What’s not to love about most Marvel films? They’re fun, they have humor and usually eye-popping fights between heroes and villains. The only drawback to these movies is that the action, while exciting, seems to be holding back punches. Ant-Man can be lobbed across a room with hardly a scratch or Tony Stark can get thrashed by the Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron with only a busted lip to show for it. Although we love that these characters are seemingly unshakable and don’t flinch in the face of the scariest villains, the lack of them getting hurt removes them from their “average misfit” image.
Enter Marvel’s Netflix shows. In the series to debut so far, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have all brought their own high stakes fights to the table, with plenty of violent results. The heavier the subject matter, the more risk and characters actually getting hurt makes each show far more engaging. When Matt Murdock lies beaten and bruised from a ninja fight or Jessica Jones is on the brink of exhaustion, it drums up the drama and very much humanizes the characters. Therefore, we at CBR are counting down some of the most brutal moments in these series that sets them apart from their big-screen comrades.
CAUTION: MULTIPLE SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ALL MARVEL NETFLIX SHOWS.
15. DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON ROUND TWO (IRON FIST)
Early on in Iron Fist, Danny Rand makes the acquaintance of a young dojo master named Colleen Wing. Wing is working to accrue students, but struggling to pay her rent. She ends up joining an underground fight club as a way to scrounge up cash. After one successful bout, she returns and demands for a two-on-one match. Throughout the round, the so-called Daughter of the Dragon headbutts incoming fists, snaps a few bones and absolutely beats her opponent to a bloody pulp.
Sure, the fight choreography in Iron Fist got a lot of flak from critics, but this was a fight that really showed off the brutal nature of Colleen. She shows little mercy to her opponents and appears to be full on enjoying beating them down. Not only did it reveal Wing’s prowess as a fighter, it also revealed her inner guilt at enjoying pummeling folks.
14. RIDING SHOTGUN (JESSICA JONES)
When Jessica Jones first met Luke Cage, the two shared an immediate chemistry. Having hooked up and eventually discovered each other’s abilities, the duo worked alongside each other investigating Kilgrave for a time. Unfortunately, the purple-suited villain controlled Cage and pitted him against Jones. The two duke it out in a brawl, with Jessica just barely losing out to Luke. Once she gets the upper hand, she manages to procure a shotgun from a cop car and fires it point blank at Luke’s head.
Now of course Cage’s unbreakable skin saved him from the worst of the damage, but the fact that Jones had to resort to such a measure was brutal. No amount of nice knocks to the head were enough to slow down the hero of Harlem, but a face full of buckshot managed to just barely put the brakes to him.
13. ZIP’S DISAPPOINTMENT (LUKE CAGE)
Zip had a lot of gumption in Luke Cage as a young up and comer in the gangs of Harlem. His career peaked when he attempted to kill another gangster named Shades. Zip attempted to strangle him in an elevator, only to be overpowered and forced onto a rooftop. Shades remarks on Zip being a disappointment in comparison to his father, before promptly blowing his brains out.
Zip’s ballsy attempt to off Shades was brutal in its own way, but the quickness in which he was dispatched was truly brazen. Shades was truly a scary character, but it had yet to be seen just how dangerous he was. With Zip building in his confidence as an untouchable mafia man with each episode, seeing him get shot point blank was gruesome, but satisfying, to see.
12. HALLWAY FIGHT (DAREDEVIL)
In his rush to find a kidnapped boy, Daredevil tears across Hell’s Kitchen, eventually finding the hideout spot. In a five-minute-long scene, Matt Murdock pummels a dozen Russian thugs in a single hallway and instantly left Netflix bingers around the world salivating for more. He pops in and out of nearby rooms, thrashing each bad guy as he progresses forward.
It’s a fight that’s brutal to watch for numerous reasons. The hero is injured at this point, having been badly beaten during earlier encounters, so the fight is brutal in that he’s throwing everything he has into it. Daredevil lands his blows sloppily, out of breath and leaning on walls for support as the thugs continue to come at him. By the time all is said and done, Matt is exhausted, and so are the viewers.
