When it comes to Superheroes, there are none as iconic and better known than Batman and Superman. While in his time, Superman has seen popularity that perhaps no other comic book character ever will, Batman is the more popular in the modern era. If Superman defined the modern day Superhero, Batman showed Superhero stories aren’t to be taken lightly. Batman v Superman may have pleased batman fans all over just for the fact that Batman wins, and many may ignore the reason why.
Are DC Entertainment’s top two heroes friends, partners or rivals? The answer is all of the above, and then some. One is “the most important icon” as DC puts it, and the other is the most popular.
Lets take a look back at the history first and keep this history in mind when we get to the conclusion. Here are the 16 times DC’s Dark Knight has gone up against the Man of Steel, and who won each tussle :
The Feud Between Batman and Superman (1964)
Where Did It Happen? World’s Finest Comics No. 143
Why Were They Fighting? An attempt at morale-boosting by Superman — which followed Batman getting hit by a bullet ricocheting off Superman’s invulnerable chest — goes awry, leading to increased tensions between the superheroes.
Winner: N/A; the fight is broken up, and the two quickly become friends again.
The Infinite Evolutions of Batman and Superman (1965)
Where Did It Happen? World’s Finest Comics No. 151
Why Were They Fighting? An “evolutionary ray” created by a long-dead scientist from Superman’s homeworld malfunctions, turning Superman into a caveman and Batman into a hyper-evolved human who is, coincidentally, arrogant. Unsurprisingly, the two fight before returning to their usual selves.
Winner: Superman, apparently answering the “caveman vs. astronaut” meme decades early.
The Galactic Gamblers (1969)
Where Did It Happen? World’s Finest Comics No. 185
Why Were They Fighting? After aliens kidnap Jimmy Olsen and Robin, Superman and Batman are forced into gladiatorial battles on another planet in order to keep their friends safe. To make matters worse, their fights are the subject of betting matches by thrill-seeking aliens!
Winner: N/A, because their hearts were never in it. (But if it had come down to it, it would’ve been Batman. As much as Superman loves Jimmy, it pales before the bond between the Dynamic Duo.)
How Do You Kill A Superman? (1976)
Where Did It Happen? World’s Finest Comics No. 240
Why Were They Fighting? Superman’s actions become erratic after he’s agreed to become the king of the shrunken city of Kandor. As things get worse, the Kandorians ask Batman to step in — and kill their Man of Steel. What’s behind it all? Believe it or not, an evil alien cat. No, that’s not a joke.
Winner: Batman, kind of …? It’s unclear; while Batman seemed to kill Superman, he actually ended up triggering a sequence of events that saved Superman’s life, which was perhaps what he’d hoped for all along …?
The Dark Knight Falls (1986)
Where Did It Happen? Batman: The Dark Knight Returns No. 4
Why Were They Fighting? With a reborn Batman causing political upheaval even as he’s keeping the streets of Gotham safer than they had been in some time, the President of the United States sends in Superman to take him down. Things don’t go to plan as Superman isn’t willing to fight full on.
Winner: Batman, and thanks to the help of Green Arrow, some kryptonite and a mechanized suit of super-strong armor but it was purely Superman’s choice right there. He just wasn’t willing to do what he was expected to do.
One Night in Gotham City (1986)
Where Did It Happen? Man of Steel No. 3
Why Were They Fighting? In a retelling of the first meeting between the two heroes, Superman is unconvinced that Batman is a good guy. The Dark Knight doesn’t help his case by telling Superman that he’s wired an innocent man with a bomb that will go off if the Man of Steel doesn’t back off. (Spoilers: Batman is that innocent man himself.)
Winner: Batman; even though the two never come to outright blows, Superman is still outwitted by the Caped Crusader.
The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2002)
Where Did It Happen? Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again No. 1
Why Were They Fighting? In this sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, Superman is once again coerced by the U.S. Government into attacking Batman. Things go even worse for him this time, thanks to Batman having gauntlets made of kryptonite, and the help of half of the Justice League.
Winner: Batman, again.
Batman: Hush (2003)
Where Did It Happen? Batman No. 612
Why Were They Fighting? While investigating a crime that might involve femme fatale Poison Ivy, Batman finds himself up against a mind-controlled Superman who’ll do anything to defend his new mistress.
Winner: N/A, because Superman manages to break Ivy’s control when he sees Lois Lane in danger.
Superman: Red Son (2003)
Where Did It Happen? Superman: Red Son No. 2
Why Were They Fighting? In an alternate reality where Kal-El crashed into the Soviet Union instead of America, Batman is an anarchist soldier dedicated to overthrowing the corrupt political regime.
