SUPERMAN VS CAPTAIN MARVEL
John “THE MEGO STRETCH HULK” Cimino
"The heroes whom we deem worthy are beautiful because they inspire us to be better and invoke those magical thoughts that keep us in lofty places soaring among the stars..."
THE REAL RIVALRY
The most important event (or explosion) in the history of comics was the debut of Superman in Action Comics #1, June, 1938 created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. This creation took the industry into a bold new direction and gave rise to a whole new landscape of super-heroic-stars, all of which were trying to make a name for themselves and cash in on the enormous success of the Man of Steel. The most flagrant copycats were taken to court by DC Comics, beginning with a character called Wonderman, who was doomed after appearing in just a single issue. Then from out of the offices of Fawcett Publications and the minds of Bill Parker and C.C. Beck came a new champion of good by the name of Captain Marvel. Debuting in Whiz Comics #2, February, 1940 (really #1, as the earlier #1 was simply an “ashcan” edition of the same stories printed up for copyright purposes, the numbering was later changed). Captain Marvel was seemingly intended as only a copy of Superman, but the “World’s Mightiest Mortal” soon developed into something much more extraordinary, something much more... well, charming.
Through much of the Golden Age of Comic Books (the late 1930’s until the early 1950’s) comics consistently sold more than any other time in its history, especially during the early 1940’s. Captain Marvel proved to be the most popular superhero character of the medium with his comics outselling all others, including those featuring Superman. In fact, Captain Marvel Adventures sold fourteen million copies in 1944, and was at one point being published bi-weekly with a circulation of 1.3 million copies an issue (proclaimed on the cover of issue #19 as being the "Largest Circulation of Any Comic Magazine"). Part of the reason for this popularity included the inherent wish-fulfillment appeal of the character to children, as well as the humorous and surreal quality of the stories. Billy Batson typically narrated each Captain Marvel story, speaking directly to his reading audience from his WHIZ radio microphone, relating each story from the perspective of a young boy (now that was cool).
Detective Comics (later known as National Comics Publications, National Periodical Publications, and today known as DC Comics) sued Fawcett Comics for copyright infringement in 1941, alleging that Captain Marvel was based on their character Superman. After seven years of litigation, the National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publications case went to trials court in 1948. Although the judge presiding over the case decided that Captain Marvel was an infringement, DC was found to be negligent in copyrighting several of their Superman daily newspaper strips, and it was decided that National had abandoned the Superman copyright. As a result, the initial verdict, delivered in 1951, was decided in Fawcett's favor.
National appealed this decision, and Judge Learned Hand declared in 1952 that National's Superman copyright was in fact valid. Judge Hand did not find that the character of Captain Marvel itself was an infringement, but rather that specific stories or super feats could be infringements, and that the truth of this would have to be determined in a re-trial of the case. The judge therefore sent the matter back to the lower court for final determination.
Instead of retrying the case, however, Fawcett decided to settle with National out of court. The National lawsuit was not the only problem Fawcett faced in regards to Captain Marvel. While Captain Marvel Adventures had been the top-selling comic series during World War II, it suffered declining sales every year after 1945 and by 1949 it was selling only half its wartime rate. Fawcett tried to revive the popularity of its assorted Captain Marvel series in the early 1950s by introducing elements of the horror comics trend that gained popularity at the time. Feeling that a decline in the popularity of superhero comics meant that it was no longer worth continuing the fight, Fawcett agreed to never again publish a comic book featuring any of the Captain Marvel-related characters, and to pay National $400,000 in damages. Fawcett shut down its comics division in the autumn of 1953 and laid off its comic-creating staff. Whiz Comics had ended with issue #155 in June 1953, Captain Marvel Adventures was canceled with #150 (November 1953), and The Marvel Family ended its run with #89 (January 1954). The litigation is notable as one of the longest running legal battles in comic book publication history.
In Mad Issue 4, 1953, the story "Superduperman" was published. While it did not specifically reference the lawsuit, the story recounts the battle between Superduperman and "Captain Marbles”. And it should be noted that this issue marked the first time Superman and Captain Marvel were ever in a comic together, even if it was just a parody appearance of both characters.
In the 1950s, a small British publisher, L. Miller and Son, published a number of black and white reprints of American comic books, including the Captain Marvel series. With the outcome of the National v. Fawcett lawsuit, L. Miller and Son found their supply of Captain Marvel material abruptly cut off. They requested the help of a British comic writer, Mick Anglo, who created a thinly disguised version of the superhero called Marvelman. Captain Marvel Jr. was adapted to create Young Marvelman, while Mary Marvel had her gender changed to create the male Kid Marvelman. The magic word "Shazam!" was replaced with "Kimota", "Atomik" backwards. The new characters took over the numbering of the original Captain Marvel's United Kingdom series with issue number 25.
Marvelman ceased publication in 1963, but was revived in 1982 by writer Alan Moore in the pages of Warrior Magazine. Beginning in 1985, Moore's black and white serialized adventures were reprinted in color by Eclipse Comics under the new title Miracleman (as Marvel Comics now existed and objected to the use of Marvel in the title), and continued publication in the United States after Warrior's demise. It was noted that Marvelman's creation was based upon Captain Marvel comics, by both Moore and later Marvelman/Miracleman writer Neil Gaiman (in 2009, Marvel Comics obtained the rights to the original 1950s Marvelman characters and stories).
In 1966, M. F. Enterprises produced their own Captain Marvel: an android superhero from another planet whose main characteristic was the ability to split his body into several parts, each of which could move on its own. He triggered the separation by shouting "Split!" and reassembled himself by shouting "Xam!" He had a young human ward named Billy Baxton. This Captain Marvel, who didn't last long, was credited in the comic as being "based on a character created by Carl Burgos" (yeah riiight).
