Heat vision, muscles of steel, and the slim blue suit are all icons of the legendary Superman. He is the ultimate image of power, but is he as powerful as everyone thinks he is?
The innocent and defenceless people of the world rely on the Last Son of Krypton to be their savior and to protect them from the evil beings that are continuously invading their universe. Superman represents everything that is right, and helps to instill the image that good always triumphs over evil.
However, throughout Superman’s career, he has been beaten down, demolished, and even killed by evil villains. Sometimes he is able to bounce back from these beatings and defeat these enemies in a later rematch, but there have been many times where he simply isn’t powerful enough to do so. In these instances, he either has to rely on his allies to help fight his battles, or simply let evil continue to run amuck.
So, is Superman all that powerful, and does good always triumph always evil? Let's find out, by exploring the 15 DC Villains That Superman Has Never Defeated.
15 Maxwell Lord
In 1987, Maxwell Lord entered the DC Universe as a manipulative businessman who appeared to be on the good side. He was influential in turning the Justice League into Justice League International. However, along the way, he lost his light and became a thorn in Superman’s side.
In the 2005 comic Superman: Sacrifice, Lord uses his mind control powers to hijack Superman’s mind and convince him that Batman is Brainiac. After viciously beating Batman, Superman’s abducted mind sees Wonder Woman into Doomsday and makes him attack her as well.
To save her life as well as Superman’s mind, Wonder Woman snaps Maxwell Lord’s neck and kills him. However, two years later, Lord reappears in a new timeline within the Booster Gold series where he was never killed. In this new timeline, he once again takes control Superman’s mind.
Superman may have rock hard muscles, but his mind is not as powerful. This has allowed Maxwell Lord and countless others to continuously defeat him through brainpower, and there’s nothing Superman can do to fight back.
Although Ragman is more of a vigilante than a villain, he has successfully attacked Superman without a beating from the superhero himself.
In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Ragman poses as Raven to lure in the altruistic Boy Scout who can’t help but save the day. When Superman arrives, Ragman gives him a speech about never trusting his eyes and sheds his Raven costume.
He then wraps a stunned Superman in his magical rags, trapping him and rendering him immobile. Apparently the oh-so-incredible power of rags is no match for the Man of Steel. Superman uses his heat vision to destroy the rags around his eyes, but can’t seem to escape the rest of the trap.
This is when he decides he needs backup. He uses his communicator to call for help and is soon rescued by Shazam, who stuns Ragman, and the Spectre, who ultimately kills him. Once again, Superman has to rely on someone else to defeat his enemy.
13 John Constantine
As the second master mind-controller on the list, John Constantine is another DC villain who defeats Superman by invading his thoughts. Although he has magical powers, Constantine only uses them when necessary.
This is because he has an even stronger power: his wit. He is the ultimate conman, and has used his wit to manipulate the greatest superheroes, including the legendary and indestructible Superman.
As previously stated, Ragman lures Superman to his capture in Injustice: Gods Among Us. However, once apprehended, Constantine steps into the light and reveals himself as the true mastermind behind Superman’s capture.
He explains that he took Raven and concocted the plan to lure Superman to Ragman. However, when confronted, he tries to weasel his way out of trouble and blames Ragman for the incident. Superman becomes enraged after the death of Ragman and attacks Constantine, who is once again manipulating the Man of Steel to cover up his true intentions.
Ultimately, Shazam and the Spectre convince Superman to let them take Constantine to the Hall of Justice for punishment. However, along the way, Constantine escapes, robbing Superman of the opportunity to bring justice to the one that defeated him.
Besides his weakness to kryptonite, everyone knows that Superman is also helpless to magic. This puts the sorcerer Enchantress at a great advantage against Big Blue.
Enchantress uses this in The New 52 comics, where she takes the form of a monster made up of hundreds of June Moones and challenges Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg.
During their battle, Enchantress uses her magic to conjure a fiery storm of witches’ teeth which tears not only Superman to shreds, but also his crime-fighting buddies. The Man of Steel can withstand many things, but apparently not teeth.
This isn’t the only time that Enchantress took down the super legend. In Justice League vs Suicide Squad #2, the Suicide Squad tries to separate the Justice League and eliminate their collective power.
Enchantress is matched up with Superman, where she discovers his real weakness: magic. Together with Killer Frost, she takes down Superman, allowing Frost to take his powers. Although Superman has gotten his revenge on Killer Frost in the television show, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, he has yet to defeat the Enchantress.
11 Poison Ivy
Plants seem like they would be no match for the Man of Steel, but apparently no man can resist the lure of Poison Ivy.
