Steven links to a “rock solid” argument that Batman would beat Superman in a fight, with caveats about “winning”. I find it highly circular, however (aren’t all tautologies “rock solid” by definition?).
The premises – that Supes is dumber, that Batman is more canny, that Supes is more moral – create a very restricted scenario. I can provide a much more compelling argument about the outcome of any hypothetical match, without any axioms whatsoever. All we need to do are make the following observations:
* Superman can fly, has super strength, and heat and xray vision
* Batman has access to Kryptonite, money, and technology
So, the scenario:
1. Batman prepares complex, expensive scheme involving technology and kryptonite
2. Superman arrives on scene, and from aerial position uses xray vision to locate threat, and thus maintain sufficient distance to avoid effect of Kryptonite
3. Superman melts Batman’s technology using heat vision
There’s no scenario in which Batman can deliver the kryptonite to a threatening distance to disable Superman. The fact that Lex Luthor routinely achieved this in the comics, however, is more a failure of imagination on the part of Superman’s writers than Superman’s abilities.
In fact, I will postulate that Superman’s powers effectively render him invincible even to kryptonite since there is no scenario in which kryptonite’s radius of influence can exceed Superman’s area of influence via heat vision and xray vision, or ability to escape via flight and super strength.
This is the problem with Superman, in a nutshell: he’s super. Essentially, he is a god, something barely ever hinted at in the TV and movies and rarely addressed in the comics. There’s really only one ending to the story of Superman, no matter what universe or storyline or timeline you are in: Superman decides to rule the Earth. The tyranny will come, it must come, inexorably. The logic of this is quite simple:
– Superman routinely uses his powers to intervene in human affairs
– Superman routinely makes choices, therefore, about what human affairs to intervene in
– People close to Superman benefit disproportionately from Superman’s intervention
Therefore, Superman is already making decisions about life and death on behalf of the human race. And doing so with no more omniscient wisdom than the most erratic Greek gods – namely, none. He’s ruled by human impulses and acts on them with godlike power. That means that for all his alien-ness, he is still susceptible to the basic law of human civilization: absolute power corrupts absolutely.