The modern movie industry thrives on hype. It seems like nowadays cinemaphiles everywhere get pumped just from a glimpse of a logo or by a one minute teaser trailer. Heck, they’ve even gone so far as creating teaser trailers for teaser trailers! Hype is real in this day and age, and there is nothing that gets us more excited than a good movie battle. Whether it be in a superhero movie, an action film, a sci-fi extravaganza, or even just seeing a love triangle come to a head in a romantic comedy, a fight scene in a movie gets our adrenaline pumping and puts us on the edge of our seats.
Or at least, it should! Often times we let our excitement get the better of us, creating expectations that no action scene can ever live up to. Here at Screen Rant we have become annoyed with confrontations that are built up across an entire film or series of movies and then fizzle out before anything cool happens. Perhaps the fight is too short. Maybe it has extremely lame choreography or is nothing like the conflicts that came before it. Either way, we’re calling them out! Here are 15 Insanely Anti-Climactic Movie Battles
15. The Avengers v. Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Oh, Age of Ultron, you are such a divisive film. When it was first released the movie gained critical acclaim and was hailed as another masterful entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Over the course of a few weeks (and we assume multiple viewings), fans began to pick it apart and point out everything (and we mean everything) that was wrong with the movie. Even almost two years later, the mere mention of Age of Ultron on the internet will bring sympathizers and haters out of the woodworks and send all spectators rushing for their bunkers.
However, we can all probably agree that the final battle between the Avengers and Ultron is pretty disappointing. Near the end of the film, Ultron has an upgraded form, an entire army of drones, and has created a giant projectile out of a freaking city that is going to come crashing down and wipe out all life on earth. The setup is perfect! And then the actually battle happens. Ultron grapples with Thor and Vision for a little while before getting thrown out onto the street and blasted by the combined powers of the team’s heavy hitters. He then gets knocked away by the Hulk and steals a Quinjet, using it to try and kill Hawkeye before getting tossed out by Hulk again and having his “heart” removed by Scarlet Witch. Seriously, this was the best they could do?
14. Gary King v. the Network (The World’s End)
The third and final entry of the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy,” entitled The World’s End, saw Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play two men who join up with their old school friends (whom they haven’t seen in years) to finally do the legendary pub crawl in their home town. Along the way the group discovers that the town has been taken over by alien androids that bleed blue and have bright eyes. Naturally, the group continues to do the pub crawl and hilarity and action packed adventures ensue. The team (or at least, what’s left of them) reach the final pub, where they discover a secret passageway to the main embodiment of all the aliens’ power.
The director who brought us classics like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz definitely had something special up his sleeve for the climax of final Cornetto movie, right? Apparently not. Although the climax of The World’s End does pack some cerebral and emotional weight, where “The Network” reveals all of its secrets to the group and asks them to make an important choice, it is really missing in the action department. Yes, we know that the Cornetto trilogy was always meant to be smarter than the average action film, but there’s just something so unsatisfactory about watching Simon Pegg argue with a blinding white light as the film’s “high point.”
13. Optimus Prime v. Megatron (Transformers)
Against our better judgement, we’re going to say that the first Transformers movie by Michael Bay is… actually somewhat good. It’s no masterpiece by any means, but it’s the best of the series and actually had some resemblance to the cartoon we all know and love. Besides, most fans were able to look past the movie’s more awful aspects just because this was the first time we’d ever seen a big-budget, live action version of our favorite characters on screen. Our excitement went off the charts when Optimus and Megatron finally faced each other down in the middle of Mission City. The two charge at each other, and then…
Disappointment. That’s what happens. These are the two most iconic characters in the series, and they only get a three-minute fight. What’s worse is the fact that not much actually happens; the two just keep jumping on each other, they each shoot at each other once, and then Sam Witwicky is the one who lands the killing blow on Megatron. To top it all off the camera keeps panning so that we see the battle from the view of the humans in Mission City. Ugh, just let us watch two giant robots duke it out! Bay must have learned his lesson, because we got a much better fight in the sequel, Revenge of the Fallen.
12. The Fantastic 4 v. Victor Von Doom (Fan4stic)
Can we even call 2015’s Fan4stic a Fantastic Four movie? Yeah, the characters all had the same names and powers as Marvel’s First Family, but that’s about it. The movie was panned by critics and called the worst movie of the year by many. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Fan4stic had lots of behind-the-scenes issues and the studio seemed to just be making it in order to keep the film rights away from Marvel. This becomes even more apparent when you watch the film’s final act.
