Who would win in a fight: Batman or Captain America? Spider-Man or Darth Maul? On YouTube, hardcore fans of comics, games, and anime have armed themselves with DSLR cameras and a lotta moxie to bring to life battles that previously existed only in the obsessive fan’s imagination. Fans crave a sick fight, and the likes of Super Power Beat Down and ScrewAttack’s DeathBattle satisfy.
Given the popularity of this budding genre of web videos, here’s a rundown of some of the best battles. Forget the cringeworthy dialogue: You came to see a brawl.
9. Deadpool vs. Batman (Super Power Beat Down)
Digital studio Bat in the Sun built its brand with Super Power Beat Down, one of the first shows to innovate the fan-driven genre on the web. The show’s eighth episode pitted Marvel’s Merc with the Mouth against the Caped Crusader of DC in a battle that pretty much every fan wants to see. Deadpool is expectedly gross towards Catwoman, making his defeat by Batman rather appreciated.
8. Green Arrow vs. Hawkeye (Minute Match-Ups)
The best archers of the Big Two, Marvel and DC, go head-to-head in the second episode of Minute Match-Ups, a live-action tribute to fighting arcade games from the digital studio Ismahawk. Besides both character’s reliance on medieval weaponry, Minute Match-Ups also nails their snarky wit, making their first tête-à-tête in the video a verbal one before the arrows start flying.
Pay attention to the score as the video ends: It’s an homage to Blake Neely’s work on the CW series Arrow.
7. Nightwing vs. Winter Soldier (Super Power Beat Down)
In “Nightwing vs. Winter Soldier,” the ex-Robin, Dick Grayson, goes up against Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, in a gruesome battle between two of the best scrappers in comics. Although I personally don’t buy the ending, it’s a pretty good fight. Just excuse the dialogue between Dick and Barbara Gordon.
6. Batman vs. Captain America (DEATH BATTLE!)
Delightfully animated in 2D, ScrewAttack made the world witness Batman fight Captain America in the 36th episode of DEATH BATTLE! Unique to DEATH BATTLE! over other shows is that the victors are decided after lots of head-spinning analysis, as opposed to fan voting and other arbitrary decision-making.
Batman fighting Cap isn’t cool just because they’re perfect opposites. They also have unfinished business: Batman and Captain America once squared off in a 1996 crossover between Marvel and DC, but their fight ended in a pseudo-draw when Cap became unconscious after nearly drowning. ScrewAttack finally found a victor, declaring Batman due to his tactical knowledge and gadgetry.
5. White Ranger vs. Scorpion (Super Power Beat Down)
Although Scoprion isn’t a superhero, he fought one of the best in an incredibly popular episode of Super Power Beat Down that’s scored more than 12 million views. Jason David Frank reprises his Tommy from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as the White Ranger against the most vicious undead ninja in video games, Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, in a contest between life and death.
4. Kratos vs. Spawn (DEATH BATTLE!)
Another superhero vs. video game match-up, an earlier episode of DEATH BATTLE! had Kratos from the God of War games fight Spawn, the Image comics superhero who once dethroned Satan himself. Illustrated in sprites, the fight is a little cute instead of the epic battle between gods one would expect. But it’s still savage and still awesome to witness.
3. Batman vs. Darth Vader (Super Power Beat Down)
“That’s no moon.” With Darth Vader holding Superman hostage, Batman infiltrates the Death Star and whips out his own lightsaber against the Sith Lord in a battle for the ages. One of the strongest episodes to come out of Super Power Beat Down, Darth Vader looks stunning, as do the Death Star’s corridors, making the fight look like it happens just out of frame during A New Hope. After watching the official ending, check out the alternate version in which a certain Kryptonian comes to the rescue.
2. Spider-Man vs. Darth Maul (Super Power Beat Down)
With Disney wielding ownership of Marvel and Star Wars, maybe this one isn’t so out of reach. In the 17th episode of Super Power Beat Down, Spider-Man (portrayed by Power Rangers star Yoshi Sudarso) fights Darth Maul to rescue Mary Jane, but not without a certain true believer making a cameo appearance.
Both Spidey and Maul look 1:1 accurate to the films, making this installment from Bat in the Sun worth revisiting multiple times.
1. Goku vs. Superman (DEATH BATTLE!)
The battle every nerd has argued over was put to rest in 2013, when ScrewAttack put the final word on Superman versus Goku, from Dragon Ball Z. Both orphan aliens dedicated to defending Earth, DEATH BATTLE! spent a lengthy 30 minutes analyzing this theoretical battles to end all battles — complete with mathematical algorithms! — before showing the fight in full 3D. If you ever need an entire half-hour to kill, this is one of the absolute best ways to spend them.