War Of The Superheroes
2016 is set to be the year of the superhero vs superhero slugfest. Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice in March is the opening course. The big feast will be Captain America: Civil War in May, a film that some have wittily though somewhat erroneously dubbed Avengers 2.5. Witty because, like the Avengers movies, it will bring together many of the MCU superheroes into one movie; erroneous because theyre not all one big family fighting for a common cause.
Nope. Theyre fighting each other, with one faction lead by Iron Man, the other by Captain America.
But superhero vs superhero fights on screen are nothing new. Caped versions of WWE smackdowns have been a staple of comics for decades and theyre creeping into films more and more. Hell, maybe one day well find out the answer to Vern and Teddys argument in Stand By Me about whether Superman could beat up Mighty Mouse! Though probably not. In the meantime, here are some of the more memorable screen superhero vs superhero battles so far
Daredevil vs Elektra
When: Daredevil (2003)
The best fight between Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios actually happens earlier in the film, when they flirt with their fists in a playground to the delight of the local kids. Their costumed battle later on comes about when Elektra thinks Daredevil has killed her dad. She beats him, unmasks him and is shocked to discover hes Matt even though Daredevil fights in exactly the same way as Matt did in the playground.
The Flash vs Arrow
When: The Flash Flash vs Arrow (2014)
The Flash is a show that positively thrives on embracing its comic book roots, so when there was a crossover episode with sister show Arrow it knew all the classic comic beats it had to follow. So they fight, then they make up and then they team up to defeat the villain. Their tussle is great; this may be TV but there was no skimping going on here it goes on for ages. And, of course, it ends in a draw because Flash might have the powers but Arrow has the experience.
The Flash vs Firestorm
When: The Flash The Nuclear Man (2015)
Later in the first season Flash has to fight the newly transformed Firestorm. The poor guy has been created from two people forcibly merged together in a sci-fi explosion and has a tendency to burst into flames so hes not feeling that great and isnt yet the hero that hell come to be. He lobs a few fireballs at Barry before taking him on a flight over Central City then dropping him. Its nowhere near as exciting (or long) as the Flash vs Arrow fight but the effects are top notch.
Hulk vs Thor
When: The Avengers (2012)
When Banner Hulks out on the SHIELD helicarrier, its up to Thor to stop him wrecking the place (well, actually, Black Widow has first dibs but she just turns and runs you cant blame her). Crates fly everywhere and a jet is dismembered as the Thunder God and the jade giant trade blows. Even Hulk cant pick up Mjolnir, we discover. This, however, wasnt the first on-screen tussle between the pair
Hulk vs Thor
When: The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)
Back in the late 80s, six years after the TV series The Incredible Hulk had finished in 1982, the show returned for two TV movies, both of which were possible back-door pilots for new series based on other Marvel characters. The first featured Allan Kramer as Thor, and it was terrible (as was Thors costume). The fights were lame but weve included them here for the sake of historical context and because this publicity pic with Stan is worth another look. (The second TV movie, The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk in 1989, featured Rex Smith as Daredevil.)
The Human Torch Vs The Silver Surfer
When: Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
Not so much a fight as a chase scene. When Galactuss herald, the Silver Surfer, gatecrashes the wedding of Reed (Mr Fantastic) Richards and Sue (Invisible Woman) Storm, then flies off into the distance, brother Johnny (Human Torch) Storm flames on (after complaining that hes torching his expensive Dolce tuxedo) and goes off in pursuit. Johnnys impressed with the Surfers ability to fly through skyscrapers, but less impressed when the alien grabs him by the neck and drags him into space where the vacuum kills his flames.
Iron Man vs Hulk
When: Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)
The superhero vs superhero set piece in the second Avengers movie saw Iron Man donning his Hulkbuster armour to take down the brain-fried jade giant in Johannesburg. It is titanic. Cars, lorries and repulsor rays fly. Iron Man grinds Hulks face into the asphalt. Hulk mashes Iron Mans arm. This truly is comic book action brought to life.
Iron Man and Captain America Vs Thor
When: The Avengers (2012)
Captain America arrives late to the party when Iron Man and Thor battle it out in some mountainous forests while Loki looks on with glee at the carnage hes orchestrating. Stark taunts Thor about wearing his mothers drapes; Thor lobs his hammer at him; moments later hundreds of innocent trees are so much kindling. Then Cap arrives, and when hammer meets vibranium shield Tunguska 2 takes place.
Jean Grey Vs Cyclops
When: X-Men 2 (2003)
Scotts all possessed when Jean runs into him as the dam at Alkali Lake. So he attacks her with an optic blast and she attacks back with her telekinesis. Wonder if their lovers tiffs are similar? It all ends with a big release of energy that weakens the dam a move that will ultimately lead to Jeans death and resurrection.
Rorschach and Nite Owl vs Ozymandias
When: Watchmen (2009)
By the time Nite Owl and Rorschach confront Ozymandias, hes pretty much irredeemably evil, so maybe this doesnt really count as superhero vs superhero battle. But he was a hero once. And hes still in costume. The battle itself is a wonderfully stylised series of almost balletic fight moves and expositional ranting.
Superman vs Clark Kent
When: Superman III (1983)
In the middle of a generally dire film, theres this one, great shining moment. Because of exposure to some artificial Kryptonite, Superman has gone bad. You can tell because hes got stubble and hangs out in bars, flicking nuts like bullets. But his innate goodness is struggling to be heard, which results in Superman splitting into two his good self represented by Clark, interestingly and fighting himself in a junk yard. The rest of the film is almost unrelentingly silly, but this is quite grim, hard-edged stuff. Whether its all just a metaphor for the battle taking place in his head, or whether were supposed to think it actually happened is unclear. But who cares? Were spared Richard Pryor pratting about for 10 minutes.
Wolverine vs Deadpool
When: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
The big climactic battle in Origins is a bit of a disappointment for two reasons. One, Deadpool is almost unrecognisable from his much-loved comic incarnation. Two, it looks like a video game. Not just because of an over-reliance on dodgy CG effect but also because all that running around on a collapsing pylon feels like a its designed to be end-of-level guardian section from X-Men For Xbox.
Wolverine vs Gambit
When: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
On the other hand, Wolverines earlier fight with Gambit in the same film is a forgotten treasure. Gambits powers are wonderfully cinematic he can transfer killer kinetic energy to objects, and favours using playing cards and this film showcases them to great effect in a short but impressive battle. Its great to hear that Channing Tatum will be resurrecting the character for X-Men: Apocalypse (Taylor Kitsch played him in Origins) as theres a lot of potential there.
Wolverine vs Phoenix
When: X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Jean has become Dark Phoenix and even Magneto fears the power shes unleashing. She about to destroy the planet in telekinetic huff but Wolverine, thanks to his healing power, struggles towards her and kills her with his claws. But not before her powers have ripped all his clothes off. Thats comic strip action for you