Superman or Batman?

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

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

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.”

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.

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

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?!

Sounds like a good question for the Great Debates forum. Granted I’m using the word “great” loosely, but you get my drift.

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!

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?

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.

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…

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

You’re all missing the point.

Batman is better because his costume is cooler.

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

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.

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.

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…

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.

<<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 .

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