For many years, fans loved to debate who would win in a fight between their favorite characters. Ever since the dawn of the internet and the days of the long-defunct WWWF Grudge Match, people have found unique ways to visualize such matchups and these days, one of the more notable corners of the internet is Super Power Beat Down. Created by the father-and-son team of Sean Schoenke and Aaron Schoenke, Super Power Beat Down has become a crown jewel for Bat in the Sun Productions, gathering millions of views for every installment.
The idea is pretty simple. They’ll reveal an upcoming fight and it’s up to the fans to vote on the winner. Once that’s all wrapped up, Aaron Schoenke will use his directing experience to put together the best live-action battle he can and release it to the public. The series has given us such fights as Wolverine vs. the Predator, Nightwing vs. Gambit, and even Batman vs. Deadpool and they’re a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
I got to speak with Aaron Schoenke about the series, discussing its origins, the thought that goes behind it, and that old Wolverine vs. Lobo fight from back in the day.
First off, just want to say that I’m a big fan of Super Power Beat Down. Now, you’ve been doing the fan films for years. What gave you the spark of inspiration to start up the Super Power Beat Down series?
It’s a combination of a few things. I was on a show Deadliest Warrior back on Spike TV. I played a pirate and a Native American and I was one of the Spartans. That show was about taking different cultures and making them fight based on comparing tactics and stuff like that. You know, being a superhero fan and I’m a big sports fan – you’re always comparing who’s better, Tom Brady to Joe Montana – so it’s always fun to compare and I just thought to have a few superheroes go at it or whatever fictional characters.
A lot of the fights make sense to me. I get Batman vs. Wolverine, I get Superman vs. Thor, Gandalf vs. Darth Vader. Where did Scorpion vs. the White Ranger come from? It’s a cool fight, but the pairing came out of nowhere for me.
Yeah, a lot of people wanted the Power Rangers vs. the Ninja Turtles, which they already did a crossover back in the ’90s.
I remember that.
A lot of people wanted Scorpion vs. Ryu because it’s another ’90s battle. We wanted to go with something even, but unique. Where they’re evenly matched but not quite what anyone thought about. They look similar, but one’s good and one’s pure evil. I just thought it would be a cool match. It came out to be, so that’s good.
I think so. That was my first one and it really hooked me in. The episode had one of the best moments where the White Ranger removed his helmet to reveal Jason David Frank reprising his role. How did you get him on board to do this?
Basically we have a lot of mutual friends and I just emailed him. I approached him and he loved the series – I didn’t know that. He’s just a super nice guy who cares about the fans and the character. I told him what was going on and what we wanted to do and he was all for it. He loves it so he was very optimistic and very positive and was all about it so that was cool.
Your latest installment is Punisher vs. Red Hood. Would you say that your entire filming career is actually a long running setup where the punchline is coming up with another situation where Jason Todd is put to death via fan votes?
I didn’t even think about that. I read that after I went online yesterday. Someone’s like, “Well, Jason Todd just got voted to die again,” and I didn’t even think about that. I guess it’s true.
I guess your internet next-door neighbor would be Death Battle and their winners are chosen through the creators of the show debating and using logic while you go with the votes of the viewers. Why do you decide to choose one over the other?
Personally, there are a couple different reasons. One, I think when you’re dealing with fictional characters, I think you can get confused on certain facts like if you go back to Chris Claremont’s run with Wolverine, Wolverine would get beaten by three ninjas and now his powers have been so exaggerated that he can survive nuclear bombs. You go back to Superman during the 30’s and Superman back in the 70’s and Superman now in the New 52, his powers keep changing, so I think it’s really hard to make it define a character. I think it would be unfair or arrogant for me to choose which is the better character for their fans. Batman to me could be different to someone else. This way I’ll leave it to the fans and I think the fans get it right a lot of the times. A lot of people say it’s a popularity vote, but in Wolverine vs. Batman, most people chose Wolverine, which I think was the right answer, though Batman is more popular.
And this is in no way meant to be disrespectful to Death Battle, as I enjoy all the different facts they bring up and they bring up all these different references and they try to catalogue the different things together. They both are good, I just think it’s different, you know?
I would say the real prototype for Super Power Beat Down would definitely be Marvel vs. DC from the 90’s and that gave us the fight where Wolverine was voted to beat Lobo. To this day, people still complain about that, with how the fight went down. Now you yourself wouldn’t be held back by the Comics Code or having only three pages to work with. If you were in that position, how would you have Wolverine take out Lobo?
Oh, gosh. With Lobo, I’m sure we’re talking about the classic Lobo and not the New 52 one.
Oh, yeah. That guy’s dead to me.
Lobo’s powerful, man. Lobo goes toe-to-toe with Superman a lot of the times and honestly I don’t think there’s any way for Wolverine to touch Superman. It would be hard for us to figure out a way to have Lobo lose to Wolverine because I don’t think that Wolverine’s adamantium claws could even pierce Lobo, to be honest. I’d have to really think about it, but I kind of agree that in that case the voting was not for a good pairing. Marvel didn’t want to have Wolverine lose and they should have picked characters who were a little more evenly matched. I could see why the fans were so upset by that voting.
In Episode 7, you got out of your comfort zone a little bit by doing Superman vs. Thor, because mostly you’ve been focusing on the street level-type guys. Do you have any interest in doing another heavy hitter fight? Do you have anyone in mind for such a thing?
We would love to do She-Hulk vs. Wonder Woman. I think it would be really cool to just have two super-powered women beat the crap out of each other. I’d love to do Superman again, like maybe Superman vs. Goku. The problem with those fights is that they just take a long time because of what’s required to go in them and I feel bad because the fans would be upset and they’d have to wait a few months and it’s hard to meet those deadlines sometimes. I’d love to do X-Men vs. Justice League and different things like that, which I think would be really cool to do. But it’s certainly difficult and I want to only do one of those like once a year. We’re kind of working on a similar type battle right now that requires a lot of effects but we’re trying to balance it so we shoot a big one and then we shoot a few smaller ones so we can get them all on schedule.
Last question, Machinima recently released the Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist series and – you kind of talked about this a little bit earlier – you’ve used a couple Mortal Kombat characters in your videos. Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat is the big franchise battle that people have been wanting to see for years. If you could pick one guy from each side, who do you think would make for the most interesting fight?
The main one people talk about is Scorpion vs. Ryu, with those being the two main guys of the franchises, which I think is good. Yeah, you could always do Ryu vs. Liu Kang but I think Scorpion has a better visualized look. Some people also want to see Chun-Li vs. Sonya Blade, which I think has an interesting element. I think Scorpion vs. Ryu would be the most interesting of all of them.
Thank you very much and good luck with the upcoming Casey Jones vs. Kick-Ass fight.