The Great Debates: Superman vs. Batman

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It’s a debate that’s been around for decades upon decades, thanks to the comics, and with Superman putting a new movie into the mix this weekend, I felt it was the perfect time to hold a discussion here and see how FMR visitors felt.

Who do you choose? Superman or Batman?

Click through to read the tale of the tape!

Superman

SupermanFirst Appearance: Action Comics #1 (1938)

TV Series: Adventures of Superman (1951), Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993) Smallville (2001)

Movies: Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), Superman Returns (2006), Man of Steel (2013)

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Superman came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. He has since used those abilities not only to protect truth justice and the American way, but to serve as a symbol of hope and inspiration.


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Batman

BatmanFirst Appearance: Detective Comics #27 (1939)

TV Series: Batman (1966)

Movies: Batman: The Movie (1966), Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), Batman & Robin (1997), Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Batman has no super powers, merely abilities that arduous training can provide. Heir to billions when his parents were killed, he eschewed the playboy lifestyle and instead trained to become an instrument of justice. Ever since, he has struck fear into the heart of criminals!

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Well, there you have it folks! Two of the greatest superheroes of all time!

Who do you choose? Why?

Let us hear it!!

Daniel Fogarty

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149 thoughts on “The Great Debates: Superman vs. Batman

  1. Batman has always been my favorite superhero. Superman is so popular and iconic and all, but he doesn’t stand out like Batman does. Plus, Nolan’s Batman movies make the superhero real and relatable, which is a very difficult task.

    • Batman has an easier path to realism, there’s no doubt about it. Kudos to Nolan for capitalizing on it.

      I don’t know that I would ever imply that Superman doesn’t “stand out” though Garrett ;) LOL, you’re talking about one of the greatest fictional characters of all time, what else would you like him to do? 8O

      • I get that Superman is the definitive superhero. What I mean by “stand out” has more to do with the fact that virtually every hero with special powers seems to be modeled after him to some extent and it kinda makes him seem a little less unique to me. Whereas Batman has become a much darker hero, doesn’t really have any powers, and seems much more realistic than other supers. That just seems to make him stand out more to me.

        Sorry, I should have been more specific the first time. :)

  2. Very easy choice for me today Fogs. I have and will always be a dedicated fangirl to Bats right down to the very core of my being.
    He’s dark and brooding, tragic and flawed. There’s so much pain in his life that has motivated him to fight for and defend people who aren’t able to do so for themselves. Which obviously stems from how vulnerable and helpless he was to prevent the untimely deaths of his own parents.

    Superman to me, I don’t get it. He’s dropped onto Earth as a baby, and yeah Jonathan and Martha raise him to be a decent human being so it stands to reason that he would grow up to help and save others. But it’s so boring! Where are his flaws? Where is the hardship? When do we ever get to see the mental and physical scars from the burden of always having to save the world? You get to see that with Batman, most notably to me through the Knightfall story arc.

    The other great thing about Bats is that his comics have established this legendary pantheon of villains. The Joker, Bane, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, etc. The stories are made that much more compelling because of these truly iconic villains that we as fans have come to love just as much as we love Bats.

    • Batgirl, huh? Ok, that’s cool.

      Sad to see all these people calling Superman “boring” though. Damn, I hate that… what’s boring about being able to fly and having super strength and all of that? Just because he doesn’t get all caught up in Batman’s brooding freaking mopey ass angst doesn’t = boring. LOL

      Cant even argue the villains point though. Even though Lex Luthor is my favorite comic book villain, Bats villains are SO much better than Supermans that its not even a discussion. Not even close. 8O

    • Ugh, there it is again with the boring.

      I’m fine with anyone who choose Batman, obviously, but I strongly disagree about Superman being boring. Just because he’s not brooding doesn’t make him boring.

