The MCU franchise juggernaut keeps on rolling with the upcoming February 2023 release Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Its ongoing success derives from crackerjack writing and top-shelf scripts such as in Loki and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in-depth character explorations like WandaVision and Moon Knight, and bringing C-List Marvel comic characters to the forefront of pop culture like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man.
Of course, Marvel being founded in the roots of the funny pages, it just wouldn’t be everything that it’s become without well-rendered CGI slugfests guaranteed to appease book diehards and casual fans alike, and Marvel Studios has certainly crafted some of the best brawls in movie-going history.
10/10 Steve Rogers Vs. Hydra Agents In The Elevator
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
There are two entries on the list from this much-lauded film because that’s how well the Russo brothers crafted Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Often hailed as Chris Evans’ best solo outing, some diehard fans consider it the finest Marvel movie ever made, and there are plenty of reasons that make the case for such a sweeping statement.
The cutting-edge spy thriller was paced at breakneck speed without losing any character development momentum for either Steve, Fury, Natasha, or Bucky, with stellar support from Anthony Mackie’s soon-to-be Falcon and Robert Redford as the head of Hydra. And then there are the action sequences that were nothing short of brilliant, including this infamous scene as Captain America attempts to leave the compromised Shield HQ.
9/10 Shang-Chi Vs. Xu Wenwu
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (2021)
Much like they did with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios managed to pull another rabbit out of their hat by showcasing a lesser-known character from the archives, and the results were once again jaw-dropping in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings. Simu Liu’s titular underdog hero origin story was many things straight out the gate: a top-notch martial arts action flick, an ode to Eastern mythologies, and a touching story about estranged families.
With the likes of Awkwafina’s comic relief sidekick Katy and the ethereal contributions of international superstars Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Shang-Chi culminated in an incredible big bad climax, first with a pair of dueling dragons and then the hero squaring off with his own father in a bombastic battle for who would ascend to wield the supremely powerful Ten Rings.
8/10 T’Challa Vs. Killmonger
Black Panther (2018)
Black Panther is more or less a near perfect movie in or outside the Marvel lexicon, and it’s easy to see why. With a groundbreaking, legendary performance from the late Chadwick Boseman, who finally set to rest the ridiculous notion that a Black superhero couldn’t open a major studio outing, the outstanding cast wowed audiences from start to finish.
Alongside stellar roles in Danai Gurira’s Okoye, Lupita N’Yongo’s Nakia, and Angela Basset’s Ramonda, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger proved a worthy adversary to Boseman’s T’Challa, and both fight scenes, the first in which Erik challenged T’Challa’s rule at the waterfalls and triumphed, the last at the climax in a harrowing midair brawl in the underground vibranium mines, were as good as Marvel gets.
7/10 The Trio Of Spider-Men Vs. The Sony Villains
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
No Way Home truly changed the Marvel game board in its multiverse-spanning story, what with bringing not only two prior Sony-verse Spider-Men over to the MCU, but also primary members of their rogues’ galleries as antagonists for Tom Holland’s intrepid wall-crawler. Fanboys and girls alike reveled in the revisiting of villains like Jamie Foxx’s Electro, Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, and Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin.
Yet it was the somewhat expected yet entirely thrilling appearances of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield which set the internet and worldwide media ablaze. In the movie’s climax, where the three Spider-Men of different universes teamed up to balance out the onslaught of villainy, it was a Spider-Man moment for the ages and a pure joy to behold.
6/10 Thor Vs. Hulk
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Long had loyalist Thor fans been pining for the Thor narratives to take some measure of either the Planet Hulk or the World War Hulk storylines from the comic books. Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi did just that, in his inaugural treatment of Thor’s continued saga after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Thor: The Dark World.
Taking Thor off the planet, after losing his initial bout with his recently escaped older sister Hela, into the Grandmaster’s gladiatorial arena to face off against his long-lost former teammate was a stroke of genius. Audiences had waited for a rematch between the two strongest Avengers since their first fight aboard the Shield helicarrier in the first Avengers film, and their arena duel, capped off with Thor coming into his higher power, was epic beyond words.
5/10 The Battle Of Titan
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War has a literal plethora of crowd-pleasing battles to choose from, which is one of the reasons why some purists consider it an even more mind-blowing film than Avengers: Endgame. Whether it was Wanda and Vision’s duel with Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive, the initial bout between Thanos and Banner, or the massive battle of Wakanda, there were many eye-popping scenes throughout the film.
Yet it was the Battle of Titan, wherein Stark, Strange, Parker, and a select group of Guardians faced off against the MCU’s most famous villain in a wildly impressive display of astonishingly rendered CGI, from Strange’s spell casting to Quill’s laster blasting to Thanos tossing an Infinity Gauntlet fueled moon at Iron Man.
4/10 Iron Man Vs. Captain America And The Winter Soldier
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Of course Captain America: Civil War has a more infamous fight scene at the airport, but the climax of the film was equally amazing. After the divisiveness between the Avengers about the Sokovia Accords splits the team into two factions and results in a disastrous confrontation at a Russian airport, Tony finally determines for himself how they’ve each been manipulated and heads to the Arctic to support Cap.
When he discovers Bucky is responsible for the death of his parents, he naturally goes ballistic anyway, and what followed was yet another Russo Brothers segment of epic cinematography wherein Cap and Bucky tag team Iron Man in a sensational display of tandem scrimmaging that ultimately overpowers Stark’s superior tech.
3/10 Thor’s Arrival Onto The Wakandan Battlefield
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
In the one-two punch of the Infinity War – Endgame saga, there were so many incredible scenes within the pair of movies that had theater audiences on their feet cheering, it’s hard to tabulate them. Chief among the cream of the crop surely had to be Thor’s just-in-the-nick-of-time arrival into one of the MCU’s most breathtaking final battles.
After Thor spends much of the movie with Rocket and Groot crafting Stormbreaker out in space via the machinations of Eitri the Dwarf King, he finally appears just as the Wakandan theater conflict begins to turn toward Thanos’ forces, who nearly overcome Cap, Banner, and T’Challa. In a burst of Bifrost, Stormbreaker takes out swarming ground troops and returns to Thor, who then initiates a rallying charge and a commensurate ground pound for the ages.
2/10 The Endgame Final Battle
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
This was the alpha-omega segment of the entire Infinity Saga, and it delivered in spades. Marvel diehards had soldiered through 21 films and eleven years to get to the crowning, defining moment of the first Avengers era. The Russo brothers once again knew exactly what they were working with and how the culmination needed to mesh all that came before it with a mind-boggling climax that incorporated all previous heroes and teams into the last battle with the Mad Titan for all the marbles.
Nearly every primary character got a stint in the spotlight, from Ant-Man’s giant-sized blows to Wanda’s one on one with Thanos, from Cap’s wielding of Mjolnir to Captain Marvel‘s dazzling save to Tony’s ultimate sacrifice. This one goes in the cinematic history books.
1/10 Steve And Bucky’s Street Fight (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
According to a good many MCU aficionados, this was the brawl to rule them all. Winter Soldier is chockfull of seminal Steve Rogers melees, from the opening salvo of his decisive victory over Batroc to the legendary elevator scene to the climactic showdown with Bucky on the crashing helicarrier.
But it’s his first meetup with his old friend which warrants the most merit, as the Russo brothers choreographed what constitutes the most seemingly realistic and electrifying hand-to-hand (or shield-to-arm, as it were) combat sequence across the entire Marvel cinematic tapestry, rendering a tense revelation for audiences that Steve and Bucky, despite being super-soldiered by opposing sides, were in fact evenly matched.