"Batman always wins. Why? Because... he's Batman."
That's an on-going joke surrounding the character, but I thought I'd take it a step further and have some fun with the statement. "Does Batman always win?" will hopefully be a monthly feature where I'll pit Batman in close match ups, weigh the advantages of each combatant, and then declare a winner (just like I did with Movie Dredd vs Movie Batman). The battle will always be standard comic book versions with their standard gear and it will take place in a neutral setting: a traditional and unpopulated city block at night. This will be a random encounter with ample starting distance. That means there's no prep!
Why Batman? Batman is simply a human at the end of the day, and that makes his accomplishments that much more impressive. Not only is Batman one of the most well known comic book characters around, he also demands your respect as a combatant. Even if you don't like him, you still have to admire the fact that he's extraordinary skilled, brilliant and has a huge array of equipment packed away in that belt of his. He can hang with some of the best and most dangerous street level characters around, and since that's the level I'm the most knowledgeable on, I'm excited for many of the matches I have in store for all of you (I'm welcome to suggestions, too!).
I present to you my first "Does Batman always win?" segment: Batman vs Captain America. Both are accomplished tacticians and highly talented combatants, but they each bring drastically different advantages to the table. They've faced before in non-canon crossovers and both times they were pretty evenly matched. Do I agree with that or do I think one should clearly be the victor? Read on to find out!
Captain America's advantages
Bruce Wayne has reached peak human condition with years of dedicated training. He was chopping through bricks and kicking down trees at just 25 years-old, but despite being beyond what any real-life human is capable of, Captain America is still his physical superior. Thanks to the Super-Soldier Serum, Captain America is technically defined as enhanced human and this provides him with strength, speed and endurance above The Dark Knight.
Captain America has been seen bench pressing 1,100 lbs and is capable of running a mile in just over a minute. While top running speed isn't the most critical factor, it still plays a role and proves that given the opportunity, Steve Rogers can absolutely keep pace with Bruce Wayne. In fights, strength is always a big factor. It means strikes can be more powerful and he can overcome in the event of a grapple. And with endurance, it obviously means the Super-Soldier won't fatigue as quickly as Wayne. That's not to discredit Wayne in that regard, of course. The events of 'Knightfall' prove Wayne can push his body to absurd limits, but Captain America simply has the unfair advantage of the SSS.
On top of being physically superior, Captain America has the perfect offensive/defensive weapon at his disposal: a virtually unbreakable shield. In Cap's hands, the shield is a colorful weapon worthy of your fear. Not only can he wield it incredibly well when it comes to striking his opponent in close combat, but he can also throw it with a ridiculous amount of accuracy (he's managed to turn off a lighter on the floor), has the technical mind needed to calculate amazing ricochet shots, and can use it to block a majority of incoming attacks. To me, ricochet shots are quite a wildcard worth taking into account here. The disc to the back of the head or torso is sure to throw someone (yes, even Batman) off their game.
Additionally, Captain America has made the claim that he can simply "see faster" than regular humans, and that grants him the reflexes to use the weapon with incredibly efficiency when it comes to defensive measures. That's going to be key here considering Batman has the edge in hand-to-hand capabilities.
Naturally, Captain America has some experience facing characters similar to Batman. He's had a few fights with Daredevil (though most have had significant factors) and had no real trouble holding his own (in all of them except for the recent one in Waid's DD), taken down Taskmaster, has proven to be roughly equal to Black Panther, and had a close encounter with classic Iron Fist.
While Captain America has Batman outclassed physically and has one incredibly resourceful weapon, Bruce Wayne has some praise worthy advantages of his own. First and foremost, Batman is more skilled than Captain America. Rogers is very talented in his own right (once claimed to be adept at every style), but Batman has a level of skill that few street levelers can compete with. Somehow through years of extensive studying, his Bat brain has "perfected every known fighting discipline." (JLA: The Ultimate Guide to the Justice League of America). Not only is he more talented than Rogers in unarmed combat,but Dick Grayson has also made the claim that Wayne knows every single pressure point -- and we've seen Wayne disable foes with nerve strikes quite a few times before.
But, this isn't unarmed combat. Captain America has his shield and luckily for Batman, he has a wealthy amount of weaponry at his disposal. While Captain America has just one weapon (albeit an impressive one), The Dark Knight has variety on his side. America's super soldier has no counter for a cryo pellet, various gases, smoke pellets, light explosives and electric attacks. That's barely even scratching the surface of what Wayne can implement in combat, too.
Smoke pellets can further compliment Batman's already beyond impressive stealth capabilities as well. Batman has flawlessly vanished while he was right in the target's line of sight. To me, this totally defies logic, but it's a consistent feat in his career and therefore something he can do on a regular basis. If needed, Batman can use this environment to his advantage with proper use of his smoke pellets and grappling line. From there, it's a game of ninja cat versus steroids cat. Batman can regain the edge thanks to his stealth, but at the same rate, there's no guarantee the strike will be a critical game changer.
Batman has an extensive history of fighting characters physically superior to him. Deathstroke would be a prime example of this (since he's also enhanced). While Deathstroke has made short work of him, it's worth noting that Batman didn't implement his gear and Slade Wilson is, as he bluntly stated himself, more vicious and trained to kill. While Rogers has no problem crossing that line when required, it's not in character for him to be that aggressive in this encounter. Then there's Bane, a man of course less powerful than Captain America (off venom since that's how a majority of their fights went down), but still Batman has been able to overcome him thanks to his greater talent in martial arts.
Of course these characters fluctuate from writer to writer, but I believe that written to their full potential and thrown into this scenario, the outcome would be a stalemate. To think either has a blatant advantage to make the outcome obvious is simply false to me. Both bring valuable aspects to the table and it's completely logical to see either taking it. While Batman has the edge in skill, it by no means renders him untouchable to Cap, and one clean connect from his enhanced level strength or shield (be it a strike or ricochet) holds the potential to turn the tide. Meanwhile, Batman's stealth abilities and massive array of equipment that Cap has no immediate counter for are equally big wild cards to me. I legitimately believe it's entirely conceivable for either to be the victor in this case.
G-Man's thoughts"I would say, even though Batman is supposed to win, you could expect Cap to win. ESPECIALLY because of The New 52. It just seems Cap has way more experience taking on a large variety of threats with many on a galactic level.
Batman, we have to assume, hasn't dealt with too many foes outside of his rogues gallery. Yes he fought Darkseid in JUSTICE LEAGUE 1-6 but what other huge threats did he face? Has he lead the JL on many missions or other teams? Cap has more experience and is prepared to go up against foes like Ultron, Kang the Conqueror and even Galactus. There's always the infamous "prep" time but unless Batman defeats him quickly, Cap would have the skills to keep dodging his attacks and the stamina to outlast Batman."
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. If this feature does well, expect another one next month! Be sure to follow him on Twitter for early spoilers every week about Rants & Raves and Best Battles!