— One of comics' most iconic superheroes gets his first major movie appearance on Friday in "Captain America: The First Avenger." But though the super-soldier has been around since World War Two, he's probably not as familiar to the average filmgoer as Batman, who'll return to theaters next year in "The Dark Knight Rises." How do the two of them stack up against each other? Let's count the ways.
Batman: After his parents are killed in a mugging gone wrong, orphan boy Bruce Wayne obsessively trains in secret for years until he's ready to dress up as a giant bat so he can fight crime.
Captain America: After he is rejected as physically unfit to serve in World War Two, patriotic weakling Steve Rogers volunteers for a medical experiment involving a "super-soldier" serum and Vita-Ray bombardment that transforms him into the perfect warrior so he can fight Nazis.
Advantage: Batman. Rogers went above and beyond the call of duty, sure, but Wayne devoted his entire life, starting from childhood, to a compulsive desire to combat evil.
Batman: None, technically. But through long, grueling training he's become a formidable fighter in prime physical condition. Also, he's incredibly rich, tech-savvy, and a wily strategist.
Captain America: None, technically. But the super-soldier serum puts him in peak condition, with strength and reflexes at the maximum for normal humans. He's also got plenty of real combat experience under his belt, and is an expert tactician.
Advantage: A tie. It's hard to say who'd win in a fight — Cap would probably triumph in a straightforward punch-up, but don't bet against Batman in the long haul.
Batman: Bruce Wayne, playboy billionaire.
Captain America: Steve Rogers, army private.
Advantage: Batman. C'mon. One guy dates supermodels. The other guy gets yelled at by his drill sergeant.
Batman: A bat, worn on his chest.
Captain America: The letter A, worn on his forehead.
Advantage: Batman. Cap's star-spangled costume, designed by the legendary Jack Kirby, looks pretty snazzy overall, but that A is seriously grade-Z.
Batman: Batarangs, custom-made ninja throwing stars in the shape of his bat-symbol.
Captain America: A red-white-and-blue shield., made out of an unbreakable metal called vibranium. It's not only bulletproof, but can be thrown like a Frisbee, ricocheting off walls and pummeling his enemies.
Advantage: Cap. Batman has all kinds of impressive gadgets, but none of 'em are as cool as that shield.
Batman: The Joker, real name unknown, a psychotic serial killer and self-described "agent of chaos." He dresses like a clown in purple and green, with a pale white face and a permanently fixed grin. He's motivated by a morbid, twisted sense of humor and an obsession with Batman.
Captain America: The Red Skull, real name Johann Schmidt, a Nazi and terrorist leader personally trained by Hitler who underwent the same super-soldier process that created Cap. He dresses in black leather and wears a frightening crimson-colored skull mask. He's motivated by plans for world domination.
Advantage: A tie. Both villains are justifiably among the most iconic in comic-book history, polar opposites on the spectrum of evil—insane anarchy for the Joker, and brutal fascism for the Skull. I wouldn't want to meet either of them in a dark alley, or anywhere else.
Batman: The Batmobile, usually portrayed as a stylish customized luxury sedan, but more recently as a military-grade urban assault vehicle tricked out with a secret escape module that turns into a motorcycle.
Captain America: Cap doesn't have an iconic vehicle to call his own. In the new movie, he'll ride around on an Army-issue motorcycle.
Advantage: Batman. And that's not even counting the Bat-boat, Bat-plane, Bat-copter, Bat-surfboard...
OVERALL WINNER: Batman. Captain America is a good army man and a devoted patriot, but he just can't overcome the style points earned by a billionaire with the world's coolest car.