The comic book TV renaissance has (mostly) been great for fans. Superheroes that can’t get a proper big budget franchise can now be appreciated in weekly installments on the small screen, and with the number of shows on the air, there’s no shortage of comic-book television content.
With weekly episodes come weekly fights. There’s almost a new action scene for each episode of every show. This means there can be a lot of repetition, but due to sheer volume, there's also a lot of variety. Diversity in characters and powers in these shows also brings in diversity in action styles, making for many different types of fight scenes. Needless to say, not every fight is going to be the best ever, but some just stand out above everything else.
Here are the 15 Best Comic Book TV Fights Scenes.
15 Shark Attack (The Flash)
The Flash: Season 2
Episode 15: King Shark
When King Shark showed up early on in The Flash season 2, many fans thought it was a crazy Easter egg, pleased the show runners found a way to work in a cameo for such an absurd character. Sure, they found a way to make Gorilla Grodd work last season, but King Shark couldn’t get the same treatment, could he?
Episode 15 showed the doubters just how wrong they were. When King Shark escapes from an A.R.G.U.S. facility, he comes gunning for The Flash. While their encounter is less fight and more CGI spectacle, it still deserves a spot on the list of action scenes, just because it was pulled off successfully.
The final showdown is tied together in a way that accents both of their powers, with Barry using his speed to run on water, and King Shark...well...swimming. Barry begins to form a cyclone, catching King Shark in its current, before using the speed force to electrify the water, putting an end to the conflict.
14 Red Tornado, Blue Heat (Supergirl)
Supergirl: Season 1
Episode 6: Red Faced
Supergirl’s translation to live-action network television is accompanied by several caveats. The character and her history might suggest high octane action, but the constraints of television unfortunately require a low-budget portrayal of her powers. Not to say they aren’t portrayed well, it just means that in lieu of complex and physical action scenes, most of the combat takes the route of power puzzles, where Kara Zor-El wins when she learns to leverage her power properly, not once she’s punched the villain in the face enough times.
One of the best portrayals of said powers occurs in her confrontation with Red Tornado. While the television costume department may have created a Red Tornado whose appearance has understandably drawn comparisons to Power Rangers villains, Kara’s face off with the red robot resulted in one of the best on screen portrayals of Kryptonain powers to date. With a dash of cheese, obviously.
After a brief bout, it becomes clear that Tornado will not go down easily, and Cara needs to resort to bigger guns. Drawing strength from the emotions over her isolation and the destruction of her homeworld, Supergirl empties her solar reserves into a blue heat vision blast that completely decimates Red Tornado. The scene is powerful and visually compelling, and it’s unfortunately not something we’re likely to see again, given that one does not simply deplete solar stores to defeat a villain on a daily basis.
13 Michonne Impeaches The Governor (The Walking Dead)
The Walking Dead: Season 3
Episode 8: Made to Suffer
The majority of the action in The Walking Dead is comprised of humans killing zombies, but the scenes of zombie violence are mostly utilized as a way to fill the time between the real drama and human fights. One such fight occurs in season 3, after the survivors arrive at Woodbury.
When Michonne and Andrea first find Woodbury, something doesn’t seem quite right. Michonne soon discovers The Governor is keeping zombies (including his undead daughter) in his home. The Governor is understandably having trouble letting go of his reanimated child, but Michonne’s katana takes that decision away from him.
The struggle that follows is raw, brutal, and claustrophobic. Michonne and the Governor grapple around the apartment trading blows and crawling through broken glass. It seems Michonne is about to have the life choked out of her when she’s able to put a shard of glass in the Governor’s eye, ending the fight.
12 Ra’s al Ghul, Queenslayer (Arrow)
Arrow: Season 3
Episode 9: The Climb
After the dark ending to season 2, fans were wondering what direction Arrow would take. Enter the League of Assassins. The first half of season 3 kicked off an arc that would slowly build to Oliver challenging the Demon’s Head himself, Ra’s al Ghul.
Set on a snowy mountaintop, the two men faced off in what would be a deadly duel. Ra’s doesn’t initially take any weapon for himself, instead just dodging Oliver’s advances, toying with him. When Oliver finally appears to be gaining an edge, the leader of the League of Assassins disarms him, drives the sword through his chest, and kicks him off the cliff.
Unfortunately, many fans weren’t satisfied with the show’s recovery from this moment, and the following episodes haven’t been very successful in winning them back. Outcome aside, though, Oliver’s bout with Ra’s was an exciting moment, and set the show up to potentially go in a fresh direction.
11 Zoom Zoom (The Flash)
The Flash: Season 2
Episode 6: Enter Zoom
Still high off the recent defeat of Reverse Flash at the end of season 1, Barry isn’t too scared of this new speedster, Zoom. With the arrival of Earth 2’s Doctor Light, the S.T.A.R. Labs crew makes the inspired decision to use her Earth 1 doppleganger, Linda Park, as Zoom bait.
