Nearly as soon as superheroes first started showing up in comic books, they were at odds with each other, most often due to misunderstandings between the two heroes. Namor and the Human Torch had one of the greatest battles of the Golden Age, fighting against each other all the way back in 1940! However, as the years have gone by, the conflicts between heroes have become less and less about simple misunderstandings and more about actual serious problems between the heroes that they feel that they can only solve with an actual honest to goodness fight.
With that in mind, we’re not talking about fights where one of the heroes is being mind controlled. These heroes are intentionally entering into these battles. Here, then, we will count down the most brutal in-continuity fights between fellow superheroes.
HONORABLE MENTION: HAL JORDAN VS. GUY GARDNER
When “Green Lantern” launched in 1990, it co-starred the three Green Lanterns of Earth — Hal Jordan, John Stewart and Guy Gardner — as they decided to try to put the Green Lantern Corps together. An interesting thing had occurred in 1987 when the Justice League reformed. Hal Jordan was busy, so Guy Gardner become the Green Lantern representative on the team and surprisingly enough, he proved to be quite popular, as “Justice League International” became one of DC’s best-selling titles. However, naturally, Hal Jordan was the standard choice for the “main” Green Lantern, despite Guy being the official GL of Earth while Hal was off rebuilding the Corps.
In “Green Lantern” #25 (by Gerard Jones, M.D. Bright and Romeo Tanghal), with the Corps now rebuilt, Hal wanted Earth back and he and Guy decided to have a fist fight, with the loser having to give up being a Green Lantern. After Hal took a quick lead with his first punch (leading their fellow superhero spectators to think it was a replay of the time Batman knocked Guy out with “one punch”), it became an all-out brawl, with Hal eventually wearing Guy out and defeating him. Guy then got a yellow ring and became Guy Gardner: Warrior!
15. SPIDER-MAN VS. WOLVERINE
“Spider-Man vs. Wolverine” by Christopher Priest, M.D. Bright and Al Williamson, was a strange comic book, in that it mostly revolved around Wolverine telling Spider-Man how out of touch he is with the “real” world. Peter Parker goes to Germany (back when they were split into East and West) with Ned Leeds for an expose on a mysterious agent who was killing off KGB agents. Wolverine knows the agent, a woman named Charlemagne, so he headed to Germany, as well.
Ned is murdered and Peter is saved from the same fate by Wolverine, who kills the agents who were about to kill Peter. After buying a knock-off Spider-Man costume from a German costume store, Spider-Man tracks down Wolverine and Charlemagne just as Wolverine was about to give her a merciful death. Spider-Man and Wolverine have a brutal fight, with Spider-Man throwing haymaker after haymaker at Wolverine, with Wolverine’s adamantium skull being the only thing keeping him alive. In the end, though, Spider-Man inadvertently kills Charlemagne and is haunted by how he is so not a fit for the dark world where Wolverine resides.
14. BETA RAY BILL VS. THOR
Due to his ability to hang with the strongest superheroes in the world, Thor appears a number of times on this list (although not his classic fight with Silver Surfer; as great as that fight is, it is not particularly brutal). As strong as Thor is, sometimes he meets someone who is just as strong as him, and that’s what happened when he faced off against Beta Ray Bill in “Thor” #338 (by Walter Simonson). After fighting in the previous issue, Thor ended up turning into Donald Blake when separated from his hammer. Beta Ray Bill picked it up and was shockingly found to be worthy of the power of Thor.
Odin then decided that the two heroes would fight each other for the right to wield Mjolnir. They had a fierce battle in the deadly Asgardian land of Skartheim where ultimately they hit each other so hard that they both passed out on top of a piece of debris floating down a lake of lava. Beta Ray Bill woke up first, just as they were about to go off a “lavafall.” He couldn’t leave Thor behind, so he saved them both. Odin awarded Beta Ray Bill his own version of Mjolinir called Stormbreaker.
