Over the years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought us many titanic battles—not just between the forces of good and evil, but also between allies and friends—across numerous battlefields.
From Tony’s first fight against Obadiah Stane to his defining moment against Thanos, there have been all kinds of fights on the big screen in the name of Marvel, entertaining us for years on end.
As the MCU continues to evolve, the battles also shift in ways that redefine how heroes are perceived in Marvel’s universe. King T’Challa fighting Erik Killmonger is just one example, bringing into stark focus the old saying: “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”
Here are our picks for the best fights and battles throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe and why they stand out.
10. Strange vs. Dormammu (Doctor Strange)
This one is less a battle of physicality and more a battle of intellect. Stephen Strange flies into the dark dimension to bargain with Dormammu, all while activating a time loop. This keeps the cosmic conqueror trapped in a single moment in time for eternity.
The downside? Stephen Strange is stuck in that time loop with him. Subsequently, he spends a very long time dying by the hands of Dormammu, only to be resurrected by the Time Stone and brought back to his introduction with the world-hungry being.
Dormammu begs Strange to break the time loop after he realizes he won’t be able to definitively kill Strange, so they strike a deal that leads to the end of Kaecilius’ assault on Earth.
9. Thor vs. Hulk (Thor: Ragnarok)
While the other Avengers were busy dealing with their Civil War, Thor ended up on a journey to Sakaar, where he comes into conflict with the Hulk—who’s currently the planet’s arena fighting champion.
The fight between the pair is brutal and funny in equal measure, with Thor finally beginning to understand the power he hasn’t yet tapped into. But when he fails to bring Bruce Banner out from Hulk, Thor resorts to pure brutality to put down the Hulk’s rage.
As they engage one another, Hulk ends up winning the fight on a technicality when the Grandmaster immobilizes Thor (using a device fitted to the God of Thunder). Otherwise, we suspect that Hemsworth’s Thor would have won the brawl.
8. The Guardians vs. Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
The discovery of Peter Quill’s real father leads half of the Guardians to Ego’s living planet and, in effect, hang out there. That is, until they find out that Ego’s real plan is to take over the galaxy.
After Ego reveals himself and his intentions, the fight commences with Peter understanding that Ego killed his mother.
As the team fight their way to the core of Ego—with the Celestial chasing them—they find a way to plant a bomb inside Ego’s center to kill him (although not before a hard-fought fight against an entire planet).
The battle against Ego is costly. Yondu sacrifices himself for Peter when he realizes that Peter can’t escape, and Michael Rooker’s character dies heroically after he gives Peter his own breathing device.
7. Wenwu vs. Shang-Chi (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)
The fight between father and son takes place in the midst of a battle against otherworldly soul-sucking creatures, with Wenwu deceived into believing he can bring back his dead wife.
Shang-Chi knows that he has to stop his father, and they engage in battle—with Shang-Chi gaining control of his father’s ancient weapons, the Ten Rings. Using his new abilities, Shang-Chi appeals to his father to stop his madness and see reason. But he can’t.
As the mega soul-sucker is released by Wenwu’s actions, it tries to kill Shang-Chi. That’s when Wenwu pushes his son out of the way and dies protecting him, giving Shang-Chi the Ten Rings in the process. The fight has a depth that’s beyond much else in the MCU.
6. T’Challa vs. Killmonger (Black Panther)
While the second fight between cousins in Black Panther was an unremarkable CGI slugfest, the first fight for the throne of Wakanda was devastating and poignant as we realize T’Challa can’t beat Erik.
With the power of the Black Panther stripped away from him, T’Challa attempts to put his cousin down without killing him. But as the fight progresses, T’Challa realizes how formidable Erik truly is—and it ends with T’Challa thrown over the waterfall.
The emotional complexity of the fight comes to the fore as the cousins entangle, with Erik’s rage driving him forward to beat T’Challa. Yet, when Erik meets his eventual fate later in the film, we understand that he’s not necessarily a bad person.
Erik Killmonger is an example of someone who’s become mutilated by a misguided youth—one that shouldn’t have happened if he had been accepted into Wakanda instead, safe from the evils of the world.
