By MuyJingo 149 Comments
This has been on my mind to write for some time. At least since an article on the site gave had Cap draw with Batman alleging Cap had a physical edge in terms of combat over Batman - something I think is nonsense since Batman would have won had they been rightfully declared equal phsyically. While debating this issue, I learned a lot although my opinion did not waver.
It seems a lot of Cap fans are terribly vocal and tend to cherry-pick a few inconsistent and/or silver age feats to justify this stance, which is why I didn’t feel the argument of Cap being enhanced or greater had much merit. If a modern character is superhuman, there should be a wide array of feats and showings to showcasing this. It shouldn’t be necessary to always go back to the same few sometimes ambiguous feats to make a case.
As such, I thought I would collect those feats and show equivalent Batman feats to disprove this notion. Instead of getting mixed up in labels, it’s easier to show that Steve Rodgers does not surpass (and perhaps even falls behind) the abilities of DC’s most famous peak human by showing them having equivalent feats, although certain vocal Cap fans will try to invalidate them in hilarious ways.
Firstly though, there are two important points that need to be clarified. Two points that Captain America fans often argue to support their view, neither with any merit. The first is to do with the meaning behind “peak of human potential” while the second is related to misinterpreting “next step in human evolution”.
Let’s examine the first point. Steve has often been described as “being enhanced to the peak of human potential”. This is often misinterpreted to mean that Steve is enhanced to the point of being equal to what humans will one day evolve to. I will address that more in the next paragraph, suffice to say that interpretation is incorrect. The peak of human potential refers to what a current human; a Homo Sapiens Sapien in Marvel terms is capable of achieving today. The unbelievable limit to which they can push their bodies, doing feats no human in the real world could do, surpassing even the best Olympic athletes in the Marvel Universe. That’s what the peak of human potential refers to. A “peak human” in comics generally does things no human could ever do in the real world. Keep in mind also peak refers the highest something can currently be, not the highest it can hypothetically be. Steve is officially listed as Peak Human in his handbook entry.
I know Brubaker allegedly said otherwise…but his take on it isn’t enough to convince me, especially without feats to match.
Now to address “next step in human evolution”; It doesn’t make sense to say that Steve Rodgers is the next step in human evolution, when we already have so many geneses of human in the Marvel Universe: Homo sapiens superior, Homo sapiens mermanus, Homo sapiens inhumanus, Homo sapiens aeternus and Homo sapiens deviare.
Steve Rodgers is still Homo sapiens sapien, i.e. plain old human, exactly like Batman. When he is referred to as being the next step in future evolution there are a few likely explanations. Either the scientist was mistaken or being hyperbolic, or was specifically referring to Steve’s healing factor or running speed, both of which are enhanced. It really doesn’t make sense to consider Steve the next point in human evolution like people try to claim; If Steve was representative of the average human in the future, he wouldn’t be Homo sapiens sapien any longer. Keep in mind, evolve is not synonymous with “improve” – a closer synonym would be adapt. From what I know there are no humans from the future in the Marvel Universe who are even close to Steve’s level naturally.
Now with that out of the way, I will admit straight up that Steve has an enhanced healing factor, enough for him to stay alive while iced, but not enough to heal from serious injuries during combat. He also has an enhanced running speed being listed as able to run at 30mph. Any other claims about how he is enhanced I find suspect and not supported by sufficient evidence. But now comes the fun part, comparing scans.
I don’t know the context for the Captain America scans in this thread; they are what Cap fans supplied to make their case. If he has augmented powers for some reason or the feats are not canon please advise. I would like this blog to be accurate as I think it’s an interesting discussion, as where nothing is gained by “cheating”. For the Batman scans I’m not making a distinction between pre or post New52, as I don’t think that distinction is helpful or relevant as Batman’s physicality did not change with the reboot.
Lastly, the reason I don’t think silver age feats apply is because they don’t have much in common with the current incarnation, even if everything is still technically canon. Current characters don’t tend to be sexist or racist or have as many PIS feats as silver age incarnations. If you can only make the argument by relying on silver age feats, then you should probably reevaluate your stance.
So, the scans. Let’s first do it by category. First up, Strength:
So let's see what we have.
- Cap throwing a chunk of concrete, which weighs about 150lbs per cubic foot. My guess by looking at the size of the chunk is that it is about 6 cubic feet, so 900 pounds. I would not think that the chunk is pure concrete, but nevertheless an impressive feat.
- Cap using his shield to take out a helicopter. This is more the shield than Cap strength I would think. It certainly doesn't show Cap is stronger than Batman.
- Cap taking off a tank turret with his shield, PIS IMO.
- Cap throwing his shield through a truck. It's a strange angle if he threw it from behind as it seems to be coming down from on high. Either way, impressive, although I feel it is PIS.
- Cap fighting some werewolves. I don't know what this was meant to prove, but I like to be thorough.
IMO 1, 2 and 5 are not overly impressive while I think 3 and 4 are not consistent feats, i.e. PIS.
Anyway, let's see what Batman has.
- We have batman holding up a roof, at least 1000 pounds. This is equivalent to the scan of Cap holding up some debris from a demolished skyscraper.
- Batman swinging around 600 pound Manbat. This is IMO equivalent to Cap throwing the chunk of concrete.
- Supporting one sarcophagi with his batline while supporting another on his back. That's close to 2000 pounds!
- Bending the barrel of a gun with raw strength
- Lifting a totem pole off his leg. They generally weigh about a tonne.
- Ripping through the metal in a train car to get to the wires.
- Using only strength he forcibly pulls apart a locked trunk sinking under water.
- Holding on to a jet engine nacelle without being sucked in
I honestly don't see how Cap fan's can claim to show Steve is stronger. At the very least, they have equal feats.
