‘Batman v Superman’ draws battle lines among fans
Pundits are making predictions, debates are degrading into wrestling matches, and Facebook friendships are breaking up. All over one question: Who would win: Batman or Superman?
The debate has been raging for 70 years and is the premise for the soon-to-be-released film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
For some, it’s a philosophical question. The choice between good vs. evil is an obvious one. But, when confronted with good vs. good, we are burdened with the moral imperative of choosing the greater of two goods.
In the 2013 movie “Man of Steel,” Superman was presented as a saviorlike character with supernatural powers sent from another world to act as our benevolent protector. As the classic TV show introduction once said, he represents “truth, justice and the American Way.”
Batman, on the other hand, represents a Chaotic Good, enforcing justice with a disregard for society’s rules. He prefers a self-reliant approach representing a secular humanism grounded in science and technology.
They are, literally, from two different worlds, as manifested by their sources of power: Superman’s strengths derive from Earth’s yellow sun, and Batman thrives in the darkness and shadows.
The battle represents the struggle of man’s Id and Superego. … Who are we kidding? We just want to see two guys in tights beat each other up! So, who would win?
Andrew Farago, curator of the Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco, insists, “It’s not even close. Superman wins. It’s like asking who would win in a foot race between Usain Bolt and a baked potato.”
Albeit, a well-armed and physically fit baked potato.
Melanie Bolen, a self-professed comics geek and a health and fitness trainer from Chicago, is also with Team Superman.
“I don’t see how it could even be a fair fight if Superman has his powers,” she says. “Both may be physically fit, but Superman holds the edge even with less muscle mass than Batman.”
Superman’s powers make him an overwhelming opponent, unbeatable in a fair fight. But why fight fair?
“Frank Miller’s classic ‘Dark Knight Returns’ leveled the playing field by having a severely weakened Superman going up against Batman, who didn’t expect to survive the fight,” Farago says.
At least one expert thinks Batman could best the Man of Steel.
Suveen Mathaudhu is a former materials engineer with the Army Research Laboratory Weapons and Materials Research Directorate. He once got into an argument with famed astrophysicist and fellow comic-book nerd, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, over the weight of Thor’s hammer. Mathaudhu won.
“In my prior experience in the Department of Defense, we frequently refer to ‘asymmetrical warfare,’ where one side maintains dominance through the exploitation of the other’s obvious weaknesses,” Mathaudhu says. “Like real scientists, Batman does meticulous research on problems he has to solve and identifies the psychological/physical weaknesses of those he may need to defeat.”
According to Mathaudhu, the physical fight is pretty straightforward. “It’s all about one character trying to break the other via impact.” Batman’s goal is to “make armor strong enough to resist damage from Supes and make Supes more susceptible to damage.”
The Dark Knight will need to exploit Superman’s weaknesses by:
• Eliminating his “photonucleic” source of power (solar radiation).
• Using lead-lined armor to negate Superman’s laser vision.
• Taking advantage of emotional weakness: While both characters’ personal codes prevent them from killing, Superman was forced to kill the villain Zod in the previous film, “Man of Steel.” That weighs heavily on Superman and may make him hold back, giving Batman an edge.
• Then, of course, there is Superman’s Kryptonite. Kryptonite is the ultimate “cheat code” to beating Superman. It weakens him to the point of absolute defenselessness.
• The winner in a battle of the “good guys” may hinge upon who is willing to be the bad guy. Bolen sums it up best: “In that case, Batman wins, because he’d totally fight dirtier!”
Ultimately, the entire battle may be anti-climactic, as Batman and the Big Blue Boy Scout will make amends to join the Justice League in a movie that is slated for release in November 2017.
Cartoon artist Joe Wos is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.
Aka: The Man of Steel, The Big Blue Boy Scout
Secret identity: Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet
Home base: Metropolis
First appeared: Action Comics #1, June 1938
Created by: Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster
Superpowers: Flight, speed, stamina, X-ray vision, heat vision, invulnerability, superhuman strength and endurance, super-hearing and super-breath
Weaknesses: Kryptonite and red sun radiation
Aka: The Dark Knight
Secret identity: Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy and philanthropist
Home base: Gotham City
First appeared: Detective Comics #27, May 1939
Created by: Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Skills: Intellect, forensics, scientific knowledge, engineering, hand-to-hand combat, physical strength, endurance, stealth and advanced weaponry
Weaknesses: Human limitations
Other comic-book hero battles
Captain America vs. Iron Man: “Civil War #7” (2007). Winner: Captain America
Batman vs. Punisher: “Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights” (1994). Winner: Batman
Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man: “Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man: The Battle of the Century” (1976). Winner: Draw
Hulk vs. The Thing: “Fantastic Four #25-26” (1964). Winner: Hulk
Thor vs. Silver Surfer: “Silver Surfer #4” (1969). Winner: Draw
Hulk vs. Wolverine: “Incredible Hulk #181” (1974). Winner: Hulk
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali: “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali #C-56” (1978). Winner: Muhammad Ali (by a knockout, of course)
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review sports reporter. You can contact Paul by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .