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MCU hero vs. hero fights ranked

There are many constants throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Superpowers, advanced technology, crossovers, post-credit surprises… and hero vs. hero battles. It doesn't matter if you're in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy, on Earth with the Avengers, or split across multiple fronts. Sooner or later, the universe's mightiest heroes will find a chance to slip in a little competition among themselves. Sometimes this brings them together, though not every conflict ends quite so well.

With so many different heroes facing off over the last decade, we've decided to gather up the best match-ups of the bunch and rank them. We'll take into account everything from the impact each fight had on the storyline to the straight-up, rough-and-tumble entertainment value that always accompanies overpowered heroes recklessly duking it out. Let's start with the last place and move our way on up to the top spot. Ready to rumble? We could do this all day.

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Iron Man vs. War Machine in Iron Man 2

The drama of Iron Man 2 comes to a head with the first clash between heroes in the MCU. The duel takes place when James "Rhodey" Rhodes finally confronts a drunken Tony Stark at his own birthday party. The pair quarrel their way straight through Stark's mansion like a pair of oversized Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots as they break everything in their path.

The armors here are still in early development compared to the nano tech Stark would later develop, which adds a sense of clunkiness to the bruising battle between friends. One of the best points of the whole duel occurs when Stark sarcastically asks Rhodes if he wants to "be the War Machine," hinting at his larger role in the MCU moving forward. While the scene ends without too much collateral damage, it does leave both a mansion and an important friendship in quite a state of disrepair.

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Breaking Scarlet Witch out of Avengers HQ in Captain America: Civil War

The second scene on our list takes place when Clint Barton arrives at the Avengers headquarters to free Scarlet Witch from the vigilant protection of Vision in Captain America: Civil War. The severely outmatched Barton initially manages to gain the upper hand on the Infinity Stone-powered android by distracting him with an explosion outside the compound and then enmeshing him in an electric trap when he returns. It doesn't take long for Vision to escape, though, and Barton quickly finds himself at a severe disadvantage.

He's only saved when Wanda steps in and shows off some of her own powers by sending Vision through a plethora of floors deep down into the facility. The battle is brief, though it does have several great angles to it, particularly showcasing Barton's resourceful ability to survive in a world of superpowered friends and foes (not to mention those who are both). It also demonstrates the unique connection between Wanda and Vision, a relationship that heads in a much more positive direction after such a rocky start.

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Iron Man vs. Thor in The Avengers

The first Avengers movie will always be a memorable turning point in the MCU. Not only is it the first time the original six members unite to fight alongside each other, it also finds them discovering each other's strengths while coming to blows themselves. Case in point: Thor's arrival on Earth to take Loki back to Asgard. The raucous sequence sees Iron Man attack the God of Thunder for taking his stuff, all the while mocking him for his "Shakespeare in the park" appearance. The conflict ends when Captain America shows up to help mediate a resolution and inspire the crew to work together — something he becomes very good at in the future.

While it's fun on the surface, the brawl also allows Thor to gain a level of respect for the tenacity, skills, and technology of humans as he struggles to contain the Iron Man armor and finds that Mjolnir can't even make a dent in Cap's shield. That said, the scene also serves as a bit of a pathetic start for a team that ultimately gets its act together enough to stop an entire Chitauri invasion by the end of the film.

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Guardians vs. Avengers in Avengers: Infinity War

It turns out that Earth's Mightiest Heroes aren't the only supers trolling around the universe. There's also the Guardians of the Galaxy, who have a rich and varied history of interpersonal conflict of their own. While both groups have demonstrated plenty of pent-up aggression between teammates over the years, one of the best moments from the entire ensemble occurs when these teams cross paths on Titan in Avengers: Infinity War. The encounter takes place when Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and Spider-Man arrive on Titan in search of Thanos. Rather than finding the Mad Titan, the trio ends up getting ambushed by the Guardians of the Galaxy, with each side assuming the other is working for the bad guys.

While the fight isn't very long, it does showcase quite a few great moments between the characters. Spider-Man webs up Mantis out of the fear that she'll somehow lay alien eggs in him, Star-Lord and Iron Man take to the skies in combat, and Drax has an epic battle with Strange's cape. Fortunately, the entire fiasco settles down and they all figure out their collective mistake before anyone gets seriously hurt.

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Hulk vs. Iron Man in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Our list has already seen Tony Stark take on Thor, War Machine, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. While those are all fun matches to watch, though, the most eye-popping quarrel that the Iron Avenger has ever gotten wrapped up in is his desperate attempt to contain the Hulk during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. The two Avengers find themselves facing off in the middle of a crowded metropolis with pedestrians, vehicles, and high-rises on all sides. The stakes are set early on as Stark upgrades from to the Hulkbuster armor in order to subdue his big green frienemy and help Banner get back on top.