Winner: Batman, technically; his plan to depower Superman works temporarily, but when Wonder Woman saves the Comrade of Steel — that’s actually what he’s called in this storyline — Batman commits suicide to avoid capture. Maybe we should call this one a draw?
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel (2005)
Where Did It Happen? Lex Luthor: Man of Steel No. 3
Why Were They Fighting? In a plot that may seem familiar to those who’ve seen trailers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman is manipulated by Lex Luthor into believing that Superman is a threat to humanity.
Winner: Superman. The showdown isn’t even close: Superman disarms Bats of his kryptonite from a distance via super-breath without even breaking a sweat. Quite possibly the first time Superman wasn’t a victim of the plot.
Where Did It Happen? Superman No. 219, Action Comics No. 829, Adventures of Superman No. 642, Wonder Woman No. 219
Why Were They Fighting? Once again mind-controlled — this time by a villain called Maxwell Lord — Superman believes that he’s fighting a number of his most dangerous enemies, only to discover after the fact that he was actually attacking Batman.
Winner: Superman, and it wasn’t even close: Batman was left in bad shape as a result of the brutal assault.
Where Did It Happen? Superman/Batman Nos. 53-56
Why Were They Fighting? After an accident gives Batman Superman’s powers, he becomes increasingly dangerous and aggressive, leading to a powerless Man of Steel having to take him down. (Thankfully, the Justice League is around to help.)
Winner: Superman, with outside help.
Justice League: Origin (2011)
Where Did It Happen? Justice League No. 2
Why Were They Fighting? During an alien invasion at the start of each hero’s career, both Batman and Superman mistake each other for working with the invaders, and come to blows for a surprisingly short length of time, before they get interrupted by more heroes and more invaders.
Winner: Superman, although the fight didn’t really get too far before being interrupted.
Cross World (2013)
Where Did It Happen? Batman/Superman No. 1
Why Were They Fighting? Teleported to an alternate world, a young Superman who was just starting to fight crime took on that world’s version of Batman, whom he believed was responsible for his teleportation.
Winner: Superman, despite the alternate Batman using kryptonite against him. Put it down to a mixture of confusion and the inexperience (and strength) of youth.
World’s Finest No More (2014)
Where Did It Happen? Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One No. 12
Why Were They Fighting? As part of the mythology of the videogame franchise Injustice, Superman has been driven to new extents in his attempts to keep the world safe following the murder of Lois Lane, leading to a schism with Batman and a number of other superheroes. When the conflict between the two heroes becomes physical, Superman — who is arguably insane by this point — breaks Batman’s spine in an attempt to stop the fight.
Winner: Superman, although Batman eventually comes back thanks to the power of advanced comic book technology and the power of negative thinking.
Where Did It Happen? Batman No. 36
Why Were They Fighting? Infected by Joker venom, a temporarily-insane Superman attacks Batman, leading to a massive fight that sees the Dark Knight attempt (and fail) to depower the Man of Steel via red-sun rays. Eventually, Batman manages to escape Superman after spitting kryptonite-laced polymer into his face.
Winner: Batman, although he generously says in narration that nobody was the winner.
Despite being best buds, they sure do fight a lot. And most of the time, Batman wins.
Why? Because Superman is usually under mind-control or being manipulated somehow and Batman is called upon to neutralize big blue, he is the hero in most of these stories and everybody knows, Heroes always win. Even Superman realizes his power could be disastrous if misused and so the only being in the galaxy he entrusts with Kryptonite is Batman:
To be fair, such a scenario plays out most of the time because Batman is usually prepared. He has standard operating procedures dedicated to taking Superman down if the need arises. But note the point here, which is, that its ultimately Superman, that decides the outcome of the battle. Is he a mindless psychopath? is he still the kansas farm boy? or has he lost his cool and is in no mood to play? No matter how much Batman prepares, his plans will work, or not work, depending on how Superman is being portrayed.
“But you, Adrian…are just a man. And the world’s smartest man poses no greater threat to me than does its smartest termite.” – Dr. Manhattan’s tells Ozymandias in Watchmen
Except perhaps X-ray vision, Superman could use any one of his powers to annihilate Batman completely. Batman could prepare for any eventuality, but what will he do when Superman decides to incinerate him from space? Or at ten times the speed of sound? Of course, the caveat here is that this reasoning works for a duel between the best humanity has to offer and the gold standard of a kryptonian. Who would win in a fight between a kryptonian and a human if the battle takes place on earth? The kryptonian. The odds of Deathstroke defeating Zod in an one-on-one is practically zero. But that’s not the question. Not really.