When superhero comics became popular again in the mid-1960s in what is now called the Silver Age of Comic Books (1956 to circa 1970), Fawcett was unable to revive Captain Marvel because in order to settle the lawsuit it had agreed never to publish the character again. Carmine Infantino, publisher of DC Comics, licensed the characters from Fawcett in 1972, and DC began planning a revival. Because Marvel Comics had by this time established Captain Marvel as a comic book trademark, DC published their book under the name Shazam! Since then, that title has become so linked to Captain Marvel that many people have taken to identifying the character as "Shazam" instead of his actual name (in 2012, DC Comics updated the character again but they opted to completely drop the name of Captain Marvel and rename him simply Shazam).
The Shazam! comic series began with issue #1, dated February 1973. It contained both new stories and reprints from the 1940s and 1950s. The first story attempted to explain the Marvel Family's absence by stating that they, Dr. Sivana, Sivana's children, and most of the supporting cast had been accidentally trapped in suspended animation for twenty years when the Sivana’s attempted to put the Marvels into suspended animation, until finally breaking free when the Suspendium globe moved towards the Sun. The cover of this issue is truly historic because it’s the first time Superman and Captain Marvel were ever seen legitimately on a comic together (even though they never meet in the story).
Dennis O'Neil was the primary writer of the book; his role was later taken over by writers Elliot S. Maggin and E. Nelson Bridwell. C. C. Beck drew stories for the first ten issues of the book before quitting due to creative differences; Bob Oksner and Fawcett alumnus Kurt Schaffenberger were among the later artists of the title. But writing Captain Marvel in the new DC Universe was no easy task. Elliot Maggin stated:
“We were trying to do the traditional Fawcett-style Captain Marvel in the Shazam! book in those days. The style of artwork was different from Superman’s. The degree of suspension of disbelief in the two story threads-Shazam! as opposed to Superman-were different. I never really believed that Superman and Captain Marvel belonged in the same story and neither did Julie Schwartz (The DC editor in chief).”
With DC's Multiverse concept in effect during this time, it was stated that the revived Marvel Family and related characters lived within the DC Universe on the parallel world of "Earth-S". With the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series, DC fully integrated the Marvel characters into the DC Universe. With the exception of an appearance by Lex Luthor in Shazam! #15, dated November–December 1974, the early, faithful-to-the-40s-comics versions never crossed over with the mainstream DC characters.
While publishing its Shazam! revival in the 1970s, DC Comics published a story in Superman #276, dated June 1974, featuring a battle between the Man of Steel and a thinly disguised version of Captain Marvel called Captain Thunder, a reference to the character's original name. Two years later, Justice League of America #135-137 featured a story arc which featured Superman and Captain Marvel (as well as other heroes of Earth-1, Earth-2, and Earth-S) almost fighting and then teaming together against their enemies for the first time. Then DC did the right thing and made their very first actual showdown a big event in the treasury-sized format series All New Collectors’ Edition. DC had two main treasury-sized titles—Famous First Edition, which reprinted some of DC's most historic books in the larger format, and Limited Collector’s Edition, which was made up 90% of reprinted material under a single theme. Later, when DC would sometimes use all-new material, they re-named the book All New Collectors’ Edition. And in issue #58, the long awaited clash between these two icons finally happened. They would later meet teaming-up together in various issues of DC Comics Presents (#33-34, 49, and Annual #3).
Following the Justice League of America story, DC followed Mad's cue and often pitted Captain Marvel and Superman against each other for any number of reasons, but usually as an inside joke to the characters' long battles in court; they are otherwise staunch allies that have confronted each other head to head. This was later retconned in Superman/Shazam: First Thunder limited series in 2005. This story recounts the first meeting between the two heroes and contrary to the usual popular stereotype, that encounter proves most pleasant as they quickly become allies whose individual differences complement each other well.
This was further enhanced by the release of Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam animated feature in 2010. In a revamped origin of Captain Marvel, Billy Batson idolizes Superman and wants to be just like him in every way. After Billy is granted his magical powers from the wizard Shazam, he and Superman quickly become good friends and battle the Black Adam. It should be noted that when Superman get’s hit by the magic lightning of Black Adam he gets burned badly by its magical properties. If you look closely, the actual burn mark is the symbol of Captain Thunder from Superman #276, so it was a nice homage to that classic encounter. Unfortunately, due to these recent revamps in their history, it would seem that today, the grudge between Superman and Captain Marvel has been put to rest.
But that is not what this write up is about! This is written in honor of their grudges and legendary rivalry! Listed here is a complete rundown of every time these two icons have met each other in a slugfest as well as challenging the other to tests of strength. All time periods such as Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis, Elseworlds or Parallel Earth stories are included (DC considers all versions of Superman and Captain Marvel to be legit incarnations of each hero, Paul Levitz himself told me this). Simply put, if it’s a significant encounter, it will be listed! No friendly team ups, meetings and situations will be ranked. This is each character on different sides of the battlefield trying to prove which one is truly the greatest superhero ever created.
So enough about the background, let’s get to the combatants…
TALE OF THE TAPE
Real Name: Kal-El, adopted as Clark Joseph Kent
Origins: Comes from the planet Krypton. Gained powers from Earth’s lighter gravity and yellow sun.
