The end may be nigh for the DC Universe now that Dr. Manhattan is here. Ever since DC Rebirth, the Watchmen have crossed over into the Prime Earth. Some characters like Nite Owl and Silk Spectre are doing what they can to help. Others like the Comedian and Ozymandias are still rogue. As always, Dr. Manhattan stands apart from the others - aloof and out of touch.
Early on, Geoff Johns implied that Dr. Manhattan created the current DC Universe. Now, Doomsday Clock suggests that the Doctor might want to destroy it. There's no way that a hero like Superman would sit back and let that happen. However, does the Man of Steel stand a chance against a god? Today, we're talking odds and weighing Superman's chances against Dr. Manhattan.
10 Manhattan Is Magical Now
Everyone knows that Superman is weak to Kryptonite - in fact, this little green rock is now a cultural shorthand for debilitating defects. However, Kryptonite isn't the Big Blue Boy Scout's only weakness. Alongside the radiation of a red Sun, Superman's also vulnerable to magic. Have you ever wondered why Supes' fights with Shazam are so close? Billy Batson is fueled by magic, and now Dr. Manhattah is too.
Etrigan the Demon and Zatanna Zatara once attacked the Doctor with magic. To their surprise, he absorbed their energy and gained control over the mystic arts. Inadvertently, our heroes provided one more reason Dr. Manhattan can beat Superman.
9 Manhattan Is The Master Of Molecules
This is probably Dr. Manhattan's most visceral ability. Recall the original The Watchmen story. It's okay you can either reflect on Alan Moore's graphic novel or Zac Snyder's adaptation. Think back to the scene in Vietnam. The Comedian maniacally burned scores of Vietnam to ash while Dr. Manhattan disintegrated them!
With the twitch of a finger, Manhattan can turn a person into kitty litter. He did it in Vietnam, he did it to Rorschach, and he could theoretically do it to Superman. And even if Manhattan couldn't manipulate Supes' molecules, he could always change the environment. What's to stop the Doctor from transmuting Superman's costume into Kryptonite? Or making our Sun emit red radiation? Absolutely nothing that we know of.
8 Dr. Manhattan Can Manipulate Time
Superman has a vast assortment of tremendous powers at his disposal; he's impossibly strong, incredibly smart, and insanely fast. In fact, the Man of Steel is so that he can give most Speedsters a run for their money! But that's the thing about Dr. Manhattan; he can nullify Superman's powers!
Some think that Superman might be able to quickly blitz Manhattan. However, speed becomes meaningless to someone who can control time! Jonathan Osterman has many powers, one of which is chronokinesis. Jon can mentally move forward and backward in time. He can also perceive events before they happen, which will give him an immense edge over Superman.
7 The Doctor Can Alter Reality
If none of Dr. Manhattan's other powers have you convinced, this one ought to. Thanks to his nigh-omniscience, Jon now has the power to alter reality. This ability is just flat out scary and is perhaps the sole reason why he'd beat Superman in a fight.
Theoretically, Manhattan could reverse the laws of physics and entropy if he wanted to. Near the end of the original The Watchmen story, Jon says he's going to create his own universe. DC Rebirth reveals that he did by creating the Prime Universe and Prime Earth! Jon's also said that he can erase universes with little to no effort.
6 Jon Is Supposed To Be OP
Dr. Manhattan is supposed to be an overpowered character. You see, The Watchmen isn't a story about triumph or heroism - it's about failure. Nite Owl fails to protect his city and becomes dependent on his hero identity. The Comedian fails to see past society's failings and find some good in people. Ozymandias, the smartest man in the world, fails to create a plan for world peace that doesn't involve genocide.
For all his power, Manhattan is a failure too. He fails to use his god-like abilities to create a better world. Alan Moore purposely wrote Jon this way; he wanted to create a 'Superman' that was a slave to his own strength. Dr. Manhattan could probably beat anyone in a fight. However, that's the sad part of his character. The victor wouldn't be an individual with good or bad principles - he'd be a puppet.
5 Superman Can Overcome His Weaknesses
Here's the scenario; Dr. Manhattan and Superman meet on the battlefield. Jon declares his intentions to erase the Dc Universe. Clark tells him he can't let that happen. Manhattan scans through time, learns of Superman's weakness to magic, and blasts Clark with a lightning bolt. It hurts, but Superman's still standing.
Clark presses forward, tanking bolt after bolt. Manhattan adapts - turns our Sun into a red ball of fire. Superman's strained, but he still keeps pushing! Shocked, Jon turns Clark' suit into Kryptonite. He's in pain, but Superman keeps trucking until he tears through Dr. Manhattan! We've seen Supes do this sort of thing before; Superman can power through his weaknesses if he digs in deep. That's the reason Clark can beat opponents like Shazam and Metallo.
4 Supes Can Endure The Source Wall's Power
In the DC Universe, there exists a font of unlimited power called 'the Source.' Only a handful of characters know about it, and even fewer have ever seen it. That's because the Source Wall protects this power from any who'd abuse it. Those who've tried to usurp to the Source always fail and are bound to the Source Wall for all eternity as punishment.
Superman has been to the Source Wall, and he's lived to tell the tale. Just being near this cosmic construct is a doozy; the Source Wall bends the space and time around it, warping reality in a nuanced fashion. If Clark can survive being near the Wall, maybe that's reason enough to suggest that he can resist Manhattan's might.
3 The Man of Steel Beats Darkseid Regularly
With the biblical suite of powers at Dr. Manhattan's disposal, you can see why some people like to call him the 'God of the DC Universe.' The thing is, Jon isn't the first OP person with delusions of godhood. Darkseid's been calling himself the God of Apokolips for ages. He's also had his rocky hide handed to him by Superman more times than we can count!
With the help of the Justice League, as well as on his own, Superman's defeated Darkseid plenty of times. Or we should say, 'the avatars of Darkseid.' In reality, Darkseid is a multiversal abstract entity. Superman did briefly fight this version of Darkseid, and beat him by singing!
2 The Justice League
A common expression is "you're only as good as the company you keep." If there's any merit to that statement, then the mere existence of the Justice League is reason enough to suggest Supes has a chance against Dr. Manhattan! Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, and Diana of Themyscira comprise the League's 'Big Three.' However, there are hundreds of other heroes who'd have Superman's back in battle with Jon.
The entire Green Lantern Corps, Flash Family, and Teen Titans would also come running/flying/teleporting to Clark's aid. Let's not forget that Captain Atom, Doctor Fate, and the Spectre are also members of the League!
1 Clark Is Meant To Be Limitless
When all is said and done Clark Kent was made to win. Back in 1938, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster spent their days scraping by during the Great Depression. Five years prior, they released The Reign of the Superman - a short that envisioned an evil bald man taking over the world.
That story didn't set the world on fire as they hoped, so they went back to the drawing board. Jerry and Joe created a hero this time, one who was stronger than the poverty, starvation, and crime that the Depression created. They created a champion who'd never lose because he'd never quit, no matter how hopeless things seemed. They created Superman.