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"We walk with the darkness, the wolf at our side."
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March 16 2011

River Tam vs Buffy Summers! "Admit it. You've always wanted to know. Well, we're giving you the chance to decide once and for all who would win in a fight, River Tam of Serenity or Buffy Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

Love River but come on. Buffy IS Buffy!
Ok, here's my 2 cents. Buffy's powers are supernatural, i.e. magic (she's died twice and is still fighting) and were recently increased in season 8 thanks to the Twilight debacle. We all know that even Superman (invulnerable as he is) is susceptible to magic. River is only strong and smart because of science and, as such, her physical powers are limited and her greatest asset, her super-intelligence, is out there for the next mad scientist to crack, improve and defeat. Buffy will always be the strongest Slayer among slayers and I think if River came to Sunnydale as a Big Bad, Buffy could take her out, though not without struggle.
Star Trek would clearly win.
FWIW, this question has been raging via hashtag on Twitter for days. I assume that's where they got the idea.
Ideal solution, of course, is that they fight, come to a draw, realize they're on the same side, and then win a fight with Everyone Evil Ever.

A critical question, of course, is whether or not the astronauts have weapons.
I think Batman would win.

[ edited by Kiba on 2011-03-16 19:59 ]
Yep, Batman's been a caveman and an astronaut. He may even know Glory. Deal's done.
I voted for Buffy, because she DOES have super powers, but I do have to say that Buffy's unwillingness to kill a human girl would give River a real chance at winning.
Well, River's kind of an astronaut and Buffy in "Beer Bad" was a cavewoman ... does this factor into the discussion at all?
Buffy has super power. River loses midway through the 15th round.
Pretty sure Joss settled this ages ago:

- But perhaps the most important question of the evening was one of the earliest, as Whedon was asked who would win in a fight, Buffy Summers or River Tam? He admitted that this was the one question of the evening for which he wasn't prepared. He first sought to answer the question democratically, conducting an instant poll of the audience; the results were about a fifty-fifty split (my tenuous grasp of journalistic objectivity prevents me from revealing my vote on the matter). After buying sufficient time to consider the question, Whedon finally reasoned that, while Buffy is stronger, River's whole thing is being programmed to kill, so…He trailed off there, but I think that's a pretty clear vote for River. (What? I said my objectivity was tenuous.)



Yep, Batman's been a caveman and an astronaut. He may even know Glory. Deal's done.

And don't forget - he can even breathe IN SPACE!
Joss can settle a lot of things, but a lot of people in the fandom ignore him :p.
I think Joss is the ultimate arbiter of his creations' strengths and weaknesses, so I'd go with his call on this one, just didn't know he'd made one. Thanks for the quote brinderwalt!
Why pit them against each other when they can just team up and take over the world?
Because then they might team up and take over the world !

(actually, I could live in that world)
[Quasi-serious answer advisory]

To look at it one way, River vs. Buffy is a classic example of what I would term the Winner of Wars vs. Winner of Battles character dynamic: The allure of such characters as River Tam, Wolverine, Han Solo, The Terminators, yes - even Batman lies in their immutable ability to kick ass and come out on top of a fight no matter what. That's pretty much it though. They are usually devoid of any kind of higher minded aspirations other than their own continued existence (at least not of the achievable sort - I'm looking at you, Batman) which - by the way - is also why they tend to appear as subordinates to other characters when they appear in groups.

Contrast that with characters such as Buffy Summers, Cyclops, Luke Skywalker, the Connors (excepting Sarah - she's a Winner of Wars much to a certain tv show's fatal mis-calculations), and Superman whose main draw tends not to be how well they perform during individual conflicts (notice how often one of these characters losing a fight is portrayed as a major event and not the other way around) but in their ability to secure a positive outcome at story's end no matter how tough the going gets in the middle.

To sum up, the first group can't win for losing while the second group can't lose for winning - meaning that the general awesomeness of the two groups is really pretty evenly matched, and when the question arises as to who would persevere in a given face-off it really comes down to the scope of the conflict in question. If you were to ask me who between River and Buffy would win in an all-out war I'd say Buffy because she most likely has a very strong sense of inner motivation and perseverence that would help keep her from getting discouraged by having the $hit beaten out of her every fifteen minutes. If, on the other hand, it's just a fight we're talking about then yes - River would find some way to wipe the floor with Buffy simply because that's how she rolls.