13. HULK VS. WOLVERINE
In the late 1980s, Wolverine and Hulk were in interesting new places in their respective lives. Wolverine had become, almost by default (due to some issues that Storm was dealing with) the leader of the X-Men and Hulk had reverted to his original gray form. Their new paths in life crossed with each other in “Incredible Hulk” #340 (by Peter David and Todd McFarlane) while Wolverine and the X-Men were on the road to Dallas (where they would be presumed to be killed in “The Fall of the Mutants”) and Hulk was on the road with his friends searching for missing gamma bombs (which would ultimately lead to the Hulk being presumed dead, too).
Now that the Hulk was gray, he was weaker than before, so the fight seemed to be over as soon as it began after Logan ravaged him and stabbed him in the middle of his chest. However, the Hulk’s rage led to him fighting back and pummeling Wolverine to the point where Logan gave in to his berserker rage. The Hulk mocked Wolverine for always looking down on him, but here he was, just as “savage” as the Hulk ever was. Their fight was broken up before they could kill one another.
12. BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN
In “Batman: The Dark Knight Falls” (by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson, the final book of “The Dark Knight Returns”), Batman, who had recently returned to crimefighting after a 10-year absence, was on the run after seemingly killing the Joker in the previous book (the Joker had actually killed himself in such a way to make it look like Batman killed him, as a final “eff you” to Batman). Superman is brought in by the United States government (for whom Superman has become a sort of lackey) to take down his old friend.
They meet in Crime Alley, where Batman’s parents were killed, and Batman hits Superman with everything he has, including the piece de resistance, an arrow made out of artificial kryptonite. Batman has a bloody Superman by the throat, taunting him about being the only person who could beat him when Batman suddenly dies of a heart attack. Later, we see that Batman staged his very public death so he could take his new movement underground.
11. NAMOR VS. DAREDEVIL
As noted earlier, Namor has a long history of fighting against other superheroes. In the legendary “Daredevil” #7 (by Wallace Wood and Stan Lee), Namor decided that he would try to deal with the surface world in the court system. He hired Nelson and Murdock to represent him, but they told him that he had no case. So, he decided to force the issue by getting himself arrested by causing a lot of damage to New York City. He eventually agreed to be arrested so that he could plead his case in court.
However, then he found out that Warlord Krang had used his absence to try to take over Atlantis. Namor now could not wait for his case, so he had to leave. The army would not let that happen, however. Daredevil, meanwhile, felt that he had to stop Namor before he destroyed the army. They had a pitched battle where Daredevil threw everything he had against him, even shocking Namor with the electricity of a full city block. It was not enough to stop Namor, but it was enough to get him to give up his fight for now, in honor of his worthy foe.
10. CAPTAIN MARVEL VS. IRON MAN
The conflict in “Civil War II” revolved around a young Inhuman named Ulysses who had the ability to seemingly see the future before it happened. This allowed the superheroes of the world to use that information to plan for attacks before they happened and to take bad guys down before they actually committed their crimes. Captain Marvel is placed in charge of the group of superheroes who control the information provided by Ulysses. Iron Man, however, does not believe that they should be allowed to arrest people before they actually committed crimes.
Things came to a head when Spider-Man (Miles Morales) was shown in a vision by Ulysses having killed Captain America (Steve Rogers). Captain Marvel did not know how to handle things exactly, even as Cap and Miles began to push the issue by going to the place where the vision was set. Iron Man showed up to stop Captain Marvel from doing anything to Miles and in their destructive battle (booked by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez in “Civil War II” #7-8), Carol ended up destroying his armor and putting Tony into a sort of coma. Ulysses then evolved beyond humanity and left Earth.
9. THOR VS. IRON MAN
During the original “Civil War,” one of the most shocking battles in the fight between the heroes who agreed with the government that superheroes should register their powers (led by Iron Man) and the heroes who thought that that idea was crazy (led by Captain America) involved a half cyborg/half clone of Thor that Iron Man, Mister Fantastic and Yellowjacket had created. The clone went nuts and killed Goliath, shocking all of the heroes present.
