One of the most iconic superheroes ever created, Superman has always been a tough cookie, capable of defeating the some of the most powerful villains (and heroes) in the history of comics. We’ve already looked into some of the different ways the Dark Knight could beat the Man of Steel, witnessed it first hand on the big screen with Batman v Superman, and recapped some of their greatest fights in the comics. But what about superheroes other than Batman? Certainly the all-too mortal Bruce Wayne isn’t the only contender who can hold his own in the ring with Big Blue.
First things first, you have to go after Superman’s vulnerabilities (ignoring Superman Prime). Everyone knows about Kryptonite. What some may not know is that it isn’t his only weakness. There are red suns, high pitched frequencies, mind control, morality and, don’t forget, magic (cue spirit fingers). Anyone who can solicit these could slow, or even kill, the Man of Steel. Just like He-Man.
And with that, let’s get ready to rumble. Here are 10 Other Superheroes Who Could Beat Superman.
12 1o. Wonder Woman
It’s a match of raw power versus refined skill. Though overall, Superman is usually depicted as being stronger and faster, Wonder Woman is a far better warrior, with superior combat skills and vastly more fighting experience — not to mention, she owns an arsenal of badass magical equipment. There are Lassos of Truth, Amazonian shields, Bracelets of Submission and the Sword of Athena. Also, an invisible plane. (Though this probably doesn't hold any relevance here… or does it?)
So sharp is Wonder Woman’s godlike sword that it can cut the electrons off an atom, cause a nuclear explosion and has been known to draw Superman’s blood. Add in the fact that Princess Diana is a highly trained killer who, unlike Superman, will not hesitate to take a life if need be, and we’ve got an exciting matchup on our hands.
The Goddess of Truth actually has a good track record of hurting the Man of Steel (which is far more than most on this list can say). To recall a few, she has made Superman bleed out of his ears, severed his throat with a tiara and broke his arm. In fact, these two go at it a lot. It seems the only thing they do more than fight is kiss. Which might just be another less painful way of beating Supes.
11 Doctor Strange
Sure, comparing Marvel and DC characters can be like comparing apples and oranges, but why not make this interesting. Enter Doctor Stephen Strange – a universal class magician and contender for most powerful mortal around. One of Superman's biggest and most well known vulnerabilities (second perhaps only to kryptonite) is magic. Through the use one of his many spells, Doctor Strange definitely has the prowess to stop Superman cold in his tracks.
This Master of the Mystic Arts is one of the most powerful sorcerers in existence (at least in the Marvel Universe). He’s a trained fighter who can slice and dice with the skill of a cosmic neurosurgeon and create a virtually indestructible force field. Throw in the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak along with some insane mind controlling abilities and you've got all the makings of some pretty awesome Man of Steel-proof tactics.
Given Superman’s overwhelming speed, it could be hard for the good doctor to win on the regular since his incantations require deep concentration, but in the right circumstances he could definitely keep Superman down, especially if he had the element of surprise on his side — a trick we all know the Sorcerer Supreme can conjure.
10 The Green Lanterns
Any member of the Green Lantern Corps, such as Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Alan Scott or this squirrel, has the potential to stop Superman. Equipped with the power of imagination, a righteous oath and a very trusty power ring a Green Lantern is not one to be trifled with. Hypothetically, they could use the energy of Oa to simulate the radiation of kryptonite and, if they are dealing with a weakened Superman, instantly transport him across the galaxy through a wormhole into a red sun. Done and done.
Of course, if Supes were to get a punch in, things probably would not go so well. A Green Lantern will have to act quickly and strategically by manifesting some inventive constructs to block attacks, constrain the Man of Steel and/or land a meaningful blow. Though if you were to treat the Corps as a single unit, and pit a few members up against Superman at the same time, while he's dealing with one Lantern the other(s) could get the job done. With colossal willpower and some serious outside-the-box thinking, this could be a very entertaining brawl — and we would pay good money to have George Miller orchestrate it.
Often regarded as the Superman of the Marvel Universe, the only really important difference between Sentry and Superman is that one wears an ‘S’ on his belt and the other wears one on his chest. That, and Sentry is basically an emotional trainwreck (agoraphobia anyone?). He has ripped gods in half (poor Loki and Ares), destroyed planets, uses powers of empathy to calm the Hulk, lifted a Celestial (which is only about 20,000 feet tall) and is said to contain the power of one million exploding suns. And that’s on a good day. When he unleashes his dark side, better known as The Void, he is basically like a bloodlusted Superman, only evil and willing to slice the head off of Captain America.
