View Full Version : Superman or Batman?

06-03-1999, 07:55 PM
Last year, Superman celebrated his 60th birthday. This year it's Batman's turn. Both are icons of pop culture and deities in the DC Comics universe. Who is the better character and why?

"Interested in fashion, Harmonica?"
"There were three dusters like these waiting for a train.
Inside the dusters were three men. Inside the men were
three bullets..."
--Once Upon A Time In The West

06-03-1999, 08:39 PM
Let's see now-one character can do whatever he pleases and has the ability to fly away if he doesn't like the situation, the other has trained hard and suffered both physical and mental damage and has emerged a flawed but strong hero who cares about the people he lives among.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter Thompson

06-03-1999, 08:58 PM
The greatest heroes are those men (and women) who make themselves perform extraordinary feats in difficult circumstances. Therefore, I have to go with the man who trained himself to the limits of human ability. He could have stayed safe and snug, coccooned from his grief and the dangers of the city by his wealth, but he choose instead to do everything he can to prevent a similar tragedy from befalling another person. He puts his life on the line every night to try to make the world a little safer.
The other one probably tolerates humanity as somewhat boisterous pets...

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
"You cannot reason a man out of a position that he did not reach through reason."

06-03-1999, 09:01 PM
I've always preferred Batman because he has limitations. Superman is well, super. He can do ANYTHING unless there is cryptonite involved. That's just silly. Batman is grittier, more realistic (for a comic book character), and doesn't have to do what he does- he's self-made. Superman just *is*. So, in short, Batman all the way.

06-03-1999, 09:06 PM
One of my favorite comic mini-series ever was entitled World's Finest. It was a homage to the old books where Superman and Batman would fight crime together.
It came out a few years ago. In it, The Joker takes over Metropolis, and Lex Luthor takes over Gotham. Superman and Batman switch places to fight crime. This series had excellent art work, and the writing was superb. They did a wonderful job of playing on the fact that both superman and Batman were orphaned as children, because an orphanage was a large part of the story.
Great series if you ever get a chance to read it.
I guess this doesn't put a vote either way.
But, I do wish Tim Burton had been given a chance to make that Superman movie, that would have been great.


70 61 74 20 74 68 65 20 67 72 65 61 74

06-04-1999, 10:16 AM
Holy superhero, Batman! Looks like we've got a battle on our hands! Bam! Pow! Crunch! Zow! Batman wins.

-The actors who portray Superman don't do well. It's like a curse.
-Batman's enemies (joker, riddler, penguin, catwoman) are more interesting than Superman's Lex Luther.
-Batman's accessories. The batmobile, the batcave, the bat utility belt, etc.

For girlfriends, neither of them do too well, unfortunately. Lois Lane and catwoman aren't much. With those tights, you'd think lots of women would be chasing them. One big plus for superman is his x-ray vision. With that, who needs a girlfriend?!

06-04-1999, 10:51 AM
Sounds like a good question for the Great Debates forum. Granted I'm using the word "great" loosely, but you get my drift.

06-04-1999, 02:05 PM
Superman has the ability to do anything he wants, like take over the world, but chooses to use his powers for good. Batman fights crime outside the law, and is basically a vigilante (Superman has some sort of quasi-official status).

Speaking of crossovers, DC had a series of alternate-universe stories called "Elseworlds." In one issue, baby Kal-el was adopted by the Waynes instead of the Kents, and became Bruce Wayne. The Waynes were killed as in the original Batman mythology, and super-powered Bruce Wayne became super-powered Batman. When he Pow!Wham!Zoink!ed the bad guys, they stayed zoinked!

06-04-1999, 03:35 PM
You're right, Guy, Superman does have quasi-official status. His official title is "Guy Who Could Destroy All Military Forces On Earth Without Batting An Eyelash." If you were a president or a prime minister or other national leader, would you make a fuss about Superman's actions in your country?

06-04-1999, 03:41 PM
No doubt the governments on Superman's Earth are working on Kryptonite-powered weapons---just in case.

