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Can Superman Outrun The Flash?: A Speculative Essay

Updated on January 30, 2016
wingedcentaur profile image

The first step is to know what you do not know. The second step is to ask the right questions. I reserve the right to lean on my ignorance.


 Thank you for this question: Can Superman outrun The Flash? This is one of the oldest questions in the comics/cartoon world. I think there is a logical way to proceed. I think a good place to start is to evaluate the strength of the forces, which acted upon both men to give them their superpowers.

As we all know, for Superman, Kal-el, the Kryptonian, the Earth's yellow sun and lighter gravity endowed him with his frankly god-like plethora of powers, including the ability to run at superhuman speed. Flash is an Earth man, whose "real" name I have forgotten, but a native Earth man. His powers come from a sort of alternate dimension, the SpeedForce, or something like that.

From what I very vaguely remember about the SpeedForce, it is an empowering dimension, which very few mortals are sensitive to or can access. I suppose there's a genetic factor -- much like "The Force" in Star Wars, in which the most powerful Jedis and Sith have the higher chloridion counts in their blood, and so forth.

The question would seem to be: Which has the greater superempowering affect: the Earth's yellow sun and lighter gravity or the SpeedForce?

From the evidence we have so far, its hard to make an assessment. There is a complicating factor. Superman and Flash come from two different species of sentient beings. The former is a Kryptonian and the latter is an average human being. Its an apples to orange problem, isn't it? But there's at least one more thing we can do.

We might ask the question: which group start off as physically superior before being endowed with superpowers: the Kryptonians or Humans? We know perfectly well what the effect the Earth's yellow sun and lighter gravity has on Kryptonians.

What would happen if humans went to Krypton? With Krypton's much, much heavier gravity, human beings would presumably find it difficult to even move around, much less leap tall buildings in a single bound and outrace a speeding bullet. Therefore we have to conclude that Kryptonians are innately physically superior to Earth-born human beings.

Still, that leaves us with another question: Does the Earth's yellow sun and lighter gravity have a greater superempowering effect on Kryptonians than the SpeedForce has on human beings?

You know what might be fun to do? Switch forces. What would happen if a human being were exposed to the Earth's yellow sun and lighter gravity....... Oh, but we know what happens, right? A whole lot of nothing.

But what would happen if a Krytonian were exposed to the SpeedForce on Krypton? Let's not expose a Kryptonian, already given god-like powers via Earth's atmosphere, to the SpeedForce on Earth -- that would just be too much!

If a Kryptonian, on Krypton, were exposed to the SpeedForce (there's nothing that says the SpeedForce is limited to human beings, is there?), what might be the effect? Since we have established that Kryptonians are physically superior to humans, we might conclude that the SpeedForce would have a greater effect on them, or that they could absorb more of it, and thus run faster than a human exposed to the SpeedForce.

Therefore, my preliminary hypothesis would have to be that Superman can indeed outrun the Flash.


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    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 5 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Hi trusouldj! Thank you for visiting this old hub. Who's been "rebooted" so many times? Are you talking about Superman or Flash?

      Anyway, thank you for taking the time to comment.

    • trusouldj profile image

      trusouldj 5 years ago from Indiana

      He's been rebooted so many times, it depends on which version.

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      I would like to see that -- but not smell that, of course! Thanks for visiting.

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      fart 6 years ago

      I will eventually fart so hard that I will end up outrunning the flash and the Superman combine!!

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 7 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day Sean Swick

      Thank you for finding this half-forgotten, out-of-the-way little piece.

      So, the flash has the capacity for infinite speed? Is the SpeedForce, indeed a "divine" gift of cosmic origin?


      But isn't Superman gifted with super duper extra, extraordinary speed, such that he can fly around the Earth so fast that he can affect time? Didn't I see him do that once to bring Lois Lane back from the dead? I'm sure that was in one comic book episode.

      If Superman can do that in flight, can't he also run that fast? That's faster than the speed of light and sound, isn't it? Of course The Flash can also move faster sound, light, and affect time.

      I know The Flash can stand there, vibrate his body so fast that he can pass through walls. I saw him do that once in at least one comic book episode. I really think Superman can do that to if he wanted to. It just never occurred to the last son of Krypton to try it. Its more fun smashing through stuff, I guess.

      Okay, I'll concede that you, Sean Swick, probably know more about the nature of the SpeedForce than I do. However, at the end of the day Wally West is a human being beneath it all, and therefore made of more fragile stuff than Superman, Kal-el, a native Kryptonian.

      Perhaps (I say PERHAPS) The Flash could outrun Superman on a sprint (depending, of course, on their respective rates of acceleration) but surely Superman, the Kryptonian, could run longer. Flash would tire eventually but Superman would not, if I'm not mistaken.

      Listen, Sean Swick, thank you for reading my unworthy hub and leaving the thoughtful comment. I hope you consider joining HubPages.

      Take it easy.

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      Sean Swick 7 years ago

      Superman indeed cannot outrun Flash. The SpeedForce trumps any speed that Superman is capable of, even in his most powerful incarnations.The Wally West incarnation doesn't really have a top speed if I remember correctly. He just would get faster and faster until he was completely enveloped in the SpeedForce. At that point, it becomes extremely hard for a speedster like Flash to actually come back from. The SpeedForce is like The Darkside of the Force, the closer you draw to it, the more it beckons you to join with it, and the harder it is to resist