13 movie frenemies who need to watch their backs

Friends like these

There’s no betrayal like that of a good friend, and no friendship like that between former enemies. The latest big frenemy bust-up to hit the big screen is between Captain America and Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War (opens in new tab), but once you start looking, that kind of love/hate relationship is everywhere. 

This list pulls together 13 of the movies’ best frenemies – friends who kill one another, enemies who save one another, and everything in between. Grit your teeth, think about that one friend you actually can’t stand, and click through.

13. Sarah Connor and the T-800

The frenemies: In the first Terminator movie, the T-800 was sent to kill Sarah Connor. In the sequel, though, the same cyborg has been programmed to protect her, and the former foes team up to defeat a bigger threat – the T-1000.

What keeps them together: Mostly, the reprogramming the T-800 has received at the hands of the future version of Sarah’s son, John.

Most emotional moment: The T-800 decides it’s best for Sarah (and everyone) if it’s terminated, so at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it lets Sarah and John lower it into a vat of molten metal. That’s the power of friendship for you.

12. Johnny Utah and Bodhi

The frenemies: Rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah goes undercover with a group of criminal surfers and, inevitably, ends up befriending the charismatic Bodhi. Except, of course, he’s planning to arrest him as soon as he can prove Bodhi’s the leader of the bank-robbing ex-Presidents. 

What keeps them together: Partly Utah’s assignment, but mostly the love of the sport. Turns out not even uptight Feds can resist the lure of the perfect wave.

Most emotional moment: Despite having established Bodhi’s a baddie, Utah can’t bring himself to shoot his friend, and unloads his clip into the sky instead. Arrrrrrghhhhh!

11. Neil McCauley and Lt. Vincent Hanna

The frenemies: Another cop/criminal frenemy situation in Heat (1995), here Neil McCauley is the hardened career criminal and Lt. Hanna is the law enforcer charged with bringing him down.

What keeps them together: A twisted kind of mutual respect, plus recognition of their common humanity. After the two men sit down for a coffee and a chat about the pressures of their respective careers on their personal lives, their status as friends-who’ll-have-to-kill-one-another is cemented.

Most emotional moment: Though their rivalry leads Hanna to fatally shoot McCauley, he sticks around to hold his hand while he dies. Aww.


10. Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner

The frenemies: Seafaring rascal Jack Sparrow first teamed up with earnest blacksmith Will Turner to break an ancient pirate curse – and to save Will’s sweetheart, who’d been inconveniently captured by ghost pirates.

What keeps them together: Necessity, mostly, but the two build a grudging friendship after adventuring together. Plus they save one another’s lives so often it’d be hard not to develop at least a bit of affection for one another.

Most emotional moment: In The Curse Of The Black Pearl, when the Royal Navy attempts to arrest Jack, Will steps between them, declaring Jack “a good man.” Jack’s not generally one to get emotional, but he probably feels the same way. 

9. Thor and Loki

The frenemies: Technically, these two are actually ‘brenemies’ – they’re (adopted) brothers. Thor is the law-abiding god of thunder and who’s set to become king of Asgard, while god of mischief Loki has his own designs on the Asgardian throne.

What keeps them together: Brotherly love? Maybe on Thor’s side, sometimes. But generally when the two of them team up it’s because there’s a bigger threat to deal with. 

Most emotional moment: In Thor: The Dark World (2013), Thor thinks Loki’s sacrificed his life to save him, and it all gets a bit emotional. Shame this is still the trickster god we’re talking about here.

8. Legolas and Gimli

The frenemies: Elves and dwarves don’t tend to get along in the Tolkienverse, due to a combination of ancient wars and petty rivalries. So when Legolas and Gimli are both chosen to be part of the Fellowship of the Ring, the passive aggressive arguing kicks off.

What keeps them together: Being part of a nine-strong group setting out to defeat the Dark Lord Sauron helps. Facing off against unimaginable danger pushes them first into grudging friendship and finally into a brothers-in-arms kind of bond.

