Superman is often considered the boring, goody-two-shoes character in comic books due to the fact that he often lacks any real sense of scope thanks to his incredible power. Because of this, fans of comics and Superman films alike often feel let down whenever they see the character on screen because it’s hard for a God-like character to have any real sort of threat, resulting in stale scenes and comic books.
In his most recent appearances on the silver screen, Henry Cavill portrays the titular hero to very mixed and mostly subpar critical reception. The actor’s first debut as the hero in the film Man of Steel (2013) was an underwhelming film and left many fans upset at the fact Superman breaks one of his only rules when he kills General Zod at the end of the film.
In his second appearance, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Superman is forced to take arms against Batman until the two eventually must come together with the help of Wonder Woman to defeat Lex Luthor’s Doomsday creation, which comes to life when the body of General Zod is reanimated and set loose on a destructive rampage. The film had some cool moments, but once again was a very divisive film.
With the newest DC film releasing in the winter of 2017, Justice League, fans are hoping that this next adventure on the silver screen will be a return to form for DC, but the jury is still out on that one.
In the meantime, here’s a collection of characters who could hold their own against Superman (and a few who definitely couldn’t).
15. Could Destroy Superman: Sentry
The Sentry is a fairly unknown Marvel superhero when compared to the likes of Iron Man or Captain America. In my book, he’s the best bet the Marvel Universe roster of heroes would have at defeating Superman. His strength levels are off the charts, but he has a very dark side that sometimes takes over control of the hero. I think this is what fundamentally sets the character apart from Superman because you get to see someone with God-level powers have a fatal flaw, and that’s what makes for compelling storytelling and characters. Superman is too perfect in just about every sense of the word, and his lack of constant imperfection makes him a static unchanging character. And to be honest, Sentry at his full power capabilities could probably give Superman a run for his money and then run him into the ground. Hopefully, Sentry gets his own film soon!
14. Could Destroy Superman: Batman
Batman has, on many occasions, proven himself to be one of Superman’s strongest allies but also his greatest threat. As a character, Batman essentially acts as a watchdog over his pal Supes and always has some form of Kryptonite up his sleeve (sometimes literally) in the event Superman begins to get out of hand. As far as strength goes, Superman outranks Batman in any category of that nature, but Batman uses this to his advantage by always being one step ahead of any of his opponents, making him a great adversary to Superman. Of course, the most notable battle between the two occurs in “The Dark Knight Returns,” which sees a hardened, older version of Bruce Wayne once again don the hood of the caped crusader to take down Superman. The battle is long and bloody and was a huge source of inspiration for the 2016 film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
13. Could Destroy Superman: Hulk
The Incredible Hulk has always been one of my favorite characters in comic book history because it seems like he always has more room to grow in terms of sheer strength and anger. In certain runs of the comic book series, we get to see the Hulk’s strength grow exponentially as he takes on more and more damage, which is what I think earns him a spot on the list of people who could take down Superman. One could argue that the closest thing in the DC Universe to the Hulk is Doomsday when comparing things like size and strength. And we’ve all seen the amount of damage Doomsday can do to Superman (but more on that later). As far as comparisons to Doomsday go, the creation of the Hulk and Doomsday exist tangentially as they were both the results of science experiments gone wrong and operate on one emotion alone: anger.
12. Could Destroy Superman: Goku
I’m almost 100% sure that the comments section is going to have a field day with this one, but it’s time to set something straight: Goku could definitely take down Superman. I’m not the biggest fan of the Dragon Ball series (never really watched it growing up), but I can respect just how incredibly powerful Goku is. And that’s just at his base power level. The more he climbs in Saiyan level, the less likely Superman’s chances of survival are. Now, of course, the argument to be made is that no one can kill Superman and that he’ll only be put in a coma while he regains his strength, but I see any character capable of doing that as someone worthy of being on this list. This debate is always such a hot topic because I think it’s fair to say that we haven’t seen the full capabilities of these characters in a way that would give us a definitive answer, so the battle rages on.