I would argue if Batman is strong enough to bend guns, pulls prison bars out of a wall, pull a locked trunk apart etc, he can throw a vibranium shield strong and fast enough to do the things Cap did. In those scans, aside from maybe being PIS, I give more credit to the shield. Has Cap ever done anything similar to what Batman does for his strength feats?
Now for Durability
So here is what we have:
- I don't know why this is first, but it is the second panel showing Cap with a huge wound in his chest
- This shows Cap surviving an explosion. I would give more credit to his shield and armor here
- This shows Gambit charging Cap's armor. I understand this is considered a large PIS moment, since Gambit can charge oragnic matter and Cap should have been dead or thrown much further. Good discussion here.
- Cap using his shield to withstand the flame from a launching rocket. This is a nice feat for the shield....
- First panel showing Cap's chest wound
- The next 3 clips show Cap diving from a plane and crashing onto a badguy, using him to break his fall.
- This shows Cap falling/jumping from an undertermined height and leaving an impact in the ground. Heavy things falling from heights make impacts. Not really impressive.
- Thor smacking Cap through what looks like metal and wood walls.
- Cap landing on a car crushing it. A weight of 250 pounds (113 kilograms) falling from ~100 feet (30 meters) will have a velocity of ~80 feet/s (~25m/s). His impact force in newtons is 33222, which equates to 7468 pounds-force. More than enough to destroy a car as seen in the scan. This site was used.
- Namor throwing Cap into some rocks. Not sure why this is a feat.
- Captain America getting thrown through a thin wooden roof and getting saved by Black Panther
Now for Batman's equivalent feats
- The first 2 scans show Batman getting caught off guard by an explosion, coming out seemingly unscathed and on fire. Pretty equivalent to Cap surviving an explosion I think.
- The next 3 scans also Show Batman getting caught in an explosion and surviving. Also equivalent to the Cap surviving an explosion
- The next 3 scans show Batman going through a brick wall, getting smashed into a sky scraper and then a bell. Pretty durable and more impressive than being thrown through thin wood.
- The next 2 show Batman coming out of an explosion to beat the Joker
- The next 4 show Ra's al Ghul stabbing Bruce in the chest, then Bruce getting back up and continuing to fight. Despite what some posters say, this was not due to the lazarus pits. They were not in the pits, and the fumes of the pits are not enough to heal an injury like that. There is no indication or implication the pits are responsible.
- The last 4 show him getting a beating by Clayface, which should satisfy the beat down by stronger opponent feat.
- Batman surviving in space for 24 seconds. I personally think this is more impressive than anything Steve has been shown to do.
Now a feat from Punisher showing landing and crushing a car is not that impressive, even if done with less style:
Finally Speed and Agility
- So here we have Cap swinging around a flagpole and launching up about 12 stories, or about 120 feet. I think PIS as this isn't consistent at all.
- Here he jumps about 20 feet to a helicopter. Estimation based on him being 6ft or taller. Don't know if this is PIS or not.
- Cap falling of a building onto a moving train. Maybe 100 feet.
- This is cap jumping and climbing over a ledge. It doesn't seem very high to me, so not very impressive.
- A silver age scan of Cap jumping and landing a short distance from a hovering plane.
- Captain America saying he "sees faster". Single instance and open to interpretation. Does it mean his eyesight is physically augmented, or merely that he can see things faster than other people due to training and experience? I think the latter.
- The next two are running feats. One from the silver age and one a tribute to the silver age that people try to use to prove Cap can run at 60mph. I won't try to match these as it doesn't matter, since I agree Cap can run at 30mph and Batman can't match that. They are not a good argument to say he can consistently run at 60mph however.
Now for Batman's feats.
- Batman literally deflecting a bullet by punching it. Has Steve done anything close to that?
- Dodging bullets by inches as they come at him, like Neo in the Matrix.
- Freefaling off a tall building without his cable. Shown running in an ally. Possible his cape healped to break his fall.
- The next 8 scans show Bruce and a talon falling about 15 stories. Bruce separates from the Talon and manages to land on a gargoyle, while the talon opens his wingsuit to try and save himself but fails. Also not the car getting crushed by his weight.
- The next 3 scans show him dodging uzi fire at fairly close range and taking out the bad guys.
- The next 2 scans show Batman being thrown out a window and managing to survive. Yes, he uses the canopy to break his fall. It's still impressive.
- The next 2 scans show Batman dodging multiple guns firing at close range and taking out the guys firing.
- Dodging Power Ring blasts
- Catching up to a car responsible for a drive by shooting on foot.
- Jumping a great distance to another roof, crashing through and then avoiding multiple rifles firing at his chest
- Throws his Batarang 100mpg to take out a gunman, then catches a falling baby covering 10 feet in a second.
- Jumping 20 feet from a Bat Blimp to Riddler's baloon.
I think the feats listed shown in this blog should leave no doubt that Captain America does not surpass Batman physically. In a few cases Batman has more impressive feats than Captain America (surviving in space for example). It's sometimes hard to show the same feat for both characters but I think the feats I chose to show are equivalent. In short aside from running speed feats, I think Batman is capable of every feat Captain America has been shown to do. I would not be confident Captain America could do everything Batman was shown to do.
When you eliminate silver age feats, and feats for which Batman is shown to be able to match, there isn't much of an argument for Captain America surpassing Batman physically. Jumping great distances, fighting folks far more powerful than he, taking beatings, being thrown through walls, sustaing crazy damage and continug to fight, dodging bullets...all of this stuff is standard fare for both characters. Not sure why some folk need to try and say otherwise. He certainly has a faster running speed and higher health endurance though, so that's something. Doesn't give him an edge in combat, but it's something.
Lastly, I think some folks might find this video interesting. It shows how a normal human can through experiences be "reinforced" or perhaps "enhanced" if you will.