When a new strong superhero hits the scene, people always want to know if he’s stronger than Superman. Throughout the years, Superman has slowly gained the reputation for being the benchmark of strength and the figure that other superheroes are held up against.
Superman may be a humble member of the Justice League, but how many times has the association broken out in battle where everyone teams up against the Man of Steel and they still have a hard time against him?
Not only is Superman often equated to a god of sorts, but he’s also still a character that continues to gain new abilities and superpowers. In spite of his massive skills, he’s only become more dangerous as the years go on.
Superman is clearly strong— his name isn’t exactly humble when it comes to his power limitations— but he’s hardly the most powerful individual in either the DC or Marvel universe.
Fans might have become accustomed to Superman’s role of a failsafe to swoop in and save the day when the team is in trouble, but here are the situations where he’s useless in battle.
So grab your Green Kryptonite and get ready, because here are the 18 Superheroes Who Could Easily Defeat Superman.
18 Green Lantern
Superman and Green Lantern may be all buddy-buddy in the Justice League, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t ever resorted to fisticuffs. Superman is often seen as the strength of the Justice League, but basically any Green Lantern (even one that’s a squirrel) can take the guy out if they wanted.
The reason here is that Lanterns can effectively use their power ring to simulate Green Kryptonite radiation and render Superman totally powerless.
In Green Lantern: Rebirth, John Stewart also uses his lantern energy to essentially blind Superman, which is another helpful tactic against him in battle. Lanterns are also able to use their light energy to impale their victims to severe lengths.
This is only really seen when Sinestro does such a thing against Mongul, but if this technique can be used to break apart someone as tough as Mongul, then conceivably it could also work against Superman
17 Swamp Thing
Swamp Thing is one of the more tragic, dark antiheroes from DC’s universe. Swamp Thing’s ability to conquer Superman in battle may be a little controversial since Swamp Thing is considerably weaker than the Man of Steel.
However, the creature makes up for it in other ways. Swamp Thing’s major advantage is that he basically can’t be killed unless the planet itself is destroyed, which is something that Superman would never stoop to doing.
Furthermore, even if Earth does get destroyed, Swamp Thing has shown himself to be resilient enough to regenerate on another planet.
This all has to do with how Swamp Thing is an elemental with crazy powers, who pulls his strength from the mysterious, “The Green.”
Superman might be able to hold his own for a while against the guy, but the fight would soon turn over in Swamp Thing’s favor.
16 Martin Manhunter
What’s interesting here is that Martian Manhunter is essentially Earth’s equivalent to Superman. Both Martian Manhunter and Superman appear to be on quite level ground when it comes to many of their traits, yet J’onn J’onzz also wields incredible psychic skills as well as the ability to shape-shift and regenerate his body.
Superman’s strength is unquestionable, but it’s hard to argue with how more muscles is a better advantage than the ability to reconfigure your body into something new.
In Superman’s defense, he does have heat-vision, which is a fear of J’onn’s, but otherwise it looks like J’onn has the overall advantage here. He’s also the most powerful telepath in DC.
On top of this, Superman has also referred to J’onn as "the most powerful being on the face of the Earth," so clearly he takes him seriously.
15 The Hulk
The Hulk is largely considered to be the physically strongest character in the DC universe (excluding Celestials and other godly beings that operate on a whole other level).
Something as simple as strength may not seem like the proper way to take down the Man of Steel, but it’s important to remember that Doomsday successfully killed Superman and he was essentially a Hulk from Krypton.
Another crucial detail is that Superman needs Earth’s yellow sun for his strength, whereas Hulk only needs oxygen to operate.
This means that on any other planet, the Hulk would likely win in battle.
For those that are still unconvinced, DC vs. Marvel #3 depicts the Hulk as the only one who can hold their own against Superman in a free-for-all.
When it comes to lightning-powered superheroes, it might seem like Odin’s out of the game and that his children, Thor and Loki, are the current heavy hitters from Asgard. Odin's done a lot of damage in his day though and he’s not someone that should be written off.
The main reason for Odin’s inclusion here is that he actually channels his God-like powers from something called the Odin Force. Lame name aside, this power reservoir is so incredible that Odin uses it to successfully defeat impossible threats like Galactus, the Silver Surfer, and Thanos.
Superman’s not even at the same power level as these guys. On top of all of this, Odin’s also been known to destroy and rebuild galaxies like it was some kind of hobby. All of this outmatches Superman and what he's capable of.
13 Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider sort of operates outside of the laws of life and death, which makes him a particularly interesting threat to Superman. For example, Ghost Rider is a harbinger that’s physically invulnerable, so even if Superman has Godly strength what good will it do him in this situation?
