Batman vs. Superman: why people pick one or the other

Batman vs. Superman: why people pick one or the other

When Titans Clash!

Geeks love to argue over who would win in a fight.

Although, I have to say, I’d rather fight over who would win in an argument. 😉

I mean, after all, don’t we geeks prize our intellects more than our physicality?

Why are we so involved in who can out-bash whom? Shouldn’t we be more interested in whether Sherlock Holmes could out argue Doctor Who, or vice versa?

Well, next year, we’ll get a movie which pits Batman against Superman (they, for some reason, made it “v” instead of “vs”, but that’s clearly still what it means).

On the surface, as Jon Stewart pointed out, it seems ridiculous.

Superman is super.

The Man of Steel is invulnerable and super strong.

Batman is a human being…an extraordinary one, yes, but Superman has “powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men”.


Batman (like many heroes) often defeats enemies who are physically superior.

Batman is the “scientific detective”. We know it’s possible to defeat Superman with science…once you’ve got that synthetic kryptonite thing figured out, a short term victory becomes possible.

You would think, in this scenario, geeks might tend to side with the underdog…um, underbat?

On the other hand, Superman is a true outsider. Many geeks feel like they are aliens on this planet…Kal-El actually is one.

Regardless of who we would like to see win (and really, don’t we want it to be that they end up working together…as they clearly will, since this is the Dawn of Justice [League]?), who would win is interesting…but so is why you think that.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Jon Stewart had really bizarre logic to me in picking Batman. You can see the segment here:

The astrophysicist basically said that it might come down to public opinion, and because Batman is part of the existing social structure (since he reports [sic] to the Mayor), and Superman does whatever he wants, people would be on the side of Batman.


I didn’t realize that DeGrasse Tyson is as old as he is, but I could tell right away that this is someone for whom Batman means the Adam West version (Batman ’66, as it is sometimes now called).

In that series, Batman was very much a law and order person…having Robin buckle up before chasing after a bat-villain in the Batmobile, for example).

The mayor to whom he is “reporting”? Mayor Linseed (a parody of Mayor John Lindsay of New York City).

In that series, though, Batman certainly doesn’t work for the Mayor. Jon Stewart had first identified the  Commissioner  (Gordon) as the person to whom Batman reports…and DeGrasse Tyson corrected him.

Stewart had the relationship more correct, though. Batman responds to the Bat-signal…which Commissioner Gordon uses to ask for help. It’s not like an order to appear by a superior…it’s a way to let Batman know that Gotham City needs him.

If the Mayor was not re-elected, that wouldn’t change the relationship much at all…Batman is a friend of the Commissioner…and again, not an employee.

If you don’t know Batman primarily from 1966, then this is a guy who does not toe the societal line.

Batman is a vigilante…he works outside the law. He is judge and jury, even if not executioner. If Batman decides you are a bad guy, you are in trouble…nobody’s reading you your rights when the bat-cuffs go on.

Batman even quit the Justice League. Sure, he formed a new group…called, tellingly, The Outsiders!

Superman, while an alien by birth, is much more of a team player and rule follower.

I can’t imagine that your average law-abiding citizen would rather live in a city with Batman in it than a city with Superman in it.

Now, admittedly, and avoiding spoilers, the Superman in the movie is different. If you’ve seen The Man of Steel or don’t mind spoilers, you can see what I am talking about here:

The Spoiler Zone: the real problem with Man of Steel

Even so, Batman clearly always has his own agenda, while Superman seems to be about protecting not only his adopted planet, but the society on it. I say “society” and not “societies” because Superman grew up as an American, and that has traditionally been his priority “truth, justice and the American way”. He wouldn’t force American values on others, but that’s his paradigm.

So, what does it mean if you pick Batman or if you pick Superman?

If you pick Batman…

  • You are going for brains over brawn. In some cases, Superman is supposed to be superintelligent, but this is clearly a case of physical superiority on Superman’s side…and presumably, mental superiority on Batman’s side
  • You may be picking the human over the alien…being literally xenophobic, in this case
  • In this movie, you may be picking experience as an important factor

If you pick Superman…

  • You believe physical superiority will triumph
  • You may believe the “light” will win over the “dark (knight)”
  • You think Superman is smart in addition to having his other abilities

In terms of support from society or other heroes (and there are others in the movie), I think that’s undecided. The trailer certainly suggests that there are people arguing that Superman can’t be trusted…but we don’t know what they think about Batman yet.

Now, if the two were to debate…I’ve got to go with Batman. 😉

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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