Long before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice finally got the green light at Warner Bros., the debate about who should win in a fight between these two DC Comics icons has been raging. As two of the world’s biggest superheroes, they each obviously have their own respective fan bases, and both sides come up with very convincing arguments about why one would emerge victorious over the other.
That’s all well and good, but looking back over the past seventy years or so, there’s one man (not alien), who has frequently come out on top when these two heroes have for whatever reason ended up going to war with one another. We are of course talking about the Goddamn Batman!
At this point, kicking Superman’s ass might as well just be one of Batman’s hobbies, but what are the very best examples of this happening?
Here, you will find just ten of the most awesome times the Caped Crusader laid the SmackDown on his fellow Justice League member. Have we missed any of your favourites? Well, be sure to sound off in the comments section as soon as you’ve finished clicking through…
10. “Tower Of Babel”
Mark Waid’s critically acclaimed “Tower Of Babel” revealed that Batman has a way of taking down each and every member of the Justice League should they ever go bad (a plot point recently revisited by Geoff Johns in Justice League), something none of them are particularly happy to discover, especially when Ra’s al Ghul gets his hands on those weapons.
Kicked out of the team for a short while, it’s not actually Batman who uses any of his contingency plans on his teammates, but we still get to see what exactly Bruce Wayne would be willing to do to take his friends down if the need were to ever arise. In Superman’s case, that’s with red Kryptonite created by Batman.
This doesn’t kill Superman, but greatly weakens him, and the results are actually pretty gross. You see, it turns his skin transparent, thereby making the Man of Steel unable to stand the sun’s radiation. Superman’s natural solar absorption abilities are so overwhelmed that he effectively becomes powerless and while Batman may not have been the one to deal this blow, this is just one of many examples if him using his superior intellect to find a way to stop a seemingly indestructible being.
The real lesson here? Never piss Batman off!
9. The Dark Knight Returns
Perhaps their most famous comic book battle to date, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is also the story which Zack Snyder is heavily borrowing from for inspiration with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Taking advantage of Superman being weakened by a recent nuclear bomb blast, Bruce Wayne armours up and prepares for war with his former ally. Even as an older man, Batman is able to use his superior fighting skills and technological know how to his advantage and gives Superman a real beating. When it looks like the tide is turning, he even has a back up plan in the form of Green Arrow, who shoots Superman with Kryptonite in order to weaken him even further.
The fight unfortunately never gets a proper resolution as it’s around this point that Bruce fakes a heart attack, but he first makes sure to point out that he could have used a deadlier mix of Kryptonite to take Superman out for good had he chosen to. Superman is only allowed to live because Batman allows it, proving he could stop his far more powerful opponent whenever he wants.
8. Batman/Superman Annual #1
This one-shot story isn’t anything particularly special, but the fight which takes place between Batman and Superman is still pretty interesting.
Forced to compete in a gladiatorial arena of sorts, Batman once again arms himself with Kryptonite as a way of evening the odds. With the fate of Earth hanging in the balance, a reluctant Batman gives his all in this fight, and Superman is left bloodied and battered by the time all is said and done.
The two were only actually stalling for time and needed to make the fight look convincing, so it could have gone either way. It’s interesting to note then that it’s the Dark Knight who reigns supreme, and it’s only the fact that he’s such a good guy that he doesn’t finish his friend off when he’s done with delivering this beating. There’s no two ways about it; Batman is the better fighter!
7. “The Trust”
A relatively little known tale taking place over only seven or eight pages, Chip Kidd’s “The Trust” is beautifully illustrated by comic book legend Alex Ross.
With Superman sent out of control by Brainiac, only Batman can stop his friend from tearing the world apart. A flashback reveals that the Man of Steel gave his friend a piece of Kryptonite years earlier in case he needed to ever stop him, and the Caped Crusader doesn’t hesitate to do what he deems necessary.
Attaching himself to the flying Superman by shooting his grappling gun around his legs, Batman breaks his one rule to put his friend down; he uses a gun and shoots him.
As you may have already guessed, it’s loaded with Kryptonite, but there’s a twist. While Batman considered using a bullet to take out Superman for good, he decided to instead use a dart, and that gives him the opportunity to remove the device controlling his friend’s actions and take out the dart before it finishes him off. Had he been a little more ruthless though, Batman could have easily ended Superman on that day…
6. Red Son
Mark Millar’s Red Son looks at what would have happened if Superman had been raised in Soviet Russia and provides an interesting alternate take on many well-known DC Comics characters.
One of them is Batman, and other than the fact that he sports a pretty cool hat, he’s the same old Caped Crusader we know and love. There’s no Kryptonite involved this time, as this version of the Dark Knight uses sun lamps to weaken Superman and proceeds to dominate him in battle, eventually knocking him unconscious with a well placed Batarang to the head.
