In the spirit of March, I will bracket just about anything. I’d bracket breakfast meals around this time of year. Given our equal fascination with hypothetical matchups and fictitious fights, an integrated Marvel/DC Superhero March Madness bracket seems like a match made in heaven. So here it is, 64 strong. The seeding was determined by a combination of factors, ranging from my personal opinions to the Internet’s general consensus in terms of who belongs where in the initial rankings. No seeds were altered in any way to force future matchups. Believe me, I’d love if Batman ends up facing Superman as much as the next guy, but this bracket has integrity. I decided to go heroes only, since many villains are designed to force entire teams into the mix and are intentionally overpowered. Two notable omissions were Dr. Manhattan (we don’t need someone thinking Superman out of existence for the championship) and Professor X because he could theoretically take over any mind on this bracket for an equally boring championship. From this starting point on, I’ll do my best to fairly and honestly work our way through the bracket and down to a champion. Today, we’ll take out that upper left quadrant of this first round, as shown below.
1. Superman vs. 16. Falcon
Given Falcon’s recent experience as the new Captain America, he’s clearly no slouch. In the MCU, Cap’s wingman also provides valuable support as one of his most trusted allies. But one of my favorite aspects of this opening round is going to be some of the blowouts we see from these mismatches. It’ll either take a pinpointed weakness or an absolute powerhouse to take down the Man of Steel in this tournament, and Falcon carries neither advantage. Assuming we’re going with the more traditional Falcon, a large majority of his entire gimmick is the flying. And his opponent is about a thousand times better at flying. Here’s an early rule we’re going to establish: for the sake of this bracket, all fighters are bloodthirsty killers. So the “no kill rule” held by some of DC’s finest can go right out the window. Superman punts Sam Wilson about three hundred yards for the win.
8. Cable vs. 9. Drax the Destroyer
We transition from the most decisive fight in this round to arguably the toughest. Cable’s techno-organic virus creates a remarkably wide spectrum that his powers tend to wander. At his peak, there are few heroes who can take him down, but Cable is incredibly inconsistent. His body and mind are often deteriorating between feats of incredible power. Drax is much more straightforward, as both a skilled warrior and an absolute beast. We’ll stick with the movie version that isn’t flying around; he’s the version that most fans are familiar with. And because we love Bautista, of course. While Drax may take this fight hand-to-hand, Cable’s abilities go well beyond the physical. Even in a weakened state, his telekinetic/telepathic powers tilt this fight in his favor. Let’s not forget the concussive blasts, similar to his father Cyclops who is in fact much younger. Time travel is fun. The cybernetic body would be just enough to keep Drax somewhat under control, ranged blasts and gunfire would wear him down, and some telekinetic horror would finish him off.
5. Raven vs. 12. Luke Cage
I’ll say this a number of times throughout this process, but it’s very difficult to measure the power of psychic heroes. One thing we do know is that it’s one of the most formidable superpowers in any medium. In many ways, this matchup falls right into Raven’s lap, even though Luke Cage is a hero with some upset potential. The man has unbreakable skin, but Raven doesn’t break you from the outside. While her telekinesis and skill set isn’t the most destructive of the psychics, more often used for the manipulation of one’s emotions, it still packs a punch. And we all saw how well Luke Cage held up against mind manipulation on Netflix. It doesn’t end well for the unbreakable man, and this doesn’t either. Raven could make him quit the fight altogether. If these fights must be to the death, she walks him straight into the ocean.
4. Black Bolt vs. 13. Iron Fist
Iron Fist is another character ready for an upset, because he has a complete immunity to magic and a martial arts skillset that is rivaled by very few. Unfortunately for him, the seeding didn’t fall in his favor. Marvel doesn’t classify Black Bolt’s one major damage doer as magical in any way. Leader of the Inhumans, Black Bolt’s powerful voice can level cities with a whisper. With a shout, it does a great deal more. His physical combat abilities may not rival Danny Rand, but they don’t have to. Black Bolt literally shushes Iron Fist to death here before the match even gets interesting.
6. Rogue vs. 11. The Human Torch
Most people know Rogue as the movie universe’s shy, power-draining teenager. But the “real” Rogue is much more than that. After a legendary clash with Ms. Marvel, Rogue also posses flight, super strength, and raw power before she even needs to borrow anything. The Human Torch may be able to evade her for some time, but if she even lays a finger on him (something Johnny Storm wouldn’t mind so much at first) the flames are useless and so is he. Rogue also hits significantly harder, and wins this one with or without her primary ability.
3. Sentry vs. 14. Blade
Sentry isn’t very popular but he’s as powerful as he is complicated. If not for some crippling instability issues between the ears, he’d be a top seed for sure. An augmented version of Cap’s Super Soldier Serum exponentially increased its capabilities. Super strength, speed, flight, durability, and various light or energy related powers. His downfall? Dismantling his psyche diminishes that entire list, reducing him to a flawed hero that does more self-harm than good. Fortunately for Sentry, Blade isn’t someone who can take advantage of that. Sentry obliterates Blade in hilarious fashion.
7. Storm vs. 10. Nightcrawler
We have our first of, I imagine, several X-Men matchups. Storm is much more powerful than the Halle Berry portrayal would have you believe. But Nightcrawler’s teleporting adds an element of unpredictability to the fight. Storm’s literal force of nature makes her a worthy favorite, but this is a nightmare matchup for her. Precision lightning strikes are nearly impossible against a foe of this nature, and her climate altering moves take too long to develop when trying to survive against one of the quickest and most agile heroes in the business. Without any viable close-range option to force Nightcrawler to be more cautious, Storm wouldn’t even have the opportunity to do what she does best. Nightcrawler wins this one, slicing storm up with ease.
2. Hulk vs. 15. Nightwing
We kicked off these eight fights with a blowout, so too shall we end with one. Nightwing is my favorite DC character, but I could not in good faith give him a better seed for a more reasonable matchup. The Hulk is an unparalleled source of brutality. Could Nightwing sneak up on Bruce Banner and kill the man before the monster even shows up? Depending on the “Hulk rules” you’re applying, that might not even work. Either way, this isn’t one to overthink. Hulk smash puny Nightwing.
This first slate only granted us one upset. Credit the Internet for some quality ratings and opinions. Our eight victors will move on, only to be joined by the 24 from the remaining divisions.
* Here's Round 1-2 for our next sixteen fighters:
Hope you all enjoy!