While fans have argued about which superheroes could defeat each other for generations, the gold standard of superhero strength in these friendly arguments is Superman. With a seemingly endless arrays of abilities and bottomless power reserve, it's difficult to think of a character who could reasonably give the Man of Steel a serious challenge in a fair fight.
However, Thor, one of Marvel's strongest Avengers, might just be powerful enough to take on Superman. With his Asgardian abilities and mystically-enchanted hammer Mjolnir, Thor is a god who fights and defeats adversaries far stronger than him on a regular basis. While Thor might be mighty and Superman might be stronger than a locomotive and faster than a speeding bullet, CBR is pitting these two heroes against each other to try and figure out which one would actually defeat the other.
WHICH THOR AND SUPERMAN?
Given the alternate realities and rebooted timelines of superhero comics, DC and Marvel have had several versions of Superman and Thor, respectively, and it's worth establishing which version of both heroes we'll be considering.
In the DC Universe, the Pre-Crisis Superman has an indeterminate level of power. In some comics that took place before 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman develops new abilities as the plot demands and demonstrates levels of strength never reached in later issues. For example, Superman's sneeze is so powerful it can send a solar system in disarray. At no point in Superman's history is that level strength demonstrated, even Pre-Crisis. In his more modern incarnations, Post-Crisis Superman has limits. Some of his adversaries, like Doomsday and Darkseid, even match him in terms of power.
Several alternate realities have similarly strong versions of Superman. In All-Star Superman, for instance, the Man of Steel's powers are elevated before the moment of his demise, which leads to him becoming far stronger than ever before.
While Thor generally has a more consistent power level, some future or alternate reality versions of the character are stronger or weaker than Marvel's main Thor when he wields Mjolnir.
Since the Pre-Crisis Superman would most likely defeat Thor with his exotic abilities, this article will compare Post-Crisis Superman to the main Marvel Universe Thor who's wielding Mjolnir.
IS THOR OR SUPERMAN STRONGER?
By most accounts, Superman seemingly outclasses Thor in terms of raw strength. He's drag planets along, punched people into orbit and performed all sorts of wild feats of strength. In the DC Universe, Superman's powers are effectively unmatched.
However, Thor has shown a considerable amount of strength too. After all, Thor's raw strength was able to destroy an entire planet during his fight with Beta-Ray Bill. He's punched down Galactus and the Phoenix Force, entities of Universal Cosmic strength. He held up Asgard, resisted a black hole's gravity, and leg-pressed one million tons.
While Superman is still probably a touch stronger, the divide between Post-Crisis Superman and Thor is not nearly as wide as one might suspect.
WHO HAS MORE POWERS?
In regards to superpowers, Superman wins in terms of versatility. With moves like freeze breath and heat vision, Superman has a wider arsenal. However, Thor regularly fights Frost Giants and has endured energy blasts from god-like Celestials. While Superman's abilities might hurt Thor, they wouldn't necessarily put him down.
Besides his strength and other Asgardian abilities, Thor has one primary power: lightning. As the God of Thunder, he can control and manipulate magical bolts of lightning. While these are nothing to sneeze at, Thor's lightning powers could prove to be especially effective against Superman.
Superman and Thor's Magic
Famously, Superman has a few weaknesses. While a red sun or kyrptonite can severely weaken him, Superman also has an often-forgotten weakness to magic. That's one of the main reasons that Shazam, a mystical hero who relies on magical abilities, can take on Superman and win.
Thor is imbued with magical power. This power allows him to spin Mjolnir, his hammer, at speeds that have surpassed light speed. His mystical abilities allow him to maintain his strength under any circumstances. He can generate fields of magical lightning enough to hurt forces of raw nature.
In the end, Superman's strength does not matter when he's faced with one of his weaknesses. Thor is powered by the thing that Superman is weak against. While Superman would overpower Thor, Thor's blows will leave Kal-El seriously injured.
WHO WOULD WIN?
Beyond Superman's weakness to magic, Thor has another upper hand since Superman generally holds back in friendly fights. That's how Batman's often managed to beat him, and it's not hard to imagine Superman wanting to hold back against Thor if they ever fought. Thor, however, loves to fight and would likely enjoy every second of his battle with the Man of Steel.
With his super-speed, Superman could probably beat Thor before the Asgardian had a chance to summon a bolt of lightning. However, Superman rarely goes all-out against opponents, especially in friendly fights. But even when fighting for sport, Thor wants to win. Combined with his mystical abilities, that mindset would probably give Thor the chance to unleash all his magic against Superman before he can prepare for it.
While Superman might be the Man of Steel, Thor could be strong enough to give him a shocking defeat with his mystical lightning.