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I've heard lots about the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie. But I don't understand why they're fighting against each other. They're both superheroes, trying to fight for the good of humankind, fighting to protect the civilian population. So why are they being pitted against each other? What reasons do they have to fight each other?

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    Are you really asking about the plot of a movie that won't be released for more than two years? – phantom42 Apr 16 '14 at 13:43
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    Oh. Were they always friendly in the comics, then? – Keir Bourne Apr 16 '14 at 13:47
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    It’s impossible to answer this question without knowing the plot of the movie, and as far as we know the movie hasn’t been written yet. – Paul D. Waite Apr 16 '14 at 14:29
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    @KeirBourne - As I understand it, Batman doesn't trust Superman's motives, and (understandably) isn't comfortable with the idea of a mysterious superhuman alien with the power to do whatever he wants without any chance of anyone opposing/stopping him, who answers only to himself, hanging around our planet. – Wad Cheber Jun 9 '15 at 0:59

10 Answers 10

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Based on the trailer it looks like Batman and Superman will be at least doing some kind of fight.

What is the point of conflict? Maybe the total destruction of Metropolis and the general distrust about a super-powered alien.

Dubious IMDB says this:

Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City's own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis's most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it's ever known before.

You could also say this:

Superman is an illegal alien. Batman has no tolerance for criminals.

Original

I think people get confused with the "versus" title to think it is going to be Superman against Batman.

Traditionally in the cartoons and comics, it is more of a conflict of style between the two characters. Consider the following:

  • Superman is the golden-boy / boy scout. For all intents and purposes, Superman operates within the bounds of the law and is often seen to be working with government officials. Batman is the opposite, in that he operates outside of the law.
  • Superman may subdue a perpetrator, but Batman isn't opposed to beating the truth out of one to obtain more leads.
  • Superman is a reactionary super hero, he isn't often seen to be trying to stop crime at the source, he comes in when things get bad. In contrast, Batman is constantly investigating and hunting down criminals. He actively tries to subvert organized crime and all the costumed criminals.

Their conflicting styles and personalities create interesting and often humorous scenarios. This can be seen in "The Batman Superman Movie" animated movie, and the Superman / Batman comic series. It is my expectation that the Superman vs Batman movie will follow these previous examples and be a "bizarre cop partnership" rather than Superman melting Batman's face with heat vision.

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    It's not that I disgree with you but judging from context I think you meant "reactive" rather than "reactionary". – Eike Pierstorff Apr 29 '15 at 14:46
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    For what it's worth, the trailers released since this answer was posted make it clear that this movie WILL feature direct conflict between Batman and Superman. But this answer is still good, as a general description of the characters' dynamic across all media. – Nerrolken Apr 29 '15 at 16:41
  • @Nerrolken Except, the Ironman 3 trailers made it pretty clear the Mandarin was the primary protagonist of that movie, but that ended up not being true. – Jack B Nimble Jun 9 '15 at 13:15
  • @JackBNimble True, although BvS's marketing is leaning pretty heavily on the confrontation between heroes, and it's been confirmed to be inspired in large part by The Dark Knight Returns, which does feature them openly fighting. Plus, the Mandarin was the assumed primary antagonist for much of IM3, so even if BvS followed a similar pattern, it would be a film about Batman and Superman fighting only to reveal in the 3rd Act that it was all a deception between teammates. We'd likely still get a fight scene or two, just like we did get creepy Mandarin scenes before the reveal. – Nerrolken Jun 9 '15 at 16:23
  • Yup, Batman sure doesn't get on with any of those LEO types. I wonder how his good friend Jim Gordon is doing? Did he replace the batteries in his big flashlight on schedule? – Jeff Jul 9 '15 at 19:22
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All the above answers are good, but I'd like to add one more component:

Tradition

It's something of a comic book tradition that, before two major heroes team up, they inevitably end up fighting each other. It's a bit of fan service, watching two super-powerful characters go at it, but it's also a way of establishing mutual respect in the mind of the other hero. "Ok, ok, so obviously you can handle yourself. I guess we can work together."

enter image description here

A famous example of this was the first Avengers movie in the MCU, in which Thor faces off in a (fairly brutal) exchange against Cap and Iron Man, before they grudgingly allow him to join their team.

