Fighting is often described as a kind of dance between two or more parties. And that is an apt description because there are steps and maneuvers that the actors or stunt doubles have to commit to memory, much like a dancer knowing the steps to a tango or waltz. Fighting is an essential part of any action movie that has many different uses. In the original Star Wars trilogy, a lightsaber battle was used to signify an emotional moment. The Matrix used its fighting style to showcase the directors’ love of comic books, anime and video games. Without fighting an action flick would feel impotent.
The style in which a character fights can say a lot about them. Does their style avoid confrontation, does it look to subdue their opponent as fast as possible, or are they patient? You can have everything from giant robots versus behemoths, or giant versus giant. There are a lot of exquisite fight scenes out there that all deserve to be mentioned, especially ones from comic book movies. It’s sad to say that not all of them could make it onto this list. So here is our list of the top 15 fight scenes ranked from worst to best.
15. THE PUNISHER VS THE RUSSIAN
Possibly one of the least liked iterations of Punisher because he wasn’t Punisher enough for a lot of fans. We want our Punisher mean, gritty, and to the point. He doesn’t need to come up with such an elaborate Shakespearean plan to get his revenge. Just kill some dudes. Well, the fight between Frank and The Russian deserves to be here despite the movie.
It once took four mutant turtles to take down Super Shredder. Frank Castle did it with only a boiling pot of water. That almost sounds like a Chuck Norris joke. This fight showed us how prepared Frank was to defend himself in his own place. Too bad that didn’t work out too well for him while he was getting his head slammed against a refrigerator door. Even his hidden revolver was no match for the Russian’s brute strength.
14. BLACK WIDOW CHAIR FIGHT
Black Widow, some Russian soldiers and a chair. That’s an interesting setup. Natasha Romanoff is nothing if not more than meets the eye. It’s the first time we see her in The Avengers and we’re instantly led to believe that she is a damsel in distress. Then she receives a phone call from Coulson and is told that Hawkeye is in trouble. Gears are shifted rather quickly.
She doesn’t even bother breaking free from the chair when she starts because she knows the Russian goons are no match for her. When she does finally free herself from the chair, the Russians are outnumbered. She makes quick work of them and is sent to recruit Banner. This is an excellent introductory scene for her because the audience learns that not all is as it seems with Natasha.
13. THE AVENGERS ASSEMBLE
Sure, we had seen the team on screen together multiple times throughout the film. They had been bickering and fighting separately, though. When they finally assemble outside Grand Central Station, that’s when the Avengers were finally on screen together. They were finally a team and it was glorious. That’s when we see them work together to perform amazing maneuvers such as Iron Man’s repulsor beams bouncing off Cap’s shield to wipe out some surrounding Chitauri.
We get to watch the Hulk control his rage and smash his fist into one of those giant space worm thingys. The Hulk really stole the show, too, when he comically punched Thor and then repeatedly slammed Loki into the ground. Not sure this battle could ever be talked about without that scene getting mentioned.
12. HULK VS ABOMINATION
There are two types of people in this world. Those that didn’t like The Incredible Hulk movie and those that did. One group is fairly larger than the other. One thing we can all come together on, though, is some good, old fashion genetically mutated behemoth versus genetically mutated behemoth facebashing. It was a chance for the fans to really see the Hulk let loose.
Even when he goes against Thor it feels like there are some punches being pulled since they’re teammates. Going against the Abomination gave us some real tension, unlike Hulk’s eventual fights against Thor where we know they’re both good guys and nothing is on the line. It’s not often we get to see Hulk fight something as large as him.
11. HULK VS HULKBUSTER
This is a bout that should be at the top of everyone’s list of great movie fights. It has complete and total destruction, humor, and some surprisingly great acting from someone that you know was in a room all alone. Robert Downey Jr. does a good job of making you see that he’s genuinely afraid of Hulk and would rather never have to fight him outside of Veronica. Who would, though, right?
Especially when his monstrous robotic fist is jack-hammering down on Hulk’s face and he’s telling him as nicely as he can to go to sleep. There’s only been a handful of moments where the Hulk really got to let loose in a fight, and this is one of them. The only downfall is that there’s not a lot on the line because it is teammate versus teammate.
10. BLADE’S OPENING FIGHT
Let’s take a walk down memory lane all the way to 1998. Nineteen years ago, before Marvel formed their own studio and were bought out by Disney, they licensed out their cinematic rights for their characters. One of the first characters to make it to the big screen was the hybrid vampire known as Blade. The opening scene had a real in your face kind of style to make sure you knew exactly what kind of movie you were about to experience.
Blood is erupting from the sprinkler system in an underground, vampire-run nightclub and they’re about to devour a poor, defenseless human. That is, until the daywalker himself flashes his VIP pass and crashes the party. Between the use of firearms, hand-to-hand combat, and swordplay, this fight did not disappoint and made you thirsty for the rest of the action.
9. CAP IN AN ELEVATOR
Who knew anyone could be ambushed in an elevator and come out on top? Especially when one is going against 6 or 7 other fully grown men that clearly workout on a regular basis. When it’s Captain America, the odds of the other guys winning probably significantly plummets. He did give them a chance to exit the elevator, though.
It’s a short scene that kicks off some significant events for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe and earns its spot on this list for that very fact. It’s short but packs a punch. And the part when Cap dives out of the elevator to escape is reminiscent of the time he leaped out of a helicarrier in the comic book Civil War. It might require a lot of suspension of disbelief, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch.