Zoom doesn’t immediately take the bait, but when he does show up, it’s immediately apparent that this new threat completely outclasses the scarlet speedster. He’s able to not only dodge Barry’s new thunderbolt throwing trick, but he actually snatches it out of the air and hurls it back. Zoom soundly beats Barry moments later, parading his broken and bleeding body around Central City, before dropping him in a heap at the feet of his friends at S.T.A.R. Labs, only retreating when Cisco shoots him with a serum dart.
The battle may have been brief and one sided, but it effectively set the tone for the rest of the season, establishing Zoom as a violent and superior force. Barry will need to find a way to drastically increase his speed in order to have another shot at Zoom.
10 May vs May (Arrow)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2
Episode 4: Face My Enemy
After Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s massive mid-season 1 course correction, fans were curious about the second season. Would it start in the same slow and meandering manner as the first, or would it maintain momentum from the finale of season 1? Enter Kevin Tancharoen, who’s known for his visionary Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series. Kevin took the 4th episode of season 2 and created one of the more lengthy, complicated, and technically proficient fights of the entire show.
During an attempted heist from HYDRA, Melinda May encounters Agent 33, who is wearing a digital Melinda May mask, leading to a May vs. May brawl all over the hotel suite. Normally, scenes like this are complicated to shoot, considering there’s only one of actress Ming-Na Wen to work with (that we know of), which obviously necessitates the use of a stunt double. Tancharoen doesn’t shy away from that hurdle, and directs a scene that doesn’t compromise in the length or complexity of the combat, but is still shot in such a way that only the actual Ming-Na Wen’s face is visible at any given moment. It can only be assumed that shooting a scene like this requires perfect choreography and camera work, in addition to a few wardrobe changes, but the effort payed off in one of the most memorable fights of the show.
9 Slade Wilson Showdown (Arrow)
Arrow: Season 2
Episode 23: Unthinkable
Fans of Arrow will always point to season 2 as the moment the show shined brightest, and Oliver’s final battle against Slade Wilson is no doubt the culmination of everything that made season 2 great. Although the use of flashbacks are one of the weakest parts of the show in recent seasons, they are arguably one of the elements the Deathstroke arc handled best.
With two parallel stories weaving back and forth, for the entire season, the final battle between the former allies begins cutting between the two timelines in the most masterful handling of the flashbacks the show has seen, culminating in flashback Oliver making the shocking decision to put an arrow through flashback Slade’s eye. Sure, he’d been wearing an eye patch all season, but that didn’t make that choice by Oliver any less shocking or dark.
8 On His Meds (Jessica Jones)
Jessica Jones: Season 1
Episode 11: AKA I've Got the Blues
Jessica Jones is probably the most light-on-action property in the entirety of the MCU, but when it does get violent, it’s usually a no holds barred brawl.
When Will Simpson (Wil Traval) starts taking his meds, he’s not one to be meddled with, even with Jessica’s (Krysten Ritter) super strength. It’s “one red to get you going,” and “two whites to keep you even,” and before you know it, Jessica and Will are breaking furniture without a blue pill in sight to bring him down. When Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) also takes Simpson's combat enhancing pills, Will ends up double teamed, effectively ending the fight, although Trish has to rush to the hospital since she doesn't have a blue pill to counteract the effects.
The struggle between Jessica and Will provides a great portrayal of the gritty street level heroes with powers as they plow through her apartment, breaking everything in sight, but without the flash, shine, or other colorful effects seen in cinematic power brawls.
7 Speedy Delivery (Arrow)
Arrow: Season 4
Episode 7: Brotherhood
Although the show wasn’t reaching the same heights it did during season 2, Arrow’s 4th season still had occasional gems. One such gem being Speedy’s single take fight with Andy Diggle.
Arrow has always been fairly action-heavy, with well choreographed fight scenes, but this fight takes it to a whole new level. Not only does it include an impressive tracking shot that follows that action into an elevator, down a level, and back out into the hallway, but the rest of the camera work also clearly sets itself apart from the rest of Arrow stylistically, creating one of the most impressive and visually distinct moments of the entire show.
Although this isn’t the type of action or camera work we’re likely to get on Arrow often, seeing the show reach to do something so ambitious definitely excited a lot of fans who would no doubt love to see the show revisit the style more frequently in future episodes.
6 “The Stairwell Scene” (Daredevil)
Daredevil: Season 2
Episode 3: New York's Finest
Daredevil may live in the more premium content realm of Netflix, but that doesn’t diminish how impressive its fights are. After season 1 established some of the best choreography in the MCU, season 2 obviously felt the need to up the ante, which gives us the stairwell scene.
After being chained up by Punisher and forced into a Sophie’s choice - kill The Punisher or let the Punisher kill Elliot Grote - Daredevil breaks free and enters a stairwell to take on what appears to be the entirety of the local chapter of the Dogs of Hell biker club. The scene is brilliantly laid out, simulating a tracking shot that follows Daredevil as he fights his way down a hallway, down a stairwell, and another hallway, all with an empty gun ducked taped into one hand, and a chain whip in the other.
