Who is the Better Superhero? Batman or Iron Man
The genre of depressed billionaire playboy genius philanthropist orphans, who masquerade as superheroes despite having no superpowers of their own, is not a terribly crowded one. There are only two to speak of: Bruce Wayne’s Batman, and Tony Stark’s Iron Man. While they have a lot in common (right down to both having a loyal butler as a best friend and confidant,) there’s also a lot to differentiate the two. So who better exemplifies what it means to be a hero? If some psychopathic weirdo was threatening your city with destruction, which of these two would you rather have on your side?
Batman, not being an invincible force like Iron Man, has to rely on other things besides armor and punching people. Namely, he’s a brilliant scientist and detective, in addition to being good with technology. In addition, he’s a teetotaler with no drug or alcohol addictions, has trained and worked his body to peak physical condition, is adept in many forms of ninjitsu and martial arts, and can fight bad guys just as easily without the Batsuit as he can with it. Batman vs. Iron Man may be a debatable battle, but Bruce Wayne vs. Tony Stark would likely be far more one-sided.
In addition, Batman, despite being gruff and tough, has a very high moral ground. All of his Robins have been orphans, just like he, who he takes in and basically becomes a father figure for. He’s had many women, but each one has been a legitimate lover, even the ones with villainous backgrounds, like Catwoman and Talia al-Ghul. He doesn’t regard them as mere conquests, as Stark usually does.
This moral backbone has aided Batman in appealing to the younger demographic in ways Iron Man never could. As Adam West proved almost 50 years ago, the character, both in Batman and Bruce form, is very capable of being cast in a bright, silly, kid-friendly light, while still being a believable superhero.
Tony Stark himself doesn’t bring much to the table. He’s an average-sized industrialist, with no superpowers and a severe drinking problem. However, when he straps on his Iron Man suit, he becomes nigh-invincible, with countless weapons at his disposal, a built-in computer navigation system that’s light-years beyond any GPS on the market, and the ability to fly at incredibly fast speeds. It takes a lot to harm the Iron Man armor and, even when somebody does, Stark himself is usually physically unharmed.
Also, Iron Man fights evil virtually alone. He has no plucky young sidekick, and only works with the Avengers when he feels like it. When Stark relapses into alcoholism, his friend, James Rhodes, will assume the Iron Man mantle, but quickly hands it back once Stark recovers. When fighting crime as War Machine, Rhodes is more of an equal (not to mention occasional rival) than a true sidekick.
Iron Man is so powerful and dominant, in fact, that he overshadows the villains in his story. Despite fighting many different forces of evil, a casual observer would be hard-pressed to name any of them. With the exception of Dr. Doom, the mainstream star of Iron Man is unquestionably Iron Man, and the rogue’s gallery he does battle with is mere window dressing.
While Bruce Wayne could destroy Tony Stark, Batman is far more vulnerable than Iron Man. The Batsuit is very formidable armor, but not at all invincible. It’s basically a bullet-proof bodysuit, which helps tons, but not always. Bruce has been hurt significantly over the years while fighting crime, including the iconic scene where Bane beats him to a pulp, lifts him over his head, and slams him down on his knee, breaking Bruce’s back and coming within inches of paralyzing him for life.
To that end, and despite his reputation as the ultimate loner, Batman has employed many sidekicks over the years. To date, he has hired four Robins, at least a half-dozen Batgirls, and has recruited several different people as replacement Batmen whenever he could not continue due to injury. For a guy who supposedly does his best work as a solo creature of the night, he sure employs a lot of outside help.
Finally, despite Batman’s dominance and popularity, he’s often upstaged by the very same villains that he’s constantly fighting. Unlike Iron Man, who is clearly the #1 guy in his universe, Batman has to share the spotlight with a slew of characters who are just as recognizable to the casual fan as he is. The Joker, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Penguin, and so many more are all iconic characters with memorable, over-the-top personalities; many of them have received their own comic series as a result. Batman, for all he’s accomplished, would be hard-pressed to maintain his popularity without them.
The biggest problem with Iron Man is that, for a hero, he’s rarely a good guy. Tony Stark has little to no moral compass. He may not kill, but he’s a drunk, a shameless womanizer, incredibly selfish, and borderline-suicidal at times. The amount of times he’s felt the need to sacrifice himself to solve a problem that probably didn’t require a sacrifice is mind-boggling. Clearly, he handled the death of his parents, who were killed in a plane crash far away from him, far worse than Bruce Wayne did, and his parents were murdered right in front of him.
As such, the Iron Man character is very hard to reinvent for kids. Any attempt at an Iron Man cartoon has focused almost entirely on him fighting bad guys, with very little characterization or personality for Stark besides “guy in the Iron Man suit.” His dark, barely-redeemable personality just does not translate to silly kids’ TV in any way, shape, or form.
To add to the Stark criticism: without the suit, he’s nothing. Tony Stark is just a regular guy, with no muscle-mass to speak of, little training in any form of fighting arts, and a severe lack of self-discipline. Plus, due to an injury suffered in Vietnam, he can only breathe with the help of a special apparatus that charges up the electronic plate inserted near his heart. He literally needs advanced technology to survive, which made his decision to reveal his secret identity to the entire world all the more baffling.
As you can see, even though Batman and Iron Man have a lot in common, they’re also very different. Iron Man is a tale of a broken, deeply-flawed man who dons a suit of near-indestructible armor that basically makes him Superman. Batman is the story of a man who, while definitely battling his demons, has managed to overcome them in ways Iron Man never has. However, his suit is very much vulnerable, and only works because of the discipline and training of the man inside. In short, Iron Man could toss Tony Stark aside and stand on its own if it were a sentient being, but Batman needs Bruce Wayne to succeed.
Which hero speaks to you the most, Tony or Bruce? Your vote and comment will help determine which man is the hero we deserve, and quite possibly the one we need as well.