Superman is basically a god among men. His long list of superhuman abilities are powered by the sun, making his power effectively unlimited. By this notion, one could assume that Superman is unbeatable, at least by most of the heroes of the DC universe. Sure, there are instances in which someone stronger, smarter, or who has access to one of his weaknesses could take out the man of steel, but it doesn't happen often. Even still, these are just the heroes within his own universe, characters limited by how they've been written into a world where Superman's power is second to none.
Something similar could be said of the Marvel universe, which doesn't contain a lot of god-like superheroes on the same level as Superman. Thus, we thought it would be fun to take a look at another group of superheroes to pit against Superman -- original cartoon heroes. No, not cartoon adaptations of DC or Marvel heroes, superheroes who are best known for their cartoon appearances or origins. The basic rule is that we're looking at cartoon superheroes who can at least subdue Superman in some way. Meaning, they don't have to kill Supes, just defeat him temporarily.
The age-old internet debate of "Goku Vs. Superman" has been fought for years, and the only "definitive" answer comes in the form of Death Battle. In both of Death Battle's videos, Superman was the victor, with good reasoning too. They argued that while Goku continues to break past his limits, Superman is solar powered, and thus has no limits.
This is a valid argument, and in a fight to the death, Superman would most likely come out on top, but we've got our own argument. Superman might be able to outlast Goku's stamina and finite ki reserves, but before his energy runs out, he could give the man of steel a run for his money, especially with his instant transmission and kamehameha blast. Goku is rather unpredictable in a fight, and the potential destructive power of ki is not exactly known, so there's a chance he could temporarily take out Superman.
He-Man and Superman have traded blows before, and He-Man was shown to be, on some level, on par with Superman's strength and durability. Of course, He-Man lacks a lot of Superman's other powers, falling short in speed, enhanced senses, laser vision and flight. With this in mind, it's no contest, Superman would easily beat He-Man. However, He-Man's power is magical in nature, and what is one of Superman's weaknesses? Magic.
Though the extent of He-Man's magical power is never fully stated, by the very nature of his strength, speed and durability deriving from a magical energy source, he already has the edge over Superman. We can't say for certain if He-Man could completely destroy Superman, but he could definitely throw some heavy damage his way much in the same way Shazam can. Magic trumps Kryptonians, and He-Man has the power.
14 THE POWERPUFF GIRLS
In an episode of the original Powerpuff Girls, "Members Only," the girls prove to all the male superheroes that they are more powerful than them in almost every category. They outclassed them in strength, speed, durability and pretty much every other superpower you can think of. This alone would be enough to consider them a match for Superman, but it only gets crazier from there.
Being a superhero parody, The Powerpuff Girls gave the protagonists any superpower that the episode/situation called for. They even turned into a giant fire-cat one time! The girls are incredibly powerful on their own and even stronger working as a team, and with their seemingly unlimited potential for new and insane superpowers, a fight with Superman is pretty much no contest. The Powerpuff Girls could easily destroy the man of steel.
13 SAITAMA (ONE-PUNCH MAN)
We're gonna throw a wild theory out here, Saitama's powers are not what you think they are. The character is from the anime/manga One-Punch Man. Saitama is a superhero-for-fun who has grown bored with fighting since every enemy he faces is defeated in one punch. That's right, Saitama is so powerful that one punch instantly kills or defeats nearly every one of his enemies.
But, is it just superhuman strength, speed and durability that results in this winning streak? Maybe, but maybe not. We think that Saitama's power is not superhuman physicality as much as it is the supernatural ability to win every match he faces. Maybe it's magical in nature or maybe his body temporarily adapts to outclass his enemy, but whatever the reason, his power is to win with one punch. By this logic, is it even a question if he could defeat Superman?
12 CAPTAIN PLANET
This is a bit more of a fun one, since Captain Planet himself was made to teach people about pollution and the environment, but let's roll with it anyway. Captain Planet's abilities are rather impressive, combining the elements of earth, wind, water, fire and heart to give him a vast array of superpowers. Captain Planet has exhibited flight, strength, speed, durability and elemental transmutation, among others.
