March 27, 2016 by RJ
REVOLUTION JOHN: We should stage a debate among two great friends on the Batman vs. Superman situation, or, as I prefer to call it, the Superman vs. Batman situation.
JERENY TACKETT: I’ll lay it out this way. Sure, anyone can beat Superman with Kryptonite, including you or I. Now, acquire some Kryptonite. Go on, I’ll wait. It’s pretty much a thing in the comics that Kryptonite as you might expect is exceedingly rare. The only bits of it on Earth are traded among villainous characters for exorbitant amounts of money. Bruce Wayne could afford this but since he is not typically privy to such villainous underground networks (the bad guys gotta have their resources too) nor would he do business with them if he did, it’s left to him to create a synthetic form of Kryptonite. Something he is suited to as he is a chemical engineering genius. Now that you have the Kryptonite, gear up in some armor so that you can get close enough to Supes to use it. Go on, I’ll wait. Yeah, Bruce is also a mechanical and electrical engineer so he can invent stuff like heavily reinforced battle suits. Heavy enough to withstand a punch from Superman. Now that you have your have your armor and your Kryptonite, you have a Superman who is basically a mortal man, but a mortal man trained in fighting skills (in the comics he was trained in some martial arts by Batman. Ha!) but he also knows some basic Kryptonian combat systems as his father’s left behind training holograms have taught him. So, go fight him. Again, Batman is uniquely suited to this as he is competent in 127 forms of martial arts and is actually a trained assassin although he does not use his skills to kill. Add to all of that the fact that he’s a genius and the world’s greatest detective and you’ve got a dude that the comics have shown is pretty much capable of beating anyone. I mean, in the Justice League storyline Rock of Ages he defeated one of the Gods of Apokalips. Yeah, he beat a god. He also beat Hulk in a rare Marvel crossover. Of course he has to use gadgets and strategy to accomplish these things; he is human. In fact he’s the only human capable of hanging with a group (Justice League) made up of aliens with superpowers or mutated/enhanced humans. Most of the other characters have a particular weakness or weaknesses which can be exploited. Batman’s only weakness and one that proves time and again to not be a weakness at all but perhaps an asset is his humanity.
RJ: Well put. However, it begins and ends with the fact that Batman can die and Superman can’t. Superman did have his power drained and appeared to die after battling Doomsday but some time spent in the regeneration matrix in the Fortress of Solitude fixed that nicely and resulted in his inevitable return to full power. Batman is the superhero of Man, but Superman is the Superhero.
JT: Actually Batman has died a couple of times and returned as well. Remember it’s a comic book universe where anything can happen.
Plus, Superman only has super powers because of our sun. On Krypton he had no super powers, so his powers are circumstantial and based on where he’s fighting. Where he’s fighting (most of the time anyway) is on Earth, the abode of Man, and thus being a homeless guest on our planet is second to the hero of Man by default but that’s neither here nor there. Who’s to say what effect Krypton’s red sun would have had on someone like…Batman. On Kal-El’s planet the roles might have been switched. Somehow I don’t see him being quite as resourceful as Bruce Wayne in dealing with an alien who acquired super powers through the rays of his home planet’s sun. We’ll never know though.
RJ: Fair points all, though you rightly mention it’s neither here nor there. I would point out (in honor of what I have now named in my head The Great Friend Superhero Debate) that your admittance to Batman’s immortality (which I intended to leave silent in the background as an accommodating gesture) does work powerfully against many of your earlier points on Batman’s general, I don’t know, regular billionaire flesh and blood guy status. If both he and Superman are immortal, then there is no Vs. situation to consider. There can be no actual end to a battle. It’s possible that’s where the conversation would remain. I’m not sure, honestly. I suppose, as with a boxing match that works out to full rounds, there could be judges who could consider punches thrown/ punches landed. On related notes, I think it’s great that an indestructible dude took karate lessons from a guy who can get the same skinned knee as I can. That’s actually pretty cool. And a little insane, yep. So I would definitely have difficulty with making a case for Superman’s sanity. I mean he already has split-personality disorder, not to mention massive daddy issues. Resourcefulness is a round the Bat would certainly take, but Superman, packing admittedly a huge mental deficiency, would take most of the rest, celebrating by lapping the planet a few million times before the judges had left their seats. Batman is the poster child of, as you said, humanity; Superman is literally a god. Resourcefulness and ingenuity can only hold off an act of god (so to speak) for a certain amount of time. But then I stray. The instinct is to side with humanity against any god. And that instinct works out fine as long as the gods allow it. With Superman as a victor, humankind loses. But the hurricane doesn’t hear this; it simply rolls on, eating up our best intended defenses along the way.
JT: In the end, they’re both immortal as long as the comic book writers want them to be. The resurrection of both of these characters was pretty contrived in all cases and existed solely because some comic book writer decided that he wanted to write another story about them. Neither will ever be killed permanently as, again, they’re fictional creations who are brought back time and again due to their immortality in the eyes of fans. However, if we want to go by a real world sort of thing, neither of them are actually immortal in the literal sense of the word. Superman has many powers but that isn’t one of them. He can be killed permanently, as can Batman. Now, taking purely to history Batman has beaten Superman in the seminal work, The Dark Knight Returns. However, he had previously taken measures to stop himself before any terminal end was brought to the battle, not to mention the whole Batman doesn’t kill thing. So he wouldn’t have killed him anyway, but…he could have, at least in that story. Whoever writes the story though will pick their favorite and he’ll come out on top. In my stories Batman will always come out on top because Superman isn’t literally a god. He’s just another being in the universe who had the good fortune of ending up on a planet that made him powerful. Batman is smarter than Superman, I don’t think that’s a point that can be argued, and in my book the brain will always find a way to beat brawn. However, the battle between the two will always end the same way…when they realize they’re actually on the same side and they decide to stop fighting each other and face the bigger threat. I haven’t seen the movie yet (and whatever happens in the movie will not be canon for me as the comics always trump the movies), but I already know that’s how the battle will end. It is the dawn of the justice league after all.
RJ: Good debate. Fun.
JERENY TACKETT is a father, husband, poet, pagan, nature lover, ghost hunter, scribe, cryptozoologist, noisemaker, codebreaker, and liberal. Sometimes NSFW. Find him on Twitter @JerenyTackett.
SHELDON LEE COMPTON is the founding editor of Revolution John. He is the author of three books. Visit sheldonleecompton.wordpress.com.