Let’s face it. Logic dictates that if they ever had to fight, there is no way Batman, a rich dude with no superpowers and lots of gadgets, can beat Superman, a Kryptonian who can fly, has super-strength, super-speed, heat vision, ice breath, and X-ray vision, and is invulnerable to bullets.
Of course, Batman and Superman have been good friends ever since they first met and worked together in 1952’s Superman #76, so it would take something drastic for the two to come to blows. But when it does happen, it stands to reason that Superman would probably have beaten Batman to a pulp even before he had time to take out a Batarang.
Of course, Superman being such a boy scout means that the number of times he has actually done so amounts to almost zero.
Batman, on the other hand, has no such qualms, and is always willing to do whatever it takes to beat the Man Of Steel if it ever came down to it, including resorting to all sorts of weapons and calling in favours from his other super friends. It is this willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done that convinced Superman to give Batman a Kryptonite ring to use on him in case he ever goes rogue.
It’s also the reason Batman has won so many of the major fights they got into over the years.
Because it is way more fun to watch Batman beat Superman than the other way around, here are five times that it actually happened in the comics:
The Dark Knight Returns (1986)
Featuring a Batman coming out of retirement to save Gotham, Frank Miller’s critically acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns is not only considered one of the greatest Batman stories ever published, but also one of the greatest comics ever, period.
Why they fight: Superman is a government lackey who is ordered to take down Batman.
How Batman wins: By cheating. A lot. First, he gets Robin to shoot him a few times with the Bat Tank’s cannon, then he uses a sonic gun on him before sending millions of volts of electricity through him (enough to blackout Gotham), goes one on one with him while wearing reinforced Bat-armour, spews acid in his face, and finally, gets Green Arrow to shoot him with a kryptonite arrow to weaken him while he beats him up some more. Now that’s just mean, Bruce.
The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001)
Miller’s sequel to The Dark Knight Returns wasn’t quite as great as the original, with a plot that involves Superman and the rest of the Justice League being blackmailed into working for Lex Luthor and Braniac. It did have another cracking beatdown of Superman by Batman, though.
Why they fight: Superman goes to the Batcave to stop Batman from interfering with Luthor’s operations, but meets more resistance than he expected.
How Batman wins: After his friends The Flash (who plants dozens explosives on him), The Atom (who bounces around his inner ear, working hell on his equilibrium), and Green Arrow (kryptonite arrow again) soften up the Big Blue, Batman finally shows up to deliver the final blows with his kryptonite-laced gauntlets.
Batman: Hush (2002)
One of the most popular modern Batman stories, Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb’s Hush has Batman investigating some uncharacteristic behaviour by his rogues, which leads to a showdown with a new villain named Hush. Along the way, he encounters all his greatest enemies as well as his allies, including Superman.
Why they fight: Batman’s investigation leads him to Metropolis, where he has to fight a Superman who is under the control of Poison Ivy!
How Batman wins: First, he lures Superman into the sewers so he can’t fly, then he sucker-punches him with a kryptonite ring, hits him with an arsenal including flashbang grenades and hypersonics, and tricks him into punching an electrical grid, before getting Catwoman to throw Lois Lane off a roof so that the mortal danger to the love of his life snaps Superman out of Poison Ivy’s control.
Superman: Red Son (2003)
An alternate “Elseworlds” story by Mark Millar that reimagines Superman’s origin story by having him land in Russia instead of America. Here, Batman is an orphan whose anti-establishment parents were murdered by Pyotr Roslov (this alternate world’s Pete Ross, and Superman’s boss).
Why they fight: Obsessed with killing Superman, Lex Luthor enlists the anti-Soviet Batman’s help to kill the Russian Superman.
How Batman wins: He lures Superman into a room filled with solar lamps that mimic a red sun, which of course, weakens Superman to the extent that Batman beats the Comrade of Steel easily. He then locks him in a broom closet illuminated by the red solar lamps. Superman only survives when Wonder Woman charges in to save him, and Batman then commits suicide to avoid Superman’s retribution.
Batman: Endgame (2014)
The Joker unleashes his ultimate plot, his endgame, against Batman, and releases a deadly toxin on Gotham that affects even his closest allies: Superman and the Justice League!
Why they fight: A more powerful strain of Joker toxin manipulates the Justice League, including Superman, into attacking Batman.
How Batman wins: Using Fenrir, a powerful and bulky armour suit designed to take on the Justice League, he manages to incapacitate the other members of the League. Superman is a different matter though, and after his helmet is ripped off, Batman resorts to spitting “kryptonite pellet gum” into Superman’s eyes to subdue him.