Conceived by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's creative minds, Superman is the authoritative superhero! While any true comic book commissure knows that Mandrake the Magician launched the trope in 1934, DC's icon quickly took over as the industry's leading personality. Inaugurated during a time when Western society yearned for a righteous protector who stood firm against any acts of wrongdoing, Superman served as the next evolutionary step in fictional stars. As cowboys and pirates gradually lost their luster, caped defenders of justice accepted the mantle as entertainment's leading form of wish fulfillment.
Superman is an influential character, but the dude can be slightly overpowered. Depending on the needs of the plot, Clark Kent is either indestructible or a glorified thug who only knows how to punch and fire laser beams out of his eyes. Admittedly, the latter is a pretty neat party trick, but the Man of Steel is not invincible. In a straight-up fistfight, Superman usually comes out on top, but there's more than one way to cook a Kryptonian space egg. Disregarding narrative shortcuts like retcons or Cosmic Armor Superman's utter absurdity, DC's mascot has suffered his fair share of defeats over the years.
Even if gaming is overstuffed with gun-wielding dudes in armor, the medium hardly lacks for powerful heroes and villains. Frankly, JRPGs offer more than enough god-like entities to fill a dozen of these lists, but we will try to mix things up a little. Here are 15 video game characters who could totally destroy Superman (and 15 who might pull through)!
30 Defeat: Arceus
Towards the end of 2017, Pokémon's anime celebrated its 1,000th episode and there are currently 807 entries in the Pokédex, so there are bound to be a handful of powerful creatures that are equipped to survive a confrontation with the Last Son of Krypton. Out of Nintendo's extensive catalog, Arceus has to be the most obvious contender. Hailed as a pokémon god, Arceus is credited with forging the universe using its massive arms. Whether this is true or not has not really been confirmed, but Arceus' stats back up this claim. Due to the pokémon's weakness to fighting types, all hope is not lost for Superman, but Arceus may be a step too far for the beloved superhero.
29 Tiebreaker: Master Hand
Whether dealing with Master Hand or its crazy sibling, Nintendo's sentient appendage rarely fails to put up a decent match. As the antagonist's appearances are mostly limited to the Super Smash Bros. franchise, we have to assume that a fight with Superman would transpire within this particular universe. As the series' mythos implies that battles are dictated by a child, anyone could technically come out victorious. As such, Master Hand and Superman both have a decent chance of landing the winning blow.
28 Defeat: Sarah Kerrigan
Born as a remarkably powerful psychic and eventually launching a career as a Confederate ghost, Sarah's life turned into a nightmare after she was captured by the Zerg Swarm. Going through countless painful experiments, Sarah's abilities received a crazy upgrade and the former soldier seized control of a large portion of the Zerg Swarm. Serving as Starcraft II's main villain, Sarah does not physically need to be on the planet to control her minions, so Superman would be taken by her army. In a one-on-one fight, Kerrigan's telekinesis should be more than enough to bring the Man of Steel to his knees.
27 Tiebreaker: James Heller
Sandbox experiences with a heavy reliance on destruction and graphic violence, the Prototype games place players in control of an overpowered protagonist and provide the means to truly run wild. Even though Alex Mercer is far from a pushover, the sequel's James Heller has to take the cake for the franchise's most dangerous persona. Possessing powers that can manipulate the Blacklight virus and alter a target's body, Heller's strange set of skills offer a completely different threat from Superman's usual competition. If the shapeshifting protagonist takes a tactical approach to the match, Kal-El may be in a spot of bother.
26 Defeat: The Protagonist
In the wake of a protagonist's plot armor, antagonists possessing the power to shatter a planet with a mere thought are rendered helpless. For all intended purposes, the player character is on a preordained mission from god, with the developers stepping in as the aforementioned deity. Opting to cut out the middleman, Lionhead Studios' Black & White allows gamers to actively take charge of the heavens. When contrasted with mere humans, Superman stands as an all-encompassing force of nature; however, DC's hero falls slightly short of omnipotence.
25 Tiebreaker: Ness
EarthBound, or Mother in Japan, is a JRPG trilogy that plays around with genre conventions established in series like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. As the protagonist of the second entry, Ness is a massive baseball fan and generally employs bats as weapons. Frankly, the kid is perfectly ordinary, but the silent hero's stats are quite incredible and EarthBound's quirky sense of humor allows for the character to perform some extraordinary feats. At one point, Ness travels back in time while his soul is in the body of a robot, so we hesitate to bet against the boy's chances of causing an upset.
