An age-old debate has been brought to the collective minds of not only comic fans but also movie buffs alike. Of course I’m speaking of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (The debate on why the film was not called, ‘World’s Finest’ will have to wait for another day).
Whether you fall on the side of Powers<No powers or the Preparedness<Moral dilemma has split comic fans since the characters first met in 1952’s Superman #76 in a story called, “The Mightiest Team on Earth”. Aside from beating the Avengers to the title, the issue didn’t solve much other than get into some sitcom level shenanigans (It was the 50’s after all). Of course the staple of the two icons coming to blows is The Dark Knight Returns, which up until that point, it was generally assumed that Superman could easily defeat Batman and any other asshole that wore a cape faster than a speeding bullet. However, Frank Miller showed us that with a bit of planning, even the big blue boy scout can be taken down a notch or two and it was here, that the eternal debate was sparked and has raged ever since. Even the film used iconography and concepts from the aforementioned miniseries as the basis for the showdown of titans. I think the best way to tackle this debate is to look at each side equally and see how they measure up.
Right off the bat (no pun intended) we take a look at the most obvious of super strengths (no really…I don’t make puns this often) in the corner of one of the contenders. The fact that Superman has abilities far greater than mortal man has given the edge to the Man of Steel for decades now. I mean one of his biggest criticisms is literally that he is too powerful (First hero problems, right Supes?) Making Superman too powerful was one of the downfalls of the golden and silver age versions of the character. Hell, that was one of the specific mandates from TPTB when the original Crisis on Infinite Earths came out was to make Superman less powerful and more original, i.e. kill everything with an S-shield on it other than Kal-el. The perception of Superman was that he is literally a god among men and to think that some piss ant rich boy with a penchant for black spandex and toys for the occasion where his fists just won’t do (The porn versions writes itself, doesn’t it) has the slightest chance of even mussing up Big Blue’s hair. Sure, Bats has his brains and vast wealth to get anything he needs for the fight but the simple fact of the matter is, Superman could level Wayne Manor and the bat-cave in less time than it takes the line to form at IHOP on all you can eat pancake day.
With all that said, Superman would never willingly hurt an innocent or even criminals. Incapacitate? Sure. And if we’re being 100% honest, Batman is hardly innocent and gets away with quite a bit. Superman took that, ‘keeping all heroes weakness on file just in case’ shit pretty lightly. It could be argued that Superman gave him the idea when he trusted Bruce with the Krytonite ring in case Superman ever went rogue, but let’s face it, Batman at his core is paranoid as hell. But let’s face (comic) reality here ladies and gentleman. We are talking Batman here. A man whose life was robbed from him in the blink of an eye by senseless crime, one in which he swore to avenge. He spent the better part of the next two decades honing his skills in preparation for ‘what if’. After a couple of years of fighting standard criminals, which evolved into gimmicky villians, then this asshole comes along. The great white hope of mankind, Jesus in blue tights and red boxers. A man who the people call boy scout when Batman is clearly a better illustration of the term (be prepared ring any bells?)
When it all comes down to it, Batman and Superman are both on the same side. Do they see eye to eye on every situation? Hell no! They are two separate entities. They will have a difference of opinion from time to time. That’s what best friends do. Conflict makes for good storytelling after all. Unless a villain with some type of mind control is present or the ever-popular red K makes an appearance, the fight would never go the distance. What fans of either side of the debate don’t take into consideration is that neither one of them would kill. For some reason, they only look as far as power sets as opposed to actual characters. Now, a fight between Apollo and Midnighter? Somebody’s taking a dirt nap after that one.
So for now the debate shall rage on until the end of time. Which is part of the fun of it all really. Differences of opinion spark conversation. Just remember to keep it friendly. The videos linked in the article were done by the knowledgeable folks over at Variant Comics over on YouTube. Go check out their stuff and if you like them. gie them a subscribe, which to be totally honest you’ve probably already done if you’re reading this article. And if you like what you read here, give me a sub as well. I update often and I’m usually good for a laugh or two.