      God I hope Man of Steel is good. :roll:

      • I’ve read a lot of Batman comics. I’ve read a lot of Superman comics. I’ve loved both, and I’ve hated both. Which one I like most very often comes from who’s writing it. And there’s no doubt that Batman on the whole has been treated better in other media be it movies, cartoons, or video games. And it’s definitely true that Batman has more memorable villains (quality is something I could possibly debate… a lot of Batman villains are terrible).

        But when it comes to the core of the characters, there’s just something about Superman that is just… better. It has nothing to do with superpowers. It’s that I believe that it’s just as heroic to show restraint in the face of adversity. It’s about using your gifts selflessly instead of selfishly. It’s about overcoming set-backs and tragedy and rising above them instead of making them your only reason for being.

        Both Superman and Batman were victims at a young age. Superman refuses to remain a victim. Batman wears his victimhood on his sleave and it informs his every action.

        Finally, Bruce Wayne is a rich a-hole. Clark Kent is a damn good reporter, and believes in the press as an agent of good. I’d much rather hang with Clark Kent than Bruce Wayne.

      • LOL @ Bruce Wayne being a rich asshole. :D

        You’re right, Superman’s brighter outlook is a big selling point for me too.

        “I’ve read a lot of Batman comics. I’ve read a lot of Superman comics. I’ve loved both, and I’ve hated both. Which one I like most very often comes from who’s writing it.” Add in who’s drawing it, and that’s true for any comic!

        Batman’s starters are way better than Superman’s. Yeah, you can find some losers on Batman’s bench, but you could on Supes’ too. ;)

      • Something clicked reading your response to Fog here.

        “Something about Superman is just…better.”

        I think, that concept specifically, is why Superman has lasted so long as a superhero.

        Now, I’m a Bat-fan through and through (read my comment earlier) but I think Bats and Supes serve two different parts to our human emotions.

        Bats serves the vengeance/justice-served side of us. Yeah, we hear stories about terrible things and we all think “man, someone should hang that sh*tbag off the side of a building until he cries. That’ll teach him”. We all think it and wish we could do it, but Batman does it. He does the things (to an extent) that we as normal folk would love to do to the criminal underbelly of our society.

        But Supes. Supes is what we all hope to be as a society. He’s better than us. Not just on the strength aspect. He’s kind, caring, understanding (unless it’s Superman 3 and he’s drunk). Supes represents what we hope to be as humans – better.

        So, while I still enjoy the mythos of Batman far more than Superman, I would never trade one for the other. They both reflect us as fans as we want to be at certain points in our lives.

      • “He’s kind, caring, understanding (unless it’s Superman 3 and he’s drunk).”

        Incidentally that was the best part of Superman 3. This is what happens when Superman loses control of what really makes him Superman. Without the goodness, he’s pathetic, mean-spirited… and very, very scary. What makes that scene perfect is that Superman doesn’t even go full on supervillian. He’s just doing jerk things like putting out the Olympic flame and being super uncomfortable toward Lana Lang.

        But that’s all it takes, right? A guy like that with all those powers who’s not being the paragon of truth and justice … he is dangerous. All he has to do is show a moment’s hesitation about saving people when he’s on that sofa with Lana Lang and you know something has gone very, very wrong.

      • LOL. Here I am about to make a comment about Superman as our ideal, and Santo makes a comment about Drunk Supes from Superman III :D Santooooooo…. LOL

        You have a valid point Trevor, they’re diametrically opposed in many ways, and Superman is the shining ideal side of the coin. Batman in a lot of ways is a dark recess kind of character… almost vigilante (not that Superman has any kind of license or anything LOL)

      • Seriously, what the hell is up with that double standard on the vigilantism? Batman does it and its all “HE’S A VIGILANTE AND NEEDS TO BE STOPPED!” but Superman doesn’t and its nothing but “ooohs” and “aaaahhs” and “why is he wearing red underwear on the outside?”

        Apparently Metropolis cops don’t care that Superman is doing their job while Gotham cops see the threat to their job security.

  3. Hi, Fogs:

    No contest… Batman!

