While final battles are an important part of superhero movies many incorporate team fights or even all out war into the narrative making for even larger scale conflicts that top off their stories. Those are the focus of today’s list to continue Marvel Month as I countdown to Marvel’s most ambitious film yet, “Avengers: Infinity War”. While a hero or heroes versus the villain makes for fun bouts sometimes it takes more heroes AND more villains to fully flesh out the conflicts in some of Marvel’s feature films and considering “Infinity War” promises to bring about one of the best all out wars in Marvel and superhero film history I wanted to take a closer look at other larger conflicts Marvel has brought to life. These are my picks for the Top 10 Marvel Group Battles & Wars in Film.
For this list I focused on any large-scale battle in Marvel movies that involved multiple heroes AND villains or multiple heroes fighting a villain and their army. I included any conflict where teams of villains fought teams of heroes as long as there were more than two villains and heroes on either side of the conflict respectively. The villains can be made up of an army led by a single main antagonist, as long as it’s more than one against more than one hero. What that means is battles like the Winter Soldier and Captain America versus Iron Man were not included because that involved a pair of heroes against a single opponent. Also, War Machine and Iron Man’s fight against Whiplash and his drones was excluded because that incorporated only two heroes. Get the picture? Also I did lift my one per series within a franchise rule for this film HOWEVER only one conflict per film will be allowed.
These battles weren’t simply graded based on scale as some smaller conflicts will be placed above much larger ones as you’ll soon see. Rather these battles and wars were graded based on the intensity and entertainment value of the fights, the stakes at hand, fan service and a bit of my own personal bias for some spice. If you’d like my take on some of Marvel’s more small scale fights you can read my list of the Top 10 Final Fights in Marvel Movies here. We’ll have to see next week if “Infinity War” can top all of these conflicts and live up to its bold name.
What’s you’re favorite Marvel group battle or wear in film? Let me know in the comments below and enjoy the list!
10. The Helicarrier Battle, “Deadpool”
In the climactic final battle of “Deadpool”, one that included a final showdown between Deadpool and Ajax that just barely missed my Final Fights countdown, the fourth wall breaking antihero teams up with X-Men Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead to take on Ajax, Angel Dust and a team of trained mercenaries to save Deadpool’s girlfriend. This battle sees the trio of heroes outnumbered greatly, but they divide and conquer their way to victory. While Colossus takes on the unstoppable Angel Dust, Negasonic Teenage Warhead provides backup and Deadpool handles the mercenaries with comedic results before going head to head with Ajax himself. It’s an amusing fight that showcases the best of each hero and villain’s powers nicely and reaching epic scale when those powers cause the helicarrier that is the centerpiece of the fight to topple. The only reason it’s not higher on this list is because it’s a shorter battle with a little less substance than most still to come, but it’s still plenty of fun and I couldn’t leave it out after shunning “Deadpool” in my previous list.
9. The Beach Fight, “X-Men: First Class”
When Fox decided to reboot the “X-Men” franchise with a prequel series exploring the origins of the mutant team everyone expected an epic first showing of their teamwork as they took on their opponents, a new team of mutants predating Magneto’s brotherhood called the Hellfire Club. We get just that in this 2011 film as Xavier and his first team of mutant heroes including himself, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, Havok and Banshee take on Sabastian Shaw and his allies in the Hellfire Club made up of Riptide, Angel and Azazel. The battle becomes a war of ideals as each mutant takes on an opponent and everyone seems evenly matched until the more coordinated efforts of the X-Men gives them the upper hand. The battle culminates to a showdown with Shaw where Magneto finally embraces his preference for mutant kind over humanity but also takes the opportunity to have revenge for his mother’s death. It’s a battle that sets the stage for an entire franchise to play out and draws lines in the sands, quite literally, while also establishing the fear humanity has for mutants when two warring factions of humanity turn their weapons on the beach to destroy all the mutants. It might be on a smaller scale than other X-Men showdowns, but it remains one of the best.