The greatest skill that Batman possesses is his ability to know his limits, and those of his opponents, and using it with absolute precision. Every single confrontation between the two would have us witnessing Batman using this particular talent to the fullest and emerging victorious. Because that’s what Batman does, only the mission matters and nothing else. The ends always justifies the means, and even if he does have a set list of strict moral codes, he’s always willing to bend or break many (not all) of the accepted rules to get his way despite the cost to himself and others. Batman wins in a fight against Superman because he exploits Superman’s greatest weakness on all occasions. Sure, kryptonite makes him weak, prolonged exposure to red sunlight makes him lose his powers, a telepathic puppeteer would have a field day with him, and any magician worth his wand would cause considerable damage. But all of these weaknesses are mere annoyances when compared to what really makes Superman vulnerable – his humanity.
This is something haters and fans both sometimes fail to understand because it’s not something writers usually portray much.
As quoted from Batman: Hush
If Clark wanted, he could use his superspeed and squish me into the cement. But I know how he thinks. Even more than the Kryptonite, he’s got one big weakness. Deep down, Clark’s essentially a good person… and deep down, I’m not.
Now every time I have mentioned this quote, the Bat fanatics that couldn’t stop yelling in joy how “Batman is a bad ass, Superman is boring”, would start yelling “Batman’s not a good person? that is bullsh*t” and things like that. But what we need to understand is its Batman’s own point of a view. Everyone is critical of himself at some point and knowing Batman’s state of mind, he is perhaps more critical of himself than anybody else. Doesn’t mean Batman is a bad person, it just means that if needed, Batman is willing to step out of that fine line between light and dark that Superman as he thinks wouldn’t.
Another great example is The Dark Knight Returns, which is a reference for almost every batman fan that never fails to bring it into a Batman vs Superman debate. But what it should be is a reference for everyone, not just Batman fans but also Superman fans that claim Superman can kill batman in a flash. Sure he can, and there is nothing Batman can do about it. Zod vs Batman anyone? But Superman is not Zod. He is a farmboy from Kansas, whose only motivation for dawning the cape is his love for mankind and his desire to help. He is the man with absolutely no tragic reason to be a Superhero. His parents weren’t murdered before his eyes, nor did his own fault cause a loved one to die. He absolutely did not just put on the cape because his Alien father wished him to. Superman does it because if not him, then who else? He does not need a tragedy to motivate him, he is just good enough. A firm believer that Evil wins when good men do nothing.
In a comic book chapter or a movie, the plot would definitely lead to Batman defeating Superman (assuming the fight between them is justified by the plot itself). The reason is simple, Batman will be prepared and Superman will hold back how much ever he can.
In a fight where both characters have no emotional sentiments and it’s a no holds barred brawl, Superman will most likely win. It wouldn’t matter what kind of an armour one is wearing. He is physically superior, faster than thought itself and the only thing that can weaken him is kryptonite. But he would definitely scope out Batman’s utility belt, and the lead lining (which blocks his X-ray vision) would be a warning sign for him. Superman is a being far more intelligent than any human, even Batman. His reflexes would help him avoid direct exposure to the radiation giving him the upper hand. Even, with Kryptonite, there is no way Batman could get close enough to use it on Superman, as Superman could literally see him from miles away, and react almost instantly. Batman has absolutely no chance of being able to defeat Superman without the writers acting as a Deus Ex Machina for him. For every possible strategy Batman can think of in years, Superman has a counter which he doesn’t need to plan for, since he can think of it in the moment. He possesses advanced Kryptonian tech that is far superior to anything Batman has. A robot army, dangerous alien weapons, phantom zone projector? Lets not even go there.
But Batman doesn’t win because he’s the better strategist, not because he can anticipate every single move Superman makes, on the contrary Superman can and definitely not because Batman’s better at hand-to-hand combat. It’s because Superman lets him. The ultimate duel between the two, in my opinion, was in The Dark Knight Returns, where it could be declared that Batman won, and in the events leading up to the scuffle, Superman begs him not to put up a fight. Now the Dark Knight is widely bashed by Superman fans for portraying something that was not Superman as Superman. And while this version of Superman does not have the guts of Superman, he does have the weaknesses. Even during the fight, Superman holds back as much as he can like any well written Superman would, making sure that none of his blows cause any mortal damage, while Batman has nothing holding him back. He knows how much Superman can take, and he knows what it would take for Superman to be killed, and Batman is so arrogant that he’s willing to flirt with that line, a lot more than Superman would ever dare. In the round about way Superman tries to subdue Batman without resorting to lethal force, he gives a lot of room for Batman to whip out his kryptonite or whatever he has planned.
For anyone who has difficulty with the idea that Batman would defeat Superman in a fight, all I have to say that the fight between the two greatest superheroes of all time is never a physical confrontation (except when it is). Batman doesn’t win because he’s the better hero, he wins because he isn’t.
On a lighter note :
and this wallpaper in case you need it.
I’m sure many will disagree. If you have something to add please let us know in the comments.