DCEU: Superman’s 10 Biggest Failures, Ranked

Superman is the archetypal superhero, viewed by many fans as a selfless paragon who is willing to sacrifice anything, including his life, for justice. In the DCEU, he retains much of his idealism, but events conspire to force him to face difficult situations.

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Despite saving the day numerous times, he was forced to watch loved ones die, lost fights he should have been able to win, and risked devastating consequences for the planet over and over again. As such, for every success that Clark Kent has to his name in Iron Man, Batman v. Superman, Y League of Justice, also has a flaw to match.

10 Not talking about Bruce Wayne after the LexCorp heist

Battle of Batman v Superman

While much of the Batman and Superman conflict in Batman v. Superman is designed by Lex Luthor to force them to fight, the two have legitimate disagreements with each other. These come to a head after Batman robs LexCorp to retrieve Kryptonite, and Superman intervenes.

Finally, having the opportunity to speak with Bruce Wayne as ‘The Bat’, Clark chooses not to approach to try to resolve their differences; instead, he takes a hard-line approach, trying to intimidate and threaten Bruce. This does nothing to deter Batman, and sets the stage for the rest of their conflict. When Clark attempts a diplomatic approach at the end of the film, Bruce is beyond listening.

9 Losing to Batman in a direct fight

Superman in Dawn of Justice

When Luthor’s plans in Batman v. Superman comes to fruition, and Superman is forced to fight Bruce Wayne, the fight going largely in Wayne’s favor. Despite being a human battling one of the most powerful metahumans on Earth, Bruce stacks the deck in his favor with technology and a field advantage.

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While good for the fate of Earth in general, Clark nonetheless does not adapt his tactics when it is clear that he is losing the match, thus he is defeated in a fight that should have been very heavy towards him.

8 Being forced to kill General Zod


Many of Superman’s failures come when he is forced to gain victory in a way that hurts him. This is demonstrated at the end of Iron ManWhen Zod, after his plan to colonize Earth comes to a halt and he loses a fight with Clark, he decides to screw him up by attacking a random family.

Clark ends up having to choose between letting Zod kill this family and subduing him non-lethally, or killing him quickly to save the family. He chooses the latter, snapping his enemy’s neck, but his cry of anguish makes it clear that he doesn’t consider it a victory.

7 The bomb hidden in a wheelchair is missing

batman v superman clark kent hearing lex luthor

On Batman v. Superman, Superman is called to testify at a Congressional hearing about his actions at the climax of Iron Man. He attends, but it is a trap set by Lex Luthor, and a bomb is implanted in the wheelchair of Wallace Keefe, a man wounded in the Battle of Metropolis.

Despite his X-ray vision, Superman does not notice the bomb or, in the Ultimate Edition, does not notice a lead-lined wheelchair. As a result, he goes completely unnoticed, and dozens are killed when the explosion goes off, leaving Superman even more discredited. After this, he embarks on a self-imposed exile.

6 Letting the boxes come together and detonate as he fights the steppe wolf

At the climax of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the titular League faces Steppenwolf and his army to undo the Mother Box Unit, which will devastate Earth. His battle plan revolves around Victor Stone separating these boxes with the help of Barry Allen. However, on his first attempt, Allen is delayed and the boxes detonate as Superman fights Steppenwolf.

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However, even if Allen had managed, Stone still needed Superman’s help to separate the boxes, as seen after Allen goes back in time for a second try. Therefore, even the first time, the explosion would have occurred when Superman defeated Steppenwolf, which meant the end of the world. It is only through the intervention of Flash that this did not happen.

5 Die in the effort to kill Doomsday

Superman dies fighting doomsday

The end of Batman v. Superman watch Superman lose several fights in a row. After Batman defeats him, the two (and Diana Prince) are forced to stop Doomsday before he can destroy Metropolis and Gotham, and later the world. At the climax of this fight, Superman pierces the monster with Batman’s own kryptonite spear.

Due to Doomsday’s Kryptonian DNA, this is the only thing that causes him lasting damage, fatally piercing the creature through the heart. However, holding on to make sure Doomsday dies, Superman is stabbed and, due to the weapon weakening him, also dies. Fans may admire his dedication and sacrifice, but allowing himself to be killed rather than taking a more cautious approach leaves the weakened Earth without its most powerful defender, setting the stage for Suicide squad Y League of Justice.

4 Letting Lex Luthor kidnap Lois Lane and Martha Kent

lex luthor lois lane batman v superman

One of the constants in Superman’s life is that he always protects his loved ones. Along the Iron Man Y Batman v. Superman alone, he comes to the rescue of Lois Lane several times. Even when she’s in self-imposed exile, she can hear Lois screaming as she is pushed out of a building and rescues her.

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Before this, however, he does not hear or realize that Lois and her mother are kidnapped by Lex Luthor’s thugs. Due to his inability to respond this time, he endangers both of their lives and allows Lex to blackmail him into participating in the film’s central fight with Batman.

3 Attacking the Justice League after their resurrection

Superman vs. Justice League

Many of Superman’s failures are ones that fans wouldn’t consider his fault. When revived by the Mother Box in League of JusticeSuperman is missing his soul, temporarily, and the only person he immediately recognizes is Batman, whom he remembers from their fight. When things get tense, Superman attacks the Justice League and begins to dominate them.

While he stops as soon as he regains all his memories, and for the rest of the film he is a staunch ally of the League, this early encounter could have had dire consequences for Earth. If the fight had lasted much longer, Superman could have easily killed some or all of the League members, leaving Steppenwolf to win and devastate the planet.

two Let his father die

When a tornado hits Kansas, Superman’s adoptive father, Jonathan Kent, is one of the people caught in it. A young Clark witnesses this and is dissuaded from using his powers when his father could have been saved because Jonathan wanted Clark to protect his secret.

Superman watches his adoptive father die, and the guilt for this failure would continue to shape much of his adult life. While it likely contributed to making him the superhero he will eventually become, he nevertheless regretted his decision at the time, and was unable to achieve closure until late in the day. Batman v. Superman.

1 Devastating metropolis while fighting Zod


The climax of Iron Man sets the stage for many of Superman’s failures in the DCEU. One that caught the attention of fans, however, was involving the villain in a crowded city. Superman initially has few options, with the World Engine parked over Metropolis, but once it has been destroyed, and is allowed to fight Zod, he makes no attempt to move the fight elsewhere (as did a previous incarnation in Superman ii).

The result is hundreds of people injured or killed as collateral, billions of dollars damaged, and the stage is set for Batman’s eventual crusade against Superman. It also presents him as a divisive figure, with many in government and the general public citing the damage of Metropolis as one of the reasons they do not trust him.

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