Batman Vs. Superman: Collider Takes You Through the History of the Greatest Tussles of the “World’s Finest”

     September 4, 2013


The Dark Knight vs. The Man of Tomorrow.  The Caped Crusader vs. the Last Son of Krypton.  Bruce Wayne vs. Clark Kent.  However it’s framed, Warner Brothers is releasing the sequel to the financially successful Man of Steel in the form of Batman vs. Superman on July 17, 2015. With the recent casting of Ben Affleck as Batman, it’s difficult to not speculate how the clash of these titans will take place.

Luckily, there is ample evidence to examine how these two heroes will come to blows. Hit the jump for Batman and Superman’s greatest brawls for a look into what scenes Zack Snyder may decide to use for his much anticipated sequel. 

The Dark Knight Returns

superman-vs-batman-the-dark-knight-returns“I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat.”

Considered by many to be the pinnacle Batman/Superman fight, The Dark Knight Returns takes place in the distant future as an elderly Bruce Wayne returns to the cape and cowl, protecting Gotham City with a much harsher brand of justice. After a final fight with the Joker, the U.S. Government sends their number one weapon after the Dark Knight: Superman. During their city-flattening fight, with Clark seconds from defeat, Bruce self-induces a non-lethal heart attack to preserve both their lives, allowing him to return to fight crime in Gotham in secrecy.

This fight exemplifies the differing ideologies between these two heroes to a tee, with Batman using everything at his disposal to fight an unstoppable force, including Gotham’s electric grid, a Kryptonite arrow, a super powered battle suit, and, most importantly, his mind. Dark Knight Returns shows Batman as the vigilante he is, fighting outside of the law, shrouded in darkness. Conversely, Superman fights in the light as a government lackey who follows orders rather than thinks independently. While this battle does not portray Clark positively, it shows his unbreakable loyalty and his willingness to do what he believes to be the right thing, including coming to blows with his best friend.

Considering The Dark Knight Returns creator Frank Miller has been brought in as a consultant for the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, expect many aspects of TDKR’s story to seep into the movie’s screenplay.

Superman: Red Son

superman-vs-batman - superman-red-son

Written by Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar, Red Son shows us an alternate universe where Kal-El landed in the Soviet Union rather than in the U.S. under the care of Jonathan and Martha Kent. While Superman still finds himself a protector of the populace, his methods and character are vastly different from the American Way-preserving Clark Kent we know. Batman is essentially the good old Caped Crusader, only with a much more stylish hat at his disposal. This Dark Knight still loses his parents and remains a dark avenger, but his purpose is fighting crime and Superman’s regime. This fight also ends with Batman inducing a heart attack, except it is caused by a bomb surgically implanted in his chest.

Though the Superman and Batman of Red Son are worlds different from their current manifestations, there are some constants. Superman remains a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with, his power illustrating how truly terrifying he can actually be. As was illustrated in this summer’s Man of Steel, Clark is “more powerful than a locomotive” and these powers will be put to the test when matched against Batman’s strategy. In this iteration of Batman, Bruce’s ruthlessness and strategies as a tactician are his notable attributes. Though he may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, give Bruce time to come up with a plan and he will find a way to do so. All of these abilities will hopefully come into play in 2015’s summer blockbuster.

World’s Finest

superman-vs-batman - worlds-finest

This animated TV movie, released by Warner Brothers animation, finds Batman and Superman meeting for the first time with explosive results. In typical comic book fashion, the heroes come to blows at the beginning of the story due to a misunderstanding. Superman discovers Batman’s secret identity through the use of his X-ray vision, while Batman eventually does the same through sheer skill and detective work, a great way to point out the parallels and differences between these two characters. Eventually, the two join forces to fight the duo of Lex Luthor and the Joker, as the villains band together in an attempt to put an end to their respective foes.

What World’s Finest accomplishes is not only displaying the differences between these two heroes, but their respective worlds and supporting characters. Bruce Wayne is alone as head of Wayne Enterprises, globe trotting and avoiding hostile takeovers when not sprinting across rooftops in black attire, occasionally receiving a phone call from Alfred, his butler who acts as the closest thing he has to family. Clark Kent, on the other hand, is a journalist in a busy metropolitan newspaper, surrounded by coworkers who genuinely care about and respect him. At the end of Man of Steel, Clark joined the ranks of Lois Lane and Perry White at the Daily Planet, so expect them to play a significant role in Batman vs. Superman, as they had in World’s Finest.

Justice League: Tower of Babel

superman-vs-batman - justice-league-tower-of-babel

Written by comic creator Mark Waid, Tower of Babel finds Batman villain Ra’s Al Ghul defeating the Justice League one-by-one with plans Batman himself had created to take down his fellow superheroes in case they ever went rogue. While Superman and the rest of the Justice League do not face Batman directly, they face their own weaknesses as defined by the man they called their friend. While the Justice League comes out triumphant, they decide that Batman is no longer trustworthy enough to remain a part of the team and he is kicked out…for a few days at least.

This story best exemplifies the weakness of Batman and the strength of Superman. Batman’s trust issues forced him to create contingency plans to defeat his super-powerful cohorts without telling anyone because Bruce tends to think in worst case scenarios. Superman, on the other hand, is almost too trusting for his own good. He sees the best in people and does everything that he can to bring that out in them. Superman is an inspiration while Batman is someone to be feared. This story could also be used as a springboard for Warner Brothers’ upcoming Justice League movie, finding the team working against both external and internal threats. In fact, WB Animated used this premise for their animated direct-to-DVD feature, Justice League Doom, so the execs at WB certainly see its potential.

