Headscratchers: Death Battle


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  • There have been many misconceptions over what actually effects the abilities and fighting skill to make a warrior win a Death Battle.
    • Yoshi, Thor and Spider-Man proved that even though one character is from a more kid-friendly franchise (compared to their enemies Riptor, Raiden and Batman) doesn't mean they are weaker in battle. This misconception is more confusing when some kid-friendly series avoid death or murder, sometimes censoring close-combat entirely (this makes the audience less aware of the characters' abilities, especially when Death Battle demands all combatants to show no mercy and attempt to murder each other).
    • Another misconception is that a more beloved or popular character is a superior combatant. For example, Mario maybe more popular than Spawn or Kratos, but it doesn't automatically mean he could win against them.
    • It is also believed that the destruction a character can create relates to their battlefield performance. Although it is true that Kratos could kill gigantic Titans, the mythical creatures he faces are still similar to Spawn's demons. Even though Cloud can cut through skyscrapers, it doesn't mean he can penetrate the indestructible Hylian Shield.
    • Many fans have noticed if two fighters have a significant difference in intelligence, the more intelligent tactician would win. However Zelda, Dr. Eggman, Dr Wily and Raiden were defeated; Raiden being overwhelmed by Thor's strength and the Doctors being obliterated by the god-like Metal Sonic. (Spider-Man vs Batman doesn't really count because both warriors have similar intelligence, Taokaka and Felicia are both pretty stupid and Leonardo is a superior tactician to Donatello despite Donatello's enormous IQ).
  • Some characters like Spider-Man and Batman have a limited supply of ammo for their weapons while some superhumans like Taokaka and Spawn have a limited supply of their magic and powers. However the fights don't last long enough for depletion of ammo to be a problem for these warriors (exceptions being Super Sonic, Super Shadow and Mario's invincibility powerups). Taokaka and Spawn can technically get more power during the fight, Taokaka can find new locations to absorb seithr while Spawn can absorb the evil energies of his enemies. Also some depictions of Spider-Man have him carry spare web magazines for his web shooters if they ever run out.
  • Does Wizard explain why he doesn't want to do a Death Battle with Uchiha Sasuke?
    • He just cannot stand the character enough to do adequate research.
  • It should be noted that it is difficult to compare characters normally if there is no basis to compare them with under these circumstances the hosts calculate how powerful a character would be based on elements and feats shown in canon.
  • What would they do with characters that always fight with a partner? Like in Soul Eater where meisters wield other characters as weapons for their default form of fighting.
    • The show has made certain exceptions. For instance, Saba helped Tommy out in Tigerzord vs Epyon because he is a talking sword and necessary to operate the Tiger Zord. At the same time Pikachu wasn't allowed to have Ash command him. Maybe if the fight is 2 on 2 or both of them had equippable allies it would be allowed.
  • Foreshadowing: On a meta level, even without the data, the outcome of Goku Vs Superman was seemingly decided before the match starts if you look at the aesops some Death Battles have stealthily snuck in:
    • The popular character will not always win. Spawn Vs Kratos was a clear example. Goku is more popular amongst nerd culturenote .
    • Underestimating Badassery: Has happened numerous amounts of times in other battles such as Yoshi Vs Riptor and Peach Vs Zelda where the loser was thought to have won before either research was conducted or the match was released. The Man of Steel sometimes gets the short stick because he's always holding back and Goku has never blown up planets in canon.
    • Characters who exert a pre-emptive attack before the FIGHT! animation and sound tend to lose. Goku unleashed a ki blast on Superman before that happened.
    • Characters who are "waiting" for the other character to enter the battlefield tend to win. Superman was already there and Goku then showed up.
    • The win/loss trivia fact gives this conclusion as well: Vegeta won his battle, Wonder Woman and Batman lost both of theirs. Interestingly enough Superman has TRAINED with both of them before
    • Link's victory over Cloud, and Leonardo's over Zitz, shows that just attacking to the end will not always yield victory. Goku's simple mindedness cost him the match.
    • A difference between training and combat. Mike Haggar having a political agenda and therefore less trained than Zangief is the only aesop that does not apply here since Goku has trained more often to better himself. However, much unlike Haggar, Superman doesn't have to train, he's strong enough without doing so.yet at the same time, another Aesop added later seemingly counters this one, Superman is always fighting, while Goku often leaves combat to train, and is as a result, less experienced fighting others, only taking on a Big Bad a series compared to Superman's constant brawls with various villains like Doomsday, Zod, Darkseid, Mongul, and others who are as strong as he is.
