Every great action flick needs an epic throw-down, and superheroes movies are no different. In fact, when it comes to cinematic grudge matches, comic book movies are about as epic as it gets. With superhuman strength, speed, and endurance at their disposal, superheroes and villains in movies can cause massive altercations that lead to crumbling cities, giant explosions, and devastating consequences.
For this article, we are going to be taking a look at the most intense, draw-dropping, and absolutely epic showdowns in superhero movie history. These are the fights that had us on the edge of our seats, yelling at the screen, either because of the immense action at play or due to the huge stakes involved. Any onscreen superhero bout is up for consideration here, whether it be from the MCU, DCEU, or anything in between, just as long as the fight is epic in scope and has opponents who are similarly matched.
Since most of these showdowns take place at the climax of their movies, it should be mentioned you might find a few climactic spoilers below.
Here are the 15 Most EPIC Superhero Movie Showdowns, Ranked.
15 Wonder Woman vs. Ares (Wonder Woman)
Kicking off our list is the climactic showdown from Wonder Woman between Diana Prince and the God of War himself, Ares. After revealing his true form, the supervillain squares off against the Amazonian Princess in a rousing brawl that has everything we’ve come to expect in a satisfying showdown.
Although the third act of director Patty Jenkin’s newest movie suffers from a few problems, this duel between two god-tier fighters is still highly fulfilling. For one, there’s a great deal of emotional weight, especially for Wonder Woman, who has been building towards this moment throughout most the movie. Additionally, as an audience, we're invested in the outcome of the fight, which is unlike so many other bloated CGI finales.
Just when it appears Wonder Woman has met her match, she’s able to summon an untapped strength, landing the final blow against the villain and fulfilling her destiny.
With rousing action sequences like this, we can’t wait to see what Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot have in store for Wonder Woman 2.
14 Iron Man vs. Thor vs. Captain America (The Avengers)
When The Avengers hit theaters in 2012, audiences couldn’t wait to see their favorite Marvel heroes team up to fight together on the big screen. However, before they came together to stand against the greatest threats imaginable, the Avengers had a few issues of their own to work out, including this spectacular brawl which sees three of the most powerful beings in the universe square-off against one another.
After Thor takes Loki from the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D, Iron Man follows the Asgardian into the woods. Iron Man doesn’t have the kindest of words to share with his future Avenger buddy, which leads to a rousing battle between the two titans.
Captain America soon shows up and, in a failed attempt to break up the ensuing battle, steps into the fray as well. The brawl finally comes to a head when Thor’s hammer collides with Captain America’s shield, creating a devastating explosion. It’s one of the first big on screen brawls between superheroes, and marked the beginning of the golden era for comic book adaptations.
13 Spider-Man vs. the Green Goblin (Spider-Man)
Spider-Man is one of the most famous superheroes in the world, and it would only make sense that his most famous villain, the Green Goblin, would show up in the webslinger's big screen debut in 2002's Spider-Man. Played by Willem Dafoe, the Green Goblin pushes the limits of the Peter Parker throughout the movie, leading to a devastating ending bout that takes place in a cemetery.
Looking back now, it’s rather surprising just how brutal this fight is. Peter is continually pummeled-- his suit is ripped, his face is bleeding, and for a while, it looks like our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is about to bite the dust.
However, like most good superhero showdowns, our hero summons his last bit of strength and manages to turn the tides. As the Green Goblin tries one last dirty trick to thwart his opponent, he’s instead killed by his own glider, ending one of the ruthless duels in comic book movie history.
12 Iron Man vs. Hulk (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Though Avengers: Age of Ultron wasn’t met with the same huge critical response as its predecessor, it still has a few fantastic moments, including this showdown between Tony Stark and ally Bruce Banner.
After having his mind manipulated by Scarlet Witch, Banner reverts to his primal instincts and begins doing what he does best: smashing. Prepared for this sort of emergency, Tony Stark initiates his “Hulkbuster Protocol,” which is a giant mechanized suit specifically designed to go toe-to-toe with the green behemoth.
This fight is pure cinematic mayhem, with Tony and the Hulk trading blows that destroy cars, decimate buildings, and uproot entire city streets. The two fighters are so overpowered that, when their fists collide, there is enough force to shatter nearby windows.
Equally matched, Tony and Hulk continually beat on each other until they take down an entire construction site, at which point Tony is finally able to sucker punch Banner into submission.
11 Wolverine vs. Shingen (The Wolverine)
While not quite on the level of this year’s Logan, James Mangold’s first attempt at a Wolverine spin-off, 2013’s The Wolverine, still has its fair share of riveting action scenes. One of the very best takes place halfway through the movie when Wolverine squares off against Shingen Yashida.
