As one of the founding members of the Justice League, Superman has been an almost ever-present figure in the various different League line-ups over the years (with the comedic Justice League International team being a notable exception for the Man Of Steel). As the most iconic hero in the DC Universe, Superman is usually looked up to and admired by his teammates, especially the younger ones. He is also deeply respected by his peers and even though some of them may poke fun at his morality (calling him the ‘Big Blue Boy Scout’), they all know there’s no one they’d rather have on their team more than the Last Son Of Krypton.
Superman believes in the capacity for good in everyone and therefore is a man capable of incredible levels of trust. He heads into deadly battle with his League teammates on a routine basis, and trusts them with his life (and vice versa). In fact, we’d argue that Superman has held a deep trust for most members of the League he’s teamed with over the course of the team’s history. However, this is not to say that Clark has gotten along perfectly with everyone he’s been on the same side as. There have been a number of people on the League roster that have fallen short of Superman’s high standards, and there have also been more than a few whose personality simply clashed with his too much. This list will detail 10 League members that Superman trusts, and also 10 that he can’t stand. Read on!
20. TRUSTS: BATMAN
Contrary to what Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice might have you believe, comic book Batman isn’t hellbent on taking out Superman for simply being a superpowered alien that lives on Earth. Naturally, they have had a few clashes over the years (The Dark Knight Returns, Hush) but generally the two heroes trust each other implicitly, despite their differing philosophies and wildly opposite personalities.
Batman is paranoid and brooding, whereas Superman is sincere and believes in the good in humanity. But somehow their differences make their bond stronger. In fact, Superman trusts Batman so much that he once gave him a piece of Kryptonite to use to take him down, should he ever lose control of his mind and powers!
19. CAN’T STAND: GREEN ARROW
In the comics, Oliver Queen has always been a socially conscious man with a fire in his belly for the injustices of politics. He has been everything from a wealthy playboy to a penniless street vigilante, but has always maintained a certain irascible attitude. His abrasive personality would often clash with Superman, but perhaps the thing that caused Clark to lose respect for Ollie the most was when he mortally wounded the supervillain Prometheus.
Prometheus had destroyed Star City with bombs and took out Roy Harper’s daughter Lian in the process, and Ollie enacted fatal retribution. He then hunted down everyone associated with Prometheus until the Justice League stopped him, making him realize he had gone too far in the name of vengeance.
18. TRUSTS: WONDER WOMAN
Superman has always had a very trusting relationship with Wonder Woman, the third member of DC’s iconic Trinity. Over the years they have fought together countless times while members of the Justice League, but their relationship has also veered into romantic territory a number of times.
DC most notably explored this in The New 52 series Superman/Wonder Woman, which ran for 29 issues from 2013 to 2016, but a romantic interest between the two was also hinted at in Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come. Heck, they even went on a date way back in Action Comics #600 in 1988! Clark and Diana bonded over their nature as two of the most powerful beings in the world who also felt somewhat lonely and isolated from humanity at times.
17. CAN’T STAND: LOBO
Lobo, everyone’s favorite ultra-violent alien with a soft spot for space dolphins, is currently a member of the new Justice League Of America team alongside the likes of Batman, Killer Frost, The Ray and The Atom. One hero who definitely won’t be thrilled about ‘the Main Man’ being a Leaguer is Superman, who has battled Lobo countless times over the years.
Lobo is just as powerful as the Man Of Steel but has none of the core values that make Superman a hero and a morally upright person. Like Clark, he is the last of his race, although in his case it’s because he wiped out his own homeworld of Czarnia! In many ways he’s an arrogant and murderous mirror image of Superman, and the two will never ever get along.
16. TRUSTS: MARTIAN MANHUNTER
There are very few things in the known universe that Superman is frightened of. So it may surprise fans to find out that he once said that one of the only beings he would be afraid to face in open combat is none other than his longtime Justice League teammate J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter!
He went on to call J’onn the most powerful being on the face of the Earth, which is a pretty big statement. It’s a good thing J’onn and Clark are on the same side then! Interestingly, writer Brian Michael Bendis recently hinted that the trust between the two heroes might become strained in the near future when, in Superman #1, J’onn suggested Clark should take leadership of the world to show humanity the error of their ways. Clark wasn’t comfortable with this suggestion.
15. CAN’T STAND: DARKSEID
Before you flip out and think we’ve lost our minds by including one of Superman’s greatest enemies on a list of Justice League members, have a quick peek at Justice League: Odyssey #1. This new League title takes place in the wake of Metal and No Justice, and finds a new League team in space, exploring a new zone of rediscovered planets called ‘The Ghost Zone’.
Cyborg, Jessica Cruz, Starfire and Azrael are approached by none other than Darkseid, who says he wants to help them fight a new cosmic menace! If he really does become part of their team, we can’t wait to see what Superman makes of it whenever they eventually cross paths again. We’re willing to bet that fists will fly.
