Hosted in the upper-upstairs of The Elephant and Wheelbarrow pub, Battle of the Superheroes: The Great Superhero Debate is an interactive show about, what else, a great superhero debate, which will culminate in finding out the strongest and funniest of them all.
The show opened with a wonderful mix of classic and modern superhero themes, and I found myself tapping along to Star-Spangled Man (from Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011) as well as the classic Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman themes from the television shows and movies across the decades.
Nik Coppin, the MC for the afternoon, brought a great atmosphere to the stage as he introduced the show and explained the format – a three-person comedy debate, where each comedian has five minutes to introduce their character and explain why they should win the superhero debate. Our comedians for the afternoon were Matt Price and The Flash, Rory Machell and Daredevil, and Tor Snyder and the Red Bee, bringing a little classic comic book flair to the show.
Between each comedian’s five minutes Coppin returned to get the audience back into the spirit of the show, asking a variety of questions on comic book lore, giving away prizes, and trying to soothe the bored nine year old who was only there because her older brother wanted to go. Coppin was a breath of fresh air inamongst some of the more stagnant moments, and with his general superhero knowledge wonderfully catered to the ravenously nerdy audience.
In their own way, each comedian did bring a case forward for their superhero, though they were not all equally as interested. Price was definitely the lowest energy debater of the night – something he easily turned on himself, a self-proclaimed ‘obese’ gentleman who only picked The Flash because he can run fast – but lost it towards the end after being heckled by two children and a disabled man, threatening to steal a little girl’s skin and wear it around the streets of Melbourne. Never did I think I would write that sentence, nor did I ever think I would laugh so hard at that mental image. (No harm came to the kid, don’t worry.)
Following Price was Machell, equally unenthusiastic about Daredevil, extolling the virtues of blindness and the heightening of Matt Murdock’s other senses. Machell seemed the least comfortable with the improvisational aspects of the show, but he garnered some laughs, and played well into the audience heckling.
Synder was the true golden girl of the afternoon, discussing the Red Bee, a barely-known character from a comic book first published in 1940, and eventually absorbed into DC Comics in 1956. The Red Bee, an entirely powerless character who can command his trained bees, doesn’t really seem like an interesting character, but Snyder’s personality and wonderful comedic timing made me fall in love with her ridiculous character choice.
As heckling continued to be encouraged the crowd really got into it, practically shouting over each other to garner some attention from the (occasionally less-than-enthusiastic) comedians onstage. It can become a little grating if you’re not a big fan of heavy audience interaction, but keeping an open mind means that the show comes together wonderfully both on the stage and on the floor.
In the final improve moments – after the occasionally ridiculous audience questions – The Flash came out as the winner by a single vote above the Red Bee, a truly disappointing result for those of us who had become invested in the Red Bee due to Snyder’s work.
Battle of the Superheroes: The Great Superhero Debate is a fun afternoon out for those who like the new Avengers movies and DC Comics TV shows, but may fall flat on the less knowledgeable members of the crowd.