The other day my brother made an interesting post on Facebook:
Cue the obligatory, unsubstantiated opinions. The responses were split down the middle with the odd unsolicited Spider-Man or “Hulk would smash them both.” But there was no debate. No DRAMA! Only one person had anything intelligent to say on the matter. A high school chum brought technology into the mix and had a valid argument, but was left standing at the altar by his bridegroom of strife.
I could not resist. Now was my chance to throw a drink in my brother’s face; a cocktail of equal-parts comic nerd knowledge & simple algebra, a garnish of precedential material, all shaken over 30+ years of passive-aggressive brotherly angst. My brother is not a true nerd, you see, but would like us all to believe he is. This warrants a pause of my BSG marathon (NO SPOILERS! I’M STILL IN THE FIRST SEASON!) and the start of an 800-word response that, as usual, went largely unappreciated by even Facebook standards.
So let’s explore the question.
First, consider the following:
Batman – 1939 (26 years old)
Captain America – 1941 (18 years old)
Also, keep in mind that Captain America was frozen for 19 years (1945 – 1964) before being thawed out and joining the Avengers in 1945. Now time moves at a different rate in comics that in real life. The generally accepted ratio is 3.5:1. That is to say we experience appx. 3.5 years in the time one year passes in a comic book. Using this model we can extrapolate the following ages of our heroes:
Batman – 47
Captain America – 39
Batman has spent his entire life pushing himself to the peak of human speed and strength. He is an Olympic-class athlete. Wayne has trained in and mastered every form of combat. At 130 pounds Bruce Lee could bench 750 pounds. If we are to assume that Bruce Wayne can match Lee in similar feats, we can establish that Wayne could lift 1200 pounds. Unlikely as it is, it could happen.
According to the Marvel wiki Captain America is capable of lifting over 1,000 pounds, but less than 1 ton (2,000 pounds). The wiki also has this to say about superhero strength:
“Any character capable of lifting more than 800 lbs, in the Marvel Universe, is counted as having superhuman strength.”
So let’s put Captain America superior in strength and drop Batman to Marvel’s “peak human” level.
Peak Human – able to lift double one’s own body weight up to the 800lb level
You still have a 47ish-year-old would be Olympian taking on a 39-year-old super soldier. Let us also remember that Captain America lost only 5.5 years (19 converted) while frozen. So you could conceivably reduce that to 35 (taking into account any damage his body would have suffered from the freeze and compensating for his advanced healing factor).
Rogers is also an expert in every (known) form of martial arts and has spent the last 14 years honing these abilities (since thawing in 1964). Wayne has been pursuing this his entire life.
Another thing to consider is the concept of time has changed in comics over the last 75 years. It is acceptable to believe that time moved much more quickly in the Golden Age of Comics than it has in the more recent years. That being said, we could modify Wayne from 47 years old to, let’s say, 40.
Batman – 40 years old
Lifts 800 pounds
Enhanced speed & agility
Master of all known forms of combat
Master strategist and tactician
World’s Greatest Detective
Every gadget he would ever need at any given time. Ever.
Captain America – 35 years old
Lifts 1200 pounds
Enhanced speed and agility
Master of all known forms of martial arts
Bleeds Red, White, & Blue
Indestructible bouncy shield
They both do. The battle is played out to a stand-still. In the JLA/Avengers cross-over they eventually put their heads together and realize that there is a greater evil that needs to be stopped. (see attached picture) In the 1996 Marvel Comics vs. DC Comics we see the same thing occur. Batman is quoted thusly:
“We’ve been at it for hours. We could battle for DAYS and not have a winner until one of us drops from EXHAUSTION. We should be looking for some OTHER option.”
“We weren’t given a CHOICE. We have to fight until SOMEONE goes down.”
“Billions upon billions of lives HINGE on these battles. We should be trying to find a way to CIRCUMVENT this and stop those cosmic beings from WIPING OUT one universe or the other.”
“How? If there’s no OUTCOME, the entities might well destroy BOTH universes.”
They go on to explain how and why they became the men they are today. Cap tells Bats that he is going to continue with the fight, but Bats clearly continues out of principle; he won’t lose to a man who does not see the bigger picture. Uncontrollable forces cause them to end the battle and they unwittingly become the final pieces used to fuse the two universes into the Amalgam Universe.
So, gun to my head, I’ve gotta say it is Batman who ultimately wins. Not through feat of strength, but strength of character. While the movies have portrayed Rogers as a guy who will go the distance for the little guy, the comics have shown time and again that Batman will do what needs to be done for what is right. Even if it is not the popular decision.
Don’t you dare bring up the Civil War, either. They’ve already messed up enough with that fiasco.