The CW has successfully built quite an empire with the Arrowverse shows. The flagship show, Arrow, just got renewed for a seventh season. The Flash will also be back next fall, as will his crossover pal Supergirl. The Flash experimented with a non-speedster villain in its fourth season, while Supergirl’s third season introduced the formidable World Killers. In both shows, the fate of the future is currently still unknown. Legends of Tomorrow has hit its stride with an entertaining third season, so we’ll have more Beebo to look forward in the fall.
In addition to crossovers, one of the reasons why we like these shows so much is the all the action scenes! Explosions aside, the Arrowverse has got an interesting mix of fighting styles. In Arrow, we get a lot of brutal hand to hand combat, while Team Flash uses a lot of tech and powers. Supergirl has a fun combination of powered and unpowered fighters, and Legends of Tomorrow is led by a former assassin. All of these shows have different types of fighters, so we have to ask: who are the best ones in the Arrowverse? Here at CBR, we’ve ranked the most skilled and dangerous Arrowverse fighters.
20 JOHN DIGGLE
John Diggle, codename Spartan, is one of the original members of Team Arrow. He went from working for Oliver to considering Oliver as a brother. This season, Team Arrow has had some shake-ups. The most significant ones involve John. He's the Green Arrow, then he’s benched, and then he reverts back to Spartan. There was obviously some resentment on his part for Oliver not giving up the Green Arrow role completely. Dinah, Curtis, and Rene already had their doubts about Oliver’s leadership, which lead to some conflict and them forming their own team. John, on the other hand, was loyal to Oliver until they got into a fight this season. Insults were thrown, as well as fists.
Diggle served in the military and was a bodyguard, so he already had knowledge of live combat. He regularly spars with Oliver and the other Team Arrow members. When it comes to Team Arrow, if you can keep up with Oliver, you’re a skilled fighter. Diggle can not only keep up with Oliver, but can land some blows on him as well. While his weapon of choice is a firearm, he has very strong arms to effectively knock someone out. In addition to his knowledge of firearms, he’s also proficient at stick fighting and knives, making him a competent fighter.
19 NYSSA AL GHUL
Nyssa al Ghul has many connections to Team Arrow. She was, until recently, technically married to Oliver. She is a former lover of Sara Lance’s. Her half-sister, Talia, helped train Oliver. Nyssa is the League of Assassins’ former leader, and she is the one who decided to disband it. The training to be in the League of Assassins is grueling to say the least, and if you survive it, you are considered to be one of the most skilled fighters in the world.
Nyssa is a ruthless fighter, but she’s got a lot of heart. When Sara died, she swore a blood oath to avenge her death. Like other members of the League of Assassins, Nyssa is highly skilled at archery and fighting with a sword. As a daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, she likely had more extensive training. Which is seen in how she’s able to hold her own against Oliver and Malcolm Merlyn. However, though she has a formidable fighting spirit and is incredibly fast, Oliver and Malcolm Merlyn are reliably able to best her in a fight. But, she can throw shade like no one else. One of her highlights this season is her calling Oliver “husband” repeatedly in front of Felicity. That’s a burn not even the Lazarus Pit can fix.
The Supergirl fandom has mixed feelings about Mon-El right now. On the one hand, at the end of last season, we rooted for Mon-El and Kara to reunite somehow. On the other hand, we did not expect him to come back years later (in his time) and married. Oh yeah, and he was living in the distant future. His presence on the show is tricky as it still causes Kara some unease, despite however awesome his wife Imra may be. Kara put a lot of time into her relationship with Mon-El, but she also took some time to train the guy too.
Mon-El took his training with Supergirl and improved upon it in his time in the future. He’s now able to show her new techniques, including how to use a cape to disarm someone. It is a padawan turned master type of situation, which, while frustrating for Kara, shows how skilled he has become in fighting. In addition to his super strength and speed, with his Legion ring, Mon-El can also fly. This makes him a reliable fighting partner for Kara if she needs additional help. He also helps by analyzing other’s fighting styles, such as Reign’s, to find their weaknesses.
Zoom was The Flash’s season two villain. He’s a meta-human speedster from Earth-2 who posed as a friend to Team Flash to take Barry’s speed away. His worst crime? Getting Caitlyn to have feelings for him as Jay Garrick, this is in addition to killing loads of people. He is a true psychopath, as he was able to convince everyone that Zoom and Jay Garrick were two separate people. The ultimatum he gave Caitlyn was vile: stay with me and be spared, or join Team Flash and not be spared.