Home Base: Metropolis
Identity Switch: Secretly strips off his civilian clothes to reveal his Superman costume
Nicknames: Man of Steel, Man of Tomorrow, Man of Might, Action Ace, the Kryptonian, Big Red S, Big Blue, The Greatest Hero of Any Age, Champion of Truth, Justice and the American Way
Powers: Superman possesses extraordinary superhuman powers. His body acts as a living solar battery that absorbs yellow-sun rays, with these rays he is granted; super-strength, super-invulnerability and super-endurance; making him one of the physically strongest and most durable characters in the DC Universe. He also possesses super-speeds; allowing him to move, react, run, and fly at speeds of nearly a hundred miles per hour to speeds far greater than the speed of light. Super-breath; ability to inhale and exhale huge volumes of air with great force, capable of extinguishing large fires and moving heavy objects such as cars. This also allows Superman to hold his breath for hours in airless environments. The release (exhalation) of highly compressed air through his pursed lips causes it to drop radically in temperature. This is usually referred to as "Freeze Breath", and can cool objects to sub-zero temperatures and freeze air moisture solid. Super-senses (including hearing, smelling, tasting, touching); his sight is the most well-rounded of his senses as he has greater accuracy to detail than humanly possible. This sense also includes the ability to see EM frequencies invisible to humans, such as radio transmissions, infrared light, the bio-electric aura which surrounds all living things, even in pitch-black darkness. Offshoots of this power include Telescopic Vision; which allows him to "zoom in" on far away objects, sometimes hundreds of miles away. Microscopic Vision; which allows him to zoom in on objects that would normally be too small to see, like those on a cellular or molecular level. X-Ray Vision; the ability to see through solid objects, usually with the exception of lead. Heat Vision; ability to emit solar energy from his eyes. Usually resembles bright red or orange laser-like beams, which may be invisible at low temperatures but extremely bright at high ones. The effective range of his beams are hundreds of feet. In addition varying the beam width, height, and intensity, Superman has demonstrated a high degree of skill and accuracy in manipulating his beam. He is able to use this power with surgical precision and at microscopic levels. In some cases, these beams can also be used to produce great concussive force rather than heat and have been known to rupture steel plates and pulverize rock. He also possesses regeneration (when absorbing yellow sun rays into his body) and longevity as well as having a super-mind and memory.
Weaknesses: Kryptonite; Superman is most vulnerable to green Kryptonite, mineral debris from Krypton transformed into radioactive material by the forces that destroyed the planet. Exposure to green Kryptonite radiation nullifies Superman's powers and immobilizes him with pain and nausea; prolonged exposure will eventually kill him. The only substance on Earth that can protect him from Kryptonite is lead, which blocks the radiation. Lead is also the only known substance that Superman cannot see through with his X-Ray Vision. He is also vulnerable to most forms of magic, red-sun rays (which weaken him considerably), and just about anything from Krypton
Favorite Expressions: “ Great Krypton!”, ” Great Scott!”, ” Up, Up and Away!”, “This looks like a job for Superman!”
Name: Captain Marvel
Height: 5’4” (as Billy) 6’2” (as Captain Marvel)
Weight: 125lbs (as Billy) 250lbs (as Captain Marvel)
Real Name: Billy Batson
Origins: Given the power of six elder Gods by the ancient wizard named SHAZAM.
Home Base: Fawcett City
Identity Switch: Says “SHAZAM!” and is changed by a magical blast of lightning.
Nicknames: World’s Mightiest Mortal, World’s Mightiest Man, Big Red Cheese
Powers: Magically bestowed aspects of various mythological figures which include; Wisdom of Solomon; grants him instant access to a vast amount of scholarly knowledge, including most known languages and sciences, he has exceptional photographic recall and mental acuity allowing him to read and decipher hieroglyphics, recall everything he has ever learned and solve long mathematical equations, he also has a great understanding of divine phenomena in the mortal world, this wisdom also provides him with counsel and advice in times of need. Strength of Hercules; grants him immense superhuman strength, making him easily one of the strongest characters on Earth. Stamina of Atlas; grants him vast invulnerability and he does not need to eat, breathe or sleep and can survive unaided in space. Power of Zeus; grants him resistance against all magic spells and attacks and the ability to call down magical lightning, this lightning has several uses, such as creating apparatus, restoring damage done to him, and acting as fuel for magic spells, it can also turn other Marvels back by striking them, and it aids inter-dimensional travel at the Rock of Eternity. Courage of Achilles; also grants mental fortitude and protection to most mental attacks. And the Speed of Mercury; he can move, react, run and fly at superhuman speeds faster than the speed of light.
Weaknesses: Vulnerable as Billy
Favorite Expressions: “Holy Moley!”
