Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Battle of the Summer Superheroes Picking a Winner in an Imaginary Brawl Featuring a Trio of Hollywood Box-Office Heroes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Battle of the Summer Superheroes Picking a Winner in an Imaginary Brawl Featuring a Trio of Hollywood Box-Office Heroes

Article excerpt

Comic book fans have argued about the relative strengths and weaknesses of superheroes from rivals Marvel and DC for generations.

Who is stronger -- Superman or the Hulk? Who's faster -- Flash or the Avengers' Quicksilver? Would fisticuffs between Batman and the super soldier Captain America be a fair fight? Is there a bigger tough guy than Wolverine in either superhero universe?

During the 1970s, Marvel and DC licensed the first of several official "crossover" battles to assuage fans' thirst for such battles. Spider-Man and Superman went toe-to-toe in a historic 1976 encounter. Years later, the Avengers and the Justice League had at it.

Since then, superhero crossovers have become routine in the comic book world, prompting some fans to wonder if they'll ever see versions of their favorite comic book grudge matches on the silver screen. Fan agitation eventually moved two rival studios to put horror icons Freddy and Jason into a bloody feud. The Predator and Alien franchises came together for three critically panned but lucrative installments.

This summer, the success of "Marvel's The Avengers" and the expected blockbuster success of the Spider-Man reboot and the last installment of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy has us wondering: In the cinematic world, who would win in a battle among the most charismatic superheroes of our generation?

SPIDER-MAN

Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) is literally the new kid on the block, having taken over the role originated by Tobey Maguire in 2002. Mr. Garfield's rendition of Spider-Man/Peter Parker, on screens for the first time Tuesday, is closer to the traditional comic book in terms of teenage angst exerted per second and his reliance on mechanical web shooters.

Often lost in the wise-cracking that Spidey/Parker resorts to as a defense mechanism is how powerful he is. The comic book blithely says he has the "proportionate strength of a spider," whatever that means.

The shorthand understanding is that he has the physical strength of 20 or 25 very strong men. His reflexes are exceptionally fast, too. He has the most powerful leap this side of the Hulk and is an exceptionally resourceful young scientist in his own right. His Spidey-sense warns him of approaching danger.

Weaknesses: He has no obvious weaknesses other than a predilection for self-pity.

IRON MAN

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is, by conventional wisdom, the most powerful superhero of the three. His armor represents the cutting edge in military-inspired technology. Industrialist Tony Stark can assemble his Iron Man armor within seconds, fly long distances at near the speed of sound and blast alien or human threats with repulsor rays shot from the palms of his hands.

As Iron Man, Stark is aided by Jarvis, an onboard computer who helps him navigate battles by feeding him real-time information and alternative scenarios if brute strength and speed can't win the day. …

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