Superman has always been the golden boy of the comic book world. Even to those who do not necessarily read comics or watch the movies, Clark Kent’s name carries an immense amount of baggage. Superman has been kicking tail and taking names for decades upon decades.
Many a foe has attempted to go toe to toe with Supes and have come up short. But every now and again, some not so worthy villains take their shot at the immovable force and come out victorious. Whether it is through exposing Supermans’ weaknesses or simply receiving the biggest stroke of luck possible, these villains have taken an alternate route to defeating Superman versus just pummeling him to death. This list explores not only “weak” villains who have defeated Superman, but also some slightly more powerful villains who have simply just exploited a weakness. With that said, here are 15 Supposedly Weak Villains Who Defeated Superman in some way, shape, or form!
15. Granny Goodness
Granny Goodness shows up a few different times, in several different adaptations of Superman stories. Granny Goodness is old and fragile, which causes her to be quite useless in a physical matchup against Superman, but she does manage to exploit his weakness to the supernatural.
One of the more prominent times that she overcomes the golden boy is in Superman: The Animated Series. Granny Goodness is the leader of the Female Furies, and when the Furies first appeared in this animated series their mission was to take down Supergirl rather than the man himself. However, Granny Goodness does reappear later in the series to finally make her attempt at Superman.
Under the orders of Darkseid, Granny Goodness brainwashes Superman into being Darkseid’s loyal servant. This then leads into Granny forcing Superman to attack Earth. But don’t worry, once Clark regains his memories he gets take a well-earned revenge against Granny.
14. The Joker
For some reason, The Joker struggles with his inability to defeat Batman, but has somehow managed to defeat Superman on several occasions. Batman has clearly shown that he can hold his own against the Joker for quite a bit of time, but for some reason Joker gives Superman the chills. Maybe it’s that sick and twisted smile.
In a couple different story lines and several different installments of the DC world, the Joker has come out on top. Does this prove that Batman is actually stronger than Superman? That’s a different argument for a different time.
Joker has defeated Superman on several occasions, one of those being the Emperor Joker storyline. In this storyline, Joker steals Mr. Mxyzptlk’s powers to reshape reality into the universe Joker wanted, which meant sealing Superman in Arkham Asylum. Another defeat comes from the Injustice: Gods Among Us game/comic, where Joker tricked Clark into killing Lois Lane and then Joker nuked Metropolis. One thing is for sure, Joker’s got a sick sense of humor.
13. Killer Frost
Killer Frost has been sliding her away around in the DC universe for sometime. Despite making for quite an interesting character, Frost still remains one of the weaker villains in the DC universe. Specifically with the Justice League VS Suicide Squad, she arguably is one of, if not the weakest member of the Suicide Squad at this time. She’s grappled with some of the greatest titans in DC, but we’re focusing specifically on the time she overthrows the golden boy himself.
In Justice League VS Suicide Squad, the League has been in the lead for quite some time. But after grappling with Enchantress for a while, Supes is thrown unconscious, leaving him vulnerable. At the order of Waller, Killer Frost then absorbs Superman’s life force. Gaining quite a bit of strength in this moment, and this moment only, Frost not only disables Superman, but the rest of the League as well.
12. Morgaine Le Fey
Morgaine Le Fey may be the only villain who defeats Superman with the permission of Superman and the Justice League. Morgaine is quite powerful, but only really has the use of her magical abilities, which happen to be one of Superman’s many weaknesses. When we compare Morgaine Le Fay to some of the other villains that Supes interacts with, she is just merely a magician, of sorts. However, the time that she manages to “defeat” Superman happens to be in the Justice League Animated series.
Morgaine is attempting to defeat Mordred, her son. In order to do this, however, Morgaine Le Fey must turn Superman and the rest of the League into children. The Justice League successfully carries through the task and deal that they have made with Morgaine. So in this adaptation Superman is turned into a child, which can be technically counted as defeating him, adding Morgaine to this list.
11. Lex Luthor
It was always a given that Lex Luthor would end up on this list. Lex is inarguably Superman’s most infamous enemy, as he and Superman have battled face-to-face quite a few times and each has come out on at one time or another.
Over the many years, Lex Luthor and Superman have had some pretty incredible and over the top battles that will stand the test of time among the greatest comic face-offs, proving again how awesome Superman actually is. But this list isn’t about how great Superman is; it’s about how he’s beaten time and time again.