The issues listed here are each time Superman and Captain Marvel have squared off and fought each other in the comics regardless of the situation or plot. I will also explain each encounter in detail. Unfortunately, all fights and situations are not always so clear cut and I've tried my very best to be fair, objective and unbiased about the outcome of each battle. A "MATCH UP" is considered a round within a fight or face off confrontation. Since situations can be erratic in the story, there can be multiple outcomes between opponents in a fight. I will continually list each "MATCH UP" with a result and tally it. A "MATCH UP" will only result in a "WIN" if the losing character is rendered unconscious, teleported away against their will or immobilized in such a fashion that they are only freed by the other combatant or an ally. There may even be cases when a character gets a victory due to interference of their teammates, partners, etc. This may not be a definitive "WIN" but it will still be tallied against the losing opponent and explained so. When a character gets an "EDGE" result, they had the advantage at the end of the fight but the opponent may still be conscious or fighting on, so it will not be tallied against him. A "DRAW" result means no one was victorious during that encounter and a "NONE" or "UNKNOWN" result means there was no way a logical result could be given in that confrontation or situation from the two characters facing off. These results can occur for a number of reasons and will be explained in the text. At the end, I tallied up the totals so you can come to your own conclusions and be the judge to see who holds the overall edge in this legendary battle.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #137 (1976)
This issue is truly a monumental piece of comic book history! The very first time both Superman and Captain Marvel actually meet! Under the influence of red kryptonite, Superman attacks in a crazed fury. Captain Marvel sees this and goes out to stop him. As they both are about to fly into each other, Marvel yells the magic words “SHAZAM!” changing him back into Billy Batson. The magical properties of the lightning cause’s Superman to break free from the control of the red kryptonite and save Billy. RESULT: NONE
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 1 SUPERMAN: 0 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 0
ALL NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION #58 (1978)
The very first actual Superman and Captain Marvel brawl in a comic had to be in an oversized format! It was the perfect scope for these two larger than life icons! Karmang the Evil forces the Black Adam to blast Superman and Captain Marvel with his judgment ray causing both heroes to attack each other in a mad killing frenzy. In this huge brawl, Superman get’s the better of Captain Marvel and eventually knocks him out. It is later revealed to Superman by the wizard Shazam, that being in his universe Captain Marvel was depowered and not fighting at full strength. RESULT: WIN SUPERMAN (It should be noted that this cannot be considered a definitive "win" for Superman due to the circumstances in this fight.)
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 2 SUPERMAN: 1 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 0
ALL-STAR SQUADRON #36 (1984)
Under the influence of Adolf Hitler’s Spear of Destiny, Captain Marvel attacks Earth 2 Superman and the rest of the All-Star Squadron. They have a HUGE no holds barred brawl in the sky until Captain Marvel hits Superman with a tremendous punch that rockets the Man of Steel crashing back to the Earth. When other Squadron members go to Superman’s aide, they are shocked to find him stunned and defeated. RESULT: WIN CAPTAIN MARVEL
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 3 SUPERMAN: 1 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
ALL-STAR SQUADRON #37 (1984)
Still under the influence of Adolf Hitler’s Spear of Destiny, Captain Marvel and the Marvel family attack the Squadron. Earth 2 Superman quickly attacks Captain Marvel to get revenge from their previous encounter. They have a short scrap when Superman has to chase down a bomb that Captain Marvel kicked at the city below. Eventually the Marvel Family becomes free of the Spear’s influence and team up with the Squadron to defeat the Nazi’s before returning back to their Earth. RESULT: DRAW
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 4 SUPERMAN: 1 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #4 (1992)
Captain Marvel fights Superman (possessed by Eclipso). This fight is a bit controversial making it the hardest of all their fights to judge (which is sure to cause a little bit of controversy among fanboys). Almost always, when Eclipso possesses someone, he powers them up. However, there was no mention of this in the battle itself, so I suppose it’s debatable. Take it as you will. However, one cannot deny that Superman was more ruthless than ever and that Captain Marvel was holding back against him. RESULT: EDGE SUPERMAN (Superman gets the "edge" in this controversial brawl for beating up and having Captain Marvel at his mercy at the end of it. But there are just too many circumstances to ponder to make this a fair fight, so Supes cannot get a definitive "win" and it can't be tallied against Captain Marvel. I'm sure the Superman fanboys will be screaming at this one, but isn't this why comic books and super-classic-rivalries are so much fun to debate?)
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 5 SUPERMAN: 1 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
SUPERMAN #102 (1995)
In a short fight, the two hero’s battle under the influence of Satanus as Superman sees Captain Marvel as Cyborg Superman while Captain Marvel sees Superman as Black Adam (Johnathan Kent comments that it would take the entire JLA to separate the two). They go back and forth until they realize that they have been tricked into fighting each other. RESULT: DRAW
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 6 SUPERMAN: 1 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
KINGDOM COME #3 and 4 (1996)
The Superman and Captain Marvel fight in this series is by far the most popular, most referenced and most legendary clash in the history of their rivalry. And although this is an Elseworlds tale, Kingdom Come was for all intents and purposes set in the future of the then-current mainstream DC Universe. With the war of all wars breaking out, the two most powerful beings on Earth square off in a final battle. They face off in the final pages of Kingdom Come #3 when Captain Marvel slams into an unsuspecting Superman. In the next issue, total war breaks out with Captain Marvel (who has been brain washed by Lex Luthor) and Superman battle it out. They fight toe-to-toe until Captain Marvel batters Superman by using his magic lightning bolt over and over but dodging before it hits him, leaving Superman to bear the brunt of a magical lightning strike. However, as Captain Marvel says “SHAZAM!” again, Superman grabs him and the lightning finds its mark; turning Captain Marvel back into Billy Batson. Holding Batson's mouth shut, Superman tells Batson that he is going to stop the remaining bomb, and Batson must make an important choice: either stop him and allow the warhead to kill all the super-humans, or let Superman stop the bomb and allow the super-humans' war to engulf the world. Superman tells Batson he must be the one to make this decision, as he is the only one who lives in both worlds, that of normal humans (as Batson) and the super-human community (as Marvel). Superman releases him and flies off to stop the incoming bomb. Batson, his mind now clear of Luthor's influence, turns into Captain Marvel, flies up to Superman, throws him back down to the ground and takes hold of the bomb. Having found a third option, Marvel shouts "SHAZAM!" three more times in rapid succession and the lightning sets off the bomb prematurely, killing himself in the process. This is superhero storytelling at its absolute finest! RESULT: WIN SUPERMAN