24 Defeat: Bayonetta
PlatinumGames' charismatic Umbra Witch possesses more than enough confidence to stare Superman square in the eye, wink, and immediately land an oddly beautiful finishing blow. Besides being a phenomenal fighter who can slow down time, Bayonetta's affinity to magic allows the stylish protagonist to summon a myriad of powerful demons capable of wrecking Kal-El's day. DC's legend shines the brightest when going against opponents who favor physical confrontations, but Bayonetta has more than enough tricks in her pocket to throw Superman for a loop.
23 Tiebreaker: Alma Wade
F.E.A.R.'s primary antagonist, Alma Wade suffered through countless experiments that sought to weaponize her psionic abilities. Existing somewhere in between this life and the next, the young girl possesses the uncanny ability to trigger hallucinations in a target's mind, and that is merely the tip of the iceberg. Superman's mental defenses need to be at the top of their game to survive an encounter with Alma, although most of the psychic's attacks seem to require a physical manifestation. Due to her obsession with Armacham Technology Corporation, Alma would probably show little interest in the muscular superhero, although she did spend the majority of the second game seeking a viable mate...
22 Defeat: Kratos
What do the four deities' in this entry's picture have in common? They proved to be little match for Kratos' sheer tenacity. An anti-hero that seems to exist only to tear gods down a peg, Sony's protagonist gradually became too powerful for Mount Olympus to handle. Often elevated to the status of a god, there is nothing to suggest that Superman's fate would be any different. Please note, we are referring to God of War 3's version of Kratos, as Santa Monica Studio's most recent incarnation seems to have lost some of that fire.
21 Tiebreaker: Starkiller
At the height of his dark powers, Galen Marek rivaled the likes of Darth Vader and Sidious. A proficient dual-wielding duelist, Starkiller could hack his way through countless of foes without breaking a sweat; however, the Jedi's incredible connection to the Force means that such primitive acts of violence are largely unnecessary. At one point, Marek manipulated the direction of a Star Destroyer, which probably weighs more than your average Kryptonian. Unfortunately for Darth Vader's apprentice, performing such acts drains a ton of stamina, leaving Marek vulnerable to a counter attack.
20 Defeat: Jenova
Sephiroth might serve as Final Fantasy VII's defacto main antagonist, but most of the story's conflict is due to the alien life-form known as Jenova. Landing in a meteor that left Earth with a massive scar, the alien posed a significant enough threat to warrant the creation of the Ultimate Weapons. Despite giving off the impression that she is well past her prime, Jenova's powers should not be taken lightly. With a high affinity for magic and capable of holding her own in a physical confrontation, Sephiroth's mother has the means at her disposal to put Superman to the test.
19 Tiebreaker: Scorpion
Out of this entire list, Scorpion is the only contender who actually owns bragging rights over Superman. In terms of pure skill, Mortal Kombat's popular fighter falls short of the Man of Steel; however, Injustice: Gods Among Us' rendition is so overpowered that professional players actively sought to ban Scorpion from tournaments. Due to the character's broken ability to teleport behind opponents, Scorpion can destroy DC's colorful roster before they even have enough time to turn and face the music. Outside of this title, Mortal Kombat's ninja would have a hard time.
18 Defeat: Sargeras
As perfectly summarized in this Reddit thread, Sargeras dates back to 1995's Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, but the dark god of chaotic magic would not really become a noteworthy player until the sequel. Able to inhabit the body of most mortal beings, Sargeras' true strength is yet to be accurately surmised, but the villain tends to be hailed as World of Warcraft's strongest character. For the most part, Kal-El should be able to present a worthy challenge to nearly everyone mentioned throughout this list; however, a single swing of Sargeras' sword would render Superman obsolete.
17 Tiebreaker: Mike Tyson
Superman's boxing track record leaves something to be desired, but could the man from Kryptonian be in for a short career resurgence? There is nothing wrong withlosing to at the hands of Muhammad Ali, but Punch-Out's Mike Tyson lives in a radically different ring. Delivering nothing but one-hit knockout blows for the first 90 seconds, Clark would need to play the l0ng game to stand any hope of survival. Obviously, Supes could simply chicken out and employ any one of his countless special abilities to quickly end this (televised) bout.