[End quasi-serious answer advisory]
[Quasi-serious response to quasi-serious answer advisory advisory]

Yeah but as Joss says, River kills people. And you know the memo that almost every foe in the Buffyverse adhered to about not using guns ? River didn't get that one.

Hand to hand over any period of time, i'd say Buffy (River can predict her every move but a) she's got a lot of moves and b) she's got Slayer strength/stamina/resilience - she can take a lot of hits from a normal strength - albeit skilled, psychic - human and she only really needs to land one or two). With edged weapons, maybe still Buffy (same principle except obviously she can't take as many/any hits). If River is actually trying to kill her though ? River FTW (Buffy can't dodge bullets - well, depending on which era of Buffy we're talking about).

[End quasi-serious response to quasi-serious answer advisory advisory]
BUT IT'S BUFFY. BUFFY BUFFY BUFFY.

Here endeth my intelligent input.
Similar to Saje: if the fight is unarmed OR melee combat, Buffy will win, however if River can get a gun or even some other type of projectile/laser weapon, she could potentially pull it off I'd say.

That said... if we're talking about the final incarnation of River vs. the final incarnation of Buffy i.e. River post-Serenity and Buffy post-Season 8, my gut still says to go with Buffy because she's had far more combat experience (that we're aware of).
Guess I'll throw in my opinion

If we take guns out of the equation, I'd say Buffy

Easily

We're talking about a woman who has faced EVERYTHING. Machines, gods, demons. etc, etc, etc. There is nothing you can show her she hasn't seen. She has tons of combat experience, along with years and years of combat knowledge programmed into her from Slayers of the past. She has fought the best fighters in existence, which included Spike, Angel, Faith, etc. PLUS, Slayer strength(which according to a line said in Angel season 1 is even stronger than vampire strength by a small margin), reflexes and speed. Does anyone remember the crazy slayer on Angel season 5 dodging something that I think Andrew fired at her? If you do, you know that Buffy can match any superhuman thing that River can do

River may seem more dangerous, but so did the The Operative in Serenity and Mal defeated him. River has no real combat experience. She can take down some thugs or reavers, but put her up against someone like Buffy without guns and I doubt she'd even last long. She's never gone up against someone can REALLY fight. I'd wager Spike, Illyria, Faith or Angel could all defeat River. She's a rookie compared to them

Course, Batman could take them both down though if he had time to prepare. Batman can defeat anyone. The Tower of Babel Justice League of America storyline proved that in my opinion
I know Joss said River would win, but I still think Buffy's super powers would prevail.
I agree, ShortFatGuy! Buffy would SO win. :)
I suppose it would depend on when in their timelines they were collected to be brought together for the fight, wouldn't it?

Also how much River resembles Satsu.
How is this even close? Buffy.
Wow, it's neck and neck.

River would win this, and deserves to win this. I mean, River's thing is that she can pretty much do anything. Buffy's thing is that she's not insane. Seems fair to me!

(Also, Joss says that each of you should send me five bucks.)
I cannot compute these: 49.3% + 51.2% and 977 + 1013 = 1980 answered question ??

Also, why are the results visible now (Angel vs Spike weren't)
I've got to go with Buffy, but it would be a very, very close fight.
River would win. She uses guns.
BtVS Season 1, Ep 7 Darla attacked Buffy with TWO guns at the Bronze. Vampire with Guns! She counterattacked just fine with a crossbow (and would've gotten her but missed the heart); and practiced good evasion techniques (ok, she hid alot...but bullets run out don't they? I'd say that's smart strategy). At the last, it WAS Angel who staked Darla (and the scoobies tried to distract her by yelling from the rafters) but Buffy held her own against guns (and someone who, for all intents and purposes only knows how to kill) for Quite awhile. So there's that.
well, River can kill with her brain...
but it's BUFFY! She always finds a way to prevail.
and another thing...what the heck does that even mean "I can kill you with my brain" scary theory but how does that look in practice?
It looks like an empty threat intended to put the wind up Jayne (and it worked a treat ;).