We should have seen it coming when we finally get a glimpse at Victor Von Doom, one of Marvel’s greatest villains ever, and he looks like this. Okay… interesting direction. At least we should get awesome Doom monologues and action scenes, right? Nope. He just gets a bunch of stuff thrown at him and gets distracted long enough for The Thing to knock him into the big glowing portal. Huh. And then the movie’s over? Yep, Fox definitely didn’t rush this one at all.
11. Batman v. Superman (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice)
Much like Age of Ultron, this summer’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has split the fandom in a huge fashion. Some people say it was the worst DC movie ever (thus we must remind them of this abomination) while others believe it is better than anything Marvel has ever churned out (and then we show them this). From a middle ground perspective, it was a decent movie that was dragged down by a few major flaws. One of the biggest flaws of BvS is the actually titular scene itself.
Don’t get us wrong, the actual fight between Batman and Superman is pretty cool. Come on, how could you not enjoy a scene where Batman uses a depowered Superman’s head to break a sink?! There are two issues that keep it from being truly great: First off, it’s way too short. This is three hour movie, for crying out loud. Why did their actual fight only last five minutes? Also, let’s not forget what may be the biggest cop out for any hero vs. hero fight, aka “MARTHA!” We’re sure Zack Snyder was between a rock and a hard place when when trying to figure out how to end the conflict without one of the heroes killing the other, but “Martha?”
10. The Battle of Plataea (300)
Speaking of Zack Snyder movies, let’s talk about 300. Based on the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name, this movie followed King Leonidas (played by Gerard Butler) as he led his doomed army of Spartan Warriors against the Persian king Xerxes. The movie was brutal, stylistic, and gory. It put Snyder and Butler on the map, and became a pop culture phenomenon, spawning several parodies and imitations since its release. The stylized action in 300 was hailed as some of the best of the 2000s. So why, you may ask, does it make this list?
300 makes number 10 on our list because it gives us one of the biggest teases of all time and then never delivers. At the end of the movie we see Dilios (the only surviving member of the 300) now in command of an army of 30,000 free Greeks as they prepare to face Xerxes’ Persians. He uses the Spartan’s sacrifice to pump up his soldiers, they charge at the Persians, and then the screen goes black. We never get to see the battle actually happen. Plataea even gets left out in the sequel, which focuses mostly on the naval battles of Xerxes’ invasion. We were just as pumped to see the final major battle of the war as the soldiers were to fight it, but are still left waiting, even to this day.
9. Jack v. the Lord of Darkness (Legend)
Legend is an oft-overlooked fantasy classic directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Cruise, Tim Curry, and Mia Sara. It follows the exploits of Jack, a young boy who lives in the forest and is in touch with all things magical. One day he takes his girlfriend, Lili, to the valley where the last two remaining unicorns reside. Unbeknownst to Jack, they are followed by three minions of the Darkness, who kill one of the unicorns and capture the other in an attempt to free their master, the Lord of Darkness. In true fantasy fashion, the Lord of Darkness captures Lili and the last unicorn, forcing Jack to go on an adventure to save his true love and the entire world. The film reaches its climax in the dark fortress of the evil Lord, where he and Jack face off in combat.
Sadly, it wasn’t really combat, in any sense of the word. Jack keeps hopping around, evading the Darkness’ sword blows and pitifully trying to shoot him with arrows. The only time Jack really does any damage is at the very end of the fight, when he stabs him with the horn of the deceased unicorn and uses the power of the sunlight to repel him back to his shadowy domain. Ridley Scott’s epic fantasy had a fantastic art direction, with some of the coolest creature and costume designs to come out of the ‘80s. It’s disappointing that a visual spectacle such as Legend couldn’t give us as memorable a final battle.
8. Harry Potter v. Voldemort (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2)
This was a conflict that had been years in the making, and there was absolutely no way it was ever going to live up to our expectations. Harry Potter, the boy who lived, vs. Voldemort, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. In the final Harry Potter film, everything was on the line; Voldemort’s secret Horcrux had been destroyed and Harry was the last thing standing between the Dark Lord and world domination. In Order of the Phoenix we had the delight of seeing the incredible fight between Dumbledore and Voldemort and were looking forward to an even bigger spectacle for the series’ finale.
