"Who would win in a fight between this character and that character?" That's a question people can apparently never get enough of. Whether it's characters from the same franchise or from totally different forms of media, the simple question appeals to something in all of us and makes us think about the potential the encounter could have. How would it play out? Which advantages will turn the tide? Which disadvantages can hurt their odds? Does the location benefit one more? What about the personalities and tactics? Who's more likely to earn the victory?
Sure, we love these characters because of their great stories and the roles they play in their respective universes, but they also appeal to us because of their abilities which allow them to battle threats that no ordinary human could handle. From being a master of hand-to-hand combat to shooting heat vision out of their eyes, comic book characters all have their own ways of handling physical conflicts. So, it's only natural to think of what would happen if they were to bump into another talented individual and not want to settle the conflict with words.
I've spent several years chatting with random people on the internet about how I think fights between comic book characters would go down. It's something I'm pretty passionate about and I try to find new ways to keep the conversation exciting. Instead of always discussing one on one or team battles, I'd regularly make gauntlets that characters need to face or even try to come up with interesting scenario threads. To some, this probably seems silly and a waste of time. To others, they likely have a negative opinion of comic book battles because abrasive fans immediately come to mind. Who wants to express their opinion if a swarm of people are going to angrily jump down their throat? Sadly, the hobby does have a negative reputation because of people like that, but I'm here in an attempt to put the hobby in a more positive light and make a plea for civility.
To me, talking about comic book brawls is not only fun, but it's also informative. I love spending a stupid amount of time discussing comic book fights and I'm not ashamed to admit it. And you know what? You shouldn't be either. If sports fans can compare their favorite athletes and teams, why can't we compare our favorite heroes and villains. And no, that's not a jab at sports fans, so let's not get off topic, okay?
First and foremost, everyone needs to remember that talking about comic book fights with other people isn't about "winning" the discussion. You probably go into a thread with the verdict already in mind, but unless you're 100% certain that you're an expert on all of the characters involved, it's important to keep an open mind. Hell, even if you are confident in your knowledge of both characters, it's still critical to keep an open mind. It's very possible the other person is considering factors that you're not taking into account or thinking about a feat that slipped your mind. You're not going to get college credit or something else if you refuse to budge on your stance and make the other person concede. Acting humble and being able to admit when you had an incorrect opinion about a character is huge and far more respectable than being stubborn and arrogant. You're not going to be earning anyone's respect if you toss aside a little thing called manners and walk all over the other person like they're dirt just because they disagree with you on a fight between fictional characters.
Over the years I've spent chatting about comic battles, I've learned a lot about different heroes and villains, had the opportunity to teach others what I know, and engaged in dozens upon dozens of entertaining and legitimately enjoyable conversations. Unfortunately, there's also discussions which go a little more like the image below and that's what needs to change.
Far too often people see a sentence they don't agree with and then have no issue posting their knee-jerk reactions. We're all human, so it's understandable that our immediate thoughts aren't always expressed in the most polite way, but who said you need to post those blunt thoughts right away? Manners seem to get lost in the shuffle while posting in these debates and that's got to change. You see, the beautiful thing about the internet is you're given the advantage of responding whenever you want to. The internet (hopefully) isn't going anywhere, so this allows you to carefully form your opinion before putting it out there for the world to see. But it seems like some tend to forget they're talking with another human being and not just responding to a statement they strongly disagree with. That results in downright unpleasant experiences -- something nobody wants to encounter during their free time. Unless you're a very rude person (if so, please try to stop that), it's important to try and post the way you would if you were talking face to face with someone. There's no need to use words you normally wouldn't use in an attempt to sound more intelligent and there's most definitely no need to be abrasive.
If you go into a Spider-Man vs. Batman thread, a good amount of people will say Parker wins that fight if it's a random encounter (that means they have no prep time). However, if someone posts something like "I think Batman should win," you'll sometimes see some comments that just aren't cool or how any decent person would act when talking with someone they don't know in person. Instead of expressing why they disagree, you'll see something like, "You need to read more comics. Spider-Man stomps!" Or something like, "You're kidding, right? Please tell me you're kidding." Technically, that's not against the rules, but people sign up and enter these threads because they love comics and want to talk about it with other fans. But someone being a jerk just ruins the experience and potentially gives the whole experience of talking about battles a bad impression. So, next time you see someone say something you strongly disagree with, take a second to gather your thoughts, remember that's a human being on the other side of the internet (it could even be a young fan who has much to learn), and then write your post in a civil way. It's really not asking much, is it?
