March 25th marks the first time Batman and Superman will share live action screen time in a major motion picture. Subsequently, it also marks the first time they will fight on the silver screen. Though we often look at two of the World’s Finest as being partners, or some weird superhero version of good cop, bad cop, they are often on opposing sides of a fight. This article will take you through some of their greatest battles, not just in comics, but on television and in animated films as well. So, in no particular order, here is a brief history of Batman Vs. Superman.

1) BATMAN: HUSH #612 (2003)

Batman vs Superman Hush

This fight takes place early on in the BATMAN: HUSH storyline written by Jeff Loeb and drawn by the incredible Jim Lee. Batman follows a trail to identify the individual behind various crimes in Gotham, which leads him to Metropolis. While in Metropolis, Poison Ivy uses her plants to control Superman’s mind. However, even tough Superman is under Ivy’s influence, his kind nature prevents him from going all out. Batman ultimately uses his knowledge of Superman’s powers against him, and he manages to keep Superman at bay long enough for Catwoman to threaten Lois Lane’s life, breaking Superman from Ivy’s mind control.

During the fight, I can appreciate how inventive Batman is with his gadgets as they turn Superman’s powers into liabilities, but I am troubled by the Kryptonite ring Batman uses. I have a hard time believing that a tiny Kryptonite ring could have that much of an effect. Superman has faced Metallo, who has a heart made of Kryptonite, and Kryptonite-Man in the past, so how can Batman’s tiny ring be that useful? That could just be the writer changing the potency of Kryptonite to fit the story, but other than that I did enjoy the fight. It was more of a “how long can Batman survive against Superman” than if “he could beat him,” which keeps it interesting.

2) MAN OF STEEL #3 (1986)

Batman vs Superman Meet for the first time

One of the very first interactions between Superman and Batman written and drawn by John Bryne is MAN OF STEEL #3. While what it showcases is not a fight in the conventional sense, it is still a battle of wits and methods. Batman is in Gotham tracking down a small-time criminal, Magpie. Superman gets involved when he interferes with Batman’s interrogation and attempts to take him to jail for breaking the law. Since this is Batman’s home turf, he can slip away from Superman’s grasp quite easily. When Superman attempts to grab Batman and carry him to the police headquarters, Batman warns him that if he so much as touches him, a bomb will go off and kill an innocent person. This causes Superman to begrudgingly assist Batman in bringing Magpie into custody.

After capturing Magpie, Batman reveals that the “innocent life” he was putting in jeopardy was his own. This story provided readers the chance to see their two favorite heroes working together. It does make Superman the Brawn and Batman is the Brain, but it didn’t focus too much on that. Instead, the story demonstrated Superman’s and Batman’s differences while also showing what makes them great superheroes. Superman’s powers and human compassion provided an excellent juxtaposition to Batman’s serious and calculating demeanor. This might not be one of the greatest fights on this list, but it has earned its spot by being one of the first comics to feature two of the most iconic heroes ever.

READ: Caught up on BATMAN/SUPERMAN? Check out our review of issue #30

3) BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS #4 (1986)

Batman vs Superman TDKR

Featuring possibly the definitive fight between Batman and Superman, Frank Miller’s reinvention of Batman changed comic books indefinitely, and this comic seems to also serve as the main inspiration for the upcoming film BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. This story takes place several years after Batman has retired from crime-fighting and is set during the Cold War. The story is written and drawn by Frank Miller, and throughout this story Superman, who has now become a puppet of the United States government, has been warning Bruce to stop being a vigilante or else he will have to take him in. After Superman stopped a nuclear missile fired at the US from the Soviets, a city-wide blackout occurred in Gotham City leaving the many of the criminals to run rampant. Naturally, Batman rallies up a group of former gang members known as the Sons of Batman to bring order back to Gotham.

The US government eventually sends Superman to bring Batman into custody. When Superman arrives, Batman uses missiles and a tank to keep Superman at bay before engaging him head on. In anticipation of their fight, Batman developed a metal suit to withstand Superman’s power. Batman uses a sonic blast to deafen Superman and the city’s electricity to electrocute him. When Superman regains his composure, he proceeds to crush Batman, and if it wasn’t for Oliver shooting a Kryptonite arrow, Batman might not have made it. Batman takes advantage of the situation and appears to get the upper hand, but Superman notices that Batman’s heart is slowly stopping. The fight ends with Superman holding a “dead” Batman. Now there were a lot of circumstances that were in Batman’s favor. For example, Superman was weak from the nuke, and he was holding back during the fight as he did not want to kill Batman, just bring him into custody. However, the fight was very entertaining because it shows off Batman’s intellect at work as he uses a variety of tools to catch Superman off guard. Over the years other fights have occurred, some inspired by The Dark Knight Returns, and they have all given their own interpretation on how a fight between these heroes would go down. However, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS featured a Batman and Superman the world had never seen before and gave an unforgettable story – and for that comic book fans are grateful.