It didn’t come. Perhaps J.K. Rowling wanted to downplay Voldemort’s power, or maybe she wanted to emphasize that the Horcruxes had become his soul and were thus more important to the plot. Either way, the actual final battle of the Harry Potter series is short and about as anti-climactic as you can get. The two wizards simply point their wands at each other and utter a single spell as chaos erupts around them. Then, after Neville Longbottom destroys the final Horcrux, they stop. And then they do the exact same thing again.
Only this time, Voldemort’s fatal spell reflects back at him, and he is killed. Worst of all, the film misses one of the most important symbols of the books; when the Dark Lord dies in the novel, he dies just like a normal human, emphasizing that he was nothing more than a mere mortal after all. In the movie, he evaporates into a bunch of confetti. We love you, Harry Potter, but can we have a do-over?
7. The Hulk v. Loki (The Avengers)
You all knew this was going to be on here. This is the most laugh-out-loud hilarious moment from the MCU’s first phase, if not from the entire series so far. As the rest of the Avengers fought the Chitauri on the streets of New York City the Hulk made his way to Stark Tower to confront the maestro of this invasion, Loki. The beast approaches and the God of Mischief tries to talk his way out of the situation, as he’s so often done before. He berates the Hulk, saying that he is a god and that he should be bowed down to.
And then we all know what happens next. Hulk grabs Loki by the leg and repeatedly smashes him into the ground. As the villain lays there, writhing in pain, Hulk walks away and remarks, “Puny god.” It was one of the biggest laughs of the film and has become as iconic as the Avengers themselves. It may not be a major battle, but this one was anti-climactic for all the right reasons!
6. Ottway v. the Alpha (The Grey)
When The Grey first came out, many people didn’t know what to think of it. The trailers made it out to be a “Badass Liam Neeson vs. wolves” action movie, but anyone who saw it can tell you it was so much more than that. Yeah, Neeson’s character does kill a few wolves in the film. But The Grey is actually a fairly deep story about the stages of grief and how people deal with them. It just so happens to be set within a survival story. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this one yet you need to.
Word of advice: if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t let yourself get too excited about that scene you see in the trailers, where Neeson’s character Ottway straps a bunch of bottles and knives onto his hand. It looks all kinds of awesome, but you’ll be disappointed to know that we only get to see a brief glimpse at the fight’s aftermath and even then, only if you stay through the credits. During the entire movie, Ottway is trying to lead his group through the rugged wilderness and away from the Alpha’s den. By some cruel twist of fate, he himself ends up right inside the den in the film’s final minutes. A giant black wolf appears as Neeson prepares himself for “the last good fight I’ll ever know.” They charge each other and the film ends. As great as The Grey is, there’s not a soul in the world who didn’t want to see that final scene.
5. The Ghostbusters v. Gozer (Ghostbusters)
The original Ghostbusters is a nostalgic treat. It had four hilarious actors at the prime of their career. along with some state of the art special effects, dry humor, and a certain charm that other movies at the time lacked. This seemed to be lightning in a bottle; neither the sequel nor the recent remake could recapture what made the original so memorable. However, let’s not pretend that we don’t look at the film without our rose-tinted glasses on.
The entirety of the film follows the build up to the coming of Gozer, an ancient Sumerian God that will bring upon the destruction of the world. At the film’s climax, the Gatekeeper and the Key Master are reunited, opening the portal and allowing the God to step into our world. There is a whole lengthy scene where the Ghostbusters, finally accepted as heroes, go off to the apartment complex to save the world (it even says so in the background song). They finally get to the top and see Gozer the Destructor in the flesh. “This is gonna be so cool!” every kid thinks. The Ghostbusters then proceed to get blasted back (in another classic sequence, we might add), pick themselves back up, and fire upon the Destructor. Gozer jumps up in the air and disappears. That’s it. Sure, we get the iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man to act as the “final boss” of the movie, but the confrontation with Gozer is over almost as soon as it begins.
4. Agent Smith v. Neo (The Matrix: Revolutions)
What can be said about the Matrix movies that hasn’t already been said? The series revolutionized the action genre and inspired many of the blunder-full fashion choices of many teens during the 2000s. Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, and Lawrence Fishburne all had their careers resurrected by the franchise. Despite two somewhat poorly-received sequels, the original was an instant classic when it came onto the scene in 1999, with a blend of kung-fu and gun-toting action on top of a mind-bender of a story. Neo and Agent Smith fought several times over the course of the three films, in many original and unique ways.