    Cooler character and toys. Longer lasting mystique with Gotham and the night. One superb protagonist in The Joker. Has to be rich, should his identity be revealed and he finds himself open to lawsuits.

    Would loved to have seen DC cartoonist/illustrator Joe Kubert take a crack at drawing Batrman during Joe’s ‘Sgt. Rock’ heydays of the late 1960s and early 70s!

    • Ha! A Joe Kubert Batman would have been cool, there’s no doubt about it. ;) Nice point about the toys. I suppose that’s another inarguable checkmark in the Batman column (along with the Villains).

      Gotham vs Metropolis is still up for debate though. I don’t think I’d like Gotham too much ;)

      • Gotham has hotter ladies though. Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Batgirl…. sure, hooking up with 3 out of 4 of them is liable to get you killed. But still!

      • Hi, Fogs:

        Gotham has always and will always be Chicago. Even though Gotham has been laid out like Manhattan in their comics and graphic novels for years.
        With many bridges and landmarks named for past artists and illustrators.
        There’s even an “Otisburg” for all you Superman fans!

        While Metropolis, originally thought of as akin to Kansas City, Missouri. Has always struck me as a 1950s World’s Fair Pavilion depicting Manhattan. All shiny and clean. With a futuristic, deco appeal.

        Of the two, I prefer Metropolis.

  4. I voted for Batman, not because I think Superman is boring — people are being far too quick to throw that accusation at him — but probably because he seems to have a better selection of villains. I have to say though, nothing quite gives me goosebumps more than seeing Superman avert a plane crash, or some other type of disaster, and save human lives. I don’t really get that from Batman. Nor do I think Superman is without flaws. His one big flaw is that he’s a boy scout, something that a villain can exploit to their advantage.

    I like them both really, but Batman edges it.

    • “I voted for Batman, not because I think Superman is boring — people are being far too quick to throw that accusation at him” – Thank you! I totally agree! He absolutely can provide a certain level of action that Batman can’t, it’s true! I hope Man of Steel showcases that.

      Batman absolutely does have better enemies, though, there’s no doubt. ;)

  5. I’m not a comic book fan so based purely on the movies…I have to go with Superman…the Richard Donner film is my favorite superhero movie.

  6. Batman. By far. Also, you didn’t mention Batman: TAS or Superman TAS in your write up. I realize you can’t list all the cartoon adaptations, but those two, Batman especially, were and are very important.

      • I never got into “The Batman”, but Brave and the Bold was great (I stopped watching it, not sure if its still on or not). Went to a B&B Comic-con panel with all the voices in attendance and they premiered an episode even. It was good stuff. That was a fun panel! :D

    • They were great, yeah. But both of these characters have had far too many comics and cartoons to get into listing them.

      Batman gets a narrow edge in their TAS, primarily for me because it was the first. I really loved Superman TAS too.

    • Hi, pgcooper:

      Excellent point!

      ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ went out of its way to get everything right! Loved the 1950s Art Deco architecture and cars. And the incredible use of shadows in their night time “Gotham Noir’.

      Voice actors were second to none! From Kevin Conroy on down, due to Andrea Romano’s superb ear. I still marvel at Mark Hamill being the voice of the Joker.

      While ‘Superman: The Animated Series’ was a more serviceable
      extension of the comics. It didn’t find the uses for the city and characters that ‘Batman TAS’ did.

      Still enjoy the premiere ‘World’s Finest’ with Batman in Metropolis taking on Superman, The Joker and Lex Luthor. The cat fight between Harley Quinn and Mercy is epic!

      • “I still marvel at Mark Hamill being the voice of the Joker.” LOL, I know, right? And how awesome was he at it? He was great!

        I thought Superman TAS was great too though.