16 Defeat: Rosalina
Stealing Princess Peach's spotlight in Super Mario Galaxy, Rosalina's reach extends to the far edges of the cosmos. Depicted as a kind and nurturing individual, Nintendo's marketable heroine does not possess a single mean bone in her body, but Rosalina's soft-spoken nature should not be mistaken for weakness. At the bare minimum, she is able to teleport, manipulate gravity, and project ginormous holograms. When it comes to Rosalina, the stars are literally the limit, and she should be capable of far more than simply assisting Mario in his quests to defeat Bowser.
15 Tiebreaker: Albert Wesker
On paper, Superman should be able to wipe the floor with Lex Luthor or any other human dumb enough to stand in the alien's way; fortunately for readers, battles are not won on paper. If Batman can score multiple victories over the Man of Tomorrow, Alex Wesker stands a moderate chance of seeing another sunrise. Dangerously cunning and backed by the vast resources of TRICELL and Organization, Resident Evil 5's corny villain boasts superhuman strength and enough arrogance to match even the most egotistical of supervillains. In a test of strength, Superman plays in a completely different ballgame, but there is a reason that the character's archnemesis is a brainy human.
14 Defeat: Kefka
Initially presented as little more than a mild nuisance, Kefka Palazzo gradually transforms into a monstrosity with powers that rival DC and Marvel's top-tier characters. The self-appointed God of Magic, Kefka possess a myriad of powerful magic spells and can smite entire villages with a beam of energy. As explained in CBR's article, magic is not Superman's Achilles heel, but the hero just happens to lack any specific defenses for such attacks. Combined with a high physical defense and a massive HP bar, Final Fantasy VI's final boss should be able to exploit Superman's vulnerability.
13 Tiebreaker: Akuma
Whenever pitting two characters from unrelated franchises against each other, one has to take into account the rules that govern their respective universes. With regards to most of these entries, a counter-argument can be made that Superman could simply float away and casually chip away at the opponent's health. Admittedly, this tactic should prove fruitful on the page of a comic book, but such a strategy would not fly in a fighting game. Injustice: Gods Among Us understood the importance of leveling the playing field, so the same has to be applied for Akuma versus Superman.
12 Defeat: Mewtwo
Pokémon's iconic antihero can stand toe-to-toe with nearly any challenger, and that is before taking into account Mewtwo's laughably overpowered Mega Evolutions. A highly skilled psychic who can infiltrate another being's mind, Mew's clone relies on energy balls and tends to target his opponent's mental weak spots. Presuming that Superman manages to get close enough to deliver a potentially harmful blow, Mewtwo can always employ a shield to nullify the damage. While the pokémon would be wise to maintain a healthy degree of separation between himself and Supes' fist, Mewtwo is enough of an all-rounder to overcome the superhero.
11 Tiebreaker: Goku
Regardless of ScrewAttack's attempts to downplay Goku's power level, a match between the Saiyan and Kryptonian would be destined to go down to the wire. Unless Superman is playing the role of the villain and threatening to reduce Earth to ash, Goku's earnest nature would stop Dragon Ball's protagonist from thinking outside of the box. Assuming these two are just partaking in a friendly contest, and Goku has yet to master Ultra Instinct, then Superman should have a slight edge over Akira Toriyama's icon. Taking into account a Saiyan's innate ability to powerup after every defeat, Goku should gradually eclipse Kal-El.
10 Defeat: The Prince
Besides Katamari's playable character, the King or Queen of All Cosmos would have also been accepted as correct answers. Comfortably among the weirdest gaming franchises in existence, Katamari centers around a peculiar family that frequently cause cosmic sized snowballs capable of sucking up anything in their wake. Due to his admirable tendency to assume the best in people, Superman's personality restricts the hero from delivering the initial blow; unfortunately, the Prince cannot be stopped once his magical ball starts rolling.
9 Tiebreaker: Dante
Unless going up against Vergil, who just missed out on this list's cut-off point, Dante rarely needs to switch out of first gear. As the son of the demon Sparda, Devil May Cry's boastful devil hunter possesses abilities that far outreach any human and most monsters. While lacking Bayonetta's magical win-condition, Dante's weapons are imbued with a manifestation of the character's demonic powers, so Superman's impenetrable defenses may not be 100% foolproof against Dante's rebellion. Once Devil Trigger is activated, the private investigator becomes near untouchable.
