Something specific about superhero stories (that is, superheroes that specifically follow the mold set out by DC and Marvel, not general superpower stories that you might see in fantasy, manga, or folklore throughout history) that isn't present in other genres is that the same characters have been done over-and-over again so many times that there has practically become a "meta-superhero universe" composed of specific archetypes that have been ingrained in public consciousness to the point they have become universal.
Many of these are due to two factors:
- Many early superhero comics were made by people trying to piggyback on the success of Superman, and many of these comics were later bought up by DC or Marvel. E.g., Captain Marvel (the DC one).
- Many of the writers for Marvel and DC knew each other or left one company to be hired by the other. As a result there was a lot of cross-pollination. Writers who left one company often created lawyer-friendly versions of them at the other, or outright plagiarized each other. E.g., Darkseid was originally intended to be a Thor villain before Kirby left Marvel for DC, and Thanos was later created as a physical rip-off of Darkseid with Metron's motivation.
As a result, there are a large, large number of archetypes that have become universal through superhero fiction due to how incestuous the creative field tends to be. Examples include:
- The Flying Brick. Can fly, is super-strong, super-fast, etc. Often has an impeccable moral compass, or the lack thereof is a plot point. More often than not the closest thing the narrative has to a central character - Superman, Thor, Hyperion, Omni-Man, Homelander, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel (the other one), All Might, the Sentry, the Plutonian, Dr. Manhattan...the list goes on. Captain America technically goes here but has no powers.
- Non-powered superhero who fights crime with technology, brains, and money - Iron Man, Batman, Nite Owl
- Super-Detective - Batman, The Question, Rorschach (who is a literal copy-paste of The Question), Luke Cage
- The evil genius with an inferiority complex - Doctor Doom, Lex Luthor
- Teen-esque hero with a down-to-earth narrative and strong moral compass - Spider-Man, Static, Invincible, Skitter, the Miraculous Ladybug, Spinnerette, Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes version), Danny Phantom, Batman Beyond (Terry McGinnis). Animal or more specifically insect powers help but are not required.
- Displaced Mythical Figure - Wonder Woman, Thor, the Mighty Hercules
- Alien Among Us - Silver Surfer, Martian Manhunter, Starfire
- The Speedster - Quicksilver, Flash
- May or May Not Be Literal Satan - Mephisto, Trigon, Neron, Satan, Darkseid (kind of)
- Sorceror Supreme - Dr. Strange, Constantine, Zatanna
- The Arrow Guy - Hawkeye, Green Arrow
- King of Atlantis - Namor, Aquaman
- Axe-crazy vigilante who uses realistic firearms - Deadpool, The Punisher, The Comedian
- The Oppressed Group of Superhumans - Mutants and Inhumans in Marvel, Parahumans in Worm, EVOs in Generator Rex, Mutants in Whateley Universe. This tends to crop up in more "down to Earth" settings with allegories for real-world issues. DC doesn't really have one due to its more idealistic nature but they've tried with metahumans in more recent years (e.g., the recent Young Justice cartoon).
- The small country ruled by a superhuman monarch and acts as a geopolitical wildcard - Wakanda, Latveria, Khandaq, Attilan, Atlantis (both DC and Marvel), Asgard was kind of this when they were in Oklahoma
- The Guy Who Wants PICTURES. PICTURES OF SUPERHEROES - J. Jonah Jameson, Gordon Godfrey, Will Harangue. I.e., the normal human who is a media star and will do whatever it takes to slander superhumans. Ranges from "this guy has a point" to "clear bigot" to "literal god of treachery and misinformation in human form"
- The Military - Is the military. Can take many forms, including Project Cadmus, Cauldron, General Thunderbolt Ross, general Sam Lane, or a more positive take like Captain America or Captain Atom. Too many subtropes to discuss here.
- Mild-Mannered Scientist Whose Experiment Goes Horribly Wrong - Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, Otto Octavius, Heather Brown (Spinnerette), Barry Allen, Michael Morbius, etc.
- The Planet Eater - Galactus is the OG example, but there have been so many Galactus clones it's hard to point them out
- Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Justice League, the Avengers, the Defenders, the Authority, The Seven, Squadron Supreme, the list goes on. May include one or more of the above archetypes.
- Vague space dictator who acts as the Big Bad for their respective settings - Thanos, Darkseid
- Space Cops - Nova Corps, Green Lantern
As a result, there is a whole genre of superhero pastiche that is almost solely built around regurgitating, deconstructing, or reframing tropes and character ideas from superhero fiction. Notably, all of these works are heavily influenced and critical of the superhero works that came before them, to the point that one's reading experience is greatly enriched by knowing previous superhero material, unlike superhero works that try to do their own thing and be a fun romp like Ben 10, Big Hero 6 (the movie version, not the Marvel comic), Danny Phantom, or Generator Rex. Just to show how extensive this pastiche genre is, below are list of the ones I can think of off the top of my head...
- Astro City
- The Boys
- The Authority
- Watchmen (Published by DC, but put here as it was originally supposed to be unrelated to the main DC universe)
- The Tick
- My Hero Academia
- Tiger and Bunny
- Supreme Power
- The Non-Adventures of Wonderella
- Invincible and its broader universe (unsure if all of the comics at Image comics are supposed to be part of the same universe, but Invincible definitely has sister comics like The Astounding Wolf-Man
- Whateley Universe
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
TL;DR: DC/Marvel-influenced superhero stories are so creatively repetitive it's almost impossible to intentionally plagiarise a specific comic unless you are really, really specific about it. For example, if you were to oversimplify things, Static is just African-American Spider-Man with electricity powers. Skitter is traumatized, female Spider-Man. Whateley is X-Men as a trans rights metaphor rather than a civil rights/gay rights metaphor. Dr. Manhattan is just Superman (or more specifically, Captain Atom) but amorally detached from humanity. Invincible is Superman + Spider-Man. Apollo and Midnighter are "Batman and Superman/Iron Man and Captain America, but with the shipping subtext replaced with text". Homelander, Omni-Man, Hyperion, and the Plutonian are all "Superman, but evil". The Authority are just an authoritarian Justice League. At this point the repetitiveness is part of the charm. Like kabuki. You probably don't need to worry that much.