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Marvel Top 10 Hand to Hand Fighters

This list is intended to show raw skill in hand-to-hand combat in the Marvel universe. It does not take into account nor does it consider other abilities such as superhuman or enhanced strength or enhanced healing abilities. Which is to say that any outcome would be based on skill, not superhuman strength, and the ability to heal quickly or receive larger amounts of punishment during a fight as being a deciding factor. Also understood is that skill is based on skill with hands and feet alone, not the use of weapons during combat. That means no swords, guns, claws, clubs or otherwise. It's hard to remove enhanced reflexes and agility as a factor when considering this list. Fighters like Wolverine or Iron Fist have this as part of their "chi" and is impossible to remove from the equation. Captain America has enhanced reflexes based on the super soldier serum. Two fighters that are relatively equally matched in skill would be affected by the superior reflexes and agility of the other. Therefore these characters receive special consideration. One would ask "how can you remove strength from the equation and not enhanced reflexes?" Strength doesn't necessarily reflect on skill. It's pointless to point out particular fights between characters or their outcomes. There are many examples of each one defeating the other but many variables are at play. Just because the Hulk ripped Wolverine in half doesn't make him a better fighter. Strength would possibly reflect on the results of the fight, however reflexes have a direct effect on skill. It cannot be overlooked when considering this list.

I did use several resources in determining this list, Marvel wiki being one of them. The Fighting Skills Grid was a good reference but I did not entirely agree with it often times as I found it occasionally contradictory. Again, skill is a good watermark but not the only determining factor on who is going to ultimately win a fight.

Also most characters use weapons as their primary means of combat. For characters like Punisher, he would much rather engage his targets at a distance and would only fight hand to hand if forced to. Conversely, other characters like Black Panther and Iron Fist will more often engage targets up close and personal. This standard operating procedure will increase greatly the experience levels of some heroes over time. Simply put, the more fights you have the better you get.

This my first attempt at this so feedback is welcome. Hate that I had to use these stock pics.

List items

  • Wolverine sits at the top spot of this list. There are several reasons for this but not the least of which is his age which carries a significant amount of experience that the others on this list do not possess. The very definition of experience resides in the fact that he has fought more foes, of all degrees of skill, strength and intelligence, then anyone on this list. The man is well over a hundred years old and has been fighting for most of his life. He has mastered virtually every form of unarmed combat. Others on the list may be the most proficient at a single form or forms of martial art or unarmed combat but Wolverine has mastered more than all the others. Like Captain America he is in an extremely accomplished strategist and very intelligent when approaching a fight. His fearless approach to battle removes any hesitancy and his lightning speed is entirely too much for most opponents to handle. The long and the short of it is, no matter who you are, if you flight Wolverine straight up, hand-to-hand, Mono E mono, you are going to lose.

  • T'Challa is a Titan. A veritable expert in nearly all known forms of combat and some that are unique to him. Super fast, super agile, hyper fast reflexes and the skill to put opponents down. This ended up being a horse race between Captain America and Black Panther. In the end after much debate it came down to one thing; the ability to access all knowledge and experience of all former Black Panthers. This means hundreds of years of invaluable tools in which to use in all combat situations is the deal sealer. T'Challa, with his speed and agility, is such a potent combatant and has such deep reserves he had to take the second spot.

  • Obviously Captain has to be near the top of the list. The first factor to consider is the super soldier serum. The enhanced reflexes and acrobatic ability of this affords him seriously boosts his skill level. He will not, however, hesitate to pick up a firearm or other weapons and leans heavily on his shield as both an offensive and defensive weapon. Having said that Cap more often than not will mix it up close.

    Steve Rogers has mastered most forms of unarmed combat and with his heightened reflexes, agility and extensive experience makes him almost impossible to best in a straight up fight. His experience level rivals most. He has fought the finest combatants in history and his will to win is so strong he will not hesitate to mix it up with super heroes/villains who, at least on paper, are far more powerful than he. All things being equal, Captain America is one of the most skilled fighters in the Marvel universe.

  • Taskmaster is an interesting character and difficult to rank. Should be very easy to say that since he can, with 100% precision, copy any fighting moves of any person he observes, would make him the most skilled and lethal fighter in the Marvel Universe. This is deceptive however. Just because he can copy the moves and skills of other fighters doesn't mean he has the physical ability to pull off the moves as fast as his rivals. The people ahead of him on the list possess enhanced reflexes and speed that makes it impossible for Danny Masters to best them in a straight up fight.