Zoom’s psychosis made him an incredibly dangerous villain. Coupled with his fighting skills and powers, he was a difficult villain for Team Flash to defeat. Zoom was a savage fighter; he’s even got claws on his gloves. His move of choice is to snap spines and necks, which he is able to do with his immense strength. Remember all those cops whose necks he snapped at Jitters? That was a shocking move, and luckily Joe was spared that fate. In the end, Zoom’s fate was to serve at the will of the Speed Force. After Barry outwitted him, Time Wraiths descended on Zoom to turn him into the Black Flash.
16 MALCOLM MERLYN
Malcolm Merlyn is another former leader of the League of Assassins. After being the main villain of Arrow’s first season, he had an on again off again relationship with Team Arrow. He revealed himself as Thea Queen’s biological father and helped train her. But, he joined forces with Damien Darhk and the Legion of Doom to find the Spear of Destiny. When that timeline was reversed thanks to the Legends, Malcolm helped out Team Arrow on Lian Yu. It was there that he sacrificed himself on a landmine to save his daughter.
Now, this isn’t the first time that Malcolm Merlyn has “died.” He has had surprising reappearances in the show, and we didn’t see a body. While we can’t be 100% sure that he’s dead, we know that he had the skills to survive almost any conflict. In his training by the League of Assassins, he’s an expert archer and swordsman. He was able to sneak in and out of places easily, hence his League nickname, “The Magician.” Additionally, he’s great at deception, which is great to use as both a CEO and a fighter. He’s got many years on other excellent fighters like Oliver and Nyssa. This is good for fighting experience but bad for keeping up with the youths.
15 J’ONN J’ONZZ
J’onn J’onzz is one of two living Green Martians. The Green Martians’ powers are impressive. However, equally as impressive is J’onn’s empathy and leadership abilities. As the head of the DEO, J’onn has a lot to juggle and many difficult shots to call. However, he maintains the respect of those who work for him and is even considered one of the gang. He and his father have shown up to get-togethers at Kara’s place and karaoke, for example. They’ve even had some bonding time with Alex, which eventually helped J’onn deal with his father having the Green Martian form of dementia.
As a Green Martian, J’onn is extremely powerful. In addition to strength, J’onn can shapeshift, which if used for evil could potentially be very dangerous. He can pose as any person he wishes too. He can also phase through walls and barriers, which again, if he were a villain, there’d be no stopping him from getting whatever he wants. He’s also got telepathic and telekinetic powers. So basically, he could go wherever he wants and make you think whatever he wants. Thankfully, J’onn is one of the good guys. Should he ever go bad, we should be very very afraid.
14 EOBARD THAWNE
Eobard Thawne has been a recurring baddie for Arrowverse. His history with Barry Allen is complicated and involves a lot of timelines. Initially, in the future, Eobard idolized the Flash and created an incident for him to get similar powers to him. Then, when he travels to the past and gets stuck there, he assumes Dr. Harrison Wells’ identity. He’s also the one who kills Nora Allen upon traveling further back in time. When Barry tries to prevent this, he creates Flashpoint. But, Thawne has persevered, even while being hunted by Time Wraiths since technically he shouldn’t exist.
While his perseverance is noteworthy, we should also take a look at Eobard Thawne’s fighting skills. We’ve seen him fight Oliver Queen even without powers and survive, which is a great entry on the fighter resume. Thawne’s fighting style is best described as analytical. He knows exactly where to hit to do the most damage or to incapacitate someone. Added to this deliberate style of fighting is his powers. His powers are the opposite of The Flash, thus earning him his nickname of The Reverse Flash. As such, he is still a formidable match for any of the Arrowverse’s heroes and was last seen abandoning the final battle of “Crisis on Earth-X.”
13 TALIA AL GHUL
Talia is another of Ra’s al Ghul’s daughters, only she had a direct hand in training Oliver Queen. We learned about her in season five of Arrow, where in 2012 in Russia, she saved Oliver from an attack by the Bratva. She convinces Oliver that he needs to take the list his father gave him seriously, and she gives him a green hood and a bow. She was instrumental in creating what the Green Arrow would become. She’s not one to put down roots anywhere, as she is rather nomadic. However, she did found her own league similar to the League of Assassins.
