Doctor Manhattan was the only being with actual superpowers in the world of Watchmen and as a result was the most powerful character in that universe. Since that series, there have been some additional stories that sprung from that universe and then DC Comics added the entire world of the Watchmen into the mainstream DC Universe and it was all because of Doctor Manhattan. It all started in the Flash and Batman crossover event The Button, which ended with Doctor Manhattan's debut appearance in the mainstream DC Universe and then continued in Doomsday Clock, which tied Watchmen into the DC Comics world.
With Doctor Manhattan no longer the only superpowered being in his universe, the question is whether or not he is the most powerful. Jon Osterman was a nuclear physicist caught in a radioactive particle test that turned him into an almost omniscient godlike being. He has nearly unlimited powers including cosmic awareness, which means that beating him is nearly impossible. However, he also has one major weakness -- he is mentally unstable and cannot feel or understand humanity on almost any level anymore. This caused him to leave Earth once before and is part of the catalyst to his actions in Doomsday Clock. With that in mind, here are 20 characters who could take down Doctor Manhattan -- if they have a little luck on their side.
In the world of Watchmen, there is no one that can hold a candle to Doctor Manhattan. However, since he is now in the DC Universe, he is now a spectacular and overpowered being in a world full of superpowered beings. With that said, while Manhattan has the powers of a god -- as he has shown in Doomsday Clock -- the difference is that the Spectre is God.
The Spectre is, at the end of the day, the vengeance of God -- which in DC Comics has been shown to be the most powerful being in that world. He is who God sends when he seeks to take out anyone who has crossed him. When it comes to Doctor Manhattan changing the world, it would make sense that God would not be pleased and the Spectre could theoretically eliminate Manhattan from existence in the blink of an eye. Or, at least we think that's what would happen.
Before DC Universe: Rebirth, Doctor Manhattan likely wouldn't hold a candle to Galactus and probably still would have some trouble defeating the Eater of Worlds. The biggest argument in favor of Manhattan in this fight would be the comparison that he took out Pandora, a cosmic entity in DC Comics, so he could theoretically do the same with Galactus.
With that said, Galactus has proven to have the power to wipe out multiple star systems when he is hungry enough. Galactus was also created from the destruction of the universe and Manhattan was created in a lab accident, so there is much more energy in Galactus. There is one theoretical way that he could win the fight. Galactus can manipulate reality and molecules and could possibly absorb Manhattan's energy. He may not be able to completely eliminate Manhattan but he could beat him in a fight.
18 MOLECULE MAN
Doctor Manhattan can become godlike, a transcendent being that can see into the past, present and future, and has an almost ridiculous level of powers. Molecule Man is a mutated human but he can control all energy and matter and has been seen as the most dangerous threat on all of Earth -- someone who even rivaled a multi-universal being like The Beyonder. Both men are also mentally unbalanced.
When looking at the Molecule Man, he was shown to overpower The Beyonder -- a being that proved to be more powerful than the entire Marvel Universe of heroes and villains. Now, there was a retcon for Molecule Man that depowered him somewhat and could make this a closer fight. With that said, the most recent version of Molecule Man is almost as strong as the Living Tribunal -- so he can do everything Manhattan can do and is more powerful to boot.
When it comes to Doctor Manhattan fighting Darkseid, there is the difference in their powers to take into account. Manhattan manipulates particles, molecules and more to shape them how he chooses. However, Darkseid has the Omega Beams and they have the ability to warp reality. While Manhattan can transform things using the laws of physics, Darkseid transcends the laws of physics.
Now, the most recent appearance of Manhattan shows that he might have similar powers but he is also not up to the level of a being like Darkseid. There is also the fact that Darkseid is faster and more devious than Manhattan, who is often conflicted about his next move. Darkseid also has the use of his telepathy, which allows him to mess with the mind of Manhattan -- the best possible way to stop him.
16 DARK PHOENIX
As with almost all these battles, the assumption is that the idea that Doctor Manhattan can see the past, present and future is not taken into account due to the fact that would make him unbeatable in every fight -- unless he believed he would lose. Instead, this just looks at the compared powers and when it comes to Manhattan and the Dark Phoenix, it is like comparing two nuclear bombs and wondering which one is stronger.
While Manhattan recently proved that he could remake entire worlds at a whim, Phoenix has proven to be able to create new worlds and then destroy them all when they served their purpose before starting over again. Phoenix is the entire sum of psionic energy in all existence. Because this is the Dark Phoenix -- a being who believes all life is expendable, it could wipe out the entire universe instantly -- including Doctor Manhattan.
15 SUPERMAN PRIME ONE MILLION
When it comes to the DC Comics Universe, many readers consider Superman to be the gold standard for power levels of heroes and villains. As a matter of fact, the only thing holding Superman back from conquering the entire world is his morality, as the Injustice comic book series showed -- as even there it took another Superman to finally stop him. Add on 15,000 years under the power-enhancing yellow sun and that makes someone like Superman Prime One Million possibly the most powerful hero in existence.
