Open Thread: The question, “Who would win in a fight?”

It’s been a month since our last open thread (to the day) so it seemed a good time to have one.  (Well we did have the one that was as much metapost as open thread, but I’m not counting it.)

People, some people, a certain proper subset of the group that is people, and possibly members of outside groups as well depending on how we define people…

Starting over: Some seem endlessly fascinated with the question, “Who would win in a fight?”

Occasionally this involves real people, more often fictional characters:
Who would win in a fight, Superman or Batman?
Who would win in a fight, James T. Kirk or Malcolm Reynolds?
Who would win in a fight, Evelyn Salt Salt or Zoe Washburne?
Who would win in a fight, Jane and the Dragon or Rainbow Brite and Starlight?
Who would win in a fight, James Bond or Sydney Bristow?

It always seems to be people who are very good at what they do, at least I’ve never seen:
Who would win in a fight, Inspector Clouseau or Jar-Jar Binks?

Anyway, the question.  You can answer it if you’d like, but I was thinking this would be more about the question, why do people keep asking it, why does it inspire conversation when it does, why don’t we see “Who would be better at X?” where X is some non-confrontational thing or, if it must be, “Who would win,” why don’t we see, “Who would win in a chess game/game of riddles/game of questions/steeplechase?”

And, as always, the prompt is to get conversation started, no limit it.  So if you’ve got something else on your mind, go for it.

42 thoughts on “Open Thread: The question, “Who would win in a fight?”

  1. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 9:21 am

    And it only really occurred to me after writing it that some of the “Who would win in a fight,” categories are actually pretty well suited to, “Who would win in a steeplechase?”

    For example Kirk and Mal are both riders. And the question of, “Who would win in a steeplechase, Jane and the Dragon or Rainbow Bright and Starlight?” already includes both rider and steed.

    No idea who would win though.

  2. Silver Adept December 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I think part of the reason we (USians) say “Who would win?” is because we want definite proof and concrete answers, rather than a potentially ambiguous scenario where someone is better but not necessarily guaranteed victory because of seemingly-irrefutable logic.

    And we (USians) don’t do chess or other non-contact or intellectual sports because of or anti-intellect bias and desire to see physical exertion of some sort in our sport. Also, possibly, our national obsession with violence.

    Also, Clouseau. If for no other reason than what he does consistently turns out to work – we’ve only seen Jar Jar make it work once (even though it was on a grand scale).

  3. froborr December 17, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I have occasionally seen “Who would win” questions about non-violent competitions, especially in the world of sports. For example, who would win, *this* World Series-winning baseball team or *that* World Series-winning baseball team from a different decade?

    I’ve also seen “Who catches the criminal first, Superman or Batman?”

    Just in the last two weeks I’ve started seeing people discussing Equestrian-rules magic duels on Facebook, where the goal is not to injure your opponent but rather to be the first to cast a spell the other cannot counter or undo. Those only work for characters able to use magic, however.

    And my money’s on Clouseau, unless it’s the Darths & Droids version of Jar-Jar, who is a genius.

  4. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Also, Clouseau. If for no other reason than what he does consistently turns out to work – we’ve only seen Jar Jar make it work once (even though it was on a grand scale).

    That reminds me of an explanation of who would win, John McClane or the Death Star, it went something like this:

    The Death Star: Tends to explode. John McClane: Tends to make things explode. Not exactly rocket science here.

  5. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I’ve also seen “Who catches the criminal first,

    At Slacktivist a while back, more than once actually (if I remember correctly), there were various questions of who would defeat Nicolae Carpathia first.

    You just have to imagine the Leverage crew and the Burn Notice crew racing each other to bring him down. When you add in that every hero, and every villain, in existence would be in the race too the question becomes somewhat complex.

    I think my preferred outcome would probably be none of the usual suspects and having it be more of a, “She works on the guidance system,” moment.

  6. Timothy (TRiG) December 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Also, Who is Tom Bombadil?

    I think many people dislike ambiguity in fiction, and these “who would win?” questions are a good way to get everything clearly defined. A character’s “stats”, if you will. Nevermind the fact that the answer is not actually very likely to be illuminating. (What if Batman’s having a bad day?)

    Could the Death Star destroy the One Ring? I don’t know. Nor do I care, but some people do.

    TRiG.

  7. Timothy (TRiG) December 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    To be honest, I don’t recognise half the names in the post. Do I have to hand in my geek card now?

