The most famous DC hero faces the most famous Marvel villain. Both are god-like and have otherworldly descent. Although almost gods they do have weaknesses and are often hurt or defeated. But who would win if they went in an all out Thanos vs Superman battle.
A fight between Superman and Thanos would be an epic one and since both have a very specific set of skills, we consider this fight to be a complete draw with no clear winner.
Now that we’ve given you a short version of the answer, let us discuss the topic of this article in more detail. First, we will see what powers Thanos and Superman posses, and then we will discuss the topic of Thanos vs Superman in a fight in more detail.
Superman and his Powers
Superman is one of the chief characters in the DC Comics universe. Born as Kal-El of Krypton, he was sent to Earth by his parents, moments before the tragic destruction of his home planet. On Earth, he landed in Kansas, near the estate of ones Jonathan and Martha Kent, two local farmers who took him in and raised him as their own child, giving him the name Clark Kent. Young Clark was thus raised in Smallville, not knowing his heritage and the powers he possesses.
As he grew up, Clark Kent became aware of his powers and found out about his heritage, but he decided to accept the Kents as his real parents, even after discovering his true identity. Most of these scenes include him discovering the messages left to him by his real father, Jor-El, through which he learns everything about himself and his heritage.
Later on, Clark Kent becomes a reporter for the Daily Planet, a Metropolis-based newspaper, while simultaneously “working” as Superman, the protector of Metropolis and the Earth. While working for the Daily Planet, Superman meets Jimmy Olsen, a trusted friend and ally, and Lois Lane, a big-shot reporter, with whom he eventually falls in love and starts a relationship. He’s also had an on-and-off relationship with Wonder Woman, but Lois was always his first and true love.
One of Superman’s first opponents was General Zod, another survivor from his home planet, who threatened Earth, before being stopped by Superman. Unlike some other DC superheroes, Superman has a lot of extraterrestrial enemies, some of the most notable being Brainiac, the collector of planets, and Doomsday, a Kryptonian monstrosity matching Superman’s own powers. Still, his archenemy is a human, a very powerful and very intelligent human, but still only a human. His name is Lex Luthor and he plays a very important role in Superman’s crime-fighting career.
Superman’s most famous nickname is the Man of Steel, which symbolizes his superhuman strength and abilities. He is certainly the most powerful among the DC Comics heroes, but he also has a very strong weakness – Kryptonite. Those who know this, often used this to their advantage, since Kryptonite can do devastating damage to the Man of Steel.
He has appeared in a lot of derivative material, including a film series starring Christopher Reeve, the DCEU, where he’s played by Henry Cavill and several animated features.
Thanos and his powers
Thanos is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Thanos was created by Jim Starlin and made his debut in The Invincible Iron Man #55 (1973) and has since become one of the best-known villains in the Marvel universe, but also comic books in general. Although Starlin himself admitted he was inspired by DC Comics’ supervillain Darkseid, Thanos has gained popularity as a stand-alone character and a cornerstone of Marvel’s Multiverse.
Thanos was inspired by the Freudian concept of “Thanatos”, just like his brother, Eros, was inspired by the Freudian concept of the same name. He is the son of two Eternals, but also a carrier of the Deviants gene, which explains his physical experience.
Believing him to be a danger to the universe, his mother wanted to kill him, but his father stopped her. As a child, he was a pacifist and would only play with his brother and their pets. Later on, he became fascinated with nihilism and the concept of death, eventually falling in love with Mistress Death, the embodiment of Death in the Marvel universe.
Soon after that, Thanos became a supervillain, initially a pirate, but soon had more grandiose plans. He was not satisfied with mere piracy; he wanted more.
He wanted ultimate power, to rule over the whole universe and to become the most powerful being alive. This is why he wanted to collect the Infinity Stones, so he could shape reality according to his own will.
A lot of his works are motivated by his love for Mistress Death, for whom he has killed on several occasions. He is a very powerful cosmic entity and has fought practically every major superhero group in the Marvel universe, including the Avengers, the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Thanos even fought an alternative version of himself, King Thanos, after the latter had killed everyone on the universe; King Thanos knew that it was only Thanos (i.e., a younger version of himself) that could kill him, which is why he used the Time Stone to bring him to the alternative future.
Thanos has appeared in a lot of derivative material, including TV shows, video games and the MCU, where he was the main villain of the first large narrative. He was played by Josh Brolin.
Superman vs Thanos
This comparison has certainly been one of the toughest we’ve done so far. Namely, both Superman and Thanos are so incredibly strong and have very similar powers in their basic forms that it was truly difficult to examine all the layers and give a precise answer. We’re going to start off with listing their basic powers.
