With every great superhero movie comes a great superhero battle and topping off most hero films is an epic final confrontation that drives the story home. For today’s continuation of Marvel month I decided to focus on one of the most important aspects of any superhero movie, the final fight. It’s the climactic scene that resolves the central rivalry of the story and allows the hero to finally come face to face with the big baddy or a perceived antagonist. Whether it’s a true hero versus villain confrontation or heroes taking on other heroes, these battles were standouts among the many final fights in Marvel and provided satisfying ends to their respective films. These are my picks for the Top 10 Final Fights in Marvel Movies.
For this list I’m looking at the final battles or confrontations in Marvel films, whether they are physical fights or battles of whit, that brought the stories full circle and gave us the epic showdowns we, the fans, were looking for the entire ride. I am NOT including large scale battles between armies or groups like the Battle of New York from “The Avengers” or the battle on the beach in “X-Men First Class” but rather smaller fights that pit a single hero or small team of heroes against an antagonist.
To make this list these final battles had to be at or near the end of a film and had to be memorable, intense, fun and exciting. To make things fair I limited myself to one battle per series within any given franchise, so each of the different film series within the MCU can have an entry, the “X-Men” trilogy and prequels can have their own entries and so on.
What is your favorite final fight in Marvel movies? Let me know in the comments below and enjoy the list!
10. Iron Man vs. Killian, “Iron Man 3”
“Iron Man 3” might have squandered the chance to take advantage of one of the hero’s most iconic villains in the Mandarin, but if you put aside the movie’s pretty lame twist you still get a neat final battle worthy of an MCU film. After it is revealed that Aldrich Killian is in fact the mind behind the Mandarin Tony Stark sets his sights on Killian and pulls out all the stops, especially when Pepper Potts and the president are taken prisoner. This leads to Tony using the House Party Protocol activating every suit in his arsenal to take on the Extremis-powered Killian eventually culminating in a one-on-one battle that challenges Tony to think outside the suit so to speak to defeat his foe. It’s a fun, action packed battle that allows Tony Stark to shine in a way he never had to before, using his wit and intellect in new ways to overpower Killian and save the day.
9. Blade vs. Frost, “Blade”
Marvel’s original cinematic superhero success story ended with a memorable battle between vampires as Blade finds himself facing off against main villain Deacon Frost, who spent the bulk of the film seeking the power of the vampire blood god La Magra. Frost does in fact gain this power which grants him added strength and speed as well as regenerative abilities giving him the upper hand on Blade especially after the vampire hunter was drained of his blood and weakened. The two engage in a climactic sword battle that is a classic of the 90s and allows both of their skills to shine until Frost shows off his new abilities and is finally defeated by a series of syringes injecting EDTA, an anticoagulant that reacts with vampire blood, into his system causing him to explode. It’s campy and dated yes, but it’s a satisfying final fight for Blade that brings the story of the film full circle in satisfying fashion. It set the stage for darker, more violent villain/hero matchups still to come and properly embraced the mythical and bloody nature of the “Blade” comics and the characters that took him on in the world of vampires.
8. Hulk vs. the Abomination, “The Incredible Hulk”
“Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk” established a theme within the Marvel Cinematic Universe that villains would challenge the heroes with similar superpowers and abilities. For the MCU’s first, and so far only, Hulk-centric film they went with one of the green giant’s most destructive foes, the Abomination. The final battle sees mercenary Emil Blonsky transform into the giant evil beast due to a hunger for power and altered brain chemistry from an improperly replicated version of the Super Soldier Serum. Bruce Banner dives into the Bronx to stop him and destruction ensues as the two massive creatures are well matched, although the anger and added features of the Abomination initially give him the upper hand. It’s only when Betty Ross is put in danger that the Hulk gains enough momentum to take down his foe, although Hulk has enough humanity left in him to avoid outright killing the Abomination in the process. This was an intense battle that concluded an okay addition to the MCU and showed the true destructive power of the Hulk while also implying the dangers of misusing his transformative abilities. It also showcased Hulk’s humanity which would be further explored in subsequent films, a gave us a villain worthy of going head to head with green giant.