In the Hush series, Ivy uses her mind-controlling pheromones to take control of Superman’s mind. In a fight of mind versus muscle, Superman becomes her mindless minion and serves only to protect her.
When Batman arrives to disrupt Ivy’s plans, she forces her new lover to kill the Dark Night, and a thrilling, action-packed battle ensues between the two iconic super legends. Ultimately, Batman is able to overtake Superman through the use of his Kryptonite ring and by appealing to Superman’s love of Lois Lane.
In the end, Ivy is caught and taken down by a punch from Catwoman. Superman doesn’t get the opportunity to challenge the eco-terrorist again, and has even fallen to her poisonous charm in other instances.
In the animated series, The Batman, Lex Luthor uses Poison Ivy’s mind-controlling plant spores and laces them with kryptonite to once again control Superman’s mind.
People say high school can shape a person for the rest of their life. The friends people make during this period can have influence them later in life, and this was definitely true for the Man of Steel. As one of Superman’s first enemies, Conduit was known as Kenny Braverman as a child. He was Clark Kent’s classmate during high school, and they were always in competition whether it was in sports or for a girl.
Twenty years later, the high school drama persists, and Kenny, who now has a technological suit that can shoot beams of Kryptonite, tries to take down his former classmate. He finds out about Clark Kent’s identity as Superman and stalks him.
When Superman goes into hiding, Kenny finds him and knocks him unconscious. They later fight one-on-one in a replica of their high school football stadium without their powers.
However, Kenny is tempted to use his Conduit powers, and ultimately his suit overloads, explodes, and kills him. Conduit joins the list of villains never defeated by Superman simply because he killed himself, eliminating the opportunity for Superman to ever be victorious.
9 Ocean Master
The ability to drown is a weaknesses of any human, and, apparently, effects Superman as well. In The Throne of Atlantis, Ocean Master, also known as Orm or Aquaman’s half-brother, comes out of the ocean to take over the “Surface World” and its “Surface Dwellers”.
Originally, the battle starts between the Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg against Aquaman, as the marine hero tries to spare both worlds from destruction. However, when Ocean Master turns on Aquaman’s friends, he decides to join his friends and fight for the Surface World together.
A battle ensues between Aquaman and the air-breathers against Ocean Master and his underwater legion of Atlantic warriors. This battle shows that, just like any air-breather, Superman is defenseless against water.
Orm traps Superman and Wonder Woman using his water powers, and sentences them to the deep dark waters of his world. Although they are able to escape, Superman and the others rely on Aquaman to kill his brother and save them and the rest of the world.
With Ocean Master dead, Aquaman takes his place as king, and Superman was, once again, seen as a flailing gentleman in peril.
8 Professor Zoom
Although Professor Zoom has been defeated by the Flash and even Batman, the Man of Steel has yet to take down the Reverse Flash.
In Time Masters: Vanishing Point, Zoom determines that Superman and his friends are in his way and begins to attack them. Although Superman was the only one able to hit him, he simply gives up on the fight and tells Green Lantern that “Zoom is yours”. This depicts exactly how Superman interacts with Zoom– he simply leaves him for someone else to deal with.
There is even a Robot Chicken episode where Superman, Flash, and Wonder Woman let Professor Zoom rob a bank and escape simply because they’re tired of fighting their reverse characters.
Once again, Superman lets the villain run free.
7 7. Fernus
When imagining Superman, fans usually picture a strong, muscular man in blue, who is most likely fighting and dominating in battle. Very few people picture a limp, helpless man. However, this is the exact image that Fernus is able to instill in the minds of Superman fans everywhere.
In JLA: Trial by Fire, Fernus kicks Superman’s butt and incapacitates him. To lure the rest of the Justice League, he dumps the limp and lifeless body and phases it into a table. The rest of the Justice League fight to defend Superman, and attempt to awaken him.
They try to contact the White Lanterns for help, but, being one step ahead of them, Fernus had already stolen the access codes from the Fortress and the information on how to operate the Phantom Zone Projector from Superman’s mind.
This time, Superman’s friends are unable to overtake the villain, and, instead, are all teleported out of the line of fire by John Stewart. Good is once again defeated by evil, and the superheroes are forced to run away to save themselves.
In the end, Fernus is eventually defeated by J’onn J’onzz’s Martian vision, and Superman adds another unrequited defeat to his belt.
6 6. Prometheus
Prometheus is named after the Greek legend who stole fire from the gods. However, the DC version of Prometheus simply steals justice from Superman.
First appearing in New Year’s Evil: Prometheus #1, Prometheus introduces readers to his backstory and plan to take down the Justice League. He impersonates Retro, a winner of a contest to visit the Watchtower headquarters and, in JLA #16-17, Prometheus puts his plan into motion.
