WELCOME TO MARVEL MONTH EVERYBODY!!! You know for a franchise about superheroes there sure is an awful lot of in fighting within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Over the years Marvel has shown us several times in the MCU that even superheroes fight among themselves from time to time and it can get pretty brutal. In fact, some of the MCU’s best battles have come between heroes who are supposed to be on the same team. These are the battles I’m going to focus on today as to kick off Marvel Month 2.0. Whether due to magic spells, differing ideologies, misunderstandings or otherwise we’ve seen many of Marvel’s biggest heroes clash, sometimes in small spats and other times in grand set pieces, adding to the depth and fun of their respective films. Regardless of the reason these fights have helped humanize the characters and add to the depth of the MCU. So let’s take a look at which ones stand out the most. These are my picks for the Top 10 Hero vs. Hero Battles in the MCU.
For this list I’m only looking at infighting among the big screen heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I didn’t look at simple wars of words like Steve Rogers’ and Tony Stark’s verbal spat in “The Avengers”. I specifically looked at conflicts that came to fisticuffs and resulted in an actual fight no matter how brief. I considered not only how much fun and/or interesting the fight was, but also the underlying emotional impact and significance of these conflicts.
Before I get to the list I have two honorable mentions this time around:
– Thor vs. Hulk Round 1, “The Avengers”
– Guardians of the Galaxy vs. Ironman, Dr. Strange and Spider-Man, “Avengers: Infinity War”
What is your favorite hero versus hero battle in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let me know in the comments below and enjoy the list!
10. Guardians vs. Guardians, “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Every dream team has to start somewhere. When it comes to the Guardians of the Galaxy their start comes from a conflict on Xandar when Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, tries to sell the orb containing the Power Infinity Stone. He meets Gamora for the first time who is trying to retrieve the orb to betray her surrogate father Thanos while Rocket Raccoon and Groot are hunting Peter Quill for a bounty on his head. This leads to a fun and often hilarious conflict between all these soon to be Guardians as Quill tries to keep the orb, Gamora tries to steal it, and Rocket and Groot try to capture their prey. It’s a cool showcase of all of their abilities as they seek to one-up each other helping us understand where each of their talents will fit into the larger team.
9. Thor vs. Hulk Round 2, “Thor: Ragnarok”
Hulk and Thor have had an interesting relationship since meeting in “The Avengers”. While the conflict between them starts in that movie, it’s their second face-off that truly shines. The battle between Thor and Hulk in the gladiator ring of Sakaar was a heavy selling point in the promotions for “Thor: Ragnarok” and while the fight is brief it’s enjoyable nonetheless as the two warriors go head to head providing plenty of entertainment for the crowd. It’s also the first showcase of Thor’s hidden power to summon and utilize lightning without the help of his hammer. Thor comes close to winning but the battle it cut short by the Grandmaster before an official victor can be crowned. Oh and who can forget that now-iconic “he’s a friend from work” line before the heroes fight? Classic!
8. Iron Man and Captain America vs. Thor, “The Avengers”
As I said earlier, every dream team has to start somewhere and this is the moment in the first “Avengers” film where the three main pieces of the titular team are all together for the first time. Thor’s brother Loki has been apprehended by Iron Man and Captain America, but Thor wants to take Loki into justice himself. The God of Thunder arrives and steals Loki leading Iron Man and Cap to pursue him. The three engage in a brief battle where they show how equally matched they are despite their own specific advantages and abilities. It’s a neat scene battle that shows how much these heroes will have to grow to trust each other if they want to win the day. These are three separate egos that have no idea the true threat Loki represents but thanks to this battle they now have an understanding of each other that later becomes an important part of their teamwork in New York.
7. Black Panther vs. Captain America and The Winter Soldier, “Captain America: Civil War”
Staying with “Civil War”, this battle makes for a cool introduction to one of the newest heroes in the MCU. I could go paragraphs setting up what leads to this incident but to summarize, T’Challa, aka Black Panther, is shown on screen in uniform for the first time as he hunts down Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, who he blames for his father’s death. Captain America seeks to bring Bucky into custody first and thus everyone engages in battle and an awesome chase scene ensues. While most of the actual hand-to-hand combat takes place between Black Panther and Bucky, Cap and Panther’s attempts to outsmart each other only adds to this exhilarating sequence of events. It’s a great action set piece filled with car wrecks and badass choreography that showcase the abilities of all three characters, including Black Panther’s for the first time. Eventually the chaos is ended by War Machine’s interference but not before the first hero versus hero battle of many in “Civil War” sets the stage for what’s still to come.
