Superman is one of the most powerful DC characters. If he ever tried to harm humanity (with full strength), he would be very hard to stop. Are there any records of Superman turning against humanity and successfully being stopped (also, how was he stopped)?

  • 10
    Are you looking for cases of Superman going bad in the main DC Comics continuity? Out-of-continuity comics like Elseworlds? Television shows? Films? All of the above?
    – notovny
    Apr 20, 2021 at 13:17
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    All of the above
    – user140139
    Apr 20, 2021 at 13:18
  • 6
    Injustice: Gods Among Us had an evil Superman who took over the world. But that is a video-game prequel, sort of an Elseworlds story.
    – NomadMaker
    Apr 20, 2021 at 14:24
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    Looooots of alternate dimensions, Elseworld stories, and other out of continuities. In-continuity, it's always by mind control of some kind, and the fight is almost always resolved with breaking the control, rather than defeating Superman himself.
    – Carson
    Apr 20, 2021 at 15:44
  • 3
    Does BrightBurn count? Apr 21, 2021 at 1:01

11 Answers 11


In the film Superman III, Superman turns selfish under the influence of imitation Kryptonite. This causes him to commit acts of petty vandalism, such as righting the Leaning Tower of Pisa and blowing out the Olympic Flame.

Later, after having been seduced by the antagonist's girlfriend, he punches a hole in a supertanker, causing an oil spill. This is in aid of the antagonist's plot to control all oil, which could count as "turning against humanity".

After having gone on a bender, he splits into Clark Kent and "dark Superman" in a junkyard, who then proceed to battle.

Clark Kent overcomes dark Superman and returns to his good self.

  • 1
    Sounds like he turned into Bizarro.
    – Clockwork
    Apr 21, 2021 at 9:46
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    You know how kids will watch a movie on repeat? This was one of mine as a kid. Kind of weird to think some people have never seen it. Apr 23, 2021 at 13:25

In the Legion of Super-Heroes “Great Darkness Saga,” Darkseid creates a “reverse-DNA clone” of Superman (as well as several other of the most powerful beings in history).

He is able to handle the time-traveling Superboy and Supergirl, but is permanently depowered when Element Lad transmutes the ground on which he stands to gold kryptonite (after creating a lead shell to protect Superboy). The story also had three billion mind-controlled aliens with all the powers of Superman fighting for Darkseid.

Unlike many of the other examples, this was in the main continuity and resulted in the evil Superman being permanently defeated, not freed of mind-control.

Another classic story that might qualify is the “Cyborg Superman,”from the “Death of Superman” storyline.

He was the disembodied spirit of supervillain Hank Henshaw, impersonating Superman, but his body was another sort-of clone—and the comics hid this from the reader until after it revealed that the other three characters trying to become the new Superman were not the real deal.

The real Superman, once he decided to stop being dead, teamed up with Green Lantern and several other heroes, finally destroying the Cyborg Superman’s body by vibrating it to smithereens. Henshaw’s spirit survived to fight both Superman and Green Lantern again. In later appearances before the “New 52” reboot, he had grown weary of his undead existence and was only looking for someone with the power to finally kill him—which he taunted Superman for not having been able to do. Superman claimed he had never really tried.

Most recently, “Captain Luthor” from the current Superman and Lois TV show is from another universe where Superman turned against humanity.

“Luthor” is an alias used by a John Henry Irons from another universe, who married Lois Lane and had a daughter named Natasha. In that universe, Kal-El never married a human or had children. When his last remaining connection to humanity, Martha Kent, died, his Kryptonian half-brother revealed himself to Superman, who joined him. Exactly what happened is likely to be revealed at the end of Season One.


Well, I think that such situation has occurred multiple times. Just to break the ice, I've recently re-read Action Comics vol.1 #584 by John Byrne (writer + penciler) and Dick Giordano (inker).

Superman is seen going on a destructive rampage, gloating about the power he wields in his hands. Cyborg of the Teen Titans tries to confront Superman but loses some cybernetic limbs in the process. He manages to call Changeling and Wonder Girl for help. They arrive, but Superman easily handles them.

Action Comics 584 cover

In relation with @notovny's great answer, let me extract a quote from his provided link

There are strong similarities between this episode and "Superman: The Dark Side", an Elseworlds story that has the baby Kal-El's spacecraft being diverted to Apokolips instead of Earth, by Metron. There, Darkseid raises the Kryptonian as his son, and orders him to lead an invasion of Earth when he discovers the Anti-Life Equation hidden there. In particular, Superman's battle armor in this episode is markedly similar to his Apokoliptian battle suit in the comic.

