For over seventy-five years, Superman has stood as a symbol of all things good. From his early days battling slum lords and gangsters to the better known adventures where he’s trading blows with evil aliens like Darkseid and menacing monsters like Parasite, the Man of Steel has always been the idol of millions of kids and adults with his true-blue belief system and unwavering battle for truth, justice, and the American way.
But you know that with over a million stories told through every form of media that exists, there have been at least a few times where Superman did some things he isn’t proud of – like attacking his friends and family.
Indeed, from time to time, Superman has been brainwashed, come under the influence of Red Kryptonite, or just plain lost control and battled it out with some of his closest allies. Sometimes his good pals have lost it, forcing the Last Son of Krypton to knock their blocks off. There have even been times when everyone has lost their minds and, in true comic book form, the only thing that can solve the problem is fists.
Here, for your super entertainment, are 15 Times Superman Tried to KILL His Friends.
15. Batman – Dark Knight Returns
In Frank Miller‘s seminal classic The Dark Knight Returns, when Batman comes out of retirement and starts causing a whole load of problems in Gotham City, the President of the United States (in this case Ronald Reagan) asks the Dark Knight’s old pal Superman to intercede.
When Batman doesn’t take Superman’s warnings to heart, the Man of Steel is left with no choice but to take his old friend down, but Batman is no pushover. In one of the greatest knockdown, drag-out fights in comics. In the end, the entire fight was part of Batman’s plan, something Superman had no idea of until well after the fact.
This battle, now over thirty years old, has continued to stand out as one of the best fights to ever end up on the four-color page and served as the jumping off point for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
14. Robin and Jimmy Olsen – Dig Now, Die Later!
To take down the mafia, Batman goes undercover as a mafia guy (which he does by wearing an old man mask but keeping his Batman suit on). A knock on the head gives Batman amnesia and he quickly comes to believe that he is actually a mob boss. Knowing that he needs to help Batman get his memory back, Superman quickly puts together the worst plan possible.
Step one of Superman’s plan is to convince the mob that he’s a bad guy now, which he does pretty quickly, but to fully convince them, the mob demands that he kill Robin and Jimmy Olsen. Superman agrees, but only if the amnesia-stricken Batman helps him (still part of his plan). Batman agrees, but once he sees Robin, he remembers that he’s not a mob boss.
For whatever reason, Superman still wants the mob to think he’s on their side, so he hits Robbin and Jimmy with heat vision and hands their hearts to the mob. Turns out he faked killing them, though (still not clear why).
13. Lois Lane – No Witnesses in Outer Space!
Lois Lane, the Daily Planet’s star reporter, has decided to quit her job and start a new life as Lois Lorne because Superman forgot about her birthday. Lois starts dating an astronaut and gets herself a new gig as a nurse for a scientist who conducts experiments on death row inmates.
It is during one of these experiments where Lois is accidentally sprayed with “Goody Good” gas – a mist that will make killers into proper citizens again. Since Lois is already a good person, the gas gives her E.S.P (don’t ask) and with her new power, she can see the future – including Superman’s death when he heads to space to check out an alien probe filled with Kryptonite.
Lois and her astronaut boyfriend decide that they have to save Superman. It is around then that Lois sees a new future where Superman, overcome with jealousy, kills Lois and her new fella in space by snapping their air tubes.
12. Pa Kent – Smallville
At the end of the second season of Smallville, Clark inadvertently causes Martha Kent to lose the child she was carrying. Unable to cope with the guilt, Clark purposely leaves Smallville and heads off to Metropolis with a chunk of Red Kryptonite at his side (if you don’t know, Red Kryptonite makes Clark evil).
While in Metropolis, Clark uses his powers to become a super cat burglar and builds a hell of a life for himself. When his old pal Chloe figures out where Clark is, Pa Kent makes a deal with the ghost of Clark’s biological father Jor-El (who isn’t a ghost, he’s like a computer program or something). The deal gives Pa superpowers, which Pa Kent uses to take on his super strong kid.
Clark and Pa battle it out in the alleys of Metropolis, but even with the loaned powers, Pa isn’t strong enough. Lucky for him, Clark’s mind is stronger than the Red Kryptonite, and just as he’s about to kill his adopted pop, Clark destroys the Red Kryptonite, bringing himself back from the brink.
11. Green Arrow – Pretenders to the Throne
Three big bads from the future – Cosmic King, Saturn Queen, and Lightning Lord – travel back in time to the moment baby Superman first crash-landed on Earth. The three meanies kill the Kents and take little Kal-El for themselves. Then they head off to Gotham City and snatch up a young Bruce Wayne moments after his parents were murdered right in front of his eyes.
