The Marvel Cinematic Universe is often ridiculed for being light and soft with regards to its relative lack of violent content, especially when compared to the DC Extended Universe, which has all kinds of boundary-pushing acts of violence, from ladies being pushed in front of speeding trains, Batman’s proclivity towards murdering his enemies, to Superman’s infamous killing of General Zod.
While the tone of the DCEU is certainly more gritty and violent than that of the MCU, it’s not as if everything is all sunshine and rainbows in Marvel’s corner. There are moments here and there that make audiences wince, even in the more easygoing films. Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, has a light and irreverent tone, but both entries in the series have impressively massive body counts. There are plenty of rough fights in the films of Marvel Studios, and that’s what this list is all about.
Within the MCU’s ever-expanding stable of movies and television shows, there are plenty of instances of surprisingly hard-hitting action; such is the nature of a genre defined by characters with the ability to punch with superhuman strength! Here are The 20 Most Brutal Injuries In The MCU. Beware of SPOILERS from all corners of the Marvel universe, including The Defenders and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!
20. War Machine Gets Shot Down
The airport battle in Captain America: Civil War is legendary. While The Avengers and Age of Ultron had Earth’s Mightiest Heroes teaming up to fight CGI armies, Civil War took it to a new level by having them fight each other. With the exception of Black Panther and his vengeful pursuit of Bucky, the Winter Soldier, they’re not actively trying to kill each other, but the action remains intense and the spectacle is unrivaled.
Following Spider-Man’s epic takedown of Giant-Man, it seems like the danger is over, or at least winding down. But then things take a sudden turn when Vision, distracted by his attention and emotion towards Scarlet Witch, is called upon to attack. He launches an overpowered volley of laser fire at Falcon, only to miss and strike War Machine, disabling his suit and causing him to plummet to Earth. It’s a miracle he survives the fall, but he is partially paralyzed and will likely be out of action in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.
19. Punisher’s Point-Blank Shotgun Headshot
The movies in the MCU are all rated PG-13, but things get more dangerous on Netflix, where all those shows feature blood, gore, and seriously intense situations.
Marvel’s most violent character of all is The Punisher. He’s not a superhero; he’s a man who hates criminals and uses big guns to murder them. In Daredevil: Season 2, he is tortured by Irish gangsters, led by Finn Cooley, a scene brutal enough to fit nicely on this list, but it’s his immediate revenge which cements his place as a true force to be reckoned with.
After finally breaking free from his restraints, Jon Bernthal’s imposing combatant stomps forward like Frankenstein’s Monster, killing everyone in his way. When he finally reaches Cooley, he disables the mob boss and then finishes him off with a point-blank headshot from a heavy-duty shotgun, turning his face into a disfigured mess, all on camera.
18. The Incredible Hulk Kicks Emil Blonsky. Hard.
In 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, the titular green giant faces off against Emil Blonsky (played by Tim Roth), an SAS soldier juiced up on a reproduced version of Captain America’s Super Soldier Serum. Blonsky holds his own against the transformed Bruce Banner, dodging his attacks with grace and confidence, but his own attacks have little to no effect on the Hulk.
After a heated battle, Blonsky stands in front of his enemy and dares him to take a shot… Needless to say, this proves to be a big mistake. Hulk delivers a thunderous kick which sends Blonsky flying into a tree, seemingly breaking every bone in his body. Only through the miracle of the Super Soldier Serum does he survive the hit and return for another round with the Green Goliath.
17. Don’t Try To Punch Luke Cage
Luke Cage is literally bulletproof. He’s not quite as resilient as the likes of, say, Superman, but he can shrug off most small arms fire, save for a point-blank shotgun blast to the face, as shown in Jessica Jones.
In addition to brushing off bullets and explosions, Luke can be punched in the face without so much as blinking, as shown in an early episode of his self-titled Netflix series. Some punk tries to take down Cage with a right hook, but he doesn’t even flinch. The punk, however, doesn’t fare so well, and his hand practically explodes. In gloriously gory slow motion, bones are shown jutting out of his arm, and blood goes flying in a disgusting spectacle of well-deserved pain.
There’s a call back to this scene early on in The Defenders, when Luke Cage finds someone who can actually punch him out: the Immortal Iron Fist.
