OK, so we all know nobody’s beating Superman (except maybe Batman, depending how you want to read into that dynamic) or Goku. It’s pretty much impossible, and they’ve hit such a ridiculous tier of power that debating the issue is kinda pointless. So let’s just clear the slate. They win, it’s over. Fine. For the sake of actually doing something new for once, why don’t we introduce a new contender to the stage. Maybe he isn’t as completely over-powered as a Super Saiyan or a Kryptonian, but that just means we might just be able to get a little fun debate out of this type of thing.
That’s Saitama, the protagonist of One Punch Man. Now, the internet has gone absolutely crazy over this newcomer. Thanks to an awesome anime adaptation, One Punch Man fever has swept across most of anime fandom and even managed to seep out of that — sometimes insulated — culture and into other fandoms as well. In many respects this is just a continuation of the old grade-school-school-yard tradition of arguing who's strongest brought into the digital age.
School Yard Rumble
It's very easy to get really invested in these imaginary conflicts — probably far more invested then the original people responsible for creating the characters we so fervently love to debate about. Green Lantern can make just about anything, but his ring has a finite power supply and Superman can punch his way through just about any green light construct. But none of them are as strong as Spawn because he has necro undead energy and they’d have to rip his head off. But Goku has the power to annihilate planets and rip through dimensions.
Eventually someone would inevitably bring up something seemingly ridiculous like Mighty Mouse or Bugs Bunny and everyone would groan and roll their eyes because those are cartoon characters. But that’s the point. We get so invested in these narratives when the ultimate goal is an arbitrary figure and we spend countless hours fixating on all of these minute details, mostly because it’s much more fun than dealing with the far more plain banality of real life.
The Power Of One Punch
So bringing it back to good old One Punch Man, if he is a guy who’s single super power is the ability to beat anyone with one punch, who could stand up to him? There are already hundreds of videos dissecting the subject, but honestly, I don’t think any of the natural candidates are really set up for it. His power — at least in a meta-fictional sense — is that it’s funny to watch him wreck stuff left and right with one swipe of his hand, decimating bombastic villains and ignoring pompous heroes. Anything that comes into that as a serious contender is going to fall under that purview, and they’re going to die.
Saitama Vs. Superheros
Naruto or Luffy rambles about friendship for two hours. BAM! Done. Ichigo and his myriad of Mary Sue powers in a frenzy of author desperation. POW! Fight’s over. So what would pose a challenge to him? Maybe you have to go outside of the realm of manga and anime to pick a contender. As the esteemed scholars of death battle have pointed out, Superman is written to be a character with no limits and that is why he will always inherently triumph over Goku, whose district thematic purpose is breaking past perceived physical limits. Surely with all of the reality warping powers that Superman possesses, he would give Saitama a run for his money. But all he needs to get is one punch and it’s over. But perhaps everyone’s looking at it all wrong.
The biggest misconception about Saitama is that he’s a sincere action hero when he’s ultimately a gag character. His bald-headed appearance is a joke, the fact that his power of one punching was achieved through sit-ups, push-ups, and squats is just an elaborate gag. So matching him up against a serious character will always turn them into the straight man, leaving them completely vulnerable to being one punched. The real question should be: Which gag character would have the best chance of transforming Saitama into their foil? That’s when things get much tougher. Bobobo-bo Bo-Bobo famously created an entire battle manga system with characters working to out gag each other.
Saitama Vs. Gag Characters
There is nothing more brutal than a gag fight to the death. Bugs Bunny could give Saitama a good run for his money given the fact that he’s managed to face off against some of the nastiest cartoons ever drawn. Probably the best match-up for Saitama would be Deadpool. What makes him such a great match-up is how he's the perfect parody of the modern superhero. Deadpool uses his superhero shtick to mask his more absurdist fourth wall-breaking comedic gag and jokes that creative comic book writers use to subvert the traditional superhero punch-fest brawls.
The problem though is that his regenerative healing factor could allow Saitama to switch things around and turn Deadpool into the foil by simply punching him into mush again and again as he tries to regenerate. Just repeating that ad nauseam would make Saitama the victor since the repetition would become a joke in of itself forcing Deadpool to submit. Bobobo might stand a chance given that he’s a shonen manga gag character designed in a same way that Saitama is designed as a parody of sentai superheroes. But ultimately, Bobobo tries too hard, Saitama’s deadpan demeanor would always turn even his ridiculous nose hair powers into a foil, allowing him to become the ultimate winner.
So what about Bugs? The rabbit that wrecks anything that comes into contact with him with anvils and no other character ever seems to get the better of him given that he’s the animated demon spawn of Groucho Marx and Mickey Mouse. Bugs has no limits, he’ll cross just about any boundary for a laugh, even going as far as to blur gender lines all just for the sake of making someone a fool. Not to mention the unlimited supply of ACME weapons. The problem is, Bugs is a little too smug, a little too sure of himself. I know we all love the smarmy asshole, but don’t you just once want to see him fail? Just watch him get knocked through a house or something while Elmer Fudd goes crazy. That would be his downfall.
Saitama Vs. Squirrel Girl
The ideal setup would be Saitama to come in and cold-cock both Bugs and Daffy in the middle of one of their classic “Rabbit season! Duck season!” arguments. Bugs is not a humble character who's used to losing, which is precisely why Saitama’s understated gag demeanor would catch him completely off guard, letting him get in that one punch. As awesome as this fight might seem, we believe we’ve picked out the one character who could dominate over Saitama and cripple him in just about every respect. The one character who could absolutely destroy him is none other than The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
She exists in this wonderful sweet spot of being a legitimate superhero while also serving as a complete gag character. She attacks people with squirrels. It’s the lamest super power ever invented, but it’s one that has brought some of the most powerful villains in the Marvel universe down to their knees. Squirrel Girl has conquered Dr. Doom and even demolished Thanos the Mad Titan.
Anything being assaulted by a contingent of belligerent squirrels is going to be hilarious and no matter how many devastating one-hit KO punches Saitama can deliver, in the end he’ll be completely overwhelmed by huge swarm of rabid squirrels. That would completely disorient and ultimately disarm him. There’s a reason why she’s now known as the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
A battle between Squirrel Girl and Saitama would be one for the ages, a titanic tussle that would even do Stan Lee proud, but no matter how many super-powered punches he might be able to land like every other villain or hero who’s ever tried to tackle her, he’ll ultimately be conquered by the sheer volume of squirrels at her disposal as well as the fluffy tailed prowess of Monkey Joe and Mr. Lieberman.
Now that we’ve presented our unequivocally scientific facts and reasoning, who do you think would win in a fight? Saitama or Squirrel girl. Answer this once and for all in our handy poll.