    • Batman is more complex… he’s more… weighted down, so they have to pay him more emotional heed. Personally that’s a strike against him in my book, but I can see why people would vote for it CK. ;)

  7. Don’t read the comic books, just know the TV series and the Movies. Superman has plenty of conflict, it is just different. Two Jokers (Heath and Jack) do not trump one Lex Luthor (Gene The Man Hackman) “The Greatest Criminal Mind in History.”
    I tear up at the Donner Superman and The Dark Knight.
    George Reeves vs. Adam West, tough call; Christopher Reeve vs Christian Bale, easy call Reeve (he has all the charm and charisma).
    Slight edge to the strange visitor from another world. He fights for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” Nuff said (Stan Lee Joke).

    • Oh man. Let me settle that movie debate right now Rich, Ledger’s Joker TOWERS Over Hackman’s Luthor. I know you love the man, and that’s fine he’s a great actor, I’m not comparing the two in that regard. But Luthor was practically a clown, and not in the Jack Nicholson kind of way… who crushes Hackman’s Luthor too, I have to say. 8O

      Ledger’s Joker is one of the greatest movie villains EVER. Telling you buddy. EV-ER.

      • Blasphemy!!

        No kidding Heath Ledger had a better Role and was amazing in The Dark Knight. Jack just gets to do a bigger Jack, funny but not brilliant. Lex Luthor as a character is in three of the movies (3X as much as either of the others). Luthor’s plans are more clever. (except for IV) and he gets more humor. Yes he’s a clown, a evil self centered clown rather than a psychotic clown. Now if Ledger had a henchman like Otis and an underground swimming pool, or he double crossed Batman and Two Face in the same scene like Luthor did to Zod and Superman, then maybe.

        (Facetiousness thy name is Richard)

        You play the bear, I’ll play the sharp stick.

      • I’m still waiting for a big screen Lex Luthor half as good as either of his famed cartoon incarnations :roll: Clancy Brown was still the best Lex Luthor ever in my book, and there’s something unfortunate about that (not to take anything away from the brilliance of that character in S:TAS or JLU)

      • I think we’ve had this discussion before, but I’ll reiterate: Hackman’s Luthor is a great adaptation based on the Silver Age Lex, who was part mad scientist, part huckster.

        Clancy Brown and the animated team had the benefit of patterning off the post-Crisis Lex, who is more of the cold, ruthless businessman that we’ve come to be familiar with.

        These days in comics, Lex seems to be a mix of both, the head of LexCorps that is also hands-on with the R&D group.

  8. Tough choice, I love Superman, Donner’s Superman II, Lois & Clark, and a lot of Smallville, but I also love Nolan & Burton’s Batman, the 90’s animated series, and the Dark Knight Returns. In the end, I picked Batman. I saw someone tweet that Batman is typically more popular in first world countries because the stories are deeper, and Superman is more popular in third world countries because he represents hope and escapism. Not sure if that’s actually true, but it’s an interesting point.

    • That is an interesting point. Of course hope and escapism can still appeal here, too, certainly.

      I don’t know how much “deeper” the Batman stories are, though, especially if you bring the scope out beyond just movies. If we’re talking JUST movies, of course, Bats crushes Supes in just about every way :(

  9. I love them both! I’m a huge comic book fan and have tons of their books. Both are so different and their unique friendship is a cool thing in the DC Universe. As for my favorite, it has to be Batman. What a history and the greatest comic book rogue gallery!!!

    • I actually think that Batman is the best character in the books too (though I voted Superman). I have been downloading the Paul Dini run on Comixology and enjoying it immensely. God, can we get him on the Nu52 already? The Grant Morrison run, where Dick Grayson was Batman, was really fun as well.

      Superman, though …. I don’t think anyone has gotten him right since John Byrne. (And that includes Grant Morrison. I know everyone loves All-Star Superman, and while it has good scenes, I feel Superman was far too godlike and not the salt-of-the-earth Clark Kent type than I prefer.) There are a tone of great Batman stories post-Crisis. Not so many great Superman stories. The Paul Cornell run on Action Comics was probably the best … and that’s because it focused entirely on Lex Luthor and his creepy Lois-Lane-bot!

      • I enjoyed the Superman books when Geoff Johns was on Action and Kurt Busiek was on Superman. Greg Rucka’s run on Superman was also very good.