Superman: The Dark Side

I think that both apokoliptian stories are in the debt with the Legends cross-over published in Superman's series in 1987 - by Byrne, Giordano, Wolfman et al - where Superman was brainwashed by Darkseid too.



Also there are multiple evil versions of Superman across the multiverses, one of them is Superboy-Prime from Earth-Prime that has appeared in a bunch of issues being my favourite Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds by Geoff Johns (writer), George Pérez (penciler) and Scott Koblish (inker).

Time Trapper declares that he will destroy the Legion of Super-Heroes, and brings Superboy-Prime to the 31st Century. Prime visits the Superman Museum, and declares that he will destroy everything Superman ever inspired.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds


In Justice League v4 storyline The Sixth Dimension!, - by Scott Snyder, Jorge Jiménez et al - Superman fights an evil future alternate version

The Sixth Dimension


And you can find another version of Superman vs. the Justice League in

Invincible #7 by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker (adapted in the recent Amazon animated series) Omniman

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    I'm not sure whether Action Comics #584 counts. That was someone else switching bodies with Superman and using his abilities to go on a rampage - Superman himself didn't turn evil at all.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 21, 2021 at 10:37
  • @F1Krazy You're right but I'm not so sure about OP requirements. Do "went to the bad side" exclude "body switching"? Also, that's a spoiler ;-P
    – RubioRic
    Apr 21, 2021 at 10:58

Action Comics #311 (1964). The world is under the boot of King Superman!

enter image description here

It's a red krytonite tale where Superman and Clark Kent are split into separate beings. By all actions and appearances, Superman has become a ruthless megalomaniac (he is even referred to once as "His Satanic Majesty"). The mortal Clark Kent tries every ruse he can conceive to lead a Superman-Resistance Underground.


In Action Comics #312, Clark has even converted himself to a Metallo robot form, complete with kryptonite heart to battle the tyrant. The climactic reveal, as Superman falls to the kryptonite, is that Superman was working a convoluted gambit to save Earth from a incredibly potent alien attack. He had to be 100% convincingly evil to buy some time.

It was a chilling story for a kid. Not any "Imaginary Tale". The red kryptonite split was a needless misdirection, but not a complete deal-breaker.


It has happened a few times in the DC Animated Universe. Presented below are two cases of Brainwashing/Mind Control, and two cases of alternate-universe Supermen.

Superman: The Animated Series (S2 E12) "Brave New Metropolis" - 1997

An accident at STAR Labs sends Lois Lane to an alternate universe where Superman, distraught over the death of that universe's Lois Lane, teams up with Lex Luthor to turn Metropolis into a police state. Upon talking to the prime-universe Lois Lane, confessing his love, and learning that the Alternate-Universe Lex Luthor decided to kill her, he turns on Luthor, and decides to release control of Metropolis.

Superman: The Animated Series, (S4 E2, E3) "Legacy" - 2000

In the series finale, Superman is captured by Darkseid's forces and brainwashed by Granny Goodness into believing he is a loyal son of Darkseid, sent forth to bring order to the universe. Darkseid sends Superman to Earth at the head of an Apokaliptan army. After defeating Supergirl while attacking a military base, Superman encounters Lois Lane, who he has been having flashes of memory of. She persuades him to remember the truth shortly before he is incapacitated by a Kryptonite rocket built by Lex Luthor.

Batman Beyond (S3 E7, E8) "The Call" - 2000

It is revealed that Starro has been controlling Superman for years after having been recovered by Superman back in the Superman episode "The Main Man" Plotting to release a host of its spawn into the oceans of Earth, Starro's plans are thwarted by the Justice League Unlimited and Batman (Terry McGinnis) who uses an electrified grapple to disrupt Starro's control of Superman.

Justice League (S2 E11, E12) "A Better World" - 2003

In an alternate universe, Superman storms the White House with the rest of the Justice League to stop an insane President Lex Luthor, who has murdered the Flash, and is on the verge of starting a nuclear war. This Superman decides to end their rivalry permanently, and subsequently, the alternate Justice league assumes full control over their Earth. Two years later, upon discovery of the universe where the Justice League resides, the Justice Lords decide to bring their brand of order to it by capturing and replacing their prime-universe counterparts.

