Throw a superhero from the train! (mild Spider-Man 2 spoilers)

Okay, for those who’ve been paying attention, there’s a major scene in Spider-Man 2 where ol’ web-head has to stop a runaway train. Specifically, the controls are smashed, the train is barrelling down an elevated rail at 80+ MPH, Spider-Man’s stuck outside standing in the front of the lead car, and there’s a terminus and dropoff three minutes down the track. After a couple of spectacular faiures (not to mention some snarky comments from the commuters), Spidey saves the day, natch.

But I have to wonder… what would another comic-book superhero have done in that situation? I mean, sure, Superman or Green Lantern wouldn’t have a problem at all, but how about the Wasp? Batman? Green Arrow? Captain America? The Beast? Would they be SOL, or could they pull some trick out of their hat and stop the train before it goes WHAM!?

I’m interested in hearing what answers the comic-book-reading Dopers can come up with. Some ground rules:

  1. No partners. The hero/heroine’s gotta stop the train all alone.

  2. No extraordinary gadgets, other than what the character usually has on him/her. So Batman can dig around his utility belt, but he can’t summon the Batmobile by remote-control, for instance.

  3. No amazingly coincidental equipment or conveniently-helpful humans on the train.

This is a test; this is only a test. You have three minutes…

Cap’n America would have used his shield, obviously. Most likely by “digging his heels in”, like Spidey tried to do (and which should have worked).

Wolverine might have run to the back of the train and lopped off the back wheels in succession to create sufficient drag/friction to stop the train. He also could have “dug his heels in”.

Batman would have been prepared via not allowing Doc Ock near the controls - he would have stood his ground at the front of the train. If we’re dealing with an already-loose runaway train, the writers would have written in various side tracks to divert individual passenger cars onto, resulting in a spectacular explosion of the lead car at the very last moment.

Daredevil would have been SOL. I can’t think of too many things that blind acrobatic leaping could have accomplished. Maybe file a Motion to Cease and Desist upon the train company?

I think Beast could also go the heel-digging route, it might just work. I would assume Batman would have some sort of super-strong grappling hook/wire setup in the Belt of Utilitiness that could stop the train so fast all those poor snarky commuters got whiplash. Hulk smash lead car, all other cars pile on behind.

But now I’ve got a list in my head of superheroes who couldn’t possibly stop that train no matter what. What would Wonder Woman do? Truth Lassos (Lassi?) probably don’t work on trains. And Aquaman? Beaching a whale on the tracks might not stop the train, and might count as bringing in extra help. Mostly, I’m thinking of the group I privately refer to as the “Lame-Ass X-Men.” Dazzler, Jubilee, Magma, Marrow, Skin … all of them put together couldn’t do jack to stop a train.

Aquaman could easily give Dock Ock a seizure. Jean Grey could telekenetically use the breaks to stop the train, control panel or no. Storm could create a tornado to suck up the train and drop it off in someplace safe. Cyclops could blast off the wheels in the back like Wolverine could. Beast could…die. Iceman could freeze the train’s wheels or just make ice ramps to let everyone off. Angel would be screwed. Mr. Fantastic could gum up the wheels with his body. The thing could manually stop the train. Torch could melt the wheels. Sue Storm could just make a force field. Thor could throw his hammer off the back of the train, catch it, and hold onto the train. The Wasp would be screwed. Henry Pym would just turn giant and stop the train manually. Iron Man could keep repulsing the train back. The Flash (or any other speedster) could vibrate his hand through the control panel and apply the breaks or just stop the breaks with his hands at superspeed. Wonder Woman can fly and has super strength, so she can easily stop it, as can Supes and Martian Manhunter. Any other superheroes?

I am assuming the train is run off of electric from the tracks so it would just be a matter of breaking the electric connection of the tracks. Slice through one. It would not even have to be a break very large, just enough to sever the circuit.

No electric, no motors continuing the train on to falling, fiery death. Three minutes of travel should be ample time for normal friction to stop the train or at least slow it so super human strength would have little trouble in stopping it completely.

It is, of course, not the super-hero way, though.

Not sure about other superheroes, but I was kind of expecting Spidey to simply swing well ahead of the train, and then throw a web between two buildings, across the train tracks. Wouldn’t the train then stretch into the web and then fling back (but stick to the web) and then forward, etc… until they finally stopped?

Oh, that would stop the train. I’d hate to be riding it that day though.

All Batman would need is his trusty “Stop Train Spray.” :rolleyes:

I swear, I must be the only one in the world who thinks Batman is a lame-ass superhero.

I was thinking The Flash or any other speedster could run off the train and flip a switch to cut the power to the train. Honestly I am not really that familiar with his powers, but wouldn’t stopping the train with his hands, even at superspeed, require superstrength?

While watching the movie I was expecting a scenario similar to what DooWahDiddy outlines.

Most any superhero with some sort of blast power (including the ones mentioned as screwed above, like Dazzler and the Wasp) out to be able to take off wheels or melt them or jam them or something.

Smart ones would just figure out how to apply the brakes even without the little panel that got torn off.

Aquaman, Daredevil, Beast, etc. might be able to do something in which they got enough of the right material on the tracks to block forward momentum without flipping the thing over (which is the real problem with anyone trying to use brute strength). they’d probably have to topple whole buildings though, and that’d be rough. Maybe one of those convenient roof-based big huts full of water would help, those are always showing up.

