Character Cage Match: The Avengers vs. the Justice League
Posted 01.10.13 by Ryan
Last year's mega-hit The Avengers was, in some ways, the catalyst behind the spate of comic book movies created by Marvel Studios, who struck gold with 2008's Iron Man, which teased at a superhero team-up movie to come. After finding that success, Marvel followed by introducing more individual superheroes in 2008's The Incredible Hulk, 2010's Iron Man 2, and last year's Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, embarking on an unusual strategy of creating individual movies that also worked a little bit like sequels that fed into the story of The Avengers.
The Avengers 2 will arrive in 2015 and cap off a second phase of Marvel's "cinematic universe," and will face competition from what Warner Bros.and DC Entertainment hopes will be the start of their "cinematic universe," starting with 2015's Justice League. Gangster Squad screenwriter Will Beall has already been hired to write the screenplay for the movie which will follow (if recent rumors are true) an unsurprising lineup that includes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. With the release dates being so close together, we wondered which team could take down the other, and, since there will never be a movie where the two teams face off, there's only one way to solve this hypothetical dilemma: the cybernetic walls of our Character Cage Match!
The Rules: While we can assume that the Avengers lineup will include the usual suspects of Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, writer-director Joss Whedon has strongly hinted that the lineup might change a little. "I used to read The Avengers and part of the ethos of the team was that it changed their lineup every month," said Whedon at a special Avengers screening at the Director's Guild of America last month. "They were already changing it up after one issue. That's what they always do."
Despite Whedon's tease, there are too many characters arriving in Marvel's next wave of movies to know who might be added. The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) will arrive in 2014's Captain America: Winter Soldier, while either War Machine (Don Cheadle) or whoever stars in Marvel's other 2015 release, Ant-Man, could get involved as well. Since there's no way to be sure of who Whedon will add, we'll stick to the original Avengers lineup, while we assume that the supposed Justice League lineup will ring true as well (and anyone that has ever read a Justice League comic book would assume that the rumored lineup sounds right).
Match #1: Captain America (Chris Evans) vs. Batman
Captain America Analysis: In the battle between team leaders, who better than Captain America to tackle the Dark Knight? America's Super Soldier possesses heightened strength, agility, speed and endurance and won't be intimidated easily by someone dressing up like a Bat. Cap's shield offers protection from Batman's many gadgets and is a handy throwing weapon to boot, but should Batman step into one of his many vehicles, Cap could be in for a long fight.
Batman Analysis: There's no question that Batman, despite not having any superpowers, is a force to be reckoned with. The question is, since Justice League follows the events of last year's The Dark Knight Rises, which Batman is going to show up? Will it be Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale won't be back for a fourth time), who dedicated his life to protecting Gotham, or will it be John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the idealistic Gotham city police officer who inherits the Dark Knight mantle from Wayne? According to HitFix, Gordon-Levitt will "absolutely" be playing Batman in Justice League, despite the actor's reps denying the report. There's been no confirmation of Gordon-Levitt's participation, though the actor recently made it clear that he will not appear in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy despite studio interest, so feel free to make of that what you will.
Batman would be a handful for almost anybody, but the odds might be stacked in the other direction if Bruce Wayne has truly retired. Blake's Batman might be a tough customer, but could be outmatched against a Super Soldier.
Match #2: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) vs. Green Lantern
Iron Man Analysis: Considering how well Tony Stark trusted his own tech against Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in The Avengers, it's seems that an intergalactic space cop probably won't keep billionaire playboy philanthropist up at night. Iron Man's armor can't become anything that he imagines in the moment, but, given a little time, there seems to be no limit on what Stark can add to the armor. While we're not sure how the fight would have ended up, Iron Man was holding his own against Thor in The Avengers, which means, at the very least, that he's not outmatched here.
Green Lantern Analysis: According to the rumors, Justice League's Green Lantern will be Ryan Reynolds' character of Hal Jordan that appeared in 2011's Green Lantern, but will be "freshly written with a more serious tone." Like Gordon-Levitt, Reynolds' participation is also up in the air, as the actor has cast serious doubt over whether he would return for Justice League. Even if Reynolds does return, it would appear that he won't be a fountain of wisecracks like he was in the Green Lantern movie, which is too bad since that was one of the few enjoyable aspects of the comic book adaptation.
Whoever plays the character, Green Lantern will still be drawing his power from his ring, which can conjure whatever comes to the wearer's imagination, whether it's a force field, energy blasts, a giant green fist, etc. The ring is susceptible to the color yellow, which could be to Iron Man's advantage if he decides to use an early version of his armor.
Match #3: The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) vs. Superman (Henry Cavill)
The Hulk Analysis: Only one member of the Avengers could go up against the Last Son of Krypton and that's the mindless rage that is the Hulk. Seemingly indestructible, only the Hulk could have the might and force to throw Superman around. After all, the Hulk did just fine introducing a Norse god to the floor of Tony Stark's penthouse in The Avengers.
What seems to stop the Hulk is being overwhelmed, or falling from a great distance so as to knock out the Hulk persona and change him back into Dr. Bruce Banner. Superman may not be able to overwhelm him, but could conceivably fly the Hulk into space and then throw him back down to the Earth. That is, if the Hulk hasn't strangled him already.
Superman Analysis: If the rumors are correct, Cavill's Superman will be back for Justice League, which could be good news if Man of Steel fulfills the promise of its trailers. Director Zack Snyder hasn't exactly admitted that Man of Steel will setup Justice League, but did admit that the studio "trust[s] me to keep them on course" and that he didn't know how Justice League could "move forward without acknowledging" Man of Steel.
