People love the Dark Knight so much they could even accept Ben Affleck playing him, but Black Panther? He gets no respect from the general public. Thing is: Everything Batman is, Black Panther is better.
For the uninitiated, Batman may be one of the world’s first recognized superheroes, but T’Challa the Black Panther deserves his props too: he was the first major mainstream black superhero. True, there had been some embarrassing attempts in the past, and others that were noteworthy but never caught on among the reading public, but Black Panther premiered in the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine: the Fantastic Four. Meanwhile DC was afraid to have a black hero join the Legion of Superheroes.
Like Batman, Black Panther is an intelligent, rich man who is one of the best fighters in the world, and hangs out with the world’s most powerful superteam. In all respects however, Black Panther is the better man.
1. Resources: City’s Richest Man vs. World’s Richest Man
Forbes.com estimates Bruce Wayne is worth an impressive $9.2 billion. Inheriting his fortune from his father and (barely) managing his dad’s company, Bruce has nearly unlimited access to any tools of the trade he might need to fight street-level crime (not that he uses them correctly). Not bad for Gotham City’s wealthiest playboy.
T’Challa, on the other hand, is worth $90.7 trillion according to Time.com’s estimates. Like Wayne, T’Challa inherited his fortune from his father, but while Thomas Wayne granted his son an economic empire, T’Chaka granted his son the keys to the kingdom of Wakanda and the Great Mound – the Earth’s only source of True Vibranium.
The fictional metal is the source of the most fantastic of Marvel technology, even serving as a key component in Captain America’s shield. Because of the metal’s vital importance, and the fact that T’Challa’s people have zealously guarded it for centuries, the Wakandan people can set any price on it and completely control the global trade. (There does exist, by the way, Antarctic Vibranium, but it destroys all other metals and is not quite as useful.)
2. Smarts: World’s Greatest Detective vs. One of the Universe’s Smartest Men
Batman deserves a lot of respect for his sleuthing skills, as he has can find anything (even a trigger), and it is his brains, not his muscle that have allowed him to beat every opponent he’s ever faced. He also invented a lot of his own equipment, though some versions of the story have the Bat computer invented by his dad or the Batmobile invented by random engineers working for Lucius Fox.
Likewise T’Challa also inherited much of his technology, as the small nation of Wakanda has been the most advanced human civilization on his world for countless generations – but even given that, T’Challa is the smartest man to ever come out of Wakanda. He is listed among the Eight Smartest Men in the Marvel Universe, a list that includes Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards, Hank “the original Ant-Man” Pym, and Henry “the Beast” McCoy. As one of the smartest men, T’Challa joined their boys club the Illuminati (a team of secretive superheroes, not Beyoncé’s back-up singers) and staved off the end of multiple universes several times over.
3. Origin: Childhood Trauma vs. International Incident
Batman’s parents were shot by a random thug when he was a kid. He was so traumatized, he dedicated his life to becoming an object of fear to criminals all over the world and decided to dress like a bat because one accidentally flew through his window once.
Black Panther’s father, the king, was murdered by a supervillain (Ulysses Klaw) in an act that would once again shut off Wakanda from the world for decades, until T’Challa reopened it under his supervision. Oh, and T’Challa immediately got revenge for his father’s death by destroying Klaw’s hand and driving the outsiders from Wakanda. T’Challa dresses like a panther because it is the ceremonial garb of his nation’s greatest champion. It was not merely granted to him because he was king – he had to earn the title of Black Panther by besting all challengers.
4. Skills: Trained by World’s Greatest Fighters vs. Descended From History’s Greatest Fighters
Whether taught to fight by venerated ninjas or trained in sleight of hand by a great magician, the best in the world helped young Bruce Wayne become the master of all combat. Hand-to-hand, there is no greater fighter in the DC Universe. Even those who are more skilled in specific forms of combat or have other special advantages in battle fall before his fists.
T’Challa, on the other hand, was the latest in a long line of warrior kings, each learning from the successes and failures of the last. Trained to be the best warrior in his nation of warriors, T’Challa has an added advantage that his predecessors did not. Aside from being King of Wakanda, T’Challa was recently christened by his patron the Panther God as King of the Dead, as such, he not only calls on the skills passed down from his forefathers, he can actually call them up for advice and counsel at any time.
5. Power Boost: Temporary High of the Lazarus Pit vs. Permanent High of the Heart-Shaped Herb
Batman has died a few times, and often he’s relied on the Lazarus Pits of Ra’s al Ghul to bring him back. Returning from the pit invigorates Batman as nothing else can, making him – temporarily – a god-like man. The experience also has a tendency to unbalance the mind and can drive someone insane if they aren’t careful. Then there’s Venom, the drug of choice for Bane. When high on the drug, Batman was nigh-unbeatable, but the drug almost beat him.
Black Panther only took his traditional medical supplement once. After earning the right to be Black Panther, T’Challa imbibed the heat-shaped herb and was granted subtle – but significant – powers from the Panther God. With heightened senses, reflexes, and strength, T’Challa gained the perfect human physique.
6. Toys: Bat Ex Machina vs. Vibranium Ex Machina
Much has been made of Batman’s gadgets. He has an item for any occasion (though rarely ever an actual gun). Hell, he even had shark-bat-repellent handy just in case any shark-bats attacked! More traditionally, he has a Batmobile (some of which can fly), various bat-themed planes (presumably, some of which can be driven), Batarangs, glove-knife thingies, and a plethora of other all-purpose weapons. This can get a bit silly as times, but then, Batman is always prepared. Even for silly.
