2016 is perhaps the greatest year for comic book fans and fans of the superhero medium. This year marks the first time Batman and Superman will appear on screen together. It is a historic event for fanboys and movie buffs.
Batman v. Superman isn’t the only superhero movie this year that will feature a superhero battle of epic proportions. Captain America: Civil War might be even bigger. It’s not just Cap versus Iron Man – it’s Team Cap vs Team Iron Man. Which side are you on? Cap, the Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch, Falcon and Hawkeye will face off against Iron man, Vision, Black Widow, Black Panther, War Machine and Spider-Man. Friendships will end and new enemies will be formed.
Over on Netflix there is another superhero battle brewing. Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, will duke it out against antihero the Punisher. Will Daredevil be able to stop this murdering vigilante, or will Punisher convince Daredevil to cross a line that he vowed not to cross? All these cinematic battles are inspired by showdowns that have happened on the printed page. With over 70 years of superhero comics, there have been some memorable battles over the years. Here’s a look at the 16 most epic superhero battles of all time.
16 Thor vs Silver Surfer
Loki is a trickster, and the Thor villain once duped Silver Surfer big time. The Herald of Galactus was fooled into thinking that Thor was an evil god, and the battle between Silver Surfer and Thor was epic on a cosmic level.
Loki makes Silver Surfer think that Thor is the one trying to control and conquer Asgard. In reality it’s Loki who wants to do that. However, Loki’s plan fails as Thor and Silver Surfer soon realize that Loki is the mastermind behind their battle.
15 Batman vs the Red Hood
After the Joker and his crowbar beat the second Robin, Jason Todd, to death, the one time half of the Dynamic Duo was resurrected in the Lazarus pit and returned to Gotham City as the antihero known as the Red Hood.
The Red Hood was killing gangsters and mobsters left and right, and it was up to Batman to take down his former partner. Batman won’t kill, and he had to convince a deranged Jason Todd that killing was wrong and could lead to a very slippery slope. Batman’s code will not allow him to kill anyone – even the Joker.
14 Wonder Woman vs Aquaman
In the DC Comics miniseries Flashpoint, Professor Zoom has altered the timeline. Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman; his father Thomas Wayne is now Batman because Bruce was the one who was killed in Crime Alley.
Wonder Woman and Aquaman are not heroes and members of the Justice League. Instead, they are warlords who face off against each other after they had an affair. This lover’s quarrel resulted in World War III where the Amazonians of Themyscira battled it out against the soldiers of Atlantis.
13 Batman vs Green Lantern
This battle makes the list not because it was an ultimate showdown. Instead, it’s here because of how easily Batman defeated Guy Gardner. Guy Gardner is one of many members of the Green Lantern Corps who have defended earth, but in the comics he is known as somewhat of a jerk.
That’s and understatement - he’s a complete douche. Batman was having none of Gardner’s attitude and knocked him out with just one punch. Blue Beetle famously yelled out “one punch” after Green Lantern had his butt kicked by Batman.
12 Superman vs the Flash
The fight was not a battle of brawn and fighting ability. Instead, it was a race around the world to see if the Flash truly was the fastest man alive. In Superman #199, the United Nations had the idea to create a charity race where Superman and the Flash would race around the world.
Superman was not allowed to fly, so Flash had the edge when the pair raced over oceans. Flash was able to move so fast he could walk on water. The pair realized that criminals were making bets on the race, so they threw the race on purpose and made it end in a tie.
11 Iron Man vs Hulk
It’s a battle between brains and brawn. Measly Tony Stark couldn’t take down the Hulk without a suit of armor, and even then he had to design a special Iron Man suit capable of withstanding a melee of punches from the ever lovin’ Hulk.
The Hulkbuster armor acts as Iron Man’s version of riot control if the Hulk ever goes berserk. One of the few redeeming qualities of Marvel Studio's recent blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron was the battle between Hulk and Iron Man wearing his Hulkbuster armor. The battle caused so much destruction in the film that a large chunk of a South African city was destroyed.
10 Avengers vs X-men
The two greatest superhero teams in the Marvel Universe have faced off against each other numerous times. It’s unlikely this showdown will ever happen on the big screen because Fox owns the film rights to the X-Men. However, the mutants and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes can still have epic showdowns on the printed page. In 2012, the teams had an all out war in a Marvel Comics special event. Avengers vs X-men focused on the return of the Phoenix force to Earth.
The Avengers thought it would result in the destruction of the planet while Cyclops and the X-Men thought it would result in the rebirth of the mutant species, which had nearly been decimated.
9 Superman vs Hulk
Superman and the Hulk are arguably the two strongest superheroes in comic book history, but because the Hulk is a Marvel property and Superman is a DC property, the characters almost never faced off against each other. However, Superman and the Hulk did fight in the Marvel vs. DC comic book miniseries from the 90s.