Now adults, Superman and Batman are really horrible people, going around killing anyone who thinks they can be a superhero. The world is one placed under the authoritarian control of the World’s Finest Heroes, and one guy who is really against that is Oliver Queen, better known as Green Arrow.
It is while attacking some soldiers that Green Arrow runs into a very bad situation: Superman and Batman show up. Just as Green Arrow is about to get the better of Batman, Superman ends the fight real quick with a blast of heat vision, vaporizing poor Ollie.
10. Wonder Woman – What Price Freedom?
In the second part of the story where Superman turned Green Arrow into vapor, we got to see the Metropolis Marvel and the Dark Knight Detective do some more mean guy stuff like trap Deadman inside a magic amulet. At the same time, Wonder Woman was sneaking around putting together a team of superheroes to overthrow the evil duo of Clark and Bruce.
With her team (better known as the Freedom Fighters) Wonder Woman launches an attack on Liberty Island. During the battle, Wonder Woman kills Batman, sending Superman into a rage. Superman pummels Wonder Woman nearly to death, stopping only to grab her Golden Lasso of Truth. Superman carefully wrapped the lasso around Wonder Woman’s throat and choked her to death.
9. Shazam – Justice League Unlimited
In the much loved animated series Justice League Unlimited, Lex Luthor‘s presidential run is really gnawing at Superman. Superman knows that Lex is a real no-goodnik, but he’s never been able to get the evidence to prove it to the rest of the world. When Lex gets the endorsement of Captain Marvel (not the one from Marvel Comics, the original one. These days he’s just called Shazam).
When Superman becomes convinced that Lex is going to blow up a city, he’ll stop at nothing to prove it, including getting into a crazy brawl with Captain Marvel. The fight between Superman and Captain Marvel ends up destroying pretty much the whole city and, in the end, it becomes clear that Luthor set the whole thing up to make Superman look bad. There was no bomb.
With no bomb, and with Superman’s reputation tarnished, Lex comes out on top. Adding to Superman’s bruised ego is Captain Marvel’s decision to leave the Justice League over the whole ordeal, believing that his personal hero has let him down.
8. Teen Titans – The Man of Steel is Out for Blood!
In the first issue of Action Comics after DC Comics rebooted their universe with Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman showed up and he was not really feeling himself.
When the Teen Titans see a news report of the Metropolis Marvel smashing up the city and boasting about his power, they decide to intervene. Superman, being Superman, completely demolishes the Titans – he even rips off Cyborg‘s arms (but don’t worry, Cyborg’s arms are all machine so its an easy fix).
Jericho, the mute Titan who can enter people’s minds, is able to take control of Superman and stop the rampage. Just as Jericho puts an end to the fight, a handicapped man arrives and claims that he is Superman. Turns out that the crippled man, named David Gunderson, had built a mind-swapping device and used it to switch bodies with the Man of Steel. Now back in their proper bodies, Superman scolds Gunderson but doesn’t send him off to prison where he really does belong.
7. Clark Kent – Superman III
Superman III tends to get a bad rap, and not without reason. The movie is filled with dated jokes and focuses more on Richard Pryor than it does on Superman for the first half. It does have its merits, though.
One of the big merits comes when Superman, turned evil by the synthetic Kryptonite that Richard Pryor created, faces off what remains of his good side in the form of Clark Kent. The battle goes down in a junkyard and it is glorious.
The battle between Dark Superman and Clark Kent comes off as just cool to kids watching – Superman split in two and beating himself up is a blast! But as adults, we understand that the fight is really an internal struggle between the two pieces that make Superman so great – his unlimited power and his unending humanism.
6. Green Lantern Corps – Battle for the Universe!
In a twist for this list, in this case it isn’t Superman who is being the jerk or mind controlled here. In this instance, it is the entire Green Lantern Corps that has been taken over by evil!
When he gets his hands on a Green Lantern power battery, the Weapons-Master is able to use it to build a Dabalyan Will-Paralyzer – a machine that allows him to take control of every being that wears one of the Green Lantern power rings. The Guardians of the Universe call on Superman to help them free the Lanterns from the control of Weapons-Master.
