Predators. These fearsome beasts strike fear into the hearts of many. Well, sometimes they strike in awe, but yeah, mostly fear; and these two superheroes embody the fear of specific predators to an extreme.
Kicking off the fifth season, Marvel and DC enter the ring to carry on their eternal feud, and the chosen champions of this round are two of their respective comics' brightest superhumans, rich in both wealth and intellict, and armed with suits and gadgets to complement their peak physicality. Divine blessings will be pit a lifetime of dedicated training, a sole invulnerable metal against a fortune worthy of its own arsenal, for Black Panther and Batman are without a doubt, some of the best protectors of their worlds and rivaled by few, but only one has the skills and technique needed to triumph in a death battle.
To start the episode, Wizard and Boomstick open with a look at the life of the Black Panther, one T'Challa, born as the prince to the hyper-advanced African nation of Wakanda. Though the country was shrouded in secrecy, T'Challa spent his early years traveling the world, garnering his education from several prestigious universities. T'Challa was ready to return home after acquiring several degrees, only for tragedy to follow in his wake; T'Chaka, his father, the king of Wakanda, and the at-the-time Black Panther was assassinated by the villain Ulysses Klaue, thus leaving Wakanda without an incumbent king. In order to earn the right to lead Wakanda, T'Challa had to fight six of the country's toughest warriors at the same time, a task which he easily succeeded in. His struggles would not end here, however; he would then have to travel into the Wakandan jungles to find a mystical heart-shaped herb blessed by the panther god Bast. By consuming it, T'Challa was given improved physiology and in the process, he was gifted with the ceremonial garb of Wakanda's king, the Panther Habit, now ready to carry on in the legacy of his fallen father.
The blessings that Bast shared with T'Challa may seem like traditional superhero fare, but the king of Wakanda takes them to another level. Superhuman speed, strength, and agility, all paired with accelerated healing, all come standard issue for those who consume the heart-shaped herb. His senses have likewise been improved, allowing him to see much more clearly and even in ultraviolet and infrared; topping this all off is his heightened kinesthetic sense, essentially increased awareness of his muscle movement, used to aid him in his mastery of every major martial art in the world. As should be expected of such a physically impressive figure, the Black Panther has his own collection of weapons and gadgets, and T'Challa's stems from his country's own secrets. Millennia ago, a meteorite fell from the cosmos and struck ancient Wakanda; this single event would go on to shape the nation's entire legacy, as the meteorite was composed of a rare, extremely durable metal capable of absorbing sound and kinetic energy called vibranium. The vibranium helped jumpstart Wakanda's technological prowess, keeping them ahead of the rest of the world by decades. So valuable is this metal that a single gram sells for an even ten thousand dollars, putting the meteorite's whole value at almost ten trillion; and as the king of Wakanda, T'Challa has access to the nation's entire supply. The Panther Habit is composed of a vibranium weave-mesh, utilizing the metal's inherent properties to stop the momentum of oncoming attacks and store them in the suit; on the offensive front, the Habit bears claws made of a special Antarctic vibranium. This variant, also known as anti-metal, is called such for its ability to weaken the molecular bonds of metallic objects, dissolving them. For his equipment beyond the suit, the Black Panther carries with him several similarly advanced gadgets, such as a teleportation device and daggers composed of pure energy.
This much technology and the powers of a god behind him should render the Black Panther an unconquerable adversary, but no character is perfect, and T'Challa adheres to this rule. As durable as the vibranium suit is, there is a limit to the energy it can absorb, be it kinetic or audial; if this threshold is crossed, the suit expels the built up energy in a massive, violent explosion. Even with Bast's blessing, T'Challa is still a human, prone to failure and relinquishing the title and powers of the Black Panther. But even with these in tow, T'Challa has proven himself worthy of being the latest in a long line of Wakanda's protectors, having fended off attacks from supervillains and even alien invaders. His strength lets him hurls spears with a stone-breaking force of twenty thousand psi and his speed lets him keep pace at over fifty mph, proving his mettle against other superhumans and expert martial artists. Whatever faults T'Challa may have are easily surpassed by his own merit, that which earned him the right to lead the most imposing nation on the planet and protect its interests several times over.