Talia has trained both Oliver Queen and season five’s main antagonist Adrian Chase/Prometheus. Oliver’s fighting style would not be as effective if it weren’t for his time with Talia. She was trained by the League of Assassins as well, and thanks to the Lazarus Pit, she has been training probably since the ‘60s. In addition to the standard archery and swords training, Talia is also a master at repeated attacks. She was last seen in a fight with her sister Nyssa on Lian Yu, where Nyssa actually got the upper hand on her. However, it’s clear that Talia is the most dangerous of the two sisters. Talia is more level-headed, and therefore more cutthroat.
12 CHINA WHITE
China White is one of the Chinese Triad’s foremost assassins, and she has even assumed the role as their leader. The League of Assassins gets a lot of attention for being the best training ground for assassins, but China White is equally as effective as any of them. She was last seen getting arrested last season, but she has a history of escaping prisons. She may very well turn up again in the Arrowverse.
When it comes to hand to hand combat, China White is more than proficient. She was able to overpower John Diggle as well as Oliver on several occasions. While she has a sense of revenge, there’s no question that she’s cold-blooded. She shows mercy to none of her victims and expects none in return. She is surprised when Oliver spares her life, but he may come to regret that decision later. China’s trained in fighting with swords and knives, and she also knows how to shoot a firearm well. She is smart and stealthy. She can speak multiple languages, which means she can more easily convince others to do what she wants them to do. One of her highlights is being able to sneak up on Team Arrow without them noticing.
Do not cross a military woman who believes in what she’s doing. General Astra is Kara’s aunt who also survived the destruction of Krypton. Astra is the one who tried to convince everyone that Krypton’s resources were depleting and would lead to its demise, but no one listened to her. She commits several crimes for what she believes is right, and her sister sentences her to the floating Kryptonian prison, Fort Rozz. A prison atmosphere made Astra even darker, which isn’t surprising since she was surrounded by Krypton’s worst criminals.
Astra is a dangerous woman with great close-range combat skills and conviction in what she believes. Astra’s powers are the same as Kara’s, but with the addition of advanced military training. While Kara is able to overpower her, it’s because Astra spared her in the first place. She almost kills J’onn J’onzz, who is also very strong and an expert fighter. She has the standard Kryptonian weaknesses, but Kara is her true weakness. When Non tells her that he used the Black Mercy on Kara, Astra tells Alex how to get Kara out of it. Astra’s is emotional not just because it’s the only family member left who knew Kara on Krypton, but because Alex is the one who deals the deadly blow.
10 SLADE WILSON
Slade Wilson is another fighter who has trained Oliver Queen. Slade was one of Oliver’s first trainers -- he’s the one who took him from rich playboy to fighter. A lot of credit goes to Slade for Oliver’s combat skills as the Green Arrow. However, Slade turns into the adversary Deathstroke when he finds out Oliver chose to save Sara Lance over Shado. Slade vows to ruin Oliver’s life and uses the drug Mirakuru to heighten his skills. Slade eventually kills Oliver’s mother, Moira Queen, by impaling her with a sword, which is still one of the most brutal scenes in Arrow history.
Even though Slade has reformed, and even has an alliance with Oliver, he’s still a very dangerous fighter. He was definitely at his most dangerous on Mirakuru, where his speed, strength, stamina, and healing were all at high levels. Without the Mirakuru, Deathstroke is still dangerous. He excels at close-range fighting, which is seen in how he’s able to dispatch Talia’s league of fighters at the end of season five. He’s also skilled at stick fighting, which is one of the fighting aspects he trained Oliver in, as well as sword fighting and using firearms.
Reign is one of the Kryptonian worldkillers, whose purpose is to bring darkness to the world. She doesn’t go around all day in a black face mask though -- Reign’s human form is Samantha Arias. When Reign takes over, Sam literally goes to another place where she is vulnerable to Reign taking complete control over her. This is what complicates things: Sam is a good friend to Lena, Kara, and Alex, and she has a preteen daughter named Ruby whom she loves more than anything. Thoughts of her daughter are the only reason why Reign has been held back.
