Geeks have some of the greatest and most enduring debates going. Luke Skywalker or Han Solo? Batman or Superman? Superman or The Flash? But while a toe-to-toe fight between Superman and pretty much any other decent superhero in Marvel or DC has been debated back and forth for decades, what would happen if the Man of Steel faced off against Goku?
Goku is a superhero in the Dragon Ball franchise. As one of the few survivors of a planet now destroyed, Goku was dispatched to Earth when he was no more than a baby. There he found safety and discovered he had the ability to fly coupled with insane strength. Having developed a deep affection for his adopted planet, Goku now frequently battles to save humanity from various villains and nefarious forces.
Yep, Goku is basically the Japanese equivalent of Superman. But who would win?
Looking for more thoughts on kickass anime characters? Checkout out our post on shoujo and the empowerment of women.
For many, Superman is the ultimate superhero. He’s the very embodiment of justice, truth, goodness, and (ironically) the American way. The power of Superman is so great that were it not for his strict moral code and a strong sense of right and wrong, he could quite easily take over the world.
He is also in possession of pretty much all the major powers: super speed, super strength, flight, x-ray vision, heat vision, ice breath, and – most impressive of all – the ability to conceal his identity with nothing but a pair of glasses and the pretence he’s a bumbling idiot.
Superman is also a fearsome fighter, even without the powers, having been trained in several martial arts from his home planet of Krypton, including Torquasm-Vo and Torquasm-Rao. Time spent palling around with the likes of Wonder Woman and Batman also gives him a sense of balance, while Lois Lane keeps him grounded.
All that said, Superman has one major weakness: Kryptonite, in its various forms, can floor the Man of Steel in a heartbeat and even kill him. Given that this toxic stuff only needs to be in his vicinity for him to start feeling the effects, it’s a fairly catastrophic weakness. It also seems relatively easy to forge into bullets and various other weapons to make it easier to use against him.
That said, it is the only thing that can cause him harm; unless you want to destroy the sun… which would screw over the rest of the planet, making it a rather impractical way of defeating him.
Goku has a very similar origin story to Superman, coming to earth shortly before his own planet was destroyed. After he was discovered, he was cared for and eventually trained in various Martial Arts by Master Roshi. Thanks to his training, he’s defeated major threats to Earth time and time again. While there have been times it seemed impossible he would prevail, somehow, he always does.
Where power is concerned, Goku is a Dragon Ball Super, which means he can rival the gods, and in some cases, is actually more powerful than they are. He has unfathomable speed and dimension-rattling strength. This is largely due to the fact that each enemy he faces is stronger than the last. Meaning Goku has proven himself capable of defeating an enemy list with exponentially growing powers.
While the writers of Dragon Ball Z were no doubt only trying to ensure a continued sense of jeopardy, the result is that Goku’s powers have grown and grown to the point he is now, quite literally, stronger than a god.
Unlike Superman, however, Goku’s weakness does not come from a single substance that’s fairly difficult to find. Instead, it comes from within.
The lad just isn’t that bright.
He really likes to fight. Like, a lot. So when he’s battling an enemy, he doesn’t just defeat them. He dances around and draws it out, so he gets the most enjoyment out of it possible. The issue with this is that his ‘ultra instinct’, the otherworldly power that makes him so formidable, can only be drawn on for so long. It takes a huge toll on his stamina, so if he doesn’t finish his fights fast enough, he takes himself out.
Goku vs. Superman
So, now we’re clear on what both these guys bring to the table, the big question is who would with in a fight between Goku and Superman?
The biggest predicament posed by this fight is actually where it would take place. The two individually have the power to destroy the earth. Put them together in a drawn-out battle, and they’re likely to take out a good chunk of it. Since they’ve both spent years defending their adopted planet, it seems doubtful either would be willing to risk this. So, they’re going to need a neutral and uninhabited spot on the planet that gets plenty of rays (it wouldn’t be a fair fight if Superman wasn’t at full strength).
I’m betting somewhere in the Australian outback or a desert location. But I digress.