  8. froborr December 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    That reminds me of an explanation of who would win, John McClane or the Death Star, it went something like this:

    The Death Star: Tends to explode. John McClane: Tends to make things explode. Not exactly rocket science here.

    This in turn reminds me of a friend discussing his response to the question of who wins in a fight between Master Chief and Samus Aran, which he regarded as equally obvious:

    Even ignoring the thousands of years worth of technological advantage, Master Chief is military. Hir response to the challenge would be to land on the desolate, abandoned planet where the conflict was to take place, establish a perimeter, and start setting up a base camp. Samus would land and run into a cave, and that’s the last anyone would see or hear of her until just under an hour later, when the planet explodes.

  9. froborr December 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Superman and Batman are both from DC Comics.

    James T. Kirk is from Star Trek.

    Don’t know Eveline Salt; Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe are from Firefly, though I’m not sure they ever say whether she took her husband’s name so I’m not sure what her canon last name is.

    Who would win in a fight, Jane and the Dragon or Rainbow Bright and Starlight?
    I don’t know who any of these are except Rainbow Bright, who is from Rainbow Bright.

    Who would win in a fight, James Bond or Sydney Bristow?
    James Bond is from James Bond. I *think* Sydney Bristow is the main character from Alias, but I’m not sure.

    Who would win in a fight, Inspector Clouseau or Jar-Jar Binks?

    Pink Panther vs. the Star Wars prequels, respectively.

  10. froborr December 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Could the Death Star destroy the One Ring? I don’t know. Nor do I care, but some people do.

    I think this is like the immovable object/irresistable force question: There’s no self-consistent universe that can conceivably contain both, so the question is meaningless. An inconsistent universe could contain both, but then in an inconsistent universe the answer to every question is always “Maybe.” Except when it isn’t.

  11. anamardoll December 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Samus would land and run into a cave, and that’s the last anyone would see or hear of her until just under an hour later, when the planet explodes.

    BAHAHAHAHAHA. That is AWESOME, froborr. Thank you.

  12. froborr December 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    You’re most welcome.

  13. froborr December 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Thinking about the question more, I disagree that it’s about wanting certainty.

    I think it’s potentially about two things: establishing dominance and exercising creativity. How much of each is a matter of the circumstances and the people involved, and it can be entirely a matter of one or the other in some circumstances, but usually it’s a mix.

    Geek social currency is knowledge, the more arcane and obscure the better. “Who would win” competitions allow a display of that knowledge and hence an opportunity to establish superior standing. “No, that trick wouldn’t work against Superman because in Justice League vol 1 #375…”

    They’re also a fun exercise in creativity, as you come up with strategies and counterstrategies the characters could use against one another, and debate whether they’re consistent with the characters’ displayed abilities and personalities.

  14. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    To be honest, I don’t recognise half the names in the post.

    Already been mostly covered but:
    Superman – Orphan and the last of his kind, except for the other survivors that may or may not exist depending on when the comic you’re reading/movie you’re watching/TV show you’re watching was made. Gets his power from the Earth’s yellow sun. Which is also Mars’ yellow sun but for some reason he was sent here while John Carter was sent there. Back to Superman, character created by two Jews living in Cleavland, Ohio during the Great Depression, picked up by DC comics.

    Batman – Also an orphan, about as far from the last of his kind as you can get being an ordinary human. Gets his power from his inheritance which makes him the 1% of the 1%. In other words, he has the power of limitless wealth and an R&D department. Also created by two Jews during the Depression (same depression, different Jews), but this time rather than being picked up by DC comics it was specifically requested by them in response to the success of Superman.

    One begins to wonder if the reason that antisemitic people think that Jews run the world is because they’re afraid of Superman and Batman. If you’re willing to believe in an evil world ranging conspiracy run by one of the most persecuted minorities in history, why not believe that Superman and Batman are real people they’re holding in reserve to take away your guns?

    Anyway, enough religion.

    James T. Kirk – Captain of the starship Enterprise NCC-1701 from after Pike until it blew up in movie number… uh, 3 I’d guess. Though there was a period in there when he was admiralized and other people were technically in charge. Then in charge of the HMS Bounty (captured Klingon Bird of Prey formerly under the command of Christopher Lloyd who has better luck with flying time traveling cars) Then the starship Enterprise NCC-1701 A. Sort of the go-to Star Trek captain, especially when talking about who would win in a fight.

