It should come as no surprise that Superman has a pretty extensive list of victories to his name over his long career. As one of the most powerful comic book characters out there, it’s tough to find opponents who can give him a challenge. But occasionally he does find a challenge, whether it’s from the villains, or even another hero. Yes, even the boy scout of superheroes can’t avoid getting into squabbles with his friends.
Not every hero he’s taken out gave Kal-El the fight of his life, but don’t expect all of these fights to be pushovers either. Some of these heroes even have long rivalries with the Man of Steel, and have traded wins back and forth with him. It’s usually not a surprise when the hero takes down the villain, but when the heroes clash with each other, there can be some shocking results.
Who knows, there might be some fights you are surprised that even Superman managed to win as we get into 15 Times Superman Defeated Other Superheroes.
Of course we have to kick things off with Batman vs Superman. There’s really no other hero who has as big of a rivalry with Clark as Bruce does. They have fought more than a few times in some huge battles. You’d think Superman would win easily against a hero with no superpowers, but Batman is a master at figuring out his opponent’s weaknesses. So Batman actually has numerous victories over the Man of Steel, but even Batman plans go awry sometimes.
One of the more recent Superman victories came courtesy of the New 52 storyline Justice League: Origins. It was told as the first time the two had fought, so Batman was at a severe disadvantage, being unable to plan for this fight. With little knowledge of Clark, Bruce tried all his typical gadgets for taking down criminals, but obviously they had little effect. Even with Batman getting help from Green Lantern, Superman still laid on a beatdown to kick off the long rivalry these two would have.
14. GREEN ARROW
Superman is one of the heroes who does not believe in killing, so when he does, his opponent is either extremely evil, or it’s probably just an alternate timeline. Since we know Green Arrow isn’t some horrible villain, that leaves the alternative, where Superman only fought him as a what-if scenario. In this case, Superman was the evil one, alongside with Batman. The two iconic DC heroes had become dictators in this timeline, and dealt with dissent quite brutally.
When confronted, Green Arrow referred to Batman and Superman as the Hitler twins, which was something they didn’t appreciate. Initially it looked like Queen took out Clark with a Kryptonite arrow, and the fight came down to him and Batman. Even then, Batman was getting the better of the encounter, beating Queen down in alleyway. But before Batman could get the pleasure of the kill, Superman returned, quite angry about the Kryptonite, and burned Green Arrow to a crisp with his heat vision.
Superman and Shazam have fought a couple different times and usually just part ways amicably enough as heroes typically do. Superman has come out the victor a couple of times, but not in a way that would make you think Shazam couldn’t even up the score in the future. The Man of Steel does have one totally decisive victory over Shazam, though, and it comes from the Injustice: Gods Among Us game.
As the game’s story mode comes to a boiling point, Superman unveils his plan to his allies to destroy Metropolis and Gotham to make an example of happens to people he deems ungrateful out of them. Almost everyone in the room is in support of this plan, except for Shazam, who speaks up. He calls Clark’s plan crazy, and says this is not what Lois would have wanted before she died at the start of the story.
Superman becomes enraged at Shazam mentioning Lois, and grabs his former friend by the throat. Shazam tries to speak his name to fight back, but Superman freezes Shazam’s mouth shut and uses his heat vision to melt the hero’s brain.
12. MARTIAN MANHUNTER
It’s tough for Superman to find legitimate competition, even among his peers, but most fans would agree that Martian Manhunter is one of the few who could manage it. Fortunately they’ve usually worked closely together, bonding over their shared experience as aliens on Earth, and being part of the Justice League. They have clashed, though, sometimes quite dramatically.
Their most climactic encounter was in the Injustice comic. Martian Manhunter approached Superman and warned him of the turmoil to come if Clark continued on the path he was on. Wonder Woman didn’t take kindly to J’onn’s opinion and tried to push him away. Sensing the violence inside Diana, J’onn liquefied his body, slipped inside Wonder Woman, and threated to destroy her organs. In desperation, Diana shouted for Clark to burn her. There’s little Martian Manhunter hates more than fire, so Superman’s heat vision not only burned him out of Wonder Woman, but killed him.
With a hero as popular as Superman, it’s probably no big surprise that he’s crossed over outside of the world of DC. This won’t be the only time we’re talking about such an occasion, either. In this big encounter, we saw DC’s most famous superhero taking on the poster boy of Marvel, Spider-Man. In terms of star power, it sounds like a great face-off. The problem is, after you stop and think about it, Spidey’s odds of winning this encounter were never very good.
