I guess I should preface this by saying that the title of this blog entry is "Veshark's Top 20 Superhero Movie Battles."
There's a 99% absolute certainty that many of you will have very strong opinions about where your favorite superhero fight scene ranks on this list. But even though your opinion is different
and likely wrong and stupid, that's okay. Because one of the great things about the Vine is that we passionate fans of comics can disagree on our views, yet still have civilized and mature debates about superpowered dudes in tights.
So if you feel that there's a notable battle I left out, or one that you would've ranked higher, sound off in the comments below. I'm always interested in
crushing inferior debaters with my Battles boards Hall-of-Fame skillzzz listening to different viewpoints. This list is simply the result of my personal biases and me spending way more hours thinking about CBMs than any healthy grown-ass man should.
I think it's fair to say that we've come a long way since the days of Superman throwing a cellophane S-shield at Non, or Batman derailing shark conservation efforts with repellent spray. Comic-book movies are arguably at their zenith right now, and while elements like character, plot, world-building, costuming, and source-material-accuracy have all made huge bounds, it's the badass battles that I'm here to discuss in this blog.
Because despite all of our high-falutin' talk about Civil War being an allegory for gun control or The Dark Knight being a commentary of the War on Terror, at the end of the day, one of the best things about the genre is that we get to watch superpowered men and women punch the bejeezus out of one another. There's no denying that epic battles are one of the main reasons why we're all fans of these stories in the first place. From Superman vs. Doomsday to Wolverine vs. the Hulk - fight scenes are the bread and butter of the superhero genre.
And so even as we wait on the release of Aquaman, Avengers 4, and a host of other upcoming superhero films, we as comic fans have already been blessed with some fantastic fight scenes over the years. There are so many battles that I wish I could have included here; Hellboy vs. Prince Nuada, Spider-Man vs. Electro, Cap's Solange-esque elevator fight, Deadpool vs. Ajax, the Watchmen's slow-mo brawls et cetera. But in the end, I had to condense it down to the 20 superhero fights that were the best of the best.
These are the 20 battles that I consider to be the most iconic and memorable clashes in superhero cinematic history, battles that I still watch with the wonder and excitement of a four-year-old, battles that are the celluloid embodiment of a four-color superhero comic.
This is the stuff that we've all read for years on the comic-book page.
How lucky are we, to live in an era where we can see all these fights come to life on the silver screen?
20. Iron Man and Captain America vs. Thor
Throughout the years, one of the core tropes of the Avengers team has always been the in-fighting and bickering among its members. From Galactic Storm to Civil War, Earth's Mightiest Heroes have always squabbled. I mean, hey, this is a team that had one of its founding members quit after like, the first two issues. So it's only fitting that the first meeting of the Avengers' Big Three in the MCU involves some snarky Stark quips, Cap being the only grownup, and Thor leveling an entire forest by putting the hammer down.
19. Superman vs. Justice League
As disappointing a film as Justice League was, I gotta give it to 'em, it's probably the best depiction of Superman in the DCEU to date (admittedly a low bar, but I'm not complaining). The sheer overwhelming power that Superman displays here when he manhandles the entire Justice League is still a joy to watch. And that little sequence when Flash realizes the Man of Steel is as fast as him is still the crowning moment of the entire movie.
18. Batman, Catwoman, and GPD vs. Bane, Talia al Ghul, and Bane's Army
I think this battle was probably the most comic-book-y Nolan's Batman ever got. You've got two opposing armies of Blackgate's worst and Gotham's finest, charging at one another like some type of urban Lord of the Rings. You have Batman and Bane having their brutal rematch, in broad daylight, on the steps of City Hall. I mean, say what you will about The Dark Knight Rises, but you can't deny that it's probably the most epic entry (in terms of scope and scale) of the Nolan trilogy. In the relatively grounded world of The Dark Knight Saga, the final battle between Batman and Bane feels like a scene right out of a comic-book. And that's never a bad thing in my book.
17. Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin
Jesus. What a harrowing and fitting end to the Spidey-Goblin rivalry. This climatic battle embodies everything I love about Spider-Man. The Parker luck of having your arch-nemesis turn out to be your best friend's father. The never-give-up mentality of Spider-Man, even after being beaten past an inch of his life. The moment when Goblin mentions hurting Mary Jane and Spidey finally realizes what he's fighting for, and turns the tide of the battle. I've said it before: the Raimi films are still the best Spider-Man movies for my money.
16. Batman and Commissioner Gordon vs. Joker and Goons
The Dark Knight, while undeniably my favorite superhero movie of all-time (what, I can't like other superheroes not named Captain America?), was more about themes and character development than CGI face-punching. Which is fine, because Nolan's grounded world was never meant to be Zack Snyder's DCEU. But Nolan never skimped on the action either, and this chase sequence was unquestionably one of the highlights of my favorite CBM. Seeing the Batpod emerge from the wreckage of the Tumbler still brings a giant smile to my face. But while I love the most about this battle is the fact that Gordon saves Batman for once. It's the one moment of true triumph in Batman and Gordon's bleak war against the Joker's anarchy.
15. Captain America and Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man
While this scene is undeniably a badass final battle for Civil War - with Cap and Iron Man finally going mano a mano - it's also the culmination of Steve and Tony's complicated friendship in the MCU. From the very first Avengers film, Steve's immovable beliefs have always clashed with Stark's unstoppable goals, with neither hero willing to back down. So while this battle is rife with cool moments like Iron Man adapting to Cap's H2H, or Cap and Iron Man recreating that Civil War #7 cover...the fight itself is rather heartbreaking and tragic to watch. It's like watching two of your best buds argue, knowing that their friendship will never be the same again.
14. Batman vs. Superman
Or should I say...Batman v. Superman? Sorry, bad joke. Regardless, I don't think this battle's inclusion on this list is something that I need to explain. It's literally two of the most popular superheroes in the history of the genre fighting one another, on the big screen, for the first time. Yeah, the use of Kryptonite was a little uninspired, and Batman kinda came across like a belligerent killer here (and that's a whole other discussion and proverbial can of worms)...but still. You can't call yourself a comic fan and not get a kick out of Zack Snyder gleefully adapting Frank Miller's magnum opus.
Also, MARTHAAA! WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?!!
13. Wonder Woman and Wonder Men vs. Imperial German Army
Gal Gadot sold all the honesty and vulnerability of a young Diana of Themyscira, but she doesn't really transform into Wonder Woman until this pivotal scene. This was the moment when Diana goes from warrior to superheroine. This was her Man of Steel Superman-flying moment, when Wonder Woman chooses to walk across No Man's Land to save innocent lives. And it only gets better when the Wonder Woman electric guitar theme kicks in, and Wonder Woman starts kicking the shit out of those pesky Huns. Like I said, superheroine.
12. Wolverine vs. Lady Deathstrike
Recycled from my old Top 10 Superhero Movie Scenes blog:
I remember being a kid when X2 first came out, and reading an article where Singer said that the scene where Deathstrike sticks her claws through Logan was one of the hardest sequences to film. Years later, the fight between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike still holds up as my favorite battle in the entire X-series. This is easily one of the hardcore-iest (yes, that's a word) fights in the franchise, between two ruthless adamantium killers.
It's painful, it's brutal, and it's exhilarating to see Wolverine let loose with the violence for the first time. Logan stabs Deathstrike and looks genuinely flabbergasted when her wounds heal. Deathstrike pins Logan on the platform and stabs him repeatedly like some deranged acupuncturist. And that final coup de grace? Goddamn... Easily one of the most vicious death scenes in a CBM...bravo, Logan, bravo.
11. Superman vs. General Zod
Superman neck-snapping jokes aside, if there's one thing Zack Snyder can do right, it's create entertaining disaster porn. Man of Steel's climatic battle felt like how an actual battle between two herald-level beings would go in the real-world. It's not so much BAM! POW! ZAP! as it is The Day After Tomorrow. For all the shit that this movie gets for its storytelling and character work (and rightfully so), Man of Steel elevated superhero fight scenes to an entirely different plateau, and this final throwdown between Kal-El and Zod is a prime example of where the DCEU shines brightest.