Around The Web
  • Murdoch

    Great Article! Loved the quick recap. Although i am surprised you didn’t bring up the Superman/Batman comic that was started by Jeph Loeb, inspiring the Public Enemies and Supergirl animated movies. I think THAT highlighted their differences and similarities better than anything else, without making one appear less heroic than the other.
    Also, i honestly think that unless DC wants to risk following Avenger’s story beats, they REALLY need to do something unique and different with how their team comes together. I can’t think of any plot point more relevant than addressing the fact that Batman thinking its potentially too dangerous for all the world’s God-like heroes to come together and start a team, thus actively discouraging the formation of said team in the first place to the only superhuman he began to trust after MOS 2: Superman.

    • Evan

      Thanks so much for the kind words!
      That’s a great case for the Superman/Batman series with Public Enemies and Supergirl, though they didn’t fight one another so much physically, as mentally if that makes sense. Their differing ideologies are certainly the biggest draw, for me anyway, when it comes to watching these two go at it.

  • Alec Safreno

    Aww come on! What about the Hush battle! It wasn’t big or long, but it was the perfect battle to show how much thought Batman needs to put in and how carefully he plans his fights against Superman.

    • Kpaqu1

      Because The Dark Knight Returns did it first.

    • bidi

      i like the Hush battle because it also shows their friendship and trust they have in one another. Superman gave Batman the kryptonite ring because Batman was the only man he trusted, and the only man he knew could take him down, if necessary

    • andicw

      Yeah, I gotta say the Hush battle should be included. Even though Supes is controlled by Ivy, Batman makes the point that deep down Clark is a good person and Batman isn’t. There are plenty of points where Supes could just obliterate Batman but it doesn’t happen because hes constantly holding himself back, even when hes under the control of Ivy. Plus the kryptonite ring and how he stages the battle are both absolutely bad ass. Although, I’m thinking Batman, at least in terms of the story, shouldn’t receive the ring from Clark until the end, or if he does have it before that he should offer to give it up/ destroy it but Clark tells him that he NEEDS to keep it, just in case he ever goes off the deep end

    • Evan

      The Hush battle was pretty fantastic, I’ll give it that, but we only have so much space in each of these articles, so I tried to really touch upon the ones that I felt stood above the rest (and Supes was mind controlled in the Hush fight and Bruce’s planning was really accentuated in both the DKR and Red Son fights, so I feel like I might tread water were I to throw that one in as well.)

      Thanks for reading!

  • Hopeless

    Fantastic read. I am not a comic book reader, so I am fairly poor on the whole Superman vs. Batman rivalry. I just love that the point was concise and it made me super interested in which route WB will take for the sequel. I personally find the Tower of Babel storyline very fascinating and I’ll admit it will be tricky to translate on the big screen, but I would be one hell of movie if it worked. And I totally agree that it would be a great backdoor to the rumoured Justice League movie. Fingers crossed.

    • Radiationman

      Tower of Babel would BE the Justice League Movie…what should be happening is superman and batman battle it out, batman realizes just how bad things could get if Clark ever went rogue and starts creating his profiles…the next movie to come out would have to be another independent JLer and insert cameo from batman as he notices another dangerous hero who needs to have a contingency plan.
      If you look at the Avengers path, character introductions…a little crossover during each, and then a final colaboration. If WB doesn’t do this, they may not have a very successful JL movie.

  • sense11

    Great Piece, thank you

    • Evan

      No, thank you! Keep swinging by Collider for more articles like this coming your way!

  • Jamesy

    Great article, straight to the point. I have only really became a comic book fan through these movies, so it’s great to be given a little bit of info on each comic. I think the best way for DC to go with the MOS sequel is to take a few elements of each of the above and combine them to come up with a really great story, all of these elements could work really well if done right.

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  • Nomis1700

    I think the last two are the best to draw a screenplay from. And I still hope they go with the World’s Finest title, it seems just right for it!

  • Javan Clark

    You missed the Jim Lee/Brian Azzarello arc where Superman and Batman (almost) come to blows. Only this one shows the relationship in the proper light. Not sure why there seems to be this need to have Superman always be inferior to Batman… or that they are eternal enemies.

    The Dark Knight fight is the pinnacle? It was an analogy for the impending fight between comic creators (Batman) and the Big Two, Marvel and DC (Superman).

    For years, creators had been (rightly so) complaining about not having any stake in the characters and story lines they created. At the time, Marvel and DC owned everything that appeared in the pages of the comics they published, lock, stock and barrel.

    Fast forward to 1986- The Dark Knight Returns is published. At the time, the anger at the status quo in the comics industry had never been higher. The Dark Knight Returns would be the first salvo. Six Years later, Image Comics was founded under the philosophy of creator owned comics for a new generation of comic creators.

    Make no mistake. It is a watershed moment, one of the best comics ever created. But please, stop using it to define the relationship between the two characters… there are reams of stories out there that do a much better job.

  • Kpaqu1

    I was referring to Batman’s planing out how to defeat Superman. Never said they were the same thing or done the same way.