The real Thor was, in effect, dead during all of this. When he came back to life (along with his fellow Asgardians), he was none too pleased with his old friend, Iron Man, and he showed it in “Thor” #3 (by J. Michael Straczynski, Olivier Coipel and Mark Morales) by brutalizing Iron Man and threatening his life if he ever tried to mess with Thor again. Don’t worry, they eventually made up and became friends again.
8. THOR VS. CAPTAIN AMERICA AND IRON MAN
A few years earlier, it was Captain America and Iron Man who were united against Thor when the Odinson brought Asgard to Earth following his ascendance to King of Asgard (at which point he gained the power of Odin, which made him immensely powerful). Since Asgard was now floating in the skies of Earth, Thor began to gain new worshipers in the human population. Some of them lived in a small Eastern European country that wanted their independence but were being put down by the government. Thor invaded the country with his Asgardian warriors.
While the government was armed by Doctor Doom, Iron Man was sent in to stop Thor from causing an international incident. Iron Man fought Thor in an enchanted armor but that did not work, as he ended up tearing the armor right off Iron Man in “Avengers” #63 (by Geoff Johns, Alan Davis and Mark Farmer). Captain America got involved, as well, trying to prevent Thor from forcing United States troops from moving in (which would have triggered a literal World War III). Thor hit him so hard that he actually dented Captain America’s shield! That caused Thor to realize that he had gone too far. He pulled his men out of the country, avoiding nuclear war.
7. HULK VS. DAREDEVIL
In “Daredevil” #163 (by Roger McKenzie, Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Joe Rubinstein), ol’ Hornhead once again found himself on the wrong end of a battle against a powerful being that Daredevil was mostly trying to just keep from hurting other people. It all began when Matt Murdock heard the heartbeat of the Hulk in New York City and he quickly found the jade giant before the police could discover him. Matt got the Hulk to calm down by telling him that he knew where the Hulk could find Bruce Banner. The relaxed Hulk turned back into Banner.
Later, though, after Matt gave Banner money to get out of town, Banner was triggered by rude people on the subway and the Hulk began trashing New York City looking for Banner, since Murdock had told him Banner was in the city. Daredevil tried to slow him down to keep him from hurting others and the Hulk proceeded to clobber Daredevil repeatedly. The bloodied Daredevil was about to “see” his life flash before his eyes when Daredevil managed to convince Hulk of the truth regarding Banner. This calmed the Hulk down and he turned into Banner and escaped from New York.
6. CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. IRON MAN
In the aforementioned “Civil War” event (by Mark Millar, Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines), Captain America and Iron Man were the heads of their respective sides in the battle over whether superheroes had to register with the government to operate as superheroes, with Iron Man arguing that it was nothing different than how police officers have to be trained and authorized in their use of force. Meanwhile, Captain America argued that they the government could not be trusted to manage and protect the world’s superheroes.
A few times, the two sides met in direct battle. The first time they fought, after Captain America briefly knocked Iron Man’s armor out, it rebooted and Iron Man began brutally pummeling his old friend. It was only Invisible Woman abruptly changing sides that saved Captain America that day. In their final battle, Captain America had the Vision disrupt Iron Man’s armor and Cap began beating Tony senseless with his shield. It was then that the citizens of New York tackled Captain America, letting him know that they were not on his side. A shocked Cap surrendered.
5. HULK VS. X-MEN
During “World War Hulk,” one of the people that the Hulk wanted vengeance on was Professor X. Luckily for the good Professor, he had a whole pile of mutants willing to go to bat to protect their leader. However, unluckily for the Professor, that pile of mutants was not enough to stop the Hulk at his peak anger (while maintaining a reasonable level of cunning, as well), as seen in “World War Hulk: X-Men” (by Christos Gage and Andre DiVito).
