Batman versus Superman? Really?
By Adam Gottfried
All right my fellow geeks, I have a battleaxe to grind and since spewing vitriol on the Internet is “in” right now, I’m going to share it with all of you. I want to address the debate once and for all of the following question: Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?
First of all, I am going to go on record to say that I am sick and tired of this debate. I’ve been having it since 1992 when Superman went toe-to-toe with Doomsday and they both lost. So what I am going to say is going to be the end of it, at least for me. Part of my issue with this debate is that when people are asked that question, they answer another one. When asked “Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?” most people answer based on the emphasis of their particular fandom. Batman fans will almost always answer in favor of the Dark Knight, and Superman fans will answer for the Man of Steel. This is not to say they are right or wrong, but they are not answering the right question: They are answering “Who is your favorite, Batman or Superman?”
The ensuing debate has caused hurt feelings, physical aggression, and lifelong friends to break ties, move to opposite sides of the country and stew in their impotent rage for the rest of their lives… granted, the latter was just the last straw, but as a catalyst, this debate is incendiary.
This question has been recently validated by Hollywood (with the recent announcement of the next Superman movie, unofficially named Batman vs. Superman and while I am trying to cite a “credible” entertainment news conglomerate, I am struggling to find one. This is the best I can do: Collider Blog), but there is plenty of precedence in the comic-book world for this query as well. However, as comic-book movies have recently become mainstream (and by recently, I mean in the last dozen or so years: Yes, in the scheme of a genre that has existed in excess of 75 years, 12 years is just a drop in the bucket), I am going to try to avoid pushing my broken horn-rim glasses up over the bridge of my nose, snorting condescendingly and citing specific he-said-she-said issues of various comics, but some of that will be necessary, so please bear with me.
But let us look at this objectively. (Fair warning, there are spoilers ahead, and most of them deliberate and completely shameless.) Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?
Neither. Because it wouldn’t happen. Sure, they would exchange a few barbs and un-pleasantries, but ultimately they would realize that they are on the same side and that fighting amongst themselves only lets evil win and is ultimately a fruitless exercise. That was the short answer. Now, I can hear you unzipping to unleash your proverbial nerd phallus so that we might swordfight until one of us grabs his balls and goes home (yes, apparently it is THAT kind of article), but I want you to tuck it back a minute and keep reading.
Okay, so remember when I said I wouldn’t cite specific issues? Neither do I; because I didn’t. However, I have no interest in rehashing arguments that have been hashed and rehashed, then minced, pureed and baked into pie. So I’ll let someone else do it for me: This is a blog that does a great job of citing their sources and arguing their points: Batman vs. Superman. I am generally forced to agree with all of their points, if not their objectivity.
Now that is behind us, we can get back to the question at hand. The question is “Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?” In order for there to BE a fight, one has to strip away the moral compass of both characters, fundamentally changing them into Mortal Kombat style automatons who fight because people want to see them fight. Assuming that is the case (and not taking into account the video game Injustice with scales the power levels of individuals like Joker and Robin to be able to stand up to the likes of Green Lantern and Superman, which I do not think anyone would disagree would be laughable) there is no contest. Superman wins.
Let’s break this down into three major points. I am assuming that both Batman and Superman are aware of the fight and have a little time to prepare.
Point #1: Batman would use gadgets, including but not limited to Kryptonite.
Yup, he sure would. However, Superman has heat vision, telescopic vision, and infallible aim. The moment Superman sensed the mere PRESENCE of Kryptonite, he would fly up into the atmosphere, take a glorious yellow-sun bath, and then rain down fire from the sky until Bruce was dead, dead, dead. Don’t believe me? Check out Batman/Superman Public Enemies (the trade graphic novel, not the movie). Superman flies Silver Banshee up to the atmosphere to keep her from shrieking in his ears and rains down heat vision to assist Bruce with Gorilla Grodd, a baddy infinitely more hardy than Batman.
Point #2: Batman has time to prepare, so Superman would never see it coming.
In Adventures of Superman Volume 1 #631: Casualty of War, Lois Lane gets shot on the other side of the globe from Superman. Superman hears the shot and is at her side in seconds. So yeah, Superman may not see it coming, but he would sure as poop hear it.
Point #3: Batman is smarter than Superman, so he would outwit the Man of Steel.
Smarter? I don’t know about that. Batman is very intelligent, but his focus has always been highly specialized in investigation, logic, deductive reasoning, forensics and some elements of gadgetry. He is, in effect, a modern day Sherlock Holmes (who contrary to popular opinion is a fictional character, just like Batman, just to clear up any confusion there. You may think I am insulting your intelligence, but you would be surprised how many people I have met who think that Sherlock Holmes was a real person). However, much like Mr. Holmes, he is more of a savant than a genius. He is brilliant and clever in a few, very specialized fields, but let us not forget that Clark Kent is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist who has traveled to the distant reaches of the world and who has spent most of his life studying and modeling human behavior. I’m not trying to argue that Clark is smarter than Bruce, but I am certainly going to state that he is at least as intelligent as Mr. Bruce Wayne.
In terms of gadgetry, many of Batman’s wonderful toys are researched and developed by Wayne Enterprises (see Lucius Fox), and maintained by ex-British intelligence agent, Alfred Pennyworth. (Yes, I am citing Wikipedia, but do your research: Nowadays Wikipedia is just as reliable as any paper and print encyclopedia out there, and you can see that from this article in a credible scientific publication: Nature.)
There are many more points I could address, but I think I have made my secondary point: In a physical conflict wherein morality is not a factor, Superman will beat Batman hands down, and without even breaking a super-sweat.
My primary point, however, was made before I even got into the debate: This fight would not and should not happen. Here, I am pleading with Mr. Zack Snyder. I do not know him personally, but I do have a rather low opinion of his creative works due to their divergence from the source material and sensationalism, but I digress. One my favorite (this is an opinion now, brace yourselves) representations of Batman and Superman are as friends and teammates. Singly as individuals, they can be beaten, but when paired as a team? They are unstoppable. The real question is: Who would win in a fight, Batman and Superman or any and all bad guys in the history of comic-book villains ever?
My money is on Batman and Superman.