6. Vision vs. Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch, “Captain America: Civil War”
Staying with “Civil War”, one of the battles that stands out for me is actually among the most overlooked. As Captain America recruits heroes to his side to take on Team Iron Man he sends Hawkeye to recruit Scarlet Witch from Avengers HQ who is guarded by her love interest, Vision. Hawkeye is caught in the act however and it proven to be no match for Vision. We then get an important character moment from Scarlet Witch who uses her powers to drive Vision into the Earth commenting that while Vision might care about how she is perceived she can no longer let that stop her from doing what she feels it right. It’s a moment with a lot of emotional resonance and character development worked in making it one of the more personal conflicts in the entire franchise. It’s also the first time we see Scarlet Witch’s ability to manipulate the Mind Stone, something that would play into “Avengers: Infinity War”.
5. Black Widow vs. Hawkeye, “The Avengers”
What’s that saying Dumbledore used in “Harry Potter”? It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies but even more to stand up to your friends? That fits perfectly with this next battle from the first “Avengers” movie where long time partners and best friends Black Widow and Hawkeye face off. As Loki makes his escape from the Helicarrier a brainwashed Hawkeye is left behind to take on Black Widow who tries to talk some sense into her friend. The two engage in hand to hand combat where they are perfectly matched since they have awareness of each other’s capabilities. The battle is only ended after Black Widow slams Hawkeye’s head into a metal bar, “re-calibrating” his brain as she puts it and breaking the hold of what we discover in later movies to be the Mind Infinity Stone. It’s a fun bout between friends that also acts as an important moment of character development to establish the deeper connection between the two Avengers.
4. Hulk vs. the Hulkbuster, “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
In terms of property damage this hero versus hero fight may be the most destructive on this list. The Hulkbuster armor was teased in the “Avengers: Age of Ultron” trailer hinting that Tony Stark would have to go face to face with the Hulk at some point in the film. That conflict is sparked by Scarlet Witch who, at the time, is working for Ultron and implants illusions into many of the Avengers including Bruce Banner causing him to Hulk out and go on a rampage through Johannesburg. Iron Man dawns his largest armored suit designed specifically to take on the Hulk, thus the name Hulkbuster, and a battle begins that leads to property damage, a few moments of comedic levity, and even an entire building being destroyed before Iron Man knocks out the Hulk. It’s an epic showdown that adds to a major setback for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and puts them at their lowest point as they prepare for a rematch against Ultron later in the film.
3. Iron Man vs. War Machine, “Iron Man 2”
The first hero versus hero battle in the MCU, the fight between Iron Man and War Machine is not only significant to the characters but also serves as the first sign of in-fighting in the lager Marvel universe. This battle comes as Tony Stark is suffering from palladium poisoning and feels he is on death’s door. He decides to live it up at his birthday party using the Iron Man suit as a prop. Disgusted by Tony’s actions his best friend Rhodey dons the Mark II prototype suit, forces the guests out of the house and tries to restrain Tony. It’s Iron Man versus Iron Man as the two battle it out through Tony’s house before they fire repulser blasters at the same time resulting in an explosion and a stalemate. Rhodey takes the Mark II with him as a sign that Tony can no longer be trusted with his invention. It’s a moment that symbolically represents Tony allowing Rhodey to take the Iron Man mantel as Stark thinks he is going to die while it literally represents the mental break that helps Tony fully realize his responsibilities as a hero.
2. Captain America and the Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man, “Captain America: Civil War”
When you think of hero versus hero battles in the MCU with emotional weight and creative choreography this is a battle that pays off in pretty much every way. Iron Man and Captain America face off in the final fight of “Civil War” with Tony Stark realizing that Bucky Barnes killed his parents while brainwashed by Hydra. Steve Rogers wants to protect both of his friends, Bucky from Tony’s wrath and Tony from the pain of his parents’ fates, but this backfires as Stark loses control of his emotions and seeks revenge against Barnes. The three-way battle eventually comes down to Cap and Iron Man fighting it out one on one including an awesome recreation of an iconic image from the “Civil War” comic. It’s an intense battle between friends as well as the two most iconic characters in the MCU that showcases their abilities like never before. It’s also packed with emotional subtext that examines the personal journeys of both characters through subtle callbacks to their previous conflicts.
1. The Airport Battle, “Captain America: Civil War”
You all knew this was going to top this list, don’t lie. There are few fights more iconic in the MCU than the airport battle, the most epic moment in “Captain America: Civil War” that sees nearly every major hero introduced to that point face off in a battle of Team Iron Man versus Team Captain America. Even Spider-Man makes his MCU debut. The conflict is the result of many factors, including the introduction of the Sokovia Accords, that split the Avengers apart based on ideals before Captain American and The Winter Soldier set out to stop the real villain of the story. With War Machine, Spider-Man, Vision, Black Widow, and Black Panther joining Iron Man and Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Falcon and The Winter Soldier on Cap’s side this battle of heroes takes things to a whole new level as each team member takes on a different opponent resulting in a perfect showcase of their individual abilities and even some powers never seen before. While there have been many moments where heroes have come to fisticuffs in the MCU, no battle has ever been as epic or as impactful to the franchise as a whole as this one.