4) SUPERMAN/BATMAN #78 (2011)

Batman vs Superman WWW

The story was written by Jack and Joe Kelly and the art was done by Ed Benes and focuses on two young boys who are discussing who would win in a fight: Batman or Superman. Before discussing the fight, the boys set up rules: (1) No Kryptonite, (2) No Killing, (3) No mind control, (4) No magic. They ignore the reason they’re fighting because they are more concerned with the actual fight. Superman gets one hit on Batman, and it immobilizes him temporarily in the hypothetical fight. Batman triggers an explosion, which temporarily blinds Superman and allows Batman to escape. Superman follows Batman’s heartbeat, but the Dark Knight has already boarded his Batwing. Superman destroys the Batwing and attempts to take Batman into the atmosphere to put him to sleep, but Batman put on unfolding armor while in the Batwing.

The fight ultimately leads to Batman unleashing a container for the Sun. The two heroes begin to plummet towards the Earth to their inevitable deaths. However, the boys decide that the discussion of who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman is stupid because they’re friends who are better when they fight alongside one another. I love this fight. Having the premise be two kids talking about a hypothetical fight between their favorite heroes is genius. The way the fight showcased both heroes using their skills to one up the other, until eventually the whole world was basically destroyed, was incredible. I also like that the boys set rules before having the fight. The rules made the fight fair for both sides and made for an exciting brawl with a fantastic moral at the end – In a fight between Batman and Superman, it’s better to leave these heroes as friends (And haven’t we all had this debate anyway?).

5) BATMAN: The Dark Knight #5-6 (2012)

Batman vs Superman Scarecrow

Written by Paul Jenkins and David Finch, who also did artwork, the story is one of Darkseid’s minions, Desaad, has Jonathan Crane (aka Scarecrow) make a fear toxin for Superman. The toxin puts Superman under Desaad’s control, so he can make Superman get the staff of Highfather and give Darkseid his Omega powers back. Batman learns about this and goes into Apokolips to stop Desaad and save Superman. However, Batman is relatively unprepared for this fight with the Man of Steel. Batman has no Kryptonite but does have the assistance of Bekka, a New God from Apokolips, to help him in his fight with Superman. After evading Superman and taking a few hits, Highlander helps Superman break free from Desaad’s control. This fight trumps most because it is one of the rare occasions where Superman does not hold back.

Unlike the HUSH storyline where Poison Ivy controlled Superman’s mind, but he was still conscious of what he was doing, this storyline has Desaad maintaining complete control over Superman for a short period. It is in these moments where the fight turns to Superman’s favor. Despite all of the knowledge and skills Batman possesses, he is still just a human being fighting an alien with god-like powers. This fight is not fantastic, but it does feature a Superman who is not holding back, and that’s a rare sight.

LISTEN: Check out our analysis of Scott Snyder’s amazing run with the Dark Knight!

6)  SUPERMAN: RED SON (2003)

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RED SON is one of those beautiful, almost “flash in a pan” like, what-if storylines. RED SON was released in 2003 as a part of DC’s Elseworlds imprint, an imprint specifically made for what-if, non-canonical storylines. Comic superstar Mark Millar wrote this three issue miniseries with Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett providing the pencils. The story is quite simple. Instead of landing in an all-American Kansas cornfield, infant Kal-el lands on a Ukrainian farm and goes on to become the poster boy for socialism and Stalin’s trusted Muscle. Considering this story has an an alternate version of Superman, alternative versions of Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor are present as well, but the scene-stealing Russian Batman is the most notable of characters in the comic. What makes the battle between Soviet Superman and Russian terrorist Batman stand apart from the other times the two titans have fought is the fact that there is no reconciliation; the loser dies.

Batman feels as though Superman is abusing his power and mistreating the citizens of the Soviet Union. Superman obviously sees Batman as a threat and wishes to exterminate him. The regular staples of a Batman/Superman fight, such as kryptonite, mind-control, and robotic suits are welcome absences in this fight. Batman relies on nothing but his ingenuity, genius, and brutality to win. Batman even uses large red sun lamps to neutralize Superman’s powers and make him human. What ensues is a bloody fistfight where Batman takes the upper hand easily only to be done in by his pride and underestimation of Wonder Woman. Personally, this is my favorite fight between Batman and Superman (despite them being twisted versions of the characters). Batman’s creativity provides the most entertainment in this battle, and the inclusion of Wonder Woman makes it a refreshing change of pace.

7) BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD (2011)

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BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD is one of many successful animated shows featuring the Dark Knight. The show emphasized Batman’s relationships with other superheroes, so every episode guest starred any and everyone in the Justice League. Though a decidedly brighter and kid-friendly show, this episode features a soft re-imagining of the epic showdown in Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. The episode is titled BATTLE OF THE SUPERHEROES, and Superman is turned evil by a red kryptonite necklace made by Lex Luthor. While under the influence of the red kryptonite, Superman asserts himself as king of Metropolis (complete with a golden throne) and establishes a martial law-like environment. Batman arrives in Metropolis to face him with the help of some DARK KNIGHT RETURNS-esque armor and Krypto the Superdog.