Lena Luthor ran some tests on Sam and discovered that when Reign emerges, Sam’s body goes through changes to house these Kryptonian powers. Reign’s powers appear to surpass Kara’s, which is seen in the battle where Kara bleeds and is violently defeated. Any villain that can put Supergirl in a coma is dangerous. Reign rains down powerful hits on Kara, and she’s got speed going for her as well. Speed and strength together make a deadly fighter, especially when you add even more powers. Reign’s heat vision is red and is stronger than Kara’s, which we see when she kills Livewire with it.
8 RA’S AL GHUL
Though Ra’s al Ghul, the Demon’s Head, is a title that is passed on to the leaders of the League of Assassins, this Ra’s al Ghul is known only by his title. He is the one we think of when we hear the name. He’s the father of Nyssa and Talia, who both grew up to League of Assassins trained themselves. During his own training, he spent some time with Damien Darhk, who would turn into one of the most powerful villains in the Arrowverse. Ra’s al Ghul’s most dangerous deeds seemingly involve Oliver Queen somehow.
Upon Sara Lance’s death, Oliver and Ra’s battled in a trial by combat. The end of this scene was shocking at the time: Ra’s impales Oliver and throws him off an icy cliff. He’s able to outfight Oliver because he has been training for much longer than he has (the true age of Ra’s is over 150 years old). When he hears about Oliver’s survival, he marks Oliver to ascend to the title of Ra’s al Ghul after him. Oliver goes through some training with Ra’s himself. In a bookend moment, the move Ra’s used to fatally wound Oliver is the one Oliver uses to kill Ra’s.
Prometheus is the codename for Adrian Chase, the villain of Arrow’s fifth season. He posed as a friend to Oliver and worked with him as the District Attorney of Star City. All the while, Prometheus was plotting his revenge for the Hood killing his father years ago. The Star City media called Prometheus “the Throwing Star Killer,” as this is what he would use to kill citizens whose names were anagrams of names on Oliver’s list. As an extra burn to Oliver, the throwing stars were made from the metal of Oliver’s used arrows.
Prometheus, in his quest for revenge, sought out Talia al Ghul to receive the same training that Oliver did. When Prometheus and Oliver would fight, it would look like two equals fighting, which doesn’t happen often in Arrow. What makes him dangerous is his psychotic behavior. The fact that he can present himself as a normal empathetic person when he’s really plotting to kill a bunch of people is troubling. In their final battle, while Prometheus gets beaten by Oliver, he ends up killing himself to prove a final point to Oliver. It’s that level of extremity that makes Prometheus so dangerous, and we’re kind of okay he’s gone.
Dangerous isn’t necessarily a word that you would associate with Supergirl. When describing Supergirl and Kara Danvers, we usually mention her compassion and love for humanity. It’s this compassion that makes her dangerous if someone threatens humans or a specific person she loves. When Alex was kidnapped, for example, Supergirl could barely contain her anger. When it comes to raw strength, Supergirl is superior to her powerful cousin, Superman, as she was able to defeat him in a fight. Additionally, when it comes to speed, she is at least equally as fast if not faster than metahuman speedsters. We see this when she faces Eobard Thawne and when she races for fun against Barry Allen.
Kara hasn’t trained in fighting for long as she came out as Supergirl in her adult life. Her sister had a hand in training her, but it’s really Kara’s powers that that make her fighting skills dangerous. When she punches, she punches hard. When she comes at someone, she gets to them fast. The only villain who has soundly defeated her is Reign, but Kara is currently using her compassion for her friend Sam to get rid of Reign once and for all.
5 OLIVER QUEEN
Oliver Queen has lead many lives for someone his age. He’s gone from immature playboy to mature father figure. Oliver Queen’s fighting style is an amalgamation of all those who have trained him. Though he started fighting later in his life, following his shipwreck on the island, he picks up fighting quite easily. He’s been trained by notable warriors like Deathstroke, Shado, Talia al Ghul, and Ra’s al Ghul, to name a few. He has escaped death many times, mostly by using his quick tactical intelligence and his fighting skills.
It’s interesting to note that Oliver has no superpowers, but he fights like he has them. His League of Assassins training helped with this, of course. Oliver’s specific fighting style appears to be a culmination of over a dozen martial arts, so we would worry about anyone getting in a close range fight with him. Oliver can move quickly using acrobatic techniques, and he can infiltrate and escape dangerous situations quickly. While he doesn’t have superspeed powers, he can fight quickly with strength -- a lot of time, he only needs to land one hit on someone. Even when he’s unarmed and outnumbered, Oliver can punch his way out.
