When it comes to Earth’s mightiest superheroes in the DC Comics universe, two characters immediately come to mind: Shazam and Superman. While both have spectacular and quite similar powers like superhuman strength and invulnerability, there has to be one who has a slight edge over the other. So, if Shazam and Superman fought, who would win, and why?
Shazam would eventually have the upper hand on Superman. Although the fight would be extremely close, seeing that they have quite similar powers and abilities, Superman has a weakness that Shazam can exploit, and that’s magic.
It’s not that simple, though. Superman could outwit his foe in many situations; Shazam is a kid called Billy Batson. Also, if we take the strongest Superman version we’ve seen – supercharged with the Sun’s energy – there are no limits to his powers, and he could take Shazam down. Let’s compare their powers and fights in the comics to get to an answer.
Shazam Vs. Superman: Source of Power
As I mentioned, Shazam and Superman have very similar powers, which is why their every battle in the comics was close. They both have superhuman strength, stamina, durability, reflexes, and additional superhuman powers. However, the source of their powers is different.
Many people think that Superman’s powers are an anomaly, something supernatural. But, the source of his powers is pretty much natural for his kind because Kal-El is an extraterrestrial from Krypton. The source of his powers is his physiology.
His planet was near a red Sun, and all the Kryptonians had normal, human-like abilities. However, things changed when Superman came to Earth because it revolves around a yellow sun. His body is accustomed to the red sun’s radiation, while the yellow sun charges his cells with energy, which he can manipulate and manifest into all of his superhuman abilities.
Remove him from the yellow sun, and he becomes a mortal again. But, get him closer to the yellow sun, and his Kryptonian physiology allows him to supercharge, making him unfathomably powerful.
On the other hand, Shazam’s power comes from a different source. Billy Batson is just a kid, but when a wizard deems him to be pure of heart, he grants him the incredible powers of Shazam, or the magical powers of six gods: the Wisdom of Solomon, the Strength of Hercules, the Stamina of Atlas, the Power of Zeus, the Courage of Achilles, and the Speed of Mercury.
Whenever Billy speaks the word Shazam, he turns into the invincible superhero, and when he says it again, he reverses back to being Billy. While Superman’s powers come from his Kryptonian physiology, Shazam’s might comes from magic – which is ultimately one of Superman’s weaknesses.
Shazam Vs. Superman: Strength & Durability
When it comes to strength and durability, no one on Earth can go head-to-head with Superman other than Shazam and vice versa. Their strength is almost unlimited, and both are immune to virtually any kind of physical damage. Also, Shazam and Superman are immune to any disease.
However, if we take the strongest, supercharged version of Superman, I don’t think Shazam could match that strength. Still, he could use his magic to counter the effects, so I would say that we have a tie when it comes to strength and durability.
Shazam Vs. Superman: Superhuman Powers
Shazam and Superman have similar strength and durability, but that’s where their powers start to differ. As I mentioned, Shazam is granted the power of six gods: the Wisdom of Solomon, the Strength of Hercules, the Stamina of Atlas, the Power of Zeus, the Courage of Achilles, and the Speed of Mercury (the acronym of the six giving you his name, Shazam).
When you add all six, Shazam has a genius-level intellect and an eidetic memory. Hercules’ self-sustenance allows him never to get tired while not needing food, water, or anything else to survive. Zeus gives him powerful electrokinesis (control and manipulation of electric energy) and other magic, like thermal blasts, size alteration, object summoning, etc.
He can also fly, has superhuman reflexes, and his body is indestructible to the point that he has no weaknesses.
On the other hand, Superman’s Kryptonian physiology allows his cells to “charge” with our Sun’s solar energy, and he can expend that energy in many ways. Like Shazam, Superman can fly, travel incredibly fast, and has self-sustenance. They also have the courage, combat skills, and genius intellect in common.
Kal-El’s other abilities include heat, x-ray, infrared, thermal, telescopic, microscopic, and electromagnetic vision. He can shoot energy beams from his eyes that can easily cut through anything. Superman can blow very strong winds and freeze an entire lake in a breath. But, of course, his biggest strength is, well, his strength.
