18

I've had this discussion before with my friend who likes Western comics and he didn't know an answer, so I thought I'd ask here.

I'm more into anime & manga and usually the order of titles like personA x personB, can give you a good idea of what role they play.

What I was wondering was, in Western comics and comic-based films such as the upcoming Batman Versus Superman - does the order ever hint at who will win? For example, maybe the winner always is mentioned first.

I realise this is pretty broad, but I'd be pretty happy with a comparison of the more popular titles and if there's any trend with them.

Also, I don't mind spoilers at all, as it is just a curiosity to me - but you might want to wrap answers for other readers.

  • 2
    Batman vs Superman isn't an upcoming comic, it's an upcoming film. – Valorum Mar 19 '16 at 11:33
  • I had presumed it was an adaption of an existing work, I don't follow the superheroes myself, fixed with an edit – Toshinou Kyouko Mar 19 '16 at 11:38
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    Nah. There have been a whole bunch of Superman vs. Batman conflicts over the years, but the latest film is a wholly new property. – Valorum Mar 19 '16 at 11:45
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    fwiw... in the case of Batman vs Superman, it's pretty clear to anyone familiar with both characters that they'll end up working together against a common foe, and will be comrades by the end. – Joel Coehoorn Mar 20 '16 at 2:04
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    'aaaBemmnnprsStuv' makes less sense. – Pete Kirkham Mar 20 '16 at 12:28
27

A quick search of recent vs. movies on IMDB suggests a distinct pattern. The underdog is usually placed first, but invariably wins in the end.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Scott wins
Ash vs. Evil Dead - Ash wins
Billy the Kid Versus Dracula - Billy the Kid wins
Cowboys vs. Aliens - Cowboys win
One-Armed Boxer vs the Flying Guillotine - One-Armed Boxer wins
Earth vs. The Flying Saucers - Earth wins
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla - Godzilla wins
Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness - Bruce wins
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil - Tucker and Dale win
King Kong vs. Godzilla - King Kong wins
Aliens vs. Predator - Aliens win
Monsters vs. Aliens - Monsters win
Kramer vs. Kramer - Draw

  • 9
    Never thought about this before, but it's really not that surprising a tactic for Hollywood: put the familiar hero/main character first, and then the evil antagonist last. ‘Versus’ here really means more ‘up against’, unlike in law suits where it means ‘against’ more generically. Batman vs. Superman will be an interesting case, because it's pitching two heroes against each other, rather than a hero and an antagonist. Without really knowing anything about the movie, my guess would be that it'll end like Kramer vs. Kramer, in a draw/truce, to avoid a hero being defeated. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 19 '16 at 11:41
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    @JanusBahsJacquet - Exactly. We all know that the outcome will be that they gain a new respect for each other. – Valorum Mar 19 '16 at 11:48
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    I dropped in to post the counterexample of Bambi meets Godzilla but just noticed that the title uses "meets" instead of "vs."… – Psychonaut Mar 19 '16 at 15:47
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    I wouldn't say anyone won in Aliens vs. Predator. Not the Xenomorphs, not the Predators, not the Humans, not the audience... – Xavon_Wrentaile Mar 19 '16 at 18:33
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    @Torisuda - That's true. I added it for a bit of fun. Joe Vs the Volcano is very firmly fantasy though – Valorum Mar 19 '16 at 20:43
11

No, there doesn't seem to be any real title pattern.

Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights:

Batman wins.

Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man:

Superman wins.

Spider-Man Versus Wolverine:

Spider-Man wins.

JLA / Avengers:

No clear winner, but if I had to chose, I'd say the Justice League.

Avengers/JLA:

Ends in a draw.

Avengers vs. X-Men:

They stop fighting before anyone wins.

Deadpool vs. The Marvel Universe:

Deadpool wins.

Marvel Universe vs. The Punisher:

Unclear, Punisher kills a bunch of his targets but eventually dies himself.

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali:

Against all odds, Ali wins.

  • 3
    "Punisher/Batman" doesn't have a vs. in it, nor do "Avengers/JLA" or "JLA / Avengers". That would explain the inconsistent outcome... – Valorum Mar 19 '16 at 13:44
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    @Richard It's a fight between the two titular characters. I think it counts. – Rogue Jedi Mar 19 '16 at 13:45
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    I'm not saying you're wrong, just that these aren't great examples – Valorum Mar 19 '16 at 13:45
4

Two patterns I have seen , which rarely reflect on the contents are:

1) Bigger name first. This is because the first name is the most likely one people will see/read. If the more famous/popular hero is listed first, there is a better chance the comic book shopper will pick up the title, read it, and hopefully buy it.

2) Alphabetical order. This is the simplest and safest answer to who gets top billing. No arguments about popularity or fairness.

If you look at the titles Richard provided, they conveniently all adhere to one (or both) of these. Except maybe "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil".

1

In addition to some of the ordering reasons provided, I can think of a few more:

  1. Home vs. Away: If one of the characters is in their normal environment, and the other is not, then the character at "home" is likely to be listed first. This can be closely related to the idea of the "better known" character coming first. Mentioned because I believe this is how most US sporting events are listed - the "home" team is listed first.

  2. Actor vs. ReActor: This may come from the US legal system: the entity pursuing the legal action (the plaintiff) comes first, and the target of the action (the defendant) comes second. Someone mentioned the movie The People Vs. Larry Flynt; this literally comes directly from the legal system.

    Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice may qualify here, as Batman is pursuing action against Superman.

  3. Politics: When Marvel and DC published the first comic book to cross over their characters, Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, someone had to get top billing. I cannot recall if the means for picking who was ever revealed. Superman may have gone first because he came first, and in many ways was the predecessor for all super-powered heroes of the future; or, maybe they flipped a coin. In any case, when a sequel was produced several years later, Spider-Man got top billing, to even things up. When the tow companies published a more line-wide "versus" series in the 1990s, two issues were DC vs Marvel, and two were Marvel vs DC.

    More recently, DC and Dynamite (current holder of the comics license for the Shadow) published a Batman/The Shadow series, followed up by a The Shadow/Batman series. From the listings, I believe DC was primarily responsible for the first series, and Dynamite for the second (based on which company each series was listed under).

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