It’s sort of a well-known secret that one of the inspirations for our Digital Debate Wednesdays is a regular feature called “Geek Debate” run on one of my favorite curated geek social spaces – the Facebook wall of staff writer Ben Worley. Every now and again, Ben is struck by a question he can’t quite answer himself, and opens it up to the floor of all of his nerdy friends to answer. This week, the geek debate in question was a fight. Who would win in a battle between The 10th Doctor and Batman? The setup was simple: The fight took place in Gotham, and either party could win by convincing the other to leave. And while the thread itself is fantastic, one particular piece stood out so well that I had to share it here.
A.J. Mayall is an author, streamer, and manuscript vetter out here in California, formerly of the deeply, deeply missed Paragon Studios. He was known back in the day for writing up fashion critiques for City of Heroes characters as part of a weekly newsletter on the forums. And the idea of writing this particular clash of champions really stuck for him – so much so that the response he wrote was too big to even fit in the thread on Ben’s wall. He had to create an entirely new one just to contain it. “If it’s anyone versus Batman,” he told me, “Batman wins. But if it’s anyone versus the Doctor, the Doctor wins. You’ve got the unstoppable force versus the immovable object.” Many of the responses he saw took the path of having the Doctor go back in time and prevent Thomas and Martha Wayne’s deaths, but that wasn’t thought through enough for Mayall. It didn’t really track the repercussions of a world without a Batman.
But what really stuck him was how similar the characters are. Both lose themselves entirely inside their alter ego, and both are dealing with repeated deaths of their companions. (Including A.J.’s namesake, Adric.) “The Doctor is Batman,” he said, “If Batman had stopped being Bruce Wayne for ten thousand years.”
Of course, the battle would have worked out a little differently had it been any other version of The Doctor. “If it had been Bruce versus the 11th [Doctor], it probably would been Bruce,” he explained, “The 11th tended to react when shit hit the fan, and Bruce usually reacts before that.”
Check it out, and let us know what you think in the comments:
My response was too big to put in the thread, so I’m doing it as a post here.
Batman (Current) vs. The 10th Doctor (During the Year of Specials, AKA the NO COMPANION ERA)
Location: Gotham (Modern)
After the events of Flashpoint, the New 52, and Convergence, the TARDIS is pulled into the reality warp fields of collapsing realities, out of the established Gallifreyan Prime Universe. The Doctor’s innate senses to fixed points in time and space, along with having visited various realities, inform him that he is in 2016, in Gotham City.
The TARDIS, having also set off many of Batman’s alerts, lands in the middle of a heist by The Riddler. Now, the Doctor also once had a penchant for wearing question marks, and seeing that the gentleman in question was also intelligent, he attempts to engage him in rational discussion. Queue witty reparte, a few riddles being answered with matter of fact answers involving life forms on other planets. For example:
“What starts life on fours legs, then walks on two, then three?”
“Ah! You mean the Jumble Scarabs from Jelveston IX? Been AGES since I’ve been to Jelveston IX. Some of the finest dancers you could ever meet, but only during their molting phase, sadly… Then again…”
Batman shows up, crashing in and trying to kick a lot of butt. The Doctor sees this and promptly sonics the majority of the utility belt into disuse. He wants to try to utilize non violent means, but Batman likely thinks that The Doctor is interloping, an accomplice, or both.
There would be a fight, and I must remind you The Doctor IS a master of Venusian Akido, and is the only non 10 limbed person to master it. Ultimately, for the sake of story, Batman will win, capturing the Doctor and using the Batplane to take the TARDIS back to the Batcave for further study.
Riddler is of course, arrested.
The Doctor will be in one of Batman’s holding cells, and this is where the fun starts. You see, when the Doctor has no tools, no TARDIS, and is held with no plan, is when he is most dangerous. The World’s Greatest Detective just got his hands on a device that would allow him to change any point in history he wanted, and he does have the intellectual capacity to learn to pilot it.
Batman will demand that The Doctor reveal the secrets of the TARDIS, and they have a mental standoff. During this time 10th Doctor goes into “serious face mode” (you know what I’m talking about). He’s been sizing up Bruce from the outfit, the Batcave, every little detail. The Doctor will relent, gladly being handcuffed and taken to the TARDIS to show Bruce how to use it. Of course once inside the TARDIS, The Doctor will call him Bruce, having solved that detail from everything around him. (Not to mention you don’t hand around wartime Britain on any version of Earth without meeting an Alfred Pennyworth…)
The Doctor starts the battle with comments about all of the other costumes on display in the Batcave, and there is a conversation about the nature of losing one’s self to your alter ego, and how that affects everyone around you. The Doctor brings up the names and lives of all of his companions, the horrors they’ve had to see, the battles they’ve fought. Bruce begins to think about what’s he’s put people through, from Dick, to Jason, to Tim, and now Damien, not to mention Barbara and Ms. Kane.