  • The spirit of Death Battle is to find out who would win in a fight, and even though the rules explicitly require a death, in the case of Nigh Invulnerable characters who have no reliable means of killing each other, it would definitely be logical to make an exception so that the win condition is to trap or disable instead of kill or in such a situation, revoke such a power for the intent of the battle.
  • Why have they been dragging up the Superman vs Goku results so much lately? They had Deadpool joke about it in his episode and that ad in Kirby vs Buu talked about it too.
    • Because even now people are still decrying the results of that battle and claiming it all to be bias. Deadpool is a Fourth Wall Breaker, so he would know all about that sort of backlash, and Kirby vs Buu was another Dragon Ball character fight who also lost, so maybe they were subtly hinting to the results. In addition, it might just be that Wiz and Boomstick are tried of the constant badgering so they saw these as the perfect opportunity to sneak in a few Take That to the Fan Dumb.
  • Is it ever stated what the rules are for the Arena? It's stated that that the arena doesn't effect the outcome of the battle but that's not possible with some of the characters. Batman for example is known for both the use of his Bat Grapple and stealth. A fight with Batman in a sunny field is a radically different fight than one in a city. What are the rules pertaining to characters whose power varies wildly depending on different circumstances? For example, if you have a character with a static (non-moving) power source whose abilities vary with distance, then how far away from the power source is the fight? If a character relies on sunlight, will the calculations for strength/speed/etc. be based on daytime or nighttime measurements? For a more specific example, look at Neo from The Matrix. Inside the Matrix, he's a reality-warping force of nature. Outside (yes, there is a point in the third act of the third movie where he apparently blows up some robots with his mind, but that's nothing compared to what he does inside the matrix) of it he's more or less an ordinary guy.
    • When the location is relevant, it is factored in. For instance, Leo vs Zitz had Leo use the stealth of the sewer because he is a ninja. Goku vs Superman is more ambiguous. Perhaps the hosts felt that Goku wouldn't want to fight Superman under a red star.
      • That's also assuming Goku had prior knowledge of Superman's red sun weakness. Which by rules of Death Battle, he wouldn't.
      • The location should be mentioned if it could have an impact n the fight, but sometimes isn’t. In Superman’s case his stats should have been nerfed by being on Earth, which has less sunlight than space (where all of his feats used for his stats took place). In fact whether it is completely sunny or somewhat cloudy is a factor that determines his strength, meaning it is also a technically imbalanced terrain. Goku also should have been smart enough to realize Superman was actively trying to remain in the sun that it was powering him and he could therefore teleport him to somewhere on Earth where is was dark. It seems to be very inconsistent on whether the terrain does matter, and is not always addressed. While Goliath vs. Beast has to happen at night because Goliath is a statue during the day, having Batman vs. Captain America at night gives Batman huge advantage in use of his stealth compared to a day battle (if Batman had to fight Cap head on it probably would have gone like JLA/Avengers said it would. Cap would win after a LONG time, presumably because being a Super Soldier would allow him to fight at full strength for longer). In Kirby vs. Buu, the land is filled with enemies for Kirby to absorb and give him so many powers, while they are basically useless to Buu, is an advantage (not to mention the position of the fighters relative to the sun is the contrivance that lets them claim Kirby could kill Buu). In most cases it doesn’t matter, in some it is factored in, while in others where it is potentially game changing, it isn’t addressed which is rather questionable.
  • Why do they assume all forms of strength and speed are the same? They’re measurements of strength often come from how much a character can lift/throw but that does not directly translate into how hard they can punch. They also assume travel speed is the same as fighting speed. Flying in a straight line for a long time (often needing to build up speed and not able to stop instantly) is not the same as the reaction speed and reflexes needed to fight at high speeds, or how fast they can throw a punch. This makes a lot of calculations questionable. The same thing happens with perception versus reaction time. A character can sense something coming but not be fast enough to actually stop it (for example seeing an oncoming car coming but not being able to move out of the way). If they want to bring math into their calculations they shouldn’t simplify the stats to make those numbers seem more important.