16. Nick Fury Falls To Sniper Fire
Every once in a while, the MCU has a “gamechanger” entry, something that shakes the foundation of the world and opens up new possibilities for future entries. The first was The Avengers, which brought the team together and proved that the Cinematic Universe was a worthwhile pursuit for Marvel Studios.
The second gamechanger was Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which feels more real than any other MCU entry, before or since, except perhaps some of the Netflix shows. In addition to its revelations about Hydra infiltrating the government, forcing Cap and his allies to go underground, it also had some unflinchingly violent moments, such as the assassination attempt on Nick Fury.
During an intimate moment of spy-thriller tension, Fury is suddenly shot down by several shots from Winter Soldier’s sniper rifle. There’s no blood, but the impact is sill palpable, and audiences really believe he’s actually dead… Until, of course, he’s later revealed to be alive.
15. Coulson Kills Ward
Across the first three seasons of Agents of SHIELD, the main recurring villain is Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), a SHIELD agent revealed to actually be a Hydra spy. After years of cat-and-mouse chases, betrayals, glimmers of hope, and heated action sequences, Coulson and Ward finally go head to head.
On the distant planet of Maveth, Coulson finally defeats Ward in a grueling hand-to-hand contest. Ward is on his back, defeated, but Coulson, sick of Ward’s constant ability to elude capture and escape justice, makes the controversial decision to execute his enemy, and in ghastly fashion. He places his cyborg hand on Ward’s chest and presses down, crushing his chest with a disturbingly crunchy sound effect.
Even in death, Ward still remains a nuisance, since he is eventually assimilated by the ancient Inhuman, Hive, who returns to Earth to cause more mayhem before being put down for good in the third season finale.
14. Doctor Strange’s Car Crash
Doctor Strange is one of the lighter entries in the MCU, though it certainly has its fair share of violent moments, such as The Ancient One’s wince-inducing fall off a building, or the myriad deaths shown in reverse during the trippy “backwards time” sequence.
The most violent moment, however, occurs early on, when Stephen Strange, speeding down a highway in his fancy sports car and distracted by his cell phone, loses control of his car and gets into a terrifying car accident. His hands are shown smashing through the dashboard of his car in painful slow motion, and the grisly aftermath is shown as he lies incapacitated in a hospital bed.
Even after all of his character development and ascent to superheroism, his injuries still haven’t healed. The last scene of the film has Strange looking at his hands, which still shake, and will likely never fully recover.
13. Kingpin Kills A Guy With His Car Door
In the comics, Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin, is a mountain of a man, hundreds of pounds overweight but with the strength and resilience of a wrestling champion. Vincent D’Onofrio plays the character on Netflix’s Daredevil series. He’s obviously not quite as overweight as the comic book version, but he still perfectly captures the violent core of the character.
As a child, Fisk murders his own father (who was a drunken wife beater and totally deserved it), before growing up and creating a criminal empire to take over New York City. When Daredevil starts disrupting his plans, this leads to tensions between Kingpin and the Russian mob. Long story short, the conflict escalates when Fisk murders Anatoly Ranskahov by slamming his car door on his head. Repeatedly. He assaults him with a savage fury until Anatoly is actually decapitated by the sheer force of the repeated impacts.
12. Peter Quill Shoots His Dad
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) spends most of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with his long-lost father, who is revealed to be a literal God, Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell). Quill and his father are getting along nicely, and he’s even learning to harness his innate powers, willingly submitting to Ego’s seemingly benevolent influence/brainwashing.
However, that all changes when Ego reveals that he murdered Peter’s mother, giving her the tumor that would take her life. As soon as he hears the words, Peter snaps out of his haze, draws his dual blaster pistols, and mows his father down with ruthless righteousness. Ego only survives because he’s a nigh-invincible God, but most of his body is disintegrated. It regenerates after just a moment, but the grisly sight of Ego, blasted to bits by his own son, drives home a universal lesson: don’t mess with a man’s mother.
11. Agent Coulson Dies. He Gets Better.
Throughout Marvel’s Phase 1, Agent Phil Coulson was the glue which linked the disparate stories together. He stole all of his scenes in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Thor. He was there at the beginning, and he was there when the team came together.
Unfortunately for Phil, he was killed by Loki, who shockingly plunged his spear into the SHIELD agent’s heart, though he took a measure of comfort knowing that his death would bring the team closer together and give them the push to save the world and stop Loki.