14. TRUSTS: STEEL
The incarnation of John Henry Irons, aka Steel, that fans will be most familiar with is the character that first appeared in 1993 as part of the “Reign Of The Supermen” story that took place in the wake of the Death Of Superman. He was a brilliant inventor whose life was saved by Superman.
This inspired him to create a suit of powered armor in order to fight crime in Superman’s memory after the Man Of Steel was killed by Doomsday. Steel eventually joined the JLA at Batman’s request, as he wanted more brains on the team, and then became a staunch ally of the man who inspired him, even helping Superman build a new Fortress Of Solitude. John Henry Irons certainly made sure his life was a life worth saving.
13. CAN’T STAND: LEX LUTHOR
As utterly bizarre and insane as it sounds, Superman’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor was indeed a member of the Justice League at one point in time! As part of the “Forever Evil” crossover event in 2013/14, Luthor led a new version of the Injustice League (which included other villains such as Bizarro, Black Adam, Catwoman and Deathstroke) against the Crime Syndicate Of America (the Earth-3 villainous version of the Justice League).
Lex even saved Superman’s life during battle and found he liked the public adulation he received, and so campaigned to join the League as a hero. After initially saying no, the League relented and Luthor joined, much to Superman’s chagrin. Imagine how tense those League team meetings would have been!
12. TRUSTS: THE FLASH
When it comes to Superman and The Flash, fans tend to ignore the great friendship that has existed between the heroes for generations and instead get bogged down in the question of which hero is actually faster. Spoiler: it’s Flash, as recently confirmed in Josh Williamson and Howard Porter’s The Flash #49 and also hinted at by Geoff Johns in 2009’s The Flash: Rebirth #3 (in which Barry Allen intimated that he’d only ever let Superman win races because they were for charity).
Far more important to the DCU as a whole is the fact that Superman has held long-standing friendships with two incarnations of The Flash: Barry Allen and Wally West. Barry, in particular, is an inherently moral character like Clark, and they have similar personality traits.
11. CAN’T STAND: GREEN LANTERN (GUY GARDNER)
Guy Gardner is one of the DC Universe’s most enduringly irritating and self-defeating characters. He seemingly suffers from a neverending inferiority complex which causes him to lash out at other heroes that he perceives are disrespecting him in some way. The most famous example of this self-destructive tendency was when he challenged Batman to a fight… and the Dark Knight felled him with one punch.
Guy has also long had an issue with Superman, stemming from jealousy over his girlfriend Ice holding a candle for the Man Of Steel. He even went as far as to back the Eradicator as the ‘real’ Superman during the “Reign Of The Supermen” storyline. There is definitely no love lost between the two heroes.
10. TRUSTS: GREEN LANTERN (HAL JORDAN)
Even though he and Guy Gardner have never really seen eye to eye, Superman does trust another Green Lantern who has long been a Justice League teammate: Hal Jordan. Clark and Hal have always maintained a close friendship, and one of the best examples of this bond was in the 2000 one-shot Green Lantern/Superman: Legend Of The Green Flame.
Written by Neil Gaiman, the story starts with Clark and Hal spending an evening together, separate from their superheroics, with Clark trying his best to console his friend after a recent breakup. He knows how hard it is to maintain a dual life as well as a relationship and offers Hal a sympathetic ear. Superman doesn’t have this level of intimate, genuine friendship with very many of his fellow heroes.
9. CAN’T STAND: CATWOMAN
Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, was a short-lived member of Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor’s Justice League Of America, a team formed to serve as an opposition to the Justice League should it be needed (with Waller nervous about the implications of Superman and Wonder Woman’s romance). Generally seen as villain or an anti-hero, Catwoman’s recent engagement with Batman led to some nervousness from the Man Of Steel.
He wanted to make sure Bruce knew what he was doing and that he could trust Selina. Clark just couldn’t quite wrap his head around Batman wanting to marry one of his greatest enemies but, to her credit, Catwoman revealed she long ago figured out Clark Kent was Superman and had never revealed it to the public! Maybe she could be trusted?
8. TRUSTS: AQUAMAN
While Superman’s reationship with Aquaman mightn’t be as close as with some of the other heroes in the DC Universe, the two men are both founding members of the Justice League Of America and trust each other wholeheartedly. With one being the last son of the doomed planet Krypton and the other being the ruler of the undersea Kingdom Of Atantis, the two characters share a certain feeling of being outsiders to humanity.
Both have many people who depend on them, with Aquaman particularly feeling the weight of expectation that comes with the crown of Atlantis. Both are hugely powerful and skilled when it comes to battle, and together they have faced down enemies such as Darkseid, Starro the Conqueror and the Legion Of Doom.
