5 Superman vs. Zod, Non, and Ursa, Superman II (1980)
Classic doesn’t even cover it. In one of the best-regarded sequels of all time, the Big Blue Boy Scout is tasked with taking on some hometown hoodlums, namely three Kryptonian criminals who have emerged from the realm of punishment known as the Phantom Zone. When the black disco shirt-adorned trio starts subjugating the human race after Clark takes a leave of absence, he’s force backed to action, unforgettably calling out leader Zod to “step outside.’ After a down and dirty super-street fight in downtown Metropolis, the action concludes with a Lex Luthor assisted showdown at Superman’s own Fortress of Solitude, where he unleashes the still baffling “Giant Cellophane S,” dealt from his own chest emblem. In some odd way it makes sense. But even if it doesn’t, the rest is too awesome for it to even matter.
4 Batman Vs. Bane (1st Fight), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
No powers, no CGI effects. Just crushing blows, and great villainous dialogue delivered in Tom Hardy’s marvelous, inscrutable Bane accent. Alfred warns the past-his-prime Bruce earlier in the film about going up against the hulking masked terrorist, and he is proven quite right, as The Bat proves no match for this eloquent, calculating brute. There is no score, only the taunting by Bane of his increasingly worn down foe, who lets out occasional cries of pain before he delivers the backbreaking move, straight out of the comics. “I will break you,” Bane utters shortly beforehand, and just like the Joker, he proves a man of his word.
3 Spider-Man vs. The Lizard (High School Fight) , The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Spider-Man prevails once again, not surprising as the superhero’s acrobatic fights and repertoire of equally endowed enemies lends itself to spectacular fights. Also helping Spidey’s case for battleground intensity is the fact that so many of his enemies’ grudges are deeply personal, as many of his foes are former friends or mentors, Curt “The Lizard” Connors being of the latter variety. This reboot surprised people with an eye-popping confrontation in the halls of Peter Parker’s high school, which includes what is hands down the finest Stan Lee cameo in all of Marvel cinema. The two combatants scale lockers and roofs, wreck toilet stalls and classrooms, terrorizing Parker’s schoolmates and making their heretofore mythic existences undeniably public in the process. This is a true instance of comic action coming to screaming life.
2 Hulk Vs. Thor, The Avengers (2012)
The Hulk is an angry, angry, individual, and there isn’t much born of Earth that can hope to withstand his fury in the Marvel Universe. Luckily for Thor, he’s a god from Asgard who can hold his own against Green Goliath, and does so admirably aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. hellicarrier. Like the rest of the film, the scene is a fanboy wish fulfillment tour de force, brimming with moments of humor (Thor’s hammer delaying to come back to him) and true-to-mythology details (Hulk failing to lift Mjolnir), and of course Thor’s well-timed slo-moclocking of the Hulk. Seeing a man-sized being take on the emerald behemoth and prevail, in live action no less, provides a certain thrill that can scarcely be found elsewhere.
1 Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock (2nd Fight), Spider-Man 2 (2004)
There are a few reasons Spider-Man 2 is the best of Sam Raimi’sunabashedly cheesy blockbuster trilogy. Aside from being cheerfully entertaining and containing the best villain of the series, it has the best fight scene in comic flick history.Though the CG is a bit dated today, the kinetic choreography and camerawork of this legendary throwdown most certainly is not. Fully capturing all the loony potential of an eight limbed man battling a four legged human arachnid, this bout winds up atop an elevated train speeding through Manhattan (actually Chicago, as there are no outdoor elevated trains in Manhattan), and culminates in one of the series’ most touching moments. An iconic moment in comic book cinema, without question.
Stark vs. Rhodey, Iron Man 2 (2010) – When James Rhodes donned one of Tony’s earlier models to stop his dangerous drunken cavorting in the latest suit at his own birthday party in his own home, you knew you were in for a show. With soundtrack by the late DJ AM, no less.
Blade Vs. Nomak, Blade II (2002) – Guillermo Del Toro’s blade sequel is a still entertaining explosion of post-Matrix CGI and elaborate fighting/stunts, and this climactic battle between the Daywalker and the leader of a new breed of vampires who feed on their own is as brutal and sensational as it was then.
Spider-Man vs. the Green Goblin, Spider-Man (2002)-Spidey again. This harsh, hard-hitting bust-up was like a bloody, gritty cherry atop a very goofy sundae. All bombs to the face and journeys through brick walls, punctuated by Maguire’s screams. Battle-damaged Spidey never looked cooler.
X-Men vs. Hellfire Club, X-Men First Class (2011)- as rousing and diverse a display of mutant powers as we’ve ever seen in an X-flick, this finale, set against the Bay of Pigs conflict, rocks from start to finish, on a visual level, and ultimately, an emotional one. Beast is a lot less annoying once he goes into feral, acrobatic action, and Shaw henchmen Riptide and Azazel are of few words, just blistering mutant action.
That’s the best of comic book movie punch-ups. We rest our case.