DC vs. Marvel: Batman vs. Iron Man

DC vs. Marvel: Batman vs Iron Man

For as long as there have been comic books, there has been the feud between DC and Marvel. Both are heavy-hitting comic companies that continue to gain legions of fans every year. The purpose of this column is to take one DC persona and one Marvel persona of equal measure and popularity and pit them against each other to see who come out on top.

Today I bring you a match-up of two epic titans from the comic book world, The Dark Knight and Iron Man.

Both will enter.

One will win.

Let’s get it started.

Background:  When it comes to organizing comic book backgrounds there’s usually one constant among the heroes, and that’s an alarming amount of dead or missing parents.  There are few as memorable however, as the rise of Bruce Wayne and the tragedy that overcame his childhood.  A young Bruce had his destiny forever changed the night his parents were murdered in cold blood right in front of him.  It was this event that gave birth to his mentality of bringing justice to Gotham City and avenging the death of his parents.  This sparked a chain reaction to become a symbol of fear that could be used to inspire the people of Gotham and make its thugs feel the same fear that they were striking into the hearts of the innocent.  It’s also the reason that Batman refuses to take the life of a villainous enemy, regardless of how evil they truly are.  It’s the one thing that separates him from the villains of Gotham City as he values justice over revenge.  At the age of 14 Bruce Wayne embarked on a journey across the world that led him to nearly every continent as he honed his skills and trained in the art of deception, criminology, forensics and every fighting style known to man.  In order to conceal his identity and keep himself hidden he took on the role of “Bruce Wayne the Playboy Billionaire” and would often keep himself in the spotlight to take pressure off of Batman.  When he returned to Gotham City he returned as not only a changed man but a lethal machine of vengeance that was virtually unstoppable.  The City of Gotham just gave birth to its greatest protector and most trusted hero.  Batman’s most well-known and beloved comic titles are ones such as The Killing Joke, Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns and The Long Halloween.

From one mastermind to another Tony Stark was born to wealth and luxury in the same way that Bruce Wayne was.  Tony was always fascinated with building machines, taking them apart and finding out how they worked, and it was this drive that led him to a career in engineering. He entered school as an undergraduate  of electrical engineering at the age of 15 and four years later he graduated MIT with a double Master’s.  Unlike Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark wasn’t just playing up the playboy image; he was a real life version of it.  By the time he turned 21 Stark Industries was thrust onto his shoulders after his parents died in a horrific car accident.  This was a massive burden for a young and arrogant Tony Stark and it was one that he ran away from.  While on a field test for a training seminar of Stark Industries’ newest weapons he came under attack by a group of terrorist forces and was taken prisoner.  During the skirmish a bomb went off within range of his body and launched enough shrapnel into his heart that would almost certainly kill him if they didn’t find a way to remove it, or at the very least, stop it from advancing further.   It was here that he partnered with his fellow hostage Professor Yinsen (a world renowned physicist) to create a magnetic field generator that would contain the shrapnel around his heart.  While imprisoned he was ordered by his captors to create one of his company’s battle suits which turned into the very first prototype for the Iron Man armor and helped him escape from imprisonment.  Tony found his new life a burden and turned to alcohol to cope with the harsh reality of his depression.   It wasn’t until a change of heart and a realization that he could use this gift for good and protect the innocent that Tony Stark became the hero we know him as today.  Iron Man went on to become one of the comic world’s most iconic characters with such memorable titles as The Beginning of the End, Demon in a Bottle, Extremist and Doomquest.

While both backgrounds are engaging stories that draw you into the character’s mindset and transition, its Bruce Wayne’s origin and comic lineup that is the most immersive and prolific.

Point: + 1 Batman

Skills:  Bruce Wayne might lack the superpower punch of other crime fighters but he more than makes up for it with a reliance on “scientific knowledge, detective skills and athletic prowess”.  He’s often regarded as the world’s greatest detective and is trained in every major fighting style on the planet. His knowledge and discipline is unmatched by any other human in his universe and his training from worldwide travels has seasoned him and sharpened his wits.  In addition to his unparalleled hand to hand combat and detective skills he is a master of disguise and skilled in the art of moving within the shadows.  In an issue of JLA it is said that Superman, the most powerful superhero of his time described Batman as “the most dangerous man on Earth” as we’ve seen him take on countless alien and super powered foes, and defeat them.  He’s basically the pinnacle of crime fighting skills meshed with the drive of a relentlessly tireless worker.

Not to be outdone, Tony Stark’s mind rivals Bruce Wayne’s and even trumps him in areas such as engineering and mathematics.  He has genius level intellect and an unmatched background in multiple forms of engineering that allows him to create sophisticated and groundbreaking technological advancements.  He has developed all of his Iron Man suits on his own and has funded scientific breakthroughs in both advanced weaponry and “arc reactor” technology.

Bruce Wayne wins this one again by not only having a mind that’s comparable to Tony Stark but by having advanced physical combat skills to his name.

Point: +1 Batman

Affiliations:  Batman is a staple of the Justice League and is also viewed as their leader in many ways.  As seen in Justice League: Doom many feel that the team only exists because Batman allows it to, as evidenced by his unique plan to take out each member of the League in case they went rogue and attacked  Earth.  He’s the only “human” member of the core team (without super powers) and because of that he is the most respected and revered by his peers.  He’s also part of the “Bat-Family”, Batman Incorporated and for a short while, The Outsiders.