4 VANDAL SAVAGE
Vandal Savage has had many lifetimes to hone his powers and fighting prowess. In ancient Egypt, he was obsessed with high priestess Chay-Ara and plotted to murder her and her lover. Then, thanks to a meteor, he gained the power of immortality while the lovers were doomed to be reincarnated and murdered by him over and over for all time. It’s a dark backstory. Since ancient Egypt, he’s been up to no good.
Vandal Savage is one of the Arrowverse’s most overpowered villains. He’s one of few who could defeat Oliver Queen and all of the Legends, including Sara Lance. In his long life, he had gained much knowledge about everything needed to be a dangerous fighter including pressure points, medical knowledge, and knowledge of the occult. He is able to utilize magic for spells and to help him fight with the Staff of Horus. His other weapon of choice is knives, which he has a vast collection of and can wield expertly. His only flaw was his obsession with Chay-Ara, whom we meet as Kendra Saunders aka Hawkgirl. In fact, Chay-Ara is the only person who can kill him. For a while, it seemed like nothing could defeat him, which made Vandal Savage a man to be afraid of.
3 ALEX DANVERS
One of the most capable people in the Arrowverse is Dr. Alex Danvers. She’s a bio-engineer and has a lot of medical knowledge to treat her team after a fight. She has proven time and time again that she is a reliable person to turn to for scientific knowledge as well as advice. When J’onn needs advice regarding his father, he turns to Alex. And as Kara’s sister, Alex has listened to her fair share Kara’s issues. When Kara gets her heart broken, Alex is there for her even when she’s dealing with romantic issues herself.
As a DEO agent, Alex is trained in martial arts. The fact that she is a human doesn’t stop her from facing extraterrestrial threats head-on. Her bravery makes her one of the most dangerous fighters in the Arrowverse. She only recently got a special suit and weapons made. Before that, she fought in her standard DEO outfit with maybe a gun sometimes. Alex knows how to adapt in the middle of the fight. She even figures out how to use alien weapons when it’s available to her. Additionally, Kara wouldn’t have been as successful as Supergirl if it weren’t for Alex’s training.
2 DAMIEN DARHK
Damien Darhk is a former League of Assassins member who went rogue and formed his own League. Unlike Ra’s al Ghul, Damien really leaned into learning about the occult. His presence on Arrow is what really turned the show from more reality based conflict (with the occasional metahuman here or there) to storylines that had magical components. Oliver has to learn how to fight against an already excellent fighter who has dark magic on his side. Though he’s not as old as Vandal Savage, he still has centuries worth of training, which is seen in how quickly he can dispatch most of the Arrowverse’s fighters.
Damien Darhk had an interesting storyline in Legends of Tomorrow this season where we saw more glimpses of his humanity in regards to the safety of his daughter, Nora. His character became more intriguing when he chose to ally himself with the Legends. He has moments of bonding with various characters, and in the end, he sacrifices himself for her. If it weren’t for his love for his daughter, there’s no way the Arrowverse would have been rid of him so easily. He was too powerful and too smart to be gotten rid of any other way other than his own choice.
1 SARA LANCE
Sara Lance is both feared and respected in the Arrowverse. Her roots started in Arrow as Laurel Lance’s younger sister who becomes the Black Canary. Sara is murdered, but her Black Canary legacy is still seen in the show. After her resurrection via the Lazarus Pit, Sara calls herself the White Canary. Because the Lazarus Pit creates bloodlust in its recipients, Sara has had to struggle with her desire to kill, which she does admirably. The ability for this character to go from a side character on Arrow to the star of her show Legends of Tomorrow speaks to how interesting and dangerous she is.
Thanks to resurrection and time travel, Sara has received multiple rounds of training with the League of Assassins. She regularly fights people bigger than her and wins. She has fought many of the Arrowverse’s top fighters, such as Oliver Queen, Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk, and Vandal Savage. No one wants to go into a fight against Sara Lance; in fact, just training with her is intimidating. She’s trained to handle bo-staff fighting, swords, knives, and firearms. As the captain of the Waverider, Sara also has to make difficult sometimes life or death decisions for the crew. She does this by trusting her gut, which is how she fights as well.