Being a smart cookie, the first thing Superman does is dye his skin yellow – at this time the Green Lanterns power was ineffective against the color yellow – and then the Man of Steel gets to beating up the mind-controlled space cops. As Superman deals with the Lanterns, Ranakar – one of the Guardians – destroys the Dabalyan Will-Paralyzer. Together, Superman and the whole of the GLC take out Weapons-Master.
5. Supergirl – Nevertheless, She Persisted
The second season of Supergirl saw a lot of changes for the show. Along with moving from CBS to CW, the series lost Calista Flockhart who played as Cat Grant. To make sure fans made the move to the new network, the show’s creators knew they had to do something big.
Enter Supergirl’s better-known cousin, Superman. Throughout the season we get to see the two Kryptonian heroes save the day, and the fans were joyous, but as you can guess, things got rough – when the evil Daxamite Queen Rhea uses Silver Kryptonite on Superman, it makes him think that Supergirl is actually Zod, the evil Kryptonian who everyone agrees is a real jerk.
Superman attacks Supergirl and for more than a minute it appears that the Man of Steel is going to kill his beloved cousin. Thankfully, Supergirl is able to free him from the Silver Kryptonite just in time.
4. Green Lantern – The Command is Chaos!
There’s a political fanatic called Anarchist who has a group of super-powered followers that he sends out to kidnap a bunch of United Nations delegates. At the same time as the Justice League is trying to track down Anarchist, Green Lantern realizes that he is being forced against his will to keep recharging his power ring.
Meanwhile, as Clark Kent, Superman attends a religious revival meeting where he sees faith healer Simon Elis do his thing for the crowd. Superman quickly surmises that Elis is the Anarchist and calls in the League.
Batman, Green Lantern, Black Canary, and Elongated Man show up to help Superman deal with Elis. As the battle rages, Green Lantern notices that his power ring is draining faster than it should be and figures out that Elis is somehow siphoning the power of his ring to give himself superpowers. To make sure Green Lantern doesn’t automatically recharge his ring, Superman knocks him out. After that, Elis is easy to beat.
3. Batman – The Feud Between Batman and Superman
While confronting a bunch of crooks, Batman gets seriously wounded when a bullet bounces off Superman and strikes him. After a life-saving operation, Batman decides that it is time to retire the cape and cowl. This decision apparently makes Superman super angry.
Superman convinces Batman and Robin to come to the Fortress of Solitude with him to test out a new lock. Once there, the three receive a emergency alert from Kandor, the shrunken bottled Kryptonian city that Superman keeps around. The three heroes (and Jimmy Olsen who is also there for some reason) shrink down and head into Kandor to see what the problem is.
It quickly becomes clear that the whole Kandor thing was set up by Superman to make Batman rethink his retirement, but once the secret is out, Batman turns on Superman (who has no powers in Kandor) and punches him. Because of the attack on his pal, Bats and Supes are forced to fight to the death. Batman wins but doesn’t kill Superman. He also decides not to retire.
2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
For generations, we had waited to see Batman and Superman share the silver screen together, and when it finally happened, the results were… mixed.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made a lot of fans happy. It also made a lot of fans angry. The movie continues to stand as a major argument with DC Comics fans, but one thing they all agree on is that the action scenes are pretty great.
The height of those great action scenes is the battle between Superman and Batman. When Lex Luthor takes Ma Kent hostage and claims she will die unless Superman kills Batman, the Man of Steel tries to reason with Batman (who already hates Superman) but it doesn’t work. With the help of some Kryptonite dust, Batman is able to weaken Superman and even the playing field for a bit.
In the knockdown drag out, Superman and Batman go head to head and really mess each other up. Batman gets the upper hand but stops just short of killing Superman thanks to one word…
1. Batman – The Demon Superman!
When a bust of Mad Anthony Wayne, ancestor of Bruce Wayne, is shattered, Batman asks Superman for help putting it back together (superheroes used to have more free time). When they put the bust back together, Bats and Supes are shocked to find that the bust looks a whole lot like Batman.
To find out more about Mad Anthony Wayne, the two heroes decide to travel back in time and check him out. After getting into a fight with Anthony, Batman and Superman save a woman who is about to be drowned for being a witch. The woman kisses Batman, who then takes her to a bar. Jealous that the woman likes Batman, Superman dresses as the World’s Greatest Detective and uses his powers to make the people of the past think he’s a witch.
The townspeople capture Batman and, with Superman as his judge, find him guilty of witchcraft. Batman is tied to the stake and is about to be burned alive when a storm breaks out and Benjamin Franklin saves him.
Old comics were weird.
Are there other times when Superman turned on his friends? Leave them in the comments!
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