Since the Avengers movie is such a hot commodity right now (though I have, so far, refused to go see it since I know I’ll just be pissed off over its deviations from the beloved comicbook of my youth) I thought this might be an appropriate time to produce the definitive list of the five greatest superhero martial arts experts…
Number 5: Karate Kid
No, not that Karate Kid. This one was a member of DC Comics’ Legion of Superheroes, a team of young, 31st century crimefighters (apparently, even in the 31st century, karate experts will still be wearing gi-like uniforms). He only ranks number five on the list due to inexperience. After all, he is just… a kid. Maybe when he becomes Karate Man, he will move up on the list.
Number 4: Iron Fist
A Marvel Comics creation who has the ability to focus all of his chi energy into his fist, which apparently makes for a pretty hard punch. But his most impressive technique is that, while he died years ago, he seems to be back now, better than ever. Hah! Take that Bruce Lee!
Number 3: Shang Chi, Master of Kung-Fu
Speaking of Bruce Lee, who can forget Marvel Comics’ answer to the late cinematic martial arts icon, a character created at the height of the kung-fu craze in the early 1970s. He could kick through brick walls while spouting fortune cookie philosophy (My personal favorite was when he tried to cross the street against a red light and a policeman stopped him. Shang Chi argued there was no traffic on the street and the cop said it didn’t matter, he still had to obey the light, to which Shang Chi replied by asking the cop, does that mean if the light is green I should still cross even if traffic is coming? And then chiding the policeman that if not for this nuisance, he would be a block down the street now and further upon his journey of life). And you know he had to be good at kung-fu, it says right there in his title he’s a master.
Number 2: Captain America
You didn’t really think I’d have a kung-fu guy ahead of Captain America did you? I mean, come on, he’s Captain America! And I’m not talking Randy Couture, here. This Marvel Comics super solider supposedly trained in every form of combat known to man when he became the army’s answer to the Ultimate Fighter in World War II. And besides, he’s Captain America! How could he not be on a list of the greatest anything?
Number 1: Batman
As much as you have to love Captain America, the nod here has to go to DC’s caped crusader. It comes down to a big experience advantage for Batman over Cap. Batman got started crimefighting in the 1930s, a few years before Captain America came along in WWII. And then Captain America was frozen in suspended animation at the end of the war for a couple of decades. You know that kind of layoff has to erode your skills a little. Meanwhile, Batman was still out there training every day. How good is this guy? Even Superman comes to him for help on occasion. If you need further proof, check out the old Adam West television show. In the infamous Batman and Robin meet the Green Hornet and Kato cross-over episode, Bruce Lee couldn’t even take Robin in a fight. So just how do you think he would have done against Batman? Think about it. Forget Bruce, Chuck, Carradine, Couture, Silva or any of them. Hands down, best martial artist ever, Batman. Nuff said.