Who doesn’t love a good fight? Comic books are full of them. Sometimes a good brawl is exactly what a storyline needs. Whether it’s the catalyst for a story or just the consequence of something else, we love seeing superheroes scrapping because at the heart of most comic books, that’s what they are about. They’re selling us the biggest fights with the biggest powers. Or matching someone with no powers against someone with many to see how the disadvantage plays out. Since superheroes became popular, we love seeing them use their fists to solve their problems.
Sometimes it was out of rage and sometimes it was out of necessity. Hero versus villain. Hero versus hero. Anti-hero versus criminal scumbags, the list goes on. And for many years, fans had to accept mediocre live action adaptations of their favorite characters and stories. Some movies did a great job of bringing characters to life, but many did not. And that’s one of the benefits of animation. An animated series or movie allows the studio to deal with bigger concepts and ideas on a smaller budget. An animated adaptation can be a beautiful thing. We’ve picked 15 of the most epic animated fight scenes.
15 BATMAN VS THE JOKER
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns saw a grizzled, old Bruce Wayne return to the cape and cowl after a long absence as Gotham descended into chaos. The two animated movies captured that desperate but determined hero perfectly. But as the Batman returned to life, so did his lifelong enemy, The Joker.
After masquerading as a man cured of his mental illness, The Joker once again brought a reign of terror to Gotham after he murdered a chat show host and the entire audience. Batman pursued the villain into a carnival, hunting him down through the ‘Tunnel of Love’. The fight was brutal and unrelenting, with The Joker taking a batarang to the eye and Batman stabbed several times. Bats breaks The Joker’s neck to stop the villain one final time. But The Joker takes it further, twisting his neck round, so Batman will be branded a murderer. Brutal.
14 TEEN TITANS VS DEATHSTROKE
DC have really been branching out with their latest animated movies. One of their most recent storylines adapted “The Judas Contract” into an animated feature. It sees Deathstroke use a young metahuman, Terra, to infiltrate the Titans to steal their powers and get rid of the team once and for all.
The final fight sees Deathstroke betray Terra and strap her into the machine too. And as Robin and Nightwing take on Deathstroke, the rest of the team are freed with Terra when she begins to bring the entire cave down during their fight with Brother Blood. In the end, the young hero decides to let herself die as she pulls all the rocks down upon the fight. She buries both herself and Deathstroke in the rubble, and soon dies in Beast Boy’s arms. It’s an emotional ending to a great fight.
13 WONDER WOMAN VS AQUAMAN
The Flashpoint Paradox is widely regarded as one of the best DC stories as well as one of their best animated movies. In a world where The Flash ran back in time and saved his mother from dying, the rest of the world is radically changed. When Barry wakes back up, he finds that the world is caught in the crossfire of a war between the Amazons, led by Wonder Woman against the Atlanteans, led by Aquaman.
They come to blows using Aquaman’s trident and Wonder Woman’s sword. They both nearly best the other throughout the fight. Until Wonder Woman gains the upper hand and forces Aquaman to accept his death and defeat. She kills him by shoving her sword down his spine. Ouch. Did we mention that this is after the two superheroes had a failed affair? Talk about a lovers' quarrel.
12 MAGNETO VS APOCALYPSE
We all know Magneto as one of the most iconic X-Men villains, but when he faces down the ancient mutant Apocalypse during the animated series, we’re all winners. Magneto is a man who prides himself on his values, his intellect and his past experiences. So when he realizes that Apocalypse plans to decimate the world into submission, he can’t go along with it. He does have some help from Mystique to get the element of surprise, but it works in his favor.
The fight between these two iconic villains is certainly explosive to say the least. With Magneto using his mastery of metal to throw Apocalypse across his own temple with great force. Magneto even deflects the energy that his opponent hurls at him. Apocalypse is defeated at the end of the fight, showing us just how powerful Erik Lensherr is.
