‘Batman v Superman’ and a Superhero Genre Problem

Having two completely mismatched superheroes physically fight makes a fantastical genre outright ridiculous.

Batman v Superman apparently divided audiences as to whether it was a good movie or not. I haven’t seen it; don’t know if I ever will. So I don’t have an opinion on it. But if I was assigned to write a story with the two superheroes physically fighting one another, I’d write a much different one than any version I know of. And my version of the fight would reveal at least one of the major problems with the superhero genre.

Batman has a lot of fans and I guess that’s why he’s regularly portrayed as being superior to Superman. Maybe it was Frank Miller and his The Dark Knight Returns that started this. Miller’s story had Batman defeating Superman in a fight. I don’t know if that element carried over to the Batman v Superman film but if it did, it goes in the opposite direction of how I’d portray such a confrontation.

My version of the fight would see Batman coming up to Superman and challenging him to a fight. Superman would try to walk away but then Batman would attack him. Superman would continue trying to walk away but after Batman constantly attacking him he’d eventually have enough. And then he’d cut him in half with his heat vision. End of story.

That’s a pretty short story and probably wouldn’t interest many people. And it would probably irritate a lot of other people. “Superman doesn’t kill people!” I understand that. But then again, it doesn’t make sense to have the two heroes directly fight in the first place.

Even if you remove the lethal option from Superman, it still would be a short fight. Superman’s heat vision remains an overwhelming directed energy weapon. And think about what you’d be able to do if you had that weapon in your eyes. Look at something to the right. Now quickly turn your head to the left. You just destroyed everything in your line of sight with no effort.

Add to the fact that Superman has superhuman strength and can turn just about anything into a missile by throwing it, and I don’t care how much kryptonite Batman hangs around his neck, he’s going to lose.

The overwhelming abilities Superman has means that a direct fight between Batman and Superman isn’t reasonable. It doesn’t mean they can’t be in conflict. Rather it means that writers should think of ways of having Batman challenging Superman through other means.

And this is one of the big problems with the superhero genre. Creators want to create hugely powerful characters. Fine. But when they do, they need to keep their abilities consistent, and write stories with them—including their conflicts—that make sense.

That’s why my version of a Batman v Superman physical fight would be quite short. And my short story of that fight would help reveal a common flaw in the superhero genre.