Given that Batman and Superman are the two biggest heroes in the DC Universe, it seems that the DCCU will be devoting an entire movie to this "opening phase" of their relationship. The newly-released trailers make it CLEAR that this is a real conflict, with them facing off against each other in combat for at least a significant part of the film. Presumably they'll become allies by the end, but they do seem to be enemies at first.

Remember, when Superman met everyone in the New 52, they ALL ended up fighting each other:

enter image description here

So basically, it's just what happens when you get a bunch of Type-A personalities who fight people for a living, and put them in a room together.

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As we've seen in glimpses in early trailers, there seems to be a general tide of resentment towards Superman by the public.

In an interview with EW, Zack Snyder mentions that the public's dissatisfaction with Superman's blatant disregard of collateral damage and victims will prompt Batman to take action. Ben Affleck also mentions that one of Bruce Wayne's buildings was destroyed by Superman, giving him his own personal reason to hate Superman.

“I was surprised because that’s the thesis of Superman for me, that you can’t just have superheroes knock around and have there be no consequences,” says Snyder. The director says he had always intended for the dead to be counted. Indeed, Batman v Superman addresses these concerns head-on—Superman’s victims serve as Batman’s impetus to take him down. “One of the things I liked was Zack’s idea of showing accountability and the consequences of violence and seeing that there are real people in those buildings,” says Ben Affleck, who plays Batman. “And in fact, one of those buildings was Bruce Wayne’s building so he knew people who died in that Black Zero event.

The trailer released at SDCC seems to confirm these quotes, showing Bruce Wayne watching his building destroyed, presumably by Superman's heat vision. It also has dialogue which indicates that Clark/Superman has taken issue with Batman's vigilantism, giving him his own reason to be in the battle.

  • There will apparently be more info in an upcoming edition of Entertainment Weekly, with some parts of it mentioned in this io9 article, like "In a third scene, Batman and Alfred have a philosophical argument in the Batcave, in which Batman outlines a “realpolitik” argument that taking out Superman now is better than even the slightest risk of humanity being destroyed later on." – Hypnosifl Jul 6 '15 at 17:45
  • So... the plot of Superman vs Batman is really The Incredibles. But, instead of lawsuits, we've got a rich man dressed as a bat. Ok, that makes sense. – Ellesedil Jul 6 '15 at 19:05
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    @Ellesedil: Nonononono, you have it all wrong. It's an extremely rich man dressed as a bat. – Jeff Jul 9 '15 at 19:24
  • Why would Superman, a Vigilante, care about Batman's Vigilanteism? Ugh. And the laser that is shown taking out the building is Sups and Zod, from the Man of Steel movie. It seems to be implying Bats was in Metropolis during that movie. We also see more of Zod's remains afterwards. – user16696 Jul 11 '15 at 23:37
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According to the official plot synopsis, Batman sees Superman as a threat to humanity.

The official plot synopsis for the film states the following:

Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.

A major plot point of the film seems to be that the world is divided over Superman - is he friend or foe? And if he's a foe, who in the world can stand up to him?

Batman, being the proactive vigilante that he is, apparently sees Superman as a threat and wishes to strike up a confrontation on his own terms, before Superman expects it.