So what does that mean for everyone else that hasn't been able to watch Man of Steel? Hard to say. Though Snyder said his approach was to ignore the other Superman movies, he admitted that "there are the pillars that you have to respect, and I’m not about to break them." That should mean that Superman will still be faster than a speeding bullet, leap over tall building and all that. Superman's icy breath and laser-beam eyes are are almost secondary to the character's seemingly limitless pantheon of superpowers, which also includes invulnerability and x-ray vision.
Of course, all of those powers are meaningless if Superman is exposed to kryptonite, which could be a difficult thing for the Hulk to find. However, the Hulk does have a hyper-intelligent scientist for an alter ego...
Match #4: Wonder Woman vs. Thor (Chris Hemsworth)
Thor Analysis: It's never polite to hit a lady, but a battle between a Norse god of thunder and an Amazonian princess just seemed too fitting to pass up. Cocky and arrogant, Thor has plenty in common with Wonder Woman: both descend from gods yet both require powerful tools to win in battle. Thor's weapon is the mystical hammer Mjolnir, which he uses to strike enemies, summon elemental forces, fly or even deflect bullets.
Practically invulnerable and highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat, Thor is also aided by his enchanted Belt of Strength, which only adds to his already immeasurable strength and endurance. Add it all up and Thor's powers seem to outmatch almost any opponent — unless, of course, that opponent is also practically invulnerable and has the "strength of Hercules" at her disposal.
Wonder Woman Analysis: Besides the "strength of Hercules," Wonder Woman was also "beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, [and] as swift as Hermes" — back when her origin included being formed out of clay by the Queen of the Amazon (nowadays, the comics have Wonder Woman as the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus). Armed with the strength of a god, Wonder Woman is highly resistant to bodily harm and can withstand great concussive force, even that, perhaps, of a bolt of lightning.
At Wonder Woman's disposal are bulletproof bracelets, a golden tiara and a Lasso of Truth, not to mention the invisible airplane. The lasso might not really be of much use, but the tiara can be a useful, boomerang-like weapon, especially in Wonder Woman's dextrous hands. Since Wonder Woman is now able to fly herself, the airplane hasn't had a real place in her arsenal for a while, and, frankly, might only be a liability against a god of thunder.
Match #5: Flash and Martian Manhunter vs. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
Black Widow and Hawkeye Analysis: The more human members of the Avengers, Hawkeye and Black Widow's abilities are on a more human scale, including an almost unequal skill at archery and the martial arts, respectively. In the comics, at least, Black Widow's strength and mental acumen have been raised to a level above normal human limits due to being given a variation of the Super Soldier serum, though, nothing of the sort was mentioned in the movie. Black Widow's bracelets have also been ignored in the movie, though they can deliver a Widow's bite energy blast or dispense tear or knock-out gases.
Hawkeye meanwhile has been trained by Captain America in hand-to-hand combat and martial arts, but has no super powers. Still, as an expert marksman, Hawkeye could still hit a moving target — even one that moves as quickly as his old speed-powered Avengers teammate, Quicksilver. Besides, Hawkeye's special arrows can do far more than just hit a target.
Flash and Martian Manhunter Analysis: Anyone can get lucky, and Black Widow and Hawkeye could get just that while going up against the Flash and Martian Manhunter. And they'll need it too.
It might be too simple to say that the Flash is fast, but, indeed, speed is his primary superpower. Flash has even beat Superman in a footrace (Adventures of Superman #463). Flash's speed also helps him to heal faster, which could help should he need to wake up from knock-out gas or heal from an arrow that has exploded near him.
As his name would imply, Martian Manhunter hails from Mars, and is armed with a litany of superpowers including superhuman strength, speed and endurance, as well as (among others) invulnerability, telekinesis, flight, invisibility, intangibility and shapeshifting, which Martian Manhunter uses almost all of the time in order to maintain a human appearance. Essentially a Martian Superman, he has another similarity to the Man of Steel: a signature weakness. Unlike Superman, however, the element that causes Martian Manhunter to become vulnerable is easier to find than kryptonite: fire. The weakness offers an advantage towards Martain Manhunter's adversaries, as fire could be as easy as the touch of a special, tricked-out arrow.
Match #6: Mystery Avenger vs. Aquaman
Mystery Avenger Analysis: No matter who Marvel puts in as the latest member of the Avengers, it's hard to think of who would have a tough time with DC's nautical hero. Whether it's War Machine, the Falcon, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Dr. Strange, whoever, none of them will bother to fight Aquaman in the water, which essentially robs Aquaman of having effective powers.
While Ant-Man wouldn't last long in a fistfight with Aquaman, one should never count out on Ant-Man's "Pym particles," which allow him to become small or large (the Wasp is also privy to the same particles). There's something fitting about Aquaman going up against Ant-Man, who can summon ants, or the Falcon, who can telepathically communicate with birds, but, again, it's unlikely that anyone would allow the fight to get near the ocean, where the ability to breathe quickly becomes "advantage-Aquaman."
Aquaman Analysis: The king of Atlantis, Aquaman's abilities, save superhuman strength, are all tied to the ocean. So much so that he he can only remain out of the water for so long. Aquaman can swim underwater at great speeds and is immune to the effects of temperature and pressure. Aquaman can communicate with marine life. At one point, Aquaman had a hand made of water that could...oh, forget it. Who are we kidding? Aquaman loses.