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DIGITAL DEBATE WEDNESDAYS: Can Batman Beat Superman?

Welcome back to Digital Debate Wednesdays! Every Wednesday, the staff of The Ace of Geeks will get our keyboards ready for a good, old fashioned nerd argument, and you get to hang out with us! Feel free to email us any ideas you might have for future debates. Until then, here’s this weeks topic:

I begin today with the deepest of sighs, but there’s only one question I can reasonably ask and still be timely this week. So as much as I hate to open this particular can of worms:

Batman v Superman. Fight until one is incapacitated. Assume neither is mind controlled, Superman is at post-crisis-slightly-less-ridiculously-powerful levels (flight, superspeed, invulnerability, heat vision, super strength, super breath, no weird “mini-superman” or “throwing his emblem at people” or “mind erasing kiss” powers), and Batman has had, let’s say, a day to prepare.

Who wins?

Rose Marie Fox: I choose Lex Luther.

Mark Foo: With a day’s preparation or a day to set up?

  • Mike Fatum: What’s the difference?
  • Mark Foo: A day to plan and execute vs. the ability to gather materials and stuff, then set up on-site. Like, give a day, and Batman can’t even get a special suit built.
  • Mike Fatum: Assume he’s had all the resources that are usually available to him in the Batcave for a day, but he hasn’t been able to pick the time/place of the fight. Whether he can build something special in that time is up to you.
  • Mark Foo: It was a trick question. They realize they’re being manipulated and team up to defeat the horrible manipulator that’s pitted them against one another. You better start running now, Fatum!

Teresa Loesch: I mean. If Superman doesn’t win, what’s the point of him? If he could be beaten by a genius with a lot of money, why doesn’t Lex Luther already rule the world?

The real digital debate here is why this question is The Eternal Superhero Question. Why does everyone care so much? If Batman and Superman fight, who is going to look after the inhabitants of the cities they try to protect? This fight is morally bankrupt as they claim to be on the same side. I guess like, Batman VS Evil Superman Who Wants To Kill Everyone For Some Reason would make sense, but why is everyone fighting each other? Civil War, Batman V Superman… These heroes are out of control!

  • Synthia Weires: Aquaman.
  • Mike Fatum: I feel like everyone cares so much because of the Empire Strikes Back problem. At some point, in the deep dark past of Geek History, it became much Cooler to like Batman than Superman. (Just like at some point in the past it became much Cooler to like Empire the best of the Star Wars films.) And so, for the next ten generations, Batman fans (many of whom end up writing comics professionally) have come up with increasingly convoluted reasons for how Batman could beat up Superman.
  • Mark Foo: “If Superman doesn’t win, what’s the point of him?”

    Perhaps Superman’s purpose as a god-like, mythic figure is to give us something to aspire to and Batman’s purpose is to tell us all that if we try hard enough, one day we can take our place among the gods ourselves.

Ben Worley: My answer always has been and always will be encapsulated by SMBC.com.

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Malkontent Blizzard: Byrne Superman. He can spend the day in the sun, so he would have enough surplus yellow radiation to overcome the green K…unless Batman stole the Addis Ababa meteorite.

Ben Worley: I like Batman FAR more, but the idea that Batman is even vaguely a worthy match for Superman is a myopic fanboy fantasy intended to let us project onto the DC-verse the idea that if we, the reader, were clever and dedicated enough, we could fight gods.

Which is a GREAT idea. It’s an inspiring idea.

But, removing themes and metaphors and talking about them like very real brawlers, there’s absolutely no contest. There’s no point in acting like there is one.

Daredevil’s my favorite comic book hero, but implying he could fight Thor is just asinine. Same principle at work here.

“If Batman had time to plan-”
“BUT IF BATMAN HAD TIME TO PLAN-”
“Batman could plan for anythi-”

Unless Batman can outplan “Superman just threw the Earth into the Sun”, I’m pretty sure his digital chessboards aren’t doing much.

  • Mark Foo: You’re talking about a bundle of powers, not Superman as a character, though. Superman isn’t going to start space-tossing chunks of the planet he’s sworn to defend, covered in the people he’s devoted his life to saving, just to win a fight for Fatum’s amusement! Like, seriously. That’s like saying, “Batman’s gonna win ‘cos he’ll build a Kryptonite death ray satellite that can hit the entire planet and fire it just as the fight begins”.

Joe Hadsall: I think we all want Batman to win, deep down, because he’s one of us. He’s not imbued with any alien DNA or superpowers. His superpower is dogged determination. He was able to have powers equatable to a superhero, just through his commitment and resourcefulness. Granted, that’s a lot easier to be determined when you’re rich, of course, but I also think we all want to be rich enough to be a superhero.

That being said, Teresa Loesch is absolutely right and Batman doesn’t have a chance.