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 7 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
JLA #29 (1999)
Captain Marvel goes to the moon to confront Superman. Marvel knows Superman wants to enter the 5th Dimension but he knows Earth needs Superman more than it needs him. So to stop Superman from entering, Marvel sucker punches the Man of Steel with two magically charged up punches and knocks him out cold. Hourman watching this event states, “Not many people can do that.” Captain Marvel feels low about the ambush but he accomplished his task. RESULT: NONE
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 8 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
THE POWER OF SHAZAM! #46 (1999)
They have a back and forth scrap in which Captain Marvel is too stubborn to stop despite Superman’s pleas. Superman has an idea for them to settle this fight with an arm wrestling contest. Winner takes all and no rematches. It’s a stalemate until Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. power-up in the middle of the contest depowering Captain Marvel’s strength and causing him to lose. Despite the mishap and argument, Superman leaves. RESULT: DRAW
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 9 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
JSA #34 (2002)
As the Ultra-Humanite gains control of Jakeem Thunder's Thunderbolt, a new JSA (Captain Marvel, Sand, Power Girl, Jakeem Thunder and the villain Icicle) attempt to bring the villain down and free Superman and the heroes of Earth from his control. As this JSA battles a brainwashed conglomeration of the Titans and the JLA, Superman sneak attacks Captain Marvel and hits him twice at super-speed knocking him out. RESULT: NONE
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 10 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
JLA/JSA: VIRTUE AND VICE (2002)
When the seven deadly sins of Shazam manifest into their demon counterparts, they possess several members of the Justice League and Justice Society. Under the influence of the Demon of Gluttony, Captain Marvel attacks Superman (who is being distracted by an influenced Power Girl) and sucker punches him. The blow sends the Man of Steel flying and totally knocks him out. RESULT: NONE
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 11 SUPERMAN: 2 - CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
SUPERMAN/BATMAN #4 (2004)
The JSA send Captain Marvel and Hawkman to attack and capture Superman and Batman because they won’t hold back when fighting them. In this brawl, Superman admits that Marvel has an edge on him when they fight toe-to-toe due to his magic and get’s his nose busted because of it. As Batman and Superman switch opponents they plan a maneuver called “castling” to trick Hawkman and Captain Marvel into thinking that they are defeated. RESULT: NONE (This fight has to be ruled thusly because Batman and Superman fake being defeated)
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 12 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
SUPERMAN/BATMAN #5 (2004)
This match-up is never seen in the issue. When we see Captain Marvel and Hawkman, they are really Superman and Batman with their costumes on and ambush Lex Luthor. Superman states that they pretended to be defeated from the previous encounter and blindsided Captain Marvel and Hawkman…”castling.” RESULT: NONE (It was an ambush that defeated Captain Marvel and Hawkman so it cannot be regarded as a "win" for Superman or even listed as a fight for that matter since you never see the encounter)
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 13 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
SUPERMAN #216 (2005)
Captain Marvel fights Superman possessed by Eclipso again. Marvel is intent on not fighting Superman and is strictly on the defensive until the last moments. Superman’s resistance to magic was increased via being possessed by Eclipso due to how he took a few of the Shazam lightning bolts. After a back and forth fight, the Specter frees Superman. RESULT: DRAW
TALLY: MATCH UPS: 14 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
JUSTICE #9 (2007)
After Captain Marvel gets mind controlled by Brainiac’s robotic worms, he attacks the Justice League, who are stationed in the Fortress of Solitude. As Marvel tries to break in, it’s up to Superman to stop him! They clash as Superman tries to get Marvel to fight off the control. They go back and forth until Green Lantern steps in and frees Captain Marvel from the control. RESULT: DRAW
MATCH UPS: 15 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
MATCH UPS: 16 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
JUSTICE LEAGUE #22 (2013)
As the New 52 brings about a new age DC Universe for the millennium with revamped incarnations of Superman and SHAZAM (who is no longer being called Captain Marvel...sheeeesh), we get their very first face-to-face meeting and match up in this issue. While SHAZAM is in the Kahndaq desert, their military doesn't take kindly to American's traveling there, so they attack him on sight. This angers SHAZAM and as he is about to fight back he is suddenly punched miles away at super-speed by Superman. This causes him to retaliate and brawl it out with The Man of Steel. Wonder Woman soon joins the fight to help Superman and get some answers but SHAZAM refuses to talk and continues to fight. After Superman lands a tremendous blow that floors the Big Red Cheese, SHAZAM rises and is now confronted by the entire Justice League who wants to know why he is in the Kahndaq desert. Billy says it's none of their business and calls them all "jerks." RESULT: DRAW
JUSTICE LEAGUE #39 (2015)
While SHAZAM and other members of the Justice League are infected by the Amazo virus, they fight with Superman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor. Superman makes some attacks against the possessed SHAZAM but the ending of the fight is never seen. RESULT: UNKNOWN
MATCH UPS: 17 SUPERMAN: 2 – CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
DC CONVERGENCE #7 (2015)
With the largest battle in the Multiverse happening, the Kingdom Come Captain Marvel is eager to slug it out with the Earth 2 Superman to see who is superior and attacks him. As the battle escalates, all the heroes from Kingdom Come, Earth 2, the Titans and Parallax fight it out with each other and with the villain Deimos who is behind it all. RESULT: DRAW
FINAL TALLY: MATCH UPS: 18 SUPERMAN: 2 - CAPTAIN MARVEL: 1
Comics listed in this category will show every time Captain Marvel and Superman pit their strength against each other to see who is physically the stronger.
Comics listed in this category will show every time Captain Marvel and Superman pit their strength against each other to see who is physically the stronger.
