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Superhero Rivalries That Don't Make Any Sense

Superheroes may exist in their fictional worlds to fight evil, but a lot of times they prefer to fight one another. That's not surprising. Even in the real world, when tempers flare, things can unfortunately devolve into fisticuffs or worse. If you had the strength to rip through steel or could shoot heat beams out of your eyes, it's a good bet the temptation to settle disagreements with violence would be a lot more powerful.

Readers certainly don't complain very much when heroes clash. Lots of fans have their favorites, and they want proof their favorite super person is better than your favorite super person. Who's stronger: Thor or Hulk? Who would win: Batman or Deathstroke? Who's... stretchier: Plastic Man or Elongated Man? A number of popular superhero films of the past few years — like Captain America: Civil War, Batman v. Superman, and Thor: Ragnarok — had battles between heroes as their set pieces, and even other superhero movies usually have some kind of hero-on-hero action.

Some pairs of heroes have decades-old rivalries so heated it's almost a letdown when they work together rather than fight each other. But those rivalries aren't always based on meaningful differences. Sometimes the difference in raw power between two heroes is just too huge. And sometimes, both heroes clearly just need to stop skipping therapy sessions and take a spa day. If you don't believe us, check out these superhero rivalries that don't make any sense.

What's REALLY cool about Batman

In large part because of the success of Frank Miller's now classic Batman: The Dark Knight Returns — specifically its conclusion that featured an aging Bruce Wayne beating the tar out of Superman – Batman went from being a fallible and human hero to the master strategist who could take anyone down. Before Dark Knight Returns, no one really imagined Batman represented a physical challenge to Superman, because he didn't. And his mother's name didn't have anything to do with it.

The Batman/Superman rivalry makes no sense. Before Batman could even get off whatever gargoyle he was perched on, Superman could turn him into a puddle of goo with the heat beams that shoot from his face. Then he could breathe on the Bat-goo and freeze it. Then he could throw the Bat-goo into orbit, and could see and hear it as the Bat-goo ascended to the heavens.

The Batman/Superman rivalry, based on the tired notion that Batman is just so cool that he can beat anyone, forgets what's really cool about Batman — he knows that if he had to fight Superman, it would get him melted into a puddle of goo, but he'd do it anyway. With batarang or bat-a-whatever held high, he'd leap at the Man of Steel, knowing he was about to resemble melted cheese. He wouldn't be the melted cheese we deserve. He would be the melted cheese we need.

Daredevil and Punisher are both morons

Daredevil and Punisher have a rollercoaster relationship. They're often enemies, but they can also be uneasy allies. When they work together, eventually the guy with the skull on his chest who carries all the military grade weaponry surprises Daredevil by trying to kill someone, and that's when the honeymoon ends. The thing is, either one of these two could easily end their rivalry without doing all that much.

On one hand, Daredevil's really just being silly. Sure, maybe the first couple of times they fought it made sense for Daredevil to try to stop Punisher. But eventually, if you're Daredevil, what do you do? There's this guy who's killing criminals because he thinks it makes the world a better place. Do you risk your life to stop the guy who's stopping crime on a much more longterm basis, in the meantime failing to stop any crimes you might otherwise stumble upon if you weren't busy fighting the Punisher? Or do you maybe consider that if you just left him alone, you'd have a much lighter workload next week?

On the other hand, the bloodthirsty Punisher might consider just murdering people somewhere other than Hell's Kitchen. Seriously, Frank. You don't even have to leave New York City. Just don't kill people in Hell's Kitchen. Murder people in Brooklyn. There's a big world out there with lots of people to murder. Spread your skull-wings, crazypants.

Let it go, Wally

When Kyle Rayner replaced Hal Jordan as Green Lantern in the late '90s, it was not to universal acclaim. Some fans were so passionately opposed to the change that they organized the group H.E.A.T. (Hal's Emerald Attack Team), who went so far as to pay for ads in industry trades, appealing for Jordan's return. H.E.A.T. and any other Rayner haters had an unexpected friend in one of Kyle Rayner's Justice League teammates — Wally West, a.k.a. the Flash.

When the Justice League's flagship title was relaunched in 1997 as JLA, Rayner and West found themselves on the same team — and while other members of the League had doubts about the new Green Lantern, Wally West was a straight-up jerk to him for most of their time together, including when they were in action. Flash constantly trashed Rayner — as early as JLA #1 – often suggesting or outright saying he wasn't worthy of the Green Lantern ring. 