7. Spider-Man versus the Green Goblin, “Spider-Man”
I was conflicted which battle I was going to put on this list from Sam Raimi’s original “Spider-Man” trilogy, but it was the first final battle I kept coming back to over and over again. After going toe to toe with Green Goblin for most of the film Peter Parker finally faces off in hard core combat with the Goblin after the villain nearly kills a lift car full of kids and Mary Jane Watson at the same time. The two engage in physical combat in an abandoned building that feels very real and is very well shot, especially for an early 2000s film. In the end the Goblin tries to get the upper hand by using his host, Norman Osborne, to tug at Parker’s heartstrings. Parker’s spider sense allows him to see through the rouse when he senses the Goblin’s glider, spikes protruding, and dodges the device, causing the Goblin to impale himself and die. It’s a classic hero-villain battle that felt like a fitting end to the first live-action “Spider-Man” film and many other movies featuring the hero have tried to replicate it, but none have felt quite a brutal, real, and balanced as this face off.
6. Loki vs. Thor, “Thor”
I played with having the final battle against Hela on this list but felt it didn’t meet my criteria seeing as it included her undead army, so instead I went with this battle from the first “Thor” film. The original sibling rivalry of the MCU, this was a fight that felt significant as we see two characters that had been well developed over the course of the story finally take each other on after completely changing to opposites of who they once were. Thor, a bratty child turned noble hero, has to battle his brother Loki, a confident man now turned power hungry sorcerer, in order to keep him from destroying worlds and eventually harming those Thor cares about on earth. There’s an ever present sense of frustration in Thor as he fights a brother who has lost his way and a reluctance to hurt Loki keeps the God of Thunder from making the killing blow. This sentiment is not shared by Loki however. In the end Thor uses his hammer to pin Loki to the ground and win the battle, a significant act that shows to Loki how unworthy of the thrown he really is. It’s a surprisingly powerful battle with depth and significance that proves superhero fights don’t really have to always be about destruction. They can contain heart and true emotion as well.
5. Black Panther vs. Killmonger, “Black Panther”
The newest battle on this list, “Black Panther” has been an unquestionable hit and part of its success is its revealing of one of the most complex and memorable villains in the MCU to date. Eric Killmonger is the son of royalty after his father was killed by his own brother, King T’Chaka the father of T’Challa aka the Black Panther. Killmonger earned his name from his many kills as a U.S. black-ops soldier and puts everything he learns to use to overthrown his cousin T’Challa, successfully capturing the throne of Wakanda. In the final battle of the film T’Challa makes a stand, revealing that he is still king as Killmonger didn’t kill him and T-Challa didn’t surrender. The two battle it out, one in the Black Panther suit and the other as the Golden Jaguar, eventually leading to a battle in the depths of the Wakandan mines where T’Challa uses the magnetism of transportation trains to his advantage to expose Killmonger and go for the kill. This battle is memorable mainly because both characters are truly evenly matched and the villain has a sympathetic backstory that makes his loss all the more tragic. It’s a fun, well-choreographed fight that closes one of Marvel’s best to date.
4. Star Lord vs. Ego, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2”
When godlike beings go up against each other the results are epic and that is the case here as the final confrontation in “Guardians 2” sees a change of the script for the MCU in a way. Instead of the villain copying the hero’s powers it’s the other way around in this fight as Star Lord is taught by his father Ego, the living planet, throughout the film to harness his powers as the spawn of a celestial. When Star Lord discovers the true plan Ego has put in place he goes toe to toe with his father using the same powers he only recently learned to take on a god-like being with millennia of experience. Through creativity Star Lord is able to fend off and distract his father long enough for a bomb to be planted on his brain in the planet’s core destroying quite literally one of the strongest beings in the MCU. While I could give the Guardians as a whole credit for this fight, the final actual battle is specifically between Star Lord and Ego and it makes for an epic confrontation that requires both fighters to think outside the box. They’re perfectly matched and there’s a subtext underneath it all that is mesmerizing as Star Lord has to destroy someone he spent much of his life trying to find. It’s a battle complimented by comedy and tension and tests both fighters to their limits despite one’s infinite experience over the other.
