Four Letter Nerd

The Dark Knight vs the Man of Steel

Since the birth of comic book heroes people have debated who would win if two heroes were pitted against one another. Injustice: Gods Among Us even grants us the opportunity to play through these battles (and like we all expected, Aquaman fights dirtier than the Cobra Kai in Karate Kid). I myself have participated in many such debates, and have come to the conclusion that 98% of the time people just say their favorite hero would win even if the odds are so far in favor of the other hero that it is comparable to believing Rambo would lose in a fistfight against Steve Urkel sans Urkelbot.


There is no way this has a happy ending

I want to start off by saying that Batman is definitely one of my favorite super heroes. As a matter of fact, Batman was by far my number one until my son was born and my allegiances slowly shifted to Superman. However, I constantly hear people say things like, “Batman could totally destroy (insert any superhero here).” The fanboy in me cheers them on and says “Hell yeah he would,” but could he?

I have my doubts.

First things first, if Batman were real he would be extraordinary by human standards. He has an enormous IQ, is in peak physical condition, has indomitable will, has been trained in the most elite and effective combat systems, has backup plans for his back up plans, and is filthy rich which gives him access to some pretty advanced equipment. Against any human foe the odds would be heavily stacked in his favor.

However, when us fanboys and fangirls get together and speculate who would win in a fight we rarely, if ever, actually pit him against a human opponent.

We pit him against veritable demigods. We pit him against beings that can knock planets out of orbit with their bare hands.

“But Batman knows all of the weaknesses of everyone, he knows Superman is weakened by Kryptonite, that the Martian Manhunter resembles a four year old that accidentally saw the movie Saw when he is around fire, and let’s not even get started on Wonder Woman’s weakness!”

Well, my friend, they know his weakness as well… bullets, laser beams, explosives, cold, heat, sickness, lack of oxygen, traumatic force, choking on a rogue chicken bone, you name it. Elite physical conditioning will not help you if you are thrown into the sun or pummeled into the core of the Earth.

Batman vs. Superman is probably the most popular match up so this is the one we will focus on today. Those two are like Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali of superheroes.

The best thing that Batman has going for him is his mind; he would absolutely destroy Supes in chess, and probably most other board games. However, we have seen in countless Superman tales that pure intellect, even when combined with excessive strength, is rarely a match for the power to break the moon in half. Lex Luthor, like Bruce Wayne, has a superior intellect, and he is totally okay with murdering the hell out of some folks (something Batman is unwilling to do most of the time), but Lex still never wins.

Batman #655 shows Batman bench-pressing well over 1000 pounds. That is an incredible amount of weight. In fact, that’s nearly 300 pounds over the current world record, which is 722 pounds. All Star Superman #1 shows him lifting 200 Quintillion tons which is after he gets exposed to “critical levels of stellar radiation,” the scientist tell Superman that this is triple his original strength. So your regular, old, run of the mill, garden variety Superman can only lift 67 Quintillion tons give or take a few Quintillions. Obviously, Supes has Batman in any ensuing arm wrestling matches.

You may be saying to me through your screen, “Everyone knows Batman keeps Kryptonite in a lead lined compartment of his utility belt just in case Superman ever turns to the Evil (extra emphasis added to the IL to make it sound more menacing).” Kryptonite is basically a short-range advantage for Batman. If Superman was exposed and the fight devolved to hand-to-hand combat, then Batman would have the advantage. But would the fight ever go there?

It’s not like you can sneak up on Superman. In Superman: For Tomorrow, Superman (SPOILER ALERT) knew that Lois Lane had disappeared off of the face of the Earth because he could no longer HEAR HER HEARTBEAT.

If Superman knew it was a fight it would never end up in a hand-to-hand match with him weakened by Kryptonite. It’s like racing a cheetah; if the cheetah knows it’s a race then you have lost.

Superman is like the Navy SEALs of super heroes. He can attack you from anywhere: Sea, Air, or Land. Even with Batman’s reflexes most likely being in the 99.99% of humanity, he would not be able to react fast enough to someone moving near the speed of light.

The amount of time between Superman deciding to throw a punch and his fist making contact is probably not even enough time for the synapses in Batman’s brain to have registered that his world was about to be rocked.

We haven’t even talked about Superman’s other powers he could use to end the fight. If Batman had Kryptonite, Superman could use heat vision to catch Batman on fire from the air, or freeze Batman in place with super frost breath and wait for hypothermia to set in, or just fly so fast towards Batman that by the time he got close enough for the Kryptonite to actually weaken him his forward momentum would carry him into Batman like a rocket powered freight train.