In a surprise twist, Coulson returned for the ABC series, Agents of SHIELD, which revealed his resurrection via Project TAHITI, a process arguably more painful than death itself. Still, it was a joy to see Coulson back in action and among the living.
10. Winter Soldier Vs Captain America On The Falling Helicarrier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier concludes with an epic battle aboard a massive flying aircraft carrier. Despite the massive scale of the battle, with gunfire and explosions and massive stunts abound, the core of the scene (and the reason the film succeeds as a whole) is the bond between Steve Rogers and his best friend, Bucky Barnes.
After beating up Bucky (including a nasty wrestling move where he breaks his arm), Cap saves the day, disarming the Helicarrier, but Bucky still won’t snap out of his ingrained brainwashing. Cap decides that violence isn’t getting him anywhere, and refuses to continue the fight, allowing Bucky to pummel him relentlessly. Cap doesn’t mind, though, since “I’m with you to the end of the line.” By the end of the scene, Cap has multiple gunshot wounds, his face is bloodied and bruised, and he’s nearly unconscious.
9. Crossbones Gets Body Slammed By A Building
…Speaking of doomed Helicarriers, one of them brushes against SHIELD’s Triskelion building during that same sequence, the crumbling of which disrupts the fight between Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Crossbones (Frank Grillo).
Falcon and Crossbones wisely stop fighting and start running for their lives, but Crossbones isn’t fast enough, and gets buried under falling rubble. In the ending montage, he is seen in a hospital being operated on; it’s not unlike the scene of Darth Vader being treated after his defeat at Mustafar.
When Crossbones reappears in Captain America: Civil War, he is nearly unrecognizable due to his facial disfigurement, and then is rendered further unrecognizable after being turned to ash by his own suicide bomb. Still, he gets the last laugh from beyond the grave, since the collateral damage from his death helps to kick-start the main plot of Civil War and the eventual disbanding of The Avengers.
8. Peggy Carter Gets A Belly Full Of Rusty Rebar
Marvel’s second ABC series, Agent Carter, was cancelled after only two seasons, but the show remains a fan-favorite, and Peggy is one of the MCU’s most revered figures.
Peggy gets into all sorts of hand-to-hand battles and heated shootouts in her show, but season two saw her take a particularly brutal hit; in the episode, “The Atomic Job,” Peggy runs into a recently-superpowered actor/scientist Whitney Frost. After a brief scuffle, Carter finds herself dangling precariously off a ledge, and she can’t hold on. She falls… Right onto a bed of rusty rebar. The look on Carter’s face when she realizes the extent of her injuries is heartbreaking, as well as the realization from Frost that she is, in fact, a villain.
7. Alexandra Gets “Demoted” By Elektra
Just as The Avengers brought together the disparate heroes of the MCU films, Netflix’s The Defenders did the same to the street-level heroes of New York City.
One of the most-hyped elements of the series was the inclusion of Sigourney Weaver as the mysterious new villain, Alexandra. While speculation held that she might secretly be a famous Marvel villain, she turned out to be a completely original character… And kind of a wasted one, at that.
While Weaver is intimidating as the leader of The Hand, she is unceremoniously dispatched by Elektra, who sneaks up on her and stabs her with her sai before slicing her head off. It’s a brutal and shocking end to an enigmatic villain. Alexandra may not have fulfilled her villainous potential in The Defenders, but her death scene certainly came as an unexpected and violent surprise.
6. Kilgrave. Just…Kilgrave.
In Jessica Jones, pretty much everything that Kilgrave does is awful. He is a man gifted with the power of suggestion. His voice has the ability to control people. He can tell people what to do, and they are compelled to do it, no matter what… Also, he is evil.
Jessica Jones arguably gets too much mileage out of Kilgrave’s myriad heinous acts, and his innumerable murders often cross into the realm of poor taste. For example, he opens the show by having a young girl murder her own parents; he forces a man to stab himself through the head with hedge clippers; he even has Ruben cut his own throat in Jones’ bed. The show’s cynical disregard towards human life is then kicked up a notch when Jones uses Ruben’s corpse as part of her plan, cutting off the head and bringing it to the police, hoping to get arrested and lure Kilgrave into a trap. It’s almost as though the show takes a degree of devilish glee in thinking up creative ways for Kilgrave to murder the innocent citizens of New York City.