Batman’s grappling hook thing could do some web action with bracing to other objects and not even involve brute strength.

For our “normal” superheroes, a mundane human (or Lame-Ass League) solution. This works if Bruce Wayne is taking the sub–damn. I mean, if Matt Murdoch is taking the subway and is with a girl, and can’t endanger her by revealing his identity. It’s not the ideal solution, but it might work.

Evacuate the front car of the train and disconnect it from the passenger cars. The accelerating portion of the train is a write-off, and the hero may even have time to run to the back of the train and use the rear engine (remember, it’s a subway train, with locomotives at each end!) to engage the brakes or even kick into reverse. This is good sidekick duty if the hero wants to heroically volunteer to stay aboard the runaway locomotive. Once no passengers can see him, he can stop it by smashing its power supply or manually engaging the (DUH!) emergency brake… which might have worked in the first place had anyone bothered to try it.

The Flash could definitely run back upstream until he found a power cable, and just “unplug” the power source (hereinafter referred to as the “third rail” even though I didn’t see one in Spider-Man 2). Beast could leap from the rear of the train, unearth a rail tie, and use it to bludgeon the third rail into uselessness. If he’s still thinking like Hank McCoy, he could figure out a way to reverse the current on that section, but the safe bet is just to knock it out. Storm should either use wind to stop the train, or lightning to overload the rails with current and possibly spot-weld the wheels. Iceman could chill the bearings on the wheels until thermal mismatch caused friction.

Superman is the trivial case.

Oh yeah: the Punisher would empty a few rounds into the power source, and when that failed, he’d strap a thermite grenade to each of the rear axles and end up fusing them to their bearings, making that entire rear locomotive unsalvageable. It would inevitably burst into flames; the remains of every passenger with a criminal record would be found handcuffed together in the carnage.

Batman would walk into the NYC subway train and pull the EMERGENCY BRAKE.

There is one in every car.

Maybe we’ll have to include a clause that says that since the main control panel isn’t working, the breaks are completely useless. Of course, that discounts a few of my explanations, but pulling the E-Brake is just too easy.

I dunno, I can’t imagine how Cap could pull this off. How’s he going to wedge the shield in front of the train without having it get whipped underneath a second later? And wedging the wheels would simply make the train jump the tracks…

Batman can carry a passenger or two with his grappling hook, but a runaway subway train doing 80MPH+?

I thought both of them had superhuman strength, so the “digging heels” trick might work. And isn’t Wonder Woman’s lasso supposed to be indestructible as well?

Spoilsport. :wink:

And am I right in concluding Hawkeye and/or the Green Arrow would be screwed?

Wouldn’t spot-welding the wheels (like a couple of the other solutions in this thread) cause the speeding train to stop really short? I mean, yeah, that counts as stopping the train, but it’s hell on the squishy humans inside.

The comics have been sliding past this problem for over sixty years. The original Flash could catch bullets, and while I suppose it might be conceivable that Jay Garrick could accelerate himself up to bullet speed to match velocities, how does he then deccelerate back to normal while holding the bullet without having it punch through his hand?

A comic-book speedster would likely run backwards on the track ahead of the train while waving his arms frantically to create a hurricane-level wind that will slow the train gradually.


I’m not sure about the Green Arrow, but it seems to me that Hawkeye had a quiver full of gadget arrow that operated under the same deus ex machina principle as Batmans utility belt. I imagine he would pull out some explosive arrow for the wheels or a glue arrow of some kind.

Any Superhero can stop a runaway train. Or, at least, I can’t think of a single Superhero that a writer couldn’t plausibly allow to stop a runaway train without resorting to deus ex machina.

Daredevil’s a tough case, though. Assuming the Emergency Brake’s out, the most likely successful course for Horn-head would be jamming his billy-club into the wrecked panel in place of the lever, hoping to manipulate the mechanisms left inside.

Flash (any of them) has it easy. Wally West, the current Flash, can steal kinetic energy. So he has it easiest. Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, would probably run to the end of the track and whirl his arms to generate wind to slow the train. Impulse/Kid Flash, given his recent book-reading binge, would probably know enough about the mechanics of the panel to disassemble and repair it at super-speed. Or he can fall back on the wind-generation. OF course, all of them would be able to rescue everyone on the train before it crashed.

Anybody else that might be a challenge?

Green Arrow would not be screwed if you were using a real subway.
There are these trip devices on the tracks that when a train passes over them they set into a new position by rocking foward. After the train passes and gets an appropriate distance away the switch resets. If a train tries to go over a switch the power gets cut.

GA would simply have to hit one of these switches with an arrow and move it foward. It would be a difficult shot but hey, he’s Green Arrow!

Except he’d need a lot of them since the one first time Spidey didn’t use enough webbing and it just tore the sides off the building. I think the second time he had to use ten or twelve webshots to provide enough spread that the bases would be stable.

As for the E-Brake, I think Doc Ock was pretty close by while Spidey was doing this (given the speed with which he showed up after the train was stopped) so he might have blocked any attempt at the E-Brake since the whole point was to tucker Spiderman out.