11. POP’S DEATH (LUKE CAGE)
After his bar was blown up, Luke Cage tried to maintain a low profile by working for a local barber shop called Pop’s. The titular owner was a mentor to the hero, having himself been in trouble in the past and trying to make amends for it. When gangsters were looking for one of his younger workers, Pops sends him away. This led to one of Cottonmouth’s thugs completely obliterating the place with machine guns and killing the owner in the process.
Pops’ death was not a gentle one to say the least. Luke was frantically attempting to keep him alive while his mentor choked out the words “Always forward” and eventually bled out from a gunshot wound to the neck. This made Luke change course forever in becoming a hero on the show, but it was sad that it took such a brutal death to spur him.
10. TAKING THE STAIRS (DAREDEVIL)
After his run-in with the Punisher on a rooftop in the second season of Daredevil, Matt Murdock found himself set upon by numerous biker thugs. Not one to simply take the elevator, Daredevil instead opts for the stairs, still rocking an empty gun that had been duct taped to one hand while holding a metal chain in the other. What followed was a dizzying spiral 0f violence that descends several floors down.
Daredevil cracks his enemies across the head with the pistol and whips them around with his chain. He deftly avoids gunshots and blows, similar to his previous hallway fight but with far more flash and experience behind it. A badass scene with great fight choreography, the battle left viewers breathless and the thugs on-screen likely having breathing complications.
9. DEATH BY 1,000 CUTS (JESSICA JONES)
Jeri Hogarth was introduced to the Marvel Netflix scene as a powerhouse lawyer going through a real rough divorce. When she crossed paths with Kilgrave however, things took a turn for the worst. When Hogarth’s ex-wife Wendy tells the the villain about how horrible of a wife Jeri turned out to be, he commands her to give the lawyer a death by a thousand cuts. Wendy then proceeds to take a scalpel and slashes her ex-wife over and over, counting each blow.
Jeri’s encounter with Kilgrave wasn’t just brutal, it was downright terrifying. Helpless against her mind-controlled ex, Hogarth can only scream as she tries to avoid more blows and attempt to disarm Wendy. Once the incident is ended, Jeri is shaken on multiple levels and now has the scars to show for it.
8. BEN URICH’S DEFIANCE (DAREDEVIL)
In Daredevil, Ben Urich worked alongside Karen Page to find out more about the elusive Wilson Fisk. Once their search leads them to find his mother, the Kingpin doesn’t take kindly to the action. Fisk shows up at Ben’s apartment, but Urich doesn’t flinch in the face of his perceived threat. Wilson corrects the reporter in telling him that he isn’t there to threaten Ben, but rather to kill him. Fisk quickly jumps him and strangled him to death.
Ben’s death is another hard one to watch. He struggles against Fisk’s massive strength, getting thrown around against his desk while the villain bellows at him. The camera zooms in on Ben’s feet as he struggles, before finally going limp and all goes quiet. This moment was brutal, sudden and hit the viewers right in the gut.
7. GAO FIRES AN EMPLOYEE (IRON FIST)
In Iron Fist, Madame Gao’s heroin operation is finally traced to the source by Danny Rand. As part of his investigation, he tracks down a potential shipment of the substance, but actually uncovers the creator of the synthetic drug instead. Rand defeats a guard and kidnaps the chemist. When said guard reports the ability of the fighter he was defeated by to Gao later, his master does not react well. She deftly pulls the sword out of her cane and puts it through the back of her henchman’s throat.
This was the first time viewers saw how deadly Gao could be. From her muted appearances sicking ninjas on Daredevil, the villainess finally showed that she wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. Even more brutal was her decision to cut off the guard’s head and leave it for Danny to discover later.
6. FINN MEETS SHOTGUN (DAREDEVIL)
Frank Castle had plenty of fires to start in his Daredevil debut. His biggest was getting the attention of the Irish mob in efforts to get more information about the deadly gang crossfire that killed his family. Castle gets captured by the mob and tortured by them, waiting patiently for his chance to strike. When he has Finn on the ropes and asks him who killed his family, the mobster makes the poor decision of responding “who cares?” Punisher responds in kind by filling his face with a shotgun blast.
