Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The DCEU's Greatest Fight Scenes

Say what you will about the DC Extended Universe's quality control when it comes to their superhero movie catalogue, but the franchise has undoubtedly struck fight scene gold on more than one occasion, injecting their otherwise divisive library with some of the greatest superhero smackdowns in cinema. 

Where does one begin when trying to narrow down the DCEU's greatest face-offs? After all, between Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League, there are bound to be more great fight scenes than we could possibly hope to identify, right? To help narrow it down, we're only looking at those that, on top of being epic during the action, supplement their conflicts with quality buildup and payoff. That means you're not going to find Batman and Superman's big showdown on this list, for obvious reasons. You will, however, find the most finely crafted, supremely executed, and indubitably greatest fight scenes in the DCEU — so read on to see which ones made the cut.

The Justice League vs. Superman (Justice League)

This is easily one of the burgeoning DCEU's best fight scenes, if but for one simple reason: it gives us the fight we should've gotten in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Remember how in that movie Batman cheated, using his kryptonite grenades as a cheap crutch to even up a fight that should never have been fair in the first place? Well, this scuffle more than makes up for that nonsense.

Midway through Justice League, the league decide to resurrect Superman via a Mother Box. However, when they do, Superman wakes up in a frenzied state, unsure of who is friend or foe. This sparks one of the coolest fights in the DCEU, wherein Superman utterly decimates every other member of the league. It's awesome for so many reasons: first, as mentioned above, it gives us the Batman v Superman fight we deserved — one where Superman one-hit K.O's Batman (the only way a fight like this should've ever gone down). Secondly, it justifies all of Batman's fears about what would happen if the world's most powerful metahuman went rogue (and gives us a glimpse at that exciting, if scary, reality). Thirdly, it provides the audience with a reason to actually care about the story. After all, this isn't Superman whaling on a generic villain-of-the-week, this is him decimating his closest allies!

While the overall fight is short, boy, is it ever sweet — not to mention a great apology to Superman fans.

Zod's last stand (Man of Steel)

Superman's a tricky character to handle — when it comes down to it, he could destroy the whole planet in a couple of minutes and not break a sweat if he wanted to. So how do storytellers keep his capacity for spectacle intact without raising the bar to increasingly astronomical levels every single fight? The answer, as Man of Steel so smartly concludes, is to have Kal-El voluntarily aim to keep the fight small.

For the entirety of Man of Steel's finale, all Superman wants to do is save the city he loves, and, when that fails, prevent Zod from destroying more of Metropolis than he already has. Hence, Supes drags Zod into the already-destroyed portion of the city, allowing for skyscrapers to crumble without too much collateral damage or citizen endangerment. This keeps the entirety of the fight confined to a small sandbox of destruction that enables satisfactorily flashy action without resulting in a showdown that preemptively trumps every other conflict in future DCEU movies

It's an elegant and clever way to keep Man of Steel's finale in check while still allowing for it to be the big, badass showdown between Kal-El and Zod that we'd all been waiting for. Seriously, there's so much cool stuff in this fight. Zod lunging up the side of a skyscraper like a Kryptonian gorilla? Superman laser-eyeing a tower in half? That gut-wrenching finale where Superman does the unthinkable? The whole sequence is jaw-dropping, from start to finish.

Batman to the rescue (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)

Batman's big rush to save Martha at the end of Batman v Superman was definitely a high point of that movie, for a few reasons: first, it really showcased how badass and brutal Batman can be when he goes all-out in a fight. Secondly, it served to redeem his character. For the whole movie, Batman was an unlikable villain, one consumed by fear of the outside world. Between Joker's murder of Robin and the arrival of Superman, we saw a Bruce Wayne who thought the world had left him in the dust. However, when Superman told him that his mom needed help, it humanized Batman. It reminded him that there was still good to be fought for. As such, he wasn't just fighting to save Martha when he entered that warehouse — he was fighting to save himself.

The context alone makes this scene way more intense than it already was, which is no small feat given how much punch the baseline action was already packing. Really, this was one of the only fight scenes in cinema history where one normal guy single-handedly taking on ten-plus goons didn't seem absurd or silly — it seemed awesome. Between Batman's A+ use of his environment, expert employment of gadgetry (he grapple-hooked a guy through the shoulder, for crying out loud) and just-believable-enough fighting style, this whole scene flowed seamlessly from one punch to the next and easily remains a highlight of the DCEU's best superhero scraps.