(we don't see anything like telekinesis so the only way River can kill someone with her brain is the same way anyone else can i.e. her brain tells her arms/legs/knees/head to cause someone harm)

...but Buffy held her own against guns (and someone who, for all intents and purposes only knows how to kill) for Quite awhile. So there's that.

There is that, true. But Darla isn't River. River, from the available evidence, shoots what she aims at. Every. Time. Using geometry and combat weirdness ;).

(someone proficient with guns presumably wouldn't just keep firing until they ran out of bullets if they couldn't see a target to aim at. Darla didn't seem that proficient to me, River does. Buffy was agile and smart but also lucky in that situation)


ETA: an 'e'. 'Telekinesis' dammit.

[ edited by Saje on 2011-03-17 11:41 ]
Tough question, glad to see its pretty neck and neck.

I picked Buffy, in the end River is a genius but Buffy is a tactician. I can see her outwitting River just cus River doesn't apply her knowledge so much.
I don't know about the empty threat (re: River brain-killing abilities). Didn't she kill Joss in those viral clips that came out before Serenity? Though now I don't remember if she used her brain or a pen or something else entirely. I just remember the back of Joss's head and some blood.

edit: sorry, yep, it was a pen. Thank you, youtube.

[ edited by nyrk on 2011-03-17 12:06 ]
Yep, she stabbed him in the throat with a pen (and does Joss do the best gurgling death noise ever or what ? Very nasty). So just the regular way of using your brain to kill people.
My tendency is to say Buffy -- I don't think River is more agile or dexterous than Buffy, probably not as actually; Buffy has superpowers. River's advantage is actually whatever her being psychic gives her in a fight, anticipation, the chance to dodge some and block some of Buffy's shots. But the bottom line is, Buffy is so much stronger than her that she's eventually going to wear River down even if River is blocking her blows, and once Buffy starts getting unguarded blows, she's going to turn River into a pile of mulch.
I can't help but see River as being just another villain of the week in Buffy/Angel's world. She just doesn't have enough going for her to be big bad material. She'd be dead or captured by the end of one episode. A human super soldier? Really? That's all? Small potatos in Buffy/Angel land. Come back when you're a centuries old demon, vampire, super powerful witch who can destroy the planet, god or at least a demon/machine hybrid super soldier(like Adam). Better yet, come back when you're an EVIL UNIVERSE!

I say this as a Firefly/Serenity fan of course, but nothing anyone on Mal's crew has faced would even remotely put them in a league where they could be a threat to Buffy. Just to use Willow as an example, she really CAN kill someone with her mind and she's on team Buffy......well.....for now anyway.

River is not Batman, who knows how to be dangerous in a world where he is a mortal surrounded by heros/villains with godlike powers. She'd be gone after just one episode...with some kind of funny one liner from Buffy

"Trained super soldier? I'm the Slayer"

....and remember, she may not like guns, but Buffy seems to have no qualms about using Bazookas! LOL
I would also like to add that Buffy/Angel/Spike know things about combat that normal humans beings-the likes of which trained/programmed River-would have no concept of. Centuries old, otherworldly, demon fighting styles that River's programming would have no idea how to defend against. Consider that these characters have THOUSANDS of years of combat knowledge in their psyche either through personal experience(Angel/Spike/Illyria)or vicariously(Buffy's slayer memories)

Plus, let's not forget that the tv shows had a tendency to downplay a lot of things to keep things interesting, like the speed/strength/reflexes of Buffy and Angel. That episode in Angel season 5 with the crazy slayer showed that Buffy probably CAN dodge bullets if that slayer was able to dodge what Andrew fired at her, which I think was a crossbow. I need to re-watch that episode

So combat styles Rivers knows nothing about+plus being able to dodge bullets(or heck, just grabbing something nearby to stop bullets with)+super strength and speed+plus superhuman endurance+super healing=River Tam has no chance in any of the Buffyverse's many hells of beating Buffy

Just my opinion of course....and I'm sure none of this would matter at all if Joss somehow believe that River beating Buffy would make for a good story. We know Joss cares more about a good story than details
Well, dodging arrows is literally (in the case of a crossbow) an order of magnitude easier than dodging bullets (which we never see a Slayer do, nor anything close in terms of speed). The velocity of a crossbow bolt is around 35-40 m/s, medium/large calibre handgun bullets typically leave the muzzle at around 300-400 m/s (smaller calibres can be 2-3 times faster than this, rifles faster still).