8. The Battle at the Statue of Liberty, “X-Men”
Considering the nature of this list you knew a lot of entries would be focused on the “X-Men” films. This third entry from the franchise comes from the very first film which sees Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants face off against the X-Men at the Statue of Liberty while Magneto puts his plan to expose the mutant gene in a congress of world leaders into place. In an attempt to reach the main villain X-Men Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey and Storm battle Brotherhood members Toad, Mystique and Sabretooth throughout the interior of the statue and, eventually, at the top of the structure with each mutant, good or evil, having the opportunity to show the extent of their powers and skills. Composed of a series of one-on-one battles as well as a team-oriented effort to end Magneto’s plot and rescue Rogue, this final showdown in one of the original superhero hits from Marvel is still memorable today and perfectly balances every character, giving everyone something to do and significance in the fight without feeling forced. It’s fun fanfare that allows the powers of some of the series’ most iconic bad guys and good guys to finally shine.
7. Warriors of Asgard versus the Frost Giants, “Thor”
The “Thor” films have plenty of highlight fights and one of the coolest is also one of the earliest in the franchise. The first “Thor” movies showcases the maturing of the titular hero, but early on in the movie he’s a spoiled would-be king looking for a fight and he finds it when he takes revenge on the Frost Giants of Jotunheim when some of their forces invade Asgard to retrieve a weapon. Thor is joined by the Warriors Three, Lady Sif and his brother Loki in invading Jotunheim. The group comes face to face with Laufey, the Frost Giant King, and the takes on the full force of Laufey’s army as well as a giant native beast. The battle establishes Thor’s ego and just how much more level headed his friends are compared to him. It also gives us an early look at his true power and abilities and sets the stage for Thor’s banishment as his losing efforts lead his father Oden to intervene and reveal that Thor has put peace at risk by selfishly seeking out revenge for an isolated incident. Not only do we get to see Thor’s power come into play, but we even come to understand the capabilities of the Warriors Three, Sif and Loki giving us a fun and worthy introduction to the heroes we spend our time with throughout the film as any good first conflict should do.
6. Ultron’s Vibranium Heist, “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
I could have gone with the final fight against Ultron and his army of robots in “Age of Ultron”, but instead I went with a much smaller scale confrontation and one that, for me, was much more satisfying as a whole. Before Ultron makes his move to create his ultimate body, he needs the material and he finds it in the hands of Ulysses Klaue in the form of vibranium, the same metal that made Captain America’s shield. To stop him the Avengers make the trip to Klaue’s hideout and confront Ultron for the second time in the film. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow face Ultron, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver within the body of a broken-down barge using their environments and abilities to get the upper hand against each other multiple times. The battle is only settled briefly when Iron Man managed to take out Ultron’s new body and Captain America subdues Quicksilver, but Scarlet Witch makes the final blow when she induces hallucinations in most of the heroes and forces the Hulk to rampage through a nearby city. While the final war against Ultron is a fun and lengthy conflict, this battle is the most fun and exciting showdown of the film with fun one-liners and a showcase of the true threat Ultron and his super powered friends pose to the Avengers. It presents everyone, hero or villain, on a level playing field. Weaknesses are explored and strengths embraced as we learn that it will take more than the same old tricks for the Avengers to win in the end.
5. The Revengers Versus Hela and Her Undead Army, “Thor: Ragnarok”
“Thor: Ragnarok” is the culmination of the God of Thunder’s adventures in the MCU with Thor going up against his sister, the diabolical and destructive Hela who is the Goddess of Death. Being such, she has the power to resurrect the fallen warriors of Asgard and in Thor’s absence she does just that, bringing an undead army to life to conquer the city for herself. In the climax of the film Thor returns, but he’s not alone. He has Valkyrie, Hulk and Loki by his side, a team he affectionately nicknames The Revengers. With an army of undead and Hela herself along with her massive wolf Fenris pushing them to their limits the Revengers fight on in a combination of one-on-one conflicts and one-against-many battles that even comes to include Hela’s servant Skurge and former gladiators that Thor helped free earlier in the movie. It takes everyone’s effort to take down Hela’s forces one by one and eventually it takes an unbelievable sacrifice by Thor and his people to stop Hela herself, but up until her demise the final battle is utter chaos and a war for the fate of a people and, likely, an entire universe. Hela is to date one of the most formidable foes the MCU has produced and this battle perfectly defines just how big of a threat she is and everything she is capable of.