8 Defeat: Kirby
Despite Meta Knight and King Dedede's ceaseless endeavors, Kirby games cannot help be ridiculously easy; sure, some may credit this lower difficulty to Nintendo yearning to attract a younger crowd, but that is not correct. No, Kirby's eponymous purple ball of adorableness is simply too overpowered! With Kirby's copy ability, the hero inhales his foe's powers, so Superman would be going up against a cute version of himself and there would only be one outcome. On a side note, is anyone else picturing Kirby dressed up as Superman? Nintendo, please, make this happen!
7 Tiebreaker: The Final Song
Predating NieR: Automata by a number of years, Yoko Taro's reached his storytelling peak with Drakengard, a franchise that ended with a massive rhythm-based boss battle that ranks among the most frustrating experiences of all time. As pointed out by Cyriaque Lamar, Superman once saved the day by moving to the beat, but the superhero's dancing skills need to be in full swing to stand any chance of overcoming Drakengard 3's The Full Song. This is assuming that Superman can even figure out what is happening, as Kent's thinking may be slightly too conventional to follow Drakengard's story.
6 Defeat: Thieves Of Hearts
Unless this encounter happens during the Injustice storyline, there is precious little incentive for Persona 5's Thieves of Hearts to get involved with the big blue wall of muscle. Assuming Superman is going through an identity crisis, then Joker and his friends should be able to infiltrate the superhero's mind palace. Even though Kent's defenses would put up a solid front, the teenagers would be going up against a twisted version of Superman rather than the real deal. Depending on DC's mood, Kal-El may or may not be weak to magic, which can be exploited by the thieves.
5 Tiebreaker: Reapers
Spread across three thrilling RPGs, BioWare meticulously crafted Mass Effect's lore and held just enough back to keep the mystery alive. Serving as the main antagonistic force in the franchise, the Reapers are incomprehensible. How did they come to be and what are their plans? Commander Shepard is allowed access to only snippets of the full picture. There should be little doubt in anyone's mind that Superman is more than capable of handling a solitary Reaper; however, the Old Machines do not travel alone. At best, Kent's victory would only prolong the inevitable.
4 Defeat: Asura
Due to an affinity with wrath, Asura's strength is directly proportionate to his anger. In other words, Capcom's elite demi-god is the Japanese equivalent of Marvel's Incredible Hulk, although the former benefits from some outlandish anime goodness. Powerful enough to push back a massive finger capable of literally crushing a planet, Asura is the complete package. If these two were to engage in a fight, the initial minutes may point towards a stalemate, but Asura's strength would constantly increase until Superman is left with no choice but to admit defeat.
3 Tiebreaker: Pyron
On paper, Darkstalkers' Pyron seems undefeatable. Older than life itself and capable of surpassing the size of the Milky Way, this alien is above and beyond any other combatant in the fighting series. If Pyron is so incredibly awesome, why is he only listed under a maybe? In a twist that feels almost tailor-made to throw a bone to Kal-El, the villain consists of pure solar energy! As the Sun's radiation serves as spinach for DC's superhero, Pyron's mere presence is enough to push Superman beyond his limits, so the latter could potentially receive enough of a power boost to win.
2 Defeat: Elizabeth
Once Elizabeth's handicap was destroyed, BioShock Infinite's lovable companion transformed from a capable time-traveler to someone closer to a living god. With the Siphon's restrictions lifted, Elizabeth gains access to everything, and we are not being hyperbolic! Effortlessly opening tears to multiple realities and time periods, the teenager simply needs to travel to a minute when Superman is vulnerable and the fight would be as good as won. DC's powerful superstar is relatively resourceful, but time catches up to every man, and Kryptonian aliens are no exception!
1 Tiebreaker: Pandemonium Warden
Just in case this site's name and content failed to make it apparent, we are rather fond of gaming; nevertheless, certain studios demand way too much from their player base. Serving as a precursor to Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix's 11th entry made headlines due to a boss battle that caused players to suffer physical side-effects. After 36 players fought Pandemonium Warden for 18 hours but STILL failed to put the monster down for the count, the developer finally decided to nuke its strength. Pre-patch, Pandemonium Warden would have significantly tested Superman's endurance, but the boss' later version is nothing more than a shell of its former self.