Iron Man is a prominent member of The Avengers and took over as leader in the comics as well as being showcased front and center in “Marvel’s The Avengers” this summer. He’s less of a rogue and more of a pioneer in the way he relishes teamwork and has opened himself up to working with others. His team affiliation list is loaded and include all of the following:  Stark Industries, The Avengers, Mighty Avengers, New Avengers, West Coast Avengers, Illuminati, S.H.I.E.L.D., The Department of Defense, Force Works, Thunderbolts and of course, Alcoholics Anonymous.

After gathering all of the information in this category the match up isn’t as close as I originally thought.

Point:  +1 Iron Man

Apparel/Weapons:  Batman has some of the most unique (and creative) gadgets in the comic book world that vary from weapons to vehicles to armored shielding.  Most of them are found in his never-ending utility belt that always seems to harness more items then you could imagine, and they all have a “bat” tie in with their name and physical design.  They include items like a grappling gun, batarangs, a bat-lasso, bat pellets, bat smoke grenades, a bat taser, bat night vision goggles and of course the bat-breather so that he can swim great distances or breathe in poison filled rooms.  His apparel is one of the coolest looking outfits in the comic-book world that varies from black with shades of grey to all black and sometimes a bluish/yellow variation.  His armor is of the highest caliber and his cape can enable him to glide around Gotham and also protect him from bullets, fire and other harmful barriers.

Tony Stark is all about style and it shows in his incredibly bad-ass Mark V (and counting) Iron Man suits.  I mean seriously, can you get much cooler than these? Decked out in “hot rod red” and gold they’re both functional in terms of hovering and flying fast enough to break the sound barrier, plus they’re fully loaded with some of the most technologically advanced weapons known to man.  His main arsenal revolves around pulse rifle blasters in both palms and his chest, capable of firing explosive bursts with deadly and destructive force.  These fire one shot lasers, electromagnetic pulse beams, sonic blasters, energy bullet rotation shooters and one really mean “electro punch”.  If that isn’t enough fire power to wipe scum off the face of the Earth the suit is also loaded with missile launchers that can fire up to 50,000 (yes 50,000) miles, two automatic mini-guns with armor piercing rounds and highly explosive darts that break down into magnetized penetration missiles. You want armor? The Iron Man suit has mercury coated energy blades and a 360 degree shielding system that is borderline impenetrable. Oh, and if worse comes to worse and Tony has nothing left to fight with the suit has a self-destruct mechanism loaded with explosive charges.

These are two iconic suits of armor but the match-up is easily won by Tony Stark for not only his sleek looking design but its deadly abilities.

Point: + 1 Iron Man

Social Relevance:  When it comes to superheroes in pop culture there are few that have been able to take the next step and transcend into a household name like Batman.  He’s arguably the most popular superhero out there right now and is clearly DC’s golden child, spawning over 5 titles by himself in their new 52 relaunch (while headlining Justice League and making a recurring appearance in 13 of their titles).  He’s also the most successful superhero when it comes to financial and commercial success as the Batman character has starred in 8 feature-length films bringing in upwards of $2.6 billion dollars at the box office.  The Christopher Nolan Batman films are seen as the gold standard of the sub-genre while starting a copycat trend that had some studios trying to emulate the tone and grounded reality of the movies.  At that time it was rare to see a comic book character taken so seriously while still being explored in intricate ways, ending up as a striking and critically acclaimed movie.  Batman has also starred in countless animated films as well as what’s regarded by many as the most successful comic book show of all-time with “Batman: The Animated Series”.  When it comes down to finding out why Batman is so popular, well, that’s an entirely different and subjective story.  In my opinion it’s because he’s able to crack the demographic of not only comic-book readers but everyday people as well.  We all have fears in life regardless of what they might be or how largely they loom over us, and Batman is someone that harnesses that fear and uses it as a weapon to conquer evil.  He was abandoned at a young age and had to cope with death and depression, something that most people can also relate with.  When you couple that with the “cool factor” and originality of his missions, villains and ingenious comic titles you have a superhero that becomes an icon and a symbol for something more than just a comic character.

Going from one popular and iconic superhero to another, Iron Man has become the face of Marvel comics to the general public.  He was always a generally well-known hero that had glimpses of crossover popularity from the comics and animated series but it wasn’t until 2008’s Iron Man film that he broke down that barrier and became a household name.  Robert Downey Jr.s’ electric, witty and energized personality matched the large than life persona of Tony Stark perfectly and he delivered one of the greatest performances in comic-book history.  The film was a critical and commercial hit that spawned 2 sequels as well as the movie that spear-headed Marvel’s “Phase One” in “The Avengers Initiative”.  In order to pull off a massive crossover world that could translate from the comics to the big screen they needed an A-list hero with an A-list performance and RDJ and company did just that.  Tony Stark turned into a worldwide sex symbol overnight and Iron Man merchandise starting flying off the shelves.  Kids were parading around in Iron Man costumes during Halloween while fans were running to the stores to read more and more of the character’s published work.  His breakthrough into a pop culture icon is one that has immobilized staying power, and the character will only get more popular with the increasing success of the movies, video games, and comic books.  Iron Man is another hero that resonates with most people because Tony conquered his demons, battled through alcoholism and depression and decided to better himself and stand up to merciless evil.

At the end of the day these heroes were evenly matched in a lot of categories but when it comes to who’s the most socially relevant and known throughout not only the comic book world but the mainstream media, it has to go to Batman.

Point:  +1 Batman

Winner:  Batman

So what did you think of the match-up? Could it go either way? Would you see categories differently? Let us know below!