The book pitted numerous Marvel and DC heroes against one another, and fans got to vote on who they thought would win. Superman absolutely destroyed the Hulk. In this comic Hulk did not feature his ability to grow stronger as he got madder, but at the time he was professor hulk, which meant he was smart and not the dumb brute that the Hulk usually is.
8 Iron Man vs Captain America
The big Marvel movie this year is Captain America: Civil War. The cast of heroes in this showdown is so large it seems more like an Avengers movie than a Captain America movie. Team Cap consists of Captain America, his partner Bucky aka the Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Captain America’s other sidekick Falcon, and Ant-Man.
Team Iron Man is Iron Man, War Machine, Black Widow, Vision, Black Panther and Spider-Man. Which side do you think will come out on top? Even though Iron Man is usually much stronger than Cap if he is wearing a suit of armor, the match up could still be interesting because Iron Man doesn’t really want to seriously hurt Cap and Cap never gives up.
7 Daredevil vs Punisher
Have you watched Netflix’s Daredevil season two yet? Daredevil vs Punisher is a very interesting comic book battle because both characters are so similar to one another. They both want the same thing – for New York to be a safer place by eliminating the mob. However, they have very different methods for accomplishing this goal.
The Punisher will take any means necessary, and that includes brutally torturing and killing people. Daredevil won’t cross that line. The Man without Fear won’t take a life because he believes in justice, not vengeance. These street level heroes have battled it out many times on the pages of Marvel comics. They first duked it out in Daredevil issue 183, which was written by Frank Miller.
6 Batman vs Superman
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of the most anticipated movies of the year, and the fight between Batman and Superman will probably be epic. Batman and Superman are the two most iconic comic book characters of all time, and over the past 70 years they have teamed up thousands of times. However, supes and the dark knight don’t always get along. The most memorable fight between the duo was in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. A corrupt superman had become a lackey for president Ronald Reagan, and an aging batman was out of control with his vengeance. Batman dawned his armored suit and with the help of Green Arrow, strategic planning and plenty of kryptonite he managed to beat superman just before having a massive heart attack.
5 Hulk vs Thing
Two of Marvel’s heaviest and strongest bruisers are the Incredible Hulk and The Thing. When they face off against each other there is plenty of destruction. The Hulk may be stronger, but that doesn’t mean that Ben Grimm is a slouch. The Hulk has beaten The Thing many times, but The Thing did prevail a couple of times.
The heroes first fought in Fantastic Four issue 12. At the time, The Thing was considered to be the strongest character in the Marvel universe. The fight ended in a draw. In Fantastic Four 320, Hulk lost to The Thing. However, this fight might need an asterisk because it was a mutated Thing versus the much weaker than usual Grey Hulk.
4 Hulk vs Wolverine
Wolverine’s first full appearance in the comics was in Incredible Hulk 181. Wolverine looked much different than he does now. He really didn’t look intimidating at all due to a mask with whiskers that made him look like a kitty cat.
His claws were still there, but it wasn’t until later that Chris Claremont reworked Wolverine’s origin to give him an adamantium skeleton. Despite this, Wolverine still put up quite a fight against the Green Goliath. The pair has met many times in comics, cartoons and animated films. In the mini series Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk, Hulk ripped Wolverine in half and threw his legs miles away from his upper torso. Wolverine had to crawl through snowy tundra to be reunited with his legs.
3 Superman vs Shazam!
There was a time when Superman and Shazam!, who was once called Captain Marvel, were part of rival comic book companies, but DC comics purchased Fawcett Comics and all of its characters, which meant Shazam! became part of the DC universe. Both characters are eerily similar. They both wear red suits and fly, they are both goody goodies and both almost invulnerable.
Each hero has a very meek alter ego in the forms of Clark Kent and Billy Batson (who is just a young boy). The fact that both these heroes are so equally matched makes for an epic battle in the skies over Metropolis or Fawcett City. The pair faced off against each other in the DC animated short film Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam.
2 Superman vs Spider-Man
Marvel’s most popular hero faced off against the Man of Steel in the 1970s. Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man was one of the first times superheroes from two competing comic book companies appeared in the same book. No explanation was given for why the pair is suddenly in the same universe, and the comic is not cannon.
At first the superheroes fight against each other after a misunderstanding. Spidey managed to get in a few good punches against the much more powerful Superman because Lex Luthor had irradiated Spider-Man’s suit with red solar energy (beams from red suns weaken Superman). When the effect of the radiation wore off, Spidey called off the fight after quickly realizing he would have been beaten to a pulp.
1 Batman vs The Justice League
How can Batman be the most powerful hero in comic book history when he is simply a mere mortal with no superpowers whatsoever? The answer is simple: because he’s Batman. No hero is as street smart as Batman. He has a plan for everything, and hundreds of back up plans in case his original plan doesn’t work.
Batman can even take down The Justice League. In the graphic novel Tower of Babel, it was revealed that Batman had failsafe measures to stop the other members of The Justice League if they went rogue or got too high on power. After all, absolute power corrupts absolutely.