The fight goes on for several minutes as the two power their way through cars and elevators and even bring an entire building crashing to the ground. Stark's sarcasm-laced trademark commentary continues throughout the fight as he restrains himself in between bouts of trying to get a clean knockout. In addition to the entertainment value of Hulk and Iron Man breaking a city together, the impact that the utterly destructive affair has on the Avengers' storyline makes it quite an important event, as well.

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Hulk vs. Thor in The Avengers

Hulk's uncontrollable temper and Thor's attraction to a good fight means it was just a matter of time before the two came to blows. In fact, as it turns out, they end up doing so twice. The first time takes place on the Helicarrier in The Avengers, where the two overpowered heroes feud without the least thought to the massive aircraft that is keeping them all in the air. And we're not just talking about Hulk smashing here, either. Even Thor's summoning of Mjolnir takes a toll on the ship as it flies through everything in its path.

One of the most entertaining moments of the entire battle is when Hulk proves to be completely unworthy of Mjolnir as it pins the Green Machine to the ground and leaves him unable to budge. Not long afterward, he chooses to exit the Helicarrier in favor of the fighter jet that is peppering him with gunfire, giving Thor a break and allowing the mothership to stay airborne. While this first Thor/Hulk bash proves to be incredibly entertaining, though, it really only serves as a warm-up act for their follow-up duel on Sakaar — which we'll get to shortly.

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Captain America vs himself in Avengers: Endgame

While there are many different occasions where MCU heroes have faced off against one another, one of the only characters that can claim to have taken on himself is Steve Rogers. In Avengers: Endgame, Captain America finds himself on the time-traveling team that heads back to New York City during the Chitauri invasion. As he helps abduct the Mind Stone, though, who should he run into but the 2012 version of himself?

The innocent 2012 Rogers assumes that he's simply found Loki in disguise, and within a few seconds the past and future versions of the First Avenger are locked in combat. The fight is, understandably, quite even, with 2012 Rogers even reminding his elder self that he could "do this all day," much to the eye-rolling chagrin of his opponent. But, while the physical capabilities of both combatants are literally perfectly matched in this case, the deeper knowledge of the future Rogers proves to tip the scales. Whispering the shocking news that Bucky is alive, he's able to take his past self by surprise before knocking him out with Loki's scepter. While the scene doesn't bear too heavily on the story of the film, the fact that it is one of the only times an Avenger faces off against himself makes it quite special.

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Ant-Man vs. Falcon in Ant-Man

One of the better duels to ever take place between MCU heroes can be found in Ant-Man, when Scott Lang accidentally arrives at a building that he didn't realize was the Avengers' HQ. Despite his initial reservations, the little guy decides to press on with his burglary-based objective, since no one seems to be home… but, of course, he's mistaken. His tiny presence trips a sensor, and Sam Wilson, who is very much home, arrives on the scene to investigate.

The following scuffle is comical, as the unimposing Lang proves to be an elusively difficult opponent to subdue, even though Falcon's superior gear allows him to track Lang in his shrunken form. The two heroes scuffle across the Avengers' yard before Lang finally finds his way into Falcon's pack and wreaks havoc on his wiring. With Sam's gear now malfunctioning, Lang hops on Ant-thony and flies off. The fun little scene is hilarious as it unfolds, but it also serves the important function of proving that Ant-Man can hold his own against — and alongside — the Avengers. It's a fact that bears remembering as Lang continues to entangle himself in the cosmic affairs of Earth's Mightiest Heroes throughout Phase 3.

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Nebula vs. herself in Avengers: Endgame

While Captain America fighting himself in Avengers Tower is certainly entertaining, he's not the only hero to take on their past self in Avengers: Endgame. In fact, Cap vs. Cap isn't even the doppelgänger duel that has the most impact on the story. As the final showdown between Thanos and the Avengers shakes out in the waning moments of the epic clash, Clint Barton finds himself in possession of Stark's Infinity Gauntlet and attempts to get it out of danger. As he does so, though, he runs into Nebula. No worries, right? She's reformed now. She's one of the good guys. Except this happens to be the Nebula of 2014, who is still desperate to please her abusive father.

In the ensuing scene, 2014 Gamora and 2023 Nebula arrive to save Barton from the evil 2014 Nebula. That may sound a bit confusing, but what it all comes down to is the fact that the elder Nebula finds the strength to shoot her own past self in order to save everyone from Thanos. The scene may not be as flashy as others, but the mere fact that it features Nebula sacrificially rising to the occasion in what has to be one of the most emotionally and metaphorically fraught situations in the MCU helps earn it a solid spot on the list.

