You don’t burn out from going too fast, you burn out from going too slow and getting bored – Cliff Burton
There are, the last time we counted, seventeen eternal arguments that have ensured that DC devotees and those who decided to make mine Marvel have remained at loggerheads for decades.
These debates have helped to make sure that the aisles of comic shops are never quiet on weekends and Wednesdays, and that they always hum with the endless, good-natured chatter of four-color fans determined to find that one elusive fact that will finally prove them right and close the ledger on that particular chapter in comic book history for good.
Number thirteen has always been a particular favorite of ours, as it pits Marvel’s premiere speedster and DC’s long-established champion of the Speed Force against each other.
Is Pietro Maximoff really faster than Barry Allen, or would The Flash run rings around Quicksilver if they were ever given the chance to race is one of those delightful conundrums that should, on paper at least, be easy to answer.
And before Zac Snyder, Kevin Feige, and Simon Kinberg entered the picture with their, well, pictures, it was a simple and straightforward enough puzzle to solve using established comic book mythology and lore.
The MCU and the DCU changed the fundamental comic books laws that governed both speedsters and threw everything that the longtime comic book faithful thought they knew into chaos and disarray and ripped the plaster off a wound that previously, had always been relatively painless to treat.
Instead of being able to simply quote the desired issue number and story that revealed the truth, fans now had to factor three separate movie franchises into the equation, and that’s where things became a little complicated.
Who is faster, Quicksilver or The Flash? Well, that depends on whether you believe what you read or what you see on the cinema screen.
The Fastest Four Color Hero
How fast are The Flash and Quicksilver in the four-color universe? The simple answers are very fast, but in order to establish who is faster, we’re going to have to dive a little deeper into established comics canon.
In the DC universe, all the speedsters share a commonality and have a similar power set, which allows them to enter the Speed Force (the mystical and scientific miracle that they draw their powers from), and while they’re inside it, think, run and react at incredible and inhuman velocities.
In Flash #150 which was published in nineteen sixty-four, it was established that by “straining every muscle” and pushing himself to the limit of his physical ability, Barry Allen could run at ten times the speed of light or roughly one point eight million miles per second, which almost sixty years ago was a jaw-dropping feat that made him the world’s fastest speedster.
But DC wasn’t content to stop there, and during the Blackest Night saga, Barry Allen was pursued by the Black Flash, the physical embodiment of death for all speedsters, and outran the creature chasing him.
Let that sink in for a moment, the Flash actually outran death, and even though Blackest Night didn’t actually establish how fast he had to run to do so, the fact that he traveled millions of years into the future, to a point where matter itself had become an abstract concept, kind of points the finger at the fact that he shattered the record he established in nineteen sixty-four.
Quicksilver on the other hand, in the comic books at least, can’t even begin to compete with The Flash.
Around the time that he was first introduced as a supporting character in X-Men #4 (which was published in the same year that the Flash first discovered that he was far faster than light), it became a matter of record that Quicksilver could run at one hundred and seventy-five miles per hour, which over time, and thanks to his being exposed to Isotope-E, has gradually increased to Mach 10, or roughly seven thousand six hundred miles per hour.
In the comic book world, Pietro couldn’t even dream about keeping up with Barry on the Flash’s slowest day.
Let’s All Go To The Movies
So now that we know that Barry can outstrip Quicksilver in the four-color universe, let’s see how they fare against each other on the big screen, In Avengers: Age Of Ultron, when he’s battling the heroes of the hour and saving the citizens of Sokovia, Pietro Maximoff can break the sonic barrier and run at a speed slightly faster than that of sound, but not quite fast enough to avoid being struck by the bullets (which have a velocity of around seventeen hundred miles per hour) that ultimately kill him.
In X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men Apocalypse, Quicksilver is a lot faster than his Avengers counterpart, and an associate professor of Physics at Southern Alabama University did the math and calculated that Quicksilver was moving at somewhere in the region of one hundred and eighty-eight miles per second in both films, which is fast but not quite as fast as the big-screen version of The Flash.
Even though a definitive top speed isn’t directly established in either the Snyder or the regular cut of Justice League, the fact that the Flash can not only pluck a Batarang out of mid-air when it’s thrown at him but can also use the Speed-Force to literally move backward in time implies that he’s able to move at speeds that exceed that of light, which is in keeping with his comic book counterpart and makes him much faster than Quicksilver in both the MCU and the DCU.
The Final Fast Word
No matter which universe they’d race in, the one created for the comic books or the one fashioned for the movies, the outcome would always be the same.
The Flash would always easily outrun Quicksilver, and leave Marvel’s famous mutant speedster choking on his dust as he circled the world before Pietro even left the starting blocks.