SUPERMAN MAN OF TOMORROW #4 (1996)
The Wizard and Bibbo Bibbowski have an argument on who’s tougher, Captain Marvel or Superman. So both heroes have an arm wrestling match to benefit the Police Athletic Fund. By the time the comic ends they have been locked up for two hours without either one having an edge. It is never known who won or when it ends.
ACTION COMICS #768 (2000)
At the end of this adventure where Captain Marvel and Superman share the same body, they have a talk where they come clean about their respect for each other. And Superman states that he has always considered Captain Marvel his equal. Then they shake hands and both start to squeeze testing the others strength and ability to take it. It is never shown who was able to take it more before letting go. It’s very likely that there was no winner.
This is the category that will list all alternate time-line, fake or funny comic appearances of Superman fighting Captain Marvel.
This is the category that will list all alternate time-line, fake or funny comic appearances of Superman fighting Captain Marvel.
MAD #4 (1953)
Mad magazine does a spoof on the heated “real-life” comic debate of the day with the story, Superduperman vs Captain Marbles. It’s interesting to note that this story started two very important facts; the actual competitiveness and rivalry between the two heroes seen in printed form, which DC would follow suit 20 years later when they began to add Captain Marvel into the DC universe. And because of this particular story, Mad magazine became the hottest and longest lasting humor magazine ever (the first 3 issues didn’t sell very well). In the story, Superduperman is shocked that there is someone out in the comic’s world that is just as powerful as he is. This hilarious fight ends when Captain Marbles knocks himself out with his own punch!
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #103 (1972)
This issue stands as the very first time Superman and Captain Marvel were ever in a comic together...almost. A demon Captain Marvel shows up, battles Supes to a standstill and then defeats him by whispering a magic which causes a magical bolt of lightning to strike the Man of Steel! Was this a sign that Superman wasn't the "Big Cheese" in the DC universe anymore? What is also funny about this issue is that it had a "teaser" Captain Marvel advertisement in it stating that the real Captain Marvel was returning to comics. And it gave a warning: "Watch Out Superman! Here Comes the Original Captain Marvel!"
SUPERMAN #276 (1974)
According to writer Elliot S. Maggin, in a 2006 interview, the reason behind using Captain Thunder (despite having the rights to the real deal character) was that DC felt the more whimsical Captain Marvel appearing in SHAZAM! would be a poor thematic fit with the more "realistic" Superman, and that Cap's appearance in Superman (or vice versa) would be too jarring a transition for either character to make. Whatever the case, we all knew this was Captain Marvel (more or less). In the issue, upon arriving from another dimension, Willie Fawcett, a.k.a. Captain Thunder (whose powers are equivalent to Superman’s) is plagued by disturbing thoughts. While on the Earth from his dimension he was a hero, now he is prompted to be a villain every time he changes to his super-powered alter ego in this world. Only one thing stands in his way - Superman. This fight went back and forth until Superman tricks Captain Thunder into changing back to Willie. They both make a plan on letting Thunder use his wisdom to see the error of his ways and when Superman holds him, he eventually does.
SHAZAM! #30 (1977)
Dr. Sivana creates several steel creatures and animals to destroy Pittsburgh's steel mills, after getting the idea from reading an issue of Action comics. He finally creates a Superman robot made of a super-steel to destroy Captain Marvel. They both hit each other at the same moment, and the Superman is destroyed.
THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #494 (1992)
As Superman floats through space, Kismet shows him visions of alternate realities. In one such possible future Superman is seen rampaging throughout the world as Captain Marvel and a host of other heroes are defeated at his feet.
WORLD’S FUNNEST (2000)
An Elseworlds tale of Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk hoping different reality’s while fighting each other. Each new world they encounter is destroyed in the battle between the two imps, Bat-Mite fleeing and Mxyzptlk pursuing to another universe/world which is then destroyed. In the process they generally mock the characters/comics they encounter, often breaking the 4th wall and lampooning how seriously people "inside" comics take themselves given the often unbelievable or silly circumstances they encounter. When they come to the Kingdom Come universe, Captain Marvel is seen slugging it out with Superman in their final battle. But with the imps interference, they destroy this universe and this fight is never finished.
DC UNIVERSE ONLINE LEGENDS #13 (2011)
A story based on the online game that is not in continuity to the mainstream DC Universe shows Superman losing control of his powers because of a conspiracy between Lex Luthor and Brainiac. When he sees Captain Marvel and the rest of the Justice League as monsters he attacks them and totally trashes the entire team.
INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US YEAR THREE #5 (2014)
CONVERGENCE: SUPERMAN #1 (2015)
Having been stuck under a power-dampening dome for over a year with Lois Lane, Superman finally gets free when the dome drops. With his powers back, Superman finds himself in Gotham city during the foulness of the Flashpoint world. Here he goes up against other versions of his friends and enemies. One such friend is Captain Marvel, whom he almost calls SHAZAM. But in this reality he is facing Captain Thunder who attacks him. After taking a few shots, Superman retaliates with a haymaker of his own that sends Thunder to the ground.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #49 (2016)Cover depicts SHAZAM and the Justice League in combat with Ultra-Man (who is basically an evil version of Superman) and the Crime Syndicate. While the two teams battle it out in the story itself, SHAZAM and Ultra-Man never fight each other.
