Superheroes Vs Their Animal Kingdom Counterparts: Which Is Fiercer?

Kim Taylor-Foster
Movies Marvel
Movies Marvel DC

Black Panther is one of a number of superheroes that share more than just a name with a member of the animal kingdom. They also have appearance and other characteristics in common. Let’s take a look at how five superheroes compare to their wildlife counterparts – and decide which is fiercer.

Batman vs a Bat

Verdict: Batman wins. By a bat’s whisker.

Batman staring up at the sky in 'Batman vs. Superman.'
Is Batman fiercer than an actual bat?

First off, Batman has no actual powers. He’s just a rich guy who has developed a bunch of high-tech stuff that allows him to do pretty much anything you can think of. So what skills does a bat have? For the purposes of this article, we’ll mostly be using the Microbat for comparison, rather than the Megabat which has different abilities and characteristics.

Okay, so bats can fly. They’re the only mammals equipped with this ability. Which means that Batman, a mere man, cannot fly unaided. He is, however, a skilled pilot with his own fleet of flying vehicles to get him airborne. Although, he’s arguably not as agile as a bat, which means it hangs in the balance as to which is better off. But let’s just take a moment to ponder the fact that bats aren’t able to maintain high-altitude flight because of the restrictions of their mammal lungs.

Batman’s batplane comes with weapons and gadgets built-in, of course – which give Bruce Wayne the edge when fighting off bad guys. He also, of course, relies on his batrope to get him out of sticky situations, which lets him climb and swing from buildings.

A bat has great hearing and uses echolocation to pinpoint and identify its prey. Some species are also very sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field which gives them a foolproof internal compass. Batman has tech that also allows him to do all of this. The Batplane alone comes loaded with radar, cameras and spotlights.

The biggest point of difference, and where the bat falls down, is its bad eyesight and its aversion to daylight. Because of its dark-coloured wings, it tends not to fly during the day. The sun poses too much of a danger to it. This doesn’t affect Batman, who merrily goes about his business whether midday or midnight.

Black Panther Vs a Black Panther

Verdict: Black Panther. He’s just too powerful. 

Black Panther in 'Captain America Civil War.'
Black Panther in action.

‘Black panther’ is the informal name for the melanistic variety of jaguar. This apex predator has an extremely powerful bite. So powerful, in fact, that it can bite through reptile shells easily and even pierce skulls. Other useful tools include its retractable claws, which are sharp and which it uses for traction, climbing, gripping prey and scenting its territory.

The Black Panther suit comes equipped with special claws made from Vibranium, which are arguably fiercer than the jaguar’s, since they can break down metal.

Like his animal counterpart, Black Panther is strong and speedy. Where the jaguar is naturally gifted, however, Black Panther gets his powers from the ritual he undergoes when taking on the role of protector. Like the big cat, Black Panther also has finely tuned senses, and is an expert tracker and hunter.

Interestingly, the jaguar is a keystone species – something it has in common with T’Challa, who takes on the role of Black Panther in the upcoming film. Just as a keystone species plays a huge role in maintaining the ecological system it’s part of, so T’Challa — in the form of Black Panther — is integral to the survival and balance of his community, Wakanda.

One thing Black Panther has that sets him apart from the animal is a wealth of knowledge – T’Challa is able to draw the experiences, and strength, from all the previous incarnations of Black Panther, according to the comics. This alone gives him the upper hand over the humble jaguar – at least when it comes to equipping himself to go toe-to-toe with the kind of foes he has to face. Oh, that and the ability to COMMAND THE DEAD.

Wolverine Vs a Wolverine

Verdict: Wolverine. If only because he lacks one key characteristic.

These two are perhaps the most difficult of all the superhero/animal duos to separate. Like a wolverine, Logan – aka Wolverine – is a solitary character, stocky and muscular. But while a wolverine will primarily use its powerful jaws and teeth to attack, Logan is more reliant on his retractable claws. Although he does have a sharp tongue as part of his arsenal.

Logan’s skeleton is fused with Adamantium, an almost-indestructible metal, which makes his claws more powerful than a wolverine’s. A wolverine is indeed ferocious, though – able to kill prey much larger than itself. Strength has something to do with that – a quality that Wolverine also has in spades.

Logan possesses the honed senses of his animal counterpart, and has fang-like teeth. And just like a wolverine is prone to animalistic attacks, so Wolverine has the ability to go into a ‘berserker rage’. Which sees him lashing out unpredictably with pure aggression.

Adamantium aside, the big plus in Wolverine’s favour is his healing factor. He can heal wounds and injuries in super-fast time. These regenerative abilities give him other superhuman abilities, such as increased stamina and the power to push himself beyond normal limits.

There’s one characteristic of the wolverine that Logan should feel lucky he didn’t inherit – and that’s strong-smelling anal scent glands.

Ant-Man Vs an Ant

Verdict: The ant! By a country mile.

Ant-Man with an ant.

What is there that an ant can’t do? They’re really strong for a start – something that Ant-Man can replicate. When Scott Lang shrinks, he retains his normal-sized strength but its effect is amplified due to his increased density and muscle mass. The momentum of changing back to normal size also means he’s super-strong when he’s regularly proportioned – at least momentarily. His ability to shrink down also makes him a lot tougher.

Ants are great communicators, but using his helmet technology, Lang is able to control ants by affecting their pheromones and manipulating their sense of smell. Which gives him one over on ants. He’s also able to shrink even smaller – to sub-microscopic size – which is obviously something that ants can’t do, and make himself giant.

But despite these things – and abilities like being good at free-running and martial arts – he’s no match for an ant. Ants are also agile and good at climbing, by the way. And both are very intelligent and able to solve complex problems.

But though he can jump great distances with great force, some ants are able to fly. Not only that, many have strong jaws which they use defensively to bite. One species even has a trap-jaw, which snaps shut faster than any other predator’s mandible – or other appendage for that matter. They can even use it to toss out invaders or catapult themselves backwards to get themselves out of trouble.

Another ant proudly boasts the most painful sting of all insects, which of course is a formidable weapon. Sorry, Ant-Man, but the humble ant has got this.

The Wasp Vs a Wasp

Verdict: It’s a tie.

On the face of it, a wasp is a fearsome insect. But upon closer scrutiny, it’s not even half as fascinating or formidable as the ant. Still, it has a heck of a sting in its tail – or its ovipositor to be precise. It uses this rigid protrusion to inject venom, to pierce or for sawing and its sting will cause paralysis in its prey. The Wasp, meanwhile, has other weapons in her arsenal that are no less savage. A set of bio-electric blasters are built into the suit’s gloves, alongside extendable claws.

Obviously, wasps can fly, which is a significant ability – but then so can The Wasp. She has special bio-synthetic wings built into her suit.

Like Ant-Man, The Wasp is able to control insects using the same tech Lang has in his helmet. But one horrific thing The Wasp can’t do is lay eggs inside hosts à la the Xenomorph – and some species of wasp. The jury’s out on this one.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.