In the event where two people can't agree on a conclusion, why drag it out? That's something I tend to see a lot and results in people complaining about other users. "Agree to disagree" is a conclusion that really should be met more often. Even after sharing everything you know, someone else may not be convinced. And you know what? That's fine. The world will still go on if that other person disagrees with you about a fight between fake characters, won't it? You tried your best, others can read (and learn) from what you've said, and now it's time to move on. Just shake hands and go your separate ways.
The entire point of this is to talk about characters we like with other fans. It should be fun and there's no good reason why it can't be. If you already have knowledge of the characters, it's your duty to help teach others and that'll improve the quality of discussions. If you don't know the characters all that well, it's okay to admit there's still a lot you don't know and then be open to the knowledge others have to offer. It really should be a learning experience for everyone involved. You're either finding a way to accurately share why one character should win, or you're walking away more knowledgeable about a certain character. With the right crowd, a good comic book battle discussion is a win-win.
Thinking "character A" beats "character B" doesn't mean you hate character B. So if you see someone saying a character you really like loses a fight, don't immediately think they're saying that because they dislike the character or anything like that (sure, some do, but a majority of us are way more open-minded than that... or at least that's what I hope). For example, I'm a big Ninja Turtles fan. I love me some Batman, but the heroes in a half shell hold a special place in my heart and I'd be rooting for them if they took on the Dark Knight. That said, I do think Batman beats the current incarnation of the Turtles (after a good fight!). When discussing comic book battles, you need to put away personal preference, otherwise it acts as blinders. You'll focus on the most impressive things one side has done and focus on the most embarrassing things that have happened to the other side. There's no room for stuff like that in a respectable debate. I believe Yoda once said, "Bias leads to overhyping. Overhyping leads to downplaying the competition. Downplaying the competition leads to ugly, heated, and narrow-minded conversations." You wouldn't want to go against Yoda's wisdom, would you?
"Gregg, I get what you're saying, but discussing this stuff so extensively is silly because a character's performance really is based on what the writer wants." I hear you loud and clear, reader who decided to interrupt the article! If a writer wanted Gambit to get the better of someone like the Hulk, they could find a way to make that happen through the plot. We know these characters will fluctuate since they're handled by so many different creative minds and a character could do the seemingly impossible to benefit the narrative, but it's important to look at the character's entire history. Even if their performances fluctuate, it's still very possible to get a good read on a character's statistics, morals, and power levels. Once you have a handle on those qualities, it's fun imagining how you believe they'd act in the scenario. Just because Bane has effortlessly defeated Nightwing doesn't mean that'll always be the case. Can the example be used to justify why Bane will eventually win? Sure, but there are still other factors and a case can be made for why Grayson would put up a much better fight (and some could still make a compelling case as to why he'd win, given the right conditions). For example, Grayson didn't use his weapons and they began in close range. Obviously, we know Grayson's agility is a big part of how he fights and he often uses some gear. So unless someone makes a blatantly unfair fight, there's always room for a proper discussion about the various factors.
Discussing comic book battles is a chance to get your creativity flowing and learn so much more about combatants. How they act in combat plays a big role in their comics (they can't seem to solve things civilly most of the time, can they?) and, let's be honest here, who doesn't love the thought of having their favorite characters duke it out? There's more than enough room for intelligent and enjoyable discussions about these characters. These threads also hold the potential to boost your interest in new characters. You may have zero interest in someone like Martian Manhunter or not even know he exists, but after seeing he's a total boss in a thread, it may motivate you to do more research and pick up some of his big story arcs. This hobby has made me become very interested in a lot of lesser-known characters.
Here's the "too long; didn't read" version: if you're going to talk about comic book battles, throw away your favoritism, open your mind to what others have to say, and just don't be a jerk when you disagree with someone. It really is that simple. Do that and everyone is going to have a pleasant time chatting about the characters they love and the ones they want to learn about. Really, who goes online just to get upset and frustrated? No one wants that and we're all here to have fun and embrace the comic book characters we're interested in, right? Now, go forth and have a good time in the battles forum! There's so many possibilities for exciting battle threads, so go ahead and think about which characters you'd want to see in a fight. Thought of any matches yet? Cool, now go share that creativity with the world so they can enjoy thinking about it as well.