This much having already been said, the hosts shift gears to Batman, one Bruce Wayne whose story is known the world over and even covered in his prior appearances; the tragedy of a young man whose life would be forever changed when a mugger gunned down his parents in front of him. Bruce traveled the world under the tutelage of the League of Assassins, gathering detective skills and combat training before returning home to the dismal streets of Gotham City; both as the CEO of his parents' legacy, Wayne Enterprises, and as the nocturnal vigilante, the Batman, putting his training to good use in scouring the streets of Gotham to protecting its people from suffering just as he once did.
The organization he inherited from his parents, Wayne Enterprises, serves Bruce well as both a front for his day-to-day activities and the source of funding for his nighttime vigilantism. The company's fortune is so great that it bears the equivalent of over nine billion dollars to its name, which he uses to afford the myriad gadgets during his stints as the Bat. Grappling hooks, grenades with unique chemical compositions, smoke bombs, several variants of batarang shuriken, all his equipment funded by Wayne Enterprises. The fortune, however, is not a crutch for Bruce to depend on, but a supplement, a means to bolster his physical and mental capabilities in his one-man crusade against the evils of Gotham. Like his foe, Batman is a master martial artist, skilled in over a hundred twenty fighting styles, and he also has studied the ways of ninjutsu, making him an expert at stealth and infiltration, and again, like his soon-to-be opponent, Bruce is an imposing figure, capable of bench-pressing half a ton. At the middle ground between his training and his wealth is the Batsuit, a custom-made Kevlar armor resistant to fire, electricity, and bladed attacks. The suit itself possesses almost as wide a variety of features as Bruce carries gadgets; the cowl comes equipped with ultraviolet and infrared vision and its trademark cape can stiffen, enabling him to glide over vast distances.
To say Batman has made his mark in and out of the world of DC is a massive understatement. His mind is one of the sharpest in the world, able to pick up on the smallest details, and combined with his fortune and service to Gotham City, have earned him a spot as one of the founding members of his world's premiere lineup of superheroes the Justice League. Even greater still is his willpower; no matter what sort of situation or death trap he may be forced into, Wayne will never back down. This does not mean that Batman is flawless, however. His allies in the League can take on threats that far exceed his weight class, meaning he can be overpowered, and does know of his own mental faults, being prone to irrational actions; the latter in particular is of vital importance. Bruce knows of his instability and it is for this reason that he abstains from using firearms, depriving himself of what could be a valuable advantage in combat. But if a setback as petty as a code against guns is a chief flaw, then it stands with good reason that Batman is one of the most devoted defenders of Gotham City.
Both fighters have been studied and they are clear to engage. One advertisement for the Blue Apron cooking service later, and now, it's time for a death battle!
A cloudy night in the streets of Gotham City has its peace interrupted by the roar of a black car darting through the pavement, none other than the Batmobile. Bruce Wayne, the Batman, nonchalantly listens to the radio as he seemingly rides past the local zoo, closed for the day. Watching in the distance is T'Challa, the Black Panther, who effortlessly vaults over the wall and enters the premises, finding the Batmobile itself waiting for him. Heralded by a swarm of bats flocking outside the car, the Batman vaults out and lands with ease, facing T'Challa. The panther and the bat size each other up, and with a final pair of one liners, T'Challa lunges towards Batman...
... but the bat jumps out of the way, Black Panther landing on the hood of the Batmobile. The king of Wakanda flips backwards and off Batman as the pair exchange fisticuffs. Punches are blocked and dodged, but Bruce shielding himself from a right hook costs him, as the ensuing high kick from T'Challa marks the first clean hit of the battle. With a failed knee strike, the Wakandan is forced into stay on the defensive, parrying and sliding backwards from Bruce's oncoming attacks. This gives Black Panther the distance he needs to shift the fight back in his favor, rushing too fast for the Bat to keep up with while T'Challa lays into him with repeated slashes from the anti-metal claws. A final slice knocks Bruce skyward, where Wakanda's valiant sovereign gives chase, beating the Gothamite with repeated jabs and an axe kick that sends him rocketing back to the cobblestone streets of the zoo.
The bat has survived worse, however, and he leaps out of the cloud of dust kicked up, waiting for T'Challa's next move. He doesn't have to wait long as from the wreckage comes the Panther himself, knocking Batman into the main plaza. Bruce transfers his momentum into a handspring flip, just in time to roll clear of Black Panther's own kick. With his grappling hook, the CEO of Wayne Enterprises pushes back, dragging T'Challa back to him and knocking the Panther into a fence. T'Challa leaps off the fence and gets in close, the fighters huddled down and blocking each others' punches and kicks. The pace keeps up until T'Challa hops upward, barely evading a sweeping kick from Bruce, and countering with a dropkick square to the chin. Though the impact forces Batman to slide back into the same fence he hit the Panther into moments earlier, it also gives him space to use his ranged gadgets, tossing a bola in T'Challa's direction. The Black Panther leaps towards the weapon, and with a single slice of his anti-metal claws, cuts the bola to shreds. He keeps the momentum up by throwing a wild haymaker, the impact of which knocks Bruce clean through the fence. Barely does Bruce recover and land upright, finding himself in the lion enclosure.
