Super Friend Or Foe: 18 Heroes Who Embarrassingly Defeated Superman

Everyone knows that Superman is basically the strongest being in the DC Universe. His Kryptonian DNA combined with the radiation from Earth's yellow sun make him practically indestructible. While he does have his weaknesses (like kryptonite and magic), it's often hard to get the drop on Clark Kent, and many heroes and villains who have gone up against him have failed to take him down. However, that doesn't mean that Superman has never been beaten in combat. After all, he wouldn't be that compelling of a character if it was entirely impossible for other heroes to battle him. Throughout DC's history, Superman has faced a number of formidable foes who have almost taken him out, and in some cases, they were his allies and friends.

For example, Batman and Superman have always had a tenuous relationship, one that is based on both respect and the fear of one of them going rogue. Wonder Woman is practically a goddess, so it's natural that she could go toe-to-toe with Superman. Then, there's the Flash, who has always faced the question of whether he could run faster than Superman could fly. On top of the obvious heroes, there have also been plenty of cult favorites in the DC universe who have taken on Superman and lived to tell the tale. They may not always be the most recognizable heroes, but having "beat Superman in a fight" on their resumes certainly makes them all the more impressive. these are 18 heroes who beat Superman, and sometimes in ways that are actually really embarrassing.


DC Rebirth Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman got her chance to take on Superman and give him a massive beatdown in Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 4. In this issue, Superman was pitted against Diana in a fight, but in a moment of hesitation, Superman left himself open to one of the most brutal beatdowns he may have ever received.

Typically when Superman and Wonder Woman fight each other, they eventually come to a truce, realizing that it is better for them to work together to stop the forces of evil. This time, however, Wonder Woman has no reason to stop and sensing Clark's hesitation in hurting her, she pulls out all the stops.


hawkman vs superman Cropped

Hawkman may not exactly be on the A-list as far as DC heroes go, but that doesn't mean that anyone should sell him short. He has been an integral part of the Justice League, and despite his incredibly confusing backstory, he has been a staple of DC comics since his first incarnation due to his strength and ability to wield Nth metal.

That being said, no one would ever think that Hawkman could possibly beat Superman in a fight. However, he did just that during the "Public Enemies" storyline. Utilizing the Claw of Horus, which derives power from Earth's gravity, Hawkman delivers a devastating blow to Superman. In essence, he hits him with the entire planet. That'll get the job done.


To be fair to Superman, Green Arrow didn't exactly beat him on his own -- it was more like giving an assist to Batman. Still, Green Arrow was instrumental in taking down Superman in The Dark Knight Returns. During the climactic fight between Batman and Superman (more on that later), Green Arrow fires a kryptonite-tipped arrow at Superman.

At that moment, Batman gets the upper hand, but it's all due to the assist from Oliver, who was the only person who could have ever made that shot. It makes complete sense that Green Arrow, who has always considered himself a socialist, would want to help take down a version of Superman who had essentially become a Reaganite pawn.


alfred pennyworth

If there's one character that should never be taken for granted in the DC universe, it has to be Alfred Pennyworth. Not only has he always stood by Bruce Wayne's side, but he has proven himself to be invaluable in a crisis. Most of that would have to do with his strict military background and intelligence.

In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Alfred gets the chance to take on Superman after Superman breaks into the Batcave and fracture's Bruce's spine. This all proves too much for Alfred, who has taken the super pills which grant levels of strength on par with Superman. He headbutts him and then gives him a memorable beatdown.



Marvel and DC are rival comic companies, but they do occasionally like to play nice and have their characters cross over into their respective universes. This occurred in the crossover event, JLA/Avengers, where both super teams were pitted against each other in a contest put together by Krona and the Grandmaster.

During the battle, Superman is facing off against Thor, an even match if ever there was one. On one side is a man people consider Godlike, and on the other is an actual God. Superman eventually beats Thor down, but he is quickly taken down when the strongest Avengers took him down, including She-Hulk, Vision, and Wonder Man.


supergirl vs superman

Families fight -- that's just the reality of the world we live in. The same goes for the members of Superman's family, as he once had to throw down with Supergirl. The debate is still raging as to whether Supergirl is stronger than Superman, but one thing is for sure: she's definitely beat him up pretty good at least once.

That happened upon Supergirl's arrival on Earth in the New 52 line of stories. The confused Supergirl began attacking Superman because she thought he was an impostor. The last time she had seen Jor-El, he was a baby, and she believed she had only traveled for a few days. She didn't hold back and gave Superman a solid whooping.


Orion is the son of Darkseid, so you already know that he has to be pretty strong. Strong enough to take on Superman? You better believe it. While Orion will often play the role of superhero, he does on occasion come into conflict with Earth's heroes, meaning that he will sometimes have to have it out with Superman.

On one such occasion, Orion was able to put Superman down with a laser blast from his Astro-Harness. It may not have done any permanent damage to Superman, but let's face it: Orion is comparable in strength, stamina, and speed to Superman, so it's always going to be a pretty close fight between these two.


You might not think that a character as obscure as Etrigan could be a match for Superman, but you would be wrong. This ancient, rhyming demon proved to be quite a handful for Superman when they encountered each other and may have delivered one of the best Superman knockouts in all of DC history.

Etrigan found himself entwined with Superman when Superman assumed Etrigan had evil plans (he is a demon, after all). However, when they began to fight, Etrigan did not want to waste any of his precious time, so he knocked Superman into the stratosphere with one mighty uppercut and yes, he did deliver a rhyme while doing it.


shazam vs superman

Shazam will be appearing in his own movie when it hits theaters in April 2019. Most people who go to see the film might not realize that Shazam is strong enough to take on Superman in a fight and seriously injure him. This is due to the fact that Shazam utilizes magic for his powers, something to which Superman is famously vulnerable.