It took a little help from Lex Luthor to give Peter a fighting chance. Lois Lane and Mary Jane had both been kidnapped, and both heroes were blaming the other. They squared off, but not before Luthor irradiated Spider-Man with energy mimicking a red sun, leaving the Kryptonian vulnerable. Spider-Man was actually holding his own for a while, but then the radiation wore off and he was left with just his normal strength.
Just punching Superman broke Spider-Man’s hand, and Clark held back from fighting any more because he knew he could kill Peter with one punch. Given his options, Peter was forced to give up and talk things out with Clark.
Another battle from the Injustice storyline comes from the Injustice: Gods Among Us game. As Superman’s tyrannical control of the world spread, there was still life among the resistance, particularly from the ruler of the seas. Aquaman arrived to face Superman with the army of Atlantis at his back, while Superman was supported by Wonder Woman and her Amazons. The two armies took each other on, while the two heroes got to have their one-on-one battle.
Since this victory was controlled by the player, what led up to the win over Aquaman was determined by whoever was playing at the time, though we’re obviously supposed to picture a brutal fight. The only thing that can’t be debated was the end result, where Superman stood over Aquaman as the winner. Clark was on the verge of finishing Aquaman by killing him with his own trident, but Green Lantern bought Aquaman a reprieve by intervening.
9. CAPTAIN ATOM
Most of the battles in this article are a result of misunderstandings among the heroes, or come from alternate timeline stories. That doesn’t mean Superman, as we know him best, never has problems with other heroes, though. In the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, we saw one such case during the “Flashpoint” episode. While Superman and Huntress were intent on retrieving the Question, fellow hero Captain Atom felt obligated to keep the faceless man in captivity, so Superman had to stand between them and defend the Question.
With super strength and an irradiated body, Captain Atom would pose a huge threat for most characters. In the comic for Injustice, Captain Atom actually did manage to nearly kill Clark, but in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, the two heroes slugged out their differences with super-powered blows that sent each other crashing through walls.
It was Captain Atom who started to tire first, and Clark began dodging his strikes, allowing Atom to send himself into the concrete. With one final punch, Superman KO’d the irradiated hero. There were no hard feelings, though. As non-heroes ran in to tend to Captain Atom, Superman ordered them to back off and picked the hero up himself, saying Captain Atom was Justice League.
8. BLACK CANARY
The Injustice comic book quickly drew battle lines between a lot of former friends. Despite Superman’s anger over the death of Lois Lane being understandable, his tyrannical response towards the world was endangering a lot of people. And people who disagreed with his view, like Green Arrow, were winding up dead. Superman never intended to kill Oliver Queen, and tried to explain this to Black Canary, but she was just as upset about losing someone she cared about as Clark was.
The two fought in a vicious battle that seemed to resolve with Canary shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet. She deliberately avoided a lethal shot at the behest of Batman, and she reported to her allies that Superman had been taken out. But Clark wasn’t done yet, and he was feeling far less merciful than Canary.
Superman ended Black Canary’s life, so he won the fight. But she got the last laugh when she told him she was wearing contacts that were broadcasting his actions to the whole world, so now everyone would know that he was a killer.
7. WONDER WOMAN
We already mentioned the storyline where Superman and Batman became tyrants and killed Green Arrow, but needless to say, he wasn’t the only hero they took out. Wonder Woman was still trying to preserve peace in the world and, as one of the strongest heroes in DC, was more than capable of dispatching Batman. Diana killed Bruce, but didn’t have much time to celebrate her victory since Superman was pretty upset about the death of his friend.
Clark was beyond the point of being reasoned with, and attacked Wonder Woman full force. An angry Superman is never a fun opponent, and despite her best defense, Diana could do nothing to stop him. He destroyed her shield, and even punched right through her bracelets. The fight finally ended with Superman using Wonder Woman’s own lasso of truth to strangle the life out of her in a famous image from the encounter.
6. THE HULK
The Hulk is definitely a bit more of a crossover challenge than Spider-Man was, so Banner and Superman have actually fought each other a few different times. They’ve traded some wins, so you can’t say that one is definitively stronger than the other, but it’s nonetheless impressive that Superman has been able to take out someone as strong as the Hulk. Maybe what gave Clark the edge on this occasion was that innocent people were in danger.
Thanks to some meddling from Lex Luthor, Bruce Banner lost control of himself and went on a rampage as the Hulk in Metropolis. Superman tried to fight him there, but civilians were getting caught up in the battle. To keep anyone else from getting hurt, Clark fought the Hulk all the way to the Fortress of Solitude, but even then Banner wasn’t showing any signs of calming down. Left with little choice, Superman ended the fight by knocking the Hulk out of this world—literally. Clark punched the Hulk into the Phantom Zone, bringing the fight to a close.
