For the first time in this bracket, all remaining contestants will be represented in one post. The decisions will be tougher than ever, the outcomes more debatable and most importantly, it’ll be the more fun to speculate than the previous rounds that brought us to this Sweet Sixteen. Here they are:
1. Superman vs. 5. Raven
Superman’s speed is negated by Raven’s pesky ability to teleport. So we can take the anticlimactic speed blitz option off the table. Physically speaking, this plays out like an extended game of cat and mouse. Raven is very much like Jean Grey/Phoenix in that her full potential is off the charts and impossibly difficult to measure, even by comic book standards. Her demonic lineage, which is an essential part of her character, can produce some apocalypse level devastation. Superman, of course, is quite the devastator himself. His physical abilities are probably second to none in both the DC and Marvel universes. So why am I about to make Raven win? Let me go hide in a corner first. Hear me out! Kryptonite obviously makes the Man of Steel physically vulnerable, at times completely useless (depending on the source material). But his much greater weakness is actually magic and telepathy. Raven happens to be very good at these things, among the best. Cable had some telepathy, and I had Superman destroying him, but Raven is on a completely different level. Mind control and various mystical circumstances often contribute to Superman’s downfall, forcing his allies to come together and either save or defeat him. As a puppet, all that strength and speed doesn’t matter. Of course it’d take a while, seeing as Raven doesn’t necessarily pack the hardest punch around. But packing a punch isn’t how you beat Superman. She would be able to completely dismantle him if he didn’t have help from the Justice League, who are able to protect him from magical or telepathic villains. Are his weaknesses completely plot derived in order to make stories interesting? Absolutely. But these downsides are a part of his character, something that will eventually cost him against some of DC’s finest. Raven moves on to the Elite Eight with a huge upset.
2. Hulk vs. 6. Rogue
Rogue is going to want to stay as high in the air as she possibly can. The problem is, with no ranged attacks, this fight is a stalemate until she comes back down. I’m not sure little energy blasts would do much against the big guy, but attacking from afar would at least give Rogue some kind of advantage. Eventually, she’s going to have to approach him. Rogue hits hard. The Hulk hits exponentially harder. The only way to theoretically go for the win would be to utilize her draining powers and bravely work her way in close. Rogue’s fast, but isn’t the most elusive. The second she went in to try and grab Hulk, he’d crush her like a bug before she could hold on nearly long enough to do any real damage. This fight would only last as long as it takes Rogue to make that fatal mistake. Hulk wins and earns a spot in the Elite Eight. Did I rob us of a Superman-Hulk matchup? Yes, yes I did. I was looking forward to Michigan St. vs. UNC this weekend too. Things happen.
1. Jean Grey vs. 4. Green Lantern
Both of these characters have famously all-powerful versions in which they are possessed, so let’s take that off the table. Dark Phoenix and Parallax make for fun stories but this tournament is between heroes. Green Lanterns, especially the most powerful and strong-willed one of all time, are particularly well equipped to deal with telepathy. Whether or not he can strictly defend it with some kind of barrier, Jean wouldn’t be able to take his mind before this becomes a more physical fight. Jean’s one weakness, if we’re calling it that, is that she has no additional durability. Her telekinetic ability to stay safe so that this doesn’t become an issue is great, but someone with literally unlimited possibilities for ranged attacks could break through her psychic defenses. With Jean on offense, it’d take something even more powerful than her telekinesis to break through Hal Jordan’s many shields and created defenses. Hal is as smart as he is arrogant, and would know exactly how to approach a fight like this. Jean’s usual advantages are taken off the table one by one, and Hal Jordan finds a way to defeat the most powerful of the X-Men.