He enters the headquarters with a helmet that connects to his brain and downloads the fighting styles of thirty of the world’s greatest martial artists. With his technology and newly acquired fighting methods, he is able to take down the Justice League, and even tries to convince Superman to kill himself on live television in exchange for saving innocent lives.
However, Catwoman who was at the tower attempting to steal some items, appears to save the day by whipping Prometheus in the crotch. Defeated in the most stereotypical way by Catwoman, Prometheus retreats to the Ghost Zone.
The Man of Steel can’t compare to Nekron, the embodiment of Death and the Lord of the Unliving, who defeats Superman by dragging him back to the world of Death.
In The Blackest Night, Nekron uses black rings to trap Superman and the rest of the Justice League, turning them into their true zombie form. Since Superman previously died at the hands of Doomsday but was brought back to life, he was never really alive to begin with. Nekron’s black ring takes advantage of this, and kills Superman again, bringing him back to his body of death.
Although the Man of Steel’s body is still intact, Nekron is able to metaphorically kill the Last Son of Krypton. Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns come to the rescue, however. They fight off Nekron’s army and convince Superman to get rid of the ring, bringing him back to the world of the living.
4 Parallax (as Hal Jordan)
Parallax is a cosmic entity and the embodiment of pure evil and chaos. He latches onto a host and travels to different worlds spreading destruction and pandemonium.
When setting up shop inside Hal Jordan in Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, Parallax is able to do the one thing that many villains have failed: get rid of Superman. In this comic, Parallax destroys the universe and recreates it without Superman.
Prior to their deletion from history, Superman and his fellow heroes swoop in to try and prevent the disaster, but this only leads to Superman’s devastating defeat. He is no match for the powers of Hal Jordan combined with the fear-driven Parallax, and, once again, fails to save the day.
While standing over Superman’s weak and defeated body, Parallax announces his true name and declares that he is going to fix the universe, even if it means destroying it, while Superman is forced to watch.
Once again, Trigon is another magical being with the ability to destroy the indestructible Superman. As a purely evil demonic lord and one of the most powerful villains in the DC universe, Trigon has destroyed an entire planet and can easily do the same to Superman.
In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Year 3 #18, Trigon is dead set on killing Superman. He believes that Superman has captured and harmed his daughter Raven, and is looking for revenge against the chiselled metahuman.
He easily overtakes Superman and leaves him weak and helpless on the floor. Lucky for Superman, archnemesis, Mister Mxyzptlk comes to the savior’s rescue. Mxyzptlk, who can’t image living a life where he is unable to prank Superman, starts to attack Trigon, which gives Wonder Woman the opportunity to drag the Man of Steel to safety.
Superman has never beaten Trigon, and, in fact, Trigon is one of the few DC villains who has never been defeated by a member of the Justice League.
2 Harley Quinn
Can you say girl power, puddin’? Harley Quinn is far stronger than she looks, and shows Superman just how much punch a girl can pack. No longer seen as just “Joker’s girlfriend,” Harley Quinn beats Superman to a pulp in Harley’s Little Black Book #5.
In this comic, aliens known as the Scrub, force the Last Son of Krypton and the deadly-yet-bubbly criminal to go head-to-head in an intergalactic televised boxing match. To even the stakes, the leader of the Scrubbs eliminates Superman’s powers, allowing them to fight as equals.
Apparently, without powers, he is no match for the former psychiatrist, and Superman, yet again, gets beat down. She punches him during their practice period, and manages to knock him unconscious for an entire day.
On the day of the actual match, Quinn demolishes Superman with her bare hands and wins the championship title. To this day, Superman has not been given the chance for a rematch and, therefore, Harley Quinn remains undefeated by the Man in Blue.
Monarch was Hank Hall prior to his transformation to Extant. He is known as the agent of chaos, and is, quite frankly, a beast. In Countdown: Arena, Monarch captures the superheroes from all 52 worlds and forces them to battle for a spot in his army.
To prove that he isn’t joking, he obliterates many of them, and even destroys a planet. Superman and the Justice League fight back with no success. Their powers don't even scratch Monarch, and he simply lets them attack him until they tire out. When he becomes bored, he simply swats them away like flies.
The snarky villain even complains about how easy it is to defeat the superheroes and how it’s getting monotonous and boring. He has a condescending and arrogant attitude, but it’s well warranted when you’re able to easily defeat the Man of Steel. After what seems like hundreds of beatings, Superman finally manages to escape.
Can you think of any other DC villains who have challenged Superman and won? Let us know in the comments!