The denizens of the zoo confront the Bat, lions snarling and surrounding him on all sides. T'Challa spots Batman and leaps into the pen after him, the lions closing in. A second later, the two heroes swat the leonids away. The Panther catches Bruce with a judo flip, forcing himself to block another lion's assault for a second, backflipping away from lion and bat alike. The king of Wakanda lunges towards the second lion, plunging his claws deep into its pelt and putting it down for good. Blocking Bruce's own dropkick at the last second redirects T'Challa's attention to the original fight, as Bruce touches back down and arms himself with batarangs. Batman briefly hammers into the Panther Habt with backhands and elbows, but the surviving lion interrupts the conflict by batting the Panther away. The Bat and the lion stare each other down before the Gothamite fires a pair of darts at the lion, the tranquilizers rendering it unconscious. T'Challa attempts a sneak attack, but Bruce doubles down on his attention, tossing a series of batarangs towards the king. The Black panther halts his approach, letting the first two batarangs drop unceremoniously off the Habit and backhanding the third explosive projectile clean into a rock wall; the batarang detonates, letting loose a stampeding rhinoceros onto the battlefield. The Panther pays this next intruder little mind, catching the pachyderm mid-charge, before hurling it into the air and slicing clean through the rhino's flesh. Bruce, meanwhile, has escaped to the now-abandoned rhino enclosure, finding a sewer grate leading to the aquarium, seconds before T'challa arrives and sees the disturbed grate.
The battle comes to a head with T'Challa leaping into the grated walkway above the aquarium, finding Batman waiting for him. With bats fluttering in the air and killer whales in the water below, panther and bat exchange remarks before the king of Wakanda begins striding towards the Gothamite, only noticing a faint beeping too late; the walkway has been rigged with explosive batarangs. Batman watches his foe plummet to the depths, but T'Challa is quick to turn the situation around, vaulting off the rubble and just barely maintaining a grip on the edge of the walkway; this grip, however, is what sets the stage for the finisher of the duel. With Bast's likeness appearing before the Bat for a second, Black Panther delivers a wide slash to the torso of Gotham's defender, ducking under a hook and slicing through the armored chest of the Bat, punctuated with a wide spray of blood. The Black Panther verbally establishes his dominance over Batman before launching into an onslaught, smashing the Bat into a railing and following with a triple kick. After a rapid series of slashes across Bruce's body, T'Challa unleashes a final upward palm strike, the force of which rips the Bat's head right off the shoulders, before kicking the rest of the body right into the maws of a waiting orca, T'Challa witnessing his prey consumed.
In the aftermath of Batman's demise, the hosts study the key points leading up to it. Both men possessed genius-level intellect and a nearly unrivaled mastery of martial arts, but the Black Panther was stronger and faster thanks to Wakanda's heart-shaped herb. That said, this alone would not be enough for T'Challa to claim victory, as Bruce has gone up against others with similar or even superior physical feats than the Panther and still became triumphant. The true tipping point in the Panther's favor was in a comparison of both fighters' arsenals. Vibranium, with its myriad defensive capabilities, is something that Batman would be perplexed by, having no reliable counter to it. For good measure, the hosts go so far as to say, out of the myriad adventures Batman's various incarnations have gone on, none have ever possessed a gadget that could bypass vibranium's durability. They specify that in his fights with villains such as Bane, Batman may be physically outmatched, but overcomes his foes by targeting their weak points, of which the Panther Habit has none. While in theory Bruce could develop a weapon that could overload its absorption capabilities, said weapon would undoubtedly be a gun, and given Batman's moral code against them, he would never use such a firearm, disabling him of his only chance to take victory over T'Challa. Black Panther, meanwhile, has anti-metal claws as his suit's primary weapons, wich, as they can easily destroy metal weapons, would make quick work of Batman's Kevlar suit and its myriad gadgets. While both fighters are superhuman and have firmly earned their places in their respective worlds, it was Batman who lacked the technology to keep up with his superior foe and ultimately the chance for victory.