I agree that in hand to hand combat, Buffy's going to win (that's when she can use her otherworldly combat skills - which look a bit tae-kwon-do ish to my untrained eye BTW ;). But against River with a gun, I don't really see it. After all, she "lost" to (entirely untrained, somewhat uncoordinated) Warren with a gun when he wasn't even aiming (that would've been an excellent time to exercise her bullet dodging abilities ;). The Buffster's got superpowers but she's still made of flesh and bone at the end of the day.
To be fair, Buffy could probably take River out with a gun too.
Didn't faith dodge close range shotgun blasts when Angelus was firing at her?
Buffy 98 out of 100 times (just because she has died twice).
Redeem, excellent point.
Didn't faith dodge close range shotgun blasts when Angelus was firing at her?

In *googles* 'Release' you mean ? Yeah she does, up to a point *reaches for boxed set*. Angelus has a pump action shotgun (so slower to fire than a handgun) and by using her agility (and maybe because to some extent he's toying with her ?) Faith avoids the first 3-4 blasts though she ends up hurling herself down a staircase in the process (Angelus then has her dead to rights but happily, being a sadistic sort - and because otherwise Faith would just be shot in the face point blank, end of story. Boo ! ;) - he throws away his shottie so he can fight her hand-to-hand).

But it does raise the question, what do we mean when we say "dodge bullets" ? Faith is already moving when he pulls the trigger for instance, is that OK ? I.e. at no point is a bullet on its way to her which she then avoids so it's more like she dodges Angelus than a bullet. Kinda the same thing I guess. Except River's psychic which surely makes dodging her more problematic ? But it's less clear-cut in my mind now anyway, good catch warmdeliciouscookieme.

To be fair, Buffy could probably take River out with a gun too.

Oh absolutely, if Buffy killed people (apart from knights on camper van roofs I mean ;). River's a cold-blooded killer, Buffy isn't. ETA: Also, River's a crack shot, we don't know if Buffy is (seems unlikely though).

[ edited by Saje on 2011-03-17 23:11 ]
@Arkham. I laughed so hard when I read: "better yet, come back when you're an EVIL UNIVERSE". Hahaha. Amen to that. Seriously, what's River compared to an evil universe? Also, this entire thread seems to be stuck on 'it's-over-if-River-Tam-has-a-gun land' due to her 100% infallibility with the weapon. But what if she doesn't have a weapon? I still say Buffy mops the floor with River due to (as mentioned ad nauseum, sorry to repeat) superpowers and the fighting expertise. Plus, wouldn't Buffy know her enemy well enough to make sure she has no access to a weapon before she starts the duel? And, if not, she can just call up the 'we are one' spell or something similar (why not? if River can have a gun, Buffy can use a spell) to stop the bullets mid-air as she did in 'Primeval' in Season 4. No contest I say!
(of course Giles is dead now so we'll need a new fourth guy to...ah, crap, Giles is dead!) Sad now.
I'm with Dana here. Willow, for sure.
River could win if she was fighting a Buffy that was unaware she was being stalked, but I'd imagine that by the end of Season 8, Buffy's got eyes in the back of her head.
On anyone else, kinda icky but I reckon Buffy could carry it off. Maybe buy a hat.

Also, this entire thread seems to be stuck on 'it's-over-if-River-Tam-has-a-gun land' due to her 100% infallibility with the weapon. But what if she doesn't have a weapon?

I think the reason it's "stuck" in 'it's-over-if-River-Tam-has-a-gun land' is that virtually everyone here agrees that in hand to hand combat Buffy wins. So what's the point in discussing that ?