CONVERGENCE: SUPERMAN #2 (2015)
This time Superman will take on Captain Thunder and a group of heroes from the Flashpoint timeline and thoroughly pound them. Captain Thunder is no exception and gets thrashed by a motivated Man of steel while Batman looks on.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #49 (2016)
THE GOOD HUMOR MAN (1950)
Listed here will be any time Superman and Captain Marvel battled each other on cartoons, animated features, movies, sitcoms, video games, magazine covers, etc. Now this category might not be in actual continuity but it plays a very important role in how the mainstream audience views each character. Plus, these two have had some of the most legendary fights ever to be animated onto the small screen and they cannot be denied.
Now this movie is the most obscure and unknown Captain Marvel vs Superman fight ever. Starring Jack Carson as Biff Jones, who is a driver/salesman for the Good Humor ice-cream company. He hopes to marry his girl Margie, who works as a secretary for Stuart Nagel, an insurance investigator. Margie won't marry Biff, though, because she is the sole support of her kid brother, Johnny. Biff gets involved with Bonnie, a young woman he tries to rescue from gangsters. But Biff's attempts to help her only get him accused of murder. When the police refuse to believe his story, it's up to Biff and Johnny to prove Biff's innocence and solve the crime. The story is particularly interesting because Biff is a member of Johnny's Captain Marvel fan club (the secret word to get into the club house is Captain Marvel said backwards) and Biff goes about his life trying to be a good person doing what Captain Marvel would do in similar situations. And the main villain of the show is eventually revealed to be Stuart Nagel who is played by none other than the Adventures of Superman star George Reeves!! That's right, just a mere two years before Reeves got the role of Superman he was the bad guy in this movie and the main adversary of Captain Marvel fanboy Biff Jones. Sure, Reeves isn't Superman in this--but he soon would be. And anyone watching the movie today will have a few laughs knowing that the Superman vs Captain Marvel rivalry is alive and well in it!! HOLY MOLEY what a coincidence!!! It's great as Johnny and the rest of the Captain Marvel club comes to help Biff out against Stuart and his thug cronies.
ALTER EGO FANZINE #3 (1999)
Beautiful cover done by the master, Alex Ross. Image is of Captain Marvel amidst bodies of defeated superheroes and movie characters including; Superman, The Hulk, Spawn, Wolverine (from Kingdom Come), The Punisher, Lobo, Venom, and many others. Is Mr. Ross telling us that Captain Marvel really is the "Big Red Cheese" in the comic's world? You decide.
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (SEASON: 2 EPISODE: 20 "CLASH" 2005)
In probably one of the best episodes of the entire Justice League Unlimited series, Superman and Captain Marvel “clash!” Throughout the episode Superman had a little grudge to pick with Captain Marvel and seemed to always be on his case (he was a little ticked that other JL members felt Marvel was a perfect replacement for him). Eventually Lex Luthor tricks them into fighting and Superman gladly obliges. The big fight in this is simply amazing and could well be one of the greatest slugfests ever seen in a cartoon. The sheer amount of collateral damage that occurs to Luthor’s new ‘Lexor City’ is jaw-dropping. Windows shatter, buildings collapse and the city gets totaled. It’s a nice back and forth fight where Superman begins to take the edge and get’s the better of Captain Marvel. The ending of the battle also pays homage to their legendary Kingdom Come battle. In which Captain Marvel is holding Superman in a bear hug and calls down his magical lightning to strike Superman in the chest, causing him tremendous pain. But Superman breaks free from Captain Marvel’s grip and makes the Big Red Cheese the target, now the magical lightning changes Marvel back into Billy Batson. As Billy tries to walk away and shout “SHAZAM!” again, Superman holds his mouth shut and says, “Fight’s over son.” One of the highlights of the episode was the speech Captain Marvel gave the Justice League at the end of the episode, as he focused on how much the League has changed as heroes. No longer happy to just do the good fight, they seem jaded—and to those complaining about how much of a stubborn ass Superman was, they likely agreed with Captain Marvel.
MORTAL KOMBAT VS DC UNIVERSE (2008)
While this is not just a Superman vs Captain Marvel fighting game (because many characters are in it), you can play this legendary match up at anytime. Both heroes are some of the best and most powerful characters to play in the entire game and using them will bring you hours of fun. With all their moves and abilities at your disposal, every fight is right out of the comic books and onto the screen. There can be no doubt that this is truly one of the most fun and addicting games that any Superman or Captain Marvel fan could ever play.
SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES (2009)
This animated feature does a great job of adapting the original first 6 issues of the Superman/Batman series onto the screen. However, due to time the Superman/Batman and Captain Marvel/Hawkman battle royal does not end exactly like it did in the comics. It’s a tremendous fight nonetheless with Captain Marvel getting the better in the one-on-one, hand-to-hand scrap with Superman. But one has to assume that Supes and Batman are victorious with their team work and “castling” maneuver even though you never see the ending of the battle.
ALTER EGO FANZINE #85 (2009)
Cover shows Superman and Captain Marvel slugging it out from the cover of All New Collectors' Edition #58. But artist Rich Buckler (who is the artist on the original comic back in 1978) did this cover with a little twist. Can you spot what's different?
JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS (2010)
The premise of Crisis on Two Earths is borrowed from the 1964 Gardner Fox-scripted Justice League of America #29–30 entitled "Crisis on Earth-Three!" as well as the 2000 Grant Morrison JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel, with a heroic Lex Luthor from an alternate universe coming to the Justice League's universe for help against the Crime Syndicate, but it is not an adaptation of either story. In this feature, Superman and the Justice League fight the Crime Syndicate which are evil parallel versions of themselves. In a fight in the sky, Superman takes on both Super Woman and Captain Super (this universe’s Captain Marvel who doesn't seem to be as powerful as his DC counterpart) and fights them to a standstill before he escapes.
