Superman vs Batman

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.

11 thoughts on “Superman vs Batman”

  1. It’s established, though, that Superman cannot see through Lead, right? This tends to be what is used to defeat him.

  2. I disagree that Superman will always be able to avoid dealing with kryptonite. Remember the whole “x-ray vision doesn’t go thru lead” bit? This is a critical limitation to Supe’s powers. I do think there are some scenarios where Supe should/would have been smarter about it, but fact is, if there’s something hidden inside lead and he has good reason to think a)the enemy doesn’t know about/have Kryptonite and b) Supe needs to get to whatever is being hidden, then he’s gonna open the lead case, and have to deal with the consequences. (That’s one of the costs of being lawful good – you have to make the hard choice to take on the bad guy even if it entails serious potential risk to yourself…)

  3. yes, but his heat vision can melt lead. And, kryptonite cannot affect him through lead. So, arrive on scene, scan for “opaques” and melt them out of range. This will turn any lead container into a giant plug, encasing the kryptonite inside. then fly down, pick it up and throw it into the sun.

    easy, peasy 😛

  4. I think thats the problem – is Supes really lawful good? His preferential saviour actions are evidence that he hasnt applied any strict morality to his actions as hero; he just saves whoever he feels like saving. Usually Lois Lane.

    If anything, he is chaotic good.

  5. Didn’t a copy/paste go awry on that post? I mean, “Unlman” seems like a very strange word.

  6. Superman’s problem is one of intelligence, and I mean that in the tactical sense, not in the “he don’t think good” sense. X-Ray vision is not omniscience. Misdirection, obfuscation, camouflage, etc are all valid tactics to get the kryptonite close enough to Superman, and Luthor has done all of them multiple times. I suspect Batman would be even better at it.

    Plus, his morality is very binding. Strap a couple of babies to the opaques — or inside a few, and he’s impotent. Batman can even do this inside his moral code — because he knows Superman will never harm them, he’s not putting them in danger’s way to use them in that way.

  7. But here’s the thing – Superman wouldn’t be able to see the babies inside teh opaques, right? And would he trust Batman’s word? He might well conclude that Batman would never endanger infants that way – and Batman would not risk Superman concluding that!

    At any rate, Supes can always fly away if he detects opaques, as a last resort. Youd have to somehow trap Superman and force him into contact with kryptonite to disable him – but its a catch 22 because you cant trap him until youve disabled him.

  8. Supermans iq is nothing compared to that of batmans and dont you think that batman would have already thought of this whole “kryptonite being to far away”? exactly he would have (you cannot argue that because batman thinks of every tactical outlook” besides superman usually, if in an encounter with batman, runs into battle not thinking of consequences so yeah…batmans cooler too good try tho

  9. I your argument you don’t think Batman wouldn’t have considered superman using this technique? Bats would fight supes in a place that keeps him confined, where he couldn’t fly away or t least not give him a chance to, second of all im prety sure it wouldnt be to hard for batman to dodge the heat beam, considereing he has dodged Darkseids beam on Darkseid literally said “No one has ever been able to dodge my beam.” that includes superman, not to mention there was a comic i believe in which batman did kick supermans ass

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