Plus, wouldn't Buffy know her enemy well enough to make sure she has no access to a weapon before she starts the duel? And, if not, she can just call up the 'we are one' spell or something similar (why not? if River can have a gun, Buffy can use a spell) to stop the bullets mid-air as she did in 'Primeval' in Season 4. No contest I say!

This is pretty much the endpoint of all these discussions (when Buffy's involved anyway). If there's a situation where Buffy likely loses then we change it so that in fact, she doesn't (it's understandable I guess, most here are big fans of hers). So a fight between the two characters becomes "Buffy knows ahead of time who and what River is and also has help from her friends. Oh and the fight takes place in a universe with magic - beyond just Slayers that is". Fair enough. If Buffy has advanced knowledge, three friends and magic, River has a nuclear bomb which she sets off, killing them all before they cast the spell (because wouldn't super-smart River know about Slayers and magic and so on ?). See, IMO it starts to get a bit daft if we're not careful with the parameters (ETA: Dafter that it is already I mean ;)[/ETA]).

(note that above I started with both have nothing - hand to hand - move to edged weapons and then considered the gun possibility)

[ edited by Saje on 2011-03-18 08:48 ]
but I'd imagine that by the end of Season 8, Buffy's got eyes in the back of her head.

No, that was Cordy.
Thanks for considering my thoughts Saje. So it seems that the general consensus is that Buffy would win in hand-to-hand combat. I'd just like to clarify my stance and reasoning behind bringing up the 'Primeval' spell.

For this duel to be carried out it would have to leave the realm of the hypothetical and actually happen. But in whose universe? If in Buffy's, the slayer would have the advantage and River, a being with no magic, would be outmatched (ala Superman facing Captain Marvel, since Supes--as geeks know--is vulnerable to all magic, and I think I'm being generous here since, as far as we know, River isn't "indestructible" like Superman). If the fight happens in River's universe then she clearly would have an advantage, but if Buffy is there to actually fight then magic must still be in play somehow and (in keeping with each one fighting at the height of her powers) should still be able to access it (Buffy's powers are supernatural and a part of her just as River's are designed into her scientifically and would still operate in Buffy's backyard). So even here, the Slayer has the advantage. Now, personally, I think the Whedonverse is one and Serenity's world is just a post-Fray universe, i.e. one in which magic has clearly been replaced by technology but still existed in the past. Why not? Fray's world itself was devoid of magic after whatever happened following Buffy's final death and evolved into a futuristic tech-world only to have magic resurface).

I will use my previous example of the 'Primeval' spell and let your River-with-a-nuke scenario stand. The point of bringing up the spell is that it allowed Buffy to out-react and neutralize the bullets Adam shot at her. Which is faster, activating a nuclear bomb or shooting a barrage of bullets? In the end that is moot. The spell that defeated Adam's considerable technological prowess (could River beat Adam? That'd be a fight more evenly matched to her skills, I'd say, but I digress) should defeat the River-with-a-nuke-scenario. But I hope a super-intelligent being like River would know not to use this method unless she was trying to destroy herself as well (super speed is not one of her powers last I checked and she could not outrun a nuclear blast, not even by spaceship (there is no FTL travel in her universe) Season 8 Buffy, on the other hand...?).

So, in conclusion, in hand-to-hand combat Buffy wins; in gun (or tech)-to-magic combat Buffy wins. What other strategy does this leave River? The obvious one, of course, to resort to magic and become a magic-based superbeing herself. But would this not still put her at Buffy's mercy since she's the most experienced in this area? (and would not Willow, then, kick the crap out of River for her arrogance...ok that's just me being silly there ;p).