Sentry’s energy blast can take out an entire planet, and most likely, the Man of Tomorrow. Plus he can easily get inside the head of Superman using telepathy. And even if Superman could kill him, Sentry has the ability to resurrect himself from the dead. On top of all that? He can literally hear the heartbeat of a butterfly in Africa from New York. Not sure how this would help in a fight, but still good to know, right?
8 Martian Manhunter
Ah J’onn J’onzz. He has a strength that is nearly equal to that of Superman’s, but even more devastatingly, he has a far superior mind. He is basically Earth's answer to stopping Big Blue. Possessing psychic, telepathic, telekinetic and whatever other psionic powers you care to think of, the Martian Manhunter can read Superman’s thoughts and pretty much fry his brain into a cooked vegetable whenever he chooses.
In terms of physical force and speed, the Man of Steel might have a slight edge. And then there's the Martian's debilitating aversion to fire, which Supes has no trouble dishing out of his eyes (though we should not forget that J'onn is getting over his fears). Despite these shortcomings, throw in all the green alien's mental abilities and it could be argued that this O.G. Justice Leaguer is the more powerful of the two. What's more, he also has the abilities to shape shift, regenerate and phase through anything, which means all of Supes attacks would casually pass right through him. Superman has even said that he fears facing the Martian Manhunter, going so far as to call him, “the most powerful being on the face of the Earth.” His words, not ours.
Shazam is basically Superman, only magic-ified. He’s also a 12-year-old boy who was lured into an underground tunnel to meet an ancient wizard that imbues him with the powers of the mightiest mortal whenever he shouts the wizard’s name. Disturbing? Yes. But, it doesn’t make him any less powerful. Despite all of Superman’s strengths, he is not a mystical being. Shazam certainly is (thanks to the creepy wizard), and could be argued to have a slight edge in speed and strength over the Man of Steel. Not to mention Kal-El's aforementioned vulnerability to any attacks using magic, which basically constitute Shazam’s repertoire. Shazam has knocked Superman out cold before. A sucker punch, yes, but that’s still impressive.
Originally known as Captain Marvel, the character was so popular in the 40s that his comic book sales outsold Superman’s. So in one regard, Shazam has already beaten the Last Son of Krypton. Of course, a decade later, DC sued the publishers of Captain Marvel for copying Superman, which eventually lead to the end of his original publication. So take that Shazam. You can beat Supes, but good luck defeating his lawyers.
Also, bonus points for his frequent use of the word “SHAZAM!”
6 Silver Surfer
A matter manipulator, energy absorber and beholder of the Power Cosmic, the Silver Surfer is pretty much indestructible. He is unimaginably fast, not only on his super cool galactic surfboard, but also in the way he thinks, moves and reacts. Although most likely not as strong as Superman, he has been known to slap the Hulk around like a boss (a true test of any superhero’s prowess).
Most importantly, the Silver Surfer possesses a fearsome command over the universe’s ambient cosmic energy. It is kind of hard to compete with that. As a result, the Surfer has the ability of transmutation, which means he can recreate the radiation of kryptonite (ignoring the fact that this substance doesn’t exist in the Marvel Universe) and pretty much do whatever he wants with it all up in Superman’s grill. Or, theoretically, he can turn Superman into a piece of cheesecake and then eat him, if the Surfer was into that sort of thing.
Although we should note the Silver Surfer is generally a pacifist, and Superman has a predilection to righteously try and not harm others, so this fight could just as easily end with them shaking hands and going out for shawarma.
5 Jean Grey
The telekinetic and telepathic powers of Jean Grey aka Marvel Girl would certainly throw Superman for a loop, though he’d probably find a way to speedblitz and the fight would promptly end before it began. If she did get ahold of his mind, though, she could have her way with him, like that time Superman was forced to make a porno with his friend’s wife. But on the other hand, Supes has incredible super-ninja mental discipline and could potentially use the Kryptonian mental martial art of Torquasm Vo to fend off her attacks. But the fact Jean Grey can control minds with the best of them, including arguably Martian Manhunter, warrants her place on this list.
A Jean Grey that manages to unleash the full power of the Phoenix Force is an entirely different story. By wielding a near immeasurable manifestation of the universal life force, Grey reaches Omega levels of power and there is little in any universe that can stop her. If Jean turns to the dark side and unlocks the sun-eating, galaxy destroying Dark Phoenix, this might not be much of a contest, and she would most likely atomize Superman instantly (à la Cyclops in X-Men: The Last Stand).
