Mongul: Happy birthday, Kryptonian. I give you oblivion.
Superman: BURN.◊ (blasts Mongul with heat vision at point-blank range)
Superman, in Action Comics #775, after defeating a team made up of The Authority pastiches (complete with Reality Warper) without stooping to their level and killing them:
Manchester Black: If you think this is over, then you're living in a bloody dream world!
Superman: You know what, Black...? I wouldn't have it any other way. Dreams save us. Dreams lift us up and transform us. And on my soul, I swear... until my dream of a world where dignity, honor and justice becomes the reality we all share - I'll never stop fighting. Ever.
To make it better, in the process of beating him, Superman gives Manchester Black a taste of his own medicine by explaining, as Manchester's powers shut down on him, that Superman used precise heat vision to lobotomize Manchester and remove the parts of his brain that control his powers. After Manchester spends several minutes freaking out and feeling utterly violated, Superman reveals that all he actually did was give Manchester a concussion at superspeed to set up a ruse and show Manchester what it felt like to be on the receiving end of that kind of brutality.
Superman: Red Son, an Elseworlds comic where Superman was raised in the Soviet Union, gives its greatest Crowning Moment of Awesome to Lex Luthor, who brings Superman to his knees. Luthor drives the Man of Steel to despair and near-suicide with a note left in Lois's breast pocket, who then tells Superman to use his X-ray vision to read the note. "Why don't you just put the whole WORLD in a BOTTLE, Superman?"
For background purposes, understand that Superman had united the entire world, save for the USA, into the Soviet Union. He had abolished crime and poverty at the cost of abolishing freedom of thought. Those who spoke out against Communism had their brains rewritten. His eyes and ears were everywhere. Yet Superman considered Brainiac's shrinking of Stalingrad into a bottle as his greatest failure. In light of this, Lex wrote the above sentence while saying to Lois: "What am I DOING? Well, they say the pen is mightier than the sword, Lois. So I'm distilling everything Superman hates and fears about himself into a SINGLE SENTENCE." Purely sublime.
And, then there's Superman himself defeating the Green Lantern Marine Corps. Luthor was crazy to use thought-based weapons on someone faster than the speed of thought...
Superman vs. Bizarro.
A few moments from the "Death of Superman" arc:
Superman makes the ultimate sacrifice and is forced to break his golden rule: he and Doomsday take each other out at the same time. Naturally quickly followed by an enormous tearjerker even we know how the story goes.
Steel's no-nonsense admonishing of the irresponsible Superboy and the Eradicator over how they were essentially spending more time strutting over how they're Superman instead of acting like it.
Or how about Superboy, after failing to pull a nuke away from Metropolis, punching it into the sea at the last minute proving that in fact, he can be a serious hero.
Steel shutting down Engine City is a CMOA for both him and his opponent. Steel goes in to the heart of the engine to shut it down, and the Cyborg FORMS A BODY OUT OF THE WALLS to attack him. Cue an epic fight, where Steel is tossed about but keeps hanging in there in an effort to trick Henshaw into revealing how the engine works so Steel can figure out how to stop it, but The Cyborg states that the engine is too impossibly complex for a mere human to comprehend, much less shut down. So the Man of Steel lives up to his namesake and grabs the Cyborg's monstrous construct and flies them both into the building-size gears powering the engine, saving the entire Earth and redeeming himself for designing the Toastmasters.
And yet, nothing tops when the man himself finally puts the suit and the cape back on.
A little context to the awesome... the aforementioned KKK-fighting occurred back in the 1930s or '40s, when the KKK was still "respectable" (or, as respectable as a bunch of racist kooks in pointy hoods can be) and when membership in the organization was in the South less reputation suicide as it was a savvy career move. He fought them in real life by putting actual KKK rituals and passwords into their appearance in the show; this naturally made them something of a laughingstock by showing how silly they were.
Superman: Let me ask you one question. Do you know what radio waves look like?
Toyman: Huh? No, why?
*cut to Superman smashing into Toyman and Prankster's hideout*
Superman:BECAUSE I DO!
Superman Beyond - "This looks like a job for Superman. For all of them." Cue epic team-up between Superman, Captain Marvel and the former Nazi Superman.
The time he killed Lex Luthor by hawking a loogie through Luthor's forehead. Granted it was only a dream, but Superman was aware it was a dream and was in a bad mood.
