I know Superman generally has some pretty tough combat feats and I know he's proven to be massively intelligent with calculations and medicine, but have there been any really notable instances where he's defeated someone with his brains, in combat, rather than his fists?

Has he ever used his power or his environment in any really unique ways, during a fight, to win — other than his famous Heat Vision Lobotomy, which is a perfect example of what I'm talking about but the only example I can really think of?

  • 5
    I don't have any details at hand, but I recall his dealings with Mister Mxyzptlk as always involving more brains and trickery than any "super" powers.
    – Geoff
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 16:29
  • 2
    As this panel shows, supermans brain is not one of his strongest features :p
    – Jave
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 6:59

3 Answers 3


Of course, plenty of times.

  1. One good example would be tricking Mxyzptlk time and time again to write/say his name and disappear. (Superman: TAS episode Mxyzpixilated)

  2. Another example, while there was a lot of fighting, was something as simple but clever as using the right weapon against Lex Luthor in DCAU's All-Star Superman.

He used a gravity gun. It caused the time to fly much faster for Lex Luthor, making his super serum expire in a matter of minutes instead of 24 hours. He also was never tricked by the schemes of his enemies in that movie, he kept tabs at all times. Supeman went Interstellar on us before we knew it.

  1. Again, in All-Star Superman, he "defeated" the Ultra-Sphinx by answering his unanswerable question.

  2. He also switches costumes and identifties with Batman to take their enemies by surprise.

  3. In Superman vs the Elite, the whole fight

was a well-orchestrated charade to defeat the Elite on ideological level, to make them and the world see just how dangerous The Elite's way is, rather than just beat them into submission.

That's just off the top of my head.

  • And don't forget about darksied. Darksied is more powerful than superman in every way but superman always manages to beat him
    – Sim-
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 19:31

Superman II - tricks the Krypton criminals into putting him into the chamber and turning on the superpower-remover

  • 4
    Welcome to SF&F Stack Exchange! Could you expand this answer a bit? Adding some supporting info like a clip or related dialog would be helpful.
    – kjw
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 22:27
  • It's a very iconic scene from Superman II: he tricks Lex Luthor to think that he want General Zod and his entrourage to enter in the superpower-remover chamber. Luthor, obviously, betrays Super and make him enter the chaber. But he altered the chamber to affect what is OUTER of it. So Zod and his henchmen lose their powers. Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 16:36

In JLA: New Maps of Hell (which is an all-round awesome story by Warren Ellis) Superman wins his personal battle by using his observational skills to find out the weakness of the trap he's in.

"I'm a son of the Science House of El, and a reporter. Given time, I can find my way into any story."

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