Also, I'd like to address Joss's comment. By leaving his statement open-ended he implies River would be the clear winner but he never flat out states this. And IF he ever did, then, as creator, the burden would be on him to prove why this is true, a thing he's never done (to my knowledge). We, the fans, rush in and fill this silent void with the assumed certainty that--as creator--he knows his character better than we do and his judgment should stand, untested. However, he himself has noted elsewhere that fans have rightly pointed out traits and characteristics about his creations that he himself never knew about them or even thought to give them (such as the sexual tension between Buffy and Faith, reference needed here but I'm sure I read this somewhere). So the man is not infallible, even in his own creations and by his own admission (which, strangely enough, is the nature of the beast in the superhero world, esp. when you don't clearly and plainly delineate the parameters you wish your characters' abilities to take: Superman again being the prime example. His powers have been greatly magnified (and stripped and given back again) since his inception in 1938. Thus endeth my rant for noweth (ugh, that was gross, my apologies to Shakespeare.)
Well, we're kind of going around in circles a bit but that's a big ol' post Jonnathan and I don't like to leave you hanging so...

Personally I see Joss's position as his opinion, to me it's not necessarily definitive so the fact that (in certain circumstances) I happen to agree doesn't mean i'm saying "Look, Joss said so so that's it, end of discussion", I don't see it that way in matters like this - Joss came to his conclusion the same way we are, by reasoning and comparing their abilities (or maybe just by blind devotion ;) so his conclusion's up for rebuttal, same as anyone else's.

...but if Buffy is there to actually fight then magic must still be in play somehow and (in keeping with each one fighting at the height of her powers) should still be able to access it (Buffy's powers are supernatural and a part of her just as River's are designed into her scientifically and would still operate in Buffy's backyard).

But the 'Primeval' spell isn't something Buffy can do, it's something Buffy+Willow+Giles+Xander can do, y'see ? It's not one of Buffy's powers anymore than hitting her enemies with a wrecking ball is one of her powers (even though she does that too, with the help of Xander and y'know, a wrecking ball). Magic is in play as far as the Slayer powers go (because you're right, her powers are supernatural) but that's it. Anymore than if we're talking about "River vs Buffy" we can say "Well, Jayne would shoot Buffy from a distance - possibly with a bent scope ;) - end of fight". Jayne doesn't come with River, his abilities (or the abilities of them both combined) aren't something she could access in a one-on-one fight.

Now, in these imaginary contests you can add things in (and if you do it makes sense to kind of declare it upfront) but as I say, if you just do it willy nilly then you end up with a pretty uninteresting discussion pretty quickly IMO.

(and the blast from a nuclear bomb doesn't travel at light speed BTW though [ETA:]some of[/ETA] the radiation would. Not sure how canonical it is but the original idea behind the Firefly class is that they get the boost from a nuclear explosion at their rear so if River's in the ship when the bomb goes off it shouldn't be a problem. Or she could hide the bomb and detonate remotely. See my point was, once you start to add things ad hoc - like entire spaceships and remote detonators - it starts to become a bit silly and less "River vs Buffy" than "the Sereniverse vs the Buffyverse")

[ edited by Saje on 2011-03-19 10:04 ]
brinderwalt Saje: So River is Stonewall Jackson and Buffy is Ulysses Grant *grin? (I know, showing my age, I was in elementary school during the Centennial.)
@Saje, thanks again for reading my very long post (I swear it seemed shorter in my mind). I only wanted to add that the primeval spell isn't something Buffy can do (as you said) but it's something Buffy *knows* to do. If each fighter is bringing their expertise, then this battle in Buffy's past definitely counts as expertise and is a contender as one of her many weapons of choice (what's the difference between going to Willow for a spell and going to a store, or ship for a gun?) What I wanted to underscore is that the popular assumption that the speed of bullets and their undoubtedly fatal effectiveness somehow trump all Buffy's power is demonstrably false as it has already been shown that, if she really wanted to, Buffy COULD anticipate and stop bullets; Even though there's some logistics to work out, clearly she needs the gang in that particular spell; However, Xander already tested Buffy in the Twilight arc when she was all superpowered and she was *indeed* faster than a speeding bullet, so no group spell is required. So 'just shoot Buffy' is not necessarily the end of the discussion. As for the FTL travel I just wanted to be thorough in case any wondering minds secretly hoped for that scenario. The point there was simply River shouldn't expect to survive a nuclear blast as she's not indestructible (and if she's far enough to escape it that's hardly a duel). I gotta say, I don't find this boring at all, sorry if you do! I tell you who I would like to see pitted against each other is Echo and River (I think River would def kill the mess out of Echo, but it's more evenly matched, no? They're both mentally unstable and scientifically enhanced, but I digress).
I'd have to go with Buffy because of her experience. She's already saved the world 15 times and fought a god. The superpowers are just a bonus. River could conceivably beat her, but, it's hard to ignore the fact that Buffy has found a way to win so very many times.
Since the gun thing keeps popping up, just want to throw in another quick thought. I kind of alluded to this in my last post, but here's the scenario as I see it. River fires bullets at Buffy. Buffy grabs something and holds it up, absorbing the bullets. Buffy quickly throws something at River, knocks gun out of River's hand. From that point on, River just gets her butt handed to her. I just want to get the idea across that by now, I imagine Buffy knows how to deal with gun users. Or she certainly will in season 9.....