11 WOLVERINE VS HULK
During the animated movie, Hulk Versus, a portion of the film pits the green giant against one of the most famous X-Men in history, Wolverine. Logan is deployed by Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. into Canada to stop a rampaging Hulk as he ploughs through several small towns.
The two trade many blows, and it’s great to see both of them not holding back because they know how powerful their opponent is. Wolverine is able to stab and slash his way through the fight, whereas the Hulk just uses his raw strength to pummel Logan into a pulp. Unfortunately, their fight is cut short by Deadpool and several other mutants, but it’s great to see these two titans face off against each other in a no holds barred fist fight.
10 THE AVENGERS & THE FANTASTIC FOUR VS DOCTOR DOOM
During Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Doctor Doom attacked the Avengers Mansion and the Baxter Building at the same time. The two teams had to band together to defeat the Latverian villain. They assault his headquarters and face off against Doom. He proves to be a formidable foe, even going toe to toe with the Hulk, blasting him through a wall.
In fact, Doctor Doom actually wins the fight against the two teams single handedly. He manages to take them all on, trapping the Invisible Woman whilst repelling the powers of the Human Torch and Iron Man. He ends the fight by simply stating that they’re trespassing on Latverian soil, meaning they have to leave. After all, an American team of superheroes operating in a hostile country could cause an international incident. Well played Doom, well played.
9 JUSTICE LEAGUE VS DARKSEID
When DC kicked off their new continuity of animated movies, they adapted The New 52 "Origin" storyline focused on the Justice League. The film saw Darkseid mount a full assault on Earth, swarming our cities with Parademons. The team slowly come together and become an efficient force against the New God.
They all strike blows against Darkseid as well as fending off Parademons as they do so. Cyborg manages to open up a boom tube, and the team slowly force the villain back through. With a sword and several Batarangs embedded in his body, Darkseid is punched through the boom tube back to Apokolips. It’s the first time the team come together and they certainly make their mark by defeating one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
8 IRON MAN & WAR MACHINE VS DOCTOR DOOM
Iron Man: Armored Adventures might not have been the most popular of television shows, but it was certainly bold. And in “The Might Of Doom”, we see just how powerful the Latverian ruler can be. His futuristic armor puts Tony’s suit to shame. Luckily, Tony has some back up when facing the formidable foe in War Machine.
The pair of them manage to subdue Doom long enough to escape, even if Pepper was controlling the armor for Tony after he was knocked out. But their fight meant having to drop a building on top of the villain for him to be stopped even for a moment. His powers seemed almost limitless -- but it’s a good job the combined weaponry of Iron Man and War Machine can put him down.
7 TERRY MCGINNIS VS THE JOKER
Batman Beyond was one of the most inventive DC animated television series to really strike a chord with fans. So much so that it was given a full length feature film revolving around the return of The Joker, who had died thirty years earlier. It turns out that Tim Drake had The Joker’s genetic material placed in his brain so that The Joker could make a comeback.
When the two face off at the end of the film, it turns out The Joker is able to use all of the moves and fighting styles Batman had taught Tim Drake in his prime. Luckily, McGinnis fights a little dirty as well as taunting The Joker to get in his head. Ultimately, Terry uses a ring buzzer to burn out the microchip and revert Tim back to normal. Quite poetic really.
6 THE AVENGERS VS ULTRON VS THANOS
That’s not a title we ever thought we’d get to write. During Avengers Assemble, the mad titan Thanos assembles the Infinity Gauntlet. He wreaks havoc and it looks like it’s all over for the Avengers. That is until Tony uses his AI, Arsenal, to absorb all of the Gauntlet’s power. The Avengers take turns beating the living daylights out of Thanos in a spectacular fashion.
But when they go to retrieve the Gauntlet from Arsenal, the robot steps back. He menacingly transforms into Ultron. That’s not a combination that we’d want to face down, ever. Ultron already hates humanity -- but add the Infinity Gauntlet to his weaponry, and the Avengers have a problem. He defeats the entire team within a few seconds and escapes to hatch another evil plan. Uh oh.