        And I thought Morrison’s take on Superman was brilliant in All-Star Superman, but he was essentially writing a modern take on Silver Age Superman.

    • Their friendship IS really cool. Love when they team up.

      I think Superman has an equally cool history, but you’re right, Keith there is absolutely no comparison between their villains! 8O

  10. I’ll definitely go with Superman. 1.) He’s the epitome of a superhero (whilst not of a 3-D character), and 2.) he’s got brave fashion sense — putting underwear over his tights. But mind you, I like Batman a lot, and a whole lot more because of Heath Ledger’s performance as Joker in Nolan’s TDK. But I’m still a Superman guy.

    Funny, Fogs, because I actually have this sort of discussion (without a lot of people responding) in my blog. It’d be great if you pay a visit and key in your thoughts. Thanks man!

    • Armand, sorry, I don’t allow folks to post links to their own blogs here unless I give the green light, ok? It gets out of hand, Im sure you can understand. I’ll try to stop by if I get a chance.

      Meanwhile, Superman’s a pretty well rounded character, not sure what you’re saying with the 3D thing. LOL, at least Man of Steel is taking care of the underwear thing. ;)

      No doubt though, Batman’s got the best villains.

      • Well, I guess then I should have said I do understand what you’re trying to say, I just disagree with it. ;) In the right hands, Superman IS a “three-dimensional, multi-layered character”. He’s had numerous great comics and cartoons that have explored his character in depth. Unfortunately, on the big screen, he hasn’t gotten that kind of treatment yet. :(

  11. Superman could break open the Earth to defeat Batman. Batman has… what, a batarang?

    Hand’s down fight, Superman wins every time. And I don’t get why the writers of the comics have to assume that Bruce Wayne is somehow smarter than Clark… if Clark has all these vaunted powers, wouldn’t it make sense that he might have an enhanced brain as well; which would negate the argument that Batman could outthink Superman.

    • How about the fact that he should be able to take of Batman from a distance, either with his heat vision or freeze breath or use his super speed to come speeding in, instead of standing toe to toe so he can be knocked out by Kryptonite? Lol *sigh*

      I don’t know that the high IQ due to the yellow sun stands to reason though… ;)

      • I don’t know if it’s due to the yellow sun, but Superman does have genius-level intellect. He’s not the detective that Batman is, but he’s every bit of the scientist.

        Whether any given writer has Superman use that intellect or not is another thing.

  12. No doubt Superman. Don’t get me wrong I like Batman and most superheroes in general, but Superman is the best because of his willingness to be human and treat those that are clearly beneath him without contempt. Batman does have better villains that there is no doubt of, but how many of Superman’s villains (other than Lex) could Batman really fight without help? Brainiac or Darkseid would be far to powerful otherworldly a pair of foes for Batman while the Joker or the Riddler while more interesting, would easily be vanquished by Superman. Also, I think that people identify with Batman more because of his emotional depth which drives him as a character but in my opinion that makes Superman better because he overcomes his emotions and his problems to be the hero that he has to be.

    • I totally agree about Superman’s temperament and outlook being a huge positive attribute for him. Many a times Batman is portrayed as outright sullen, and that’s just not as appealing to me as a hero with a positive attitude.

      The argument about Batman needing help to take down Superman’s enemies though really traces back to a comparison between their powers, and there, obviously, Superman is the champ!

  13. It’s Bats for me all day long. I’ve always thought that Superman was just TOO good. I mean, he’s virtually indestructible. Batman is much more vulnerable to me and always feels in much more danger than Superman. Plus Batman is human, which I think helps to identify with him a little more. For me, anyway.

    • I never really hold Superman’s alien origins against him. I wind up just thinking of him as a superpowered person even though that’s not the case. Batman is in mortal danger more often, but that’s probably a function of the Superman creative team for whatever project not establishing a villain menacing enough. Certainly they’ve done kind of a poor job of it so far onscreen. :(

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