Unfortunately, the final confrontation between Smith and Neo left a lot to be desired. There Neo stood, surrounded by a literal army of Smith clones. There is no hope left for the world created within the Matrix; the agent’s programming spread like a virus, rendering every single human within the simulation his slave. In true supervillain form, Smith doesn’t have his millions of clones rush the hero all at once. No, instead he engages Neo one-on-one in the middle of a downpour. It’s a visually striking scene, but it quickly goes over the top, with the two of them punching each other while suspended in the air and slow-mo, awful CGI shots of Neo punching Smith in the face. At the battle’s end, Neo just gives himself up. No clever way to defeat his enemy. No last-minute heroics. He just nonchalantly sacrifices himself. It was a huge disappointment for a series that gave us so many memorable moments.
3. Indiana Jones v. The Swordsman (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
Perhaps the greatest anti-climactic fight of all time happens in the classic Steven Spielberg movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood are being chased through the streets of a Middle-Eastern bazaar by the henchmen of the main villain. The two eventually get split up, with Indy having to punch out lackey after lackey while Marion runs for her life. She is eventually captured, but Jones doesn’t know yet. Suddenly, the crowd of people separates to reveal a huge, sword-brandishing henchmen who starts to intimidate Jones with his swordplay.
We all remember what happens next! Indiana Jones grumpily pulls out his pistol and shoots the henchmen dead. It was a perfect scene that embodied the spirit of the Indiana Jones movies; you had grumpy, tired Indy, and some unexpectedly dark humor. Funnily enough this was a scene that was improvised on the spot by Harrison Ford. Ford had reportedly come down with a case of food poisoning during filming and felt much too sick to go through the entire fight choreography Spielberg had planned for the scene. Instead, he asked if he could just shoot the guy and be done with it. The director agreed, and the rest is history.
2. Obi-Wan Kenobi v. Darth Vader (Star Wars: Episode IV–A New Hope)
The lightsaber duel between Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode IV can be looked at from many points of view. The first sees it for what it truly was: a sixty-some year old actor dueling a guy in a bulky costume that was unexciting even back in the ‘70s. The other way to look at it is that Vader is just toying with Kenobi, whom he sees as a weak and pathetic old man. Another theory puts forth the idea that Vader is slowed by his suit and couldn’t fight in the same agile way he used to.
Any way you swing it, this was a pretty lame duel, made even more painful when you see Sir Alec Guinness try to do a ridiculously-timed spin move. This was a confrontation that had been hyped up from the start. Obi-wan Kenobi had told Luke about the evil Jedi exterminator Darth Vader, and we had seen just how brutal the character was in earlier scenes. Even when the movie was first released, there was no way people weren’t hyped up to see the former master and apprentice duke it out. Now picture you’re a modern-age filmgoer who is watching the saga for the first time. For whatever reason, you decide to watch them in (blasphemy!) chronological order. After witnessing the duel on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith, you’d be thinking that their next confrontation would be just as amazing! And oh, how let down you would be.
1. The Shredder v. Anyone (Every Single TMNT Movie)
Oroku Saki, or the Shredder as he is better known, is the greatest of a large number of enemies to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He’s been featured in every single incarnation of the Turtles, from the original comics to both series of live-action movies. Although he is a master of martial arts and one of the greatest crime bosses in New York City, he always seemed to get the short end of the stick in the feature-length TMNT films. He was the main villain in four out of the six movies and yet never got a truly good fight scene.
In 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shredder gets a cool scene where he completely owns the Turtles at the end of the movie, only to be confronted by Master Splinter. What does this evil master do when he sees his arch enemy? Runs at him with a spear and screams, then is promptly flipped over the side of a building and eventually falls into a garbage truck. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II he gets covered in Ooze and becomes the Super Shredder. Just when it finally looks like we’re going to get to see the Turtles vs. Shredder, he brings the entire bridge down upon himself. Modern filmmakers continued this trend in TMNT: Out of the Shadows: just as it looks like we’re about to get an awesome Shredder vs. Krang battle for the first time ever, Saki gets frozen and stowed away aboard the Technodrome. We expected much more from you, Shredder. Much, much more…
So what do you think? Did we forget any major non-climactic climaxes or movie fights? Let us know in the comments!