When West and Rayner worked together in the League, Rayner was the only Green Lantern. So exactly what did West think he was going to achieve with his insults? If Rayner had quit, it wasn't like there was a Green Lantern Corps hotline the League could call for a replacement. Why would you want one of the guys watching your back less confident? There are really only two possibilities — either West had a Dead Pool going with some other Leaguers, or he's just a moron.

Guys, she's not impressed

While at times they've managed to earn each other's mutual, grudging respect, Cyclops and Wolverine have hated each other's guts almost since the moment they met. Initially, their rivalry made plenty of sense. When so many new characters were injected into the X-Men franchise with 1975's Giant-Size X-Men #1, Logan was the edgiest and one of the most popular new members, while Cyclops was one of the only holdouts from the old guard. Cyclops was reserved, thoughtful, and careful; Wolverine was careless, impulsive, and a loudmouth. Their mutual love for Jean Grey just made things worse. 

But the thing is, this is a dance that's gone on for far too long. Cyclops and Wolverine have spilled blood on the same side of too many battles to remember. The years calmed Logan down and loosened up Scott. In the years since the two first met, there have been more different X-teams than there have been presidents, and both Scott and Logan have received multiple chances in the team leader spot. If they ultimately couldn't bury the proverbial hatchet, they should have plenty of chances to stay away from each other. Not to mention that both have enjoyed plenty of romance and really should be able to let go of the fixation on Jean. Considering they're each one of the most important figures in the fight for mutant survival, there's a strong argument to be made that both should have loftier priorities than "Does Jean like me the bestest?" 

Bats, you should be thrilled.

Not everyone was happy when Hal Jordan was finally brought back in 2004's Green Lantern: Rebirth. Batman didn't trust Jordan, and his old teammate rewarded his distrust with a knuckle sandwich. It wasn't the first time Batman would lock horns with a Green Lantern, and it wouldn't be the last. One of the most well-remembered moments of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis' Justice League America was when, in the fifth issue, Batman knocked out the loudmouth Guy Gardner with a single punch. 

That the Green Lanterns aren't fans of Batman makes sense. The main criterion of being worthy of a Green Lantern ring is fearlessness, and Batman — like the Green Lanterns' old foes the Sinestro Corps — uses fear as a weapon. 

What's confusing about the rivalry is Batman's side of things. Batman is the self-appointed guardian of an entire city. He's a champion of justice, law, order, and domestic surveillance. When Batman first learned that an intergalactic police force existed, with individual members given jurisdiction over specific slices of the cosmos, it should've been a religious experience for him, proving to him that the universe wasn't as chaotic as he feared. He should've been so happy that he would've needed a cigarette afterward. Maybe he couldn't get past never getting his own invitation. He had to build his own stuff. No super rings and no big meetings with other guys in similar costumes. Just the occasional holiday dinners where he gave out new batarangs to whoever Robin was that year. 

They kind of had a "thing"

The Thing/Man-Thing rivalry only lasted one issue, but it's worth mentioning because the reason for the conflict was remarkably dumb.

Marvel Two-in-One #1 opens with Ben Grimm reading a newspaper article about Man-Thing. The story enrages him solely because the swamp monster has "stolen" the Thing's name, so he takes a bus to the Florida Everglades to confront the beast. He finds Man-Thing, but he also finds the vengeful son of Molecule Man. In typical comic book team-up fashion Thing and Man-Thing team up, then they fight each other, then they team up again.

So, in the end Thing and Man-Thing don't really fight all that much. But just consider that in the first page of Marvel Two-in-One, the Thing is somewhere in the American Southwest. Imagine a bus trip from some place like Arizona or New Mexico to Florida — and you're Ben Grimm, so you're made of rock, you're almost completely naked, and it's the '70s, so you're still a smoker. And you're on what must be at least a three- or four-day bus trip to beat up a swamp monster on the other side of the country whose name isn't even really quite the same as yours. 

You know, if that's how low Ben Grimm's criteria is for violence, maybe Doctor Doom really is the good guy in that whole thing between him and the FF? 

Stay classy, Clark

The decades-old rivalry between Superman and Captain Marvel (a.k.a. Shazam) goes far beyond the panels. In 1940 DC Comics (then called National Comics) sued Fawcett Publications, claiming Fawcett's hero Captain Marvel was a Superman knockoff. DC won the suit in 1951, and Fawcett's superhero comics folded. Captain Marvel would eventually become a part of DC's superhero universe, and he and Superman continued to pound on each other on a regular basis including in Mark Waid and Alex Ross' classic breakout miniseries Kingdom Come.

