The Marvel Universe's 8 Biggest Hero vs. Hero Fights
To prepare for Agatha Harkness' 'Contest of Chaos,' revisit a few other major hero vs. hero battles from the Marvel Universe's past.
In her quest to create a new Darkhold, Agatha Harkness will give readers a few hero vs. hero fights for the ages. For the upcoming CONTEST OF CHAOS, which takes place across several of this summer's annuals, Harkness will pit Marvel's do-gooders against each other. With that event officially set to kick off this month, let's revisit eight of the biggest hero fights in Marvel Universe history.
Hulk vs. Wolverine: Round One
When new heroes get introduced, there's a fair chance they'll end up fighting an existing powerhouse to show off their strength. That proved true for Wolverine when he debuted in INCREDIBLE HULK (1962) #181, where he waged a three-way battle against the Hulk and Wendigo and established himself as a formidable, morally ambiguous fighter.
Wolverine's original battle with Hulk is so iconic that several different books have since paid homage to the conflict. For example, ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK (2005) saw the titular heroes face off once again, with incredibly brutal results. The battle's longest lasting legacy, though, is undoubtedly introducing Wolverine to the Marvel Universe.
CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS' Lasting Legacy
MARVEL SUPER HERO CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS (1982) picked up with the Grandmaster still reeling from the death of his fellow Elder of the Universe, the Collector, at the hands of Korvac. In a bid to bring the Collector back to life, the Grandmaster did what he does best and challenged Death to a contest for the cosmic being's life. The contest involved two teams of superpowered people facing off against each other, each representing either the Grandmaster or Death.
Across three issues, MARVEL SUPER HERO CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS featured different brawls between heroes, with Matt Murdock, AKA Daredevil, facing off against Danny Rand, AKA Iron Fist; Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, fighting Jennifer Walters, AKA She-Hulk; and so many more. In addition to emphasizing just how fun large-scale hero fights could be, the series left a long legacy in its wake, inspiring other titles and even a popular mobile game.
CIVIL WAR Changed the Marvel Universe Forever
CIVIL WAR (2006) changed the Marvel Universe forever. After a battle between the New Warriors and various villains resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, the U.S. introduced the Superhuman Registration Act, which required those with abilities to register their identities with the government. The legislation proved divisive, and heroes took up arms against each other either when these tensions boiled over.
The biggest conflict of the event erupted between Iron Man and Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, who represented pro-registration and anti-registration sides, respectively. Iron Man eventually won out, and in the years that followed, several prominent heroes were forced to live in exile or underground. Pretty much every post-CIVIL WAR story had to address the event in some way, proving just how consequential these fights between heroes could be.
World War Hulk Pits the Green Goliath Against Everyone
Since his introduction, Hulk has remained something of a wild card, straddling the lines between hero, antihero, and outright villain. Considering how dangerous and unpredictable Hulk can be, the Illuminati—a secret cabal of heroes—exiled him to space, kicking off the "Planet Hulk" storyline in INCREDIBLE HULK (1999). That iconic tale ended with Hulk returning to Earth, ready to get revenge on those who betrayed him.
2007's WORLD WAR HULK crossover saw the Green Goliath fight pretty much all of Earth's heroes, including some truly tough people. For instance, Hulk battled Ben Grimm, AKA the Thing, whom he'd taken on several different times over the years. WORLD WAR HULK showed the Jade Giant's former allies exactly why they would not, in fact, like him when he was angry.
The Avengers Face Off Against the X-Men
Marvel's mutants emerged from HOUSE OF M (2005) in particularly rough shape. Using her powers, Wanda Maximoff, AKA Scarlet Witch, devastated the world's mutant population and took away the abilities of almost everyone with an X-Gene. Now an endangered species, the X-Men found themselves on the defensive and fighting for their very survival. This led directly to AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (2012).
In this blockbuster event, the X-Men prepared Hope Summers for the coming of the Phoenix Force, while the Avengers opposed their attempt. When Summers didn't become the Phoenix Force's host, the cosmic being instead split its power among five mutants: Scott Summers, AKA Cyclops; Emma Frost; Namor McKenzie; Piotr Rasputin, AKA Colossus; and Illyana Rasputin, AKA Magik.
Initially, the Phoenix Five—as they came to be known—seemed benevolent, but the story took a grim turn when the group began committing atrocities to defeat the Avengers. The event became a dark chapter in mutantkind's story and cemented the heel turns of several heroes, most notably Cyclops.
CIVIL WAR II Divides the Marvel Universe—Again
CIVIL WAR II (2016) once again pit Earth's heroes against each other. This time around, Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, found herself at odds with Iron Man over how to use the precognitive powers of an Inhuman named Ulysses Cain. Captain Marvel wanted to use Ulysses to prevent crime and make the world more peaceful, while Iron Man opposed them out of concern for people who would be prosecuted for acts they hadn't yet committed.
The Marvel Universe's Super Heroes quickly took sides and began working with either Captain Marvel or Iron Man. By the end of the event, the hero community was in shambles. Captain Marvel's actions damaged her reputation in a big way, especially after she left Iron Man comatose following a fight between them. As with the original CIVIL WAR, the sequel also set the stage for deadly future events, including SECRET EMPIRE (2017).
The X-Men Take on the Inhumans
The Terrigen Mists are a particularly important part of Inhuman culture, as the gaseous substance activates Inhuman abilities upon exposure. However, Terrigen can be extremely deadly for mutants. So, when Terrigen Clouds began cycling around the Earth after the detonation of a Terrigen Bomb, the two groups found themselves at odds, resulting in INHUMANS VS. X-MEN (2016).
Filled with twists and turns, INHUMANS VS. X-MEN featured numerous fierce battles between heroes on both sides of the genetic divide, leading to some truly great fights. The event also featured several major betrayals, with both Hank McCoy, AKA Beast, and Bobby Drake, AKA Iceman, abandoning their side when the X-Men went on the attack.
Moon Knight Wrecks the Avengers
Thanks to his relationship with Khonshu, the Egyptian God of the Moon, Moon Knight is one of the Marvel Universe's most formidable heroes—a fact displayed by the "Age of Khonshu" arc in AVENGERS (2018). The storyline saw Khonshu try to stop a potential Multiverse takeover by Mephisto by enlisting Moon Knight to fight the Avengers, with the goal of stealing their powers and weapons.
Moon Knight's fights against the Avengers showcase the hero's raw power and capacity for strategy. Outside of that, the storyline itself set the stage for a massive war between Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Mephisto, which was explored in subsequent issues of AVENGERS and AVENGERS FOREVER (2021).
The next big faceoff between heroes takes place in SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1, on sale now!
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