JLA-Avengers: In issue #3, Superman finally decides enough is enough with Thor, growling when Thor claims strength comes from within - "Tell yourself that, Mister... Ease yourself to sleep at night while you let your world go to hell! Where I come from, though, LIVES MATTER!" When Thor tries to bring Mjölnir on his head, Superman catches the hammer, causing an astonished Thor to react, "Odin's beard! How can you...? The mightiest... mightiest in nine worlds cannot..." Superman retorts, "S-sorry... sorry to disappoint... but in... my world, it looks like the dials GO UP TO ELEVEN!" and crushes Thor with a roundhouse punch, knocking him out cold.
In Superman (vol. 2) #180, Dracula mesmerizes Superman, and bites him to gain his power and make Superman his slave. Superman is a solar battery. Do the math.
An old 70's Action Comics 100 pager: The lead story has a sort of Injustice League capturing every single JLAer except Superman. Superman makes his way to their satellite, melts Sinestro's ring, and promptly wipes up the villains... save Brainiac who pwns Supes, but not before he can free the Flash who frees the rest.
In Superman: Ending Battle, Supes takes on literally every villain in existence (except Darkseid and Doomsday), alone. At one point, Neutron, a nuclear villain, boasts that he cannot die, so Superman chucks him into orbit. Later, when Bizarro, Mongul, Silver Banshee, and Master Jailer are all that's left, they move the battle to somewhere in the Pacific. Superman eventually gets chucked onto an island littered with Kryptonite. As the four villains surround him and gloat, Superman finally reveals that this island is the exact spot where Neutron will land. Cue an almighty explosion.
When the evil wizard Arion tries to enslave his mind with magic, Superman draws on training he received from Martian Manhunter and Zatanna, envisions that he is being constricted by a demonic snake, and tears the snake apart, freeing himself.
Arion's hideout is in an underwater fortress, protected by a magic forcefield specially designed so Superman can't break it. His solution, create a huge whirlpool, then release it, sending the Atlantic ocean crashing against it.
At the climax, Arion turns into Cthulhu and Superman kicks his ass. When Arion turns back to normal, he angrily tries to blast him, only to find that Superman is holding all, and by all I mean dozens of the magical trinkets that give the wizard his powers.
What makes this more awesome is that it represents Superman overcoming his own longstanding fear of being controlled and used as a tool of destruction.
In the novel Miracle Monday, Superman defeats The Devil's Agent On Earth by simply *refusing* to kill its innocent host - which was what the demon wanted all along, since making Superman break his non-killing vow would have ruined him emotionally (and robbed the world of its greatest inspiration) forever.
Also vaguely heartwarming - the innocent host was a descendant of one of his supporting cast, specifically Jimmy.
Superman's beatdown of Superboy-Prime near the end of Infinite Crisis. Superboy had even smashed a chunk of Kryptonite into his face beforehand. Superman proceeds to give a him a why you suck speech, declaring he doesn't know what it means to be super, then beats him to the ground in four or five punches.
The Elseworlds story Last Family of Krypton where Superman's entire family survives the destruction of their planet, has Jor-El and Lara resolve a marital dispute... by flying into space and having sex in the center of the sun.
Artistically, the cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, which was Supergirl's CMoA.
In Superman: Earth One, while Supes is cool as usual, Jimmy Olsen gets his own CMOA. When the big bad is tearing apart Metropolis in search of Superman, Jimmy calmly stands in the middle of the destruction, diligently taking the pictures. When the big bad notices and questions Jimmy on this, Jimmy explains that he is willing to risk his life for the truth, and even as the big bad is preparing to kill Jimmy, he remains standing, continuing to take his pictures. Luckily for him, Supes takes him down... and Jimmy takes another picture of the wreckage, mentioning the other reason he was out there. To paraphrase, because the truth kicks serious ass.
Jimmy gets another quiet CMOA at the conclusion of the Conduit saga. Restrained in a deathtrap designed to be unbeatable, literally watching his life tick away on a timer overhead, Jimmy delivers a rousing plea to his super powered pal not to blame himself for failing to save him. Might qualify as a Dying Momentof Awesome, but he had an epiphany which allowed Superman to save him-just barely.
Superman (vol. 1) #297. "Clark Kent FOREVER — Superman NEVER!" If the title didn't tip you off, this is A Day in the Limelight for Clark himself, where he gets romantic with Lois, tells off Morgan Edge, and punches out Steve Lombard. But his best moment in the story is his anti-gravity battle against Intergang, putting his weightless space maneuvering skills into effective use.