The scheme is thwarted when the captured heroes escape, recruit the alternate-universe Batman and return to the prime-universe. As part of a deal to secure a presidential pardon, primary-universe Lex Luthor builds a power-disruptor device that strips the Justice Lords of their powers so that they can be returned to their own universe to stand trial.

  • Funny, I completely forgot about the DCAU even though it's about one of my favourite animated universes.
    – Clockwork
    Apr 22, 2021 at 13:18
  • I knew that there were such episodes in Superman: Animated Series. I just couldn't recall any clearly.
    – user931
    Apr 23, 2021 at 10:31
  • Heh, I didn't remember "Brave New Metropolis" I went looking. But "Legacy" i remembered, because the events in it are, directly and indirectly, responsible for the arc plot of season 1 of Justice League Unlimited, and the series finale.
    – notovny
    Apr 23, 2021 at 12:50

In Wonder Woman (Volume 2) #219 (September 2005), Superman has been brainwashed into believing Wonder Woman is an enemy who has killed Lois Lane. She is able to overcome him for long enough to stop the villain who is mind-controlling him. enter image description here

  • If I remember correctly, an answer to a different question mentioned she threw her tiara to cut his throat like a boomerang?
    – Clockwork
    Apr 21, 2021 at 12:14
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    That's what the illustration is showing. I guess it's pretty confusing without the previous panel for context. This is after a long fight involving Kryptonite, Superman breaking her bones, them flying out into space, etc. Apr 21, 2021 at 14:33

In Justice League: War movie, Superman went rogue, but not by choice.


In Batman: The Brave & the Bold, Superman became tyrant after coming under the influence of red kryptonite.

  • 8
    You know you can edit your answers right...? One answer with all 3 clips in would be perfectly fine and probably better.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Apr 20, 2021 at 13:33
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    But has he ever been stopped?
    – user140139
    Apr 20, 2021 at 13:34
  • @LooooopSided Yes. Not everyone is Zack Snyder to leave people wondering about evil Superman story arc.
    – user931
    Apr 20, 2021 at 13:37
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    @Wakanda Forever Can you please give an example(s)? I noticed that you did give several examples of him going bad, but not of him going bad and then being stopped.
    – user140139
    Apr 20, 2021 at 14:56
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    This is a stunning animated example of Superdickery
    – jdunlop
    Apr 21, 2021 at 4:53

Injustice : Gods Among Us comics series where Superman turns evil. He doesn't exactly turn against the humanity, but becomes an evil dictator.

Comic Wiki

Spoilers ahead:

Joker and Harley kidnap Lois Lane and hook a nuclear bomb trigger into her heartbeat. They then trick Superman into thinking that Lois is Doomsday using Kryptonite laced fear gas. Superman kills Lois under that impression, which stops her heartbeat, setting off a nuclear bomb that destroys Metropolis. After coming to senses and learning what he has done, Superman kills Joker, and then declares himself as the new World Leader, and stops all wars. He eventually turns into an evil dictator, killing many superheroes and commoners under the objective of 'World Peace'.

  • 1
    Does someone manage to stop him though?
    – Clockwork
    Apr 22, 2021 at 11:30
  • @Clockwork yes of course. There are alternate endings, and in some of them; Superman ends up losing.
    – Sandun
    Apr 22, 2021 at 11:48

In the end of Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021), it was shown that Superman had gone evil and Batman had to team up with villains to counter Superman.

  • 1
    I thought that was just one of Bruce's dreams?
    – user140139
    Apr 20, 2021 at 13:25
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    @LooooopSided Every indication in Zack Snyder's Justice League is that the dystopian future presented is a real future the setting is headed for unless something changes. That said, with no current films further down the ZSJL timeline, we have no idea how, or if, Superman is stopped.
    – notovny
    Apr 20, 2021 at 16:18
  • @notovny I am not only talking about the ZSJL timeline. I am asking about all DC universes.
    – user140139
    Apr 20, 2021 at 17:08
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    restore the snyderverse !
    – Nigel Fds
    Apr 21, 2021 at 6:03

In Red Son, Superman orders an invasion of the United States and is resisted by Batmen among others. The book has also been turned in to an animated film. I thought this was the inspiration for a scene in the Justice League movie, but I was unable to find a source to backup my theory.

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