7. CAN’T STAND: SISTER SUPERIOR
Vera Black, aka Sister Superior, first appeared in JLA #100 in 2004 as part of a story which laid the seeds for the Justice League Elite 12-issue maxiseries which was published in 2004/05. Vera is the sister of Manchester Black, the ruthless vigilante leader of The Elite, an extremely violent group who extinguishes their foes and got on the wrong side of Superman.
Black tried to get Superman to break his moral code and end him but in the process became as bad as the villains he despised, so he did himself in. Vera contemplated revenge on the Man Of Steel but eventually decided she had to be better than her brother. She formed the Justice League Elite, a covert black-ops off-shoot of the League that did the questionable dirty work heroes like Superman wouldn’t dream of.
6. TRUSTS: SWAMP THING
Swamp Thing is currently a member of Justice League Dark alongside Wonder Woman, Man-Bat and Zatanna. The humanoid plant/elemental creature once known as Alec Holland has had several encounters with Superman over the years. A favorite is a brilliant tale entitled ‘The Jungle Line’ written by Alan Moore and drawn by Rick Veitch in 1985’s DC Comics Presents #85, but a much more recent tale in Superman Annual #1 in 2016 showed just how deep the bond between the two characters can be.
In this trippy tale, the Avatar of the Green sent Superman on a vision quest of sorts, helping him purge his mind of memories of a previous Earth that were holding him back and preventing him from fully accepting his new home Earth.
5. CAN’T STAND: BLACK CANARY (INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US)
The 2013 video game Injustice: Gods Among Us featured a compelling alternate universe take on the DC characters. The plot of the game saw a mentally broken Superman become a vicious tyrant after the Joker tricked him into mortally wounding his beloved Lois Lane and destroying Metropolis with a nuclear bomb.
Batman then formed a resistance movement against the Man Of Steel’s totalitarian regime. In the critically acclaimed spin-off comic book, Black Canary and Superman hated each other. She shot Superman with a kryptonite bullet and in response he blasted a hole through her with his heat vision, but even as she died she got the last laugh; her contact lenses had recorded everything, and now his villainy would be broadcast all over the world.
4. TRUSTS: SHAZAM
Generally speaking, the following formula is applied to nearly every superhero team-up: the heroes in question meet, disagree on something and exchange blows, before they realize they’re on the same side and team up to fight a common enemy. However, in the wonderful 2004 miniseries Superman/Shazam: First Thunder, writer Judd Winick and artist Joshua Middleton buck that trend in a charming way.
Detailing the first meeting of the characters, Winick has Superman and Shazam instantly impress each other with their prowess, and they get along like a house on fire. They also find that their differences compliment each other; for example, Superman notices that Shazam can defend against magic attacks that he would be defenseless against.
3. CAN’T STAND: JOHN CONSTANTINE
Superman hasn’t had a lot of contact with John Constantine over the years, but anytime they have crossed paths it’s not exactly been pleasant. Their most recent encounter came in ‘Dark Destiny’, a storyarc published in Trinity #12-15 from 2017. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are forced to turn to Constantine (and his Justice League Dark pals Zatanna and Deadman) when Red Hood, Artemis and Bizarro are sacrificed into the Pandora Pits.
Constantine’s personality clashes with Clark’s immediately, with John’s morally flexible (and sometimes downright caustic) attitude to heroics rubbing him the wrong way. Superman also probably feels nervous around Constantine, considering he is an expert chaos magician and magic is one of Clark’s weaknesses.
2. TRUSTS: NIGHTWING
Dick Grayson is one of the most enduringly popular heroes in the DC Universe, and has been a member of the Justice League on a few occasions (although he is more associated with Teen Titans). Clark has known Dick since he was a child and they both share a positive outlook on life and humanity. He knows that Dick helps balance out Batman’s darker impulses.
Dick also clearly admires Superman and sees him as a mentor. Some fans might not realise that the inspiration for his superhero name Nightwing, a moniker he took on after leaving the mantle of Robin behind, came from Superman. In post-Crisis continuity, Superman told a young Dick the urban legend of a Kryptonian man cast out from his family who became a vigilante named Nightwing.
1. CAN’T STAND: PLASTIC MAN (INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US)
We’re back in the Injustice: Gods Among Us continuity for this entry. As part of Year Four of the comic book series, Plastic Man enters the fray and isn’t afraid to tell the tyrannical Man Of Steel what he really thinks of him. When his son is imprisoned for helping an anti-Regime protest, Plastic Man visits Superman to plead for his son’s release. He openly calls him a despot, and also refers to his regime as a dictatorship.
He then laughs incredulously about how Superman still thinks of himself as a good guy, and ends by calling out his delusion of righteousness. All in all, it’s an incredibly brave (or stupid) thing to do and Plastic Man somehow escapes with his life, but Superman is notably furious with him. He can’t stand being spoken to like that.
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