8. V FOR VENDETTA FINAL FIGHT
The first fight of the movie when V rescues Evey was great. Unfortunately, it didn’t show V’s conviction to his cause. The final fight of the movie did just this, and makes it something to be looked at in a film studies course. The first casualties come when V refuses to remove his mask. He is clearly outnumbered with no chance of escape, but this doesn’t matter to him. The mission must be completed.
Then he’s shot by the rest of the men surrounding him until he falls to his knees. Little do they know they just invited their own demise. It might not be the fight itself that makes this scene so great. The CGI and camera angles are a little campy, after all. No, what makes this scene so great is when V is asked why he won’t die. He responds with, “Ideas can’t die.”
7. CIVIL WAR’S APARTMENT FIGHT
Captain America: Civil War was full of emotions. First there’s Cap trying to save his oldest friend from lasting brainwashing effects, then there’s the whole ally-versus-ally ideological fight happening at the core of the entire film. It’s a lot of fun to watch the masterpiece of a fight when Cap meets Bucky in his apartment and they fight their way through special forces, all the while Cap is trying to keep Bucky from killing.
Bucky puts his bionic arm to work, deflecting bullets in the same manner that Cap uses his shield. Then as he makes his way down the stairwell where Chris Evans makes the audience feel his frustration whenever Bucky nearly kills a soldier. And let’s not forget the bit where we’re introduced to Black Panther for the first time. His agility and speed easily amp up everyone for his first solo outing on the silver screen.
6. THE AIRPORT
While not as grandiose and explosive as the comic book version of “Civil War” this was a truly marvelous moment for the MCU. It had nearly every single “super” in the MCU on the same battleground along with some added surprises. Spider-Man showed up, ushering in his entrance to the MCU. Ant-Man did a thing he had been working on off-screen that could cost him the codename “Ant-Man”. We even saw an android lose its focus because of emotions, nearly costing the life of a comrade.
Far more than jail time was on the line for these characters. It was a battle of philosophies and ideologies. It was a momentous event that tested friendships and lost some loyalty. There were laughs, emotional struggles from the characters and audience alike, and some great choreography between characters with different power-sets.
5. NIGHTCRAWLER ATTACKS THE WHITE HOUSE
Possibly Bryan Singer’s best X-Men movie in the franchise, X2: X-Men United gave us a great opening scene while simultaneously introducing us to a new character. It can’t be easy to choreograph a fight when a character can teleport. Actors have to be looking at the same spot and there can be a lot of confusion once a director yells “action”.
This scene is visually stunning, however, with Nightcrawler’s teleportation animation and the way he comes out of each leap with a predetermined target. You can really see his history as a circus acrobat incorporated into his movements. Bonus points for not using a CGI double especially when he’s running on all fours. There’s something to be said about practical effects, which isn’t easy with a teleporting mutant.
4. BATMAN VS BANE
When a fight scene foregoes playing any kind of score in favor of hearing the breathing and actions from the brawling characters’, you either have a really bad fight scene or something that is next level. The fight between Joker and Batman during their climactic battle in The Dark Knight had Hans Zimmer’s amazing score playing in the background was intense, but when Batman went up against Bane, the audience had to feel the same dread and isolation that Bruce was experiencing.
There was no music to lift you up or give you a glimmer of hope. No light at the end of this tunnel. It was definitely a more grounded fight than we are seeing from the current slate of DC movies, and maybe that’s what makes it so great.
3. WINTER SOLDIER VS CAP IN THE STREETS
The Russo brothers really know how to stage a fight because this is a duel that takes place in several different stages. It starts out as a highway battle with Cap versus multiple Hydra goons where Sam Wilson is covering him from an overpass. It moves into a fight between Black Widow and the Winter Soldier, and then quickly transitions into the brawl that the audience had been waiting for the entire movie.
With Bucky’s bionic fist slamming into Cap’s vibranium shield, it was on. We see some awesome defensive maneuvers by Cap that leads to Bucky ripping the shield from his grasp, giving us some great foreshadowing. Next there’s some truly epic hand-to-hand fighting with some fancy knife wielding on Bucky’s part. And to bring the duel to an end, the Winter Soldier’s mask falls from his face to reveal his true identity.
2. WONDER WOMAN VS SOLDIERS
After we saw her in Batman v Superman it was hard not choosing her fight with Doomsday. It was the first time we saw her in action and there was a twinkle in her eye like she only felt comfortable during combat. It was a great battle, but there is something to be said about her maiden voyage away from Themyscira, before she got that twinkle in her eye and didn’t feel so invincible.
When she runs through the ruined city, deflecting a barrage of bullets with her shield Captain America-style then jumps into a building with a group of unsuspecting German soldiers before sending them back to their maker, that was brilliant. The choreography of her using her shield and gauntlets in unison with her sword, jumping from one end of the room to another, all with that epic score we first heard in BvS. It’s brilliant.
1. SPIDER-MAN VS DOCTOR OCTOPUS
Arguably one of the best Marvel movies in circulation, even when held up against the current MCU, is Spider-Man 2. It had the classic Spider-Man costume, a great story, a multi-layered villain — something missing from a lot of the MCU films — and some spectacular fight scenes. Even the green screen and CGI hold up against the test of time.
All starting out on top of a clock tower where there’s some great choreography that incorporates the hands of the clock, they eventually end up on one of the elevated trains that crosses New York City — talk about having a train to catch. Between having to think fast to squeeze through the railing of an overhead footbridge and having to save passengers as they’re thrown from the train, we really see Spider-Man’s reflexes put to the test.
Do you agree or disagree with this list? Let us know in the comments!
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