Superman has taken on many adversaries, and even a colleague or two, in the DC Universe that have proven challenging for the otherwise unstoppable Kryptonian, but, more often than not, he manages to top his competition. However, if he were to somehow cross over into the Marvel Universe (more specifically, the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and was, for some reason, seen as a threat by Captain Marvel, would he stand a chance?
The alter egos of Clark Kent and Carol Danvers have both made it clear that they are the most powerful heroes in their respective universes. However, that only raises the question of which one is the more powerful being of any universe?
Well, I intend to get to the bottom of this by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of Marvel’s most powerful Avenger and DC’s Man of Steel to determine which one is truly strongest. Who will win: Superman or Captain Marvel?
When Superman, portrayed with an impeccable resemblance on film most recently by Henry Cavill, was first introduced in Action Comics #1 in 1938, he possessed many of the abilities he is best known for today, such as the strength of a million men, speed that outweighs a freshly fired bullet, eyesight that would convince an eagle he needs a new optometrist, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, and incredible durability. However, it was not until by the mid-1980s that he would upgrade from durability to invulnerability, making him impervious to much heavier artillery, as well as x-ray vision and flight, which, apparently, comes from his telekinesis.
Of course, no superhero is perfect. They're usually vulnerable to something, and Superman’s weakness is so famous there is an early 2000s alternative rock song about it. If the boy in blue comes in contact with Kryptonite, even Jimmy Olsen would have a pretty good chance to take him down.
On the other hand, Superman’s main source of power also has the potential to be a disadvantage to him. The strength of his abilities rely on Earth's yellow sun, essentially making him a walking solar-powered battery. Therefore, if he goes too long without exposure to sunlight and with no other way to recharge himself, he might need to tap out to find a less shady spot to chill while the Justice League takes over for the time being.
Now, it is no question that the list of enemies Superman has defeated outnumbers those who have beaten. However, with the exception of those who cheat with Kryptonite and, of course, his fatal duel with Doomsday, most of his victors have one method in common: psychological manipulation.
A particularly famous example of this comes from the Injustice storyline in which the Joker fools Superman into laying waste of Metropolis and murdering his own wife, Lois Lane, and their unborn child. This tragedy is especially devastating when the hero’s seemingly incorruptible personality is put into perspective.
So, like I said, DC’s Golden Boy is not perfect and if Captain Marvel can manage to get under his skin or get ahold of some Kryptonite, she might make rust out of the Man of Steel. However, just how perfect is she?
Captain Marvel has gone through several iterations since the days when the cosmic powerhouse was a DC character… and a man. However, the part-Kree warrior has never been more popular than after the title was assumed by Carol Danvers, who would soon be portrayed in the MCU by Academy Award-winner Brie Larson as the one outsider that would earn the Avengers’ jealousy.
After enduring the explosion of a Kree device, Air Force pilot Carol Danvers discovered she would no longer need an airplane to get around, as flight was one of the many astounding abilities the blast had bestowed upon her after Kree DNA melded with her human biological makeup. In fact, Captain Marvel possesses an arsenal of powers so vast that she does not even know the full limit to what she is capable of, but it is no question she is the Marvel Universe’s most powerful being.
She can fly at supersonic speeds, lift up to 50 tons, emit devastating photon blasts, manipulate the molecular structure of other beings and reform matter, and is also immune to everything from bullets to deadly contaminants. However, Carol Danvers could double the capabilities of any of her already impressive abilities by tapping into her Binary state (referring to an enhanced cosmic mutant persona she assumed prior to becoming Captain Marvel), which she could temporarily conjure after absorbing enough energy.
Speaking of which, Captain Marvel’s ability to consume energy means that any attacks that would prove damaging to another being would actually be of great benefit to her, such as allowing her to create a photo blast strong enough to take down an entire space ship, as she demonstrated gloriously in Avengers: Endgame. Not to mention, if she did somehow suffer from injury, her advanced healing capabilities would take care of that in no time at all. So, essentially, she has a Plan-B for just about any situation, making her truly unstoppable, or so it seems.
While she has no weakness I can specifically reference by name, Captain Marvel does have a bit of a devil-may-care reputation that has led to her indulge in conflict without much judgment or preparation, which could be considered a side effect to her immodest levels of power. Could that be the edge that Superman needs to come out on top?
Superman Vs. Captain Marvel
Now, this is one intense quarrel we have on our hands. Superman is not the kind of guy who would ever give up easily and has rarely even been forced to, while Captain Marvel’s story is not much of a stretch. These two may possess powers unparalleled by their peers, but parallel each other quite closely, so determining a winner will require deeper postulation than any of the other comic book character battles I have theorized in the past.
I could say that Captain Marvel would just go ahead and make it a quick job by transferring the essence of a Kryptonite piece into a photon blast that would rip Superman in half. However, she would quickly realize that would be an unfair, and boring, way to combat the guy, so I think her first move would be to let him make the first move, which might take the famously polite vigilante a little convincing at first.
The adversaries may start off by rocketing toward each with pinpoint accuracy at supersonic speeds, being sure to cease their flight path before causing a collision that would prove cataclysmic to the entire planet, before engaging in some classic hand-to-hand combat, which Captain Marvel has the upper hand in due to her training under the CIA and Kree. Overwhelmed by how easily she dodges his attacks and how difficult it is to dodge hers, Superman might have to turn to his last resort: laser vision.
Of course, those, literally, penetrating red eyes would just look so cute to Captain Marvel, who would not get a scratch on her while absorbing the powerful heat energy into a photo blast that makes Superman feel more pain in a non-Kryptonite related situation than ever before. How could this be possible? By reducing his molecular density right before emitting the blast, rendering him physically vulnerable to her attack.
Superman does have control of his own molecular structure, so he could manage to combat Captain Marvel’s manipulation enough to prevent her blast from proving lethal. However, if she were to use her abilities in matter transmutation to create a cloud large and dark enough to block out the sun, putting out that much energy all at once would prove exhaustive for the Man of Steel and probably knock him out cold. Looks like Carol did come prepared this time and, with that, super-heroism has a new poster child.
From just barely losing his life to then enemy Batman, to being reduced to a mere atom in an imaginary duel with Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan, Superman has not been catching a break in our hypothetical superhero battles. What can we say? Captain Marvel is simply just that marvelous and we would not have it any other way.