In the recent Doomsday Clock storyline, Doctor Manhattan seems to be very unsure about his recent actions as he has seen a future where a battle between himself and Superman could result in the end of everything. If Doctor Manhattan is worried about Superman, he would be terrified of Superman Prime One Million.
During the entire "Rebirth" stories at DC Comics, it is Doctor Manhattan that is changing everything. However, he isn't the only being to achieve this. Forget about Flash and Reverse Flash and their creation of the New DC 52 and head all the way back to the reboot before that -- Crisis on Infinite Earths. In that series, it was a battle with the Anti-Monitor that reset the entire world of DC Comics.
So, when looking at two men who single-handily changed the entire DC Comics Universe, who would win a fight between Doctor Manhattan and the Anti-Monitor? For one thing, Anti-Monitor has reality warping power, which would likely hinder a lot of what Manhattan is capable of, and as he has already destroyed the multiverse once, it seems he is on a potentially higher level than Manhattan.
Doctor Manhattan has powers that basically makes him a godlike character. However, Odin is a god and therefore is at a level that some have only assumed that Manhattan has reached. When it comes to Odin, he has all the powers of basic Norse Gods but at a much higher level. However, his biggest power-up comes in the form of the Odinforce, which makes Odin one of the most powerful beings in existence.
At one time, Odin battled Seth, the brother of Osiris, and their battle shattered entire galaxies and even reignited dying suns. While Doctor Manhattan has been overpowered this year -- even by DC Comics standards -- he is still not at the level of a god like Odin when he is in possession of the Odinforce.
12 DOCTOR FATE
The thing about Doctor Manhattan's powers is that they are based in science. Even with all the changes and manipulations that Jon is pulling off right now, everything he does is based on science and the fact that he gained these powers in a lab explosion in a world where there were no superheroes, to begin with. So, what happens when he battles someone with magical powers?
Manhattan proved to have the ability to deal with magical beings as he was able to manipulate things and help cause the imprisonment of Mr. Mxyzptlk using Jor-El but Doctor Fate is a different story. Doctor Fate can inhabit the astral form and Manhattan has no powers to deal with that. While it is still unknown what magic powers can do to Manhattan, Doctor Fate is the one DC Comics magic user that can best deal with a threat of this size.
11 DOCTOR STRANGE
While Doctor Fate is the master sorcerer from DC Comics, the equivalent at Marvel is Doctor Strange. He was the Sorcerer Supreme and has taken on beings of immense power and come out on top in the past. Even a character like The Beyonder -- who is almost overpowered to the point of ridiculousness -- admitted that Strange might even be more powerful than someone like the Molecule Man.
Strange is the master of all magic, including black magic, and he has stood his own against everyone from Galactus and Ghost Rider to Dormammu and Mephisto. An interesting comparison was when Thanos had the Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers: Infinity War and Strange allowed himself to be taken out because he already saw what needed to be done to win. Strange can manipulate time and space in a way that Doctor Manhattan has shown he can accomplish, but at a much higher level.
10 PROFESSOR X
Doctor Manhattan's biggest downfall is a mental weakness that often gets in the way of his potential. In Watchmen, he was used by Ozymandias, who manipulated and coerced him to do what he needed. With Manhattan reverting almost to a vacant slate, with no concern or care about humanity in general, he seems to be someone that could succumb to not only coercion but mind control.
There isn't anyone more powerful than Professor Charles Xavier when it comes to mind control and manipulation. While he has held himself back from the full potential of his powers throughout history, he has shown on occasion what he is capable of. He completely shut down the mind of Magneto and forced back the Dark Phoenix back deep into Jean Grey's conscious. He could shut down Manhattan quickly as long as the Doctor doesn't see it coming.
Assuming that Thanos has the possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, he could theoretically defeat Doctor Manhattan. There is also the fact that Doctor Manhattan does have a weakness to tachyons, and the Infinity Gauntlet theoretically offers access to similar faster-than-light particles that hypothetically exist outside of the laws of physics.
However, there is another interesting dynamic to a battle between Thanos and Doctor Manhattan. Both men are personally responsible when they lose. In the Infinity War in the comics, Thanos only lost because he did not believe he was worthy of the Gauntlet's powers in the end. In Watchmen, Doctor Manhatten lost because he was convinced that Ozymandias was right. If Manhattan believed losing was the right thing and Thanos believed that winning was what was needed, that is how the Mad Titan could beat Manhattan.
8 ADAM WARLOCK
If Thanos could defeat Doctor Manhattan, then it stands to reason that Adam Warlock could as well since Warlock is who brought down the Mad Titan in the Infinity Gauntlet comic book event series. When it comes to Adam Warlock, it is all about the soul and -- honestly -- it seems through watching the actions of Doctor Manhattan that his weakness might be tied into his soul -- or lack thereof since he was, at one time, declared deceased.