No, what I meant was that Superman is sometimes called in to help on special projects, while Batman is officially regarded as an outlaw (except by Commissioner Gordon, I guess).

Before you comment, I'm talking about 1990's Bat/Superman. I know the Silver Age Batman was an honorary officer of the Gotham PD.

06-04-1999, 06:05 PM
I thought that their relationship was defined very well in the "Dark Knight Returns" mini-series. By the time we get to "Kingdom Come" they have reached grudging respect and admiration. hell, I haven't read comics seriously in too long...

06-05-1999, 12:45 AM
I'd have to say I'm a Batman fan as long as the writing is good. (See _Batman & Robin_ with George Clooney as a good representation of the contrary.) Batman as a character works best when he is gritty and obsessed. When people start writing him as a happy and noble character, he goes downhill pretty quick.

On the otherhand, Superman seems to work as a character, no matter how he's treated by the writers.

"The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life." -George Carlin

06-05-1999, 04:16 PM
You're all missing the point.

Batman is better because his costume is cooler.

06-05-1999, 07:52 PM
Mike, Superman and Batman's costumes serve different purposes.

Superman's bright, colorful costume is meant to reassure the citizens of Metropolis. Superman wants people to look up at his blue uniform with the same confidence that they give members of the police force.

Batman's costume is intended, quite frankly, to scare the shit out of criminals. Remember, the reason he dressed up as a bat was because he was terrified of bats as a child. Batman doesn't want so much to reassure the citizens of Gotham as he wants to get in the nightmares of the people who prey on them.

"Interested in fashion, Harmonica?"
"There were three dusters like these waiting for a train.
Inside the dusters were three men. Inside the men were
three bullets..."
--Once Upon A Time In The West

06-05-1999, 10:16 PM
Sure, EJC, but scaring the shit out of criminals is a lot cooler than reassuring the citizens of Metropolis. I think Mike is onto something.

06-07-1999, 10:25 AM
I prefer Superman primarily because if you want to see a superhero, then, by God, be sure he is a SUPER hero.

More seriously, Batman's Dark Knight schtick is getting very tired. It was nice when he was the only one, but now that EVERYONE is Dark Knighted (Captain Marvel??????? Give me a break. The Captain's entire appeal is his innocence.), it's no big deal any more and has already grown tedious.

The most amazing thing about Superman is the high quality of the entire run of the comics. It was rarely the #1 best written comic, but it was always among the top ten, and usually in the top five. Batman's quality has fluctuated more.

06-07-1999, 12:19 PM
I'll have to go with RealityChuck on this one and pick Supes. I want my superheroes to satisfy my fantasies of flying, having vast physical strength, heat rays shooting from eyes, wearing tights.....

oh wait, scratch that last one...

06-07-1999, 12:20 PM
I dunno...Batman seems like the clear winner to me, if for no other reason than this: American comix readers never got so bored with Batman that the publisher decided to kill him off.

06-07-1999, 03:19 PM
<<American comix readers never got so bored with Batman that the publisher decided to kill him off.>>

Well, true, but if you will recall a couple of years ago there was a lot of hype when they changed Batman's (Batmen?). Bruce Wayne was confronted by Bane in the Batcave, and, well, Bruce lost. Bane broke his back, rendering him Batman no more. The crippled Wayne asked Jean Paul Valley (aka Azrael) to take over being Batman. Eventually, fan pressure to bring back Wayne was brought to a head and he recovered. You can check out both Batman's and Superman's profile at www.dccomics.com (http://www.dccomics.com) .

06-07-1999, 05:18 PM
As far as the characters themselves go, I slightly prefer Batman because he is one of the few comic heroes to have no superpowers whatsoever. Sure he has a lot of gadgets, but most of the time Batman has to outthink his opponent.

If you're talking the movies, Superman is a clear winner thanks to the performance of Christopher Reeves. He gave Superman all the virtues we expect of him without making it seem corny. Even though the Batman movies made a lot of money, ALL of them are flawed, including the Tim Burton films. Batman may be tormented, but we still have to care about the character, and there was a vacuum in the center of the first movie. As they added sidekicks and villains, Batman's screen time was cut deeper and he became even more irrelevant. "Batman" may be the film that pushed Tim Burton into the A-list of directors, but for my money his best film was "Ed Wood."