In Action Comics #0, when Conduit tried to kill everyone Clark loved and Clark finally found his hideout, the opening page has Superman facing a roomful of goons with high tech weapons and the titular villain. Conduit then says that Superman should "beware, this facility is lead-lined to restrict the use of your x-ray vision, is filled with hundreds of agents specifically trained with you in mind, each has kryptonite based weaponry in addition to 250 agents specially trained in psychic warfare."
Superman's response "Sounds fair!" The battle happens off-page and the narration says it takes less than two and a half minutes. Cue to Superman in a room full of unconscious agents and not even breathing hard while looking for Conduit.
In the prequel storyline Superman Confidential: Kryptonite, Jimmy Olsen gets one as he saves himself, Lois Lane, and Superman (who is knocked out at the moment), from Lex Luthor as he holds one of Lex's henchmen at gunpoint and threatens to drive a taser into Lex's spine. Lex then backs off.
From the Superman/Batman series, we have Kara's first appearance in the mainstream post-Crisis DCU in 20 years, culminating in her getting training from Wonder Womanand the Fatal Furies after she's abducted by Darkseid. After Batman out gambits Darkseid, Darkseid attacks Clark and Kara at the farm. Kara gets injured...and Clark takes off the kid gloves. He beats down Darkseid at Super Speed inside a tornado that Superman created, tosses a entire field at Darkseid, before moving past lightspeed to get to the sun, get a Power-Up by it (going into his Super Mode called 'Sun-Drenched') and punches Darkseid right into the Source Wall where he stays imprisoned for FIVE YEARS (until Final Crisis). Its a battle and beatdown you'd normally see in Dragon Ball Z, so its refreshing to see Superman's powers finally used like that in a fight!
From Up, Up, and Away, Superman, who has been missing for a year, returns and, during the midst of a battle with Luthor demands "where's the cancer cure, Lex?" referencing Luthor's claim that, if Superman would just go away, he could save the world. Superman launches into "The Reason You Suck" Speech, pointing out that all Luthor did in the time Superman was gone, was find more ways to hurt people and break things. It ends with a depowered Superman facing off against Luthor (whose armour has shorted out) in a fistfight, and beating him unconcious.
Last Son has Superman teaming up with the Superman Revenge Squad to take down General Zod's Kryptonian army. Much awesome ensues, including Superman attacking the Kryptonians while duel wielding a red solar rifle and a Green K laser, Metallo using Gold K to force attackers to fall out of the sky, and Lex Luthor killing one of Zod's soldiers in a one-on-one fight using the weapons he designed to battle Superman with. The best—and saddest—moment of all though, goes to Chris Kent/Lor-Zod when he knocks his father into the Phantom Zone and saves Superman from being sucked in as well.
Zod forcing Brainiac to kneel before him in the climax of Last Stand of New Krypton.
Luthor gets his moments of villainous awesome here. Whether it's suckering Brainiac with a robotic duplicate of himself, using Reactron to blow up New Krypton, unleashing a false red sun (made from the corpse of a Kryptonian pseudo-deity) on Zod's incoming army, or the fact that after everything he does he's able to walk away clean, there is no denying his status as DC's greatest Magnificent Bastard.
Chris Kent/Lor-Zod tackling his father back into the Phantom Zone at the end of War of the Supermen is also appropriately awesome, and a call back to his similar moment in Last Son.
In an issue of Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen saves a kid from an incoming attack by Bizzaro Supergirl, while riding on a motorcycle. The kid mistakes Jimmy for a cop or a superhero; Jimmy tells him he's neither, then rushes towards the fight.
Reign of Doomsday gives us Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, and Steel saving the world from the Doomslayer by forcing his ship, which was flying at light speed, back into the atmosphere. Also a CMOA for Doomsday, who went back to being the unstoppable killing machine we all knew and loved after two decades of Villain Decay and The Worf Effect.
It ends in a CMOA for the Eradicator who, possessing Doomsday's body, defeats the other Doomsdays, and then pulls a Heroic Sacrifice, taking the Doomslayer down with him.
Superman Vol 3 #19: Superman confronts the Sunturians, an alien species composed of red sun particles. As the Sunturians bring Superman into their spaceship, which they disguised as a city block, the Sunturian queen does not believe Superman would resort to a straight-up fight, considering the Sunturians can easily cancel his powers. Superman reveals he threw many canisters containing thousands of gallons of water into the sky. The canisters fall onto the ship and Superman freezes it. Then, he hurls it into space. And who says Batman is the only one good at running Batman Gambits?
