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It’s been discussed among comic book fans for decades. If Superman and The Hulk, two of the strongest superheroes of all time, were to battle, who would be the victor? That was the question comedian Jon Stewart asked actor Mark Ruffalo last night on The Daily Show, but as you’ll see starting at the 2:25 mark, this isn’t just a matter of pure brawn.
Ruffalo stopped by the hit Comedy Central show to plug his new film, Infinitely Polar Bear, and during the interview, Stewart questioned the Avengers: Age of Ultron actor about what would happen if Superman and Hulk faced off after the audience inquired beforehand. However, unlike most debates on this subject, this didn’t boil down to the heroes simply pummeling each other. With Superman able to fly and Hulk only able to "bounce," as Ruffalo put it, Stewart wondered if both of them jumped in the air, who will be the one coming down first.
Stewart seems to take a pro-Superman stance, prompting Ruffalo to start arguing on Hulk’s behalf. However, he stopped mid-sentence to tell Stewart that he’ll miss him, referring to the host leaving the show in August. Stewart soon after points out that Hulk, whose alter-ego Bruce Banner often says not to get him angry, would be pissed off he couldn’t go as high as Superman. After Ruffalo asked if they could talk about this some other time, the interview then (roughly) segued into a discussion about his charity work, but I’d like to think that these two continued this geeky debate off-camera.
Opinions will differ on who would win depending on which character you prefer more. On the one hand, Superman is an alien who, in addition to super strength and flight, also has powers like heat vision and freezing breath. Then there’s Hulk, one of the most powerful beings not just on Earth, but in the whole universe, and his strength and durability increases as he gets angrier. That being said, it this is judged purely on the high jump, Superman comes out on top. As powerful as Hulk is, he can’t stay in the air forever, and gravity will always pull him back down.
Outside of fan stories and simulated battles, Superman and Hulk have only fought three times in crossovers, like when Marvel and DC teamed up to publish the 1996 miniseries DC vs. Marvel Comics. That was one of five fights where the fans called in to decide who should win, and Superman was victorious. However, given that there’s barely been any interaction between the two companies since then, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get an official rematch between the two superheroes, but it will continue to fuel conversations among comic book fans for many more years.