Superman also prides himself in his severe speed, but Ghost Rider also proves that he’s just as fast as he is.
Ghost Rider has defeated omnipotent entities like archangels and even Satan himself, which is a pretty big deal.
Besides, if Ghost Rider was feeling particularly spiteful he could just drag Superman to Hell and let his soul get destroyed over there.
Also, if it ever comes down to a fashion battle or a competition between who looks cooler, Ghost Rider is going to beat Superman every single time.
Everyone knows that Professor X has incredible psychic abilities and is one of the most powerful mutants that are out there. As strong as Charles Xavier is, though, his son, David Haller, has psychic powers that are even greater than his father’s. It’s almost a little unfair how many ways that David Haller, otherwise known as Legion, could utterly decimate Supes.
It might be considered a cheap win, but in a pinch, Legion could simply crush Superman’s mind and turn him into a brain dead coma victim. Legion could also put his tremendous powers to even more vindictive use and wreak havoc with Superman’s brain.
He could make Superman forget that he has superpowers, alter his memories, or even make him beat himself up. Superman’s arsenal of tricks is irrelevant when his mind can be invaded at this level.
Shazam, Captain Marvel, whatever you want to call him, he still just seems like a gaudier rip-off of Superman. That being said, this doesn’t change the fact that both Shazam and Superman more or less have the same skillsets except that Shazam also has magic powers at his disposal.
For those not in the know, magic is a major blind spot for Superman and something that consistently trips him up.
Shazam and Superman both have incredible abilities, but Shazam seems to be a little stronger and faster than Superman is in a few situations. On top of that, Shazam also doesn't suffer from the same weaknesses.
It’s worth noting that Shazam gets the rare honor of cold cocking Superman and actually knocking him unconscious from the blow. If Shazam really wanted to, he could have ended the hero's life right there.
10 The Spectre
The Spectre is a superhero that’s so overpowered and mighty that at this point, he typically only shows up during huge multiversal crossover events where something monumental needs to be ended.
Whether Spectre is a good guy or not is up for debate, but he typically is seen as a dark anti-hero, but someone who is still concerned about restoring justice.
The Spectre is a former angel who can use the bodies of the dead as his tools for justice. Spectre is omnipotent, physical attacks don’t work on him, and he also has the power of a "thousand universes" at his disposal.
Superman has gone up against Spectre before and wasn't able to defeat him, so it's not impossible that in a re-match Spectre could get the upper hand-- especially if he brings the corpses of Ma and Pa Kent into battle.
9 Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel has an absolutely insane group of superpowers at her disposal. She's able to absorb energy, which means that any of Superman's projectiles would be useless against her.
Add to that the ability to produce strong energy blasts of her own and manipulate gravity, and you'll soon realize that she’s no slouch.
Captain Marvel is strong in her own right, but when she upgrades to her Binary transformation, she has power on the same level as an interstellar white hole and gains incredible mastery over electromagnetic energy and light.
This includes control over the energy of red sun radiation, which means that she can also just sap Superman of all of his strength if she desires. Captain Marvel even has an alleged “seventh sense” akin to Spider-Man’s Spidey Sense that would help her have the jump on Superman before he’s able to pull off any attacks.
8 Doctor Strange
Dormammu is said to be the strongest magical wielder in the Marvel Universe, but as far as superheroes goes, Doctor Strange is the standout.
Superman may have him beat when it comes to brute strength, but Strange could simply erase Superman with a spell or just teleport him into a different dimension where his powers are gone and he's left to die.
That’s extraordinary power to wield and it’s a testament to why Superman is so apprehensive against magic-based foes. Superman may be fast, but he can't cross dimensions and save himself in a situation where he’s scrubbed from reality.
Even when putting the magic abilities aside, Doctor Strange is also a brilliant man and one of the better tacticians that are out there. It’s likely that he could just outmaneuver Superman with a super smart plan that’s beyond his mental capacity.
7 Silver Surfer
The Silver Surfer may look a little silly and have a very to-the-point name, but maybe all of that is just to lower people’s guards for someone who’s one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
Everything that makes Superman special the Silver Surfer also has in spades: extreme speed, strength, and a heavy resistance to damage.
The Silver Surfer also has vast control over psionic abilities and the power to manipulate energy and matter.
In one instance, the Silver Surfer simply drains Bruce Banner of all of his gamma radiation and de-Hulks him in the process. It’s not hard to picture him do the same thing to Superman, only with his solar energy.
With the Silver Surfer’s relation to the Power Cosmic and the list of titans that he’s defeated and the galaxies that he’s saved, it’s hard for Superman to not look like small potatoes in comparison.
