Who's smarter -- Batman or Superman?
Most fanboys will go to their grave swearing up and down Batman is. He's certainly been shown in the comics to be capable of devising schemes to defeat all of Earth's most powerful superhumans time and time again.
But when you look at the evidence, there's a more than strong enough case to be made that Superman has the superior intellect.
First, two things:
a. This is not a canon list. This is a list of the general mythology of both characters, Kal-El and Bruce Wayne.
b. This is not a list of why or if Superman or Batman are better characters than one another.
With that out of the way, let's begin.
Superman spent aeons traveling through space as a baby learning all Kryptonian knowledge.
As we all know, Kal-El was placed in a podlike spaceship by his father, Jor-El, so he could escape the dying world of Krypton. That spaceship was sent to Earth. Along the way, Kal-El was taught by his "father" all the knowledge of Krypton. Seeing as Krypton was a society far, far more advanced than Earth is, it stands to reason that even in his infancy Superman knew more than the smartest person alive about science in general and Kryptonian society in particular.
Superman built a hyperadvanced fortress out of ice in the Antarctic and used his scientific knowledge to pepper it with Kryptonian tech.
The Fortress of Solitude is no joke. Sure, Superman's superstrength, speed and other physical abilities afforded him the power to construct it, but the FoS is an architectural marvel. And Superman designed it in his head and then just built it. Keep in mind that Batman started out with the skeleton of the Batcave already under Wayne Manor. Additionally, Superman built a squadron of Kryptonian robots and computers capable of Kryptonian software with only his spaceship (and knowledge) as reference.
Superman is so different both as species and in culture that Batman's schemes are beneath him.
Superman is Kryptonian, which means that he is not human. He is a member of an advanced race of aliens. To Superman, humanity is a fragile species that has not yet evolved to shake off the bonds of interspecies hate and barbarity. Thus, the idea that Superman would do something like, I don't know, plan on how to defeat and depower his friends, as Batman has, is ridiculous. Such an idea is the province of an advanced member of the sluggish and foolish mammals he shares his home with, true. But an advanced member of that species is still nothing compared to the Kryptonian.
Superman's reliance on brute strength is a reflection of the world he lives in and the abilities the yellow sun gives him.
Sure, Superman tends to rely on his overwhelming physical power to settle conflicts and achieve goals. But this is the smartest thing he can do. With the yellow sun's gift of super: strength, speed, indestructibility, laser eyes and flying; it's foolish to suggest that relying on anything else for conflict resolution with the puny ants that are humans would be worthwhile. It's pretty clear, from Superman's incredible scientific knowledge and his construction of the FoS, for one, that if he needed to solve a problem through brains alone, he would. But usually, the humans don't reach the level of needing a resolution outside of BANG POW right in the kisser.
Frank Miller's version of Superman in Dark Knight Returns is bullshit and needs to be removed from the zeitgeist.
Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns portrays Superman as some kind of bumbling toady to the US government who in Miller's mind would have gone along with the authoritarian superhero culling that has happened in the near past of the story. And this Superman who gets his ass kicked by Batman, mainly through the Kryptonian's own stupidity in not realizing that, oh, I don't know, Batman might use the green Kryptonite he's had for like ever. And, fine. That's an alternate reality of Miller's invention. Whatever. Point being, the story has shaped the relationships between Batman and Superman for almost thirty years.. in the wrong way. The issue here is that that portrayal of the two characters has influenced their relationship ever since, culminating in the Tower of Babel storyline regularly cited by Batboys as evidence of Batman's invincibility.
Superman is a member of an advanced species, with a brain capable of speeds of learning and deduction that would leave most terran minds in the dust. Even the minds that can figure out ways to briefly defeat him, such as Batman's, reach their ceiling at Superman's floor.
Superman is smarter than Batman.
A version of this article previously appeared on Medium
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