The age of superheroes and why Superman is ultimately superior to Batman

September 2011 Prof. Cassandra Lobiesk

You’d think by now I’d be talking about cake and shiny steampunk things (don’t get me wrong, I probably will venture onto these topics another time). Instead I opted for an idea that’s been an age-old debate, centering on the likes of superheroes all around.

But, really, the idea mostly started because I was looking at this “amazing physical specimen.”

Well helloooooooo, Henry Cavill. Oh, yes. Let the droolfest begin.

Hem hem. Moving on.

Let’s see, what can I say about superheroes that haven’t already been said before? They’re generally good guys—and gals (though this is highly debatable, especially with Marvel characters). They wear costumes, sometimes even to the point where they are referred to as “costumed crime fighters.” They’ve got supernatural abilities owing to some sort of chemical imbalances within their body; an imbalance which enables superheroes with heightened strength, reflexes, intelligence, and other [insert-cool-powers-here] that no normal human could ever dream of having in his or her lifetime. They come from all manner of backgrounds: a last surviving alien of an extinct population, a member of a hidden Amazonian race, a scientist with far-fetched goals, a college student making ends meet, a test subject toyed with at the abscess of technology. They attain their powers through many different means: a reaction to the sun, a set of gifts imbued by the gods, a high-level accident, a bite from a radioactive arachnid, a merging of adamantium into a mutant bloodstream.

Face it, these guys are clearly not your Average Joe.

Superheroes are put forth mostly as an idea. Like many who have mentioned and discussed them before, they were symbols of a certain political climate. This is evident in the Golden Age of superheroes during the late 1930’s, just within the eve of World War II. In some ways, they are still relevant today, and half the time they are being modernized into something that a younger consumer public could also enjoy.

And at the height of this superhero prototype is, of course, Kal-El. Sent away from Krypton by his scientist father, Kal-El becomes the last surviving remnant of a Kryptonian race. He is raised by two Earthlings, Jonathan and Martha Kent, outside of the big city. In all respects, Kal-El grows up as a rural American boy by the name of Clark. But Metropolis—the city where Kal-El lives for the majority of his adulthood—knows him by another name: Superman.

Of course, as far as superheroes go, Superman has quite a number of endowments. On Earth, he can “leap tall buildings in a single bound,” is “more powerful than a locomotive,” and is “faster than a speeding bullet.” He has laser vision, has the ability to fly, has super-hearing, and has the gift of being able to bounce bullets off his steel-plated…well, everything. He is also a great actor (clearly seen through his disguise as the bumbling Clark Kent), a tall, dark, and handsome man (umm, Henry Cavill, helloooo?), a sensitive soul (how else does Lois Lane fall for him every time?), and can probably out-think some of the more clever minds of the day (someone who can periodically oust Lex Luthor has to have a degree of intelligence).

The best part is he doesn’t need all the fancy gimmicks that many other superheroes around his caliber need. Wonder Woman has a Lasso of Truth and sometimes an invisible jet. Wolverine uses adamantium claws that were built into his regenerative body. The Hulk has to rely on his rage to switch back and forth between identities. Batman and Iron Man have…well, many things that no normal superhero would need. They are heroes, sure, but superheroes tend to be super for the mere fact that they cannot do what normal humans can, means or no.

Which begs the question of whether Superman truly is superior to Batman. I would say yes, but for the fact that classing them both as superheroes would be wrong on the supernatural abilities alone. But for the sake of filling this column with lists, I’ll add my comparison of the two “superheroes” below.

Top 5 Reasons Why Superman > Batman

Superman’s powers. Sure, throw kryptonite at the man and he might grimace in pain and agony. His superpowers might even be lost. But kick that kryptonite to the side and the man is back in action. Take away Batman’s utility belt and all he’s got are a number of well-rounded kicks. And maybe punches.

Superman puts duty over “distraction.” Yes, perhaps Bruce Wayne uses women like a front, a cape in order to safely hide behind in order to further any connection between him and Batman. It’s still slightly degrading, however you look at it. Clark Kent has one woman in mind (discounting Lana Lang, his childhood sweetheart); and although Lois Lane is the most annoying girl to have ever graced the Comicverse, Superman is at least faithful. Both superheroes remain adamant in their superhuman duties, but I wonder whether Bruce Wayne goes through so many girls because he’s trying to forget he’s Batman. Superman has the girl, sure, but he clearly knows his place (for the most part).

Superman saves cats stuck in trees. The problem with Batman is he’s too involved in fighting crime to realize that the world has bigger problems than just crime. Superman hears and sees the world’s problems. Sure he can’t solve world hunger, but he can sure as heck try to prevent a natural disaster from engulfing an entire village.

You don’t need a bat signal for Superman. The bat signal seems to be a popular communication channel for getting Batman’s attention. All you have to do to get Superman’s attention is to scream. Sure he probably won’t be able to get to everyone who’s screamed for help, but neither can Batman.

It’s all about the looks, dude. Um, come on now. Batman might have some allure by being the mysterious, muscled man in black leather. And he has a dark and deceptively charming mask. But what if the man behind the mask was someone who wasn’t so handsome? What then? Superman’s facial features match his attractive hulk of a body. Not to mention he’s being played by Henry Cavill in the latest installment of the Superman movie franchise. And in my book, Henry Cavill far outweighs Christian Bale.