Dear Kevin Smith,
I was inspired by your recent contest offering money to whomever animates the best depiction of two of the "Darkest Knights" in geekdom squaring off. Unfortunately, I suck at animation, but I've done some research over the past couple days to come to a conclusion on who would be the decisive winner of the bout between galaxies.
Before I get into that, I have to lay down a very obvious ground rule. Vader cannot call upon the power of the Empire to take down Batman. I'm talking one on one, Vader takes a Tie Advanced X1 down to Earth and starts laying waste for whatever Sith reason he has. Batman gets word of it, observes, and is on the scene.
A lot of people I talked to called Vader right off the bat, and who can blame them? He has the force, the all encompassing life force that surrounds us and is within everything. A quick force choke or hard enough hit into a wall and Gotham's finest is done for. Furthermore, bat gadgets would easily be deflected, so even if he were able to avoid harm how could he even get close enough to land a punch? The answer, my good man, came after a bit of digging.
Batman must learn to use the force.
Impossible you might say, but it isn't. While he isn't a card carrying citizen of the galaxy far, far away, Batman is a living organism, which means he must have some midi-chlorians in his body, whether he was aware of it or not. Even if he doesn't, it is possible to infuse him with it, as shown by Darth Plaguies in the battles of Naboo. This might require a sample of Vader's blood which would be hard to obtain, and if that were to prove impossible for Bats, then he has a final option of finding a "force sensitive" object which likely exists somewhere on Earth.
I think we can all agree that once Batman obtains the force (one way or another) he is indeed "force sensitive." He has focus, strong will, and high concentration, all traits of a Jedi. There is an issue with his age. As we know from the movies, most Jedi are trained from a young age and require much training to fully develop their powers. The few exceptions include Luke Skywalker and of course, Darth Vader himself. Given that he has no Obi-Wan, can Batman train himself in the ways of the force?
The answer comes from the Star Wars books. Wayyyy way back in 36,453 BBY a bunch of monks, scholars, and scientists at a mystical sharing of knowledge convention on Tython discovered the force. Once aware of it, they were able to study and manipulate it to ultimately do good, and thus the Jedi order was formed. While he is no monk, Batman can certainly be described as scholarly and a bit of a science nerd, so it's safe to say his age will not bear on his ability to learn the force.
OKAY! Now that we've established that is is indeed possible for Batman to acquire, learn, and use the force, we can have Batman arrive in downtown Gotham where Vader just happens to be Force Choking Nightwing who arrogantly ran into battle. Vader senses a disturbance in the force and tosses the lifeless Dick Grayson aside and turns to his foe. Vader, sensing his ability, draws his saber but notices some difficulty. It seems he has lost the ability to use his mechanical hand.
Batman, you tricky bastard. Of course he's going to use any trick he's got, and we all know he is capable of hacking anything electronic. This instantly puts Vader at a disadvantage. If he wants to use the Force, he's going to have to sheathe his lightsaber. His ability to not utilize both is a huge score for Batman, but don't count out Vader yet.
While The Dark Knight has been known to swing a sword or two in his day, I doubt he can touch Vader's light saber prowess. Furthermore, while I will concede humans on our planet can obtain the force, I will not grant the magical ability for Batman to develop a lightsaber, as that's a little bit of a reach even for Batman. Batman can hide and wait for his chance to strike, but his newfound force ability will make it impossible for the well-tuned instincts of Vader. It seems the playing field is again level as the two jump rooftop to rooftop, black capes aflutter in the wind.
Vader can't fully utilize the force, but can hold Batman at bay with the use of his saber. Batman, while able to utilize the basic powers of the force to ensure his survival, is not on Vader's level of Force mastery and cannot beat him on that alone. In addition, the Sith is slicing through every gadget he throws. So what can end this deadlock? We need an X factor to decisively say who can win this battle.
That X factor is a large body of water. Batman will eventually tire, and Vader will be able to prevail if the battle wears on for too long. Mr. Wayne's knowledge of the force is too weak and it would drain a lot of power from him to be constantly utilizing it, whereas Vader has training in controlling his output. If Batman were to be able to utilize all his strength, however, to successfully to knock Vader off the roof and into Gotham Harbor, that's a game changer.
Because he isn't on good terms with Kit Fisto, Darth Vader's lightsaber would short circuit underwater, and with a bum arm, swimming would be a challenge. Vader would be forced to save himself using the force to push himself out of the water, and boom open season for Batman. Saberless and force utilized for survival, there is no foreseeable way for the Dark Side to prevail in this scenario.
So there's my answer. If Batman can get Vader to Gotham Harbor and knock him inside, it's a victory for Gotham's newest Jedi. If they confine the fight downtown however, looks like Vader is going to walk away with a spare cape for his wardrobe.
Did I do all right?