I would say that Superman has a slight advantage in this department in terms of potential power. When supercharged, all Superman’s abilities get supercharged as well, making his power virtually limitless. There is a catch, though, and that’s their weaknesses.
Shazam Vs. Superman: Weaknesses
Shazam seemingly has no known weakness that can harm him. He’s invulnerable to physical damage and mental attacks such as telepathy and also magic, as he can wield his own magic, too. Shazam also has self-sustenance, so he can survive even without air. However, all this doesn’t matter if you can trick him into saying Shazam to revert to his human form.
As a human, Billy Batson is still just a kid. That’s how his evil counterpart with the same powers (Black Adam, who’s getting a movie starring Dwayne Johnson soon) got beaten in the comics. They tricked him into saying Shazam to turn from his power mode to human and capture him.
If you can get him to turn to Billy, you won the fight. A human child is helpless against anybody, let alone Superman. The problem is, it’s not that simple to get somebody to say Shazam.
On the other hand, Superman is also invulnerable to telepathy and physical damage, but he has a few known weaknesses. First, Kal-El gets extremely weak around Kryptonite, but it’s not that easy to find the rock (unless you’re Lex Luthor).
Second, as I mentioned already, Superman charges with solar energy. Take the fight away from the yellow sun, and he has no more superpowers. But, what finally gives Shazam the edge is Superman’s vulnerability to magic. He can get harmed with magic because his powers are physiological, not magical.
Shazam’s power source is magic, so that gives him a very big edge over Clark Kent. Superman can’t harm him unless he turns into a kid, while Shazam can use magic to incapacitate him quickly. It’s easier said than done against a guy who can travel at the speed of light, but there is a window of opportunity for Shazam.
Shazam Vs. Superman: Comic Battles
When it comes to their comic battles, they are most commonly shown to be of equal strength. Kal-El even told Billy that he considers them equals in every way and that he’s honored to stand beside him.
Sometimes, Superman won – not kill or incapacitate, but punch Shazam a few times before the fight deescalated. He usually uses his superspeed to incapacitate Shazam before he can use magic to defeat him. However, it doesn’t always work, and when it comes to head-to-head wins, Shazam has the upper hand. He knocked Superman out several times using magic.
For instance, in All Star Squadron #36, Superman tried to off Shazam with his thermal vision, but ineffectively. Instead, Shazam got up and knocked Superman out. Next, in JLA #29, he only needed two magic-powered strikes to take the Man of Steel out.
Even when Superman got possessed by Eclipso, meaning he was even more powerful and not holding back, he couldn’t take down Shazam in a hand-to-hand battle. The kid still defeated him using magic as his vulnerable spot.
Finally, if you look at Superman/Batman #4, you’ll get Superman’s confirmation that Shazam has the advantage due to magic, as he exposed Kal-El yet again in that issue. Therefore, although Superman had a few wins, Shazam had more, and they were more decisive. Still, they usually hold back, as they are usually friends, not enemies.
Shazam Vs. Superman: Who Would Win?
Virtually nobody else in the DC universe is portrayed to be as equal to Superman as Shazam. Their power level is the same; they have similar skills and abilities and moral high ground. But, in the end, one has more weaknesses than the other, which is why I believe Shazam wins against Superman in an all-out, no-holds-barred fight.
The factor that sets them apart is the magic. Shazam can match Superman’s powers even when they’re charged and stronger than usual, but the Man of Steel has no answer for Shazam’s magic. That’s one of his vulnerabilities, and if anybody can exploit it, it’s Shazam.
Still, you can’t disregard the angle that Superman might have as well. Billy Batson is a child, and although he was granted the Wisdom of Solomon, he still thinks and acts like a child most of the time. Billy’s still learning, which gives Superman the edge to outsmart him without ever going into a physical altercation with him.
So, if I had to choose, I would say most fights would end in a stalemate, and if there’s a winner, in the end, it would most likely be Shazam.