In Kingdom Come, Shazam fighting Superman is ultimately the final battle of the story. In order to best Superman, Shazam continually changes from his human form back to his superhero form to call down lightning, nearly putting an end to Superman. Superman eventually puts his hand over Shazam's mouth and convinces him to save the world.


martian manhunter vs superman Cropped

Martian Manhunter has also been an integral part of the Justice League. His power is almost on par with Superman, meaning that it's actually a good thing they are allies. Otherwise, as Superman himself has noted in the past, Martian Manhunter might be one of the only people who is able to defeat him.

This possible scenario occurred in Injustice when Martian Manhunter faced off against Superman in a fight. However, Martian Manhunter never even needed to throw a punch. Instead, he used his telepathic powers to make Superman relive his most tragic memories and to feel the anguish of Martian Manhunter's people as they were wiped out. Now that's cold.

8 CH'P

chp vs superman

Anyone familiar with the Green Lantern corps knows that there are Green Lanterns all across the universe and that they come in many different forms. What they might not know is that one of those Green Lanterns happens to be an adorable little squirrel-like creature named Ch'p, and that Ch'p once took on Superman.

Yes, it's true. The panel above is not a joke. That is Superman sweating it out because of the power of a squirrel from another planet. In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Ch'p used his power to go small, stopping Superman's synapses from firing and rendering him entirely helpless. Although Ch'p is quickly dispatched by Sinestro, this may be one of the sillier times that Supes was almost put down.


captain atom vs superman Cropped

Captain Atom is yet another DC hero who isn't exactly mainstream, but still managed to put the hurt on Superman when the time came. Once again, this fight happened in Injustice: Gods Among Us. Captain Atom and Superman ended up fighting each other at the North Pole, trying to ensure there was no collateral damage.

The fight was a close one, with Captain Atom repeatedly getting the upper hand on Superman. He even claimed that he could have always defeated Superman, he just didn't have the orders. As the fight was about to end in Captain Atom's victory, Wonder Woman stepped in and saved the day by piercing Captain Atom's metal exterior, forcing him to leave Earth.


Superman defeats Batman Green Lantern

Green Lantern's near-defeat of Superman was actually so ridiculous, that it forced the writers at DC to retcon a major revelation made during the events of DC Comics Presents #26. In that issue, a villain known as N'Gom made a copy of Hal Jordan that included his Green Lantern Ring. This led to a startling (and in retrospect, silly) revelation.

The Power Ring worn by the Green Lanterns was able to create a synthetic form of kryptonite that could still weaken and destroy Superman. Eventually, though, Hal Jordan was able to stop N'Gom by throwing a rock at him (yes, you read that correctly), but had he not come to the rescue, Superman might have been done for.


It's a question that has plagued comic book readers for decades: Can Superman outrun the Flash? Even Justice League dedicated a post-credits scene to this classic quandary. However, the question was definitively answered in The Flash: Rebirth, when Barry Allen ultimately defeated Superman in a foot race.

This was due to the fact that Barry was trying to return to the Speed Force, and Superman was trying to stop him (in order to save his life). Flash revealed at this time that he had always held back in their previous races, and then he proved it by surging ahead of Superman. Ultimately, the age-old question was answered: the Flash can outrun Superman.


Ultra Boy first appeared in the Legion of Superheroes all the way back in 1962 when he figured out Superboy's secret identity. A few years later, the two heroes ended up fighting each other. You might think that Superboy could get the drop on someone who is essentially just a knockoff version of him, but you would be wrong.

Ultra Boy may have all of Superboy's powers, but his vulnerability lies in the fact that he is only able to use one power at a time. That still didn't stop him from grabbing Superboy's cape and using it to tie him up, rendering him helpless. This might be one of the silliest ways Superman was beaten, but then again, he was young and untrained, so he gets a pass on getting tied up in his own cape.


Atlas is definitely not a signature character in DC comics, nor is he always entirely considered a hero. In fact, his only appearance before fighting Superman in Superman #677-680 was 1st Issue Special #1 back in April 1975. That being said, this little-known DC character put up one heck of a fight.

Atlas nearly defeats Superman altogether as part of a plan to defeat the hero orchestrated by the military. However, just as Atlas is about to win the fight, he is attacked by none other than Krypto, Superman's faithful dog. Even though Superman ends up the victor in his battle against Atlas, it was a harrowing fight that could not have been won without help.


No, Ralph Macchio never joined the Legion of Super-Heroes. This Karate Kid was a completely different character. What he lacked in actual superpowers he made up for in martial arts prowess, being able to fight in any style ever created. His talent was so great, that he even managed to greatly impress Superboy.

Of course, he impressed Superboy by absolutely beating the snot out of him. Even though he wasn't able to seriously injure Superboy, he was still able to take him down, making Karate Kid one of the only heroes ever to do0 something like that. This humiliating beatdown for Superboy earned Karate Kid his place in the Legion.



It was a fight for the ages, rendered in brutal detail in the closing moments of The Dark Knight Returns: Batman versus Superman. It was a fight where anyone would have said Superman could easily win, but this was not the case. After all, Batman has always been a master tactician, and he had a plan all along.

That plan firstly involved suiting up in armor, then calling out Clark to battle on Batman's own turf in Crime Alley. Then, with the help of an old friend (and a kryptonite-tipped arrow), Bruce gets the upper hand and lays out Superman. However, the battle eventually ends with Bruce meeting his demise... or so everyone thinks. Still, it's one of the most epic fights Superman has ever faced.

Next Best Of The Decade: 10 Most Underrated Comic Books Since 2010 You Need To Read

More in Lists