However, when Wonder Woman intervenes and frees Superman, Batman decides to commit suicide rather than return to the KGB a failure and face lobotomization or worse.
Despite that somewhat tragic ending, he still beat Superman and actually makes surprisingly short work of him. Superman being powerless made this a completely fair fight, and without his amazing abilities, the so-called Man of Steel never stood a chance!
5. Batman: The Animated Series
Warner Bros. may be kicking ass right now with live-action shows like Arrow, Gotham, and The Flash, but they have nothing on the animated front which comes close to Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. As the shows aired at the same time, the two heroes met in crossover episodes on a number of occasions, and there were two times that Batman completely humiliated the Man of Steel without needing to even lay a finger on him.
During their first meeting, Superman used his X-Ray vision to take a peek under the cowl and learn that the Dark Knight was secretly Bruce Wayne. Feeling pretty smug about his discovery, Superman was horrified to return home and find a tracking device on his cape. Turning around, Metropolis’ alien hero was confronted by the sight of Batman on a distant rooftop looking directly into the apartment of Clark Kent. Like. A. Boss.
Using his superior intelligence wasn’t the only way Batman kicked Superman’s ass in these shows though. At one point, he started dating Lois Lane as Bruce Wayne because he knew that there was a) nothing he could do about it, and b) it would get under his skin. These instances just go to show that the Caped Crusader doesn’t even need to touch Superman to beat him!
4. “Handful of Dust”
As with many hero on hero battles, Batman and Superman most frequently seem to fight when one of them is under some sort of mind control. That was the case in Batman: The Dark Knight #5 near the start of The New 52 relaunch, but that made the David Finch illustrated battle no less epic to watch unfold.
Drugged out of his mind on a new batch of The Scarecrow’s fear toxin, Batman’s strength was greatly enhanced as he pretty much Hulked out and gained super strength and a serious need to kill.
This put the two heroes on an equal playing field, and Batman knocked seven bells out of Superman before the Man of Steel was forced to retaliate with a punch which very nearly finished off the out of control Caped Crusader (however, it also helped to diminish the effects of the poison, so ended up saving Bruce’s life).
As a result, Superman technically won this contest, but it’s still worth noting that Batman gave his fellow Justice League member a nasty beating before that happened. Just imagine how this fight might have gone if he’d been as strong as the Kryptonian. Supes wouldn’t stand a chance!
During Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s popular “Hush” storyline, Superman ends up getting a kiss from Poison Ivy, and targets Batman while under her control.
Prepared for a fight, Batman removes the now iconic Kryptonite ring from his utility belt to help make it a fair fight. As the better fighter, Batman is able to keep the battle in close quarters to stop Superman from taking to the skies and even deploys hypersonics to slow the Man of Steel down. When that doesn’t work, the Dark Knight uses the battlefield to his advantage and electrocutes his friend, blacking out the city in the process!
It turns out that all of this was just a way of stalling for time though, as Batman has sent Catwoman to kidnap Lois Lane, and she proceeds to drop her from a building to get Superman to snap free of Ivy’s control. Thankfully, it works, and Batman was again able to use his smarts to defeat the far more powerful hero.
Before that though, the Kryptonite ring certainly helped him to kick the crap out of the Man of Steel!
2. The Dark Knight Strikes Again
There’s no two ways about it; The Dark Knight Strikes Again is terrible. The fact that it follows on from the critically acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns is hard to believe, as Frank Miller’s artwork and writing take a nosedive in quality.
Nonetheless, it features a pretty cool fight between Batman and Superman as they square off in what you might call a rematch from their previous encounter.
Forced to confront Batman by the government, Superman heads to the Batcave and the fight begins. There’s no armour involved this time, but Bruce does arm himself with a couple of massive Kryptonite gauntlets, and proceeds to make short work of the Man of Steel as a result. Of course, he has some help from his fellow heroes (The Atom certainly helps to even the odds), but Batman still leaves Superman a bloodied and battered mess by the time they’re through here.
Simply put, the only way Superman is ever going to stand a chance against Batman is if he gets over his little Kryptonite allergy…
1. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
It has to happen, right?
There are a lot of rumours doing the rounds about how things will play out when Batman and Superman come to blows on the big screen next year, with the most common being that they’ll have a total of two battles. The first comes when Batman confronts the Man of Steel for the first time, while the second will see Gotham’s Dark Knight armour up and bring the hero to his city.
We’ve already seen in the trailer that Batman gives Superman a pasting, and it’s interesting to note that we haven’t really seen Superman get much offense in. While he’s no doubt get the chance to throw a few punches and use that heat vision of his, everyone knows that Batman is the better fighter, so him dominating his future ally on the battlefield probably shouldn’t come as a shock!
So, brace yourselves Superman fans; in 2016, you’re going to see Batman knock the stuffing out of the big blue boy scout on IMAX screens worldwide. That’ll teach him for wrecking a city, eh?