5. Happy Hogan Gets Blown Up By An Extremis Suicide Bomb
Iron Man 3 is the divisive black sheep of the MCU; some people love it for playing with superhero conventions and breaking the rules, while others detest it for those same reasons. One thing the film handles exceptionally well is its slow shift from a claustrophobic thriller to a rollicking action adventure. By the end, Guy Pearce is literally breathing fire from his mouth and a friendly robot army is fighting against a platoon of super-soldiers.
At the start, however, things are deadly serious, and it all kicks off with a disturbingly realistic bombing at the legendary Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is following Savin (James Badge Dale), who is staging what is meant to look like a suicide bombing from the terrorist, The Mandarin. Spotting Hogan, Savin effortlessly breaks his arm and throws him through a glass display case, and then the human Extremis bomb blows up, killing numerous civilians and leaving Hogan catatonic. It’s a truly provocative way to open the first post-Avengers MCU film.
4. Slicing And Dicing On The Defenders
Returning to Netflix’s The Defenders, the show features a number of grisly decapitations and severed limbs. It’s established that the only way to truly kill the nigh-immortal leaders of The Hand is with a decapitation, and Stick is all too happy to cross their names off his list.
He has a personal reason for taking extra joy in the killing; early in the series, in an effort to escape captivity, he cuts off his own hand during a battle with Alexandra’s minions. He’s not the only important character to lose an arm; Misty Knight, who made her debut in Luke Cage and is scheduled to return in the upcoming seasons of both Luke Cage and Iron Fist, gets her arm bloodily sliced off in the season finale. When she pops up in the future, she will get a brand new cyborg arm as a replacement.
3. Hulk Vs Loki: “Puny God.”
Pretty much every moment in The Avengers is iconic, but few scenes can match the crowd-pleasing spectacle of Hulk’s no-holds-barred beatdown of the petulant Loki. After being thrown to Stark Tower, courtesy of an explosive arrow launched by Hawkeye, Loki is then confronted by the Hulk. The Asgardian Trickster attempts to dissuade the green giant by beginning an egotistical speech, but Hulk just grabs him and slams him into the ground repeatedly with comically exaggerated force, offering the perfect one-liner to go with the event: “Puny God.”
Loki is as surprised as he is literally broken, and as he lies in a pile of debris on the floor, the shock and defeat written on his eyes, the only sound he can utter is a whispered whine of disbelief and regret at having messed with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
2. Captain America Blends A Hydra Nazi Into A Pureé Of Gore
Captain America fought in World War II. Back then, America killed Nazis, because that’s what the USA does.
Captain America: The First Avenger concludes with a battle on board a Hydra bomber set to destroy New York City. It’s like a super-powered sci-fi version of Indiana Jones, with Cap punching Hydra Nazis, throwing them out of the plane, and otherwise killing bad guys in awesome and righteous ways.
The highlight of the sequence is when he finds himself fighting a soldier on the outside of a fancy Hydra aircraft, and the unlucky Nazi tumbles, face first, into the oversized propeller of the plane. He’s instantly turned into a fine red mist; it’s as awesome as it is nasty! Cap isn’t directly responsible for this kill; it’s more a case where the Hydra thug is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
1. Winter Soldier Kills The Starks
It’s not Game of Thrones, but Captain America: Civil War certainly has its fair share of dead Starks.
Throughout the film, Cap is helping Bucky elude the authorities, and Iron Man, AKA Tony Stark, wants to capture the rogue assassin. That all changes when he is shown a videotape of one of Winter Soldier’s countless assassinations.
Back in 1991, Winter Soldier, while brainwashed by Hydra, murdered Tony Stark’s parents. He ran them off the road. When Howard (John Slattery) stumbled out of his vehicle, he recognized Bucky. Despite his injured stupor, he recognizes his assailant and addresses him: “Sergeant Barnes.” Alas, the mind control is too strong, and Bucky bludgeons Howard to death with his mechanical arm. He then coldly chokes the life out of Stark’s panicking wife, Maria.
It’s a brutal scene, and the emotional high is carried into the ensuing fight scene, in which Tony’s bloodlust towards Bucky causes an irreparable rift between the friendship between himself and Captain America, Bucky’s best friend.
“He’s my friend.”
“So was I.”
What do you think? Did we miss any particularly awesome/brutal takedowns? Sound off in the comments!
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