The new movie is just the latest chapter in the age old battle between rich guys and aliens.
2016 will be a big year for superheroes punching each other, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War hitting theaters just over a month apart. A common comic book trope is that before any two heroes team up for the first time, they have to have a brawl. While earlier Marvel films have planted the seeds for the Cap vs Iron Man showdown in Civil War, the latest Batman v Superman trailer suggests DC’s biggest guns will engage in the age old tradition of fisticuffs before putting aside their differences against a bigger threat.
But if their earlier confrontations in the comics and beyond are any indication, the battle between the invincible sun god and the brooding bat-themed billionaire will be worth the price of admission, even if the contest gets called early on account of Doomsday.
To the uninitiated, Batman v Superman looks pretty one-sided. It’s a guy with no powers fighting a guy with every power. Superman’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor is a billionaire genius, but otherwise normal human, and despite some impressive efforts with countless inventions powered by Kryptonite (a substance which exists specifically to kill Superman), he’s never put the Last Son of Krypton down for good.
Batman is also a billionaire genius with no powers, whose hobbies include developing contingency plans to stop every character, good or evil, in the DC Universe. Lex Luthor and Batman are on par when it comes to resources and brains, but Lex’s judgment is often clouded by his obsession with Superman. Batman is more pragmatic, and while he’s arguably as obsessive as Lex, he’s better at channeling that obsessiveness. That’s how Batman avoids being laser-visioned into brooding pieces at the opening bell.
So how have the various Batman v Superman throwdowns gone through the years? And how might they tell us what’s going to happen in the big screen blockbuster? It’s Batman v Superman. So who wins?
#5 – The Dark Knight Returns
Probably the best known fight between the two and the one Dawn of Justice looks to be borrowing most directly from. The Dark Knight Returns pitted an aging Batman against a Superman taking orders directly from a Ronald Reagan stand-in. Following the detonation of a nuclear missile and an electromagnetic pulse that blacked out a large chunk of America, Gotham City is under martial law. Batman and Robin keep the city in order by enlisting the help of reformed gang members and use their new army to distribute supplies to the citizens. Superman shows up on behalf of the president to have a talk, as Batman’s ability to keep Gotham in order makes the government look incompetent. Batman shows up to the fight in a suit of armor, similar to the power suit in the trailers of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, knowing Superman has already been weakened by the earlier nuclear blast. Robin, Alfred, and Green Arrow all run interference as well, with Batman’s armor and superior fighting skills allowing him to get the edge.
The plan is carefully orchestrated by Batman. Along with the armor and help from his allies, he takes advantage of Superman’s weakened state and attempt to talk things out. A Kryptonite arrow (courtesy of Green Arrow, naturally) appears to be the deciding factor, finally injuring Superman enough to put him down. The Dark Knight has the fight won.
Until he pretends to have a heart attack. Knowing that the government will only send more agents if Superman fails, Batman chooses to fake his own death and disappear, masterminding an army to protect Gotham from the Batcave while he spends the rest of his life in hiding. At Bruce Wayne’s funeral, Superman picks up a heartbeat with his enhanced hearing, but keeps Batman’s survival a secret and leaves Gotham to his protection. The fight is technically a draw, but Batman proves he is capable of pushing Superman to the absolute limit.