Truth, justice, and the American way. Those are the three things that Superman claims to fight for. He is the Last Son of Krypton, a hero to those in need. He has a heart of pure gold (not literally), and saves others rather than saving himself. Next to Batman and Spider-Man, he is probably the most recognizable superhero to ever exist. He is a cultural icon, and the embodiment of everything good and true.
Since his first debut in the Action Comics series, Superman has gone over a lot of revisions and re-tellings. Different versions of him exist throughout the multiverse, as well as big changes in his character. There was even one instance where he became a combination of himself, Doomsday and Braniac.
Because everyone knows Superman as the hero who is good for the sake of being good, then you would never expect him to kill, right? Wrong. As a matter of fact, Superman has had a long history of killings and not all of them were necessarily justified. Hey, every superhero has to have their dark points. But don’t worry, these probably won’t come to fruition in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Get ready to be shocked readers, because here are 10 times when the Man of Steel took a life, whether he was doing it to save the world, or for his own personal vendetta.
10. Man of Steel Climax
Yeah, I’m sure you saw this one coming. While he definitely didn’t intentionally kill anyone, Superman’s fight with General Zod resulted in the loss of many lives (as well as a big chunk of Metropolis). As a matter of fact, this event is what sets up the conflict for Batman V. Superman, as some of Bruce Wayne’s employees got caught in the crossfire. Many fans might have been upset by this take on Supes, but at least there will be some payoff for it in the future.
9. Phantom Zone Scum
The multiverse in DC Comics is a pretty complicated place, and one that has been used to set up many interesting storylines throughout its history. One of these storylines came to fruition when villains trapped in the Phantom Zone from an alternate dimension had killed every living thing in their world. They then decided to move to Earth. However, Superman was there to stop them. Instead of simply imprisoning them, though, he used green kryptonite to kill all three of them without even thinking twice.
8. Getting A “Head”
The Trinity War was a very interesting comic, as it split the Justice League apart into the League and the government JLA, and pitted them against each other due to the discovery of Pandora’s Box. During one of the battles, Dr. Light of the government JLA attempted to fight Superman. To aggravate him, he first attacked Wonder Woman, with whom Superman was romantically involved. However, that battle ended relatively quickly, as Supes blasted Dr. Light with his laser vision, blowing his head off. That’ll teach him for sure.
7. Doom for Doomsday
The Death of Superman comic is easily one of the best known Superman comics of all time (three guesses why). The premise is that an evil Kryptonian creation, Doomsday, comes to earth with one goal: to kill the Man of Steel. The fight between them is epic, and afraid for his life, Superman stops holding back. Lasting panel after panel, the outcome between them is undecided until the very end. Doomsday kills Superman, but Superman also kills Doomsday. They do this by the most manly way possible: trading punches to the jaw.
6. General Zod No More
At the end of Man of Steel, after all of the destruction and wreckage was over, Superman and General Zod find themselves duking it out in a train station. Superman then grabs ahold of Zod, holding him securely, thankful that it’s finally over. Zod, however, still had once last dirty trick and used his heat vision to threaten a nearby family. As the beam edged closer to taking the innocent lives, Superman knew that there was only one way to save them. Just before it was too late, Superman snapped General Zod’s neck, losing a part of his own soul in the process.
5. No More Tricks, Mxyzptlk
DC has a long track record of rebooting their comics over and over again. They wipe everything that occurred in the past and start over. Near the end of one of their runs, all Hell broke loose for Superman. Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen were killed, his secret identity was revealed, even his beloved dog, Krypto, was no more. Turns out that all of those events took place by the hand of Mr. Mxyzptlk, who had more power than anyone realized. Superman knew that he had to stop him, and with some quick thinking, trapped the magician between two dimensions, killing the prankster instantly.
4. Death of Superman
After killing Mxyzptlk, Superman didn’t take it very well. He lost nearly everybody and everything he cared about. All he had left was Lois Lane. He sat in solitude for a while, deciding what to do with himself. He came to the conclusion that the world didn’t need him anymore. So he retreated into the Fortress of Solitude, and with a sample of gold kryptonite, got rid of his powers. Nobody ever saw or heard from him again. It was assumed that the Man of Steel was dead. Even if he lived though, he would be a regular human, and Superman was no more.
3. Breaking the Clown
I love Injustice: Gods Among Us and the tie-in comics. It was really interesting to see such an alternate reality with all of the DC characters. It was an amazing “What if?” scenario. In that comic, the Joker tricked Superman and the result was a nuke going off in Metropolis as well as the death of Lois Lane and her unborn child. Filled with grief and rage, Superman rockets to where Batman is interrogating the Joker, interrupts the process, and shoves his hand through the clown’s chest. It was one of the most shocking events ever.
2. Judge, Jury, and Executioner
Before Superman became the life-preserving goodie goodie we all know and love, he wasn’t always as clean as he is now. In fact, from his very first issue, he would kill criminals and those attempting to out his identity without a second thought. He would then claim to authorities that he made sure “they all got the death penalty”. He let a man succumb to poison gas, dropped a truck of criminals off a cliff, and even shoved a man down the stairs. Luckily, that all changed eventually. For the most part.
1. Down with the Arrow
After killing the Joker in Injustice Superman decided to attempt to make the world a better place – by becoming its dictator. Alongside him were other heroes who agreed with his methods, who became known as Superman’s Regime. Naturally, Batman saw the error in Superman’s ways and formed what was called Batman’s Insurgency. They ended up coming to blows many times over. In one instance, Green Arrow of the Insurgency accidentally struck Pa Kent’s shoulder while fighting Superman. Enraged, the Man of Steel pummeled Oliver Queen over and over again, beating him to a bloody pulp. As he lay dying, Green Arrow’s last thoughts were an apology to Black Canary, his “pretty bird”.