When most people think of Resident Evil, I imagine they envision some form of zombies first and foremost. 1 While they’re not always the monsters du jour, some form of unnatural, largely undead monster is typically in the mix, with the story often centering on some terrible virus that the Umbrella Corporation created being unleashed upon the world before some character has to survive or accomplish some goal in the face of it. While this series didn’t create the survival horror genre, it’s arguably the foremost example of it. The zombies play a massive part in that.
I’m currently playing the Resident Evil 2 remake, and the thing this playthrough reminded me of is how much of the game isn’t just you battling zombies. The majority is actually endlessly dodging them so you can solve yet another puzzle to move onto the next location and save yourself and your teammate within the game in the process. It’s not House of the Dead; it’s endless, occasionally collaborative problem solving with a variety of Umbrella-crafted monsters perpetually making your life more difficult (or non-existent, in the case of Tyrant) as you effectively traverse a haunted house. And that’s much more interesting!
I kept thinking about comic characters and how they would handle these scenarios as I played the game, because it’s certainly not one that rewards the act first, think later set. Well, if I’m being honest, I thought of myself first, and how I’d likely be terrible at making it through it, if only because I’m a) bad at inventory management 2 and b) constantly dying in the game, 3 a pairing that’s even less ideal in the real world than in games. But then my mind turned to the far more – or less, in some cases – capable people from the world of comics, 4 and how they might manage it all.
Now, it’s important to note that I’m not talking about a Marvel Zombies or DCeased-like scenario here. This is pure Resident Evil. So we’re talking about them being required to go through the whole process – meaning puzzles and all, so no just flying through walls with your teammates in your arms – while attempting to keep a group of people safe at the same time. Why a group, you may ask, instead of an individual like Resident Evil 2’s Sherry or Ada Wong? 5 Because these are often superpowered individuals and they deserve extra obstacles compared to the Leon Kennedys and Claire Redfields of the world.
I ended up deciding to play this entire thought experiment out in my head, putting a random list of characters together and tiering them into five distinct groups that range from an A grade Resident Evil experience to complete and utter failure, with examples within each before closing with the best of each class. It is, of course, a ridiculous exercise. But it was also a fun one. There might even be some surprises in here! But as per usual, I’m open to pushback on my tiering, even if I think my logic is irrefutable. 6 Here we go.
Tier 5: You’re Better Off Alone (or you might be already)
If you find yourself with one of these characters at the head of your group, you’re in for a tough time. Time to look for a new group, because odds are you’re in extreme danger or you’ve been ditched already.
Examples from this tier: The majority of the cast of The Walking Dead, 7 The Joker, M.O.D.O.K. 8 Cassidy (from Preacher), all the boys from Bad Machinery, Kang the Conqueror, 9 Kraven the Hunter, 10 Ozymandias, 11 Robin (Jason Todd), Typhoid Mary, Nuke, 12 Phoney Bone, Dark Phoenix 13
“Best” in Class: Scott Pilgrim
Scott Pilgrim is everything you wouldn’t want out of a leader, despite the fact that he likely has played the entire Resident Evil franchise and is effective at fighting, as long as each zombie was one of Ramona Flowers’ exes. In theory, he could be great here! But at his core, Scott is an extremely selfish and lazy dude. Odds are he would probably almost exclusively stick to safe rooms, especially if they have a TV or gaming options, and he wouldn’t be terribly invested in everyone’s potential long-term health. Beyond that, Scott Pilgrim – despite the aforementioned fighting skills – is a fairly ordinary guy. These are not ideal characteristics for any group’s fate.
That said, sticking to a safe room forever is one way to survive. It’s just against the rules of the thought experiment. I’ll give Scott 5% credit in that regard, even if it’s a bit of a cheat. That’s why he’s the best in class.
I would need so many hip pouches that even Rob Liefeld’s head would spin.↩
To the point the game shamed me into dropping a difficulty level. I am not kidding. I wish I was.↩
And when I say comics I mean all comics. This isn’t just superheroes, and I even included groups of characters from titles to compare across casts.↩
Who, let’s be honest, is equally effective at saving you as you are of saving her.↩
Looking at you, Bruno Batista.↩
We have 193 issues of evidence that most of them are bad at negotiating these scenarios and/or are terrible people. Not great.↩
He’s arguably the character who is most likely to not just fail to assist his teammates but to straight up blast them himself instead.↩
He would pop in, look around for like…two seconds, recognize it’s zombie time, and then bounce to another era.↩
He would love this and would immediately start hunting everything instead of helping you survive. Sort of helpful! But also not helpful!↩
Ol’ Ozy wouldn’t help you. Instead, he would immediately endeavor to acquire Umbrella Corporation and its “fascinating” technology.↩
Unless you exclusively refer to you and your teammates as “Our Boys,” in which case you have approximately a 10% chance of survival.↩
Consuming the entire planet is A solution to the problem but certainly not an ideal one.↩