5 SUPERMAN VS DOOMSDAY
"The Death of Superman" is one of the most important and pivotal moments in comic book history. It showed that publishers could genuinely kill a flagship character, and the story would support it. Yeah they brought him back soon after, but the thought was there. Anyway, the storyline got an animated adaptation, Superman: Doomsday.
Right at the beginning of the film, Lexcorp workers accidentally dig up Doomsday, and he goes on a violent rampage across Metropolis. Superman steps in to stop the menacing beast, eventually killing it. But not before he dies because of the injuries he took mid-fight. It’s such an iconic moment, that seeing it onscreen is very powerful. We got a version of this during Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but let’s not discuss that take on Doomsday…
4 BATMAN VS RA’S AL GHUL
"The Demon’s Quest" saw Ra’s Al Ghul try to force Batman to take his place at the head of the League of Assassins. The villain also attempts to rid the world of humanity so he can restart the ecosystems on Earth. The two begin to fight over the top of the Lazarus Pit with swords.
Sound familiar? We saw a version of this adapted in Arrow season three, although many fans weren’t happy with the treatment of the storyline. But in Batman: The Animated Series, they perfectly portrayed the relationship between Bruce, Ra’s and Talia in the conflicted way it was in the comics. The fight ended with Ra’s falling into the pit, but of course manages to return thanks to the regenerative healing powers. The Animated Series was way ahead of its time, and this two-part episode was a true testament to that.
3 SPIDER-MAN VS GREEN GOBLIN
The animated Spider-Man series from the ‘90s introduced millions of fans around the world to the wall-crawler and the characters that he came across. It was bold in its attempts to adapt popular comic book storylines, one of which being “The Death of Gwen Stacy”. And although it wasn’t an exact adaptation, it pulled a unique twist.
Mary Jane is thrown off the bridge instead of Gwen, and falls into an open portal into another dimension. But Spidey thinks she’s died in the water. After a brief few moments, Spidey and the Green Goblin continue their fight. Pete forces the glider down, beating Norman as he does it -- sending him into one of the same portals that swallowed up Mary Jane. It’s a bittersweet moment, as the Goblin is the only one with the technology to help Peter find the love of his life.
2 BATMAN VS JASON TODD VS THE JOKER
One of the most well-known but unspoken rules in comics was that Bucky, Uncle Ben and Jason Todd were the only characters publishers couldn’t resurrect. Well, DC brought back Jason Todd with a vengeance. He took on the Red Hood identity and began handing out his own brutal justice in the animated adaptation of the storyline.
Towards the end of the film, Jason has The Joker and Batman in an abandoned house, forcing Batman to choose between letting Jason kill The Joker or shooting him to save the villain. It’s such an intense moment between the former allies. Batman beats Jason by making his gun explode with a batarang, and Jason sets off a bomb. The Joker savagely beats Batman so the three can all die together -- but when the explosion sends them all flying, Jason is gone. Ouch.
1 CAPTAIN MARVEL VS SUPERMAN
Quick history lesson on Captain Marvel/Shazam. The character was acquitted by DC from Fawcett Comics after they raised legal issues about Billy Batson’s superhero persona being a Superman rip off. So the fact that he’s on the same power level as the Kryptonian means that when they face off during Justice League Unlimited, we’re in for a good fight.
And surprisingly, Billy is the one being reasonable during this fight, acting as a mediator between Superman and Lex Luthor. Until Supes throws him in the opposite direction that is. But when the punches start flying, the shockwave shatters buildings into dust. Superman wins after pounding Billy with a bank vault ripped out of a building. He also throws him into his own lightning so he transforms back to a kid. Superman well and truly won that one.
Which of these fights was the most epic to you? Let us know in the comments!