Who’s Faster? Flash Or Quicksilver?

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There are various superheroes in the DC Comics, but, one member of the Justice League is the fastest superhero around, and he is called The Flash. Another superfast character Quicksilver is from the Marvel Comics Universe, and he has occasionally teamed up with the Avengers in the comic books.

There have been countless comparisons between the two superheroes and the debates about their speeds pre-date the evolution of the Homo Sapiens. In fact, we believe that the debates might have been going on for the days of the ancient aliens. Here, we are rekindling this universal debate by taking up a different and fact-based approach.

The Flash is coming up with a new season in the fall, and there are a couple of preview videos available online. One of them shows The Flash racing an arrow and the second video gives details about it. Quicksilver features in X-Men Days of Future Past. While we haven’t seen the film, there is this clip which shows some of Quicksilver’s movements.

So, let’s begin our analysis and find out, who is faster?

HOW FAST IS THE FLASH?

We will begin with analyzing the scene where the Flash is racing an arrow. The scene suggests that the arrow was shot by The Green Arrow. Now let’s check this out. The arrow travels approximately 1.5 meters in three frames, and that makes it a timespan of 0.083 seconds). Given the time and distance, the arrow’s speed works out to be 18 m/s or 40 mph. That’s very slow as a typical arrow slices through the air at roughly 100 m/s, but, let’s continue on the available data.

Then we see the Flash blitzing past Green Arrow at a time delay of 1.377 seconds, and the arrow hits the target after 2.67 seconds of its launch. Since it traveled at 18 m/s, we can work out the distance traveled by it.

Now taking into account the time lapse and all, if Flash has to outrun the arrow, he has to travel the same distance as traveled by the arrow, but, he has got only 1.29 seconds to do that. Thus, his speed works out to be 37 m/s or 82 mph. That’s not too fast. However, he might have been taking things easy. He might have been running at half of what he can manage normally. Taking that into account his actual speed has to be 74 m/s. Under any scenario, the speed doesn’t work out to be over 100 m/s based on the given evidence. This is the speed at which he is moving deliberately or not.

If we have a look at the Flash trailer, then it has a frame which shows a radar gun clocking him at 702 mph. However, we won’t be basing our investigation on a cheat code like that.

Let’s jump to the sequence where Flash is running around a city in a shot taken from above. Assuming that the city is New York  City, we figured out the location using Google Maps. While we are not familiar with NYC map, we are good at figuring things out. Also, the fact that New York doesn’t have too many diagonal streets and that makes our task easier. We did the real scale video analysis using a free Tracker Video Analysis Tool. Given below is a screenshot of our analysis which will help in explaining our finding.

While he turned a bit during his run, his position is identified as a function of time in the road’s direction.

The calculations show that Flash runs at an average speed of 316 m/s (706 mph). This is way faster than what we saw in that arrow scene and also tallies nicely with the radar gun image.

Note: If we look carefully at Flash’s movement, he turns at times. Given below is the x-y data from Tracker. We wonder what speeds he had during the turns?

HOW FAST IS QUICKSILVER?

We got a brilliant capture of the Flash by using the overhead shot in the Flash trailer. However, we don’t have any such spot-on views for Quicksilver from the X-Men trailer. Therefore, we will have to make do with something not that perfect. This is a scene showing Quicksilver weirdly running around the walls of a circular room. There is something similar to water drops falling (the camera angle also captures from sideways).

We are sure that this segment of the video clip is captured in slow motion or else we won’t have been able to even see Quicksilver. However, we need to take into account the frame rate. Taking into account the drops of water, we assume that they had the acceleration rate of -9.8 m/s. This will help us find the video’s frame rate. Calling it video time units (video seconds), we have created a plot of the water drops.

This doesn’t seem to be right as it shows the water slowing down in its motion. That can’t be right. We think the issue here is the water drops moving backward about Quicksilver’s movement as his run is thrusting them an “apparent” motion which is slowing down. We need to figure out another method of working out time in this slow-motion clip.

Although, it might amount to cheating, but, this is the only other way. There is a scene which shows a guard shooting a bullet in slow motion. Let’s assume that the bullet has a speed of 250 m/s. The gun looks to be a 38 special gun (just a guess). However, 250 m/s is a fairly acceptable speed premise, to begin with.

We tried guessing dimensions and created an assumptive correction about the bullet’s speed. This is what it would be like:

Taking this correction in, the bullet’s trajectory works out to be this.

Now the slope of the line suggests that the bullet is moving at 0.066 m/s (units of meters per videos second which will help us work out the relativity of time in seconds and video seconds). Assuming that this is equivalent of 250 m/s in real time, we can work out the relationship between these two.

Now let’s go back to the visual of Quicksilver running on the wall. We take into account one of those runs and assume the video being at the same slow motion speed as of the bullet being shot. One step of Quicksilver is complete in 0.416 seconds, and if one step measures 1 meter, then his running speed works out to be 2.4 m/s. Now let’s put it in the formula to work out his real speed. This is what we got.

This is astonishing. We knew that Quicksilver was faster, but, he is apparently 9091 m/s (20,000 mph) faster. Did we think that? No. There must be something wrong here. Let’s say:

  • We overestimated the length of the shooter’s arm by say 25% more, that would bring the speed down to 0.75 times.
  • Let’s say the step of Quicksilver was less than 1 meter although that’s not much of a stride as a running man, still, let’s put it at 0.75 meters.
  • We had taken into account the bullet speed of 250 m/s. Let’s rework it to 200 m/s as a bullet is unlikely to go any slower than that. Now that again reduces Quicksilver’s speed a bit.

Factoring in the new lower end of the spectrum, his speed goes down to 4091 m/s (9151 mph). Still very fast.

THE WINNER

As per the calculations based on the evidence available in the form of the short clips, Quicksilver is easily the faster of the two and not just someone who elbows past, but, much faster. He is like a bullet zooming past a stationary figure.

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