11. Could Destroy Superman: Saitama
My personal favorite on this list is the man who’s a hero for fun, Saitama. Made famous by the One Punch Man series of manga and anime, Saitama is so strong and trained with such rigorous intent that it caused his hair to fall out. Maybe if Superman was bald, he’d be a more serious threat. Joking aside, Saitama is capable of inconceivable feats, most of which have still yet to fully materialize themselves. Whether it be the fight with Boros or Saitama’s spar with Genos, Saitama would easily be able to hold his own against Superman and would probably be able to do so without so much as breaking a sweat. In all honesty, this article should be about Saitama and how literally no one holds a candle to him in terms of strength or durability. I also think it would be hilarious to see the look on Superman’s face after one of Saitama’s “Death” punches.
10. Could Destroy Superman: Aquaman
Aquaman has been the butt of so many jokes ever since Family Guy decided to rib him for his portrayal in the old Justice League and Super Friends cartoons of the 1960’s. Since then, people have vastly underestimated just how powerful Aquaman is, and I think that’s one of the best things about the character. In the New 52 run of Aquaman, he proves that he’s capable of so much more than just talking to fish and demonstrates this by being able to lift and move an entire city block singlehandedly. On top of that, Aquaman becomes comparable to Poseidon himself in his home turf (or rather “surf”) and has an entire ocean of creatures and debris at his disposal, making him a formidable opponent for Superman and someone who could take him down after a brutal fight. I’m interested to see how powerful Aquaman is in the new Justice League film and can’t wait to see Jason Momoa‘s portrayal of the character.
9. Could Destroy Superman: Doomsday
In all honesty, not much of an explanation is needed for Doomsday as someone who could destroy Superman, considering he’s already taken down the superhero on multiple occasions. In the famous “Death of Superman” arc in DC comics in the 1990s run of Superman, we get to see Doomsday wreak absolute havoc across Metropolis before Superman and he engage in one of the most brutal fights in the DC universe at the time, which results in the “death” of both characters. Of course, I choose to put death in quotation marks because, in the comic book world, no character ever stays truly dead for long. Doomsday is the perfect antithesis to Superman, and that’s why I justify his inclusion on this list. He starts every battle at full power without any regard for human life, and that alone makes him capable of destroying Superman and everything he stands for.
8. Could Destroy Superman: Iron Man
The best thing about Iron Man is his ability to remotely control his suits, making him a nearly invincible hero. This power is what I suspect would come into play if a battle between Iron Man and Superman were to ever take place. Looking also at Tony Stark’s incredible design technique and disposable income, we get to see a huge variety of Iron Man suits designed for each situation. In the Avengers comics, Tony has a Hulkbuster suit designed to stop the Incredible Hulk. That’s right, Iron Man has a suit that can take down the Hulk, one of the strongest characters in the Marvel universe. Now take that suit, and modify it to handle someone with Superman’s moveset, and you’d be golden. Lastly, you know Iron Man would have the dopest Kryptonite powered Iron Man suit that could punch a hole right through Superman’s chest. Any questions?
7. Would Never Stand a Chance: Duke Nukem
Oh, Duke Nukem. What a sad, sad fall from grace you had. From being one of the best first-person shooters in the mid-1990s, the series no longer holds the critical acclaim it once did. Its titular hero, Duke Nukem, is a cigar-smoking and one-liner-filled army of one. His games featured ridiculous weapons and explosives. Sadly, I don’t think ol’ Duke would be able to shoot his way out of a showdown with Superman. With his dumb, blind luck, Duke would probably be able to use some of his gadgets to survive the fight, but ultimately, Superman could easily shut down Duke Nukem in an instant if he really wanted to. Of course, maybe Duke would be able to have a fighting chance if the Superman he was fighting was the one from the absolutely horrible Nintendo 64 game with terrible controls and gameplay. Maybe Superman and Duke aren’t that different after all.
