Five Reasons To: Knock it Off with the Superhero Fan Battles

As a preface, we’ve all been there and done that. Even Russell has engaged in his fair share of these debates but has chosen to back away from them entirely. Many things in geekdom lead to Twitter battles, hurt feelings, screaming matches, snide remarks and “geek shaming” (lambasting someone for not having the same knowledge of a character you have), but none so much as the inane “vs.” questions. Some might be able to keep their discussions light and fun, but many more serve only to be childish attempts at pissing someone off or desperately trying to get attention by starting a fight. And it’s not just fans that should stop; it’s the comic publishers, too. No more hero vs. hero trope! We get it, people like some heroes more than another, but having one beat the other down only serves to invalidate, not build up. And shouldn’t the good guys work together? Maybe? Can we try that?

How flimsy, arbitrary rules and fanboy pandering make for bad storytelling.
How flimsy, arbitrary rules and fanboy pandering make for bad storytelling.

5. There’s no way to apply any logical argument. Think about it, all these characters come from vastly different universes where their creators use different sets of rules for their characters every time, thus rendering any sort of fair battle moot. You can’t have a fight unless you have clearly established rules and there’s no way to get both sides to agree on this as their fandom is going to determine the outcome. Which brings up…

4. It’s like determining a boxing match based on votes. Imagine you’ve paid top dollar to see the title fight of the century. The two biggest names ever in the history of the sport are going at it to truly determine who’s the best, but there’s a catch: it’s not the actual fight that determines it, it’s the votes of a select few who knew the match was going to take place ahead of time. Not only did they not really give you a say in the matter, but you’re expected to take the outcome based on somebody else’s opinion and not an actual fight. A better way to put it might be that at some point during the match, one of the fighters must take a dive and throw the match. But, there can never be an actual fight because…

See? It's possible to tell compelling stories of cooperation, too.
See? It’s possible to tell compelling stories of cooperation, too.

3. These characters don’t actually exist. People love to root for their favorite heroes and there’s no group more passionate about that than comic book fans. They love to see their hero take down the seemingly unstoppable bad guy, but then the unthinkable happens…somebody starts cheering for a character they don’t like or saying their favorite hero is dumb because they like one comic company over another. Then it’s the endless debate about who could kick whose ass, which of course can’t be determined…ever…because neither of them is real. But don’t tell the fanboys that, because if there’s one thing they love doing it’s arguing over inane details. And let’s not even get into which version of each character is going to be in these supposed fights because…

2. They go on and on forever. If any of these debates were winnable by either side, they would have been over a long time ago and the rest of us would be saved from hearing the useless stream of bullshit coming from those who clearly think they’re giving us food for thought. It’s not fun, it’s baiting. It’s attempting to start an unending argument, likely for the sheer pleasure it brings you to see other people fighting. These stereotypical trolls are like the kid on the school yard who knows there’s tension between two other kids and eggs on the fight without getting involved him/herself. As the fight rages and nothing is ever solved, this snot-nosed turd burglar is laughing his ass off at how easily manipulated these two idiots were. In the grand scheme, if these battles were actually to take place on the comic book page, that kid egging on the fight would be a comic book publisher and in the end…

Too much cooperation! Too much cooperation!
Too much cooperation! Too much cooperation!

1. Only the comic book publishers can ever win. Years ago, Marvel and DC got together and, through fan voting (see #4), they set about having superhero fights between some of their biggest characters. Superman fought Hulk, Batman fought Captain America, Wonder Woman battled Storm and Wolverine took down Lobo…off panel and we have no idea to this day how it was actually accomplished. Marvel received more votes and thus won three out of the five fights, but what does that really tell you? Does it say that Marvel is superior to DC Comics? If it does, you’re not seeing the big picture. Marvel fans skew younger and thus are likely to be more tech-savvy and passionate about winning an arbitrary fight. DC fans are older, used to their favorites being called inferior and could likely care less about some generic crossover that will ultimately solve nothing. But in this rare instance of cooperation between the comic industries biggest rivals, they both came out with big profits because fans just had to buy into this crap. Most of the fans who would have gravitated to this would have likely been the casual reader who probably only visits his or her local comic shop when something huge happens. Everyone else was just bored by the idea and tried to ignore it, even when it wound up being the catalyst for the Amalgam universe…which also didn’t last very long. And nobody is impressed by your knowledge (or likely lack thereof) of certain characters. Just starting one of these debates in a local comic shop is borderline grounds for expulsion at worst and severe derision at best. In the end, it’s a glorified pissing contest that only serves to leave both sides smelling terrible as their streams are always pointed into the wind.

Author: Russell Sellers

Comic book geek extraordinaire, Russell Sellers enjoys enthusiastic conversations about all things geek. He also traffics in ill-timed puns and random obscure Ghostbusters quotes. Send Russell an email