But, then again, Dark Phoenix isn’t really a superhero, so moving on…
Thor vs. Superman would be an epic battle that we would all love to see, with Mjolnir no doubt having some choice words for the Man of Steel’s face. But you know what is even better than a Thor? An Odin. That’s right, pit Kal-El against the mind-boggling energies of the Odin Force and this might not be much of a fight. For starters, Mjolnir is Mjolnir because of the Odin Force. It is a near-infinite resource of cosmic power, which also includes, you guessed it, magic. Using this force of otherworldly nature, Odin has slapped around some of the universes most powerful beings with ease, head-butted Galactus, destroyed galaxies, built galaxies, destroyed them again and taken on Thanos and the Silver Surfer — at the same time. Some may question whether or not this Norse god should be considered a superhero, but as far as we're concerned he has fought on the side of righteousness enough times to warrant inclusion here.
The only way Odin loses this fight? If the All-Father gets tired from all that awesome and decides to take a much needed Odinsleep, and while he’s peacefully napping, Superman strikes. Or, have Odin played by Anthony Hopkins in a movie.
3 The Spectre
For many, we’re entering spite thread territory with this one. And while we won’t go so far as to pit Superman up against The Presence or One-Above-All, how about we try the physical embodiment of the Wrath of God instead. Spectre is a former angel known as Aztar, who uses the bodies of deceased mortals as hosts to punish the wicked. For example, he caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the ten plagues of Egypt and the splitting of the Red Sea (and here you thought it was
Christian Bale Charlton Heston Moses). Spectre is pretty much omnipotent and his powers unchecked are fairly unlimited, not to mention he has been known to wield the divine energies of a hundred universes, which basically means things aren’t looking good for Superman.
Big Blue has gone up against Spectre before. It didn’t work out. Spectre can pretty much do anything and use any power, and the only reason he sometimes can’t is because The Presence deems it so. We’re talking a whole other level of the cosmos here.
The only chance Superman really has is to impale him with the Spear of Destiny. (Yes, that Spear of Destiny, as in the one that killed Jesus. It’s a long story.) Suffice to say, if anyone ever tries to pick a fight with you by saying Superman is the most powerful superhero ever, kindly show them the way to Spectre.
Oh and remember that creepy wizard that gave Shazam his powers? Spectre killed him.
2 Honorable Mention: Goku
Forget Marvel and DC, how would Superman fare against the principal hero of Dragon Ball Z? Just like Superman, Goku is one of the last of his kind who finds a home on Earth and is forever saving it from the evils of the universe. The similarities between the two are striking, save for the important fact that unlike the last son of Krypton, Goku loves to fight (as in it is pretty much all he does aside from eating). Which brings us to this fantasy matchup.
For those of you who don’t know (or care), Superman vs. Goku is a civilized debate that has taken place online over the past decade or so. Wizard Magazine gave the edge to Goku. ScrewAttack has declared Superman the winner not once but twice. Super Saiyan. Super Saiyan God. Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (seriously?). Silver Age. Post-Crisis. The New 52. Rebirth. To say the least, there are a lot of iterations, scenarios and hair colors to wade through and get confused by, so finding a definitive conclusion most likely ends in circles. Especially when we start debating whether Superman has limits or whether Goku has the ability to limitlessly improve.
At the end of the day, Goku could beat Superman. And Superman could beat Goku. Which is a bit of a cop out as far as this debate goes, but there it is. Of course, if all that’s unsatisfactorily, perhaps you’ll settle for an epic rap battle.
1 Honorable Mention: Saitama
Goku isn’t the only hero hailing from the East who could give Superman a run for his money. Saitama is the star of the popular One-Punch Man webcomic and manga series, with the premise that he wins all of his fights with, you guessed it, one punch.
The whole thing about Saitama is that he’s unbeatable. Whether or not Superman is faster or more resourceful does not matter. If Saitama lands a proper punch, Superman goes down for the count. There has been an instance when Saitama needed more than one punch to beat a foe, but that was because he wasn’t taking his one punch seriously. Thus far, Saitama hasn’t shown his strength to be on par with that of Superman’s, and he's never faced someone of his caliber, so there’s really no telling what the outcome would be. One Punch Man is relatively new to the scene of superhero-ing and a lot of his power is implied or unseen, so for all we know he may be able to punch a hole in time. Or punch right off the screen and knock out the authors of Superman before they have a chance to draw him. Who can say?
You can, that’s who. Certainly these aren’t the only superheroes capable of laying the smack down on the Man of the Steel. Who have we left out? Let us know in the comments.