Kitty Pryde phased the Hulk into the ground, which normally would have paralyzed him, but he was so strong he just broke through it and then healed. He bent Colossus’ metal body into scrap metal. Most notably, though, is when he tangled with his old foe, Wolverine, by repeatedly punching him in the face, causing Wolverine’s brain to be pounded against his skull, giving him concussion after concussion after concussion. In the end, though, when Hulk learned of how many mutants had been killed recently (following the vast de-powering of the world’s mutants in “House of M”), he decided to give Professor X a pass. The other members of the Illuminati were not so lucky.
4. HULK VS. ILLUMINATI
The Illuminati was a group of superheroes that helped control the affairs of the world’s superheroes from behind the scenes. The group consisted of Doctor Strange, Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, Professor X and Black Bolt (with Namor and Black Panther occasional members), each representing a specific part of the superhero world. They got together and decided to finally get rid of the Hulk by sending him to a peaceful planet where he could be alone. However, the ship they sent him in got sent off course and Hulk landed on a gladiator planet. He soon conquered it, but then the ship he traveled on exploded, killing the Hulk’s new wife. He blamed the heroes and he returned to Earth for revenge in “World War Hulk” (by Greg Pak, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson).
He took out Black Bolt off panel. He defeated Mister Fantastic easily. However, his fight with Iron Man ravaged New York City before he finally won. His battle with Doctor Strange caused Strange to have to call in some demonic help, but the Hulk still won by crippling Doctor Strange’s casting hands. The Hulk had brutally dispatched the world’s most foremost heroes (but in the end, he still lost the war).
3. BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN (DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN)
“The Dark Knight Strikes Again” (by Frank Miller) saw the implementation of Batman’s underground plans, as he decided to take action against the corrupt United States government (which was secretly controlled by Lex Luthor). Batman began putting together a superhero army by enlisting the help of various Justice League members who had been captured years earlier, like the Atom and the Flash. Superman saw that Batman (who he knew had faked his death at the end of “The Dark Knight Returns,” but decided to let him get away with it) was starting a new war and Superman felt that it could be devastating, so he decided to confront Batman in the Batcave.
The other Justice Leaguers quickly brought Superman low (using a piece of kryptonite napalm fired by Green Arrow) and Batman finished the job with a pair of kryptonite powered gauntlets, which he used to pound Superman until his face looked like ground beef. He then threw Superman out of his cave.
2. HULK VS. THING
The Hulk and the Thing have had their fair share of memorable fights, with their most famous probably coming in “Fantastic Four” #25 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and George Roussos), where the Hulk handed the Thing his first physical defeat ever, leading to the Avengers being called in for help.
Their most brutal battle, though, would have to be their first rematch that took place in “Fantastic Four” #112 (by Stan Lee, John Buscema and Joe Sinnott), where Bruce Banner had turned back into the Hulk after Reed nearly cured him in the previous issue. He and the Thing had a battle all throughout New York City (primarily Central Park, including the children’s playground there). In the end, though, the Thing was distracted when some debris hit Alicia Masters and the Hulk then killed the Thing! You don’t get much more brutal of a superhero fight than one of the heroes killing the other! Luckily, Reed was able to revive the Thing the next issue (as the Thing’s physiology was different now).
1. ULTIMATE HULK VS. ULTIMATE WOLVERINE
Obviously, the king of brutal superhero fights (and will likely always maintain the title) is the famed battle between the Ultimate versions of the Hulk and Wolverine in “Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk” #1-6 (by Damon Lindelof and Leinil Francis Yu). Despite being a member of the Ultimates, after leaving the group, the Hulk was determined to be too dangerous to be allowed to live, so Nick Fury sent Wolverine to find the Hulk and eliminate him.
Wolverine found the Hulk in a monastery in the mountains of Nepal. When the Hulk saw that Wolverine was there to kill him, he reacted quickly and violently, tearing Wolverine in half and throwing the halves of the body to opposite ends of a mountain. Wolverine had to use his arms to drag his torso down the mountain to reunite himself with the other half of his body and figure out a less direct method of taking the Hulk down.
What is your all-time superhero-on-superhero fight? Let us know in the comments section!
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