There are a number of Luthor victories to chose from, but one that feels a bit more ridiculous than others is when Luthor discovered the cure for cancer. Luthor then tricked Superman into a kryptonite trap, ultimately defeating Superman in one fatal exchange. Sorry Clark, but Lex cured cancer and that’s pretty incredible.
10. Murder Man
Remember Murder Man? He appeared once back in 1966 and then never appeared again. Yeah, he’s pretty forgettable. But nevertheless, he defeated Supes in the story The School for Superman Assassins! If there’s anything comics have been adored for, it’s their subtlety– but back to Murder Man’s victory.
Murder Man and his fellow classmates attend a school where the students practice their “Kyrptonian” killing abilities on Robot Superman. But once the students finally have their crack at the Man of Steel, they do not fully succeed. It takes quite some back and fourth before someone actually defeats Superman, and that someone ends up being Murder Man.
Murder Man blasts Supes with some kryptonite radio waves and the Man of Steel falls. Although the Robot Superman does end up returning to recover the fallen Superman, Murder Man still stands as a victorious villain in the never-ending series of battles against Superman.
Toyman is arguably one of the greatest villains to ever appear in the DC universe. What makes Toyman so great isn’t abilities, but his entertaining personality. He has such a light hearted and joyous demeanor about him that it is a pure joy to watch and read about him. With most of his gimmicks or abilities based around toys or some, Toyman has made quite the name for himself throughout the comics.
At first, his toys proved more inconvenient than threatening for Superman and the League, but as time went on, the toys became more and more menacing. It ended up being one of his toys that took down Superman. In the Justice League Animated Series, Toyman creates a giant robot with a disintegrating beam. This beam is aimed at Batman and Wonder Woman but, saving the day as always, Superman throws himself in front of it. Superman is hit by the beam and disappears without a trace.
8. Doctor Light
There have been many as different methods of attempting to defeat Superman as there have been villains who took a stab at the man himself; from Doomsday pummeling the holy hell out of Superman, to a supernatural being taking control of his mind, or just utilizing kryptonite to defeat him. Superman has even defeated himself, on several occasions, by committing suicide, as a result of villains who use their wits to manipulate the Man of Steel, rather than their magic or brute force.
One of the most interesting times a villain utilized their intelligence to defeat Superman was when Doctor Light took him down. Doctor Light hypnotized Superman into committing suicide, though it could not be so simple. Since Superman would deflect a bullet or blade, Doctor Light had Superman find a magic wand. Once the wand is in Supes’ possession, Doctor Light uses the wand to kill Superman. Something about this intelligent scheme is much more intriguing than Superman just being pummeled to death.
7. Kryptonite Man
Kryptonite Man may be one of the “cheapest ” Superman villains. DC has seen several different versions of Kryptonite Man, including aliens and an everyday average guy. He has seen every possible version of an origin story. From passing through a Kryptonite type gas, to injecting Kryptonite into their blood, Kryptonite Man is definitely an interesting villain, but in terms of physical ability, he falls a bit short. Kryptonite Man does not necessarily possess any powers that can overthrow Superman, except for the clearly obvious use of kryptonite.
Kryptonite Man and Superman have had quite a few bouts together, so it’s difficult to pick just one win on Kryptonite Man’s end. The use of Kryptonite weakens Superman to the point of not being able to fight back; he’s forced sit there and take the beatings. Though Superman has been saved from Kryptonite Man time and time again, he still manages to give Clark a run for his money.
Out of all the intriguing backstories behind villains defeating Superman, one of the best is Zha-Vam’s. Zha-Vam combines two different genres, which already gives him a one-up on the competition, as he has a past with Greek mythology and then also an origin story in the DC universe.
Zha-Vam was molded out of clay by the Gods of Olympus and then sent into the future to be a mortal enemy of Superman. The gods saw how the mortal man worshipped Superman and they wanted this stopped. Zha-Vam was crafted with a ton of incredible abilities but he did lack a bit of common sense that Superman possesses. Zha-Vam is not necessarily weak, but he has a difficult time keeping up with the modern world when he is sent into the future. Though he does outsmart Superman when Superman attempts to defeat him, Zha-Vam still manages to overcome the Man of Steel. Out of all of the beings created to defeat Superman, Zha-Vam lands a tad lower than say Darkseid or Doomsday.