However, his exact abilities don't exactly matter in a theoretical fight, since, like the Powerpuff Girls, Captain Planet seems to exhibit whatever power is needed to save the day. Meaning, if we're to consider this a power itself, a match between Captain Planet and Superman becomes similar to a fight with One-Punch Man. However, seeing as Superman is solar-powered (clean energy!) and fights for all that is good, a team up between him and Captain Planet seems more likely than a death match.
11 ASTRO BOY
Astro Boy was built to be the most advanced robot of his time, and he's pretty powerful as a result. He is stated as having 100,000 horsepower, but we're not gonna pretend we know the math that compares this power to Superman's. Instead, we'll focus on his other robotic abilities. On top of jet-propelled flight and an arsenal of weapons, Astro Boy has a robotic brain, granting him the ability to solve complex equations with incredible speed and sense things no ordinary human can.
Again, how this compares to Superman is not exactly clear, but we can at least say Astro Boy is smart, perhaps even smarter than Superman. Superman is pretty smart himself, but Astro was built to be smart, able to learn as an advanced artificial intelligence. Meaning, Astro Boy wouldn't be able to out-punch Superman, but he might be able to outwit him.
10 THE AVATAR (AANG AND/OR KORRA)
In a world where the elements can be controlled by benders, only the Avatar can master all four. In the first series of Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino's Avatar world, the Avatar was Aang, in the second series, The Legend of Korra, it was Korra. As the masters of all four elements, both Avatars have what it takes to defeat Superman, at least temporarily.
Though Superman's physical power might outclass both Avatars, their ability to control the elements, especially in the Avatar state, is on a massive scale. Superman might be strong, but Korra can bend earth and metal to attack him. Superman can fly, but Aang could bend the air around him to throw off his flight And if you want to get really creative, earthbending has been shown to apply to meteorites, so both Avatars could find ways to bring Kryptonite to the battle.
9 THE SAILOR SCOUTS
Speaking of elemental control, the Sailor Scouts are also known for their elemental abilities, well at least some of them. Regardless, the Sailor Scouts are incredibly powerful. Armed with magical abilities given to them by the Moon Kingdom, the Sailor Scouts hold great power. Now, we know what you're thinking, pitting a bunch of teenaged girls with a few magical attacks against Superman might be unfair. You might think that Superman would totally annihilate the Scouts, but you might also be wrong.
Remember, one of Superman's weaknesses is magic, and the Sailor Scouts are literally from the magical-girl genre of manga/anime. They are not only powered by magic, but the variety of their attacks and experience dealing with much stronger enemies could give them at least a temporary edge over Superman. The extent of Superman's weakness to magic is not exactly known, but these magical girls could give the man of steel a run for his money.
8 MIGHTY MOUSE
Remember that scene in Stand By Me where Vern and Teddy are debating wether or not Mighty Mouse could beat Superman? Their adolescent conclusion was that Superman, being a "real guy," couldn't lose to Mighty Mouse, a cartoon. This argument doesn't exactly hold since both heroes are fictional characters, so we'll form our own argument.
For one thing, Mighty Mouse is, for argument's sake, a mouse version of Superman. He's shown with most of the same powers as Superman, plus a few unique abilities of his own. However, the greater argument comes in issue #441 of Adventures of Superman. In this issue, Superman admits that Mighty Mouse — or rather, an analog of him used avoid copyright infringement — is more powerful. This might not be definitive proof, but we'll take it.
7 BEN 10
Depending on what version of this alien-powered hero you're looking at, his chances against the likes of Superman vary. However, in most incarnations, he could temporarily defeat the Kryptonian with at least one of his aliens. But, if we're looking specifically at the 16-year-old Ben from Ben 10 Omniverse, then it's not even a contest.
Why this version specifically? Well, while the aliens Ben has access to in previous series are indeed powerful, they don't compare to Alien X. Ben might have had access to this alien before, but was not in total control at the time. During the events of Omniverse, Ben gains total control over his celestial-sapien form, a species of aliens that can manipulate reality, space and time. With this kind of power, Ben could simply erase Superman form existence if he wanted to.
