Superhero geeks need not fear, this column will contain no spoilers.
In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the world’s two most famous caped crime fighters throw down, wrestling literally and figuratively to determine what kind of hero is best suited to serve the world’s needs.
The story picks up after the action in Man of Steel, which saw Superman (the square-jawed Henry Cavill) protect the planet by destroying half of Metropolis in an epic battle with the evil General Zod (Michael Shannon).
Batman (Ben Affleck), unimpressed with the collateral damage, joins the contingent of folks who see the Last Son of Krypton not as a champion but an alien threat. A battle ensues.
Who will win? Other than Kryptonite, Superman has no known weaknesses, so this would seem like a fairly one-sided fight, but Batman has skills as well, so who knows?
To get to the bottom of the matter I held a highly unscientific Facebook Batman v Superman poll to determine a winner. It drew mixed results.
“Brains over brawn,” wrote one FB friend, “Batman for the win!”
“Superman could basically fly down at super speed striking Batman before he could even sense he was coming and turn the Bat into vapour,” wrote a Superman fan.
Another wasn’t so sure. “Both seem to wear their underwear over their pants… it is a tough call.” Whatever the outcome, expect a wild showdown. But that’s on screen. It’s make-believe. What about Reel Life v Real Life?
The Caped Crusader and Supes have been duking it out for decades at the box office but Batman, specifically the Christian Bale era, comes out on top. The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight KO the competition, with the 1978 Superman, the first Tim Burton Batman and the recent Man of Steel rounding out the top five.
Batman also brings in the lion’s share of the marketing money. According to comicbookmovie.com Batman sells almost two-to-one to Superman products.
That means more parents dress their kids as Batman than Superman at Halloween and that includes Ben Affleck and Christian Bale who met at a costume store last year as they shopped for Batman outfits for their kids.
What about prestige? Again Batman is victorious, with three Academy Award winners — Affleck, Bale and George Clooney — playing the Bat at one time or another.
As for the Metropolis Marvel, Oscar winners Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood both turned down the role as did best actor nominee James Caan who said, “There’s no way I’m wearing that silly suit.” Oscar winner Nic Cage wore the suit but his Superman story never made it before the cameras.
So far my Reel Life v Real Life look at Batman v Superman favours the Dark Knight, but Clark Kent’s alter ego is still a formidable foe.
Keep in mind, without Superman there may never have been a Batman.
Predating the Caped Crusader, the Man of Steel is a pioneer whose popularity helped create the superhero genre. Since then he’s been ubiquitous, inspiring an American Sign Language symbol, movie serials, TV shows, comic strips, pop songs — (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman by The Kinks among many others — and even a Broadway musical called It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman.
Finally, as one of my Facebook friends pointed out, Superman has at least one insurmountable advantage over Batman: “If Superman loses the fight he can fly back in time to fight again.”