It’s a debate as old as time itself—which superhero would beat all other superheroes in a fight? Everyone has their own answer (with caveats galore), but now we’ve got an objective, definitive answer to the question that has perplexed philosophers and scientists for decades.
Students at the University of Leicester (via Gizmodo) have unveiled the results of a seven-year study into the age-old superhero question, and the answer is clear: Superman is the best-equipped superhero of all time. Using calculations to explain the feasibility of the powers behind the most famous superheroes in comic book history, Superman came out ahead thanks to a calculated stored solar energy output of 7.07×105 Joules per second for his “Super Flare” attack. Moreover, the higher muscle density gives him a major leg up against most other superheroes.
While Superman landing the title isn’t exactly a shock—he can do basically anything—the runners up may surprise you. Wolverine and Mystique both made solid cases, with Wolverine’s regenerative capacity cited as a major benefit, and Mystique’s mastery of manipulation to aid in disguise working in her favor. Thor also ranks considerably high thanks to the God of Thunder’s energy efficiency—1 throw of Mjolnir can have an energy output of 5.97×1018 J. Inhumans member Black Bolt, meanwhile, likely holds the title of the single most destructive superhero given the energy output that results in planetary annihilation.
And who is the least effective superhero from a power standpoint? That (dis)honor goes to the Caped Crusader himself, Batman, with the research showing that he probably wouldn’t even survive a post-glide landing given the velocity of his movement. So there you have it, folks. Proof that Batman v Superman is unrealistic.
The work put into this particular study is staggeringly impressive, and indeed every case is backed by hard calculations. The Flash, for example, would burn through the soles of normal shoes at a speed of 394 m/s, and the character has a much higher mutation rate than normal humans, accumulating 72 years’ worth of mutations in just one year of his life. And Spider-Man’s webbing, if following the material makeup of spider silk, can stretch up to 40%, so swinging from tall buildings like the Empire State Building could result in Spidey going splat.
You can take a closer look at the various pros and cons in the chart below, via Mohan Harihar, University of Leicester. Click to enlarge.