Adam Warlock once said that it is not the power or the strength of a person that matters in a battle with him. it is the soul that is the Achilles for a person -- even a Goliath. Doctor Manhattan is one of the most overpowered beings in the world, so he should be able to beat just about anyone. However, Adam is the most powerful being the Soul Stone ever bonded with and that makes him a very dangerous opponent for Doctor Manhattan.
When it comes to the Beyonder, there are two things to look at -- his full power potential and the nerfs that happened after Secret Wars 2. When looking at the full power that the Beyonder has, he could easily beat Doctor Manhattan with little competition. Everything that Beyonder proved he could accomplish -- including destroying all multiverses -- supersedes what Doctor Manhattan had even accomplished in Rebirth.
What people have to note about Doctor Manhattan is that his powers are based on the laws of physics. As Beyonder proved time and time again, he is not held back by anything concerning physics. Even the Molecule Man -- who was seen as the closest to an equal of anyone in the eyes of Beyonder -- was unable to fully defeat him, so there is little chance that Doctor Manhattan could hold a candle to him either.
Look at all the powers that Doctor Manhattan gained after his lab accident and realize that Sentry has all those same powers -- and more. Most readers believe that Manhattan is basically immortal, although there is nothing in the comics themselves that proves that one way or the other. However, as Marvel Comics has shown, Sentry is not only immortal but also has unlimited power.
Sentry can do pretty much anything including bringing people back from the other side. He gains powers whenever he needs them and powers up when the need arises as well. There is one thing to note here; just like Doctor Manhattan, Sentry is also mentally disturbed and detached. Honestly, if the need arose, neither man would likely care enough to fight, but if they did, Sentry has as good a chance as anyone at beating Doctor Manhattan.
5 CAPTAIN ATOM
When it comes to Doctor Manhattan taking on Captain Atom, there is something that is both surreal as well as something that might be a little meta as well. See, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created Manhattan based on the Captain Atom character from the Charlton Comics Era. Much like Manhattan, Atom was created due to an atomic experiment that turned him into an atomic-powered hero.
Moore and Gibbons wanted to take the ideas that Charlton Comics used for Captain Atom and push them even further with Doctor Manhattan. Manhattan might have the advantage here but there is an interesting theory. Some have hypothesized that Doctor Manhattan is a hero from the DC Universe that changed his identity and that hero might be Captain Atom. If the idea is that Manhattan is the most likely person to defeat himself, that means Captain Atom could be the one to stop him.
4 LIVING TRIBUNAL
When it comes to Doctor Manhattan, there are few people on Earth that seem to be able to hold a candle to him in a fight. Of course, his full potential -- or lack thereof -- has yet to be determined. There is a chance that everything he has done is the true limit because when it comes time to fight or battle, he has never really been tested. However, when put against someone cosmic like the Living Tribunal, there is no way Doctor Manhattan could stand a chance.
When it comes to their place in the universe, Doctor Manhattan may be one of the most powerful beings on Earth but the Living Tribunal is one of the most powerful in existence. There are very few people who come close to the power of the Living Tribunal -- and Doctor Manhattan is not one of those people.
3 SILVER SURFER
When it comes to the Marvel Universe, the one character closest in comparison to Doctor Manhattan is the Silver Surfer. While Manhattan got his powers in a lab accident, Surfer was given the Power Cosmic from Galactus. The two men have very similar powers and when looking at their actual feats, Manhattan has done very little but Surfer has proven himself over and over again.
This battle could destroy planets easily and could be won by either man. However, one thing to look at with the Silver Surfer is that the Power Cosmic is not limited to the law of physics, which is where Manhattan's powers reside. While Manhattan can see the future, Surfer can manipulate every molecule around him and that could give him the advantage in this fight.
Batman can beat anyone if given enough time to prepare. Yes, it is something that DC Comics has used to great effect over the years but it is what the Caped Crusader needs in order to become as strong as the godlike characters that he fights alongside. However, if there is one reason that Batman can beat Doctor Manhattan, it is because he is a brilliant strategist and can exploit weaknesses.
First, Doctor Manhattan is conflicted much of the time. He has left rather than fight on many occasions. Batman is the perfect hero to leave doubts in the mind of Doctor Manhattan in order to win without ever having to fight. Secondly, Batman just needs to investigate to see that Adrian Veidt used tachyons to block Manhattan's ability and then use those to his advantage.
1 SQUIRREL GIRL
Squirrel Girl is unbeatable. This is how Marvel Comics' Steve Ditko created her. She has the most ridiculous powers imaginable but the one unspoken power that she possesses is the ability to never lose in a fight. Seriously, Squirrel Girl beat Galactus. She beat Thanos -- in front of the Watcher -- although how she pulled off that win no one will ever know.
She beat Doctor Doom when she sent her squirrels after him. There is no one who can match up to the awe-inspiring power -- and luck -- of the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Sadly, the moment that Doctor Manhattan and Squirrel Girl prepare for battle, fans will never see what hit them as she will win the battle off-panel and then will have no explanation in the end. All that anyone will know is that no one can beat Squirrel Girl -- not even the great Doctor Manhattan.