Thanksgiving is here, and with it probably comes a few fights around the dinner table once Cousin Jason has a few beers in him and starts talking about how we need to secure the border. If you're looking for a distraction, I suggest taking a look at some much more entertaining fights than spoon-launching some mashed potatoes at the resident racist. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought some of the greatest fights scenes ever in American cinema. Today, we're going to look at the ten best.
Note: I am using "Marvel Cinematic Universe" very broadly here. Over the past year and a half, I've been watching literally every Marvel film and TV show released since 1986 to try and establish what is and is not canon. It's a work in progress, but that is why several fights from outside the official Marvel "phases" appear.
Honorable Mention: Howard the Duck vs. Goons
Yes, Howard the Duck is rightfully reviled as a terrible film, but it's far from the worst thing Marvel ever produced on screen. It also has one of the most comic accurate fight scenes for any Marvel character period. When musician Beverly Switzler is accosted by the most 1980s criminals on the planet, Howard steps in with some of his patented quack fu and utterly annihilates them. It's cheesy as hell, but it perfectly shows off the Howard from the comics exactly as he was often portrayed.
10. Vision vs. Vision
Not every fight is fought with punches and lasers. In this stunning finale for WandaVision, the magical construct version of Vision faces off against his counterpart built by the U.S. Government from his remains. Rather than trading blows, they engage in a tense discussion about identity that is as calculated as any boxing match. Using the thought experiment known as The Ship of Theseus, Vision overpowers his own programming to cause an existential crisis. It's an incredible bit of writing that shows why WandaVision is still the best show Marvel has produced.
9. Shang-Chi vs. Razor Fist
It's no surprise that Marvel's preeminent kung fu master would have some killer fight scenes in his movie. The bus fight is the first time we really see what Shang-Chi can do, and it is absolutely mesmerizing. Once Razor Fist gets involved, it turns into a combination of Speed and a Jackie Chan flick, plus the bystander commentary adds a fun level of hilarity to it.
8. Iron Man vs. Hulk
The best part of Avengers: Age of Ultron is when Tony Stark calls on his Hulkbuster armor to combat an out of control Hulk. Driven mad by the Scarlet Witch, Hulk loses it in a busy city center and has to be put down by Iron Man. The two have a fight that literally hits so hard the sound waves shatter windows. Tony slowly learning how effective the prototype is and is not over the course of the fight is a very funny bonus.
7. Daredevil vs. Goons
Often dubbed simply "The Hallway Fight," this one-take fight scene of Matt Murdoch taking on a kidnapping ring has become one of the most influential action sequences of the last decade. A brutal, claustrophobic fight that seems to hurt Daredevil as much as it does the goons he pounds into submission, it's now a template for how to craft an impactful battle without CGI or major effects. Expect to see iterations on this fight for years to come.
6. Domino vs. Goons
It's always neat to see an unconventional power set get perfectly portrayed on the screen. I almost gave this slot to Karnak's fight scene from Inhumans, partially just so that stinker of a series could have a win, but Domino hijacking a truck is just objectively better. Her luck powers lead to a Rube Goldberg of ridiculous coincidences that is just a joy to watch, especially since Deadpool is narrating how it can't possibly work the whole time. Here's looking forward to another round of lucky nonsense in Deadpool III.
5. Captain America vs The Winter Solider
This whole list could have been Captain America fights since he is Marvel's best melee warrior and his battle scenes always reflect that. If we have to narrow it down to one single encounter, his fight on the highway with The Winter Soldier stands out above the rest. It's a high octane back and forth that only gets better on repeated viewings. What it lacks in the innovative staging from the elevator fight or the sheer triumphant fun of Cap wielding Mjolnir against Thanos, it makes up for being such a precise dance of violence.
4. Cloak and Dagger vs. Goons
Cloak and Dagger is the best Marvel show no one watched, and it's a damn shame. This fight scene from the second season still gives me chills. After temporarily being robbed of her light powers and falling into despair, Dagger is trapped in a sex trafficking ring thinking Cloak has abandoned her. Just when things get really grim, he crashes a truck into the motel she's being held at as her powers return. What follows is a jaw-dropping sequence where the two dismantle the enterprise with righteous fury, including a fantastic use of Cloak's teleportation powers. It's not as flashy as some other fights, but it's emotional impact is gargantuan.
3. Quicksilver vs. Goons
Calling this a fight scene is probably not technically accurate, but there's no arguing it's now one of the most famous use of powers scenes in superhero film history. During a jailbreak, Quicksilver activates his superspeed and calmly saves Professor X, Wolverine, and Magneto from a band of trigger happy guards. Set to Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle," it's both whimsical and engaging watching Quicksilver move casually run up walls and move bullets out of the way with a smile on his face. This scene has several imitators in X-Men sequels, but none did it as well as it was done the first time.
2. Legion vs. Shadow King
Legion was a show with an incredible presentation and some very poor plotting, otherwise known as Bryan Fuller Syndrome. By the third season, this meant half the show was more music video than ongoing narrative. That said, a psychic battle has never been done better than when Legion finally confronted Shadow King on the Astral Plane. Backed by a killer cover of "Behind Blue Eyes," the two engage in a duel of symbolism represented by animated combatants in the bleak sky above them. Garish and psychedelic, it was the high point of the whole show and an unforgettable battle.
1. Thor and Kids vs. Gorr the God Butcher
I'd be the first to say that Thor: Love and Thunder was nowhere near as good as I hoped it would be, but the final fight scene brought me to tears. With the fate of the universe at stake, Thor lends some of his godly power to a group of kidnapped children, turning random junk around the room into cosmic weapons. With the ending of "November Rain" blaring at full volume, the kids take on a room full of monsters, including one little girl who fights with a glowing stuffed rabbit. It's chaotic, beautiful, and one of the most hopeful moments in the entire MCU. The combination of pure comic book action and high-stakes combat using formerly traumatized children fighting back makes it the best fight scene Marvel has done so far.
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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.