The fists and heat vision are unleashed as Batman and Superman trade punches in the heart of Downtown Metropolis. Despite being a children’s show, the action is well choreographed and a bit violent with the best part being a short skirmish between the loyal Krypto and Superman. Krypto attacks Superman to protect Batman, leading to Superman throwing the dog into space. This fight provides some great entertainment value, and it’s awesome that kids get to experience their own version of the most pivotal part of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. Interestingly enough, this episode aired on March 25, the same date that BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is set to premiere.

READ: Ever wonder why Batman and Superman have to fight? Check out our analysis of why they can’t just look the other way!

8) JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR (2014)

JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR is an animated film adaptation of the New 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE, VOL 1: ORIGIN written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jim Lee. The film sees the formation of the Justice League because of an alien invasion from Darksied and his planet Apocalypse. This film features Batman and Superman going head to head twice. The first fight is when they first meet as Superman mistakes Batman for one of Darksied’s minions and engages in a fun battle involving Green Lantern. Batman uses his array of gadgets and tactics to hold off Superman, but they all prove useless. The fight finally subsides when Batman calls Superman Clark and Superman uses his X-Ray vision to see that Batman is Bruce Wayne. The second time they fight has much higher stakes, despite it taking much less time.

The second time they fight has much higher stakes, despite it taking much less time. During all the commotion of fighting para-demons in Metropolis and Gotham, Darksied’s minions take Superman prisoner on Apocalypse. Meanwhile, Darksied’s evil scientist prepares to harvest Superman’s organic matter to create a more powerful soldier in Darksied’s army. Batman sets out to get Superman back and is almost successful in rescuing him, but Superman is mind-controlled as a result of of the transformation process. This fight is quick, since Batman has to think of a way to break the mind-control over Superman. Eventually, Batman does break the mind-control by shocking Superman with a power cable to the head. Though not a full fight, the two smaller skirmishes between Superman and Batman make for great introductions to the New 52 versions of the characters and even do a great job of exploring their dynamic early on.

9)  THE BATMAN SUPERMAN MOVIE: WORLD’S FINEST (1997)

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Paul Dini and Bruce Timm were the masterminds behind the DC animated universe. Among the many successful television series they ushered in was THE NEW BATMAN/SUPERMAN ADVENTURES. This series was introduced with a three episode back door pilot that was later converted into a full-length animated film called THE BATMAN SUPERMAN MOVIE: WORLD’S FINEST. For many, this film acts as the definitive team up of the two greatest superheroes of all time. The film is broken down into three parts, the first part containing the tension-filled meeting between the two. Batman arrives in Metropolis to investigate a robbery by the Joker; Superman being aware of Batman and his tactics confronts Bats, making it clear he doesn’t approve of his methods. A small fight ensues that shows Batman throw Superman across a room and Superman shoving Batman into a wall. Superman then uses his X-ray vision (once again) and learns Batman is Bruce Wayne. It is only when Batman takes out a fragment of Kryptonite that Superman is weak enough to hear Batman out.

Following the battle, Superman is in his apartment as Clark Kent when he realizes Batman tagged him with a tracking device. Superman then goes to the window only to see Batman on the rooftop across from his building, now aware of his secret Identity. The best part about this meeting is all the tertiary details. What makes this meeting between Batman and Superman is the dynamic their alter-egos share. For instance, Bruce Wayne is dating Lois Lane all throughout the story while Clark Kent is doing a story on Wayne Enterprises new deal with Lexcorp. This film or collection of episodes may not be the best example of the two fighting, but it proves their relationship got off to a rocky, violent start much like we assume it will in DAWN Of JUSTICE.

10) BATMAN ENDGAME (2014)

Batman-End-Game-Comic-Fight-Superman-Joker

This last entry is a bit of a cheat. It isn’t exactly a fight between Batman and Superman as much as it is a fight between Batman and everyone, Superman just happens to be included in everyone. ENDGAME was a story arc by Scott Snyder taking place in the new 52 continuity. In this storyline, we see Scott Synder’s version of the Joker at his most diabolical. Joker poisons the whole Justice League with a powerful strain of his Joker toxin. The battle begins with Wonder Woman attacking Batman followed by the Flash and Aquaman. Things don’t heat up until Superman crashes the battle in spectacular fashion upping the stakes. Batman luckily has built a giant suit of robotic armor to fight the Justice League for an occasion just like this one. Batman incapacitates all the members of the Justice League until only Superman is left.

His robotic power suit is fitted with mini red sun lamps in the gauntlets. The two heroes pound away at each other until Superman has broken through the suit, leaving Batman unprotected. Batman uses his last resort, a piece of kryptonite laced chewing gum he keeps for moments just like this one. Superman is weakened enough to be subdued and cured of Joker’s toxin, but the collateral damage done to the city and the citizens results in a loss for both heroes. It seems like every battle between Batman and Superman has either mind control or a robo-suit, which makes this par for the course, but, other than THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, which is for children, Snyder’s take on these two gods fighting is the best use of this trope.

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