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Better Superhero? Batman vs. Iron Man

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?

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Batman

the-dark-knight-rises-batman

PROS:

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.

Iron Man

ironman

PROS:

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.

CONS:

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.

CONS:

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.

And Finally…

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.


Sources:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_man
  3. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/BatmanRoguesGallery
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_(comics)
  5. http://marvel.com/universe/Rhodes,_James
  6. http://www.avclub.com/articles/10-episodes-that-find-the-60s-batman-at-its-campy,84592/
  7. http://ironman.wikia.com/wiki/Tony_Stark_(Iron_Man)#2000s

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13 Comments

  1. brandon February 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    iron man

  2. Spencer Hoffman April 25, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    batman, bitches!

  3. Kyle Cabahug June 5, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Batman has this, Hands down Tony, you don’t know nothing.

  4. Brandon Manley June 16, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    What he forgot to point out above is that while tony does have his problems he is still a genius that graduated from MIT at 16. A genius that designed and built all of his weapons and armor whereas bruce outsourced and tweaked components to make his weapons and armor. I’m not saying Bruce isn’t a genius as well, but he is nowhere near as intelligent as Tony. Because of this intelligence he spent his money designing and building impossibly strong suits instead of on the idiotic looking batmobile, Bruce’s (much cooler looking) jet, (still a jet), a speedboat, batbike, etc… All of which serve the same function as any one of Iron mans suits. As far as Gadgets go, Iron mans suit cannot be hacked, is not made of magnetic materials, is impervious to EMP, has its own air filtration system, has an incredibly detailed HUD that has night vision, infrared, motion sensors, tactical response initiatives, and many other functions that would serve him well against any gadget batman has on his little belt. Without their suits, batman would win, but without their suits they are not superheroes which makes that point moot. Iron man would kill batman in less than a second from 3 miles a way with a tiny missile while batman is still practicing his stupid mock voice.

  5. The Dark Knight July 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    You know what is the reality? If you know that you can’t compare Iron Man with Batman. In Marvel there is not superhero character created yet who can surpass DC’s Batman and Superman’s legacy,popularity level,reputation. Batman and Superman is in different league. Only who can compare with them with any Marvel superhero characters who don’t know character like Batman and Superman. It is so irritating when people compare with those two legends with weak,pathetic characters like Iron man,Spiderman,Hulk,Thor etc.

    • Kevin Berger August 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm

      You do a superb job of illustrating the problem with fanboys and their opinions. You are not looking at the comparison objectively. Instead, in your own words, you are comparing the “legacy, popularity level, reputation” of the characters. The fact that Superman is the ORIGINAL superhero of the genre, or his and Batman’s popularity are entirely irrelevant.

      If you objectively compare the skills, talents, abilities, etc possessed by Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, Iron Man would undeniably win a fight between the two of them.

      Of course, the story would never be written that way. No, to cater to the fanboys, Bruce would reach into his utility belt and pull out a convenient deux ex machina device that would give him the victory.

      • The Dark Knight August 25, 2014 at 8:03 am

        Iron Man is not smart,dangerous,serious like Batman. Actually DC and Marvel both have their own tone. And both are successful. DC tone is dark,serious,adult. Where Marvel tone is lighter,childish. I like DC tone. Marvel always to me only money. I can’t find there quality. In comics DC’s TDKR one side. And all Marvel comic books one side. Can’t surpass the TDKR legacy,influence. For under 18,immature mature persons Marvel is for. Not for mature peoples.

        • Kevin Berger August 27, 2014 at 1:20 am

          Batman is an inferior superhero because despite the obstinate declarations to the contrary, Batman DOES have a superpowe. Moreover, it is the WORST conceivable power. Batman’s power literally IS deus ex machina.

          No matter what seemingly unsolvable problem he faces, he is suddenly and abruptly able to resolve by the contrived intervention of some object from his utility by which apparently has a limitless capacity. Perhaps, it contains some pocket universe from whence he can acquire absolutely ANYTHING the plot may require. That sure is convenient.

        • Kevin Berger August 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

          First of all, to claim that Marvel’s tone is lighter and childish shows has misinformed you are. Tony Stark has had past encounters with alcholism. That is a mature topic. The X-men titles are heavily steeped in issues of discrimination. That is a mature topic. In the Daredevil comics, there was a story of a character dying of AIDS. That is a mature topic.

          Secondly, to claim that Iron Man is not smart is also disingenuous. Tony Stark is an inventive genius whose expertise in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computer science rivals that of Reed Richards, Hank Pym, and Bruce Banner, and his expertise in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering surpasses even theirs. He is regarded as one of the most intelligent characters in the Marvel Universe. He graduated with advanced degrees in physics and engineering at the age of 17 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)[97] and further developed his knowledge ranging from artificial intelligence to quantum mechanics as time progressed.

          Furthermore, Iron Man is a superior hero to Batman because despite obstinate declarations to the contrary, Batman DOES have a superpower. Moreover, his superpower is by far the worst conceivable power. His superpower literally IS deus ex machina. Regardless of what unsolvable problem is presented to Batman, he can be counted upon to suddenly and abruptly resolve it by producing some contrived device from his utility belt which apparently has a limitless capacity. Perhaps, his utility belt secretly contains some pocket universe from whence he can acquire these convenient items.

          Iron Man, on the other hand, relies on exercising ingenuity in dealing with difficult situations, such as difficult foes and deathtraps, in which he is capable of using available tools, including his suit, in unorthodox but effective ways.
          Finally, claims about Batman defeating Iron Man in battle conveniently discount the facts that while denied use of his armor in the past, Stark received combat training from Captain America. Therefore, while he is certainly not a martial arts master like Bruce Wayne, he is not entirely inept in hand-to-hand combat. More importantly, he also is a brilliant strategist–fully capable of holding his own in a campaign against Captain America (as demonstrated by the Civil War storyline) who is also able to act impulsively…which would make him far less predictable.

          • The Dark Knight August 27, 2014 at 7:49 pm

            Batman and Superman belong in top two position in superhero category. From 75 years. iron Man not even come in top ten in superhero category. At least not in top five. There is a difference. Comparing Batman with Iroon Man like comparing Marlon Brando with Vin Diesel.

  6. Kevin Berger August 24, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    If the question is “who is the better hero,” then the obvious answer is Batman. He possesses a nobility that is absent in Iron Man. If, however, the question is “who wins a fight between Batman and Iron Man,” Iron Man wins.

    Batman fights almost exclusively in close combat. Iron Man has the advantage in ranged attacks. Therefore, Stark takes Wayne out before he has an attempt to use his martial arts, throw a batarang, or anything else. Plus, whereas Wayne has Lucious Fox create at least SOME of his gear, Stark invents all of his own. Iron Man also has Jarvis to watch his back, and an army of other armors at his disposal. Unfortunately, as resourceful and adept of an strategist as Batman is, how long can he realistically hold off several armors attacking him from a distance simultaneously without invoking some duex ex machina solution from his magic utility belt?

  7. Guy October 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Well, bat man’s suit also has other functions, (Night vision,etc.) so he doesn’t have to rely on his utility belt ALL the time. Also, Batman CAN attack from a ranged position. Remember all his vehicles(Batmobile), explosives, and other gadgets? Also, when did it say that the iron man suit is unhackable. It’s a machine. They can be hacked. Even if Batman’s gadgets are hacked or infected, he has his own martial arts. Iron man is DEPENDENT on his technology just to survive, people! Think about that…

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