  • Malkontent Blizzard: Not everyone relates to this the same way. I know refugees who experience the emotional inverse.
  • Nick Bailey Jr: I can’t relate to a super rich crazy man. I can more closely relate to a more lower class guy in glasses who had to work to get by in life.

Mike Fatum: It’s weird that two of you in a row have said Batman is the relatable everyman. I feel like I relate a lot more to Clark Kent/Superman than Bruce most of the time.

  • Ben Worley: Superman’s a more relatable personality. Batman’s a more relatable power set.
  • Ben Lee: I think that depends on where your particular point of reference comes from. Clark is the likable, amicable, good-hearted Boy Scout that -acts- like the everyman and has the stand-up hero thing going, but on a genetic level he’s completely alien, has insanely godlike powers, and is ultimately terrifying in our inability to stop him.

    Bruce is the baseline human that made good in a world of ridiculous origins, the “if you just work hard you can achieve anything” — though a billion-dollar fortune doesn’t hurt — and the more plausible power fantasy. He’s also dark and driven and hurts the hell out of people, even if he’ll never kill, in the pursuit of making sure good gets done.

    I -do- know people that relate better to Batman for reasons I won’t go into here, but I think it’s less the “relatable” part than just the potential for plausible self-insertion. I’m not already an alien, but “in theory” I could wake up a millionaire and train to become a ninja tomorrow.

Jim Lucky: I just saw a thing about this. Out of the 10 bouts they have had in various comic runs they roll out like this:
Batman:5
Supes:4
Alfred Mutha-fukin-Pennyworth: 1

Basically the formula comes down to this each time:
Batman + (>10 minutes prep) = Batman victory.

  • Mike Fatum: Wait wait, when did Alfred win? I want to see this!
  • Jim Lucky: Yeah, in one of the arcs Supes crashes the bat cave and wrecks Bruce while he’s not ready and as he goes to leave Alfred (hopped up on nanotech that makes him super butler) decides that he’s had enough of Clark’s shit, breaks his nose and pummels him like Supes was his kid brother.
    Here’s the video:

 

  • Jim Lucky: Also I guess there were more than 10 fights over the years.
  • Mark Foo: The Alfred fight was from the Injustice series which was way better than any videogame tie-in had any right to be after the first arc.

Luke Farr: Didn’t it take Batman like thirty years to synthesize kryptonite to prepare for the battle in Dark Knight Returns? Assuming he hasn’t had something like that in his Arsenal, I don’t think he could complete it in a day. As much as I’d prefer to say the opposite, if Superman said “tomorrow, midnight, the playground, we’re fighting this out” I don’t think Batman would have enough time to prepare something that could stop Superman. We’d have to hope that Superman would be weakened by his own friendship with and affection for Batman, and that would give Batman an opening.

  • Mike Fatum: I actually have no idea if Batman in current continuity has any Kryptonite. He did in the pre-New 52 stuff. Not synthesized, but stolen from Luthor.
  • Luke Farr: Okay, yeah. If he has kryptonite is any form lying around the Batcave, I would put my money on Batman. He’s a resourceful motherfucker and I bet he could cobble something together that could give him the upper hand. But without Special K I stand at my previous argument. I don’t think he could do something strong enough without it and only a day to prepare.

Ben Worley: Superman can move entire planets and rip continents out of Earth in their entirety. And has.

If this is one of the versions of Batman that, ya know, stands on things, he’s at an insurmountable disadvantage.

Joe Hadsall: Maybe Batman could use his superior disguise skills…

  • Ben Worley: “Curses! I don’t know which of the Billion people I just threw into the sun was Bruce Wayne. You win again, Batmaaaaaan!” ~Superman, clearly defeated.
  • Joe Hadsall: Would Superman REALLY resort to throwing the Earth into the sun just to win a fight with Batman? Look how much Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter angst he had by the end of “Man of Steel.” Is this a reasonable outcome of this fight?

Brian Patterson: If only a day of prep, then Superman wins. If given more adequate time then Batman wins.

Mary Anne Butler: Superman.

Sam Stafford: If Batman has plot armor, which he usually does, Batman wins. Otherwise, Superman throws a rock at him from orbit and wins.

  • Malkontent Blizzard: Plot armor meaning his being the “Of course he can” character?
  • Sam Stafford: Plot armor meaning the situation is contrived such that superman is easily fooled or swayed from using his powers efficiently and/or Batman has a hidden advantage.
  • Malkontent Blizzard: Different cause, same effect.
  • Mark Foo: I think “plot armour” in this case means, “What horribly written version of Superman is assassinating people from orbit?”
  • Malkontent Blizzard: But enough about Injustice.
  • Mark Foo: Basically. Though I have to admit Injustice is a pretty well-written look at the concept. One of the first things they did was give all Superman’s foes super strength.