2. Martian Manhunter vs. 3. Flash
Physically, this battle would be hilarious. Both can essentially become intangible. Martian Manhunter literally can, and then Flash can run right through attacks. Flash could even vibrate in such a way that forces the Manhunter back into being tangible, so he has an edge there. The Manhunter is fast but Flash is obviously considerably faster. Two factors tip this fight against Barry, however. For one thing, he can’t fly. While he often maneuvers his way upwards using various structures and objects, Martian Manhunter actually flies. From up high, he can blast whatever’s at his feet. Of course, Flash dodges every beam he fires. The ultimate difference maker here is the Martian Manhunter’s telepathy, a power that has been the deciding factor in many of this tournament’s fights. When everyone in the room is all powerful in some way, often times the last one standing will be the one who brings a little extra to the table. Martian Manhunter beats flash, but only through use of this game-changing ability. Whether or not he can fully overtake the speedster, the Manhunter can freeze him just long enough to unleash his superior strength for the win.
1. Thor vs. 5. Iron Man
What would’ve happened if Cap never broke up that fight in the woods? Thor’s lightning is all but useless, even counterproductive against Stark’s armor. After one of those, he’d likely resort to hammer attacks only. This would be tough, given Iron Man’s superior speed. Stark has the advantage from range, and would wear down the God of Thunder with energy blasts. But Thor isn’t exactly slow, and would eventually land some shots of his own. Every hit from Mjolnir would count for way more than a comparative peashooter from Iron Man. Thor can crush Iron Man’s less durable armors with his bare hands. Only Stark’s elite two or three suits would be left after Thor made the rest look like action figures. Thor’s durability is off the charts, making him almost impossible to kill. It takes top tier power to even put him in any sort of danger. Iron Man carries a few advantages into this fight, but cannot accumulate enough damage to overcome the deadly blows he’d occasionally be receiving. If Cap didn’t show up and slap them on the wrists, Tony would’ve been a dead man sooner or later. His comic book counterpart is much more powerful, but Thor’s on-paper incarnation is absurdly powerful. Thor wins this one, ending Iron Man’s impressive tournament run.
2. Shazam vs. 6. Deadpool
Let’s draw up a scenario in which Deadpool wins. Deadpool breaks the fourth wall and rewrites the story himself, making Deadpool the winner. Other than that, he doesn’t stand much of a chance in this one. First of all, Deadpool can’t fly, so Shazam spends this entire fight in the air. From that point on, he just rains lightning down onto his poor opponent. Even Deadpool’s healing ability would not be able to overcome the constant bombardment. We could debate whether or not he’d actually be dead, but he’d at the very least be incapacitated beyond the point of being able to move or even think. Without much suspense, Shazam fries Deadpool for the win.
1. Silver Surfer vs. 5. Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers and the almighty Silver Surfer have a lot in common in terms of the basic framework of their powers. The Surfer just so happens to have this energy and flight speed at much greater degrees. Captain Marvel’s one advantage is combat knowledge and overall aggression. The Silver Surfer’s general apathy may not be able to match Danvers’ competitiveness and will to win. However, while that does provide an edge in this tournament, everyone is playing to win here. If their power was even close to even, I’d likely give Captain Marvel the upset. But she wouldn’t be able to take down the Silver Surfer using a lesser version of his own powers. Silver Surfer defeats yet another powerful cosmic being on his way to the Elite Eight.
2. Wonder Woman vs. 3. Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange was dumbed down in recent years. Sometimes, instead of getting creative to give stronger characters a real challenge, writers will just bring them down to the levels of their enemies. To respect the character, we’ve entered Doctor Strange into this tournament at full strength. One issue he immediately faces against Wonder Woman is her intermediate resistance to magic. It isn’t absolute, and he’d eventually be able to break through and tear her apart. However, in that limited time, he’d be forced to deal with her physically. Doctor Strange is all but useless while he’s preparing a powerful spell. Other than teleporting away form her, which would break his concentration and maybe reset his progress, he has no way of avoiding her attacks. In a team setting, Doctor Strange may be the most valuable superhero to ever exist. Protecting him with physically stronger heroes unlocks a list of unlimited magical possibilities. Alone, however, a character like Wonder Woman can simply end him before he can end her. Wonder Woman moves on to complete our Elite Eight.
With fifty-six down and eight to go, Superhero March Madness has reached the quarterfinals. Much like college basketball’s bracket, this March tournament’s climax will happen in April. With seven fights left, it’s still anyone’s game.
Check out the Elite 8!
Here's our second round for anyone catching up: