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This week, finally, audiences get to see the Dark Knight take on the Man of Steel in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
While it’ll be the first time the two DC Entertainment superheroes have shared the big screen, the two have been teaming up for decades in comic books — and fighting for almost as long.
Ahead of the two heroes slugging it out onscreen, here are some highlights of their comic book tussles, along with a running tally of which superhero won the bout.
The Feud Between Batman and Superman (1964)
Where Did It Happen? World’s Finest Comics No. 143
Why Were They Fighting? An attempt at morale-boosting by Superman — which followed Batman getting hit by a bullet ricocheting off Superman’s invulnerable chest — goes awry, leading to increased tensions between the superheroes.
Winner: N/A; the fight is broken up, and the two quickly become friends again.
The Infinite Evolutions of Batman and Superman (1965)
Where Did It Happen? World’s Finest Comics No. 151
Why Were They Fighting? An “evolutionary ray” created by a long-dead scientist from Superman’s homeworld malfunctions, turning Superman into a caveman and Batman into a hyper-evolved human who is, coincidentally, arrogant. Unsurprisingly, the two fight before returning to their usual selves.
Winner: Superman, apparently answering the “caveman vs. astronaut” meme decades early.
The Galactic Gamblers (1969)
Where Did It Happen? World’s Finest Comics No. 185
Why Were They Fighting? After aliens kidnap Jimmy Olsen and Robin, Superman and Batman are forced into gladiatorial battles on another planet in order to keep their friends safe. To make matters worse, their fights are the subject of betting matches by thrill-seeking aliens!
Winner: N/A, because their hearts were never in it. (But if it had come down to it, it would’ve been Batman. As much as Superman loves Jimmy, it pales before the bond between the Dynamic Duo.)
How Do You Kill A Superman? (1976)
Where Did It Happen? World’s Finest Comics No. 240
Why Were They Fighting? Superman’s actions become erratic after he’s agreed to become the king of the shrunken city of Kandor. As things get worse, the Kandorians ask Batman to step in — and kill their Man of Steel. What’s behind it all? Believe it or not, an evil alien cat. No, that’s not a joke.
Winner: Batman, kind of …? It’s unclear; while Batman seemed to kill Superman, he actually ended up triggering a sequence of events that saved Superman’s life, which was perhaps what he’d hoped for all along …?
The Dark Knight Falls (1986)
Where Did It Happen? Batman: The Dark Knight Returns No. 4
Why Were They Fighting? With a reborn Batman causing political upheaval even as he’s keeping the streets of Gotham safer than they had been in some time, the President of the United States sends in Superman to take him down. Things don’t go to plan.
Winner: Batman, and surprisingly easily, thanks to the help of Green Arrow, some kryptonite and a mechanized suit of super-strong armor.
One Night in Gotham City (1986)
Where Did It Happen? Man of Steel No. 3
Why Were They Fighting? In a retelling of the first meeting between the two heroes, Superman is unconvinced that Batman is a good guy. The Dark Knight doesn’t help his case by telling Superman that he’s wired an innocent man with a bomb that will go off if the Man of Steel doesn’t back off. (Spoilers: Batman is that innocent man himself.)
Winner: Batman; even though the two never come to outright blows, Superman is still outwitted by the Caped Crusader.
The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2002)
Where Did It Happen? Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again No. 1
Why Were They Fighting? In this sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, Superman is once again coerced by the U.S. Government into attacking Batman. Things go even worse for him this time, thanks to Batman having gauntlets made of kryptonite, and the help of half of the Justice League.
Winner: Batman, again.
Batman: Hush (2003)
Where Did It Happen? Batman No. 612
Why Were They Fighting? While investigating a crime that might involve femme fatale Poison Ivy, Batman finds himself up against a mind-controlled Superman who’ll do anything to defend his new mistress.
Winner: N/A, because Superman manages to break Ivy’s control when he sees Lois Lane in danger.
Superman: Red Son (2003)
Where Did It Happen? Superman: Red Son No. 2
Why Were They Fighting? In an alternate reality where Kal-El crashed into the Soviet Union instead of America, Batman is an anarchist soldier dedicated to overthrowing the corrupt political regime.
Winner: Batman, technically; his plan to depower Superman works temporarily, but when Wonder Woman saves the Comrade of Steel — that’s actually what he’s called in this storyline — Batman commits suicide to avoid capture. Maybe we should call this one a draw?
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel (2005)
Where Did It Happen? Lex Luthor: Man of Steel No. 3
Why Were They Fighting? In a plot that may seem familiar to those who’ve seen trailers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman is manipulated by Lex Luthor into believing that Superman is a threat to humanity.
Winner: Superman. The showdown isn’t even close: Superman disarms Bats of his kryptonite from a distance via super-breath without even breaking a sweat.
Where Did It Happen? Superman No. 219, Action Comics No. 829, Adventures of Superman No. 642, Wonder Woman No. 219
Why Were They Fighting? Once again mind-controlled — this time by a villain called Maxwell Lord — Superman believes that he’s fighting a number of his most dangerous enemies, only to discover after the fact that he was actually attacking Batman.
Winner: Superman, and it wasn’t even close: Batman was left in bad shape as a result of the brutal assault.
Where Did It Happen? Superman/Batman Nos. 53-56
Why Were They Fighting? After an accident gives Batman Superman’s powers, he becomes increasingly dangerous and aggressive, leading to a powerless Man of Steel having to take him down. (Thankfully, the Justice League is around to help.)
Winner: Superman, although he couldn’t have done it alone.
Justice League: Origin (2011)
Where Did It Happen? Justice League No. 2
Why Were They Fighting? During an alien invasion at the start of each hero’s career, both Batman and Superman mistake each other for working with the invaders, and come to blows for a surprisingly short length of time, before they get interrupted by more heroes and more invaders.
Winner: Superman, although the fight didn’t really get too far before being interrupted.
Cross World (2013)
Where Did It Happen? Batman/Superman No. 1
Why Were They Fighting? Teleported to an alternate world, a young Superman who was just starting to fight crime took on that world’s version of Batman, whom he believed was responsible for his teleportation.
Winner: Superman, despite the alternate Batman using kryptonite against him. Put it down to a mixture of confusion and the inexperience (and strength) of youth.
World’s Finest No More (2014)
Where Did It Happen? Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One No. 12
Why Were They Fighting? As part of the mythology of the videogame franchise Injustice, Superman has been driven to new extents in his attempts to keep the world safe following the murder of Lois Lane, leading to a schism with Batman and a number of other superheroes. When the conflict between the two heroes becomes physical, Superman — who is arguably insane by this point — breaks Batman’s spine in an attempt to stop the fight.
Winner: Superman, although Batman eventually comes back thanks to the power of advanced comic book technology and the power of negative thinking.
Where Did It Happen? Batman No. 36
Why Were They Fighting? Infected by Joker venom, a temporarily-insane Superman attacks Batman, leading to a massive fight that sees the Dark Knight attempt (and fail) to depower the Man of Steel via red-sun rays. Eventually, Batman manages to escape Superman after spitting kryptonite-laced polymer into his face.
Winner: Batman, although he generously says in narration the nobody was the winner.
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