The DC Universe gave us some of the most powerful superheroes that have unfathomable superhuman powers, like Superman. On the other hand, one of the most notorious supervillains ever, The Joker, is just a human with no superpowers but still manages to destroy his opponents most of the time. The question is, who would win, The Joker or Superman?
In a head-to-head fight, The Joker has no chance against Superman. The Kryptonian simply has too many powers and superhuman abilities that can decimate the Joker in seconds. However, given enough prep time and planning, the Joker can be a big threat to the Man of Steel.
They don’t have too many encounters in the DC universe, but they did meet several times, and the Joker beat Superman mentally. He corrupted him so badly in some comics that Superman trampled his moral compass, killed the Joker, and became an evil dictator. Let’s dig deep into their bags of tricks and see who would win and how.
Joker And His Powers
The Joker, known as the Clown Prince of Crime, is Batman’s number one nemesis that first appeared in the Batman #1 comic book in 1940. He resides in Gotham City and is a known resident of the Arkham Asylum, which clearly indicates that he’s an all-out mad man.
His lunacy drives him to rejoice and revel in chaos, which is almost always his ultimate goal – he doesn’t want to kill Batman or take down the system and rule – he wants fun, chaos, and anarchy.
Still, he is just a human, so how does he manage to battle Batman for so long? He had beaten many incredibly strong foes, and he does it with his intelligence, fearlessness, and expertise in combat planning. Let’s take a closer look at what his powers are.
Although Joker is extremely mentally ill, his insanity doesn’t mean he’s not a genius. His brilliant intelligence manifests in his criminal behavior the most, planning and executing his plans to perfection.
He’s also a brilliant chemist, and he uses that knowledge to develop astounding weaponry that incapacitates his opponents, including poison gases, mind control substances, etc. What makes it even crazier is that he did most of the chemical experimenting on himself, which is also why he had gone even more insane.
We all know that Joker is completely insane. Although his fondness of chaos and disorder sometimes prevents him from reaching his ultimate goals (like not killing Batman when he had the chance because he has too much fun fighting him), it’s more often a huge advantage for him.
For instance, he is fearless – literally. Nothing scares him, not even torture or death. Batman is often portrayed as a fearless vigilante, and while that is the case in practice, it’s not entirely true. Bruce Wayne has fears and can feel fear, but he chooses to ignore his fears and press forward, which makes him such a powerful hero.
However, Joker is literally incapable of feeling fear, which often gives him a big advantage in combat since he has no fear of dying or getting hurt. If you need proof, just take a look at the Knightfall story.
In it, Scarecrow attempts to use his fear toxin on Joker. Still, instead of his fears getting triggered, the Joker just starts to laugh maniacally and demolishes Scarecrow with some good old-fashioned beating.
Apart from his fearlessness, one more thing that might stem from his insanity is his pain tolerance. While it’s never explicitly stated if he can’t feel pain or just chooses to ignore it, it’s safe to say that it stems not only from his chemical experimenting but from his experience, too.
I mean, the guy peeled his face off and slapped it onto a wall, just to prove a point – he wanted to show that he’s still the Joker, even without his mask, while the entire Bat-Family (Batman, Robin, Batgirl) are nothing without their masks.
Chemical expertise & immunity
As I mentioned, the Joker is a brilliant chemist. He’s developed incredible chemical weapons, serums, and toxins, strong enough to make half of Gotham City laugh while brutally fighting each other. But, apart from his expertise in utilizing his chemistry knowledge to make weapons, he also used it to modify his body and develop immunity to most chemicals and toxins.
He did numerous experiments on himself, which has helped him develop an immunity to most toxins.
Weaponry made of unexpected props
We all know that Joker is a genius trickster. He used dozens of unexpected props and turned them into deadly weapons. For instance, he had a flower attached to his jacket that sprayed acid, playing cards equipped with razor-sharp edges, and much more.
The element of surprise is just another thing that makes him so dangerous.