Most emotional moment: When they’re facing almost certain death in battle in Return Of The King, and acknowledge that, despite all the bickering, they really are friends now.

7. Maverick and Iceman

The frenemies: Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Tom “Iceman” Kazansky are rival pilots at Naval Air Station Miramar. As his name suggests, Maverick tends to take risks while flying; Iceman’s more of a stickler for established procedures; unsurprisingly, they don’t get on.

What keeps them together: This is one of those relationships that’s characterised more by tension than anything else. The Top Gun program means they can’t escape one another, even though they only come to respect one another during a super tense assignment right at the end of the film.

Most emotional moment: “You can be my wingman any time.” Enough said. 

6. Peter Parker and Harry Osborn

The frenemies: Childhood BFFs Harry and Peter come into conflict for a variety of reasons: because they’re both interested in the same girl; because Harry’s father seems to like Peter more than he likes his own son; and because one of them’s a superhero and the other has decided to use his powers for evil.

What keeps them together: A long history of friendship – growing up together forges a bond that’s hard to break even when they’ve both got superpowers and are trying to kill each other.

Most emotional moment: In Spider-Man 3, Harry ultimately sacrifices himself to save Peter, and dies as MJ and Peter hold his hands. Sniff.

5. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi

The frenemies: Obi-Wan is saddled with Anakin as a padawan after his old master says it’s his dying wish for the boy to be trained. And after years of training, the two of them have become friends … but then it all goes horribly wrong because Anakin is mostly terrible.

What keeps them together: Obligation, then friendship, and more generally, being Jedi. The relationship is irreparably damaged when Anakin becomes a Sith Lord and changes his name to Darth Vader.

Most emotional moment: In Revenge of the Sith, after a long fight on a lava planet, Obi-Wan walks away from his maimed friend, leaving him to his fate. Which turns out to have been a really bad decision.

4. Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed

The frenemies: Apollo Creed was an unbeaten boxer before Rocky came along. Getting knocked down for the first time in a prestigious career is enough to make anyone see red, but over the course of the Rocky sequels, the two come to respect one another and even forge a friendship.

What keeps them together: Punching. Lots of punching.

Most emotional moment: Despite Rocky’s attempts to stop the fight, Apollo is killed in a fight against Russian boxer Ivan Drago and dies in Rocky’s arms. In the ring. It’s what he would’ve wanted.

3. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling

The frenemies: Trainee FBI agent Clarice is sent to interview psychiatrist-turned-psycho Hannibal Lecter to try to get his insight into a new and frightening serial killer. Somehow, they come to respect one another, even though he’d really like to eat her liver.

What keeps them together: Well, to begin with he’s behind bars and doesn’t have much choice. But there’s something that fascinates them about one another.

Most emotional moment: At the end of The Silence of the Lambs, an escaped Lecter makes a quick call to Starling to let her know he’s not coming after her. Which is nice of him.

2. Batman and Catwoman

The frenemies: He’s an eccentric millionaire who spends his nights dressing up as a bat. She’s a cat burglar who stalks the night in a leather catsuit. Technically, he’s on the side of justice and she’s definitely not, but there’s an attraction between them that manages to overcome their differences.

What keeps them together: Sometimes, it’s a bigger threat (the Penguin; Bane; Talia al Ghul). But most of the time, it’s just animal magnetism.

Most emotional moment: The Batman/Catwoman relationship gets different endings depending on which version you’re talking about – but in The Dark Knight Rises, they basically ride off into the sunset together.

1. Magneto and Professor X

The frenemies: Charles Xavier has the power to read minds, while Erik Lensherr has the power to control metal. When they find each other, their abilities lead them to become friends, but unfortunately they don’t agree on how mutants and humans should co-exist.

What keeps them together: Being pushed away by the world pushes them together, at least for a while.

Most emotional moment: In First Class, Erik drops everything to come to Charles’ aid in the middle of battle – though unfortunately not in time to stop him taking a bullet to the spine. Having said that, you could read a lot into the way Charles is injured, given Magneto’s special powers and all.