Ladies and gentlemen, it’s tournament time. We’ve seen Marvel superheroes beat up on Chitauri, Dark Elves, Outriders, and more… but it’s rare to get a solid bout between heroes with no distractions. Even when Iron Man fought Cap on screen in Captain America: Civil War, Bucky Barnes got in the way, affecting the outcome.
Let’s face it, we love to ask whether one powerset is greater than another and what the result of a face-off between, say, Captain Marvel and Thor would be. So, we’re pitting some of our favourite superheroes against one another in an epic mano-a-mano tournament. Digging into the lore — and science — to determine who would win.
So, without further ado — meet your contenders!
Round 1: Upper Bracket (Heats 1 – 4)
Doctor Strange may be a master of the mystic arts, but Professor X is a master of the psychic arts. In a battle of external vs internal trickery, it might seem a difficult fight to predict — but we have historical precedent for Doctor Strange defeating a far more powerful telepath. Moondragon was able to enslave an entire planet via telepathy, and yet she found out the hard way that the mystic arts have defences against such things:
There’s no need for the Eye of Agamotto here. Charles Xavier has trapped powerful enemies inside illusions before, but these were far weaker versions of what Moondragon is capable of. Strange takes the victory, and somewhere in the spectators’ seats, Jessica Jones breathes a sigh of relief that she won’t have to fight another mind controller.
Valkyrie is the stuff of legend in Thor: Ragnarok, and as Korg is fond of saying, those Asgardians are hard to perish. She’s enough to make even Thor act like a giddy fanboy. But Blue Marvel is so physically and mentally powerful that including him is almost cheating. Think of him as a 1960s version of Captain Marvel. In fact, he was created as an answer to the question: What if Superman was black?
1960s’ America wasn’t kind to Blue Marvel, but he doesn’t need society’s approval to surpass any hero on this list in terms of physical capability. In strength and durability, he surpasses his opponent, and not even an Obedience Disk will help the rogue Asgardian this time. Farewell, Valkyrie, we hardly knew ye.
Moviegoers might remember that Iron Man won in the MCU by knocking Hulk out with a massive punch while he was distracted. Stark does have a knack for preparation, too. That’s in contrast with Banner who sometimes has trouble calling out the Green Guy. Which sounds way too much like a euphemism for comfort.
But in the comics, The Hulk wins time after time. In fact, Tony Stark never intended the Hulkbuster armour to “defeat” or “kill” The Hulk — rather to buy time and give him something to smash before he hopefully calms down.
In the words of our expert from Vs Battles: “Iron Man almost always loses quite easily to the Hulk, and the Hulk has grown far more powerful over the years. When extremely angry, he even overpowered the Sentry, who literally has the power of a million supernovas.”
Even the MCU has a post-Sakaar Hulk now, and the sun will stay up for Banner no matter how many robo-rabbit punches Stark throws his way.
Next up, a confident Quicksilver walks into his confrontation vs the Wasp boasting a 100% strike rate against annoying bedtime mosquitos. The Wasp has thought this fight through, but short of breaking her limiter and shrinking down to subatomic-size to find answers in the Quantum Realm, she has no response to Quicksilver’s speed.
At full size, she’ll get slammed by a supersonic Saitama-style punch. But even when tiny, Quicksilver has both the movement speed and mental reaction speed to check the entire arena and swat every insect he sees. We’re talking several times the speed of light here, and Wasp’s speed boost when small-sized is no match. It’s a loss for the Wasp.
Round 1: Lower Bracket (Heats 5 – 8)
We didn’t see much impressive stuff from Vision last time we saw him on screen in Avengers: Infinity War, but he’s easily one of the most powerful Avengers. It was kind of unlucky that his opponent’s weapon was made of a material that disabled his abilities right off the bat. He’s about to experience more bad luck, because things just tend to work out for Domino.
But having studied his opponent before the match, Vision’s computer mind independently discovers what other superheroes knew from fighting with her: there is actually a science to Domino’s luck. Not only must she act, or at least “will” something to happen, for her luck to activate, but for a phenomenon such as a distant enemy’s equipment to malfunction, she needs line-of-sight.
An intangible Vision could break line-of-sight quickly, using the floor if he had to, and burn Domino with his solar jewel. Domino’s power is mysterious, but we give this round to Vision. In the words of our Vs Battles expert, “Could [Domino] short-circuit him quicker than he could deal with her? I am betting on no.”
Jessica Jones is strong in both body and mind, but Peter Parker shines brighter in all aspects. While Jones can jump as high as a small building, she can only jump in straight directions, making Spider-Man much more maneuverable.
We’re betting Spider-Man can so decisively win this that he wouldn’t need to damage Jones. Thwipping her ankle, he could take away her centre of gravity and tie her up in a rubbery spider’s web that frustratingly yields to her strength. Jones hates to lose, but she’d have no choice but to concede. A win for the webslinger.
