(Warning - the following may contain mild SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War. Proceed with whatever level of caution your innate SPOILER-aversion dictates...)
It's arguably the quintessential fan debate -- sorry, Star Wars vs. Star Trek fans -- but that doesn't make the question of which of two given characters, typically superheroes, would win in a fight any easier to solve. After all, in a world in which who'd win between the near-infinitely powerful Superman and the very, very human Batman remains a matter of serious debate, pretty much every other potential superhero conflict seems likely to remain very much unsolved.
With next year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War set to bring an unprecedented number of superhero smackdowns to our screens, though, it seems that the movies might just be set to answer once and for all a couple of questions that our own arguments never quite can.
In both cases, though, it seems that the filmmakers are likely to come up against a pretty fundamental problem: how are the plucky, but very laser-beam-able Captain America and Batman going to be able to match up to the (on the face of it) vastly more powerful Iron Man and Superman?
Well, Batman always has the Kryptonite option on his side, along with the fact that Batman always wins, but what about Cap? After all, Iron Man has a suit that can go toe-to-toe with the Hulk -- meaning that if he wants to rip Cap's Super-Soldier-ing head clean off, he probably can.
Well, thankfully, that's something that Robert Downey Jr.'s personal fight coordinator Eric Oram recently spoke to ComicBook.com about while promoting the newly released Avengers: Age of Ultron Blu-ray, and as it turns out, there's a very particular reason why Cap might just stand a chance against Iron Man. Y'see:
It Sounds Like Iron Man Will Be Pulling His Punches in Captain America: Civil War
Yup, that's right -- according to Oram, avoiding turning Iron Man into an unstoppable killing machine is a legitimate concern over at Marvel Studios, with the nature of the heroes fighting having adjusted accordingly:
"In combative terms, it's escalation of force...It plays into the character's history. In the beginning, it was all about 'me,' so there's collateral damage, and he learns he can't be that reckless. That means over the course of the movies, he's had to learn to exert control. The real challenge is having the wisdom of when to use it and when to not."
Or, in other words, Iron Man could punch a hole through most of his opponents' chests -- but chooses not to, so as to not be a reckless psychopath.
When it comes to potentially fighting Cap, then, Oram noted that Iron Man would use the "minimum force" necessary to beat his opponent, since using more would essentially make him look like a villain.
Though -- and this is where the potential plot teasing for Captain America: Civil War comes in -- there's nothing to say that Tony Stark -- the man inside the armor -- is always going to make the right decision:
"In an individual moment, does he lose sight of that? Can he let his ego make decisions? He has to really try to execute the way he knows he should..."
Which, as fans of the comic books will remember, is something both he and Cap struggled with during the original Civil War storyline...
One particular comic book scene raises an intriguing possibility for Captain America: Civil War. In it, a thoroughly beaten Iron Man...
...is saved at the last minute by a group of conveniently evocative emergency service workers...
...whose intervention prompts Cap to recognize that both sides are ultimately just fighting for the sake of fighting, rather than actually trying to resolve their differences:
Is it possible that we could see a very similar scene in the movie -- only reversed? After all, a single overthrown punch from Tony's Iron Man armor could likely deck Cap -- so might we perhaps see Stark come to the realization that he's become little more than a villain while standing over the barely moving body of the Star Spangled Avenger?
It would certainly stay true to the original source material's central idea that neither side is truly right or wrong, while offering a less conservative close for the movie (and providing comic book fans with a pleasant defiance of their expectations)...
The big question, though?
What do you think?