5. The Avengers, Divided (Captain America: Civil War)
The fight in Leipzig between the two Avengers factions has a sense of finality to it, in that nobody can possibly win.
As Steve Rogers lines up against Tony Stark, he understands that what he’s doing will cost him his place in his adopted time. However, Rogers won’t surrender his friend to the forces that mean to do them ill.
Not only does this battle introduce Spider-Man to the MCU, it also showcases Ant-Man’s draft into the team.
Seeing hero against hero was a special sight for Marvel fans who’d long waited to see this iconic storyline, and the airport fight gave us a spectacle and a rift that wouldn’t heal until The Battle of Earth.
4. The Battle of Titan (Avengers: Infinity War)
Upon reaching Titan, Thanos finds Doctor Strange waiting for him with the Time Stone still seemingly around his neck. Their conversation shows why Thanos is such a dangerous character: he’s not trying to rule the universe, he’s trying to save it from overpopulation.
With the rag-tag team ready to snatch the Gauntlet from Thanos, they engage him in battle and showcase each of their extraordinary abilities in their attempt to bring down the Mad Titan.
The fight is long and brutal, and the team manages to lure Thanos into their trap. However, while attempting to get the Gauntlet off, Quill loses his emotional temper at the loss of Gamora and hits Thanos until Mantis falls from his back, allowing Thanos to strike back.
The team lose the battle, forcing Strange to make a deal to spare Tony’s life (knowing that this will set them on course for victory in five years).
3. The Spider-Men Unite (Spider-Man: No Way Home)
The return of the previous iterations of Marvel’s most famous superhero wasn’t just a big moment for fans. It was everything they’d ever wanted to see since the MCU’s inception.
Merge that with the inclusions of the best Spider-Man movie villains and the final fight atop the Statue of Liberty became more than just a fight. It was the culmination of a collective dream.
The fight is the best of the Spider-Men, with all of them showing how they are each unique in the role.
When Tom Holland’s Peter almost allows himself to kill Green Goblin (in revenge for the death of Aunt May), Tobey Maguire’s Peter stops him and shows an emotional core that separates Spider-Man’s morals from those of the other superheroes.
In trying to “cure” all the villains from their problems, the three Peters are united by a strange sense of brotherhood. It’s one that has become iconic and remembered as a cinematic battle for the ages.
2. The Battle of Earth (Avengers: Endgame)
The ultimate hero fight. The battle for the lives of everybody and everything good in the universe. The moment when Tony Stark finally proved that he’s the hero we all suspected he was underneath.
As Thanos faces down the united forces of The Avengers, The Ravagers, the armies of Wakanda, and Khamar-Taj—among many others—we looked on in stunned silence at the unfolding scenes.
During the epic fight for the fate of the universe, the forces of good nearly overcome Thanos. However, he finds the Nano Gauntlet and engages in a devastating battle against multiple Avengers for it.
Thanos succeeds and confidently wears the Nano Gauntlet. With victory just one snap away, Thanos is pulled forward by Stark, who rips the Stones from the glove and absorbs them into his suit.
With Tony now using the power of the Stones, he snaps his fingers and ends the battle by removing Thanos from existence—and in doing so, he sacrifices himself for every life in the universe.
1. Iron Man vs. Captain America (Captain America: Civil War)
The Battle of Earth might be the MCU’s best all-out battle sequence, but the best fight scene in the MCU remains the epic one-on-one between Iron Man and Captain America.
The visceral emotions involved in the fight between the heroes—between the friends—rise to the surface as Tony wants revenge for his slain mother while Steve wants to protect his friend from Tony’s wrath.
They fight to the bitter end, with both heroes leaving scars on the other—not just physically, but emotionally. It’s a fight that exposes their flawed humanity beneath the veneer of their heroism.
After Tony puts Bucky down by blowing his metal arm off, he engages with Steve and nearly defeats the Captain. But in the end, he loses the fight to Steve, who shuts down Tony’s power core. He doesn’t kill him, but it does end up with The Avengers fractured in discord.