Batman apprehends Harley Quinn (Suicide Squad)

This fight scene's got everything going for it: a fully realized Harley/Joker relationship dynamic, a super fun Batman cameo appearance, and — most importantly — an impossibly smooth flow. Every camera motion and onscreen object move together in dynamic, exciting ways that connect effortlessly to whatever came before and whatever's coming next, and that's what makes this whole sequence so great. One second Batman's leaping on top of Joker's car; the next, Harley's firing shots through the roof at the caped crusader. In this example, both moments are interspersed with Fast and Furious-esque angles of Joker's hot car speeding through empty night time streets. 

As diverse as these shots are, Ayer shifts between them with verve, keeping the bubbly and bouncy action hopping right along until the scene comes screeching to a close with an outright hilarious one-punch K.O by Batman, who socks a feisty, drowning Harley Quinn so that he can save her life. In the brief minute and a half or so that this scene lasts, it describes the ethos of Gotham's three biggest players, provides some of Suicide Squad's best lines, and features the crispest, most silky-smooth car-chase/fight hybrid in superhero cinema.

The Smallville fight (Man of Steel)

If you're going to neuter a fight scene with Superman and other Kryptonians, this is how you do it. Not through the use of kryptonite or some other silly MacGuffin, but through meaningful, story-based handicaps. In this scene, both Kal-El and his opponents, the Kryptonians Faora-Ul and Tor-An, are still adjusting to fighting at full force on Earth, which features a different atmosphere and chemical makeup than their home planet. 

Though Supes has a better handle on the environment than his opponents, they're more skilled warriors, which, again, balances the fight. As such, the showdown is the right kind of fair — one that keeps the stakes high by giving the bad guys a fair shot at winning. This is something the DCEU, in its first two films, got right: it gave the villains a fighting chance, and no single scene sums up this stakes-driven philosophy better than the aforementioned Smallville showdown, where Superman takes on two Kryptonians and gets pummeled. This scene features some of the most hardcore sci-fi fight choreography in superhero cinema, accompanied by equally powerful camerawork. At any given moment, Kal-El might be getting punched directly into an asphalt road with such force that his body tears the entire street up, with the whole moment captured via a brutal, low-angle close-up shot that eats the gravel right alongside him. It's in this, the sheer grit and force of the Smallville fight scene's cinematography, that the threat of the villains as well as the strength of our hero is reaffirmed.

Enchantress' last stand (Suicide Squad)

Suicide Squad's final fight works for one main reason: its camerawork. That's right, this DCEU fight scene boosts itself onto this list exclusively through its sharp, poignant shot framing.

A prime example of this skillful cinematography at work comes in the form of a few short, but powerful, close-ups of Joel Kinnaman, whose emotionally torn character Rick Flag faces quite the dilemma: his occupational duty to kill Enchantress but moral duty to try and save his lover, the two of which are one and the same. Ayer communicates this emotional struggle simply through a few traditionally framed shots that let Kinnaman's face do all the heavy lifting, and it's an approach that works wonders thanks to the latter's acting chops.

Similarly, another character's emotional struggles are brought to a meaningful climax thanks to smart camerawork. Deadshot's big moment, when he commits to being a good guy, is communicated almost exclusively through a close-up sequence of him using Harley's revolver. The gun's barrel, which is captured in slow-motion for the shots in question, switches from saying "hate" to "love" as Deadshot fires off a round directly at Enchantress (or, rather, at the C4 behind her), a moment that says more about his character's arc than any dialogue ever could've. The smartly timed inserts of Will Smith's impassioned face didn't hurt his character's big moment, either. And keep in mind, these are just a few of the shots that made Suicide Squad's final fight such a powerful showdown.

Wonder Woman crosses No Man's Land (Wonder Woman)

In an ironic twist, this scene managed to capture a more pure, emblematic sense of "hope" than any of Superman's DCEU appearances thus far. In that sense, Wonder Woman really does live up to her name in this iconic fight, which was used for a bevy of the film's promotional materials. 