Finally, I believe you can call the Joker’s ability to manipulate people his superpower. He knows how to get underneath people’s skin, corrupt them, and turn them evil. Even when those people know exactly what he’s doing, they still succumb to his influence.
The most notable example of this happening is with his psychiatrist in Arkham Asylum, Harley Quinn. He managed to corrupt her badly and turn her evil, virtually making her his marionette.
She did get out of the abusive relationship later on, but still, she became a villain simply because Joker manipulated her – and she was an expert in psychiatry. Imagine what he could do to regular folks then.
Superman And His Powers
Superman is probably the most popular superhero ever created, and there’s a good reason for it. He appeared in 1938 for the first time in Action Comics #1, and his powers are unmatched. But, what makes him such a beloved character is his moral compass and ethics.
Superhuman physical abilities
Listing every superhuman ability that Superman has individually would take forever – so we’ll group them as one of his powers.
Kal-El has superhuman strength, speed, and durability. The radiation of our yellow Sun is what powers his abilities, so if he gets “charged” by getting closer to the Sun and absorbing even more radiation, all of his superhuman abilities will virtually go to unlimited heights.
Eyesight & breath abilities
We could class these as physical superhuman abilities, but they’re even more than that. Superman has laser vision capable of tearing down buildings. However, he also has other ocular abilities, such as electromagnetic spectrum vision, infrared and x-ray vision, and much more.
Also, he has superhuman breath. He can freeze an entire lake by blowing in it or blow away almost anything with his powerful wind breath.
Invulnerability and healing
Superman knows how to fight, as he is a master martial artist. He can also levitate and has superhuman intelligence. However, his ability to heal and avoid damage is what makes him so invincible.
He is virtually invulnerable when opposing any man-made weaponry, including bullets, rockets, and whatnot. However, even if somebody manages to hurt him (for instance, Lex Luthor managed to do it several times), his healing abilities are incredible, and he’s right back to his old self in no time.
Different versions of Superman have even more powers, but these are the main ingredients that make him such a fantastic superhero.
Joker vs. Superman: Who Would Win?
With everything being said, if we’re talking about a deathmatch, the Joker simply stands no chance. Superman is way too powerful for a human (not named Bruce Wayne) to defeat him. However, we cannot discredit the Joker that fast.
Given enough preparation and planning, he can defeat Superman using traps and his chemical skills. Also, if he could get a hold of Kryptonite, he would definitely use it to cripple the Man of Steel. But, the biggest chance that the Joker has is his ability to manipulate people.
He managed to do so against Superman a few times they’ve met. On one occasion, in the New 52, the Joker managed not only to corrupt Superman but the entire Justice League, making him lose his ethics, kill him cold-bloodedly, and become a dictator.
Therefore, if the Joker won against Superman in any scenario, the win would be mental, not physical. In mind games, he gets the nod, but in pure physical combat, he would be nothing but a fly on the wall for Superman. He might not feel the pain, but if Superman wanted to hurt him, it would take half a second to do so.
Why Doesn’t Superman Deal with Joker?
There are several reasons why Superman and the rest of the Justice League, apart from Batman, rarely go face-to-face with Joker and other Gotham City villains.
First of all, Batman wants to keep them away as much as possible and sees Gotham City as his responsibility. He knows how dark Gotham is and how it can corrupt people. If Joker could get a grip on Superman or the Flash and make them go bad, the world wouldn’t be ready for the consequences.
Second, Superman and the Justice League usually deal with many bigger-level threats. The Joker usually threatens only the safety of Gotham City and is hardly ever a global threat, which makes him too small of a fish for Superman and the Justice League to waste their time on.
Finally, they did have several encounters (for instance, in the New 52 and the Action Comics #719), but Superman was held back and refrained from killing Joker despite his evil manipulations.
Batman, Superman, and the Justice League have a strict non-lethal force policy. They don’t kill threats that they don’t deem big enough. So, if Batman can deal with Joker himself (as he usually does), there’s no need for Superman or any other Justice League superhero to intervene and deal with him themselves.