It doesn't take a hardcore comic book fan to figure out why this rivalry makes no sense. You don't even need to have ever read a single comic — you just need to have seen the Shazam! trailer

What's wrong — what's honestly, disturbing — about this rivalry is that Captain Marvel is a child. Literally. He's not an adult. He is a boy, and when Superman is fighting him, Superman is fighting a boy. DC may have won the lawsuit, but in the panels, this is really just a lose-lose situation for Superman. Think about it. When these two fight, if Superman wins? Then Superman just beat up a kid. If Superman loses? Then Superman just got beat up by a kid. Superman should do everything to avoid a fight with Captain Marvel. Let him stay up past nine or tell him the Star Wars prequels are just as good as the others, whatever.  

Would you jump off a bridge if they told you to?

In 1973, Marvel had a crossover event between their Avengers and Defenders titles. Spanning respectively from Defenders #8-#11 and Avengers #115-#118, the event featured members of both superhero teams battling each other to capture pieces of an artifact called the Evil Eye. It wouldn't be the last time the Avengers and Defenders would clash, but it was for the dumbest of reasons. 

Dormammu fooled the Defenders into gathering pieces of the Evil Eye, while Loki tricked the Avengers into thinking the Defenders were gathering the artifact for nefarious purposes. In every other Avengers/Defenders clash, some kind of mind control or manipulation came into play, but not here. The heroes of the "Avengers/Defenders War" bought a huge bottle of Stupid Pills at the pharmacy and took way more than the recommended dose. 

The Avengers probably took more pills than the Defenders. Dormammu used magic to fool the Defenders, after all. The Black Knight had been turned to stone, Doctor Strange tried to contact him with his magic, and Dormammu intercepted the message and responded as if he were the Black Knight. Whereas Loki — the god of lies and the Avengers' first foe — showed up at the mansion, told a bunch of lies, and the team just said, "Why would he lie just because he hates us and lying is the thing he's actually a god of? Let's go fight! Yeah!"

Clark, can you just let someone else get a win?

The Superman/Flash rivalry isn't a violent one, but an ongoing contest of speed. Ever since 1967's Superman #199, the Flash and the last son of Krypton have occasionally raced because of the question fans have wanted answered for decades — Who's faster? Superman or the Flash? It's a good question, but what's so strange about these races is that they continue.

Think of this rivalry from Superman's point of view. Imagine you can fly. You can bench press mountains. You can breathe in space. Bullets and tank shells and missiles bounce off you like they were made of foam. You can melt steel with your eyes and put out fires with your breath. You can hear a thief picking a lock ten cities away. You can see DNA. You are the undisputed alpha male of a planet, and you're not even from that planet. You can beat up anyone, lift more than anyone, fly farther, hear better, and see more than literally anyone on your planet. But all of that? Not good enough. You still need to prove you're faster than everyone else too, even the dude — your teammate — whose whole job is being fast.

Seriously. Superman is a jerk.

Logan, maybe stick to Cyclops?

The absolute king of nonsensical superhero rivalries also happens to be one of the most popular — the rivalry between Wolverine and the Incredible Hulk. There is something undeniably cool about the match, and something that fits with Wolverine's character — a small but vicious warrior set against the biggest, strongest monster he could find. It makes for good art and maybe even a good issue – one good issue. But the idea that they could be rivals is bananas. 

The Hulk fights gods and, more often than not, wins. The Hulk holds mountains on his back. In Planet Hulk he literally saved Sakaar by holding the planet's crust together, and subsequently in World War Hulk he almost destroyed North America just by stomping really hard. Wolverine is not the guy who is going to give the Hulk a good fight, and this was demonstrated in their very first meeting in Incredible Hulk #181, when the Hulk took Wolverine out with one relatively light bonk on the head. 

In the classic Dark Phoenix Saga, Wolverine attempted to infiltrate the Hellfire Club alone. He had some success, but was ultimately taken out by a few of the Club's henchmen, who pummeled him with clubs. Wolverine is a tough guy, but the guy who gets taken out but a bunch of dudes with clubs? That is not the guy who makes the Hulk break a sweat. That's the guy the Hulk swats away as he turns his attention to Colossus.