- Boomstick: In the end, Bruce just Wayne'd in comparison to T'Challa.
Wiz: The winner is Black Panther!
Black Panther vs. Batman contains examples of:
- Back for the Dead: Batman was killed off by Spider-Man in the first season, then came back from the dead to exact his revenge on Captain America. Now he's on his third outing and this time, Black Panther's sent him back to the grave.
- Badass Boast: T'Challa lets Bruce have it while laying into him in the finale of the match, combining in a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner, a Pre-Mortem One-Liner, and a Bond One-Liner."Did you think you were safe? The strong shall hunt the weak! That is the law of nature! And my rule is law!"
- Broken Win/Loss Streak:
- Call-Back: Boomstick points out that this isn't Batman's first time in the Death Battle arena.
- Continuity Nod:
- Black Panther's rundown features screencaps of Misty Knight's robotic arm, composed of Antarctic vibranium, melting adamantium weapons; she and her metal arm share the same properties as Raiden's high frequency blade, a point brought up when Wolverine went up against him.
- As has been the case with previous episodes featuring the Bat, Boomstick continues his tradition of describing him as the goddamn Batman.
- Batman's mental instability, highlighted by how he keeps recruiting children to serve as his sidekicks and his decision to fight crime while dressed as a giant bat, is pointed out once again.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: While both Black Panther and Batman could hold their own against each other, the same can't be said for the zoo animals against them:
- One of the lions doesn't even manage to land an unblocked hit before T'Challa sinks his claws into it, neutralizing it.
- The other lion posed slightly more of a threat, landing a few non-meaningful hits before Batman tranquilizes it.
- The rhinoceros fared the worst — it didn't even manage to get a proper hit on Black Panther before getting thrown into the air and unceremoniously punched/slashed away.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Batman stays true to character and has no firearms at his disposal. However, this actually works against him in the match; without any reliable way to overload the Panther Habit's energy absorption, Batman can't strip T'Challa of his biggest advantage.
- Fed to the Beast: Batman attempts to pull this on Black Panther by destroying the section of walkway he's on to drop him into the orca enclosure. It doesn't work due to T'Challa using the falling debris as stepping stones to reach Batman. Later on, Black Panther pulls this off more successfully on Batman's headless body, where an orca indeed finishes it off.
- Fiction 500: Both men are owners of some of the largest fortunes in their respective worlds and channel that wealth in their respective endeavors.
- Foreshadowing: The presence of the signs in the zoo pointing at the lion and rhino reserves and the aquarium hint that all these elements will later be involved.
- Mêlée à Trois: After T'Challa kicks Bruce through an enclosure, the fight briefly becomes each other vs. the lions they disturbed.
- Mythology Gag: Black Panther briefly dukes it out with a rhino, as he did in the opening of his 80s miniseries from Peter B. Gillis.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: T'Challa spares no expense in finishing off Batman, laying into him with a rapid-fire series of kicks and slashes.
- No-Sell: The Panther Habit excels in this, absorbing virtually any attack and robbing it of its momentum. In the match itself, it allows Black Panther to handle anything that comes his way, rendering Batman's entire arsenal useless.
- Off with His Head!: After a violet series of slashes across the armor, T'Challa ends the fight by knocking Bruce's head off.
- Panthera Awesome: As to be expected from the king of the most advanced nation in the world, who dresses up like a panther, though the lions in the fight aren't any slouches themselves.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: The fight itself is opened with our combatants trading lines.Black Panther: To challenge a king is to challenge the might of his people!
Batman: I'll give them something to fear.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Bats is introduced listening to some upbeat J-pop in the Batmobile.
- Rhino Rampage: After the lions are taken out, one Batarang explodes the rhinoceros den and causes a rhino to charge out at T'Challa. Unfortunately for it, T'Challa effortlessly suplexes it, throws it into the air, and punches it away.
- When it's revealed that T'Challa got his superpowers from a mystical herb, Boomstick likens it to the marijuana-induced flight from Half Baked.
- To highlight Boomstick's example of kinesthetic sense, "how we can walk up steps without looking at them," a clip of Wendy Torrence knocking her husband down a flight of stairs is played.
- Stepping Stones in the Sky: The moments leading up to Black Panther delivering the finishing blow to Batman see him jumping up and off the remains of the destroyed walkway.
- Swallowed Whole: Well, almost whole; Batman's disembodied head is the only thing left after an orca gobbles up the remains.