It’s that time of year again Easter is here -a time of hope and belief in grander possibilities for everyone, everywhere. What interesting timing then that the cinematic marvel of probably the biggest superhero movie of all time (Batman v Superman) has dawned upon us, is it a coincidence?
Has there been a time in life when we didn’t love superheroes? As you can imagine, that’s made the 21st century a simply incredible era. Springing forth from the pages of comic books, superheroes are all over popular culture these days, and they’ve come to dominate the silver screen in a way that none of us could have ever imagined during the Christopher Reeve and Michael Keaton era of superhero cinema.
They’ve also frankly gotten a LOT better when it comes to their use of martial arts and fight choreography, and what better time than now to narrow down and zero-in on the best superhero smackdowns to ever hit the big screen? So without further ado, fasten your seat belts KFK readers let’s celebrate the superheroes that inspire us to reach and maybe even transcend mortal expectations…Here (in ascending order) follow 10 Top Superhero Movie Fights!
10) Spider-Man vs Doc Ock – “Spider-Man 2”
My, oh my, does Spidey take some punishment here! Doc Ock’s kidnapped Mary Jane as part of his plot to build a machine that could wipe out New York City, and it’s up to our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man to rescue MJ, stop the villain’s plot, and save the day.
The train battle between Spidey and Doc Ock is everything you could ever ask for in a fight sequence with the Wall-Crawler, and it’s even better in the extended version of the film. Also, for a little trivia, Vietnamese martial artist Johnny Tri Nguyen of “Tom Yum Goong” and “The Rebel” fame had previously doubled for the Green Goblin in the first “Spider-Man” movie; here, he gets to don the tights of the Web-Slinger himself. With great power comes some great action!
9) Iron Man vs The Hulk – “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
This was the moment everyone wanted to see since the original “Iron Man” – Tony Stark donning the famed Hulkbuster armour and throwing down with the most unstable of The Avengers.
While the Hulk isn’t rampaging of his own accord here, this is just about the angriest we’ve ever seen him get – there’s a point in this brawl where our two heroes punch each other’s fists with such force that they shatter every window within ten yards of them, and it even manages to work in some of Robert Downey Jr.’s real life Wing Chun skills when he uses the Hulkbuster suit to go Ip Man on Dr. Banner with just one hand no less!
8) Blade vs Frost’s henchmen – “Blade”
In 1998, it’s no exaggeration to say that superhero movies were on the verge of going the way of the dinosaur – thanks a lot, “Batman and Robin”! Then along came a vampire hunter known only as Blade, and it proved to be the defibrillator that the genre desperately needed, and it even managed to pull that off with a character that no one but die hard comic book readers had even heard of.
So many aspects about “Blade” were exactly what the world needed to see to restore our faith in the superhero genre, but quite a bit of it had to do with the fact that it enlisted an accomplished martial artist like Wesley Snipes in the title role, put him in a suit that didn’t hinder his mobility, and let him kick butt for two hours straight, and it all came to a head with that amazing vampire battle in the clip above. Before the turn of the century, for awesome superhero action, “Blade” was the best game in town!
7) Batman vs Bane – “The Dark Knight Rises”
Here we have a major outlier on the list – a superhero brawl in which the hero we’re rooting for loses. However, aside from being the best big screen use of the Keysi Fighting Method to date, the fact that Batman loses to the villainous mercenary Bane in their first encounter is a model for using a fight sequence to tell a story.
Batman is someone who will simply never accept defeat, a warrior who will fight to his dying breath to defend the people of Gotham City, and yes, their rematch at the climax of the film goes a lot better for the Caped Crusader. But to see Batman fight a losing battle and never surrender brings to mind not one, but two great quotes from another legendary martial artist by the name of Bruce (Lee): “Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality”, and “Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.” In his duel with Bane, Batman is the living embodiment of both.
6) The Hallway Fight – “Daredevil” season one
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been absolutely amazing from day one, but right now, in terms of fight sequences, “Daredevil” is leading the way. The first truly unforgettable action sequence of 2015 would come in the form of the single-take hallway fight from the season one episode, “Cut Man”, and boy, does it show just how far superheroes have come.