    Malcolm Reynolds – Captain of the Firefly class spaceship Serenity. Best known for every episode of Firefly.

    Eveline Salt is a misspelling that I’ll fix as soon as I finish with this post, should read Evelyn Salt. Title character from the movie Salt.

    Zoe Washburne – Malcolm Reynolds’ first mate, best fighter on Serenity.

    Jane and the Dragon – The title characters from Jane and the Dragon which is based on Jane and the Dragon. Jane is a Knight in training. The Dragon is a Dragon. They’re best friends and Jane rides the dragon.

    Rainbow Bright and Starlight is another misspelling (there were quite a few weren’t there?) should be Rainbow Brite and Starlight. They’re the female protagonists from the 1985 movie “Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer” which my sister used to watch a lot back in the day. Rainbow Brite is a a magical girl, Starlight is a magical talking horse. I’m not sure which one of them being magical accounts for them being able to effectively “fly” by running on top of Rainbows one or the other of them creates that take them wherever they want to go.

    James Bond is British secret agent 007, licensed to kill, he works for Dame Judi Dench.

    Sydney Bristow is the main character in Alias, a show that constantly struggled between making sense and the desire to destroy all sweetness and light in the universe but consistently had Sydney Bristow kicking ass and occasionally taking names.

    Inspector Clouseau is a Peter Sellers’ character, originally a side character in the movie The Pink Panther he was popular enough that all later movies were based around him. He is utterly incompetent but he never gives up.

    Jar-Jar Binks is sort of the Inspector Clouseau of the Star Wars prequels, but he’s not nearly as fun. Jar-Jar Binks as played by Peter Sellers might be, but Peter Sellers was dead at the time.

  15. froborr December 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    *reads the article on Jane and the Dragon*

    So… who would win in a fight between Jane and Cimorene?

  16. Firedrake December 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    I’ve met this more as “which ship would win, the USS Enterprise or an Imperial Star Destroyer/Death Star”… and, well, the assumptions of the universes are so different that it’s not really a meaningful question to ask. But yeah, as froborr points out, it gives an opportunity to delve into obscure references.

  17. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    *reads an article on Cimorene*

    The impression I get is that Cimorene is older and more experienced, but if one assumes that we compensate for that by letting Jane grow up a bit to even the odds I’ll put my money on her for a couple of reasons.

    First, she works with Dragon, not for him. Jane and the Dragon are friends and equals.

    Or to put it another way Jane and the Dragon are joined by the bonds of friendship. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds, and you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords. And when I say you are a… Got carried away there.

    Second, Jane and the Dragon might not quite be commoners (well the dragon seems to be, but Jane’s mother is a lady in waiting to the queen which seems to be a noblewoman’s job) but they are of a more working-class status than a human princess and a dragon king (who happens to be female, but some kings are so that’s fine). I tend to put my bet on the working class over the royalty in a one on one, or two on two, contest.

    Basically, the friends who work together I would bet on over the royalty who have one working for the other.

  18. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I’ve met this more as “which ship would win, the USS Enterprise or an Imperial Star Destroyer/Death Star”… and, well, the assumptions of the universes are so different that it’s not really a meaningful question to ask.

    I created this to-scale image for the purposes of trying to stall out such conversations and move onto more fruitful conversations (compare them as stories, compare the characters, but which ship would win a fight, seriously?):

    Kirk’s original ship (Enterprise pre-modification) face to face with Vader’s ship.

    Images used to form the very simple composite from Starship Dimensions

  19. Firedrake December 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Yeah, but one ship has Plot on its side and the other doesn’t…

    Also, not to spoile Wrede’s excellent Dragons series, but it’s only briefly a master-servant relationship. And Cimorene is handy with a frying-pan when it’s needed.

    But actually she’d probably find a way for everyone to get what they wanted without fighting.

  20. froborr December 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I have read an actually moderately decent Star Trek/Star Wars fanfic; in that story, the Imperial Remnant and Federation were actually on a pretty even footing, technology-wise. Empire has no weapons capable of hitting a starship at warp, and no way of blocking transporters; any given Federation planet falls to a single Star Destroyer if there’s no starships able to get there in time, and hyperdrive is nigh-instantaneous compared to warp.

    Then the Borg assimilated Thrawn and everything went to hell in a handbasket.

    I’m with Firedrake on likeliest outcome of the Cimorene/Jane fight.