    With that in mind Taskmaster is one bad ass opponent. Not only does he remember all the complicated moves he observes, he can and does switch between styles at will during a fight. Opponents that heroes fight repeatedly will often get used to their styles and be prepared for them. This particular skill will keep all opponents on their heels so you might not ever see the move that puts you to sleep.

  • This one was pretty easy after Deadpool. Danny Rand has no enhanced speed or agility but what he brings to the table is fighting skill that transcends all the others on this list (except maybe Shang Chi). It's easy to chalk it up to his iron punch but that would be too simple and not nearly good enough. He takes martial arts to a level of art beyond all others on this list. At any given moment during a fight his thought processes are so far ahead of his opponent there is virtually no way to surprise, outthink or out strategize him. He is a master of most forms of unarmed combat and certainly proficient in all of them. Top physical conditioning and total control of his body makes Iron Fist a perfect fit in this spot.

  • I agonized over Deadpool for a while. Does he even belong on this list? If his skills are to be taken seriously he must have a very high spot on this list. Right? In the end I'm still not sure I'm correct but here he is.

    There is no debate at all over his skill. One of the finest hand to hand combatants on earth. He has fought, happily, all of the great fighters of the world. He is faster and more agile than even the most gifted athlete, which makes him, by definition, superhuman. Again, fair or unfair, it can't be dismissed. His drawback is that he, like Punisher, relies primarily on weaponry. This leads to lots of missed opportunities to increase skill level. On the other hand his insanity is a huge advantage over his opponents. With no clear discipline or style from moment to moment it is impossible to predict or anticipate his moves. Even Taskmaster found it nearly impossible to imitate his technique. I do, however, believe that the astral awareness of Iron Fist trumps pure psychosis. Then it boils down to skill and physical ability. I give the ability to Wade Wilson and skill to Danny Rand. Who gets the higher spot? Iron Fist does.

  • I would be remiss without adding Shang Chi to this list. No bells no whistles just straight up kick ass fighting skills. Top physical specimen, about as highly trained as you can get. Only the enhancements of the others ahead of him on this list keep him from being their equal or their better. No more explanation needed.

  • The leaders on this list sit where they are due to abilities that, fair or not, gives them an edge in a fight. Daredevil's edge is arguably the the most effective. As he states the "gift" of lack of sight has set his senses free and is not encumbered, but only what his eyes tell his brain he sees. In other words he "sees" the world the way it really is. During a fight sight is what combatants rely on but Matt Murdoch uses his other senses in unison. Four senses against one.

    One problem though, as skilled a fighter as he is he just isn't in the same category as some of the others. A hyper accomplished acrobat and as fast and as agile as a man can be, but doesn't have the extensive training as who's ahead of him. If he fought with the same skill level as the leaders this list could be his.

  • The only woman to make the list (although I considered Elektra and Mockingbird). Surely a highly trained fighter and with suburb agility and reflexes deserved a serious look right off the bat. But that doesn't mean much on its own considering the company she's up against. What does mean much is the super solder serum she was given. It takes her over the top of all normal men and women; even the best.

    Keeping her from a higher spot, however, is the reason for her being. She is a spy pure and simple. Damn right the woman can fight but stack her regular foes up against those who the rest of this list has fought and it’s night and day. Skill talks but skill with experience means so much more. Still here she is and deservedly so.

  • As it was, I worked backwards on this list and subsequently backed into all the rankings. The final two spots (9 & 10) were actually the most difficult. I sacrificed one of my personal favorites, Punisher, for those two spots. I'll explain why.

    I took off a lot of "points" for characters who rely heavily on weapons. Having said that people like Hawkeye and Deadpool made it to the list in spite of that. Yes Hawkeye uses a weapon first as Punisher does but the deciding factor was the quality of enemies faced. Punisher, as a rule, deals with mostly street thug underlings. Sure they're tough and armed and ruthless but in end not real badasses. Of course, as a fan, I know he has taken out true super-villain badasses (with weapons and tactics) but it wasn't enough in the end. Hawkeye can fight no doubt about it. Iron Fist even complemented his skill. Trained by Cap and exposed to the finest fighters in the world he has developed into a true force and he deserves to be on the list.