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Guardians vs. each other in Guardians of the Galaxy

The first time the Avengers assemble, they have quite a few disagreements to work through, but that doesn't hold a candle to the first time the Guardians of the Galaxy link up. In their debut outing, the rowdy team of heroes meets for the first time all together on Xandar, but not as allies — not by a long shot. In fact, the encounter ends with them all under arrest — thanks to each other. 

The scene kicks off with Gamora luring Star-Lord into a false sense of security before nabbing the Power Stone orb out of his open hand and booking it. This leads the pair of future teammates on a merry chase through the streets of the alien city as they take turns showing off their skill in tracking down and incapacitating each other.

As the struggle over the orb plays out, who should show up on the scene but Rocket and Groot. With four of the Guardians now playing for keeps on the Xandarian streets, first Gamora and then Star-Lord quickly find themselves on the ground in an electricity-induced paralysis. But just as Rocket and Groot swoop in to gather up their bounty, the entire team is arrested by the Nova Corps. While the scene's entertainment value is off the charts, it's hardly a good start for a team that ends up saving the galaxy… twice.

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Black Widow vs. Hawkeye in Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame is jam-packed, and yet the movie manages to fit in not one, not two, but three different hero vs. hero scenes that make it onto this list. The most significant of these is the clifftop struggle between Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton on Vormir. The pair of besties have a long-established friendship within the MCU, which has ever been a bright spot in a world where few characters find time to get chummy with each other.

The closeness of their relationship makes Barton and Romanoff's duel as they each vie to be the one to sacrifice themselves for the Soul Stone that much more heartwrenching. While Barton's recently dark past seems to make him a prime candidate, though, it ends up being Romanoff's redemptive arc and deep love for her new Avengers family that prevails. She outwits Barton as the two dangle from the precipice and ultimately is the one to throw herself over in the name of saving the universe. The scene is moving, heroic, and deserving of a prominent place on any list of memorable MCU moments.

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Iron Man vs. Captain America in Captain America: Civil War

Cap and Bucky's final battle with Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War is an instant classic. The outpouring of these Avengers' pent up frustration and anger are tangible as the trio becomes entangled in one of the most bitter hero vs. hero fights that the MCU has ever seen. Bucky plays an important role in helping occupy Stark throughout the initial clash, but the best part comes after Iron Man manages to blast the super soldier's bionic arm off, leaving him largely out of the fight.

In the ensuing "last gasp," Rogers and Stark take each other on with a bitterness and fury that ultimately leads to the former putting his vibranium shield through the latter's arc reactor. The fight is beautifully staged and absolutely mesmerizing to watch as it takes place against a backdrop of cold snow and hard stone. On top of the stunning cinematic quality, it also cauterizes a major rift within the Avengers that continues to bear fruit throughout the rest of Phase 3.

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Hulk vs. Thor in Thor: Ragnarok

What's the best way to take an awesome MCU hero duel and push it to the next level? By formalizing it into a gladiatorial match overseen by a psychotically hilarious Grandmaster played by Jeff Goldblum, that's how. While their first duel on the Helicarrier made for some quality eye candy, it's Hulk and Thor's rematch in Thor: Ragnarok that will ultimately go down in history.

The scene boils down to a cacophonous brawl, staged for the pleasure of all of the citizens of Sakaar. From Hulk sporting a Roman helmet to Loki's reaction when he sees the Jade Giant emerge into the arena, the scene is brimming with a sense of tongue-in-cheek humor that only Taika Waititi could create. The best part of it all, though, is Thor's announcement that Hulk is his "friend from work" after he recognizes his Avenging partner. Not only is that one of the best lines in the entire movie, but it was literally thought up by a kid from the Make-A-Wish Foundation who was visiting the set. It's the kind of cinematic gold that you can't manufacture. You simply have to let it happen naturally… on a garbage planet half a universe away.

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The airport fight in Captain America: Civil War

There are plenty of excellent candidates on this list, but there's only one point in the entire MCU that can easily land the top spot: the airport battle in Captain America: Civil War. Scenes like Hulk and Thor duking it out on Sakaar or Barton and Romanoff fighting to sacrifice themselves on Vormir certainly stand tall on their own merits, but the fight at the airport in Germany takes everything that makes those scenes great and rolls it into the best hero vs. hero fight of all time.

The emotional depth of the scene is palpable as the Avengers prepare to fight each other in cold blood. Tempering the tension is the comical banter from characters like Stark, Rhodey, Spider-Man, and Ant-Man as they set the stage for the clash. But the big cherry on top of it all is the simple fact that so many heroes are involved.

The scene has two new heroes flaunting their skill sets, as Spider-Man nabs Cap's shield and Black Panther dives claws-first into the fray. It also features Ant-Man's transformation into Giant-Man and delivers an overall fabulous sequence of action-packed events as the Avengers collapse in on themselves like a dying star. While its consequences may be a bit depressing, the scene itself is by far the most incredible event to pit heroes against each other in the entire history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.