In the DC universe, It’s hard to ignore two particular characters for having a disproportionately higher and stronger abilities than most others. Superman, the Last Son of Krypton, and Martian Manhunter, the last survivor of the Martian race. Both heroes possess a myriad of superpowers and have proven themselves to be invaluable members of the Justice League. It is hard not to think about if Martian Manhunter is stronger than Superman, or who would win in a fight. To understand this, we need to take a close look at their superpowers and see what comparable events we can use to make a proper judgement.
Superman, born as Kal-El on the planet Krypton, boasts an array of superhuman abilities. Superman’s powers are derived from his Kryptonian physiology, which absorbs the yellow solar radiation of Earth’s sun.
He is so ridiculously overpowered that it would be easier to describe his weaknesses than his powers. His abilities include super-strength, super-speed, invulnerability, flight, heat vision, freeze breath, enhanced senses, and who knows what else? In the early days of Superman in comic books, he basically had no limitations. For example, he had super-ventriloquism and super-hypnosis. Later, his character was altered so that he couldn’t breathe in outer space, and had other limits in place that prevented him from being completely invulnerable. For example, he is vulnerable to magic, a vague but powerful weapon that he can’t prevent or control if used against him.
Superman’s combination of seemingly-limitless strength, super-speed, and alleged invulnerability makes him The Man of Steel. He can fly at faster-than-light speeds, and his heat vision can reach the temperature of the Sun. His freeze breath can lower the temperature of anything it hits to freezing points, and his enhanced senses, including X-ray vision and super-hearing, provide him with heightened awareness of his surroundings. As far as knowing if Martian Manhunter is stronger than Superman, we have to consider that he gets his energy from the sun, and that his heat vision is able to start fires. Since fire is one of Martian Manhunter’s weaknesses, this power would probably be used as Superman’s main weapon if the two were to fight each other.
Martian Manhunter’s Powers
Martian Manhunter, also known as J’onn J’onzz, is a Green Martian with a wide range of superhuman abilities. Like Superman, Martian Manhunter possesses super-strength, nigh-invulnerability, super-speed, and the power of flight, but his abilities extend beyond those of the Man of Steel.
J’onn J’onzz has telepathic abilities, making him one of the strongest telepathic beings in the Universe. He can read minds, project his thoughts, and even manipulate others’ minds to a certain extent. He also has the power to shape-shift, allowing him to alter his physical form at will, becoming as small as a fly or as large as a building. Furthermore, he can also become intangible, enabling him to pass through solid objects, and he can turn invisible at will. His Martian vision is similar to Superman’s heat vision, and he has a regenerative healing factor that allows him to recover from injuries much faster than humans. So he may not be entirely invulnerable in the way Superman is, so this could prove as a disadvantage if the two of them were ever to get into a fight.
Superman vs. Martian Manhunter: Who is Stronger?
When comparing these two Justice League members, it’s clear that both possess immense power and a wide range of abilities. However, determining who is stronger isn’t as simple as comparing their power sets. Strength in the DC universe isn’t solely about physical prowess; it also encompasses mental fortitude, tactical acumen, and the ability to adapt in dynamic situations.
When it comes to raw physical strength, Superman arguably has the edge. His feats of strength are well-documented, ranging from lifting massive structures to bench-pressing the weight of the Earth. In the 2006 version of Justice League of America issue 29, (affiliate link) Superman and Green Lantern pull the Earth together in order to correct its orientation. However, Martian Manhunter’s strength is also formidable and is often compared to that of Superman.
In terms of versatility, Martian Manhunter comes out ahead. His telepathic abilities, shape-shifting, intangibility, and invisibility provide him with a wider range of tactical options in a fight. These abilities also give Martian Manhunter the potential to neutralize some of Superman’s advantages. For example, his telepathy could potentially bypass Superman’s physical invulnerability, allowing him to attack Superman mentally. It’s actually interesting how he is so powerful, but in completely different ways than Superman.
In terms of speed, both heroes can move at incredible velocities. However, Superman’s speed is often portrayed as being on par with or even superior to that of The Flash, making him one of the fastest beings in the DC universe. (Don’t ask me who is faster, since questioning if Superman is faster than Flash has been an age-old debate and the basis of various comic plots.) In the comic JLA issue 20 from the 1997 series, we see everyone run together in order to escape capture from Adam Strange. Manhunter, Superman, Flash, and Wonder Woman (who was lent Flash’s speed, somehow) all travel in unison at super-speed.
When it comes to durability, both are nearly invincible. However, each has significant weaknesses. Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite, and his powers diminish under a red sun. However, his biggest weakness is hardily mentioned, which is magic or sorcery. In the comic series Injustice, magic is used to hide and survive from Superman’s wrath after he becomes a murdering tyrant. Martian Manhunter, on the other hand, has a psychological vulnerability to fire, which can cause him to lose focus and become disoriented, weakening his effectiveness in battle.
Who Would Win in a Fist Fight?
Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this article. We want to know if Martian Manhunter is stronger than Superman, not whether they would win in an intellectual game of chess. Tactics aside, who would get obliterated in a hand-to-hand fist fight? We know Manhunter can take a beating, since Shazam had punched him in the face before. But what about the fists from Superman? Would his punches turn him into a pile of green goo?
The answer can be found in DC Comics Presents, issue 27. (1978 series.) Superman is blackmailed into retrieving a crystal key from Martian Manhunter’s home planet. As you might imagine, our shape-shifting hero was not so happy about this prospect. After Superman shoves him aside, his actions are greeting with punches and kicks to the face. At this point, Martian Manhunter was just asking for it. Superman proceeds to backhand him. While down, Superman tells him to give it up, because he is no match for him. This statement makes it clear that Superman is stronger than Manhunter. He then creates a ring of fire (his weakness) and then smashes him into the ground.
Tactical Acumen and Experience: A Key Factor in Determining Strength
Beyond their physical and supernatural abilities, both Superman and Martian Manhunter possess impressive tactical acumen and extensive combat experience. Superman, having been trained by both Batman and Wonder Woman, is an expert hand-to-hand combatant and a skilled strategist. His experience in dealing with various threats, ranging from terrestrial criminals to cosmic entities, makes him a seasoned warrior.
Similarly, Martian Manhunter’s long life and experience as a Manhunter (the equivalent of a police officer on Mars) have given him extensive knowledge of various forms of combat and strategy. His experience, combined with his ability to read and influence minds, makes him a master tactician who can anticipate and counter his opponents’ moves effectively.
Determining who is stronger between Martian Manhunter and Superman isn’t straightforward. It mostly depends on how one defines “strength.” If one considers raw physical power alone, Superman might have the edge. However, if one takes into account versatility, tactical ability, and exploiting the opponent’s weaknesses, Martian Manhunter has shown that he can hold his own against the Man of Steel, and may even defeat him under the right circumstances. Ultimately, both are among the most powerful beings in the DC Universe, each with their unique strengths and capabilities.
But what are we really talking about here? We are talking about two powerful superheroes being irresponsible with their powers. For them to fight each other is preposterous. Entire planets could literally be destroyed in the fallout of them fighting. Superman could burn down forests with a slight spark from his eyes, while Manhunter could turn someone’s mind into vegetable soup. All in all, these two dumb muscle men should just stay away from each other before someone wipes them off the planet with a nuclear missile strike. Not that it would stop any of them, but the idea is pleasing to think about. It’s a lot easier to admire Spider-Man, for example, who is vulnerable, despite his strength to lift buildings.