As the Marvel and DC universes continue to expand, their characters keep growing in strength, reaching unbelievable levels. As a response to this, it’s only natural that Marvel and DC have introduced god-like characters and the Creators of all of these superpowered individuals.
These top-tier characters may make rare appearances and only show up when the timeline is in the direst of situations, but when they do drop in it’s always memorable.
Not a whole lot is known about Marvel's Beyonders, but something that is very clear is that they’d be able to wipe out Superman with the same amount of effort that it takes them to yawn.
Beyonders have destroyed the entire Marvel multiverse before, which kind of trumps heat-vision and flight. Even if Superman could survive such a cataclysm, the Beyonders live outside of space and he wouldn’t even be able to find them for the re-match.
5 Living Tribunal
If the Beyonders are a big deal in the Marvel universe, then the Living Tribunal is somehow even more of a threat than they are.
To help put this into perspective here, it takes three Beyonders to kill the Living Tribunal. Three God-like beings that can erase multiverses on a whim need to work together in order to distinguish this guy.
How is one Superman supposed to stand up against that?
The Beyonders have the power to destroy multiverses, but the Living Tribunal almost takes on the opposite angle here. The Living Tribunal is the creator of the Marvel multiverse and as much energy as it takes to destroy something, it takes even more to create it.
The Living Tribunal operates on the level of Gods and he can neutralize something like the Infinity Gauntlet with minimal effort. It feels like the Gauntlet alone would be enough to defeat Superman.
4 Scarlet Witch
The Scarlet Witch may not seem more dangerous than Celestials and other top of the chain characters, but she definitely makes a strong case for how easily she could take out the Man of Steel.
Scarlet Witch’s biggest mic drop moment is during Marvel’s House of M where she simply whispers, “No more mutants,” and wills it into happening. If the two shared universes, it’s not hard to imagine this elimination extending over to Superman and if not, what’s to stop her from saying, “No more Superman,” and making that reality?
On top of that, Scarlet Witch also has the ability to manipulate things like probability (which means that some unexpected Kryptonite could suddenly appear at Superman's feet).
The MCU version of Scarlet Witch appears to be drastically weaker, but she still incapacitates the entirety of the Avengers with her induced hallucinations. The same trick would work on Superman.
Sentry is basically what happens when someone like Superman loses his mind. He’s a subject of a highly advanced version of the Super-Soldier serum and finds himself bursting with power.
Sentry is capable of molecular manipulation and is seemingly impervious to harm with no direct weakness (whereas Superman wears his on his sleeve). Sentry also has ridiculous strength and he even rips both Carnage and Ares in two and also shatters Terrax the Tamer’s cosmic axe.
Most importantly, though, is that Sentry is able to control and generate light and solar energy.
This leaves Superman at an extreme disadvantage to him.
Sentry is described to have the power of “a million exploding suns” and he can hold his own against Galactus without breaking a sweat. He’s an Omega-Level threat according to Mister Fantastic and he ranks at a Power Level 10+ from Nick Fury.
2 Dr. Manhattan
Dr. Manhattan might have seemed like too niche of a DC character to make the cut here, but he’s someone who has experienced a huge resurgence this year due to the ambitious experiment that DC has been running with its storylines.
Furthermore, DC’s Doomsday Clock series appears to be all about the parallels between Dr. Manhattan and Superman and it looks like the two will even come to blows by the end of its run. There’s even a popular theory out there that Dr. Manhattan has already killed the New 52’s version of Superman, or at least played a part in his death.
Outside of all of this, Dr. Manhattan is capable of any of the psychic tricks and temporal manipulation that all of the other sorcerers here are capable of, but it’s Manhattan’s extreme intelligence and morals that make him an even larger threat.
1 Franklin Richards
This may make for a controversial opinion, but Franklin Richards arguably runs the entire DC timeline. He's strong enough to make Galactus his herald and he constantly manipulates universes and reality to his own whims.
In theory, Richards could basically create his own Superman to fight for him (which isn't dissimilar to what happens with Sentry) and then continually change the battlefield to his advantage.
There's a popular fan theory that Franklin Richards is actually the one who controls the timeline of Marvel’s Earth-616 and that everything that happens, even how much characters age or don't age, is because he wills it to be so.
Therefore, if Richards simply wanted Superman to be an old man or a baby, he could make it happen.
Franklin Richards conceivably has too much power, but what better person to prove to Superman just how irrelevant he is?
Can you think of any other overpowered superheroes who could easily take down Superman? Now's your chance to sound off in the comments, but be careful-- Supes does have super hearing after all.