Superheroes battling superheroes is a venerable tradition. It’s always due to a misunderstanding,… or an illusion, maybe mind control. Or maybe The Avengers secretly want to know if the Hulk is stronger than Thor. Regardless of the why, superheroes battle each other at least as often as they punch forest fires or dismantle death rays. It’s all in good fun, but there’s a built-in problem. Superhumans exist on a spectrum. Some heroes can literally move mountains. Others struggle with the morning rush hour. When these champions of justice clash, the results are often hilarious, inevitable, and slightly embarrassing for all concerned.
10 Batman vs Guy Gardner
Guy Gardner is a Green Lantern, wielding one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. Batman is a rich guy with punches and toys... and yet, when gods, monsters, and Kryptonians go up against him, they lose. In 1987's Justice League International #5 Guy's big mouth puts him up against the Dark Knight. Theoretically, Gardner should win before the fight begins. Being an arrogant sap, though, Guy removes his Power Ring before taking a swing at the Man o' Bats.
This instantaneously switches the mismatch in Batman's favor. The nocturnal warrior used to taking down physical behemoths like Killer Croc and Bane probably pulled his punch, but he still lays Guy out like a Goodwill donation in front of the Lantern's teammates.
9 Daredevil vs The Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four are a quartet of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe. Daredevil is a blind lawyer who knows karate. In 1968's "The Flames of Battle" Daredevil attacked Four Freedoms plaza and did surprisingly well. He tricked the Human Torch into knocking over a water tower and in melee with The Thing and Mister Fantastic, somehow got Marvel's biggest brain to attack his partner.
Or something. This issue, created by legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, was written via the Mighty Marvel method. Kirby drew everything, then Lee added the dialog. When Kirby drew Daredevil kicking the stuffing out of The Thing, Lee knew that made no sense. Lee decided it made more sense for Reed Richards to attack his best friend with a "nerve blast ray." Meanwhile, Daredevil stood back and thought-ballooned "it wasn't my kick that stopped him." Add super low self-esteem to Daredevil's list of powers.
8 The Hulk vs Starhawk
In 1984 (Incredible Hulk 300), the Hulk went on another patented “destroy all humans” rampage in New York City. This triggered a host of heroes swinging in to help control the damage-- Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Thor, Doctor Strange; even then-mayor Ed Koch was a part of the action. None were more ill-suited to the task, though, than Thanos’ little brother Eros (aka Starfox). Starfox’s powers are eerily similar to Jessica Jones’ adversary Kilgrave’s, with the creepy details that 1) he’s a womanizer and 2) his pheromonal mind control works best on women.
Starfox, of course, tried to use his pheromones to calm down the rampaging Hulk. One Hulk-punch later and it's obvious that 1) Starfox won't be using his face anytime soon and 2) his plan didn't work. It's the shortest fight on this list, but also the most satisfying.
7 Superman vs Spider-Man
In 1976, one of the first DC/Marvel crossovers took place in the form of a giant-sized single issue-- Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man. Although the cover bills it as “The Battle of the Century” it’s more a case of a classic fight between a man who can move continents with a man who can move… cars. Well, one car.
Spider-Man actually picked the fight with the Man of Steel, thinking the latter had kidnapped his girlfriend, Mary Jane (it was Lex Luthor in disguise). Spider-Man coudn’t fight Superman in a straight battle without becoming Spider-Paste, so Lex also temporarily boosted the Arachknight into a Kryptonian-whuppin' machine with Red Sun radiation! This results in a brief, fun conflict where Peter Parker pounds his other-corporate foe through buildings for about 30 seconds.
6 Punisher vs Wolverine
An indestructible human-Cuisinart hybrid versus a guy whose superpower is his gun collection? These two violent antiheroes have butted heads more than a couple times, but it's 2002's Punisher #17 that turns their conflict into purest parody.
You can tell it's written by Garth Ennis, as the writer uses Logan's healing factor to turn him into the perfect whipping boy. Frank Castle still can't keep the feral Logan down for long, though, so he employs his greatest power: Cheating! Their struggle ends with Wolverine pinned under a steamroller like a Looney Toons villain.
5 Howard the Duck vs Daimon Hellstrom
Howard the Duck is plucky and angry, but at 4 feet nothing and 80 pounds he's the underdog in almost any fight. In 1977's "The Omen of an Exorcist," though, he takes on one of Marvel's then most powerful characters, the antiheroic Son of Satan. A child of the Satanic Panic, Hellstrom's powers included hellfire, super strength, and the ability to damn his enemies to perdition.
This fight is fun, though, because Howard ends up with Hellstrom's abilities. The de-powered Hellstrom in turn is forced to fight like Howard, finally defeating the demon-possessed poultry by hitting him with a Buick.
4 Batman vs Superman
These two quintessential DC heroes don't always get along, and they've battled a plethora of times. None of these struggles compare to the climax of 1986's The Dark Knight Returns. Here Batman combines the Punisher's power of Cheating with the power of Homework to spectacular effect.
This is one of the most famous superhero battles of all time. It basically inspired the 2016 film Batman v Superman. The Dark Knight crushes his Kryptonian adversary by finding every possible advantage and ruthlessly exploiting it. Powered armor + X-Ray Vision triggered explosives + sonic attacks + secret allies + a Kryptonite arrow results in an unwilling/outmatched Man of Steel pounded into the ground by his aging former friend.
3 Saitama vs Tanktop Tiger
Mismatched fights are basically One-Punch Man's schtick. The titular character, Saitama, is too powerful to be in a real fight with anyone. This results in a hilariously bored hero who treats enemies like water balloons. When he's challenged by a much weaker hero, though, it takes a while to even get him to notice it's happening.
Tiger Tanktop who... maybe has tiger powers? first challenges Saitama while the series protagonist is facing off against the ludicrously named Speed o' Sound Sonic. Tiger is knocked out by the villain before Saitama has time to register TT's threats. Later, when Tiger Tanktop brings in his brother Tanktop Black Hole, he finally gets the battle he wanted. His initial move of turning a crowd of onlookers against the Baldie Behemoth is effective. TT has to push it, though, resulting in a ludicrously quick KO.
2 Hulk vs Daredevil
It makes sense for both the Hulk and Daredevil to have multiple appearances on this list. One is "the strongest of them all." The latter is the definition of a "street level" hero. When they fight the outcome seems obvious.
In 1969's Daredevil #163 some solid writing flips the script. The Hulk may be an indestructible juggernaut, but Daredevil overcomes his obvious disadvantages by weaponizing psychology. The Man Without Fear relentlessly tells the feral Hulk that he wants to help, guilting him into submission. Daredevil barely survives the encounter, but he also chases a remorseful Hulk out of the city.
1 Superman vs Alfred Pennyworth
Batman's valet Alfred is barely even a sidekick, but he's on the side of heroes. He battles the Man of Steel in 2016's Injustice Year 1 and the outcome? Satisfyingly absurd. He punches and headbutts the Kryptonian into submission before turning his back on Supes and walking away.
The plot device that makes this possible is a nanotech pill that imbues humans with Kryptonian strength and durability. Kal El didn't see it coming and Alfred doesn't give him a chance to recover. Superman's resulting beat-down is as satisfying as it is contrived.