In a fight with Superman, Lion-O (in both iterations of Thundercats) already has the advantage with a magical sword, but his physical capabilities aren't too shabby either. He has increased strength and durability and possesses speed and reflexes great enough for him to perform sword slashes faster than the eye can see.
Add in the Sword of Omens and Superman would fall easily to Lion-O. The blade is indestructible, making it possible to cut through Superman's skin, but its real power lies in its magical abilities. Powered by the cosmic energy of the Eye of Thundara, the Sword of omens most offensive magical ability is the power to shoot various types of energy blasts, some strong enough to shoot through a planet's core. Sounds like enough power to give Superman a real fight.
This is another fun one not to be taken too seriously, since Freakazoid's powers aren't all that defined. Then again, this might be what gives him an edge over Superman, since his cartoony abilities make him both unpredictable and incredibly powerful. From what we've seen, Freakazoid's abilities include reality-warping shapeshifting — his natural cartoon zaniness — superhuman speed, strength, and durability.
He also seems to have the ability to summon objects from "hammerspace," a term referring to the trope in classic cartoons where a character grabs various objects from off-screen or behind their backs. Exactly how this would help Freakazoid in a fight with Superman is up to you, though we bet he's willing to randomly summon Kryptonite simply so he can say "Gee, Superman, you're looking a little green there!"
4 SUPER SONIC
To be fair, Sonic is more well known as a video game character, having originated in the medium, but he's also had a pretty hefty presence in the world of animation. However, we're looking at the form he takes when absorbing the power of the chaos emeralds, which might be magical in nature. Though his Super Sonic form has only been seen in one cartoon, the Sonic X anime, we have plenty of reference to his power from what we've seen in the games.
As Super Sonic, Sonic's already impressive natural speed is increased to near the speed of light. Sonic is also given the ability to fly at these speeds, and his strength and durability are also greatly increased. If that's not enough to convince you he could take down Superman, Super Sonic has taken on and won against giant robots, monsters, forces of nature and even full-fledged deities.
3 THE TICK
The Tick doesn't actually originate from the world of animation, but prior to the Amazon Prime series, he was perhaps best known for his cartoon. The Tick cartoon expanded a lot of the Tick lore and gave us some of the best characters of his zany, satirical superhero world. With what we know about him, we're pitting the big blue bug of justice against the man of steel.
Most accounts state that The Tick is "nigh invulnerable," meaning he is almost indestructible. His strength even allows him to effortlessly lift busses with a single hand. He can also survive in space without protection for a long time. However, what really places him about Superman is his "drama power," which increases his power as a situation becomes more dire. What this means is that, if the fight is dramatic enough, The Tick could gain the power to take down Superman.
In Netflix's Voltron: Legendary Defender, we have learned a lot more about Voltron and the Paladins that pilot it than the original series detailed. Though they are no stronger than ordinary humans, while piloting Voltron, the Paladins are nearly unstoppable. With this information, we can confidently say Voltron could easily defeat the Man of Steel, or at least give him a good fight.
The Voltron of Legendary Defender stands over a hundred meters tall, but Superman has taken on giant robots and monsters before, so the mech has to bring more to the fight, and it does. Both the individual lions and Voltron itself can fly at speeds faster than light, possesses great strength and a wide variety of weapons and special abilities. Voltron was also constructed using a unique asteroid component, a material that could perhaps combat Kryptonian abilities (though that's just speculation).
Once again, we have a character who originated in video games, but one could argue that a good portion of '90s kids remember Mewtwo from his role in Pokemon: The First Movie. Regardless Mewtwo is an incredibly powerful psychic Pokemon, having been genetically engineered to be a perfect being. He is also of legendary status since he is a clone of another legendary psychic Pokemon, Mew.
Mew is already a powerful psychic, hence his legendary status, and Mewtwo was modified to be a stronger, better and more powerful version of Mew. By this logic, we can say that Mewtwo is one of the most powerful beings in the world of Pokemon. How would this psychic powerhouse fair against Superman? Well, we can definitely assume his immense telekinetic power could give the man of steel one tough fight.
Which other cartoon heroes would give the Man of Steel a run for his money? Let us know in the comments!