Director Zack Snyder has stated in interviews that much of the fight - including Batman's armored exosuit - are heavily influenced from the final event of The Dark Knight Returns, a graphic novel from Frank Miller. In that fight, however, Superman

was ordered by The President of the United States to "retire" Batman using any methods necessary. While Superman attempted to talk Batman down, Batman used the fight to remind Superman that he wasn't invincible, while also faking his own death.

enter image description here

UPDATE: According to the leaked script - which may or may not be accurate - the conflict occurs largely because of Lex Luthor's manipulations:

Luthor uses synthetic kryptonite to make Superman lose control of his powers and destroy the congressional hearing seen in the trailer. Luthor then makes it appear that Batman was responsible for the kryptonite, so Superman believes Batman to be the villain. Batman, on the other hand, sees Superman as a dangerous & uncontrollable weapon that needs to be neutralized. Their conflict ends when Wonder Woman - who has been investigating Luthor the whole time - reveals Lex's involvement, and the three of them go after Luthor.


SPOILERS: Now that I've seen the movie, here is what happens:

Luthor gains control of Zod's ship from "Man of Steel", and learns from its AI program that Clark Kent is Superman. He then kidnaps Martha Kent, and blackmails Superman into taking out Batman (who has been a pain in Luthor's behind throughout the movie, eventually stealing Luthor's prized kryptonite chunk). Batman, on the other hand, has been expecting the confrontation and wants to remove Superman as he represents a dangerous potential threat to humanity. The UN hearing WAS blown up, but not like in the leaked script. Instead, it was set up by Luthor to make Superman look bad in the public eye - while also removing Senator Finch, who was opposing Luthor.

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    I hadn't seen the quotes you included in your answer, but they confirm what I already suspected. Which makes it a bit strange to see that my answer, which says almost exactly the same thing yours does, just got a downvote. I has sads. – Wad Cheber Jul 6 '15 at 19:24
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    @WadCheber - never underestimate the power of a pretty picture. – Omegacron Jul 8 '15 at 14:51
  • Now that the movie has come out, that last block quote is kind of close but not really right. It is due to Luthor's manipulations, though. – DCShannon Mar 31 '16 at 21:30
  • @DCShannon - fair enough, updated – Omegacron Apr 1 '16 at 12:09
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Superman [almost] always follows the rules and rarely, if ever, questions authority. He's been called a "Big Blue Boy Scout" more than once in the comics.

Batman is paranoid and highly suspicious of powerful people (be it political or physical power), which has put him at odds with Supes on multiple occasions. They duked it out in the last chapter of Miller's "Dark Knight", which Bats came close to winning (by cheating, of course).

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    Cheating in what way? Because doing research and coming to the fight prepared (eg, by bringing along some kryptonite) is Batman's entire MO. – Brian S Apr 16 '14 at 18:59
  • I'd consider having Oliver sucker-punch Supes with a kryptonite-tipped arrow to be cheating. Not that there's anything wrong with that. – John Bode Apr 17 '14 at 17:58
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    I, on the other hand, don't consider a no-power hero enlisting assistance to be cheating. Nor do I consider it cheating for someone who constantly comes prepared to use his opponent's weakness. Nor sucker-punching someone when that individual is somewhat of an anti-hero in the first place. :) – Brian S Apr 17 '14 at 18:01
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Nobody seems to be taking into account the actions of Lex Luthor. He has a very Iago-like role in this movie, manipulating and others and nudging them into the situations he wants. Some good old fashioned framing and lying also plays a part.

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    +1, because now that the film is out, this is the right answer. – Praxis Mar 28 '16 at 3:00
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Here's the answer.In the DC cinematic universe, Batman and Superman haven't met yet. Superman is an alien being with immense god like powers. Naturally, Batman doesn't trust him to remain benevolent. He realizes that if Superman goes bad, he may be impossible to stop so he can't afford to be reactionary. If he's going to have any chance against him he's going to have to be proactive and gain every possible advantage. Therefore, Batman makes it his mission to go after Superman, assess whether or not Superman is a threat and shut him down if he determines that he is. Of course as superhero vs. superhero tradition dictates, the two will most likely realize that they're on the same side, join forces and go after Lex Luthor or some such. Simple man, read a comic.

