In my previous Iron Fist review, my harshest criticism was on the lack of good or even acceptable fight scenes for a show about a Kung Fu master. Fight scenes are an expression of storytelling that best encapsulates the struggle of one human against another, often sacrificing everything for the slightest chance of victory. David vs Goliath, Arthur vs Mordred, and Hector vs Achilles are some of the prime examples from history, but because less and less people actually decide to read those “ancient texts”, they want to be able to experience these struggles with their very own eyes. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is already one of the greatest franchises of all time, putting decades old comics characters onto screens, both large and small, so a whole new generation can love these characters. With Captain America, Daredevil, Iron Man, etc. they had a huge roster to pull from to show off their skills as martial artists and they definitely succeeded in doing just that.
Here are my top 5 fight scenes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although I will say that I give more credit to actual fight choreography with as little CGI as possible, so you won’t be seeing the Incredible Hulk or Thor on here.
5. Daredevil Season 2 – Punisher Jail Hallway
Ah, yes, the Punisher, everyone’s favorite “I’m killing everyone and everything” character. We’d seen Frank Castle be deadly with his guns and explosives, but this scene inside a prison hallway (you’ll notice that the Netflix series love themselves some hallways) shows off his incredible hand to hand combat skills. After performing a hit for Wilson Fisk, he betrays Castle to a hall of inmates hell bent on using whatever they have to put him down. The action is fast and brutal, as unlike some of the other heroes, The Punisher goes to kill right off the bat. There is no honorable combat, he uses their own shivs and homemade weapons to kill them, eventually being showered in the final goon’s blood as he stabs him in the neck.
4. Captain America: Civil War – Winter Soldier and Captain America vs. Iron Man
Emotions were high going into this, as Tony had just found out that Bucky had killed his mother (previously uncast in three movies) and father, which made him lash out in anger to try and kill their murderer and the man trying to protect him. Captain America and the Winter Soldier team up and beat the hell out of Iron Man in a well-choreographed fight that features them passing the shield back and forth to whoever Tony is trying to hit at that point. Tony blasts off the Winter Soldier’s metal arm and is smacked down, while Captain America charges in with his shield just so we can all get the iconic Civil War frame. Cap unloads on Iron Man, leading Tony to get his suit to analyze the fight pattern so he can get the upper hand and throw Cap against the wall. After Cap gets up with his dukes up and says his iconic phrase, “I can do this all day,” Bucky distracts Iron Man and Cap rushes in, pins Iron Man to the ground, and goes for what we think is the killing blow, but strikes the Arc Reactor with his shield to disable Tony to end the fight. Tony then whines like the cretin he is and makes Cap leave behind the shield his daddy made. If you couldn’t tell, I’m #TEAMCAPTAINAMERICA.
3. Daredevil Season 2 – Yet Another Hallway Scene
The sequel to the original hallway scene, this one was a step up in just about every way. It kept the single-shot technique but gave us the impression of Daredevil as an unstoppable force going through the entire several rooms, hallways, and a stairwell full of enemies. It also gave Daredevil weapons, as he had taped a gun and a biker chain to his hands to increase the number of moves he could pull off using the chain to whip people around and striking the lights to affect visibility. When he reaches the base of the building the flashing red lights and change in music let us know that this is the boss battle. The final bulky gang member is throwing him around and trying to break his neck until Daredevil uses a chained enemy as leverage to run up a wall and do a flipping knee strike to finish him off.
2. Captain America Winter Soldier – The Elevator Scene
The original Captain America and The Avengers had shown the incredible fighter that was Steve Rogers, but this scene was unbelievable. The tension builds in the Triskelion elevator as more and more men cram around Captain America, which is already unsettling to anyone who has crammed into an elevator before, but he notices little things as they come in, a hand on a weapon, a guy sweating more than normal. When the last comes in, he looks around, the music stops, and he says, “Before we start, does anyone wanna get out?” A flurry of action ensues as they tackle him and try use a cattle prod and magnetic cuffs to stick him to the wall, but his super strength allows him to resist the pull. He takes out a few of them, until the future Crossbones kicks his hand with the cuff to the wall, where he proceeds to beat the majority of them with one hand and a sweet scissor kick. By the end of the scene, the overhead shot lets us soak in the fact that he just beat ten HYDRA agents in an enclosed space.
1. Daredevil Hallway Scene – Season 1
This is the scene that let us know we were onto something special with Daredevil. Famous for it’s single shot technique, this fight scene was stunning in just about every way. Matt Murdock by this point is wounded, exhausted, but even more determined to save the little boy who was abducted by the Russian Mafia. They chose to start it in another room, showing him enter and throw a punch or two but moved it back into the hallway, letting us hear the impacts even before men and objects started flying through the door. It is well choreographed, as everything looks like it hurts and the opposing fighters look outmatched, but not comically so, because they are gang members who have been in street fights before so it’ll take more than one hit to take these guys down. He gets hit, falls down, moves slower and slower, but is still able to pull off a roundhouse kick and defeat an entire gang of child traffickers before calming the little boy and taking him back through the disaster area of the hallway. By the time we see him enter the hallway with his fists wrapped up like a boxer, we knew that this Murdock boy was about to let the Devil out.
Honorable Mention: Guardians of The Galaxy Dance Off
In honor of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 coming out this week, this scene gets an honorable mention just because of the sheer surprise of it. A lot of the previous Marvel Movies had lackluster final fight scenes (See: Iron Mans and Thors) and I was afraid it was going to head down that path. If it had, it still would have been one of the best movies they had made, but this fit the humor of the movie so much more.