Action Comics Vol 2 #21: Superman's first fight with Lex Luthor in the New 52. Luthor created a virus from Superman's cells and infected several people in Metropolis. The only way to counteract the virus is with red sunlight, which drains Superman's powers. When Luthor attacks Superman, he is too weak to fight, so he flies towards the sun to restore his powers. Then, he beats Luthor down.
Superman, in Action Comics Vol 2 #23, kills the Lexus by piercing its heart with a magic sword. Normally, this would be a violation of Superman's no-killing code, but since the Lexus is a soulless monster who eats planets for breakfast, Superman did not have other choice. The Pax Galactica, the order of warriors that have chased the Lexus across the universe, is impressed and declare Superman their leader. For obvious reasons, Superman declines.
Superman/Wonder Woman #2: Superman and Apollo have a fight after Apollo makes an insulting comment about Wonder Woman's choice in boyfriends. At first, Apollo easily backhands Superman but Superman gets supercharged with Apollo's solar energy and a Curb-Stomp Battle ensues. Also doubles as a Funny Moment.
In Superman, volume 2, issue 22, "The Price", Superman with Cara travels to alternate Earth, where Zod with his 2 minions killed the entire planet, including their Superman. After villains gloat about his non-killing rule, Superman points out that he is the last citizen of the planet, and should execute them for planecide. He gives them green Kryptonite. Villains have died in terrible pain...
The iconic theme by John Williams, especially in the beginning in a massively grand opening as the public realizes that the superhero movie can be a grand blockbuster epic.
This especially goes for when the music hits its height as Superman's chest symbol appears as a icon of heroism at its most godlike.
As Krypton is ripping itself apart, Jor-El and Lara calmly watch as their son's ship safely soars away.
The first time Superman saves Lois. The dialogue is just golden.
Superman: Don't worry, Miss. I've got you.
Lois: You've got me? Who's got you?
Gets even more awesome a few seconds later, when he catches the helicopter with the other hand and the soundtrack blares triumphantly.
The film's tagline was "You'll believe a man can fly". In this scene, they made good on that promise.
Another great bit of dialogue from the same film:
Jor-El: They can be a great people Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all—their capacity for good—I have sent them you... my only son.
Superman catching the first rocket and pushing it into outer space. Awesome by itself, but consider all he does when he can't stop the second missile. He allows an AmTrak train to use his body as a railroad track; catches a schoolbus as it's falling off the Golden Gate Bridge, AND... goes down beneath the crust of the Earth and lifts the San Andreas Fault back into place.
And he tops it all off, when he discovers he was too late to save Lois, by flying around the Earth to TURN BACK TIME.
Although to be honest, he would have been even more awesome if he'd handled the rogue missiles like this.
The whole fight in Metropolis. This was the very first superhero/supervillain fight ever filmed in live action. And even with the comedy bits from director Richard Lester, it's still an awesome spectacle. In the Donner Cut it's even more spectacular, losing the incongruous slapstick bits and reinserting extra footage for the battle proper.
The best part of the fight scene is when the people of Metropolis, thinking Superman is dead, decide to charge three super-powered aliens that have pretty much trashed the city. For a split-second, Zod, Ursa and Non have no idea how to react, as up til then, people have fled in terror of them. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment. The awesome can be seen here.
The Superman vs. Clark Kent fight was the best part of the movie. And the music at the end...
It is dated, but Superman tackling a chemical plant fire is pretty awesome too, particularly the final salvo — when the firefighters' hoses fail, and with only minutes before volatile acid inside the plant will vaporize into a corrosive cloud, he learns from them that there's a lake a few miles away. He flies over, freezes its surface with his breath, and flies a giant platter of ice back to the site of the fire. Dropping it over the blaze results in an impromptu rainshower that quenches the flames and stablilizes the acid.
The fire chief said it best: "Damn! That man's a miracle!"
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace:
Superman straightening up the flag at the moon landing site.
Sure it's kind of weird, the giant minigun scene, but it's really cool seeing a goon try to shoot Superman in a more 'vulnerable' place, his eye, only for the bullet to bounce off just like any other part of his body.
Superman risks everything and lifts an island filled with Kryptonite, sure it might be dodgy that he could do it himself but if one is into the film...