In this scene, Steve Trevor tells Diana to turn a blind eye to the countless Allied soldiers they're saddled up next to in the trenches, all of whom are destined to die. After a pained moment of indecision, Diana decides to ignore Steve's pessimistic outlook and instead steps onto the battlefield in all of her Amazonian armor-clad glory in order to save her comrades' lives and rise to the heroic challenge in front of her. She's confronted by heavy fire from the opposite side, but it means nothing to her, as she miraculously manages to deflect all incoming bullets with nothing but her bracelets and shield (in the same way that all the bad guys in Captain America's movies target his shield rather than his many exposed bits). While the aforementioned bit of generic "superhero movie" tomfoolery does bring the scene down a hair, that small issue doesn't come close to eclipsing the sheer wonder of the moment. What Iron Man's first fully-suited assault on terrorists was to the MCU, this is to the DCEU. It's a fight scene that told the world Wonder Woman had arrived, and that she's here to stay.

Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor to the rescue (Wonder Woman)

Deep into the latter half of Wonder Woman, Diana, Steve, and their rag-tag crew of buddies arrive at a small town that's completely occupied by German troops. As with any good superhero fight scene, the odds are heavily stacked against them — not that that matters to them, of course. Without hesitation, Diana, Steve, and the boys storm onto the battlefield, incorporating some truly epic teamwork in their flawless recapture of the town. 

Wonder Woman takes on a good few dozen soldiers by herself within the town's guard towers, resulting in a ton of visceral, high-octane action shots. And, at the same time, Steve and co. are down at street level, shooting the opposition and blowing them to pieces with grenades. Once in a while these two parties overlap, which makes for twice the awesome fight scene action in half the time; an incredible feat given how fun the two units were to watch as they kicked ass separately. Given how organically this scene's multitude of A-plus action segments flow into and out of each other, as well as how well the scene captures the raw strength of its protagonists, it's a no-brainer as to why this fight scored a spot on this list.

The League vs. Steppenwolf (Justice League)

This fight scene, by itself, sells the title of the film. While Justice League featured a good number of individual fights and scuffles, as well as a few group-oriented powwows, it's only got one showdown that brings everyone together in order to properly compose the DCEU league of justice we all know and love. That one showdown is the film's finale against Steppenwolf, wherein every hero gets their time to shine. Flash gets to show off his super-speed as he saves civilians at a lightning pace, Cyborg takes hits for the team thanks to his nearly indestructible robot body and lack of nerve pain, Batman pulls off some neat gadget-based tricks and utilizes his arsenal of vehicles to their absolute fullest, Aquaman goes to work with his trident, Wonder Woman is allowed some epic clashes against Steppenwolf and, of course, Superman is finally unshackled. 

After being neutered in Batman v Superman, Justice League's finale finally lets Superman show off his true power levels, and he beats the absolute snot out of Steppenwolf with ease. That's the glory of the Justice League finale: it gave everyone their time in the spotlight without resorting to equalizing anyone. It let each of its heroes be unique and therefore valuable to the assembled team . . . nay, to the league.

Wonder Woman vs. Ares (Wonder Woman)

While the action of Wonder Woman's finale in and of itself isn't as memorable as some of the other scenes on this list, what makes this fight scene so great is its heartstring-tugging, emotionally manipulative narrative, the likes of which twists a knife into your gut as it dangerously toys with the fate of Steve Trevor. 

The scene's got all the right ingredients for a sob-fest: a threat that can only be stopped via a heroic sacrifice, a lovable lead character willing to do the job, and a romantic partner who can't find it in herself to stop him. The crafty, non-chronological nature of the scene's editing amplifies the emotions of the moment tenfold when we find out after the fact that Steve's last words to Diana were "I love you," a sentence that makes Diana's fight against Ares that much more intense since it's then set against the backdrop of Diana's soulmate's death. It's a fight scene wholly different than anything else that exists in the DCEU, MCU or any other superhero blockbuster franchise — it's not a scene built to make you cheer and roar, it's a scene built to make you cry and feel fragile. For a movie about indestructible superhumans, that's a hell of an emotion for Wonder Woman to convey, and it does so flawlessly.