5. DOCTOR FATE
When you think of Superman, you think of Kal-El. Just like you think of Bruce Wayne when you picture Batman, or Diana Prince with Wonder Woman. But a big part of superhero culture is that the identity of the heroes often gets transferred to new characters. Sometimes the new character who adopts the mantle of the hero isn’t someone who lives up that legacy, though. Much like Bruce Wayne, who had a not so great successor in Azrael, Kal-El also had a bad substitute take up his super persona.
Courtesy of Darkseid, the world was introduced to a new Superman who went by the name Brutaal. This immoral version of Superman showed no hesitation in going after the heroes of the world, including Doctor Fate. One of Superman’s biggest vulnerabilities is magic, so you’d think Doctor Fate would have dominated Brutaal. Instead, Brutaal was able to catch Fate unawares, hurl him to the ground, and crush his helmet with a stomp before any more magic could come into play. An ambush isn’t the fairest fight, but that’s what differentiates Kal-El from anyone else who could be Superman.
4. THE FLASH
Doctor Fate wasn’t the only hero to have a run-in with Brutaal during his time as Superman. The Flash’s intervention was actually able to save Fate, but when it came to a fight, the Flash wasn’t looking to take up that battle. He instead lured Brutaal away from harming anyone else. Given how fast the Flash is, it’s hard to imagine anyone better to provide such a distraction, so he took off, pushing himself harder than he ever had before. Superman was still faster, though.
Courtesy of Darkseid, Superman’s eye beams had been upgraded to something similar to Darkseid’s Omega Sanction. One blast was all it took to stop the Flash in his tracks, and Superman picked him up in the air. Left unable to run, the Flash pleaded with Superman to see sense, trying to remind him of what a role model he had been to the world. The conversation didn’t interest Brutaal much, though, and he crushed one of the Flash’s legs to ensure he wouldn’t be running away again.
Obviously Lobo isn’t going to be a guy that immediately springs to mind as a hero, since he’s usually just out for himself. He’s typically been neutral at best, but as of late, Lobo has shown a heroic side by becoming part of the latest Justice League team. So nowadays you could definitely call the bounty hunter one of the good guys. Sure, he has been a villain to Superman numerous times over the years, but Lobo has also fought for the good guys in the past too.
During the events of Injustice, being opposed to Superman meant being against the most evil force in the world at that time. Lobo was just looking for a fight against Superman to prove he was tough, but he wasn’t taking no for an answer either. After getting a building tossed at him, Superman got fed up.
Lobo could regenerate from most mortal injuries, but in this case Superman flew Lobo into outer space and brought him up close and personal to the sun. Clark chose to deposit Lobo safely back on Earth, but the threat was clear, and Lobo realized Clark could have easily burned him into nothing, making it impossible to regenerate.
In the final Marvel crossover to make the list, Superman squared off against probably his best opponent of the bunch. Spider-Man never would have been a match against Superman, and the Hulk was only a match in terms of strength, but Thor is a full-on god. So when the Justice League squared off against the Avengers in a battle of two of the greatest teams in comics, it made sense Thor would pair off against Superman. Clark even commented that Thor was one of the strongest people he’s ever fought. That didn’t prevent Clark from winning the fight, though.
Not only did Superman overpower Thor, but he disarmed the god of Mjolnir. Thor was thrown to the ground, and both teams froze in shock. How often do you see a god get thrown around? But then the Avengers got furious, and the other members dogpiled Superman to beat him down as well. So Superman won the initial scuffle, but didn’t have much time to celebrate the victory.
While not a canon encounter, the Death Battle videos between Goku and Superman are the closest thing we’ve had to the much-desired fight between these two. The reason for all the speculation is obvious: they’re both super powerful characters who descend from a destroyed planet, and are some of the last remnants of their alien race. Superman is one of the strongest comic book characters, and Goku is one of the strongest anime characters, so seeing them square off is hard not to get excited about.
Unfortunately for anime fans, Goku didn’t fare well in either of the Death Battle videos. In the first video Goku had the chance to beat Superman with Kryptonite, but didn’t want to win unfairly, so he got rid of it. Unfortunately Goku later blasted Superman into the sun, and the empowered Superman responded by hitting Goku so hard he destroyed the Earth.
In round two, Goku’s Super Saiyan Blue transformation was accounted for, so fans thought they’d be more evenly matched. But Superman wasn’t playing around this time and quickly just disintegrated Goku’s organs. This might have been non-canon, but fans still took the battle very seriously.
Who do you think put up the best fight against the Man of Steel? Share your thoughts in the comments!