The showdown is exhilarating, even if the viewer knows that Shingen is doomed to fail, what with Wolverine’s healing factor and all. Shingen repeatedly slices Logan with his samurai swords, only to look stupefied when Wolverine comes off unscathed.
The bleak cinematography and white-knuckled choreography keep viewers on the edge of their seats. While Logan spares his enemy’s life at the end, Shingen refuses to admit defeat, and stabs Logan in the back (literally).
Of course, this is nothing but a flesh wound for the enraged X-Man, who finishes off the Japanese baddie by driving his claws into Shingen’s neck.
10 Hulk vs. Abomination (The Incredible Hulk)
The Incredible Hulk of 2008 has everyone’s favorite green behemoth go up against one of his biggest enemies of all time: the Abomination. Played by Tim Roth, the special-ops commando becomes obsessed with increasing his power, injecting himself with Super Soldier serum until he becomes a monstrosity that is only a match for the Incredible Hulk.
The two goliaths finally meet up for a showdown for the film’s finale, and what a finale it is. Destroying much of downtown New York City, the brawl is certainly worth of the title “epic.” While Hulk is known for being a hero who can easily outclass his opponents, it’s nice to see him struggle in order to gain the upper hand.
The Abomination’s skill and determination are indeed impressive, fueling the beast’s aggressiveness and pure savage fighting techniques. The only problem is that the Abomination's beat-down makes Hulk a tad angry, and we all know what happens when the Hulk gets angry.
It all leads to an explosive finish, where Hulk emerges triumphant, making this showdown one of the very best from Phase One of the MCU.
9 Captain America vs. the Winter Soldier (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Superhero showdowns are usually a treat for the eyes, but, aside from being just a pure visual spectacle, a great fight is amplified if there is an emotional weight behind the fight. One of the most personal fights on this list comes in the middle of 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when Steve Rogers goes one-on-one with his brainwashed best friend, Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier.
Determined to thwart Hydra’s mystery assassin from delivering the final blow to Black Widow, Captain America jumps into action, engaging the Winter Soldier in combat on a city street. Delivered at a break-neck speed, the Russo Brothers do a tremendous job here of perfectly editing and constructing the fight to ramp up the tension to maximum levels.
While the choreography is superb, the real highlight of this showdown comes at the end, when it is finally revealed that the Winter Soldier has been Roger’s lost friend all along.
8 Logan and X-23 vs. X-24 (Logan)
Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has been a part of the X-Men franchise for the last 17 years, and the character finally got the sendoff he deserved with this year’s Logan. The film was celebrated for its dynamic direction, rich subtext, brilliant performances, and most of all, extreme use of violence.
Logan doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to blood and gore, and one of the bloodiest fight scenes comes in the film’s final showdown between Wolverine and his genetic clone, X-24.
After taking down a number of goons, Wolverine runs into the big-bad of the movie, which happens to be a younger, more feral version of himself. Together with his biological daughter, Laura, the two enter a climactic battle of the claws.
Wolverine and X-24 trade stabs and slashes, but X-24 is eventually given the upper hand, impaling Logan onto a tree branch. While the evil clone is then killed by Laura, Wolverine is mortally wounded, and goes out holding his daughter in his hands.
While this fight has us saying goodbye to Jackman's Wolverine, we couldn't think of a better final showdown for such an iconic character.
7 Batman vs. Superman (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice)
Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman might have been decisive when it came to critical response, but the one thing that most fans can agree on is that, when it came down the epic showdown between Gotham’s Dark Knight and Metropolis’s Man of Steel, the film certainly delivered.
Taking place about halfway through the movie, Batman finally squares off against Superman in a battle of the ages. Using a special type of weaponized Kryptonite gas, the Dark Knight brings his opponent down to his level.
The two evenly trade off blows until Batman is able to get the upper hand, swinging his Kryptonian opponent through walls, smashing sinks over his head, and positioning himself to land a killing stroke thanks to a sharpened Kryptonite spear.
Though the fight ends on a rather anti-climactic note, the attention to detail and the gorgeous cinematography, not to mention some really cool effects, make this superhero showdown one of the best. If only the rest of the movie had been just as good...
6 Iron Man vs. Captain America and the Winter Soldier (Captain America: Civil War)
Ever since the Civil War arc from the comics was announced as the inspiration behind the third Captain America movie, fans were eagerly awaiting this fight, and the movie certainly didn’t disappoint. Building throughout the majority of the film, the fractured relationship between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark finally reaches its boiling point when it’s revealed that Roger’s buddy Bucky Barnes is the one responsible for murdering Stark’s parents.