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Because fans love that kind of thing. "Who would win in a fight of X vs. Y" is a perennial favourite discussion topic, especially when X and Y are both good guys and would not normally be opposed, so that there is no canon answer.

Superman and Batman are particularly good candidates because A) they're among the most popular superheroes and B) they work very differently and at first glance the result is obvious since Supes has a whole bunch of superpowers and is considered one of the most powerfuly beings in existence, while Batman has... no superpowers. But a history of winning against bad guys who do. That stokes the curiosity and promises that it will not be a pure FX spectacle.

As for "They're both superheroes, trying to fight for the good of humankind, fighting to protect the civilian population. What reasons do they have to fight each other?"...

Well, the real world ain't that simple. Wars can be caused by conflicts of legitimate interests, not just evil cackling megalomaniacs. Civilian populations aren't content to be protected by some good guy ficure and, indeed, often aren't all that civilian. Questions of morality don't necessarily have obviously correct answers.

Which means there is ample room for two entirely well-meaning "good guys" to end up on opposite sides, especially when their personalities are so different. It has happened before, such as in The Dark Knight Returns, where Superman decides that directly supporting a corrupt and incompetent American Government was better than all the alternatives, while Batman is willing to lead an army of violent criminals to stave off complete anarchy

  • Thanks for mentioning Dark Knight Returns here. People always forget about that. That was a real Sups v/s bats fight. – noob Apr 28 '14 at 13:28
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Since others have offered speculative answers, I will attempt to do the same. Batman is a vigilante, but he is at least partially answerable to the Gotham PD, especially Commissioner Gordon. He is also just a normal man, albeit a rich and badass man. He couldn't take over the world if he tried.

Superman, at this point in the cinematic chronology, is mysterious. All we know about him is that he is basically invulnerable and unstoppable, he is an alien, and he answers to no one but himself. For all anyone knows, he is immortal and all-powerful, like a god.

This is a very intimidating prospect. An alien comes to earth, proves himself to be invulnerable to our weaponry, and says "I promise, I am nice and stuff, and I won't kill you all or anything like that, but you can't tell me what to do and I will act as I see fit".

It is only natural for some people- including Bruce Wayne - to show serious reservations about whether this alien is on our side, or whether he intends to do us harm. So far, 4 or 5 Kryptonians have come to our planet, and all but one of them was obviously evil and bent on conquering earth and killing all of us. Yes, Superman defeated the others, but how do we know he didn't beat them so that he would be able to conquer us by himself?

As far as the DC comic book universe is concerned, Batman and Superman are usually on relatively good terms with each other, but they do bicker and occasionally even fight one another. As previous answers have stated, Batman does frequently call Superman a "Boy Scout". In the storyline in which the Joker killed Jason Todd/Robin #2, Batman actually throws a punch at Superman, and only avoids breaking all the bones in his hand because Superman rolled with the punch.

In Frank Miller's iconic storyline, an elderly Batman fights an elderly Superman at length, sometimes using a robotic suit to overcome the obvious, enormous physical advantages Superman has over Batman. In the promo trailers for Batman vs. Superman, Batman wears a very similar suit.

It is almost certain that in the upcoming movie, Superman and Batman will duke it out for a while, then realize that they are on the same team, and will eventually join forces to combat a mutual enemy. As I understand it, the ultimate outcome will be the creation of the Justice League.

The initial opposition between Bats and Supes will amount to Batman trying to feel out Superman, so he can know for sure that he really is a good guy. If things work out the way they do in the comics, Batman and Superman will be allies, but not exactly friends. They will accept that they both want the same thing, and will largely respect one another, but will disagree with each other's tactics and methods for achieving their shared objectives.

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Not sure...but I think it's because superman is a god like alien and if he where to turn against humanity, what could they do? That's were batman comes in, I think in this film, batman represents the power humanity holds, and if one man can "make him bleed" then it shows that humanity isn't completely defenseless against superman, at least that's how I see it....

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