Chris Brecheen: If Superman gets to be intelligent, nuanced, thoughtful, and not deus ex machina’ed into impotence, then Superman wins. Like this isn’t even a question how HARD he wins. The only way he wouldn’t is if he were holding back due to his supermorals.

If Superman is easily fooled into getting close to a well prepared Batman to do fisticuffs like a total tool, and Batman has his version of “hulkbuster” armor or some ridiculous shit, maaaaaaaybe Batman.

I suspect the most realistic outcome, if we assume Superman isn’t willing to take out whole cities or just drop kick the Earth, is that Batman would disappear before the fight started and ninja some solution like five years later.

  • Mark Foo: I would assume any Batman plan to take on Superman involves forcing things to be a closed-quarters fight. Like, I dunno, Batman hides in an open, filled hospital’s boiler room so Superman can’t just fly in and smash the place to bits from afar.
  • Chris Brecheen: Yeah, IMO that gets you right back to Superman’s written limitations being the only mitigating factor in Batman having even the slightest chance. If he’s written as clever and calculating (like he often is in his own comics), he can just pick his teeth until Batman gets hungry or design his own trap or lift the hospital to safety (literally) and then melt the lead-boiler room batman was hiding in around him. It’s only if Superman is written as a maniac bent on mindless, right-this-second destruction that he flies in with no regard for his safety or Bruce Wayne’s likely ability to come up with SOME sort of plan. Clark Kent isn’t a fool, and the only way I see Batman winning is if he’s kind of portrayed as one.
  • Chris Brecheen: Also Mike, I want you to know that AoG has caused me to break a solemn OATH I made to myself watching comic book geeks arguing about shit like this when I was in high school.

    That’s how much I like you.

  • Mike Fatum: This pleases me more than you can know.
  • Mark Foo: I agree, it should be a duel of wits and not “Super-bulldozer can’t figure out how to get out of the way of Bat-traps.” Batman is the superior tactician by all portrayals, though, so it turns into a fun game of tit-for-tat. Can the tactical genius defeat the superior force?

Melissa Devlin: I don’t plan on seeing the movie, and haven’t had superman ruined for me by the remake. So my knowledge of superman is confined to the Christopher Reeves version. That sweet good guy wouldn’t fight batman, he’d convince him to see a therapist. But from what I hear about the new superman? He’s Gotham and deserves to get his ass kicked by batman with some kryptonite enhanced tech. (Or did they do away with his only weakness?)

Ellie Collins: I say Batman simply because his conviction has a more powerful root, in my opinion.

John Garcia: Batman wins: Kryptonite is NOT the only weakness he can exploit. He has access to Red sun radiation and Magic (or magical things)

1)He doesn’t need to be in close quarters to hurt Supes with a red sun radiation blaster, or radiation emitter (which can be hidden) .

2) He has access to magic, magical objects, or disposable usable magic for mortals. Mike. Do the rules say, Batman can just summon Etrigan, Dr. Fate, or Constantine to incapacitate Supes….if not, Batman always has magical people in short proximity for borrowing stuff to fight other magical enemies, and of course his biggest contingency: Supes.

3) Batman fights people from an asylum all the time, so he knows how to read his enemies’ psych profiles. He KNOWS Supes’.

4) Things that may not kill Supes but can sure hurt him like high yield explosives or super stretch polymers are for sure in Batman’s back pocket easy. With Supes where he doesn’t have to worry about killing him, Bats can do a lot more.

  • Malkontent Blizzard: I forgot about the favor Blood owes Bruce. Kirby trumps Byrne any day.
  • John Garcia: I agree about Kirby over Byrne.

Nick Bailey Jr: Eye lasers from space.

  • John Garcia: But even Crime Syndicate Ultraman missed Owlman with his laser eyes from space and that’s that’s the eeeevil versions from Earth 3.
  • Nick Bailey Jr: Did he miss, or did he fry the cat as a “I see you.”?
  • Mark Foo: Are we playing, “Who wins if Superman decides murder is fun?” If so, please see Irredeemable.

Raven Knighte: I think it will be a draw, simply because sequel.

  • Malkontent Blizzard: Ever the pragmastist.
  • Mark Foo: Now you’re thinking like an exec!

Alain Bloch: I think the publishing industry wins.

  • Malkontent Blizzard: More specifically Diamond.

Jarys Maragopolous: When superheroes fight, Magneto wins.

Mike Fatum: magneto-was-right

 

 

Mike Fatum
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Referred to as a God Among Men, the Greatest Man that Ever Lived, and That Dude Over There…No, The Dude with the Long Hair and the Goatee…Yes, That Guy, Mike has grown up being known and loved around his apartment. In addition to being a successful film director and editor, he loves video games, movies, comic books, board games, and his wife and cat. He’s been friends with Jarys for over a decade now, and they started hosting a radio show together on college that became the genesis for the Ace of Geeks Podcast. When he realized he had so many talented friends who could write, the Podcast became an entertainment website, and here we are.

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