5. Lionel Luther
Lionel Luther has appeared a numerous amount of times, not only in the DC comics but also in the Smallville television series. Being the father of Lex, Lionel clearly has quite the enterprise built in Lex-Corp. Lionel has battled with Superman time and time again, especially in the Smallville television series. At first Lionel grows quite fond of Clark and even thinks of him as more of a son than Lex. As the show goes on Lionel becomes more and more mad, eventually attempting to overthrow Clark. Lionel and Clark actually end up switching bodies on one episode.
Smallville’s timeline gets messy, but again, another argument for another day. After some time, Lionel grows dissatisfied with Clark and tries to kill him; he actually even comes rather close in one episode. The tables eventually are turned on Lionel and he is injured badly in an explosion during a fight with Clark and taken to a hospital. After Lex learns some dissatisfying truth about Lionel, he murders his own father. Despite Lionel’s death, he still defeats Supes and comes rather close to killing him.
4. Harley Quinn
Joker has defeated Superman so it fits perfectly that his (ex)lover defeats him as well. Harley is quite the enjoyable villain, from the first time she appears in the DC comics to her most recent portrayal in the Suicide Squad film. With her bubbly, over-the-top personality she is quite a joy to read and watch. Harley does land a bit lower on the villain list in terms of abilities and strength, however. Despite her being an enjoyable villain, she does not possess any abilities that would give her the one up on Superman.
However, in a series of comic, Supes is forced by aliens to face off in a boxing match against Harley Quinn. Harley and Superman travel to the Fortress of Solitude so that Superman can be drained of his abilities for the boxing matches. Immediately after his powers are drained, Harley takes one big swing and knocks Superman out cold. How do you like that, puddin’?
Ventor lands in the category of “most forgettable supervillain” ever created. He only really appears in one or two issues, but the one time that he appears, he manages to take down Superman. Ventor deserves props for this victory, since he does not necessarily overcome Superman in a traditional way.
Untilto this point, we have seen almost every way of defeating Superman – Superman sacrificing himself, Superman being hypnotized, Superman being knocked out – but Ventor takes a different approach than all these other villains.
In an attempt to get revenge against Superman for imprisoning him, Ventor hypnotizes Superman as well, but it leads into Superman poisoning himself. Immediately after being hypnotized, Superman kills his best friend, so then in turn Superman purposefully poisons himself while under hypnosis. So despite being one of the most forgettable villains in the DC universe, Ventor managed to defeat Superman in a rather unique way.
Making for the second Greek god on this list, Atlas not only destroyed Superman in a fist fight but also took down every hero who attempted to assist Superman in the fight. Atlas is definitely not a weak character by any means, but there is a specific reason why Atlas lands on this list.
When Atlas arrives to fight Superman it is just a pure bloodbath, and Atlas stays in the lead for a majority of the time that he appears in the comics. Superman stands almost no chance when Atlas arrives and it is kind of a joy to watch, kind of like watching the New England Patriots lose a game. But the reason Atlas lands on this list is due to who actually ends up defeating him: Krypto. That’s right, Superman’s best friend and trusted doggo Krypto ends up getting the advantage over Atlas and defeating him. A Greek God losing to a dog, c’mon.
1. Manchester Black
Manchester Black is one of the most underrated supervillains in the DC universe. Though he appears to be incredibly powerful in the comics, when he shows up in the DC animated universe, he is dumbed down quite a bit. Again, kind of like Kryptonite Man, Manchester Black’s abilities manage to exploit an existing weakness of Superman’s. Rather than actually overpowering Superman in an equally matched fight, Manchester Black’s telekinesis overwhelms is what takes down the Big Blue Boy Scout.
The one time that Manchester Black defeats Superman for a small amount of time is in the Superman VS The Elite animated film. The Elite and Superman have begun their fight on the moon so that no one on Earth will be harmed during the battle. The battle is evenly matched at first, but then Manchester Black forces Superman into a seizure, immobilizing him so that Coldcast could blast him with electromagnetic energy.
Did we miss somebody? Is your favorite supposedly weak villain missing from the list? Let us know with a comment down below!