In the ring with the heroes

By Michael Cavna, David Betancourt

Who is the stronger hero? Michael Cavna and David Betancourt weigh up the odds.

Two iconic characters in capes rocketed the comic-books industry into mainstream: Superman and Batman, twin pop-culture monuments who, though born in the late 30s, still reign ageless. Now these Spandex heavyweights are going (Super-)mano a (Bat-)mano for the first time on the big screen, in director Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

So who has the edge in this epic showdown of DC Comics' most popular warriors? Sure, Superman is the stronger combatant - but don't think Batman doesn't have something in his utility belt to counter him. Let's weigh up their pros and cons.

BIRTH NAME

Superman: Kal-El.

Batman: Bruce Wayne.

Advantage: Superman, with a name so distinctive, fan Nicolas Cage even tagged his son with it.

OFFICIAL CHARACTER HEIGHT

Superman: 6ft3 (1.92m).

Batman: 6ft2 (1.89m).

Advantage: Superman, though in real life Ben Affleck is taller than Henry Cavill.

OFFICIAL CHARACTER WEIGHT

Superman: 235lb (107kg).

Batman: 210lb (95kg).

Advantage: Depends on weight of Batman's gadget-laced utility belt.

HAIR

Superman: Signature S-curl.

Batman: Potential "helmet hair" from the cowl.

Advantage: Superman.

LOGO

Superman: Chest-spanning "S".

Batman: Fear-inducing black bat.

Advantage: Batman. The "Bat-Signal" looks impressive projected into the midnight skies over Gotham.

SECRET IDENTITY

Superman: Bumbling, stumbling newspaper reporter Clark Kent.

Batman: Billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.

Advantage: Superman - those media connections pay off in times of trouble.

ICONIC CRASH PAD

Superman: Icy "Fortress of Solitude".

Batman: Dank, subterranean "Batcave".

Advantage: Batman - better manservant.

PERSONALITY

Superman: Earnest do-gooder (aka "The Big Blue Boy Scout").

Batman: Dark, tortured vigilante.

Advantage: Superman. Batman's a real downer as a plus-one.

ORIGIN STORY

Superman: The infant Kal-El's parents rocketed him away in a capsule like a cosmos-Moses before they died in the explosion of home planet Krypton.

Batman: Young Bruce Wayne saw his own parents murdered before his eyes, while old enough to remember the psyche-scarring event.

Advantage: For lifelong mental torture as compelling narrative, Batman.

FIGHTING ATTRIBUTES

Superman: Super-flight, super-speed, super-hearing, super-intelligence, super-near-invulnerability, super-heat vision.

Batman: Hand-to-hand combat; a street-fighter's hard-won guile.

Advantage: Batman.

WEAKNESS

Superman: Kryptonite radiation, love of humanity.

Batman: No actual superpower, Catwoman's feline allure.

Advantage: Batman.

SIDEKICK

Superman: Usually works alone.

Batman: Most often Robin, the Boy Wonder.

Advantage: Superman. Poor, Batman has had to endure too many sidekick deaths.

NOTABLE VILLAINS

Superman: Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Bizarro, Zod.

Batman: Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Bane, Ra's al Ghul.

Advantage: Batman - arguably the greatest rogues' gallery in comics history.

CREATORS

Superman: Nerdy, outsidery Canadian/Cleveland boys in the 30s (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster).

Batman: Streetwise, outsidery New York lads in the 30s (Bob Kane and Bill Finger).

Advantage: You pick.

OSCAR NOMINATIONS AMONG BIG-SCREEN ACTORS

Superman: Reeve, Routh, Cavill et al = zero.

Batman: Keaton, Clooney, Bale, Affleck = 14.

Advantage: Batman.

MEMORABLE MUSIC

Superman: John Williams' triumphant horns in the original films.

Batman: Hans Zimmer's Dolby-splitting bass synthesizers in the Christopher Nolan films.

Advantage: Depends on the darkness of your mortal soul.

ROMANTIC HIGHLIGHT

Superman: Flying a charmed Lois through the gentle evening sky.

Batman: Getting face-licked by a villainous, leather-loving Catwoman.

Advantage: You pick - this one says more about you.

BEST DEATH

Superman: Memorably slain by a monster named Doomsday (before inevitable resurrection).

Batman: Flatlined by Darkseid (before cheating death by time travel).

Advantage: Superman - he "revived" much more quickly.

MOTTO/OATH

Superman: "Truth, justice and the American way."

Batman: "And I swear by the spirits of my parents to avenge their deaths by spending the rest of my life warring on all criminals."

Advantage: Superman's for bumper sticker; Batman's for eight-decade narrative.

- Washington Post

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