MAD TV (SEASON: 2 EPISODE: 20 "THAT'S WHAT SUPER FRIENDS ARE FOR" 2012)
When the lesser known Super Friends feel rejected by Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, Plastic Man and Black Lightning lead them into expressing the feelings of not living up to their team name through a show tune routine. Upon hearing this, Superman suggests that the team be renamed to the Justice League and Batman orders the the team to get him a soda. While this does not have a "Superman vs Captain Marvel" fight in the episode, it does show Superman giving Billy Batson/SHAZAM a bill because he is a minor.
INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US (2013)
Taking it a step further from the Mortal Combat vs DC Universe fighting game, Injustice: Gods Walk Among Us uses The New 52 interpretations of the DC characters and pits them into battle against each other while adding much more depth and options to the game. While this is not just a Superman vs SHAZAM fighting game (because many characters are in it), you can play this legendary match up at anytime. Both heroes are some of the best and most powerful characters to play in the entire game and using them will bring you hours of fun. An IOS/Android and "Ultimate Edition" version was later released with all downloadable content included.
BACK ISSUE #66 (2013)I have to list this magazine because not only is this my very first nationally published work, but also this "Superman vs Captain Marvel" write up appears in it. Let's just say, this magazine changed my life as the heroes finally gave me something back! SHAZAM!
Order BACK ISSUE #66 here:
WORLD'S GREATEST HEROES: SUPER POWERS (2014)
A teaser of the first two waves of the upcoming Super Powers line done in classic Mego 8" scale. Teaser shows Superman and Captain Marvel (SHAZAM!) locked in toy battle with "Fist-Fighting Action!" Very cool retro action that fans will enjoy.
LEGO BATMAN 3: BEYOND GOTHAM (2014)
An incredibly fun video game that showcases LEGO Batman and over 50 characters including Superman (a bunch of different incarnations) and Captain Marvel/SHAZAM. While there is no actual Superman vs Captain Marvel/SHAZAM in the game, once you unlock each character and use the Free Roam gameplay, you can have them team up or fight it out. Either way, this is a game all fans must experience.
INJUSTICE 2 (2017)
A sequel to the legendary video game that came out back in 2013. While new characters and maneuvers have been added to make the fights even more epic, Superman and SHAZAM return to continue their rivalry. This time players will also be able to customize the look of their characters and upgrade their abilities such as speed, strength and health.
Despite who you like better, you have to give both characters respect. Their powers and adventures have contributed to a number of elements to both comic book culture and pop culture in general. The most notable of these was the regular use of Superman and Captain Marvel as adversaries in Modern Age comic book stories. And this write up is my honorable dedication to that.
Okay fanboys, lets get down to the nitty-gritty and analyze the whole "Superman vs Captain Marvel" debate once and for all and finally get out the truth. In 18 match ups Superman takes the slight edge over Captain Marvel 2 to 1. But sometimes numbers don't always tell the whole story (especially in the open ended world of comic books). If you look over all their fights with unbiased eyes you can see that Captain Marvel has the only legit toe-to-toe win in All Star Squadron #36 and in Superman/Batman #4 you can see, once again, his dominance in a fist-fight. The Man of Steel can only claim to have a legit win in Kingdom Come #4 when he used Captain Marvel's very own magical lightning against him to change him back into Billy Batson, but in the punch-up itself, it looked like Marvel had the slight edge overall. Superman did have a tremendous knock out win in All New Collectors’ Edition #58, but that wasn't a fair fight by any means as The World's Mightiest Mortal was depowered. Superman's dominance in Action Comics Annual #4 when he was possessed by Eclipso doesn't really count. I'm not sure what to make of "The New 52" versions of the characters as Superman looked arguably a tad better than the newly billed..."SHAZAM" in their fight from Justice League #22, but to SHAZAM's credit, he was fighting both Superman and Wonder Woman and despite taking a huge punch from the Man of Steel that floored him in the end, he sat up and was unhurt by it. The rest of their slugfests from their history are all pretty even.
Superman and Captain Marvel seem to be complete equals in strength, power and ability, no doubt about it (I would even give Supes the edge in overall versatile power output). But Marvel's major advantage comes from the fact that he is composed of magic, and that's a major Superman weakness. No matter how hard any Superman fanboy will debate this fight, it's just his fight to lose. Superman is susceptible to magic and magic is what Captain Marvel is all about...end of debate!
Now before Superman fans riot the streets, let me make something clear--Superman can beat Captain Marvel. Supes is so vastly powerful, that he is widely considered the number #1 hero in the DC Universe because of all the things he can do. He is capable of defeating just about any comic book character. But more often than not, he will lose to Captain Marvel! And this is a very important fact for comic book fans to know because despite how long Captain Marvel has remained in Superman's shadow, he is just as powerful as him. Hopefully now, The Power of Shazam can be given its proper respect (I hope the DC big-wigs are reading this)!
So now I dare you to find anything on the internet that comes close to this write up on the Superman vs Captain Marvel Rivalry. I'm so obsessed about this stinking fight that I can't sleep at night!! So it HAD to be the best write up out there!! IT HAD TO BE!!! So what do you fanboys think? Hit me up with some comments and opinions and give me a "HOW GOOD!!" SO GOOD!!" or a "SHAZAM!!!"
Agree? Disagree? Let's hear it fanboys...
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Superman vs He-Man
Captain America vs Wolverine
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Thor vs Silver Surfer
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Hulk vs Silver Surfer
Hulk vs Superman
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Hulk vs Thing
John "The Mego Stretch Hulk" Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John still thinks he's really Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on twitter at @Elastic_Hulk and have some fun.