  21. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    And Cimorene is handy with a frying-pan when it’s needed.

    That’s what needs to be compared. Frying-pans.

    The frying pan from Raiders of the Lost Ark vs. the frying pan from Tangled, given that they are in the hands of equally matched combatants, which one ends up winning the fight?

    Much better than all this “Who would win in a fight?” “Which frying pan would win the fight?”

  22. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Oh and I should weigh on on this too:

    But actually she’d probably find a way for everyone to get what they wanted without fighting.

    Given that that could describe either of the individuals involved, it probably is the likeliest outcome.

  23. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Yeah, but one ship has Plot on its side and the other doesn’t…

    I’m sure that it has already been done (if it hasn’t, why not?), but I feel like there needs to be a story where people really take this into account. They’re on an epic quest for the plot device. That’s not me using short hand, they literally refer to it as “the plot device”. They don’t even try to stop the bomb until the last second because they know it’s not going to stop with five hours and 22 minutes left to go since that’s not dramatic. So on, so forth.

    It would be, basically, the meta-movie, or some such, but if done right it could be fun.

    This is entirely apart from the idea of a story which is progressing normally until a crew member is injured like in Spaceballs and then the crew gets drawn more and more into the story until the most recently revised version of the script would be the most valuble intelligence either side could get their hands on, as the crew is drawn more and more into the conflict the cameras change from steadycams to much smaller things that you can run with, more of the quality expected of amateur video than a movie crew. (Also small enough to use one handed so that you can hold a weapon in the other.)

    The characters would end up having three sides where once there were two (original side one, original side two, and brand new side of: I want to leave this story) the crew would have three sides where there once was one (we should just be a film crew and not get involved, we’re on side one now, we’re on side two now.)

  24. froborr December 17, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Chris: Galaxy Quest.

  25. Steve Morrison December 17, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Actually, an irresistible force and an immovable body could coexist, but only if there were some law of nature which prevented them from ever meeting.

  26. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    froborr,

    I have actually seen that (“It always stopped at one on the show”) but I mean in a more, these are the laws of the universe kind of a way. So not, “Why are there blades here, it makes no logical sense for there to be blades here, they serve no purpose, and if we make it out of this alive I’m going to kill whoever wrote this episode,” and more, “Of course there are random unnecessary deadly things here, I’m just happy it wasn’t flames, flames tend to spread out, blades always stay the same thickness. Much more predictable.”

    You know?

  27. christhecynic December 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Immovable objects require a frame of reference. Immovable relative to what? The earth? The sun? The galaxy? The local group? What?

    An irresistible force and an immovable object can coexist and interact, but not within the same frame of reference. Because what would have to happen is for the entire frame of reference to move.

    You want this immovable object (relative to the earth) to get out of your back yard. It only has to be moved three feet. Just three feet to the left and you’re rid of it. So you go down to the store, navigate through the frictionless pulleys and massless ropes and so forth until you come to the irresistible forces. You buy one that should move the object in your yard the three feet it needs to be moved and head back confident that you’ve solved your problem.

    You introduce object to force and then fall over backward as the entire planet moves three feet to the left. You moved the object alright, but your yard along with it. Not to mention D.C., Paris, Moscow… seven continents, a handful of oceans, and so forth. Which means that as far as any terrestrial means of measurement is concerned, the object didn’t move.

  28. christhecynic December 18, 2012 at 6:14 am

    So, more on the original topic, elsewhere people have said that it comes from a combination of wanting to add to the story (a kind of fan fiction I suppose), a liking of crossovers, and a sort of creative engagement with the source material and whoever it’s being discussed with (“Well Cthulhu would do X,” “No, Cthulhu couldn’t do X because Y” followed a detailed discussion of why Cthulhu could/couldn’t do X and the metaphysics of Y and so on.)

    Thoughts?

  29. Lonespark December 18, 2012 at 7:25 am

    The example of this I saw most recently was people predicting which U.S. presidents would win in free-for-all gladitorial combat to the death. So, showing off your knowledge of history and trying to predict who might team and for how long… It was kind of creepy to me because real living people, in some cases…

    Now that I think about it “which legendary historical personage would win in a fight, based on the documented legends about them?” might be fun. And some pagans enjoy imagining/predicting how gods from different pantheons and heroes from different cultures would interact.