    • It was explained above; Lifting capacity =/= striking power. Striking power/force is Mass x Velocity, and in Goku's case it's also amplified by his ki. If we apply the same Mass x Velocity principle to Superman, he indeed gets the upper hand in raw strength
      • That is indeed true (not answering the Goku vs. Superman part because that is not relevant here). However, that was not my question. My question was why, in Death Battle, when they list a character's "strength" do they always use lifting strength? They do compare Goku and Superman's strength, they list Iron Man's strength, Beast's strength and Kirby's strength to name a few, and all are based on either lifting or throwing. In a fight how much a character can bench press is meaningless, yet they consistently include it as a factor, not the Mass x Velocity that you mentioned.
      • Because someone who can lift 100 pounds is still stronger than someone who can lift 10 pounds.
      • But “stronger” does not really mean anything. Lifting strength and punching strength are not the same thing (in fact the build needed for a martial artist and a body builder are so different that either would suck at the other feat). Max lifting feats always are the upper limit a character can carry with effort, meaning they need to use all their strength to do so and lift with their whole body. How hard someone can punch is done with either just a hand, or with waist movement and stepping (discounting flying characters) and a trained fighter can punch at full strength many times before tiring out. Let me ask you a question to prove why the general term “strength” does not necessarily apply to a fight. Who is faster, Usain Bolt or Bruce Lee? One can run really fast while the other could strike with his limbs so fast that most people can barely see them. The question of who is faster is unanswerable but the question of “who would win in a fight” is, obviously Bruce Lee. Different types of strength are needed for different situations and lifting strength does not matter for a fight. A person could only lift ten pounds but still deliver a punch strong enough to knock out someone who can lift 100.
    • Ultimately it's something of a Coconut Effect. What a person can lift is an easily demonstrable measure of strength in a visual medium and is something people have an easier time quantifying and understanding than the mass x velocity, pounds per square inch of a punch. So comic book writers - who may or may not have understood the mechanics of punching as well as you do - used how much a given character can lift as short hand for strength, and, in turn, how hard they hit. And from there it became one of those things that permeated pop culture. Whether or not it's accurate, it's the metric being used and is all anyone has to go off of.
    • While that does answer the question from a creator perspective, it does not from Death Battle’s perspective, which is supposed to consider this type of stuff in potentially different ways than the creators (hence why they use physics even in series that clearly ignore physics). Nowadays a lot of creators release detailed information on their characters (for example, we know the height and weight of both Superman and Goku) so it is possible to do this math, since weight can be used to determine mass. Admittedly the speed part is still a problem, since running/flying speed is not always indicate of the force a character can release from a normal punch, but it should be possible to figure out in some cases. It might be a metric used a lot, but not always, and even if the Mass X Velocity is considered that still could be a problem. The problem is of course that Writers Cannot Do Math. If that is so, the author who makes up the higher number wins. In the case of Toriyama, the numbers are severely lowballed compared to the power we are seeing (he says Snake Way is a million miles long, but the map of the universe shows it winding its way across close to half the length of the entire universe). Power is determined differently in all mediums, and in general Western series tend to use lifting strength for power more than Eastern ones do, so a metric that can rely so heavily on Informed Ability is questionable at best, completely and utterly wrong, as well insulting to the character, at worst. For a show that prides itself on research (and does use physics) taking such an easy answer that does not apply is lazy.
      • This is where we come to the crux of the problem and why, for all Death Battle likes to tout itself as an authoritative source on these things, it's really no more or less valid than any other group of fans arguing. On their best days, they put way more thought into the characters abilities than the writers do. Toriyama himself has gone on record as stating that he puts no thoughts into "power levels" when a fight comes up; the winner is determined by his whims and the needs of the story. The same is true for every character Death Battle has covered. They can calculate all the physics they want but the fact is these characters are lines on a page or pixels on a screen; physics don't apply to them and often aren't thought about, or at least not worked out in any real detail, by their writers. Who would win or loose any of these fights would be determined by the person writing the story, their personal bias, the needs of the story they're writing, and what have you. If DC comics wanted to have a normal, unpowered human infant beat the living shit out of Superman at his full power, there's nothing anyone could do to stop them because Superman doesn't exist. Point being, the good people at Screwattack can try to justify their decisions with whatever logic they like, but the fact is that at the best of times, their arguments rely on applying the laws of physics to characters those laws do not apply to. The only laws that apply to any fictional character are the laws of writers and artists.