Warning: SPOILERS below for Justice League!
Who is faster: Superman or The Flash? It’s a question comic book fans have debated for decades. In Justice League, Superman (Henry Cavill) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) meet for the first time in the DCEU. Of course, with the Man of Steel and the Scarlet Speedster sharing the big screen, the question of who is actually faster can’t help but come up. Even both heroes want to know who the true Fastest Man Alive is by the end of the movie. Before we get to their movie race, let’s look back at the times Superman and the Flash matched their vaunted speed in the comics.
Superman and the Flash have engaged in a number of races in DC Comics history. Over the decades, their fellow superheroes and even some of their villains have been just as curious to find out which Justice Leaguer really is the fastest. When it comes to Barry Allen’s incarnation of the Flash, most of his races with Superman took place in the pre-Crisis of Infinite Earths continuity before the first reboot of the DC Universe in 1985/1986 (in which Barry Allen died).
FLASH V SUPERMAN IN THE COMICS
Superman and The Flash had three races between 1967 and 1970. In Superman #199 (1967), the United Nations approached the two heroes with a race for charity to benefit developing nations. Discovering gangsters had placed illegal wagers on their race, the two heroes decided to end their competition in a tie to foil the gangsters. (Ironically, the two superheroes fixed the outcome of their own race.) However, they would soon race again later in 1967.
In The Flash #175, two aliens who had witnessed their previous race challenged them to race again – this time across the entire Milky Way Galaxy – or else the aliens would destroy Metropolis and Central City. During their rematch through outer space, Superman realized the two aliens were actually two of Flash’s arch enemies, Professor Zoom and Abra Kadabra. The two heroes worked together to capture the villains but their race ended in another ‘tie’, with neither of them sure who won.
Finally, their third race declared a winner. In World’s Finest Comics #198 (1970), the Guardians of the Universe asked Superman and the Flash to race across the universe once more to stop anachronoids from disrupting the very fabric of the universe. The two Justice Leaguers learned Phantom Zone criminals including General Zod were actually behind the anachronoids and were using a special machine to disrupt the space-time continuum. Superman and the Flash both had their legs injured during their race, and eventually both heroes, trapped in another dimension, had to use their arms to crawl to turn off the machine. The Flash’s endurance surpassed Superman and he made it to the machine first. The Flash officially won the race.
The final ‘race’ between Barry Allen and Clark Kent of the Silver Age took place in the pages of DC Comics Presents #1 & #2 (1978), which the Flash again won after a bizarre time travel adventure. Barry died during the Crisis, bringing their final tally to 2-0-2 in favor of the Scarlet Speedster. However, when Barry Allen came back to life in 2009, a new race took place in The Flash: Rebirth #3. Thinking his resurrection is causing the death of other speedsters, Barry tries to sacrifice himself to the Speed Force. Superman races after him to try to get him to reconsider. As they run neck and neck, Superman tells Barry he is just as fast as the Flash, at which point Barry finds a new gear and runs even faster, leaving Superman in the dust.
In the comics, The Flash is indeed faster than Superman – which makes sense. Superman boasts numerous abilities including his super speed, but it’s The Flash who must live up to the title ‘Fastest Man Alive.’ The Man of Steel has also raced other Flashes like Wally West in the comics, but generally speaking, the Scarlet Speedster usually comes out on top.
FLASH V SUPERMAN IN JUSTICE LEAGUE
In Justice League, the Flash got the shock of his life the first time he faced Superman. After being resurrected, a confused Man of Steel took the League for enemies and began fighting them. While Superman had Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) in his grip, the Flash moved at Superspeed to flank Superman. But Superman not only heard Flash coming, he turned his head and looked right at Flash while he was running at Superspeed. Superman then went after Flash at Superspeed, but Barry was fast enough to dodge Clark’s haymaker punches.
Later, during the League’s final battle with Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) in Russia, Flash and Superman raced to save the villagers fleeing from the conflict. While Flash was running at Superspeed, Superman matched his speed while flying and teased Flash by calling him “slowpoke.” The race to save more villagers was on, though Superman outperformed Flash by saving an entire building full of people compared to the lone family Flash was able to save.
Justice League‘s mid-credits scene delivered a fun homage to the comics by having Flash and Superman agree to a friendly race to settle the issue of who is fastest. This time, their race came with a wager: if Flash loses, he has to take everyone in the League to brunch (Batman’s suggestion), but if Flash wins he gets to tell everyone he’s faster than Superman. The two heroes then launched themselves into their race – leaving fans to imagine and debate among themselves who would have won.
If Justice League proves successful enough at the box office to warrant a sequel, or if The Flash’s Flashpoint movie hits movie theaters first, fans hope to hear the answer of who won the race in the mid-credits scene. But if comic book history holds true, the Man of Steel was left red-faced from losing to the Flash – the true Fastest Man Alive.
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