4. The Last Stand at Alcatraz, “X-Men: The Last Stand”
There’s not a lot that fans tend to love about the final film in the original “X-Men” trilogy, but one of the better moments is the final fight between the X-Men team, including Beast, Wolverine, Storm, Iceman, Colossus and Kitty Pryde, and the Brotherhood of Mutants led by Magneto. We see countless mutants involved in this fight including main foes Pyro and Juggernaut as well as some smaller mutants from the comics that remain unnamed but are cool nods to the source material. While “The Last Stand” as a whole was a disappointing mess the climactic fight that gives the film its name is a fun showdown to behold as the X-Men face a much larger army of powered beings than they could provide themselves. It provides a lot of fanfare and it’s a great showcase of the many abilities of the characters that make up the X-Men universe. Although “The Last Stand” failed to effectively adapt the main conflict against the Phoenix it did provide this consolation prize that was several films in the making forcing the outnumbered X-Men to pull all of their tricks out of the bag to stop their own kind in a war of attrition like no other.
3. The Wakandan Civil War, “Black Panther”
“Black Panther” has been groundbreaking in its success in theaters and while it offers a lot of great action scenes and battles the climactic fight, which sees the forces loyal to Killmonger and those still loyal to T’Challa, the rightful Black Panther and King, tops them all. This civil war pits several of T’Challa’s former allies who chose the side of Killmonger, including T’Challa’s friend W’Kabi and his army, against the Dora Milaje who remain loyal to T’Challa as the true King and the newly allied Jabari who T’Challa bonded with after his initial defeat at Killmonger’s hands. The resulting war pits the factions against each other in tribal style war, mixing technology with traditional weapons for an all-out brawl. Spears, arrows, blasters and even rhinos are brought into the fight which eventually culminates in a one-on-one battle between T’Challa and Killmonger in the Wakandan mines. It’s an amazing showing of Wakandan culture as the tribes of the nation face off against each other in a war of wits and ideals for the future of not only their own land but the world as a whole. It’s likely the biggest battle Wakanda has ever seen…at least until the even larger battle against Thanos’ forces takes place in “Infinity War” that is.
2. War of New York, “The Avengers”
How could this not be on this list? The climactic battle of the first “Avengers” movie sees Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye team up for the first time to take on the alien army of the Chitauri and Thor’s brother Loki. It’s a large-scale conflict that shows off the best of every hero involved and the truly destructive potential of the alien race and it’s the first true sign to the team that there is a much larger evil at hand in the universe. The battle stays within the confines of New York City and over the course of the extensive war we see every one of our heroes show off their talents and skills properly with no member feeling wasted or out of place and even Loki himself gets in on the action for a little while. This is the showdown we were promised for years and it’s still as satisfying as ever today to see these heroes come together to put an end to an invasion that could have gotten out of hand at any moment. This battle is the very definition of an epic superhero war, but despite its legacy and the fantastic attention to detail brought to it to make sure every Avenger gets involved there is one battle that stands above it and the rest on this list and was possibly even more anticipated than all of these fights combined.
1. The Airport Showdown, “Captain American: Civil War”
It could never be anything else. Bringing together most of the expanded MCU lineup that we’d come to see since the first “Avengers” movie, this battle takes place in an airport in Leipzig as Steve Rogers attempts to make an escape with his friend Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, who is still wanted for the murder of the King of Wakanda. With the true enemy on the run Captain America enlists the help of Ant-Man, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch to help himself, Winter Soldier and Falcon fend off their opponents, who just happen to be their friends. Instructed by General Ross to bring in Rogers and Barnes Tony Stark enlists War Machine, Vision, Black Widow, Black Panther and Spider-man to engage leading to possibly the most epic showdown in superhero history to date. Both sides bring their A-games showing off old and new tricks as they try to one-up each other and the context of the fight makes it that much more fun as we know that these heroes don’t want to hurt each other, but their hands are tied. It’s a true civil war that leads to devastating realities for all involved, whether that’s incarceration, injury, or being put on a wanted list. Seeing heroes battle the villains is easy to appreciate because in good versus evil, good usually wins. But here, it’s good versus good where everyone truly believes what they are doing is for the greater good which makes this fight all the more epic, emotionally charged and significant. It’s only the icing on the cake that it’s so well shot and choreographed to boot.