But I'm getting off the subject. The biggest weakness of Superman was he didn't have any. When you have a guy so strong he can move the Earth out of its orbit, only God would be strong enough to give this guy competition. The smartest thing D.C. did was to demote Superman from omnipotence to merely the strongest guy on Earth. Also, although he is probably the squarest guy on Earth, that is O.K. as long as he remains a recognizably human character. I like the fact that D.C. has finally given Clark Kent a real life--he isn't just a disguise for Superman anymore.

With Batman, you have to strike a delicate balance. He's a vigilante, but he's also a fair guy who prefers justice to personal vengeance. (Why else would the Joker still be alive after all these years?) It's not right that he be the public do-gooder that you saw in the 1966 TV series, but he has to remain a sympathetic character--Batman is not Bernie Goetz.

If any of you are not beneath watching kids cartoons, I highly recommend the Batman/Superman hour on the Kids WB network. That show does justice to both characters.

"Interested in fashion, Harmonica?"
"There were three dusters like these waiting for a train.
Inside the dusters were three men. Inside the men were
three bullets..."
--Once Upon A Time In The West

06-07-1999, 05:46 PM
Superman or Batman?

Puma Man!

06-07-1999, 06:01 PM
Batman is better. The "all powerfull being" gimmic is the reason I've never cared for Superman. After all, I could stand up to all of those guys if I knew that I was damn-near indestructable. Batman actually has to think in order to beat most opponents. Previously, Superman only resorted to this arcane skill if the bad guys had kryptonite. Making Superman more vulnerable was without a doubt a vast improvement. Nowadays, Superman REALLY knows what it's like to be a hero. :)

"I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms." -The Secret of Monkey Island

06-07-1999, 06:02 PM
Ahh, on topic, Warner Brothers is again talking about making a Superman/Batman movie with Batman as the "bad guy." Well, thats the rumour coming out of this page.



06-07-1999, 08:01 PM
Guy Propski mentioned an Elsewhere comic book where Kal-El is adopted by the Waynes and eventually becomes Superbatman. I wonder if they explored what would happen if the Kents had adopted a normal kid. Without super powers or a family tragedy, there would be no incentive for Clark Kent to become a superhero, although it is possible for him to be something like Marvel's Captain America--a hero with no superpowers like Batman, but with all the virtues we associate with Superman.

Still, it would make an interesting "What if.." story to imagine what Clark would have done if he had grown up normally. Would he still become a reporter, or was that occupation chosen merely so that Superman could quickly discover emergencies that need his help? I'd like to think that journalism was something that Clark was naturally interested in, and that he would still become a reporter. Of course, Superman eventually revealed his identity to Lois Lane and married her, but would the ordinary Kent have the same luck? Of course, would the ordinary Clark Kent be quite as "mild-mannered" as the one trying to hide a secret identity?

"Interested in fashion, Harmonica?"
"There were three dusters like these waiting for a train.
Inside the dusters were three men. Inside the men were
three bullets..."
--Once Upon A Time In The West

06-08-1999, 08:59 AM
There have been a number of alternate universe stories about Batman and Superman. One recent, "The Nail", centers around the fact that Superman was the most important part of the Justice League of America. In this story, baby Kal-el is adpoted by an Amish family, who discourage him from leaving the farm or developing his powers. I won't spoil the story for you, but it's a wild trip.

The "new" Superman actually fits your description. In the revised DC universe, Clark didn't exhibit superpowers until late adolescence. The Kents never told him he was adopted (or from another planet) until he was about 18. They raised him as an average farm boy from Kansas. So this Superman doesn't think of Clark Kent as a secret identity; instead, he thinks of himself as Clark Kent, someone who becomes Superman. He became a journalist because he was interested in it during high school.