Drawing equal inspiration from “Old Boy” and “The Raid”, our hero has to fight past half a dozen henchmen on three cracked ribs and a knife wound, and there isn’t a moment where you’re not wincing for him whether he’s throwing punches or taking them. Oh, but believe me when I say that when it comes to delivering blistering martial arts action, The Man Without Fear was just getting started!
5) Batman vs Russian Thugs – “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”
It’s still opening weekend for this one, but holy cow does this new Batman know how to fight better than any of his predecessors (the center-piece of the film is of course, the actual Batman vs Superman duel itself and make no mistake, it delivers). It’s a testament to how much effort has been put into making this new take on Batman an unstoppable warrior that the best fight in the film involves him going solo against two-dozen henchmen of a Russian crime boss. (See if you can spot Capoeira virtuoso Lateef Crowder also in there.) It’s like Batman’s been set loose in the apartment complex from “The Raid”! He’s simply never been able to fight like this before and in fact, you only need look at “Batman Returns” to see just what a quantum leap his onscreen martial arts skills have just made!
Meantime, you can also check out our official review of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”.
4) The Stairwell Fight – “Daredevil” season two
Season two has barely even been out for a week, and already “Daredevil” has claimed a second spot on this list! Prior to the release of the second season, Charlie Cox mentioned that the hallway brawl of season one would have an equivalent, one-shot fight sequence in season two, and described it as the earlier fight “on crack”.
To put it bluntly, he wasn’t kidding. There are five times as many foes for our hero to go through, but this time, he’s not nursing any injuries and turns into an unrelenting human snow plow. Like its predecessor, season two is ninja action galore, but it’s also (clearly) drawn plenty of inspiration from “The Raid” movies, and we can only hope that these one-take fights continue to be a staple of The Man Without Fear’s Netflix adventures!
3) Blade vs Frost – “Blade”
As if the preceding fight sequence of the title character battling through dozens of Frost’s vampire henchmen wasn’t enough, “Blade” immediately follows up with another of the best superhero duels to date, a blazingly fast sword fight with Frost himself, now possessed by the vampire blood god, La Magra.
This battle originally played out very differently, with Frost actually morphing into a massive blood beast before test audiences said they preferred to see Frost himself go mano-a-mano with his arch-enemy. Of course, their logic was undeniable, and heck, Blade even snagged a pretty memorable one-liner out of it!
2) The New York Battle – “The Avengers”
To this day, I can still vividly recall the midnight show crowd just going crackers at the sight of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes finally assembled to defend the world from the Chitauri invasion led by Thor’s adoptive brother, Loki. This was the culmination of the promise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the idea that for the first time on the big screen, superheroes would co-exist in the same world just as they do in the comics which spawned them.
“The Avengers” also gave just about the best climactic battle we could’ve possibly asked for, with every character getting their moment in the spotlight. Of course, we all remember that it was Loki’s encounter with the Hulk that ultimately stole the show!
And in at No.1 our best Superhero Movie Fight is…
1) Superman vs General Zod – “Man of Steel”
In 2013, Zack Snyder gave the world what no one else had managed to – a Kryptonian smackdown that was nothing less than a battle between two gods. When they land punches on one another, the very Earth shakes and the impact makes a sound like thunder.
To this day, audiences remain almost evenly split on “Man of Steel”. Some regard it as among the best superhero films ever made, while others take great exception to the shocking level of destruction, but such complaints completely miss the whole point of the film – that the act of being of a hero will always have consequences just like being a villain will.
The ending of the finale would prove equally polarizing but once again, what the detractors miss is precisely what Snyder was going for – a superhero battle that not only has amazing action and deep emotional resonance, but one that’s also a fundamentally world-altering event. One which, in one fell swoop, sets the entire DC Extended Universe into motion – you might even call it a “Dawn of Justice”, and at last on this very weekend that dawn will have arrived…Happy Easter everyone!
Arrow’s hallway fight in Season 1 HAS to make this list. Such a shame it didn’t. The choreography and camera placement was straight up beautiful, that show is so underrated.