Every time someone walks through those TARDIS doors, they are the Doctor’s companion for that adventure. So when the Doctor slips the cuffs (because you KNOW he could have just done that anytime he wanted) he tells Bruce to get out of the Batsuit and get on a nice suit from the Wardrobe room. The adventure they go on is a serious one. Basically, “What if there had been no Batman?”
He takes him back to when he first donned the costume, and has the Modern Bruce incapacitate him, following the newly forming time threads. In this reality, Bruce followed his father’s path of philanthropy.
With no Batman for the Joker to obsess over, he is not the absolutely raging lunatic. While still dangerous, and his initial escapades go on longer, he is captured and sent to Arkham. Without the Bat fixation to share, but still receptive to the bond of doctor and patient, Dr. Harleen Quinzel reaches through to him. She ends up becoming a well respected clinical psychologist highly sought after for the rehabilitation of career criminals and those who have suffered massive trauma. She ends up being Bruce’s psychologist to help him through his own issues of survivor’s guilt.
Bruce is taken to Victor Fries in the early days, reaches out to him, and assists him in funding, allowing him to find a cure for his wife Nora.
Then to Arkham, where Dr. Quinzel is the new Head Psychiatrist. He donates heavily allowing it to become a place of healing, not a revolving door for criminals.
After this, he does outreach to other nations, fighting injustice, such as the human rights violations in prisons such as Santa Prisca, where Bane was born.
Now, there will always be corruption, but without the master criminals running amok due to the increased rehabilitation rate, Commissioner James Gordon, Harvey Dent, and an upstart detective named Edward Nygma, begin to put the crack down on problems. Vigilance, Balance, and Intellect, the three become a trinity of justice.
Bruce is almost convinced, but is still hesitant. What makes the case is when he realizes that he can still hold onto the Bruce Wayne identity. The Doctor is so far gone that he can never use his actual name. The Doctor is the inevitable result of his fixation on justice.
The Doctor agrees with Bruce, but also informs him that while Bruce has but one life, he’s been doing this for millennia, and it never gets easier. That it’ll eat away at you until you die, with nothing but self-loathing about your unending mission.
Bruce rejects this, decides that even if the world would be better off in some ways, it would be worse for others. He’s saved lives. The Doctor simply nods and takes Bruce back, to undo the choice, and then to the future.
Setting: Neo-Gotham. Terry McGinnis is now Batman, Bruce Wayne just an old man with a cane, shouting orders. Everyone around him has written him off.
The TARDIS lands in the Batcave, and The Doctor introduces himself to his inevitable future. He shows him how the Joker, through the fixation he’s had with him through the years has become a bigger legend than the Batman, leading to the Jokerz gang. That he broke every one of his rules, that children were made to suffer, that his Bat Family is no more and he’s just a bitter old man forcing another down the same path, awaiting his own death to take him.
Insert- “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
This is what breaks Bruce.
Cut back to The Riddler asking his question,
“What starts life on fours legs, then walks on two, then three?”
We see The Doctor and Bruce Wayne in the distance watching the heist where it all started. We cut to young Bruce on his hands and knees, screaming and covered in his parent’s blood, we cut to him in costume and running through the alleys of Gotham, we cut to the future, him alone, hobbling through an empty mansion.
The Doctor turns to look at Bruce, as they see Batman crash in on the heist.
“I think you have a different answer to the riddle now, Bruce. The question is, do you want me to be right, or do you want to be right?”
Bruce, having now seen both paths, walks back to the TARDIS in silence. They go back and stop him from putting on the suit. As time changes, Bruce gets an experience much like Barry Allen did at the end of Flashpoint, experiencing the memories of both timelines. As they emerge into a brighter day for Gotham, they shake hands and The Doctor mentions he’ll return if need be.
“Doctor, there are things I know. I know the identities of the Justice League, and they don’t know me now.. other than a rich guy? What should I do?”
“Weeeell, if -I- were you, Bruce. I’d approach them, I’d tell them everything you know. I think you hold in too many secrets.”
“So do you.”
“Then tell them for the both of us.”
As The Doctor leaves, Bruce turns and finds a small package for him. Inside is a black Sonic Screwdriver. “Bats get around by Sonic, just in case.” is written on a note. At that moment, Alfred would walk in with another package, old and yellowed.
Your mother and I have just met the most amazing individual, and gone on the most amazing journey. I’ve instructed my lawyers to give you this at the current time. We were told that our deaths sent you on a self destructive spiral, and I want you to know that you do not need to do that. Right now you have a choice, and I’m imploring you to look towards the light and put the shadows to your back. We know what’s going to happen, and we accept it, knowing you will be cared for and successful.”
Inside were a set of photographs, aged, but showing Thomas and Martha Wayne, alongside the Doctor at various points of importance of Bruce’s life. When he graduated High School, college, taking the reins of Wayne Enterprises. Each time with a note of how proud they were of him.
With this, Bruce begins to cry and he puts the black sonic in a safe and locks it, telling Alfred to open the windows and to let the light in.
Declared Victor: The Doctor