The stories play down the "mild-mannered" reporter bit now; Clark's not the total wimp he was in the 50's, always pretending to faint so he could change into the S-man. He also wooed Lois as Clark, not Superman

06-08-1999, 02:12 PM
For sure Batman. Except for the Movie Batman. M. Keaton, get real! He's not Batman. Val, much better. George, probably the best but 3 Batmans later, there is a problem with loyalty to a character. The comic Batman, and the TV Batman, they are better than Superman anyday. Plus, everyone in Supermans world must be stupid to not recognize him in a pair of glasses! At least Batman wore a mask.

06-08-1999, 03:34 PM
Well, it depends what you look to these characters for. I'd rather BE Superman (in most ways - more below), but I'd much rather read about Batman, at least when it's done well. There still seems to be a lot of problems keeping the character from degenerating into total silliness, though it can be done. Superman is pretty boring: Batman has to think of some way of being a superhero that you and I could do, at least in principle. When Superman is clever it's in a novel use for heat vision or some-such-thing. I also like the fact that Batman isn't really completely balanced. In the best stories, there's always the feeling that he's about to go over the edge. Superman is just so powerful that he has to be a goody two shoes or he'd be the world's despot.
I agree with the observation that Superman has translated to the screen generally better than Batman, however.

But the main reason Bats is better is:

Curious Geoge said "For girlfriends, neither of them do too well, unfortunately. Lois Lane and catwoman aren't much". I don't know, catwoman is drawn with a certain...something. And Batman at least has the POTENTIAL to have sex. If Superman ever had...well, a super-orgasm, we can expect that it would not go well for his partner ( Lois, of course - after marriage, missionary position, lights out). The forensic examiner would have quite a job with that one. (I suppose he could travel back in time and pick up a box of super-condoms from the pre-exploded planet Krypton, but would that be enough to stop super-sperm?) Since Supes can never have sex, at least with a human female, how much of a superman is he, really?
Batman on the other hand is a physically healthy, psychologically twisted American male who's into black costumes. Much more interesting, at least when Robin's not around.

Robin's the worst part of Batman; I'm surprised no one mentioned him.

06-08-1999, 08:23 PM
Actually, I think that Clark has a healthier sex life than Bruce. Assuming he's a healthy male, and not quite as pure as the old comic books suggested, Clark would have noticed any problems whenever he masturbated. If he really believed that sex with Lois Lane was out of the question, he would not have ardently wooed her for so long.

Bruce, on the other hand doesn't have a steady girlfriend. I do not think that the comics ever gave Bruce a consistent love interest. I think part of the problem is that Bruce is so secretive that he's unable to open himself up to another person to have a long lasting relationship. That doesn't mean he's a monk, but probably that he has a series of one-night stands.

Getting back to what Guy Propski was telling about the changes John Byrne made to Superman's character. It may be true that deep down Superman is Clark Kent, but the reverse is probably true with Bruce. Deep down, he's Batman, and "Bruce Wayne" only serves as a cover for what he does as the Dark Knight. You don't get a sense for what the "real" Bruce is like when his costume is off because there isn't any. Only when he becomes Batman do we see the real person.

One last thing before I go--did anyone else have trouble logging onto the General Questions forum today?


"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way..."
--Jessica Rabbit,Who Framed Roger Rabbit

06-08-1999, 09:35 PM
They are both great characters, the better one to be determined by your own perspective. If you say who is stronger? Superman. Who has the cooler gadgets? Batman. Who is better is like asking who do you like better, and for that reason my vote goes to Spider-Man. (I know it was not one of the choices, but he is my favorite)

06-09-1999, 08:23 AM
Well, if you're going to open it up to all superheroes, I'd have to vote for the Green Lantern. I loved the power ring and what it could do. It was always hilarious when GL would defeat someone with a giant green lawn mower or tennis racket. Now that the new GL is actually an artist, his green creations are rendered with a lot more detail.

06-09-1999, 08:42 AM
There was a science-fiction short story or essay, from about 1970, I think, about Superman that I would love to find again. It discussed the super-sperm shooting through Lois' body like high-speed bullets. It also discussed the problem Superman would have going to the bathroom -- would his super-stream crack the urinal? If he spits on the sidewalk, does it make a pothole?

