Born to the alien warrior race known as the Saiyans, Goku was sent to Earth as a baby. While the intent was for him to take over the world, little Goku stumbled down a waterfall and gave himself a nasty bump on the head, turning him good. From that point on, Goku acted as a force for good and would become Earth’s mightiest protector. Born on the dying planet Krypton, Kal-El was shepherded away by his parents to the planet Earth. Upon arriving, he was taken in by Jonathan and Martha Kent. They would raise him Clark Kent with love and dignity; Superman would be Earth’s greatest hero.
The strongest champions of their respective universes, fans have contested for years over who’s the strongest and who would beat whom in a fight. With barrages of statistics forever getting thrown around, Superman fans trying to take down Goku fans and vice versa, the only thing anyone can agree on is they’re both insanely powerful. Though if they ever met, it’d likely be as friends. Nevertheless, they each have abilities unique to them. With that in mind, we’re looking at eight things Goku can do Superman can’t, and seven things the Man of Steel can do the Saiyan warrior cannot.
15 GOKU: EAT MORE
Aside from his powers and transformations, if there’s one thing fans associate with Goku, it’s his unadulterated passion for eating. The Saiyan loves food about as much as he loves fighting, which is saying something. Even as a child, the vast quantities of food Goku would consume astonished everyone present and even forced kitchens to run out of supplies. However, it seems to be a trait amongst Saiyans, as Vegeta and Gohan also enjoy filling their bellies after a good workout.
Have you ever seen Superman engorge on sickening amounts of food? Not really. While his Silver Age iteration could likely keep up, modern day Superman seems to get stuffed after a home cooked meal. Even so, the Man of Steel doesn’t need food for sustenance; he gets his nutrition from the Sun. Also, Superman is just too polite to eat an entire restaurant out of house and home.
14 SUPERMAN: ABSORB SUNLIGHT
Superman is unquestionably powerful. In fact, few mortal beings can challenge him in combat much less seriously hurt him. It’s easy to forget that Superman’s physiology is such that he gets his powers while under a yellow sun. Back on his homeworld of Krypton, Kryptonians don’t have any superpowers; they’re pretty much regular people. That changes depending on what color star they are exposed to and the radiation said star generates.
Jor-El, Superman’s dad, had enough wherewithal to send his son to a planet where he’d not only flourish, but also be a god amongst men. So long as the Sun’s in the sky, Superman will never run out of energy. True, he can get tired, but the Sun’s rays are constantly rejuvenating him. In a crisis, Superman’ can take a bath in the heart of the star, coming out tens of times stronger than when he went in.
13 GOKU: TELEPORT
It’s up for debate about who could win in a race between Goku and Superman. Fans will list out different factoids, each in support of their favorite character. In a race of simply getting from Point A to Point B the quickest however, Goku wins. The Instant Transmission technique, an ability he picked up while on Planet Yardrat, is primarily used to travel long distances. Goku would originally focus for a moment before locking onto someone’s Ki, and then teleporting to anywhere in the universe in a literal instant.
Though lately, as seen in Dragon Ball Super, Goku is learning to weaponize the Instant Transmission. No longer does he need to focus for periods of a time, but he can apparently use it to teleport around and confuse his opponents. There are numerous combinations that can be applied to the Instant Transmission, making the user exceptionally deadly.
12 SUPERMAN: GROW A MULLET
During the ‘90s, superheroes went through an extreme phase. Their personalities, outfits, and even hair, went unabashedly over the top. Even Superman fell victim of the wave of poor fashion choices when he grew a mullet. It’s arguably one of the worst looks he’s ever gone with, but it’s become a hallmark of the era.
On the other hand, Goku isn’t capable of rocking a mullet or really any hairstyle aside from the pointed look he already maintains. Pure blood Saiyans like Goku and Vegeta, their hair is effectively locked in place. It doesn’t grow, though they do get facial hair, so Goku never worries about haircuts. Half-breeds like Gohan and Trunks don’t share this trait, as their hair can grow and be fashioned as they see fit. Maybe hair growth isn’t exactly an ability that’s going to win any battles, but it’s still an ability in Superman’s favor.
