No one can predict what will happen when one superhero takes on another. Well, other than the fact that the guy whose name is on the comic book cover is going to win.
Sometimes, you don't even need that. Here are seven match-ups where one party is so clearly outmatched they make Ralph Nader seem like a safe bet.
While most Superman stories boil down to "He punches something REALLY hard" (or in the grittier, psychological stories, "He's really DETERMINED to punch something really hard"), the Flash's stories are based on a fine balance. The balance between the colossal stupidity of his enemies and the not-quite-so-colossal stupidity of the hero, who never seems to remember that since he has superhuman speed, he could kill anyone before they even know they're his enemy, literally the instant he decides to do so.
But even this balance swung over to "wildly one-sided" when he fought Captain Boomerang.
We seriously doubt that there is a Boomerang Army, or that they would promote this man to captain.
How do you take on a hero who can outrun bullets? If you're George Harkness you think, "I'll use slower projectiles that are designed to return to me, and because I have the mental faculties of a goldfish and have already forgotten the beginning of this sentence, I will then strap explosives to these projectiles! I can see no possible flaw in this plan!"
Harkness turned to crime after an audience ridiculed his boomeranging prowess, a decision which turned out even worse than you'd expect. Captain Boomerang is considered a joke even among the Rogue's Gallery of mental patients that are Flash villains, and those guys take orders from a talking Gorilla.
Thunderpunch was one of the Neo-Knights, a super-team dedicated to the destruction of the Transformers. If you imagine that means they piloted incredible super-bot-scrapping mega-machines, then congratulations! You're way smarter than the Neo-Knights.
Instead, they went toe-to-toe with robots who could honestly step on them without noticing the squishing sound, let alone their array of wildly unsuitable superpowers. But none was worse than Thunderpunch.
He had (slightly) superhuman strength and was a classic case of somebody choosing the exact wrong opponent to nullify his only advantages. Fully half the crime-fighting heroes ever have been variations of the "Punches people really hard" power, but when you're dealing with four-story tall robots that also turn into tanks, it's like a particularly athletic moth launching itself at the sun.
Thunderpunch didn't do himself any favors when designing his uniform either: notice that the only parts of his body he doesn't coat with metal or hard-wearing fabric are the parts he hits robots with.
In The Incredible Hulk #300, The Hulk hulks out, (as he is wont to do) and starts demolishing New York City. In between servings of giant green fist-to-the-face, the Marvel heroes seem genuinely surprised by this for some reason.
Of all the many, many Banner-beatings handed down that day, surely the most satisfying and spectacularly one-sided is that awarded to a superhero Cracked fans will recognize as one of the six creepiest comic book characters of all-time and comic book fans will recognize as the Avenger most worthy of a beating, Starfox. He adopts the ill-advised tactic of trying to soothe the Hulk using his special talent for projecting waves of erotic pleasure.
We don't have doctorates in sexual trigonometry, but we're fairly sure that if you're going to overwhelm the Hulk with waves of ecstasy, then one meter directly in front of him is the last place you want to be standing. If this slash porno plot hastily reconfigured as a 'plan' had actually worked, Starfox would have died of the most disgustingly soggy chest wound in history.
Luckily Hulk just punches the idiot, and when you have to count being punched by the Hulk as a 'lucky' result, then you may have just enacted the worst idea since, well, the guy who sat down and created Starfox in the first place.
What every Avenger has imagined themselves doing at one time or another.
In over 70 years, the Man Of Steel has chin-checked pretty much everything that someone with a pencil in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other can come up with. But a woman who can be broken apart and reassembled at will? That's not a formidable enemy for Superman, or any man really, unless it's someone with a really specific, and debilitating fetish.
Also, when your super "power" is the ability to break into pieces, you may want to think twice before going up against a guy who can punch people into space or literally blow you apart.
Superman interrupts the most hideously contrived one-liner ever
Super-breath has always been the goofiest of Superman's powers. It's Superman's way of pointing out he doesn't even need to touch you to kick your ass.
Does the Puzzler learn from this simple demonstration? Well, if DC villains had even a hint of pattern recognition, Superman's alter ego would have long ago been identified as that guy with the glasses who always goes into the phone booth right before Superman emerges. Her second attempt is again less than successful, and more than humiliating:
If in the course of your epic superhero battle you ever wind up pinned helplessly under a waste paper basket, you may need to re-evaluate your nemesis competence level and maybe scale back to loitering in front of the mall security guard.
Look up in the sky, it's a numerologist ice-hockey goalie! A TRON gay pride activist! No, it's just the supervillain Calendar Man, whose gimmick was that he committed crimes related to the date. Sorry, we're afraid that's actually it.
Making your crimes extra-predictable when going up against the Master Detective is not just a bad idea, it basically makes you a more math oriented version of the Riddler. And when you're a less creative version of the damn Riddler, you could probably be defeated by a blown dandelion seed, some soggy toilet paper or even (in extreme cases) the actual Gotham Police Department.
Calendar Man is widely regarded as the worst Batman villain of all time, and let's face it, that's saying something. In final proof of sheer mental incompetence, he joined a group called the Misfits who decided to join forces in order to raise their profile. That's right, in a world where crime only exists because Batman can only punch a finite number of criminals per second, these guys wanted to get noticed. Listen pal, if you're walking around dressed like that and people are still ignoring you, take the hint.
Don't worry, the X-Men haven't suddenly become a Japanese tentacle fetish comic (though that'd be far from the worst thing they've ever done), it's just Wolverine losing a fight. Boy, who could have seen the outcome of this one coming? A man with a metal skeleton attacks someone who can exert absolute power over metal?
In fact, in the entire run up to this situation, nobody realized this might be an issue. Magneto didn't just appear in the X-Man mansion one day and start menacing people with the silverware, he's been their primary villain for decades, and not once did somebody turn to Logan and go "You know, the way he could turn you inside out with his mind might give him an unfair advantage. You might want to stay the f**k away from that guy."
Dazzler wore a shiny plunging neckline, could convert sound into light and roller skated. Awesome powers for a techno DJ, not so awesome for a superhero. The most incredible overestimation of her powers occured when she fought Dr. Doom, at which point the writer had to pretend that wasn't insane for like three solid pages.
Her plan was to kill one of the most powerful villains in the world, one wearing an armored metal suit, by first building up maximum momentum on her skates. This was the equivalent to a dessert chef declaring "In order to eat Mount Everest, I will have to use my LARGEST souffle spoon!"
She follows up with a dazzling light show, presumably hoping Doom is secretly epileptic. He puts up with this nonsense for approximately two seconds before electrocuting the entire room and capturing her until the Fantastic Four bail her out.
That's right, Dazzler loses to Doom in her own comic, and this is Dr. Doom we're talking about. It's his job to act as a maniacal chrome punching bag for basically anybody capable of putting on a cape. When you can't triumph over a man once defeated by Squirrel Girl it's probably time to find another career.
You don't make astonishing amounts of money without ending up a jerk in some way.
Being at the top of your game can really drag you down.
Even our most popular forms of entertainment can treat their employees like absolute trash.
Sometimes our big, dumb brains are just flat-out wrong.