The essay went on in this vein, it was hilarious. Alas, I can't remember the author. Maybe some of you other old codgers know where I can find it?

06-09-1999, 09:47 AM
There was a science-fiction short story or essay, from about 1970


Alas, I can't remember the author.

I believe that you're thinking of the essay 'Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex' by Larry Niven.

'They couldn't hit an Elephant from this dist...!'

Last words of General John Sedgwick

06-09-1999, 09:49 AM
Forgot to give a URL to the text of the essay:


'They couldn't hit an Elephant from this dist...!'

Last words of General John Sedgwick

06-09-1999, 12:03 PM
Wonderdog. He kept that kid from getting spanked.

06-09-1999, 02:12 PM
Another comment on the post-Crisis Superman. Not only did the belated emergence of Superman's powers mean that Clark lived a normal childhood, but it also explains why Clark Kent did not become Superboy. John Byrne said he didn't want Clark Kent to become Superboy because it would take an edge out of the series--the reader knew Superboy would never be killed because then Clark would never grow up to be Superman.

Still, Clark Kent can have a normal life apart from being a superhero. How much more difficult it must be for Kon-El, if it's true that he cannot age beyond 15 years. At first it sounds terrific, but he will be forced to change secret identities every few years or somebody will catch on. Also, unless he can find a female counterpart (I'm assuming he's straight) who doesn't age, Superboy can't have a lasting relationship with anybody. Maybe he decides to wear green tights and start hawking peanut butter?


"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way..."
--Jessica Rabbit,Who Framed Roger Rabbit

06-09-1999, 05:15 PM
I just read Man of Steel Women of Kleenex. That was great, thanks!

06-09-1999, 08:23 PM
I just read Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex. Too funny! It reminds me of those books that try to analyze Star Trek's pseudo-science and draw extended conclusions from it.

"I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms." -The Secret of Monkey Island

06-09-1999, 09:45 PM
If you ask me I have to go with Neobican, in the world of super-heros none is beter than Peter Parker ( A.K.A Spider-man) he is the prime example (beter than clark or bruce ) of what a realy person would be like if they got "strange new powers". peter faces the problem that being a super hero doesn't pay and takes up a lot of work/girl friend time. Bruce is rich and dosn't worry about women (he's got robin...nah I won't say that) and clark is everywhere, everytime doing everything, it's not real. Sorry this is so long but hey gota speak my mind.

oh and don't even get me started about GL

no matter where you go...there you are

06-10-1999, 01:39 AM
I once read a Superman "Elseworlds" story in which Lois Lane was pregnant with Clark's baby, but the fetus was superpowered, and when he kicked, he did serious internal damage to Lois. She ended up dying.

06-10-1999, 01:40 AM
A couple of general things....One thing I like about the Batman Animated series, was that if you listened to the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne, you realized that the voice actor had three different voices. There was the Batman Voice, Dark and Menecing, the Bruce Wayne Voice, kind of normal if a bit bland, and their was the Bruce Wayne to Alfred Voice, which was a little different from the other bruce voice, that was Bruce's real voice.

As for _Men of Steel, Women of Kleenex_, try to find a copy of Tom Smith's _Superman Sex Life Boogie_ for a hilarious send up on that essay.

&gt;&gt;while contemplating the navel of the universe, I wondered, is it an innie or outie?&lt;&lt;

---The dragon observes

06-10-1999, 01:51 AM
Of the two, I have to vote Batman.

And I appear to be the only person who thinks that Michael Keaton just *is* Batman. Val quite disappointed me, but a lot of that was due to script/plot.

My write-in vote, however, would probably be Wolverine.

"We're gonna have lawyers here. It'll be a fun time."

06-10-1999, 07:27 PM
Niven's essay was hilarious! In case you don't want to paste the url listed above click on:



"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way..."
--Jessica Rabbit,Who Framed Roger Rabbit

06-10-1999, 07:30 PM
That was a mistake! Honest!

The link to Niven's essay is:



"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way..."
--Jessica Rabbit,Who Framed Roger Rabbit