an association needs much re-enforcing — at a time when DC traditionally has been ascendant in comic stores and is ramping up to launch The Flash, Gotham and a third season of Arrow on the small screen, not to mention slowly releasing information about its own movie plans.

Instead of merely the latest promo push for Marvel products, perhaps we should consider this the latest salvo in an escalating war over superheroes and the hearts and minds of those who love them. “Super Hero September?” This battle will go on for far longer than any promotional tie-in, as all good superhero slugfests should.