10. Batman vs. Bane
I know some folks aren't fond of this particular battle, but I've grown to appreciate it more with each rewatch. Enough that it now comfortably sits in the laurels of my Top 10. This fight is essentially the antithesis to Batman's final battle with Bane. It's not some grand encounter between a noble hero and a devious villain. It's a brutal and violent brawl between a broken Batman and the deadliest foe he's ever encountered. There's no inspirational music, no sound cues. Just painful punches being landed, and Bane monologue-ing, eulogizing the death of Gotham and its greatest champion. This is what it's like when a hero falls.
9. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman vs. Doomsday
While seeing the Avengers' Big Three in the same frame for the first time was exhilarating, I don't think it even comes close to seeing the Trinity standing side-by-side during this battle. I'll admit, it's the main reason why this battle ranks so high on the list. After years of re-reading Morrison's JLA run and rewatching the DCAU cartoon, seeing the JLA Trinity together in live-action felt like the ultimate payoff. From Wonder Woman's badass entrance (thank you again, Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL for that indescribably awesome theme), to Superman's surprisingly touching sacrifice, gahhh....I don't even have words for this. Come on, it's the freakin' Trinity fighting Doomsday.
8. Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon vs. Winter Soldier and HYDRA
Much as I adore The First Avenger, I'm also the first one to admit that its battles are forgettable for the most part. Captain America doesn't have a lightning hammer or a fancy suit of armor, and Steve's first cinematic outing didn't exactly sell him as the most entertaining superhero in a silver-screen fight. But that all changed with the Russos. Honestly, nearly any action scene from The Winter Soldier would be a solid contender for this Top 20 list, but this fight in particular deserves special recognition just for the one-on-one duel between Cap and Bucky at the end. I still get a little nerdgasm every time Bucky does that fancy knife-flip (Too much information?). Definitely my favorite action scene of my favorite MCU movie.
7. The Avengers vs. Ultron and Ultron's Army
I'm of the unpopular opinion that Age of Ultron is a superior and altogether more entertaining film than its predecessor. And I think the film's final battle is a good example of why I enjoyed it so damn much. This is about as classic as an Avengers battle can get. You've got the traditional Avengers roster, including Vision (whom I would never have guessed in a million years that we'd see a live-action version of)...fighting an army of Ultrons (one of their most iconic baddies)...on top of a floating city that's about to drop (which is literally the most Silver Age supervillain plot one can imagine). And when the camera pans around the Avengers in slow-mo like a bunch of comic-book panels, while Alan Silvestri's sweeping orchestral score plays...that is the single-most unashamedly comic-book moment in the MCU's entire catalog. Kudos to Joss Whedon for this one.
6. Batman vs. Lex Luthor's Mercenaries
What Snyder did for Supes, he did for Bats, too. In that, he finally gave us a cinematic Batman that not just looked, but also fought like the comic-book Bats that we all know and love. Yeah okay, Affleck's Batman is a tad more vicious than I'd like. But still, this is honestly my favorite battle from Batman v Superman. Which is saying a lot, considering the two other major battles of this film include Doomsday and Mecha-Bats, respectively. Affleck's Batman is like Arkham Batman on steroids, and watching him take down an entire warehouse full of goons never gets old.
5. Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus
Recycled from my old Top 10 Superhero Movie Scenes blog:
I'll take Raimi over Webb any day, and when someone asks me why - I show them this scene and say, "Until the day an Amazing Spider-Man movie does a scene this good, Spider-Man 2 will remain my second favorite CBM of all-time". This is what Peter Parker is all about. Self-sacrifice, and never giving up no matter the odds. This train scene is the cinematic equivalent to Lee and Ditko's Amazing Spider-Man #33.
The moment when Spider-Man has shot off streams of web and strains with all his might to stop the runaway train...as the carriage metal bends and the windows shatter....as Spidey's costume rips and Peter's face is contorted in pain and determination...my eyes were glued to the screen at this moment as a nine-year old, and they still are now. And then the final bit when all the passengers lift Spidey's body over them and one New Yorker whispers in wonder: "He's just a kid. No older than my son." That right there. That's Spider-Man to me.