Even though Daredevil got pretty brutal, this all-out level of violence was new and intense to suit bringing Castle into the fold. Matt Murdock avoids killing, but Punisher clearly has zero issues with it. This helped further just how determined Castle was, and how much he didn’t mind Finn not having a face later.
5. HAROLD’S ICE CREAM FLIP OUT (IRON FIST)
Harold Meachum lived an odd life for 15 years in his penthouse apartment. He was obsessed about his health and only spoke to his son Ward and assistant Kyle on a daily basis. When Meachum discovered that he couldn’t die, he let loose on his dietary restrictions and bought all sorts of ice cream. He presented this to his assistant Kyle, who made an offhand comment that he didn’t care for so many flavors. This didn’t sit well with Harold, who took an ice cream scoop and brained his assistant to death with it.
This moment truly tipped the scales for Harold as a character. Up until this point, he was seen as a cruel jerk, but not an insane psychopath. From that point on in the series, every seemingly innocent move he made was filled with tension about what would make him snap next.
4. FOR EVERY YEAR (JESSICA JONES)
Jessica Jones finally had Kilgrave right where she wanted him: imprisoned, ready to prove his abilities and exonerate his victims. When she introduced his abusive scientist parents to the mix, things went downhill fast. Kilgrave manipulated his mother to stab herself for every year he was abandoned by her. The poor woman (as well as everyone else in the room), could only watch in abject horror as she stabbed herself to death with a pair of scissors.
The sheer brutality of this death was more so ingrained in the meaning behind it. Kilgrave knew his parents had followed him throughout his life after running away, so he made sure to make them regret each and every year. It was only icing to the huge list of terrible things the villain was responsible for, and planned to do.
3. CORNELL’S LAST WORDS (LUKE CAGE)
In Luke Cage, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes was a high class gangster while his cousin Mariah Hillard was a councilwoman Harlem. Things came to a head when Luke Cage’s interference played havoc on their illegal finances. Cornell snapped at Dillard, accusing her of wanting the attentions of her sexually abusive uncle (who Cottonmouth was forced to kill as retribution). Mariah snaps in kind, pushing her cousin out of a window in an empty club and then brutally beating him to death with a microphone stand.
Despite his tough talk in the face of an unbreakable man, Cornell met a rather gruesome end by the only family he really had left. His resentment toward Mariah’s lot in life led him to say his wrong words, but the recompense Dillard enacted on him was frenzied and painful to watch.
2. PUNISHER’S PRISON DEBUT (DAREDEVIL)
As things progressed in Daredevil, the Punisher was eventually arrested for his mass murders (although completely justified in many eyes) and vigilantism. Frank Castle was placed in general prison population, where he was eventually set upon by other inmates. In a matter of minutes, Punisher punches, stabs and snaps the bones of his enemies until he’s the last man standing.
This is honestly one of the most brutal fight scenes in a Marvel Netflix series yet. Castle not only bludgeons other inmates with their own makeshift weapons, he also gouges out the eyes of one and slices the throat of another. By the end of it all, Punisher is bathed in blood and ready to stare down even more death in the face. It not only cemented his lethality as a character, but also just furthered the amount of hardship he’d been through to make him so deadly.
1. FISK’S SUV DOOR INCIDENT (DAREDEVIL)
A Russian hitman hoping for the villain’s assistance interrupts his dinner date. Fisk is embarrassed, rushing his girlfriend out of the restaurant to avoid her seeing his real work. Wilson then has the Russian gangster taken to a remote location, where Fisk beats the man and puts his head in the doorframe of his SUV. He then proceeds to slam the car door over and over again until he eventually beheads the guy.
Wilson Fisk certainly didn’t seem terribly violent when he was first introduced on Daredevil, but that changed quickly with this episode. This scene truly let us peer into his character, finding that even though he wanted to be a better person, there was a dark evil inside him that could sprout with the slightest misstep. This brutal punishment of a man that crossed him absolutely cemented Fisk as a dangerous element worthy of the name Kingpin.
What are some of your favorite brutal moments from Marvel’s Netflix series? Which ones do you think should have been on this list? Let us know in the comments!