11 GOKU: FLY USING A TAIL
While Goku, like Superman, can fly, he didn’t know how when he was a kid. To that end, Goku needed to improvise. Sporting a tail, like the rest of his race, Goku figured out uses for the extra appendage that no one else on his planet did. During Dragon Ball, the idea of flying was still a novelty idea and rather rare among warriors. So amidst Goku’s first World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku is fighting Jackie Chun (or his teacher Master Roshi in disguise) and gets kicked out of the arena.
It seems inevitable that Goku is going to fall out of bounds and lose, but the child warrior had other ideas. Moments later Goku reappeared in the sky, coming back to the arena, by twirling his tail like helicopter blades, keeping himself in the air and steering himself back to the stage. Let’s see Superman do that.
10 SUPERMAN: BE A GOOD FATHER
Superman is not only an amazing hero to the people of Earth, but he’s also the greatest dad you’ll ever meet. Putting many other fathers to shame, especially Goku, Clark loves his son deeply and will do anything to protect him and make sure he gets the life he deserves. Whether it’s travelling to other dimensions to fight Mister Mxyzptlk, crossing universes, or letting his son wale on him while possessed, Superman loves his boy, Jon Kent.
With his own powers coming into maturation, the young half-human, half-Kryptonian’s struggle to harness his powers reminded Superman of his own journey. Using the wisdom from his Earth dad Johnathan Kent, Clark recognized the patience needed to teach his son, doing so all the while with a smile on his face. And Goku? The Saiyan warrior has been absent for most of his son, Gohan’s life, and seems pretty okay with the fact.
9 GOKU: BEFRIEND HIS VILLAINS
Similar to Superman, Goku has the tendency of letting his villains walk away. Sure, he’s killed some bad guys, but Goku inherently believes in mercy first. Goku offers his opponents an out, hoping they apologize for their misdeeds. Befriending some of Dragon Ball Z’s major characters like Piccolo, Vegeta, and Buu has paid off tremendously. Vegeta alone went on to become one of Earth’s greatest protectors and is now Goku’s best friend (sorry, Krillin).
Occasionally this heartfelt naiveté backfires on the Saiyan, as seen with his brother Raditz and the villain Frieza, but it usually works out. No one thought Piccolo would become a second father to Goku’s son, Gohan, nor did Vegeta believe he’d find peace and a family on Earth. Superman, while idolized by millions, rarely makes friends of former enemies. If anything they learn to hate him more.
8 SUPERMAN: HOLD A JOB
Much to the chagrin of Goku’s wife Chi-Chi, Goku is incredibly lazy. He will find any excuse to go and train or fight someone just to get out of doing menial work. Sometimes, even after acquiring a job, Goku can’t focus for long and things go awry. Not Superman. The Last Son of Krypton knows how to provide for his family.
As Clark Kent, Superman is a pretty top-notch reporter. Granted, his skills aren’t as great as Lois Lane’s, but Clark does his best to put food on the table. He takes time to both be a reporter for the Daily Planet and also get some farming done back home in Smallville. Clark understands the value of hard work and relishes the idea of serving himself and the world, even if it’s just one news article or stack of hay at a time.
7 GOKU: GRANT WISHES
Death is pretty commonplace in comic books and anime. In both mediums, characters tend not to stay dead long due to usually wacky reasons. Truth be told, Goku’s died multiple times, along with his friends, family, and even the entire Earth. Though nobody is happy when it happens, death means little in the Dragon Ball universe; Goku can just wish everyone back.
The Dragon Balls, as the show is named after, summon the magical dragon Shenron and allows the wisher to wish for anything he or she can think of. Nowadays, it’s pretty much only Goku and his friends who are able to acquire the mystical orbs, so it’s pretty easy to wish for whatever they need. On the other hand, Superman and company have to wait for literal miracles for someone to get resurrected.
6 SUPERMAN: INSPIRE HIS WORLD
Superman is a shining beacon of hope. Entire essays and books have been written about his greatness. Not only does he inspire the fictional civilians in his city of Metropolis, but Superman’s presence is felt even in the real world. He’s changed people’s perspectives on life and what it means to stand up for those who cannot. In the comics, heroes and civilians look up to Superman for support and hope; they believe in him completely.
Their faith is typically rewarded as Superman is the one character in comics who cannot be corrupted, no matter how bleak the situation. He will always fight for justice and forever seek to inspire humanity to rise up and fulfill their potential. DBZ fans adore Goku and are often inspired by his displays of heroism. Yet in the Dragon Ball universe, Earth’s people don’t know Goku, much less trust him with their lives.