3. Doctor Strange vs. Dormammu, “Doctor Strange”
While it may not be the most epic fight on this list, the showdown between Doctor Strange and Dormammu is this high on the list due to creativity alone. Throughout the 2016 MCU film about a surgeon turned sorcerer it seems like the villain Kaecilius is the big baddy but there is a bigger evil at hand in Dormammu, an otherworldly being who rules the Dark Dimension where time does not exist. While the final battle between Strange and Dormammu it’s a unique where Strange realizes that in order to save the Hong Kong sanctum and the world he has to confront Dormammu in the Dark Dimension himself and uses the Eye of Agamotto, a time-altering item infused with the time Infinity Stone, to trap himself and Dormammu in a time loop forcing the being to kill Strange over an over again until the end of existence unless he meets Strange’s demands. Strange gets what he wants in the end and Dormammu leaves, but not before the villain is subjected to a power beyond his comprehension as he has no understanding of the limits of time. It’s a clever twist that makes this battle more about brains than brawn and has Strange defeat his enemy using a unique form of magic rather than resorting to a fistfight like almost every other battle on this list. The MCU tends to lean heavily on villains with similar powers to the hero and final fights that come to fisticuffs, but “Doctor Strange” is different. We see a hero use a power the villain can’t understand offering him an ultimatum that Strange will suffer in the world’s place but Dormammu will be trapped in that moment unless he gives in. It’s a fantastic end to an underrated MCU entry.
2. Wolverine vs. the X-24, “Logan”
There’s a lot to love about 2017’s “Logan”. It’s one of the best “X-Men” films overall and brings Wolverine’s heartbreaking story of hurt and redemption full circle. The final villain for the film plays perfectly into that theme. Throughout the story we see Logan reluctantly help his female clone named Laura, aka X-23, escape the Alkali-Transigen corporation. As the film draws towards its climax a new villain is revealed, an exact clone of Logan called X-24 that lacks any of Logan’s humanity and is pure rage and aggression. The climactic fight truly stands out as Logan literally has to battle himself, an all-too-real representation of the inner fight Wolverine has faced from his very first appearance in the franchise. X-24 is faster, stronger, and more determined than Logan. He’s so strong he actually impales Logan with a tree branch, severely wounding Wolverine before going in for the kill. This is the only battle on this list where the hero truly loses although Laura rescues Logan thanks to an adamantium bullet Logan had actually saved for himself in the chance he wanted to end it all. The battle is a tough one to watch and one with a lot of symbolic undertone that eventually leads to the most emotional scene in the movie. X-24 might not be the most memorable villain on this list and he might be repetitive in some ways, but he proved to be a great enemy for Logan to face in his final moments as the old and the new face off in a truly epic battle to the death through pure strength and determination.
1. Captain American and The Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man, “Captain America: Civil War”
The granddaddy of all superhero showdowns, there is a spectacular irony that this list would be topped by a battle that is not between a true villain and a hero, but rather a conflict of heroes against heroes. Tony Stark does play a villain-like role in “Civil War” as his guilt over the destruction the Avenger have caused leads him to push for the signing of the Sokovia Accords, a document preventing the Avengers from acting without government consent. Captain America is opposed to this move and as the film progresses we see an underlying plot by Helmut Zemo to further turn the Captain and Iron Man against each other using Steve Rogers’ friend Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier. In the finale Zemo finally reveals to Stark that it was Bucky, under the control of Hydra, who killed Stark’s parents leading Iron Man to lose control of his emotions and try to destroy the Winter Solider. Unable to see his best friend harmed by another friend Rogers steps in leading to a two on one battle that quickly becomes simply Captain America versus Iron Man. It’s one of the most epic battles in all of Marvel and all the superhero genre in general with so much subtext it’s impossible not to feel for either character. With callbacks to previous films and plenty of character moments that add to the depth of the fight, this battle between friends is more epic than almost any battle between enemies and capped off a brilliantly made film that kicked off the third Phase of the MCU. It’s also a battle that sets the stage for the status of the Avengers going into Infinity War and leaves a rift between two former allies who led the world’s mightiest heroes for so long. It’s fun to watch and deeply significant in both the big and small picture making it by far the best final fight Marvel has produced to date.