Black Panther is just as prepared, though most of his gadgets are Vibranium-based (but not panther-themed, because that’d be stupid). He designed them himself to do whatever needs done, from non-lethally incapacitating opponents to running up sheer vertical walls without making a sound (Vibranium tends to cancel most sounds). He devised technology for temporarily holding the nigh-unbeatable Silver Surfer and designed the Quinjets used by the Avengers and SHIELD. In fact, much of the technology in the Marvel Universe – even that designed by Reed Richards or Tony Stark – is based on Wakandan designs, and most of the designs Wakanda has released into the world were designed by T’Challa himself.
7. Bragging Rights: Able to Defeat Any Hero or Villain vs. Able to Defeat Any God or Devil
In the rightly lauded JLA “Tower of Babel” story arc, DC’s greatest legends learned Batman had a plan for defeating each and every one of them. It’s not that he wanted to defeat them, he just knew he might have to someday. If ever any of them went evil – which is a thing that happened – or simply had to be taken down, he would be ready.
Similarly, it was eventually revealed that the only reason Black Panther ever joined the Avengers was to spy on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Even as he acted as friend and confidant, he was studying them to gauge threat levels and learn weaknesses. Upon learning this, Captain America immediately kicked Black Panther off the team (but later invited him back). Black Panther’s preparedness does not stop there, however, as he has standing plans ready for himself or his army to use should any threat menace Wakanda. He created Galactus contingency plans intended to defeat the undefeatable force of nature (and later put them into effect alongside the Fantastic Four). He also prepared to defeat the devil, should he ever need to – and he did when the devil walked in his door. By the end of the confrontation, Mephisto (Marvel’s most successful Satan-riff) was begging to leave.
8. Sidekick(s): Boy Wonder vs. Queen Divine Justice
Batman has various Robins and Black Panther has the Dora Milaje.
The Dora Milaje are the Vestal virgins of Wakanda: Warrior women of numerous tribes who have pledged themselves to be the brides of the Black Panther and no one else, but whom he does not partake to maintain the delicate tribal balance of the country.
The greatest of all Dora Milaje was Queen Divine Justice, a Chicago raised teen who had more attitude and a better BS-detector than any Robin ever had. Plus, she took the Hulk out clubbing once and they remained friends for life.
9. Archenemy: Mass Murdering Clown vs. Unkillable Living Sound
Okay, granted the Joker is a lot cooler than Klaw, but the supervillain that killed T’Challa’s dad (and was played by Andy Serkis in Avengers: Age of Ultron) has one up on the Clown Prince of Crime in that while the Joker has had to fake his death (or barely survive) several times, Klaw exists as a being of living sound and has “died” numerous times, only to echo back to life. He’s currently dead, but that won’t last.
And while Black Panther’s rogues’ gallery isn’t a 10th of what Batman’s is, Black Panther has still had some bad ass opponents. The White Wolf is Black Panther’s helpful hindrance, as T’Challa’s adopted brother sees himself as Black Panther’s aid in protecting Wakanda while doing everything T’Challa commands against. Then there’s Erik Killmonger, who fancies himself T’Challa’s opposite and is certainly a threat both physically and mentally (and has a name even cooler than Jessica Jones’ enemy Kilgrave). And the rather odd – but still serious – threat of the Man-Ape, who despite all appearances is a foe T’Challa takes most seriously due to the Man-Ape’s political clout in Africa. Black Panther’s most feared enemy, however, has no apparent powers and wears no garish supervillain garb – he is simply Achebe, the smartest madman in the world.
10. Archfrienemy: Last Son of Krytpon vs. Avenging Son of Atlantis
Then there’s the big one: what superhero does the hero fight most fervently? We all know who wins in a fight between Batman and Superman (the studio is hoping they win), but what about Black Panther? He has had a long, antagonistic relationship with Namor, ruler of Atlantis. The two kings have butted heads more than once over international politics and superheroics, but it all came to a head when Namor destroyed whole swathes of Wakanda (he was under the influence of the cosmic deity Pheonix at the time, but T’Challa still blames him). In retaliation, Wakanda snuck attack New Atlantis, killing thousands in the dark waters of night. Responding to this immediately, Namor tricked the forces of Thanos (yes, that Thanos) into invading the already weakened Wakanda. Reacting to that, T’Challa crushed Namor between colliding Earths in a dying universe. Namor survived, and the two have since buried the hatchet – for now.
No one could argue Superman isn’t more popular or (usually) more powerful than the Sub-Mariner, but considering that Subbie is certainly up there with the heavyweights in strength, plus has an army of deadly warriors he’s not afraid to use at a moment’s notice, Namor of Atlantis is the greater threat. Plus, Superman cries when he has to kill a mass murderer. The Sub-Mariner killed 7,000,000,000 people to save two infinitely populated universes.
Legal Aid: Police Commissioner vs. Government Stooge
Batman’s friend Jim Gordon squeaks out the edge in badassery in this case, but with his special federal commission, Everett K. Ross can pull rank on a police commissioner like James Gordon (depending on the situation). Plus, Ross once sold his soul to the devil for a pair of pants and unknowingly dated T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend (good luck living up to the world’s most perfect man). What’s not to love about that loser?
So there you have it: Black Panther is objectively and definitively better than Batman.
Disagree? Tell me why in the comments.