6. Would Never Stand a Chance: Spider-Man
Don’t get me wrong; I love everyone’s favorite wall-crawler and would even go as far to say that he’s my favorite superhero of all time. With that said, however, I doubt that our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man would be able to do much in a battle against Superman. I think Peter would be able to hold his own and dodge most, if not all, of Superman’s attacks, but at the end of the day, what would Spider-Man be able to do to Superman? Web him up for a little bit? And honestly, if Superman got Spidey to a place where he was unable to use his webs as a method of traversal, it would essentially handicap the hero.
5. Would Never Stand a Chance: Deadpool
I can imagine I’ll probably get a lot of negative comments about this one in particular, given the success of Ryan Reynolds‘s portrayal of the character in his most recent big-screen debut in 2016. In the film, this less-than-ordinary superhero does whatever it takes and usually leaves a trail of violence and jokes behind him. His battle with Superman would probably be the most entertaining of anyone on this list and for good reason: Deadpool can regenerate his body at an incredible rate, similar to Wolverine of the X-Men. The fight would go on for a while with Superman realizing the only way to shut up Deadpool would be by completely obliterating Wade Wilson. The complete opposite of this entertaining fight would be if they used the old Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where Ryan Reynolds also played the character, but no one liked it, and he had laser beams that shot out of his eyes. Ridiculous!
4. Would Never Stand a Chance: Beast Boy
Beast Boy may be a powerful superhero when it comes to taking down small-level criminals and thugs and more dangerous threats alongside the Teen Titans, but he would be no match for Superman. As a character, Beast Boy is able to transform into any animal or beast he desires, whether it be a bear or a bird. This adaptability makes him a very tactical fighter, capable of assessing threats on the fly and then transforming himself into whatever creation he thinks would best handle the situation. The downfall of Beast Boy is that he is just that, a kid. His youthful exuberance and recklessness are exactly the kinds of things that would lead to his downfall in a battle with Superman.
3. Would Never Stand a Chance: Thanos
Thanos is strong. He’s a powerful threat, but in all reality (and all realities for that matter), Thanos is truly not that intimidating without the Infinity Gauntlet. He has so much power and fear associated with him because of the absolute destructive power of the gauntlet. Take that away, and what do you have? A skilled fighter and tactician, sure, but against Superman? My money is on the old red cape. I’m interested to see how powerful Josh Brolin‘s version of the character will be in the new Avengers movie, so maybe, the common perception of Thanos’s capabilities will shift, but only time will tell. I imagine the argument that has raged for decades over who is stronger and over who between Thanos or Darkseid would prove a more challenging fight than Superman and Thanos. What do you think? Would Thanos be able to hold his own in a fight against an alien god?
2. Would Never Stand a Chance: Cyborg
I’m so excited to watch as Cyborg continues to rise in popularity due to his inclusion in the new Justice League film that will release toward the end of 2017. Growing up, my first exposure to Cyborg as a character was in the Teen Titans show on Cartoon Network. In all honesty, that show was my first introduction to DC as a comic mega company, and it was a great first experience. Cyborg stands out as a hero because he doubles as a living weapon and hacking machine. He’s capable of transforming parts of his body into weapons, like his trusty arm cannon that would put Mega Man to shame. Sadly, Cyborg’s greatest strengths would also be his greatest weaknesses in a battle against Superman. Clark could easily fry all of Cyborg’s equipment with calculated heat vision that would render the bionic apertures useless but still leave Cyborg alive if the fight was intended to be non-lethal. Talk about a fight being over in a flash.
1. Would Never Stand a Chance: The Wonder Twins
The Wonder Twins have always been some of the most useless heroes in my book and for good reason! I was always surprised they never quite got as much flak as Aquaman did from the Super Friends show that aired during that same era. For the uninitiated, the Wonder Twins are, as their names suggest, twins, but they’re less than wonderful, that much is for sure. Their power consists of using a magic pair of rings that they both wear. When they put them together, they’re able to transform into just about anything they can think of. It’s a pretty terrible superpower to have because it requires you to be dependent on another person for your own survival and success as a hero, and that can really be their true downfall. All Superman would have to do would be to literally separate them, and would be instantly defeated. Come to think of it, there should be an article on who CAN’T defeat the Wonder Twins because I’m pretty sure anyone could.
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