Remember Death by Matthew McCullough, Free for CAPC Members
Matthew McCullough suggests that death awareness allows us to find joy in the problems of this world.
The question is nearly as old as superhero comics themselves and has been debated in just about every context forever. Who would win in a fight? Superman or Batman? Chances are if you’re reading this you are looking for some deep, cosmic insight into the entire mystery and have been plundering the universe for such knowledge and insight. Good news friends, this is the definitive guide to the greatest clash of all time. So let’s get down to it! We’re gonna evaluate the combatants, analyze their strengths and weaknesses, and then pit them against one another in a dual for the ages! Here we go:
Let’s start with Superman (aka Kal-El, aka Clark Kent, aka Man of Steel, aka Last Son of Krypton, aka The Metropolis Marvel). Superman hails from a foreign world and is in fact not human. Although he possesses humanoid form he was tossed violently from his home planet as his parents tried to save what was left of the Krypton people as their planet exploded from within. He landed in Kansas, where he was adopted and raised by some kind farmers as their own son. Surely an “All American” origin story.Loyalists to each side would claim their hero has the advantage. Superman has the death-vision and incomparable strength. Batman has the utility belt.
Superman’s powers are rather simple: super-strength, super-speed, super-hearing, all sorts of different vision powers (laser eyes, x-ray vision, telescopic sight), freezing breath, and—the coup de grace—he can fly. His powers are enhanced and strengthened by Earth’s yellow sun. He’s “faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound… It’s Superman!” And isn’t he super!?
As for weaknesses, historically Superman is known for one major downfall: Kryptonite. It sucks the life out of him, literally. Remnants of his planet that have scattered across the universe, including pieces that fell to our planet in much the same way he himself did, have ended up in the hands of his greatest foes. Lex Luthor, for instance, seems to have a veritable stock-pile on the material since he is always within moments of being able to produce Kryptonite and so weaken his arch-nemesis. Conversely, lead is the only material on Earth that can protect Superman from the power of Kryptonite, but it also limits him from using his x-ray vision. The elements are not kind to Superman.
Across the table, however, sits the hero/vigilante “Batman” (aka Bruce Wayne, aka The Dark Knight). Unlike Superman, Batman’s origin is very sad. Born to wealthy, aristocratic human parents Bruce watched his father and mother die as they were gunned down by the small-time criminal, Joe Chill. Being left an orphan with a huge estate, he was placed in the care of the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Boiling within his heart as a young man was a desire to have revenge and get justice upon the murderer who placed him into his tragic state. Taking the noble task of justice in his hands, he vowed not just to get justice for himself, but to bring crime to a halt in the city of Gotham.
Wayne’s powers are zero. None. Zilch. Nada. What he does have, however, is a seemingly infinite amount of wealth, a curious, detail-oriented, genius-level mind, a diverse team of supporters (butler, science wiz, police chief, and others), and some martial arts training. Also, don’t forget the infinite resources that are quickly produced from his ever handy utility belt. In an effort to maintain anonymity, he took up a symbol of darkness and fear—the bat—as an identity to strike terror and horror into the hearts of the wicked and unjust. This too serves as a great weapon and equalizer in any good fight.
Batman’s weaknesses happen to be his greatest strength: he is human. He possess no super powers. He can bleed and be beaten. As powerful as he is, he also shares our same frailty.
So who would win? Loyalists to each side would claim their hero has the advantage. Superman has the death-vision and incomparable strength. Batman has the utility belt. At the end of day, if we modified the fight in various ways, we all know who would win. Various pundits of “The Fight” would like nothing more than to alter said fight and strip it down to it’s bare essence.
If you simplify the fight to being versus being, then you have an alien from outer space who is physically superior to one of the best physically trained, resourceful, and sculpted of humanity—and the fight would certainly go to the alien. But this fight cannot be reduced to the mere essence of its parts, because if you just took a naked son of Krypton vs a naked son of Adam then there is no real fight. It’s Kal-El versus Bruce Wayne. That, however, isn’t the card we are pitching.
No, instead we are bringing their identities fully to bear. Superman versus Batman, and everything those names entail. Can the best of Krypton beat the best of Earth? The answer is simply no. For the mere reason that the Son of Krypton is no greater naked than he is wearing his red underoos on the outside of his blue leotard and flappy cape.
The Son of Adam, however, is far greater clothed in a superior garment. Wearing the symbol of the night, possessing the armor of strength and wisdom, brandishing the cowl of conviction and justice, and having a magnificent business relationships with LexCorp places in our heroes hand the very means by which to overcome the alien orphan. Fully affirmed by his father and supported not merely by his independent self, but by a host of fellow humans willing and able to come to his aid, the great cloud of witnesses surrounds him to cheer and enable him to persevere. Bearing the Kryptonite rock of offense, he breaks the teeth of the alien—one who lives in prideful independence and isolation, seeking to be God. In his humanity, the Son of Adam brings down the lofty and self-exalted one and rescues the people from every Riddler, Joker and Bane who brings a curse upon his brothers and sisters. The fight is clearly decisive and the Victor triumphs over all things.
It was foretold at the beginning of time that the Son of Man would crush the serpent who fell from the heavens. Jesus always wins.
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