When comes down to the whole Superman versus Batman debate (or Batman v. Superman if we’re talking about a legal dispute), I come down firmly Team Superman*. This puts me in the minority, I know.
Why do people love Batman so much? They typically give three reasons for this: 1) He is way cool; 2) He’s the serious hero; 3) He has no superpowers, and that makes him relatable.
To that, I say: 1) He is totally cool. Most of his comics, movies, and even the 1966 show are hip and slick and often compelling; 2) He’s the serious hero. As serious and hardcore as someone who wears pajamas and throws expensive toys at clowns and drives a car that goes vroom can be, I guess; 3) No powers? More relatable? This is where I get off the boat, laughing.
Bruce Wayne is obscenely wealthy, and he’s spent most of his life traveling the world, learning the way of the ninja, which are kind of superpowers in themselves. In the end, though, he wants the best for his ailing city, so he invests in local businesses to drive up employment, funds infrastructure projects, donates his time and money into charities, and supports politicians who are socially conscious.
Ha! Just kidding! He buys pajamas and toys he can throw at clowns and a car that goes vroom, because he’s a serious hero, and uses these things to go beat up on the other 99 percent.
Clark Kent, by contrast, was raised in middle-class, small-town America by loving parents, and he uses the talents he was born with to rescue people from disasters, save kittens from trees, beat up bullies, and overall to look out for the little guy.
“But … but …” detractors often say. “Superman has godlike powers! Where’s the challenge? How are you supposed to defeat a guy with godlike powers?” To me, this speaks to the level of imagination in these detractors. Is this all Superman is? The hardest puncher in the world? What about his morality? His honesty (not counting that whole secret-identity thing, of course)? His loyalty? His friendships? His sense of hope? A villain doesn’t have to be strong to oppose these. Hell, his greatest foe is a regular human being with an intellect and some cash, and that guy has Superman on the ropes all the time.
Therefore, if I want a story where Superman battles an unmarried, genius, obsessive billionaire with lots of gadgets and suits of armor and an iron will, I think I’ll stick with Lex Luthor.
But, to quote a pre-bonkers Dennis Miller, that’s just my personal opinion, and I could be wrong.
* But not the one from Man of Steel. I hated that movie.