5 GOKU: GET STRONGER AFTER A BEATING
In the unlikely event that Superman is beaten in combat or injured, it doesn’t take long to heal. His healing factor, courtesy of the Sun, will patch him up quickly. Regardless, a Kryptonian like Superman won’t get stronger after a beating, Goku will. The Saiyan physiology is incredibly unique in that after suffering a near-death experience, once the respective Saiyan is back to full health, their strength doubles.
It’s a nifty little trait to exploit, something Goku has done unintentionally, while his rival Vegeta has done purposefully. During the Namek Saga when fighting the villainous Freiza, Vegeta allowed himself to be critically wounded by Krillin so that the Namekian Dende could heal him. Moments later, Vegata was back and several times stronger than he was minutes earlier. It’s a useful trick and one that’s served Dragon Ball Z’s central protagonist well.
4 SUPERMAN: KISS HIS WIFE
One of the most bizarre tidbits to come out of Dragon Ball Super has been that Goku’s never kissed his wife Chi-Chi. This boggled Vegeta’s mind, and the Saiyan Prince probed a bit further, reminding Goku that’s he’s had kids. Goku didn’t understand how one related to the other. Many Dragon Ball fans shouldn’t be surprised by Goku’s callous behavior, as he isn’t the best at showing affection. It’s a curious characteristic, especially for someone who spends so much time trying to save his friends and family
Superman would spend entire days snuggling up to Lois and planting a million kisses on her if he could. Clark Kent absolutely adores his wife; she’s his beacon of hope and represents everything good and worth fighting for. Their displays of affection are pretty adorable as Lois and Clark seemingly will never grow tired of each other.
3 GOKU: DIE WHEN HE WANTS TO
When superheroes die, it’s usually not because they want to. There’s no shame in getting killed in a climactic battle, but it’s definitely not a preference. Superman, what with every Multiverse and Elseworlds story, has died a fair number of times, and not one of those moments did he do it out of personal choice.
While Goku’s died on numerous occasions, each instance was because he chose to. He never died in the original Dragon Ball, and didn’t even know death until Dragon Ball Z when he fought his brother Raditz. During the fight Goku sacrificed himself by restraining Raditz long enough for Piccolo to kill them both. Something similar happened against Cell, when Goku sacrificed himself, teleporting a self-destructing Cell off of the Earth. Yes, Goku has been beaten, but he’s never experienced defeat to the point of being helpless while someone killed him.
2 SUPERMAN: LISTEN TO AND RESPECT OTHERS
Whether you’re setting up date night with the wife or trying to save the world, listening to your teammates and family members is pretty important. Goku is incredibly stubborn and will do whatever he wants regardless as to how it affects others. This can be an endearing trait, as he’s unwilling to let go of things if it’s in the name of a good cause. Even so, his stubbornness has gotten him in trouble with his wife many times and has put the entire Multiverse in danger. Extremely reckless, while Goku is an excellent combatant, he’s not big on considering people’s feelings.
Superman is all about teamwork, camaraderie, and respect. He understands the importance of every person, realizing we all have feelings that need to be honored. Generally speaking, Superman won’t fly into a situation hotheaded, nor will he completely ignore Lois and her requests and undermine their entire relationship.
1 GOKU: THE KAMEHAMEHA
Goku’s signature energy blast, and the most famous attack within all of anime outside of Street Fighter’s Hadouken, is the Kamehameha. The white-blue energy energy-based attacked focuses all of Goku’s Ki into the palms of his cupped hands, before unleashing it in the form of a destructive energy wave powerful enough to destroy planets. When he was a child, Goku watched his teacher Master Roshi perform the move once; it was all he needed to learn it himself. It’s a testament to Goku’s genius as a fighter. Maybe the Kamehameha can’t defeat everyone, but fans always get excited whenever Goku lets loose the Kamehameha.
As for Superman, the Man of Steel can’t fire energy blasts from his hands, but his heat vision is usually enough to get the job done. Still, when all is said and done, the Kamehameha is one of the coolest moves in any fictional universe.
So can Goku beat the Man of Steel? Let us know in the comments!