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Superheroes And Villains Who Have Beaten Superman

Superman is indisputably the most powerful superhero in the world. He's indestructible, has the most ridiculously comprehensive array of super powers imaginable (super ventriloquism, anyone?), and does it all with a friendly smirk just this side of smug. Considering how tough Superman is, though, there's a surprisingly long list of characters who have defeated him—heroes and villains alike.


On paper this is a complete mismatch, unless that paper is between the covers of a comic book. In that case, well, you can pretty much write Superman's epitaph, because Batman has time and again shown he has what it takes to put Superman six feet under. Usually, of course, the World's Greatest Detective wins thanks to the World's Greatest Cheat Code, a.k.a. Kryptonite—which, ironically, Superman himself gave Batman as a failsafe just in case Superman went rogue. In The Dark Knight Returns, Batman also had a couple other tricks up his sleeve, namely Green Arrow and a nuke. That isn't really playing fair, is it?


Spoiler alert, but in Batman v Superman, not only does Batman beat Superman using Kryptonite, Superman also gets killed by Doomsday. It's almost like Zack Snyder read the comics. Doomsday doesn't have any tricks or anything; he's a one-note villain whose only purpose in the comics is to kill Superman using brute force. In the infamous Death of Superman storyline, Doomsday did just that as part of a spectacular double K.O. worthy of a Mortal Kombat tournament. As villains go, Doomsday is pretty boring, but he got the job done.

The Avengers

Bet you weren't expecting to see the Avengers on this list, what with them being from a completely different publisher and universe and all. But Marvel's mightiest heroes did indeed put the ultimate smackdown on Superman in the pages of Avengers/JLA #2. In this hotly contested inter-universe crossover, Superman and Thor went toe-to-toe, mano a mano. Superman barely beat Thor, but ended the fight dazed and severely weakened. That was more than enough of an opening for Thor's buddies to do what they do best: avenge him. The team's heaviest hitters—Iron Man, Hercules, Wonder Man, The Vision, and She-Hulk—dogpiled on Superman and pummeled him unconscious. Pow!

Lex Luthor

Superman's archenemy Lex Luthor has defeated Superman so many times it's kind of hard to just pick one example. Of course, usually Lex proceeds to throw away victory through some kind of egotistical strategic gaffe. Our favorite instance of Lex dropping the hammer on Superman comes from the classic Superman #149, where Lex won Superman's trust—by curing cancer. With Superman convinced Lex had reformed, it was easy for Luthor to trick Superman into a fatal Kryptonite trap; Supergirl later brought Lex to justice for Superman's murder. It's a sad story, but on the other hand, Lex freaking cured cancer! Sorry, Supes, but that's not a bad tradeoff at all in our book.


Maybe Superman's most dangerous foe, Mongul is basically what you would get if you combined Doomsday's incredible physical prowess with Lex Luthor's cunning mind. An alien warlord who uses an entire mobile moon for a spaceship, Mongul has repeatedly gotten the better of Superman, beating him both physically and psychologically. Case in point: the classic Superman Annual #11 by Watchmen writer Alan Moore, in which Mongul trapped Superman inside his own daydream. Luckily for Superman and Earth at large, Robin defeated Mongul. Yes, Robin. We're not sure who should be more embarrassed, Superman or Mongul.

Muhammad Ali

For many people, Muhammad Ali is as close to a real-life superhero as we'll ever get, so it doesn't come as a huge surprise to learn that he once laid out Superman. Oh, who are we kidding? It's ridiculously awesome. The fight took place in the aptly titled Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, in which an alien army attacked Earth and proposed a simple contest of champions to determine the fate of the world. To decide who should be Earth's representative, Ali and Superman had a boxing match, sans superpowers, meaning it was essentially Ali vs. Clark Kent. Obviously, Ali knocked Superman senseless. In the end, he also defeated the alien champion in single combat, saving the planet. Thanks, Muhammad Ali!

Captain Marvel

Superman pretty much has only two major weaknesses: Kryptonite and magic. Unfortunately for him, Captain Marvel—a.k.a. Shazam, a.k.a. the World's Mightiest Mortal—is not only just as powerful as Superman, he gets those powers from, you guessed it, magic. That gives Captain Marvel a pretty significant leg up on Superman. The two have fought numerous times, and while Superman has often won in large part thanks to the fact that Captain Marvel is actually a little kid in an adult body, the Big Red Cheese has taken Supes down plenty of times with a well-timed bolt of sorcery from the blue. Shazam!

Green Lantern

Remember that part where Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite? Well, usually that's not such a big deal thanks to the fact that there's not all that much of it around. However, way back in DC Comics Presents #26, a villain posing as Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Earth, discovered a loophole: the Green Lantern ring can actually create a form of synthetic Kryptonite. Once the real Green Lantern knocked the bad guy out, the fake Kryptonite disappeared. And eventually, the power of Kryptonite-kreation was removed by comic book writers on account of it being, well, ridiculous. But Green Lantern eventually found a way to take Superman out: Hal Jordan bonded with the alien entity named Parallax and become a nigh-omnipotent evil god. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.


Speaking of people with magic on their side, there's Atlas. You know, the guy who carried the world on his shoulders in Greek mythology? Well, in the comics, he's... you know what, there's no way to explain it that makes any sense, so just trust us when we say that he's a wicked strong dude. And in Superman #677-680, he absolutely pounded the tar out of Superman, beating him—and everyone who tried to stop him—into a pulp. Luckily for Superman, he had an ally much, much tougher than even the Man of Steel: Krypto the Super Dog. Yup. Where Superman failed miserably, Krypto succeeded, taking Atlas down and saving Metropolis and the world. Good doggie!

The Joker

Finally, there's the Joker. In a supreme irony, even though the Joker has yet to figure out a way to defeat a rich debutante in a bat mask, he's somehow defeated Superman multiple times. For instance, in the Emperor Joker storyline, the Joker stole Mr. Mxyzptlk's powers and used them to reshape reality itself in the Joker's own image. That included sealing Superman away in Arkham Asylum. Shoe's on the other foot now! Meanwhile, in the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game, the Joker tricked Superman into murdering Lois Lane. Then the Joker nuked Metropolis. You know what? That's not actually funny. Effective, but not funny.