Since they’re both honorable guys, we can also exclude the possibility of anyone else getting involved. That means no Batman or Wonder Woman swooping in if it looks like Goku’s getting the upper hand and no Dragon Ball mates sneaking in some Kryptonite.
Now they’re on an even playing field, the problem is how to determine a definitive winner when both are basically indestructible.
So Who Would Win, Goku Or Superman?
In terms of strength and speed, Goku’s encounters prior to that – particularly his ongoing rivalry with Vegeta – demonstrated that he’s on a par with Superman physically.
So, while Goku gained advanced abilities later, even without them, he’s capable of holding his own against the Man of Steel.
That said, Superman has some pretty cool abilities that Goku doesn’t possess, namely his vision-based powers and icy breath. This is certainly an advantage for Superman, but we must consider that the Dragon Ball universe has beings with powers on a similar spectrum – Ki blasts – and Goku is unphased by these physically.
Superman is pretty smart, however, and would realize this is the case rapidly. He could utilize these powers to distract Goku, freeze the ground beneath him etc. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that Superman would be any more affected by a Kamehameha than Goku would be felled by a cold blast.
In other words, neither has an advantage where powers are concerned, which means this thing is going to come down to a good old-fashioned brawl.
Superman may actually be at a disadvantage here, as Goku has extensive martial arts training and is a highly skilled technical fighter. While Superman has his own fighting knowledge ad experience, it’s not as advanced. And of course – I said we’d come back to it – Goku has Ultra Instinct.
You know, the thing that means he can take on a god and win.
Except, there’s one thing we haven’t factored in yet.
As we said, Superman is a pretty smart guy. And Goku… well, he’s kinda dumb. He loves a fight and will happily draw it out as long as possible. This effectively means that all Superman has to do is challenge Goku enough for him to use his Ultra Instinct (counterproductive, I know, but stay with me) and then hold his own until Goku runs himself out of power.
Alternatively, if Superman is aware of this flaw, he would know that Goku isn’t likely to be firing on all cylinders at the start of the fight. By going all-in right off the bat, Superman may take Goku by surprise and defeat him before he’s fully powered up.
Our money’s on Superman for this one. But if you disagree on who would be victorious in a Superman vs Goku dustup then, by all means, let us know!
Is Goku A God?
We’ve discussed the awesome, god-like powers of Goku, but is he actually a god? While the Dragon Ball universe certainly establishes that he wasn’t born a god, however, it has also made clear that he’s capable of becoming a God of Destruction. The question then is, how far along that path is he?
Has Goku actually attained godhood yet, and how does his divine status affect our conclusions regarding who would win in a dust-up between Goku and the Man of Steel?
The Dragon Ball saga has discussed the gods and their otherworldly powers on a regular basis over the years. Dragon Ball Super, however, made the gods the focus, with Goku and other main characters sharing center stage with the likes of Lord Beerus, an undisputed god.
Goku’s mission throughout is to gain enough strength to fairly and honorable battle (and defeat!) a god. With such a powerful storyline and the precedent clearly set that Goku’s powers kept increasing, seemingly exponentially, as he faced ever-stronger foes, fans naturally wondered if he would become a god to defeat a god.
The skills, strength, and power he showed during this story arc, coupled with the appearance he takes on in Super Saiyan God form and Ultra Instinct form, certainly give the appearance that Goku has, in fact, become a god. After all, the word ‘god’ is right there in one of those forms. And yet, Goku’s transformation into the Super Saiyan God merely shifts him into a more powerful state. The most potent state ever seen in the Dragon Ball Universe.
As impressive as that form is, the ability to take it on doesn’t make him a god. According to the established rules of the Dragon Ball gods, godhood is far more than a simple status or title. It’s a full-time occupation, and gods need to be officially ordained.
So, while many fans (understandably) believe that Goku has become a god, at this point, we can say he hasn’t. If he ever does, that may shift the outcome of a fight between Goku and Superman in the Super Saiyan’s favour.
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