As far as Superman goes, his powers and feats are well-documented throughout the comics and it is very easy to find precise evidence of his feats and abilities. Superman has superhuman traits like strength, speed, durability and others.
He can shoot burning lasers from his eyes and ice from his mouth. He can also fly and is generally able to stand his ground in any form of physical confrontation, despite the opponent.
Although he looks like a god from a human perspective, he isn’t one. In fact, on Krypton he would’ve been like any human on Earth, but the Earth’s atmosphere and living conditions enhanced his powers in that environment.
On the other hand, what can Thanos do? Thanos is a very powerful Eternal and has proven himself more powerful than most characters, even without external enhancements such as the Infinity Stones. He is immortal, has superhuman strength, speed and durability, he is practically invulnerable, can teleport and regenerate, he can manipulate matter, use telepathic abilities, manipulate energy and even fly; he also has superhuman intelligence.
As we can see, Superman and Thanos have very similar basic powers and this is why it is so difficult to compare them objectively. Since they come from different universes, it is difficult to objectively compare the extent of their powers. In our approach to the issue, we decided to compare what each of them did in their own universe and then tried to put those feat into this comparative perspective.
Superman is, as we know, one of the strongest characters in the DC Universe. Although he depends a lot on the environment he is in (he wouldn’t be so strong on his home planet, Krypton), he is still a very demanding foe for anyone challenging him.
Human supervillains usually don’t stand much chance against Superman (without significantly weakening him and outsmarting him), while cosmic supervillains are known to be a certain threat. One of the best examples of Superman’s powers and abilities are his fights against Doomsday and Darkseid.
The monstrosity called Doomsday is one of DC Comics’ most dreaded characters. He is a Kryptonian creature bred and created for pure destruction. He is a mindless beast with enormous powers.
When Doomsday came to Earth, Superman was the only being capable of facing him; earlier, even a younger Darkseid avoided fighting Doomsday. In one of the most epic fights in comic book history, Superman managed to kill Doomsday after an exhausting fight, but lost his own life in the process.
This is where Superman really showed what he was made of, since no one challenged him to give so much of himself, well… no one until Doomsday. As far as Darkseid is concerned, he is cunning as well as strong, and despite Superman being able to survive his Omega Beams, Darkseid is still an enormous challenge for the Man of Steel.
Although Superman won’t defeat a fully-powered Darkseid, he won’t lose either. Superman was able to defeat a Radion-weakened Darkseid in Final Crisis, but their fights when both were on equal terms were usually inconclusive (but a lot of that is due to Darkseid’s own approach to fighting).
How does Thanos fit in here? In our comparison of Thanos and Doomsday, we concluded that Doomsday would eventually defeat Thanos, even after losing to him several times.
Superman was consistently able to defeat Doomsday and would – using the Sun – regenerate and get all of his powers back. As for Darkseid, his powers are very similar to Thanos’ and considering that Superman could generally stand his ground against the ruler of Apokolips, we might deduce that Superman could do the same against Thanos and, considering that he can defeat Doomsday, Superman could potentially defeat Thanos.
But it’s really not that simple.
Let us look at Thanos for a moment. Thanos is the most powerful Eternal in the Marvel Universe and has constantly proven to be able to defeat practically anyone in the Marvel Universe.
Even if we disregard the overpowered King Thanos, “basic” Thanos was not killed even by some of the most powerful Marvel characters like Odin (who would certainly defeat Superman).
He did lose to the combined forces of the Universe in The Infinity Gauntlet storyline, but most supervillains lose to a combined group of superheroes. So, from this point of view, Superman wouldn’t really stand much chance against Thanos.
And these are just the “basic” forms of the characters we are talking about. We won’t even begin to dwell into the likes of Superman Prime, Kingdom Come Superman, Injustice Superman or Thanos with the Infinity Stones, or King Thanos. Analyzing these characters demands a separate article so we’re not going to do it here.
So, what’s our issue here? From Superman’s perspective – seeing that he has defeated both Darkseid and Doomsday – the Man of Steel could certainly defeat Thanos after an epic fight, but the fight would have to be on Earth and Thanos would have to not have access to Kryptonite.
On the other hand, from Thanos’ perspective – since he has defeated almost everyone at one point in the Marvel Universe – he could defeat Superman anywhere. What we are certain of is that the fight would be absolutely epic, but until someone officially clears this up we cannot really find an obvious winner and have to declare this match-up a – draw.