In the end, I would estimate based on nothing more than subjective reasoning that Batman would lose 96 out of 100 fights, with 3 wins by forfeit because Superman wasn’t in the mood to fight, and 1 win based on sheer luck.


So what do you think? With every tool at his disposal could Batman actually have a chance in an all-out brawl with Superman? What would it take for one of humanities greatest heroes to overcome the Last Son of Krypton?

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Cam Clark

Cam is a husband, father, and a fan of many things. In college, he wrote his senior thesis on Mythological, Philosophical, and Theological Themes in Star Wars, and now spends his days causally specializing in Star Wars, Tolkien, and cubical work. No relation to Bill Clark.

35 CommentsLeave a comment

  • We asked our 6 year old, Lycan, who would win in a fight, Superman or Batman. His immediate response was, “Superman.” According to him, “Superman would just flick Batman and make him fly through walls.”

  • Your assessment only works as an inventory of the two hero’s individual powers. Evaluating the actual fight prospects is more involved than that. I would agree with your 4 out of a hundred ratio of wins for Bruce, but not with your reasoning. And that number only holds if it’s consecutive fights, whereas Clark has the opportunity to adjust his strategy. If there is some kind of Back to The Future reset/reboot of the fighting, or some kind of inter-dimensional counterpart battle, the ratio shifts in Bruce’s favor dramatically. Bruce would not fight Clark in his regular costume, more likely something similar to S.H.I.E.L.D. Hulk-Buster tech. Something Bruce would design specifically to fight Clark and endure his WMDs for short but sufficient time. He would also amass a arsenal of weapons and technology specifically to hit Clark from multiple angles and turn Clark’s strengths into weaknesses. Admittedly, this gear alone is not enough to defeat Superman but they are essentially instruments in the hand of a maestro, tools in the hands of a master. Bruce would use Clarks powers against him, particularly his heightened senses and sensitivity. He would keep Clark disoriented and off balance long enough to deliver the knock out. This is demonstrated in both Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, and Loeb’s Hush (your article’s omission of the precedent established by this source material is glaring). Basically, Bruce holding Kryptonite is not like you or I holding it. It’s not the only weapon at his disposal and he wouldn’t be simply trying to hit him with a blow that Clark would see coming a mile away. He would hit him from multiple directions and once he has effectively broken Clark down, he would administer the final blow. You mention chess as though it were an insignificant anecdote. Everything is chess. Bruce would marshal his considerable resources and pick Clark apart. With that being said, Luthor and Bruce aren’t the same. If Luthor was as militaristically brilliant as well as being himself the perfect fighting machine as Bruce is, this would be a more apt comparison. As it is they share a level of genius, which when it comes to Bruce is only the start (as your article states). It has been said and referenced here, that Clark can tune in to Lois’ heartbeat. That doesn’t mean he hears every heartbeat, all at once. all the time. That would overwhelm him. He has to constantly be navigating where to focus his attention, and how much focus to assign where. You can’t cover everywhere at all times. What is the extent of his hearing? What level of soundproofing would be able to shield a heartbeat from his detection. Bruce would know these things. I use the alter-ego names because they speak to who is at the heart of each of these heroes. Clark is at heart a farm boy, who was raised by loving and nurturing parents to be loving and nurturing. He would be constantly trying to corral and contain Bruce which would put Clark at a disadvantage. Bruce watched his parents murdered before his eyes as a child. He was raised by his butler and presumably an assortment of boarding schools and military academies. It has been said that donning the cowl is essentially Bruce taking his mask off and that The Bat is who he really is. While both have an enduring code against killing, Bruce is far more ruthless than Clark. It’s the size of the fight in the dog. If Clark were to somehow cease being Clark and become some amoral, inhuman version of himself that was suddenly willing to unleash the full measure of his ability in a total war against Bruce, it would be over in seconds (the time it would take for Clark to travel to wherever Bruce happened to be). In lieu of that, this fight isn’t nearly as cut and dried as it may seem at first glance.

  • I have to agree. Superman would absolutely destroy Batman. I love Batman, but Superman is not even human. He’s from another world. He’s indestructible. He could shoot Batman with his heat vision from miles away and Batman wouldnt even know what hit him. He could fly in so fast that Batman never saw him and one punch break Batman in half.

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