Superman is undoubtedly one of the strongest superheroes in comics. Thanks to Earth’s yellow sun, the Man of Steel has a wide array of formidable abilities. He’s nearly invulnerable, he can fly, he’s got super strength (he’s strong enough to bench press the weight of Earth), super speed, cold breath, and heat vision, to name a few. That’s not to say that he is unbeatable.
As strong as he is, the Man of Steel has been defeated on more than one occasion, and sometimes by his fellow heroes. Sure, everyone remembers Batman’s beat-down of Superman in The Dark Knight Returns, but there are quite a few heroes who’ve laid the smack-down on the Man of Steel that you might have forgotten. Here are 10 heroes everyone forgets defeated Superman.
10 Green Arrow
When people talk about Batman beating Superman in The Dark Knight Returns, they often forget to mention the Green Arrow. Even though he doesn’t have any superpowers, Oliver Queen uses his skills as a marksman and his many trick arrows to fight alongside the other more supernaturally-gifted heroes, and he played a pivotal role in the Dark Knight’s fight against Superman.
Even with Superman weakened from a nuclear explosion, Bruce still couldn’t gain the upper hand against the Man of Steel. That is, until Oliver shoots a kryptonite-tipped arrow to further weaken Superman and allow Bruce to gain the upper hand, and for that, the Green Arrow deserves a mention on this list.
9 The Avengers
Comic book fans have been comparing the heroes from the DC Comics and Marvel universes to each other for about as long as these characters have existed, so it’s no surprise that the DC and Marvel heroes have faced off in crossovers on a few occasions. But these crossovers are seldom talked about, even though one such crossover had the Justice League pitted against the Avengers and saw the Man of Steel being defeated by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
In the final battle between the Justice League and Avengers, Superman faced off against Thor and defeated the God of Thunder, though it left Superman in a weakened state. That didn’t sit well with the Avengers so Iron Man, She-Hulk, Vision, Hercules, and Wonder Man attacked Superman together and managed to defeat him.
8 The Flash
Barry Allen is the Fastest Man Alive…or is he? Because Superman also has super speed, fans have argued for years about whether The Flash or Superman could beat the other in a test of speed. The two heroes have raced through the years, but people often forget that in The Flash: Rebirth, the Flash won.
While Superman won all their previous races, Flash reveals that he had been holding back the entire time because the races were for charity. When the Flash holds nothing back, he’s able to leave Superman in the dust. Even with the debate settled, though, fans still argue about who the faster hero is.
Everyone knows Superman’s greatest weakness is kryptonite, but one of his lesser known weaknesses is magic, something Shazam has in spades. Billy Batson was granted the gifts of ancient gods by a wizard, giving him powers on par with Superman, but the magical nature of his powers gives him a leg up over Superman.
In Kingdom Come, Shazam strikes Superman with repeated magical lightning bolts, bringing the Man of Steel to near-death. Superman manages to end the fight before Shazam can kill him, but the damage was done and Shazam walked away the victor.
Aquaman gets a bad rap. He isn’t taken seriously and has been the butt of so many jokes over the years. He’s widely considered a mostly useless hero who talks to fish, but in actuality, Aquaman is one of the strongest members of the Justice League. Nowhere is that more evident than in Throne of Atlantis, which centers on Ocean Master, who had become king of Atlantis, going to war with the surface world.
Aquaman’s loyalty is torn between the Justice League and his half-brother. Aquaman ends up having to fight the Justice League and is able to hold them all off. While Wonder Woman was the one to finally stop him, Aquaman manages to keep Superman at bay, and even sends him flying with a powerful punch. While it’s not a complete defeat, it deserves a spot on this list and more people need to know about it.
Ridiculous looking Astro-Harness aside, Orion, one of the New Gods, is yet another hero that defeated Superman that no one brings up. Even though he’s a son of Darkseid, Orion has rejected his father and dedicated his life for good. However, that doesn’t mean that Orion hasn’t butted heads with other heroes.
Orion has faced off against Superman and came out on top, with surprising ease. The New God has strength on par with Superman, but it wasn’t his brawn that brought down the Man of Steel. Orion fired just one beam from his Astro-Harness at Superman, but it was enough to knock him out and send him falling back down to Earth.
Hawkman is not exactly someone you want to mess with, but compared to Superman, his strength doesn’t even come close. Even so, the Thanagarian warrior has a few tricks—or mace, in this case—up his sleeve that allow him to deliver a healthy dose of smack-down to the Man of Steel.
In the Injustice Gods Among Us comic, Hawkman is tasked with delivering a rock of kryptonite to Batman, but he instead infuses his mace with it. Armed with the kryptonite mace, Hawkman defeats Superman with ease, and had it not been for the Flash’s intervention, Hawkman would have certainly killed Superman.
Etrigan the Demon doesn’t usually tussle with DC’s A-list heroes but when he does, he doesn’t mess around. Such was the case in the rhyming demon’s fight against Superman. People usually forget that Etrigan was able to defeat Superman with just one hit.
Believing the demon to have nefarious intent, the Man of Steel tries to stop Etrigan without caring to know his true plans. Not wanting to waste time battling Superman, Etrigan hits Superman up into the atmosphere with a single uppercut. It’s not often you see a lesser known DC hero defeat the Man of Steel in one hit, yet people always forget it.
Everyone talks about Superman being the strongest hero, but what about his cousin? Supergirl is just as Kryptonian as him but people don’t bring up her strength as often as she should. Superman is typically portrayed as stronger and having more experience, but that doesn’t mean Supergirl can’t stand toe-to-toe with her cousin.
When Kara arrived on Earth in the New 52, she was greeted with a full-grown man claiming to be her cousin Kal-El. Since from her point of view Kal-El should still have been an infant, Kara believed him to be lying and attacked. Though they eventually cleared up the confusion, Supergirl did give Superman a good beating.
1 Wonder Woman
Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, is one of the most well-known heroes in comics. She’s the princess of Themyscira, she’s one of DC’s Big Three, and she’s a highly skilled warrior. People usually view Superman as being the stronger of the two, but let’s not forget that Wonder Woman has defeated Superman several times.
In Wonder Woman #219, Superman is tricked into thinking Wonder Woman was Doomsday and had killed Lois Lane. Superman doesn’t hold back and attacks her relentlessly. She held back at first but seeing no other option, fights Superman with all her strength and beats him by slicing his throat open with her tiara (he lived).