    I used to play the game Anachronism. The game itself was kinda meh, but there was fantastically huge appeal in being able to go “I, Alaric, challenge you, Genghis Khan, to a duel! Winner fights Jeanne d’Arc…” And even awesomer was learning about African/Middle Eastern/South Asian/East Asian/Central American/South American/North American legendary heroes and warriors that I either hadn’t heard of or didn’t know much about. Perhaps there are video games like this? I would probably enjoy them.

  30. Firedrake December 18, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Chris at 6.14am, I think that’s fair – with a side note that both of those things, done in company, assist social bonding by sending the message that the speaker knows about this important-to-the-community stuff in some detail.

  31. christhecynic December 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

    The example of this I saw most recently was people predicting which U.S. presidents would win in free-for-all gladitorial combat to the death.
    That’s absurd. Gladiatorial combat to the death just leaves you without much in the way of veteran gladiators. Putting more than 40 gladiators in the ring and only letting one leave alive would be a complete waste. This would have to happen under one of the emperors who was callous, not all that smart, and mentally unhinged. Of which there were a few.

    Anyway, ignoring the pointlessness of the “to the death” clause, and the clause itself…

    Presidents I know off the top of my head:
    Nixon would deny any knowledge of the fight
    Carter wouldn’t bring enough helicopters
    Reagan wouldn’t remember
    Bush would make promises he couldn’t keep
    Clinton would be more concerned with the sex aspect of being a gladiator (which was a real aspect) but would manage things in the arena well
    Bush would pick fights he couldn’t win, claim victory, and manage to bring the country to it’s knees for unrelated reasons
    Obama would be constantly hindered by his support staff
    Taft doesn’t really seem to be in fighting trim but he would make history by managing to serve in every capacity.
    Garfield would be confused with a cat.
    Cleveland would seem to be defeated but then make a comeback
    Roosevelt after whom the bears are named would be named as someone’s second to make him completely useless only to have that person (bought and paid for by the titans of industry in an example of corruption) killed soon after and then take the fight not against other presidents but against those trying to rig the game.
    Roosevelt the other would work on making sure everyone in the arena could find a job to do and kick the ass of certain foreign leaders, and do almost all of it while sitting down. He’d also last the longest.
    Ike and Grant would bring some military tactics to bear.
    Hoover would do very little, trusting in the situation to solve itself.
    Truman would seem to be failing but come from behind even quicker than Cleveland.
    Ford would have a respectable run, but it would be sullied by the person who bowed out leaving him in charge and mostly remembered for the actions of the street comedians doing impressions of him down the way from the arena.
    Kennedy would bring hope, but not last long enough to deliver it.
    Johnson would be a backstabbing asshole, but one who was a highly effective force for good.
    Washington would retire after two rounds in hopes of setting an example for the rest.
    Adams and Jefferson would be at each other’s throats but develop a deep respect for each other.
    The other Adams would be mostly remembered for what he did post-arena.
    Jackson would ignore the rules and get away with it.
    I’ve kind of, sort of, lost my place. (That’s the trouble with going out of order.)
    Lincoln would be Spartacus.

    Stuff like that.

    It was kind of creepy to me because real living people, in some cases…

    It is, and yet… I’ve actually seen it with real living people you know. “Who would win [chair of the faculty senate and member of an oft overlooked or denigrated program] or [evil then president of the university]?” Was a question that was going around. It still comes up even though evil president has been deposed. (She got off easy though, she was promised not to be officially fired and to be paid her regular salary through the end of her contract if she would just get the fuck out of the country, so essentially she got a lengthy paid vacation for her incompetence and evil.)

    Anyway, it was clearly the first for many reasons, but I think really you could base it on this: the person who publicly threatened to replace every single language program with Rosetta Stone because she got a perfectly legitimate good-faith question she didn’t quite like is not someone who understands tactics or thinks things through.

  32. froborr December 18, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Teddy Roosevelt wins.

    How can there be any debate about that? Every other President could team up against him, and he’d still win. Dude killed a bear in a knife fight, survived an assassination attempt and within two hours was giving a speech about the necessity of civility in politics, and created the National Park system because he was afraid of running out of things to kill. You don’t mess with Teddy.

  33. christhecynic December 18, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I meant to say that Teddy Roosevelt would give a speech after being shot, but I forgot that bit somehow.

  34. christhecynic December 18, 2012 at 10:22 am

    A better question would be why the hell are these presidents all trying to kill each other? What situation, exactly, could lead to that?