Between Daredevil and Nightcrawler, we have possibly the closest fight of the tournament. Both are acrobatic fighters with similar levels of strength, and the latter boasting the ability to teleport. This one is so tight, it’s tough to call but in the words of our Vs Battles bureaucrat:
“Daredevil’s radar sense would prevent Nightcrawler from sneaking up on him via teleportation, and he is a more experienced fighter, so he would likely win after a workout.”
This one goes to Daredevil, who spends yet another night injured as he heals and gets ready for the next round.
Mystique may try to confuse Korg by shapeshifting, but despite Korg’s position as a comic relief character in the MCU, he’s not dumb. Mystique wouldn’t have any knowledge of him — or his desire for pamphlets — and thus wouldn’t be able to shapeshift into anything able to convince Korg he should forfeit.
That’s a shame for her, because despite her fighting abilities being on par with Black Widow and Captain America, she can’t compete with Korg’s raw power. Mystique loses.
After eight matches in the first round, here’s how the tournament is shaping up:
Like many Marvel heroes and villains, Blue Marvel doesn’t have much of an answer for the mystic arts. Physically, Blue Marvel was strong enough to keep up with the Sentry, if only for a bit. But Strange is capable of handling beings with strength and speed on a universal scale.
Our Vs Battles community admin has pointed out that Blue Marvel could potentially call his cosmic entity son for help, in which case Strange might be in trouble. But the rules of our tournament forbid allies meddling. Strange notches another win in his belt.
With the Hulk and Quicksilver, we’d have a long, drawn-out battle. The Hulk would have trouble catching Quicksilver, and Quicksilver would have trouble damaging The Hulk. As pointed out by our expert:
“Despite being able to accelerate to the speed of light and beyond, [Quicksilver] is never treated as being able to pull off an ‘infinite mass punch,’ as the DC Comics Flash has been able to do, and his hits are comparatively weak. On the other hand, the Hulk is usually portrayed as far too slow to hit Quicksilver, so neither would usually be able to deal with the other. However, the Hulk has somehow been able to keep up with the Sentry, who can react when flying at speeds far beyond what Quicksilver is capable of running at.”
It would either come down to the Hulk getting angry enough to leap around the arena at faster speeds, or tearing up the entire arena to catch Quicksilver in the collateral damage. Neither option is great for Quicksilver, who’s in an odd position — he can’t damage the Hulk, and the more he tries the quicker the Hulk powers up.
That means the Hulk takes this round, as no matter how long this goes for, Quicksilver is the only one with a lose condition.
The last two matches of the round are quick but heartbreaking wins. As much as we love Spidey, there’s just not much he can do against Vision. And Korg’s rocky toughness and strength would send Daredevil flying, no matter how many acrobatics he tries. But at least Korg would be polite about it and offer a few casual jokes after flattening his prey.
That leaves the tournament looking like this as we go into the semi-finals:
Similar to how Doctor Strange handled Blue Marvel, he’d be able to deal with the Hulk. Raw strength just isn’t as much of an asset when fighting someone who can mystically redirect anything or confuse you with illusions. And that’s just two of Strange’s tricks.
As pointed out by our community representative, Strange and Banner used to be friends, so it’s much more likely Strange would teleport the Hulk to a magical pocket universe, snatching victory.
The other semi-final bout sees Korg up against Vision, and again, raw power does Korg little good in the face of an opponent who can render his body intangible. Vision could even increase his density and battle Korg punch-for-punch, but that’s far from the path of least resistance. Vision’s computer mind would take the quickest path to victory, and there’s not much Korg could do about it.
That leaves just the final round to go:
Final Round: Doctor Strange vs Vision
It perhaps makes perfect sense that it comes down to two heroes whose powers have essentially unknowable limits. Doctor Strange seems to have an answer for everything though, be it technological, mystical, or psychic. In the face of scientifically unexplainable phenomena, how would Vision’s computer mind react?
We believe it would revert into safety mode, turning intangible and trying to blast Strange with his shiny forehead stone. That’s unlikely to hit Strange though, who has his own form of intangibility. That’s the beginning of the end for Vision, as Strange can take as long as he needs to incapacitate him. No matter how much the latter jukes and jives, he’ll get caught — when on the astral plane, Strange can travel at the speed of thought.
Even in this most final stage of the tournament, Strange would comfortably win without any need to use the Eye of Agamotto. Fandom’s Vs Battles expert says, “Classic Doctor Strange could still fight cosmic entities and eldritch abominations on an almost even footing. There isn’t anything that the Vision can do to defeat him.”
There you have it, folks. Doctor Strange wins our first tournament of Marvel superheroes. And in such a comfortable fashion that something tells us that if he had 14,000,605 attempts at it, he’d win most of them.