The scene is so packed with enemies that a true tracking shot isn’t even possible. Cuts need to be made to let out of frame fallen combatants move to make room for new bikers, but the cuts are done so smoothly that they’re mostly imperceptible, maintaining the look of a classic tracking shot.
5 Rick V Shane
One of the most dramatic turns in the early days of The Walking Dead came in the face-off between Rick and Shane. Since Shane had adopted the role of protector for Lori and Carl after the initial outbreak, it was hard to relinquish those responsibilities to Rick, especially when Rick has a tendency make decisions that not everyone is a huge fan of.
When the disagreement between the two finally comes to a head, it does so in a violent manner. The fight is exhausting and personal, then the zombies arrive. Shane gets cornered in a school bus, where he resorts to stabbing zombies in the face one by one. At first, it appears that Rick is abandoning Shane (which wouldn’t shock audiences), but at the last second, he comes driving through to save the day.
The moment is great, because it allows the two characters at odds to come to blows, then it resolves in reconciliation (at least for the moment). For a show that frequently shocks viewers by the addition of violent betrayals, seeing Rick come back was a great redeeming moment.
4 Cage Match (jessica jones)
Jessica Jones: Season 1
Episode 12: AKA Take a Bloody Number
What happens when super strength meets invulnerability? A Kilgrave controlled Luke Cage vs Jessica Jones answers this question, and it’s not pretty.
The scene initially plays out like a horror movie, with Jessica merely trying to avoid capture, but slowly builds into a face-off as Cage manages to corner Jessica. She may be strong, but she has no successful means of slowing Luke’s advances. Walls give way as the two throw punches (and each other) until Jessica finally gets outside, ending the scene with a shotgun blast to Luke’s face.
The scene doesn’t only provide suspenseful action, but also shows an interesting representation of each character's respective powers. Jessica’s strength doesn’t give her an advantage, due to Luke’s invulnerable skin, and vice-versa. The shotgun conclusion also shows that invulnerable skin doesn’t equate to invincibility. Luke is knocked unconscious, and the same impenetrable epidermis that stopped the shotgun blast from killing him proves to nearly be his own demise when it prevents Claire Temple from properly treating his injuries.
3 Tremors (Agents of Shield)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2
Season 2 Episode 19: Dirty Half Dozen
When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. first started, it had 3 major issues: an unlikeable female lead, a lack of ties to its big screen counterparts, and frequently shoddy production quality. By the end of the first season, some of those complaints were addressed, but the second season silenced all remaining critics.
Season 2 Episode 9: "The Dirty Half Dozen" is the lead in episode to Avengers: Age of Ultron, where Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. team raids a HYDRA research base (but not that HYDRA research base) in search of Loki’s scepter.
Kevin Tancharoen again brings his action chops the the show, with a brilliant tracking shot that helps transform Skye from the irritating hacker wannabe S.H.I.E.L.D. agent into Daisy Johnson, AKA Tremors, leader of the Secret Warriors. The transition is one many fans didn’t think possible after the character's initial reception, but opinions quickly shifted after a simple Tancharoen action scene.
2 Massacre in Cell Block A (daredevil)
Daredevil: Season 2
Episode 9: Seven Minutes in Heaven
Frank Castle spent the first half of Daredevil season 2 proving just how violent he could be, but that brutality was only a glimpse of what he’s capable of. After being sent to Rikers Island prison, he strikes a deal with Wilson Fisk, who’s seeking to become the Kingpin of Rikers. Fisk points Punisher in the direction of his main rival, Dutton, suggesting he was involved in the death of Castle’s family. Once Dutton is dead, however, Frank finds himself locked in Cell Block A, where Dutton’s men all want revenge.
The ensuing fight shows a stark difference from the rest of the combat in Daredevil. Instead of the normally smooth choreography and steady camera movements, this fight has bloody and brutal jabs and jarring cinematography, ending with Punisher standing over the bodies of the Cell Block A inmates, his formerly clean white prison uniform resembling a butcher's apron.
Even when deprived of any iconic Punisher costumes and weapons, Jon Bernthal definitively proves he’s the most brutal portrayal of the character yet.
1 “The Hallway Scene” (Daredevil)
Daredevil: Season 1
Episode 2: Cut Man
Daredevil season 1 marked Marvel’s first foray into serialized streaming, meaning it had a lot to establish, and a lot to prove. It satisfied all questions about tone and quality with it’s second episode, which contained what is widely considered the best action sequence in any superhero property, period.
An already battered, beaten, bloody, and tired Matt Murdock staggers into a run down apartment building, seeking to rescue a kidnapped boy. The ensuing sequence all occurs in a single tracking shot that follows Daredevil down the hallway as he takes out guard after guard, leaning on the wall for support and heaving for air between blows.
Where most heroes seem to be unaffected by injuries and impervious to fatigue, this scene captures what may be one the the most visceral and realistic slugfests on screen, properly earning its place next to the fight in Oldboy, to which it clearly pays homage.
Which of these scenes is your favorite? With all the comic book shows on TV, you probably have a favorite fight that didn’t make the list. Let us hear about it in the comments!
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