Again, just my opinion-but I seriously see no way River can win unless she gets the drop on the Buffster.
River fires bullets at Buffy. Buffy grabs something and holds it up, absorbing the bullets. Buffy quickly throws something at River, knocks gun out of River's hand.

If we're talking late "season 8" Buffy then yep, she could do that (late "S8" Buffy actually is faster than a speeding bullet). If we're talking TV show Buffy then no, she couldn't, in S1-7 we never see a Slayer do anything remotely that fast reflex wise. As mentioned, dodging arrows isn't even close to "a bullet is fired and Buffy bends down, picks something up, straightens and holds it in place to deflect the bullet". Apart from anything else, if she can move that fast then why not just step out of the way or y'know, not stand back up into the path of the bullet ? ;)

(throwing things is also pointless in those circumstances BTW - can River see/dodge bullets ? Nope. So if Buffy can move faster than a bullet she can just run up and knock River out before she even knows it. Job done)

If each fighter is bringing their expertise, then this battle in Buffy's past definitely counts as expertise and is a contender as one of her many weapons of choice (what's the difference between going to Willow for a spell and going to a store, or ship for a gun?)

Well one difference is, River using a gun without the help of Mal/Jayne/etc. is something we've seen her do whereas Buffy using the 'Primeval' spell (or any other magic IIRC, excluding her supernatural Slayer abilities) without Willow/Xander/Giles isn't ? I.e. it isn't part of Buffy's expertise, it's something she and her friends can do together (like smashing gods with wrecking balls). You might as well say coming back from the dead is now part of "Buffy's expertise" (she's done it twice after all) which means River can't kill her.

To be clear, if Buffy has Willow with her (and the 'arena' is one where magic works) then of course, Buffy wins - River can't defend against magic and i've never contested that (it doesn't even exist in her world). I'm not saying "River always wins, whatever the circumstances" and never have, i'm saying "River vs Buffy" doesn't have "(& Willow)" in it.
You don't have to be faster than a speeding bullet to see an enemy with a gun and grab a nearby object to protect yourself before they can use it. This stuff happens in movies and tv all the time. In the world of fiction, guns aren't as advantageous as they are in real life in my experience. Heroes get around that sort of thing all the time. I've seen Terminator machines with perfect accuracy in tv and movies who can't even hit their targets, especially when said target is aware they ARE a target.

Also, dodging even a crossbow takes some mad reflexes. Just seeing a gun in River's hands would give Buffy enough reaction time to do SOMETHING before that bullet even leaves the chamber. I suppose she could just take cover as well. Then use a distraction to get River's attention while she's move in for close combat

I'll be the first to admit that Buffy might go down if River gets her COMPLETELY unaware(no small feat given the sixth sense a battle trained veteran has), in which case she probably WOULD use a gun for a quick, dirty, easy kill. But if that was the scenario we wouldn't need this conversation really. That would be more like an assassination than a real fight and River would have an easier time just using a sniper rifle than try an sneak up on someone like Buffy, who would probably whirl around an throw a steak at her before River lifts up her gun toting hand.

The Buffy vs gun debate is interesting to me. That one crazy new slayer from season 8 seems to love using them

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