In an emotional eruption, Iron Man lashes out against the Winter Soldier, leading to a three-way brawl between the former allies. Cap and the Winter Soldier team up to deliver an Iron Man beat-down, until Stark is given the upper hand and cripples Barnes by blasting off his robotic arm.
It ends on a one-on-one fistfight between Stark and Rogers, and, while the scrap is beautifully choreographed (props to the Russo Brothers for nailing the Civil War imagery from the comics), this fight ranks high on this list because of the emotional stakes and consequences that we’re left with afterward.
5 Superman vs. Zod (Man of Steel)
Zack Snyder is an absolute master at filming action scenes. When it came time to reboot the Man of Steel for the DCEU, Snyder upped the ante by giving us far more action than any previous Superman film had to offer. While the fight between Superman and Faora in Smallville is certainly worth mentioning, it’s the ending showdown between Supes and a very ticked off General Zod that claims the entry on this list.
After realizing that his race is all but destroyed, Zod goes absolutely berserker on Superman. The two titans enter into a battle of the gods, blowing apart buildings and destroying half of Metropolis in the process. Punches are exchanges, heat rays are fired, and there’s more destruction than an ending of a Transformers movie.
While some complain that Superman’s lack of concern of nearby human life is a little frustrating and out of character, there’s no denying that this showdown between the two Kryptonians is about as epic as they come.
4 Wolverine vs. Lady Deathstrike (X2: X-Men United)
It’s not easy to find a formidable foe for Wolverine. He has indestructible adamantium running through his body, razor sharp claws, superhuman stamina and strength, and did we mention that he can heal almost instantly? Besides Magneto, who can easily best Wolverine by controlling the metal inside his body – which is a little cheap – it’s hard to find someone that stacks up.
However, in X2: X-Men United, Wolverine found his match in Lady Deathstrike, a mutant who also has a sped up healing factor and adamantium claws (or rather, freakishly long fingernails).
Coming face-to-face in the third act of the movie, their ensuing fight is completely bonkers. Each takes turns stabbing the other, and, even though they heal at a remarkable rate, the lacerations still look like they hurt a whole bunch.
It concludes with Wolverine injecting a fresh batch of adamantium into his opponent's skull, ending one of the most evenly fought brawls in comic book movie history.
3 Batman vs. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Bleak, brutal, and exhausting, Batman vs. Bane is one of the most crushing defeats in comic book movie history. The Dark Knight had been cruising for a bruising for two movies in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy when he finally met his physical superior in Bane, a hulking mound of muscle that doesn’t feel pain.
After Bane corners Batman in his underground lair, the two fighters throw haymakers around like they’re going out of style, with Bane easily shrugging off every blow until he leaves Batman a bloodied mess.
The icing on the cake is the “Breaking of the Bat” moment recreated from the comic books, where Bane lifts our hero over his shoulders and drops him over his knee with a loud “crack!” With no musical score, viewers can hear every devastating blow, which makes Batman's bout against Bane just as epic as it is savagely violent.
2 Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock (Spider-Man 2)
When it comes to Spidey movies, Spider-Man 2 is still widely considered the best entry in the franchise – at least until Homecoming. There are several reasons why fans and critics hold Spidey 2 in such high regard, and this epic showdown between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus on top a subway train is certainly one of them.
Combining a seamless blend of CGI with practical effects, director Sam Raimi delivers an exhilarating brawl between our hero and his mad scientist opponent. Starting on a clock tower and ending on a subway train, Raimi uses the environment to his advantage, creating several awe-inspiring moments that has the two fighters dangling off the side of a subway car and shooting across surface streets.
With Danny Elman’s rousing score in the background and Raimi's taught direction and editing, this climactic showdown keeps the audience on the edge of their seats the entire time. It is without a doubt one of the best duels in comic book movie history.
1 Team Iron Man vs. Team Cap (Civil War)
You might have guessed that the climactic showdown between the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War would claim the top spot, but this is only because it's so worthy of such a title. With an incredible range of characters and breath-taking special effects, it's as though this battle leapt off of the comic pages and on to the big screen.
The brawl is made all the more astounding by the fact that the Russo Brothers give each character something interesting to do, rather than having an all-star roster for the sake of being gratuitous. From Spider-Man taking down Ant-Man like an AT-AT, to Bucky Barnes going toe-to-toe with a revenge-fueled Black Panther, each superhero is given their time to shine.
The showdown is amazingly well-balanced, and, whether you're rooting for Team Iron Man or Team Cap, there's something for everyone is this glorious superhero showdown.
Hopefully, the Avengers will be able to overcome their differences when it comes to their showdown with Thanos in next year’s Avengers: Infinity War.
Can you think of any other epic showdowns in superhero movies? Let us know in the comments!