Superman Returns opens this week in theaters all over the world amid much hoopla. The big selling point is that Superman Returns reinvents the Man of Steel for a whole new audience. Apparently, the story takes place after the events of Superman II and completely ignores the other two Chris Reeve sequels. That’s a good thing. Last year the same thing happened with Batman Begins. An all new actor and an all new makeover allows those whose saw them to forget all about Val Kilmer and George Clooney. I’ve only seen parts of those two movies, mercifully. First Batman gets a new lease on life and now Superman. It tends to bring up an age-old debate that still rages between the fans of both superheroes.
Superman versus Batman. Who would win? It’s been a debate going back as long as the two have been around. I really don’t see why it’s a debate, however. The answer is so simple: Batman would destroy Superman.
It’s a simple deduction that Superman fans seem curiously unable to grasp. Let’s face facts here, people, if Kal-el, Superman’s real name, were back on Krypton, he’d probably be a newspaper reporter there, too. Why? Because on his home planet of Krypton, Kal-el would have no special powers. He wouldn’t be able to fly and see through things like he does here on Earth. He would be just another average guy because, well, on Earth he’s just another guy who just so happens to be able to fly and see through things. Superman doesn’t catch the bad guys because of superior intelligence or reasoning; he catches them because he’s faster and stronger. But back on Krypton he wouldn’t have that advantage. So, you see, whether Clark Kent or Kal-el, the guy would probably be holding the same job.
Bruce Wayne, on the other hand, can’t take advantage of his alien powers. He is just an average guy, but with superior qualities that Superman doesn’t possess. Bruce Wayne is certainly smarter than Superman, of that even Superman fans should be willing to admit. After all, Batman must devise all his special gadgets and weapons. He also must have far batter powers of deductive reasoning since he is required to always be one step ahead of the villains. Batman, to put things simply, is a self-made superhero. Superman is a superhero by virtue of the quirks of physics.
It is interesting that both these superheroes have been reinvented cinematically within the space of a year, give or take. I personally found Batman Begins to contain some very positive things (turning the Batmobile into a Humvee-type monstrosity was definitely not one of them), especially the attempt to expand on how Bruce Wayne came to be capable of being the fighting machine that Batman is. I seriously doubt that any such things can happen in Superman Returns. (Obviously, as I write this, I have not actually seen the film). Superman’s story cannot be tinkered with in the way Batman’s can in order to turn him into something that would present him as a viable opponent in a fight with the Caped Crusader. Superman’s entire persona is built upon the fact that his abilities only exist in an atmosphere such as exists on planet Earth.
That Batman would have little if any trouble kicking Superman’s butt comes down to one word: Kryptonite. Bruce Wayne is so smart and clever that he would figure out a way to get a piece of that and-Bam!-the fight would be over. But I would posit Batman wouldn’t even need Kryptonite to beat Superman. Superman has superior strength, true. And that would present a difficulty, but Batman has faced superior powers in the past and always prevailed. Batman is proof positive that brains beats brawn. Look at the present situation in Iraq. Is there any doubt that the United States is the most powerful nation that has ever existed on this planet? We have more soldiers, more weapons and more capacity to utilize those soldiers and weapons on a moment’s notice than any other country in the world. And yet we here are three years later still in Iraq with even Pres. Bush admitting we won’t be out of there any time soon. (Three years in little bitty Iraq! Thank God a behemoth like China doesn’t have the capacity to threaten us with WMDsÃ¢Â?Â¦umÃ¢Â?Â¦wellÃ¢Â?Â¦never mind.) Do the insurgents in Iraq have better weaponry than us? More soldiers? No, they have one thing we don’t have; or I guess I should say we have one thing they don’t have. We have Donald Rumsfailed and they don’t. We have brawns and no brains and that’s why we haven’t been able to beat up on a tiny little squirt of a backwater country in three years enough to allow us to leave.
It’s a perfect analogy to a potential battle between Batman and Superman. Superman is, after all, the iconic All-American Hero: He’s an immigrant who assimilated so completely that we overlook the fact he’s an illegal alien. He’s strong and loaded with weapons. He should, by all accounts, thoroughly be able to annihilate Batman. But he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t because Batman doesn’t fight fair and he’s sneaky and hides in the background and since he can’t rely on brawn he has to use brains. If Superman couldn’t rely on his power, well, Lex Luthor would be Emperor of the World, because Lex is far smarter. (Not nearly as smart as Bruce Wayne, however.)
Superman versus Batman. It is an argument that has raged for decades. Why, I can’t understand. The answer to this question is so obvious. When you go to check out Superman Returns and you’re watching how he manhandles everything in his path, just remember this: In a one on one fight, there is very little reason to suspect that Batman wouldn’t kick Superman’s big red S.