DC’s Superman and Marvel’s Juggernaut are among the strongest mortals in their respective universes, so it’s only natural for fans to pit one against the other. At first glance, the answer seems simple – Juggernaut may be strong, but he’s no Kryptonian – but the details behind each character’s powers actually make this a much stranger match-up than it may appear.
While often mistaken for one of Marvel’s mutants, Juggernaut is actually an avatar of the Demon Lord Cytorrak, who feeds him supernatural power via an artifact known as the Crimson Gem of Cytorrak. The gem enhances his physical abilities and can provide supernatural armor, but its most noteworthy feature is how it enhances Juggernaut’s momentum – once he starts to move, no outside force can slow him down.
There’s little question that in a straight fight, Superman would be almost guaranteed a victory. In his normal Marvel form, Juggernaut still requires something to run on, and whether Superman was to freeze, disintegrate, or just tear up the ground under his feet, Juggernaut would be finished in a hurry – even Spider-Man was able to stop the Juggernaut by tricking him onto wet cement. In fact, the two heavyweights have actually squared off before, and the result was far from a tie. In DC Versus Marvel #1, Superman beat the Juggernaut with a single punch.
The question, then, isn’t really who would win in a fight – with his versatile powerset and formidable solar-powered strength, Superman is the default victor – but rather if Superman could physically stop the Juggernaut mid-stride. Physically, the answer is no. Juggernaut’s momentum powers are magical in nature, and while Superman doesn’t have a particular vulnerability to magic, as many think, he also doesn’t have any more resistance to it than the average human.
Juggernaut’s strength and speed are both enhanced by the Crimson Gem of Cytorrak, but his magical momentum is a separate power, and it leaves little room for doubt. At full power, the Juggernaut cannot be stopped in motion, and he has no need for rest or sustenance. Were Superman to get in Juggernaut’s way, he’d be smashed aside without the Juggernaut losing a step. It’s unlikely he’d be seriously damaged – Superman’s durability has seen him shrug off comparable blows – but he still couldn’t slow Cytorrak’s avatar on Earth.
Of course, this is comics, and loopholes exist. There are many characters that have defeated the Juggernaut by redirecting his momentum, and his powers draw from Cytorrak’s demonic energy, so if the clash happened outside the regular Earth-616 reality of Marvel, Juggernaut might find himself powerless. It should also be noted that while Cain Marko – the man usually found under the Juggernaut helm – is a brute, he’s not a sadist, and he can be talked into backing down in unwinnable conditions. As Wade Wilson says in Deadpool: Sins of the Past, “Wow, whaddaya know? LOGIC stops the Juggernaut.”
One version of the Juggernaut who may stand a real chance against Superman is Kuurth, Breaker of Stone. Kuurth possessed the Juggernaut in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #540-542, significantly upgrading his physical power, giving him psychic protection, and crucially adding a new ability where Kuurth runs on sigils which appear under his feet, allowing him to maintain momentum even without an adequate running surface. Cytorrak quickly withdrew support from Juggernaut on learning that he had accepted power from another source, but for these few issues at least, the Juggernaut may have stood a real chance in an actual fight against Superman.