4. Superman and U.S. Military vs. General Zod, Faora, and Nam-Ek
This is Superman's equivalent of the Batman saving Martha Kent scene. This is the first glimpse that Snyder gave us of a cinematic Superman who truly fights like comic-book Superman. We got hints of it with that beautiful first flight scene (which remains my favorite scene of any CBM till this day)...but when Superman blitzes Zod, pummels the General's face, and then flies him through a grain silo into a fiery explosion? That's the power level that we've always wanted to see from the Man of Steel. Superman isn't merely a man with superpowers. He's a force of nature. When he fights, it should be like witnessing an earthquake or a tsunami. We're talking about one of the most powerful beings of the DC Comics universe here, pal.
But what I also really love about this battle - besides Faora speed-blitzing the poor hapless U.S. soldiers of course - is that it highlights Superman's concern for his fellow man moreso than any other scene in Man of Steel. In this battle, Superman warns the civilians to stay indoors, saves the life of a falling soldier, and rescues Colonel Hardy from Faora. And that final bit where the Colonel finally says, "This man is not our enemy."...?
That's Superman, folks.
3. The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Winter Soldier and Wakanda vs. Thanos, the Black Order, and Outriders
It was almost as if the fans told the Russos and Marvel that there was no way they could top the sheer scope and spectacle of Civil War...and the Russos simply said, "Hold our beers."
This battle fulfilled the promise that began with Iron Man all those years ago. The promise of a fully-formed universe of 20+ superheroes, with colorful personalities and powers, going up against the biggest bad of the MCU. Nothing like this had ever been attempted before in any CBM. This was the final battle of an event comic come to life. I'm still not entirely sure how Marvel managed to fit this much awesomeness into a single sequence. Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and the Guardians fighting Thanos on Titan. Captain America, Black Panther, and Hulk in the Hulkbuster fighting the hordes of the Black Order in the jungles of Wakanda. All that culminating with a final showdown that ended with a single snap. All I'm saying is: you gotta commend Marvel Studios for having the creative vision and the sheer guts to pull this movie off.
Captain America and Black Panther outrunning the entire Wakandan army. Thor's climatic arrival with Stormbreaker. Iron Man's final stand against Thanos. What a time to be alive, my friends.
2. Captain America's Team vs. Iron Man's Team
If you had told me a decade ago that I would ever see a superhero movie battle like this one...I would have asked you what drugs you were on and if you had any more to share.
Seriously. God. Damn. Captain America vs. Iron Man. Black Panther vs. Bucky.
Ant-Man Giant-Man vs. freakin' Spider-Man. Nothing like this had ever been done before in the cinematic history of our chosen genre. This battle boasts nearly every superhero that the MCU has debuted since 2008 - an expansive cast with a dizzying variety of superpowers and unique personality traits. It's an incredible juggling act, and while Infinity War has since surpassed it in sheer scope, at the time it was probably the most logistically complex battle of any superhero movie. Yet somehow, the Russos and co. managed to pull it off. And it was fun. Dear God, was it fun. Watching it in the theater at the edge of my seat, with every audience member loving every minute of it, and with that stupid grin on my face the entire time...
All I'll say is, if you have any doubt that we're living in the golden years of superhero cinema right now, all you have to watch is that epic moment when Cap and Iron Man's teams charge at one another.
1. The Avengers vs. Loki and the Chitauri
Ah, the Battle of New York. What else is there to say about this battle that hasn't already been said?
Honestly, if you deleted the rest of the movie and just showed this one sequence, I think the Avengers still would have made a gazillion dollars at the box office. That's how incredible this one battle is. And really, this scene truly earns the word "battle". An evil tyrant and his alien invasion army have come to take over the world...and the only thing standing in his way is a living legend, a couple of master assassins, and, well...you know the rest. It's a small team of Earth's Mightiest Heroes fighting against seemingly unbeatable odds. This is what the Avengers have always been about since day one. When there's a threat that no single superhero can defeat, that's when the Avengers assemble to battle evil. And what a battle this was.