  35. froborr December 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Crosstemporal succession crisis, obviously.

    That or the standard Smash Bros. explanation: Bored kid with action figures in a universe that works according to Toy Story rules.

  36. Silver Adept December 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    I lore that explanation, froborr.

    @chris – the extending the story idea is a good one. Sometimes it degenerates into something much less friendly for all involved, if someone runs into one of the Intractable Debates (Trek v. Wars) or is more concerned with Being Right than with engaging in the speculation.

    It’s probably one of the driving forces behind TVtropes – trope comparison seems a pretty good way to resolve some of those “what if” scenarios.

  37. froborr December 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Out of curiosity, which explanation, Silver Adept?

  38. Silver Adept December 18, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    The Smash Brothers universe explanation. Sorry, I wasn’t very clear there, was I?

  39. froborr December 19, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I should say, that was the explanation in the original Smash Bros. and Melee. Brawl throws that off a bit–Master Hand and Crazy Hand are clearly the kid playing with the toys, but what does that make Tabuu? The programmers?

  40. Silver Adept December 19, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    According to a fanon explanation I read, perhaps in a FAQ, Tabuu is the kid’s older, more destructive sibling who doesn’t care nearly as much about the kid’s relatively benign worlds and is using their status as older sibling to force the direction of play.

  41. Fitcher's Bird (@fitchersbird) December 20, 2012 at 7:05 am

    This whole conversation reminds of another discussion back in my Livejournal days. One fan from the female-dominatedside of fandom recalled conversations with the more stereotypical male fans about the impulse to pair up any two random characters as the equivalent of the impulse to see the two fight. (I remember it being pointed out that as “slash” sounds quite violent out of context, the appropriate term therefore for the latter should be “thrust”.)

    With that in mind, I tend to agree that it’s not just about winning the fight (in-text) or the argument (e.g. Batman beats Superman therefore Batman and Batman fans are better). It’s a way of engaging with the text, often in a way encouraged by the text. It’s a cliche that any time two superheros meet that they’ll fight first, and I don’t know whether that started in response to such discussions.

    Also it may be a reaction to the superlative nature of many characters. Both House and Sherlock are the smartest guys in their respective universes and that is a key part of their characterisation. In a universe that can encompass them both, what becomes of that fact? With so many characters defined by their fighting prowess a fight can seem the only way to define them in this new crossover universe.

  42. christhecynic December 20, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Also it may be a reaction to the superlative nature of many characters. Both House and Sherlock are the smartest guys in their respective universes and that is a key part of their characterisation. In a universe that can encompass them both, what becomes of that fact? With so many characters defined by their fighting prowess a fight can seem the only way to define them in this new crossover universe.

    This seems a point well made, but also seems, and I’m trying to put this as nicely as I can, incredibly unimaginative. (Not on your part, on the part of those thinking in the way you’re describing.)

    In the real world when we come across those equal in some respect we generally either declare a tie or,find a different means of breaking it.

    Consider the high jump. Whoever makes it over the highest bar wins. What if two people make it over the highest bar? Well then we go to a question that is completely different in all possible ways, who can make it over the highest bar in the fewest attempts? Now all of a sudden a competition that normally has nothing to do with number of tries (beyond the fact that an arbitrary finite number of tries has been defined, that number being three) is entirely about number of tries.

    What was once, “It doesn’t matter if you make it on the first try or the third,” becomes, “It absolutely matters which try you make it on.” When the talent in one area is equal another area is used to break the tie.

    If two people are equal in fighting and you can see no way to break the tie other than having them duke it out, you seem to have an extremely deficient imagination. Maybe [Hero 1] is better at horseback riding while [Hero 2] is better at computer programming. You’ve now found out how they fit together in the same universe without forcing them to do the one thing likely to go into interminable extra innings until the fan’s eyes can no longer stay open and weariness rules the crowd.

    Which is not to say that I disagree, it’s just that it seems like a massive lack of imagination.

    In a universe with both House and Sherlock Holmes the way they’d fit together is that House would make medical diagnoses and Holmes would solve crimes. Neither one of them is likely to propose a battle of wits, that more in the bailiwick of Westly and Vizzini, and even if they did, and even if one of them for some reason proposed it to the other, and even if it happened, the outcome seems most likely to depend on the topics covered, the referee, and various other factors having absolutely nothing to do with how smart they are.

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