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Superhero bracket

Superhero Showdown: Round One

On Monday, April 14, teens gathered for the Superhero Showdown, a debate-style program in which comic book characters from the DC and Marvel franchises are pitted against each other to determine who would win in a one-on-one fight to the finish (defined as knockout, death, or forfeit). Each matchup takes place in the scenario that both heroes see each other at the same time across a generic, empty New York City block, equipped only with what they would normally have for a day of vigilantism.

Teens debated against their peers, with more weight given to arguments that came from comics citations. Participants were free to invent reasons why either side would win, but could also appeal to the library staff to request a fact check.

The matchups below represent the first round of fights. Certain popular heroes such as Superman, Thor, Green Lantern, Phoenix, and several telepaths were purposely left out of the bracket, as some characters and their superpowers would present too many one-sided scenarios.

Captain America vs Batman

Captain America (Steve Rogers)’s speed and strength cannot be denied, but neither can Batman (Bruce Wayne)’s array of gadgets, ninja training, and martial arts skills. The Cap was characterized as more of a bull, a singular force that can throw a punch and bounce his shield off of people really hard. Batman, on the other hand, knows how to target pressure points and distract his opponent, likely removing Cap's shield in the process. His intellect and anything-to-win ethos were argued as superior to Captain’s military tactics and sense of honor.

Green Arrow vs Hawkeye

This was a total toss-up for the group, as both competitors can be summarized as “really good archers.” While both heroes are known for a variety of arrows, favor went to Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) for having “an arrow for every situation” and combat and survival skills tied to his experience stranded on an island. Sorry, Hawkeye (Clint Barton), but not even Avengers membership was able to help out here.

Deathstroke vs Deadpool

Two mercenaries for hire, both specially trained, equipped, and skilled with an array of guns and blades, and extensively experienced with fighting superpowered foes. Deadpool (Wade Wilson) defeated most of the Marvel universe in his own book, and Deathstroke (Slade Wilson) disabled the Justice League in another. Deathstroke has superior mental ability, and Deadpool is mentally unhinged. In addition, both opponents are the least like superheroes on this bracket, and are more like ruthless anti-heroes. This is a total draw, right? Except Deadpool has a healing factor where Deathstroke would eventually bleed out, and Deathstroke’s repeated losses to the Teen Titans did not help his reputation with teens.

Mr. Fantastic vs Iron Man

Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), leader of the Fantastic Four, is generally acknowledged as the smartest man in the Marvel universe, rivaled by only a few others, including Iron Man (Tony Stark). Mr. Fantastic’s elastic body and honed scientific mind would likely outperform Stark in a laboratory or classroom. On a battlefield, Iron Man’s abilities are far more military in purpose, including the ability to summon a fleet of automated suits of armor as backup.

Wolverine vs She-Hulk

Wolverine (James “Logan” Howlett) seemed like the easy choice at first, with his unbreakable adamantium claws and skeleton, as well as a superhuman healing factor. However, once She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters)’s advantages were counted up, she took the round. Her superior intelligence, strength, and agility, as well as the precedent that Wolverine has been pummeled by a Hulk on several occasions, convinced the crowd that she would smash the puny Canadian, whether up close or by knocking a building over.

Raven vs The Flash

This matchup rewards the most creative arguments, as it is essentially “shadow magic versus super science.” Raven (alias Rachel Roth) can form a psychic shield over herself, but can it stop a punch of near-infinite energy? Flash (Barry Allen) is fast, but can he outrun his shadow? The match went to Flash for the fact that Raven’s spells would require her to recognize Flash and cast the spell, requiring precious seconds that Flash would use to close the gap and knock her out.

Storm vs Wonder Woman

In each superhero showdown, but especially here, continuity matters. Comic book characters are rebooted, relaunched, and reinvented all the time – Batman used to carry a gun, after all. In this matchup, everything hinges on how powerful Storm (Ororo Monroe) and Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) are. Can Storm toss lightning bolts at will? Can Wonder Woman fly, and if so, which of them flies faster? In the end, Wonder Woman was granted her flight, sword, shield, and unbreakable lasso of truth, but it was her divine resistance to harm (even against lightning on her metal wristbands) that gave her the edge over Storm’s elemental powers.

Hawkgirl vs Spider-Man

The initial argument here was that Spider-Man (Peter Parker)’s webbing would immediately tangle Hawkgirl (Shiera Sanders)’s wings and render her helpless, except her powers come from her Nth-metal belt and mace. Spider-Man was then acknowledged as regularly beating flying villains, including removing any necessary belts/masks/gloves to do so. Hawkgirl was given credit as only having to hit Spider-Man once with her mace to end the fight, but his supernatural spider-sense reflexes sealed the deal.

Tune in next time for round two of the bracket, including the final showdown. Read more about the characters mentioned here in the titles listed below, and feel free to comment with how you would have judged each matchup.


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