One of the biggest arguments comic fans have from time to time is who’s better between Captain America and Batman. It’s a bit mundane, admittedly, but it does cement how passionate Marvel and DC fans are about these flagship characters, fueling a decades-long rivalry between the publishers for decades now. Some crave more crossovers to see the truth, while others believe it’s best to just let these icons exist in their own spaces and show respect.
The latter is, of course, the smarter choice, because it’s all up to the respective writers regarding how much Steve Rogers does with his shield and super-soldier serum, and what Bruce Wayne does with his money, suits, and weapons. However, what’s interesting, and what really makes the argument moot, is that these heroes do have similar characteristics. But notably, as Batman: One Bad Day: Mr. Freeze (by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Scalera, Dave Stewart, and Deron Bennett) takes a deep dive into the Bat’s history, it’s actually Dick Grayson, not Bruce, who espouses more of Captain America’s core values.
Batman: One Bad Day Highlights Robin’s Hope
It’s known that Steve enlisted in the army as he was always that blue-eyed Brooklyn kid who wanted to change the world. In his many stories, what was touching was how much he believed in people. Batman: One Bad Day – Mr. Freeze echoes this when Dick questions Bruce on Arkham Asylum and the Dark Knight thinking most of the criminals can’t ever change. Dick asks why have rehabilitation facilities just for show if that’s the case.
He doesn’t subscribe to Bruce’s cold philosophy, showing a lot more compassion. He thinks convicts can be redeemed, which is why he advocates for the Bat to help Mr. Freeze gets a lab and tries to revive his wife in stasis, Nora. It nods to how Captain America is up for giving others a second chance, whether it be Punisher, Bucky as the Winter Soldier, or Black Widow. This has also been seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where Cap got Quicksilver to help, and made Scarlet Witch an Avenger, both after their Hydra stints.
Batman: One Bad Day Highlights Robin’s Optimism
One Bad Day also highlights how much Dick likes to play within the rules. It’s seen when he chides Bruce about using carolers as bait against Meek. He doesn’t like deceiving people and putting innocents in the line of fire, which is what the Bat does by making the singers bait for the serial killer. Later, Dick also reams Freeze for foul language during a scrap and knocks him down. It’s akin to when Steve made it clear to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that he hated profanity in the MCU — something that’s become a meme.
In the process, both come off as quite disciplined men who want to build a better society from the ground up, by connecting with people directly and also, cleanly. Like Cap, Dick shows a lot of respect, opting for another strategy rather than throwing down, which is what Bruce wants — a dirty fight. Instead, Dick connects with Freeze’s humanity, which gets the villain to confess key intel when arrested, allowing his research to be used to save lives.
This impresses Bruce, realizing Dick is a hero who doesn’t need to skulk in the shadows or break rules to get results. It’s something Alfred spots too, looking at Dick as a natural-born leader, especially when he sticks up for how Arkham can cure Gotham. Ultimately, Dick believes he can fix the city the same way Steve thinks he can fix America, and by extension, the world. It’s a far cry from the cynical Bruce, who is happy Dick’s not jaded like him. He can tell this job is something Dick can do all day, inspiring as a paragon of virtue, which is the same energy Steve exudes as a Sentinel of Liberty who never lost his heart, faith, and soul in the war against crime and injustice.