Was there a reason why I wouldn’t allow animated battles in my previous instalments of Couchzone Fightclub? Absolutely, it’s so I could devote a whole article on the fights that animators have toiled so long and hard in Chineses sweat shops to provide.
What’s great is in Animated Fight Club, anything goes. Fists, swords and high impact cannons, if you can draw it you can bring. Although as always there are just a few rules for inclusion, we’re not Millwall supporters you know.
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All fights must be one on one.
Only one fight per intellectual property.
General Woodwort vs Bigwig (Watership Down, 1978)
When I was a little kid I expected a film all about rabbits to be all jolly, fluffy little adventures with happy little bunnies busily working to build up piles of carrots for the winter. Imagine my shock when I found Watership Down to be a dark tale of oppression, totalitarianism and another gore in the rabbit on rabbit violence to leave me traumatised as a little un.
Watching the final battle between the vicious rabbit warlord General Woodwort and hero Bigwig battling to defend his group of free rabbits, you realise why Channel Four recently had to apologise for inflicting the film in the daytime on unsuspecting, fragile millennium kiddies. The two rabbits tear, claw and bite each other to shreds leaving each other a scarred and bloody mess that allow this quaint little English cartoon to give any Japanese Anima a run for it’s money.
General Woodwort is genuinely one of the most Nightmarish characters to appear in a “kids” movie. Brutal, evil and downright horrifying to look at, he’s driven by such a psychotic rage that he follows up battling Bigwig by leaping into battle to take on a dog that has savaged it’s way through his forces. Scarily, it’s hinted that Woodwort may have even survived this battle.
Optimus Prime vs Megatron (Transformers The Movie: 1986)
If you were a child of a nerdy persuasion in the 80’s the chances are you’re already humming “The Touch,” after seeing the above pic of Optimus and Megatron locked in combat in that decade’s greatest movie.
Yes the cynics may claim that this titanic final battle was only there so the old Transformer toys could be replaced with a brand new range, just in time for Christmas. Yet to fans of Transformers: The Movie, nothing can deter from thrill of seeing the Transformers battle with a little more brutality than was allowed in the TV show and giving us the climatic battle of titans we deserved.
For a silly toy cartoon, it’s a dramatic and emotionally wrecking encounter. No other popular kids cartoon ever had it’s two biggest stars fight and wear each other down until both are effectively killed off. And that’s only in the first half hour of the film.
Simba vs Scar (Lion King, 1996)
Whenever Disney gobble up more properties such as Marvel and Star Wars, I can’t help but laugh at some of the reactions of fans. One complaint I always hear is how Disney is going to sanitise everything they acquire and make it all family friendly. Such ridiculous assumptions can only come from those who haven’t been paying attention as to what comes from the Mouse’s very on properties.
Look no further than the finale to The Lion King to get an idea of how dark and dramatic Disney can really get. Just the hero Simba’s motivation for the fight, overthrowing the corrupt dictator who murdered his father by throwing him to be trampled to death and framing the son for it has all kinds of deep, brooding emotional and tragic drama.
The fight itself is suitably vicious with savage exchanges of claws and teeth, given an extra sense of spectacle being fought while surrounded by a wall of fire. It’s a breath taking scene both both visually and emotionally and the fact the conflict ends with Scar getting eaten alive by hyenas should allay any accusations at Disney “toning shit down.”
Spike vs Vicious (Cowboy Bebop Finale, 1997)
While the wonderfully Jazz cool anime Cowboy Bebop had a mostly fun, light hearted vibe, there was always an edgy shift in tone when Spike came across his former criminal partner Vicious and their feud over Spike’s true love Julia. It’s fitting then that the series ended on a two parter that brought these storylines to a definitive and heartbreaking conclusion.
When Julia is killed and Spike sets off for a showdown with Vicious we get the sense that he isn’t coming back. As well as the emotional farewell between Spike and his crew mates, the clues are in the arrangement of music. The show’s lively, toe topping opening theme (one of the best in television), is absent from the beginning and the melancholy usual end credits song is for the first time reprised actually in the episode as Spike shoots his way through Vicious’s men.
The fight between Spike and Vicious is over quick and suitably ends classic duel style as the two throw each other their choice of weapons (fans of A Better Tomorrow 2 will get a thrill from the scene). It’s a satisfying conclusion to the show, but one that’s likely to devastate fans when watching it for the first time.
Peter Griffin vs The Chicken Fight 2 (Family Guy, Season 4 Episode 3, 2005)
Ever since the long protracted punch up between Peter Griffin and the Chicken in a season three episode the never ending feud became a staple on the show. Always coming out of the nowhere and resulting in a several minute, violent brawl these funny and welcome encounters became more elaborate with each battle. There was even a gag in the Star Wars Family Guy specials where the Chicken took the role of Solo hating Boba Fett.
While all the fights were fun, my favourite was the second one. While the first fight had somewhat of a build (Peter is given an expired coupon by the Chicken), and the later fights became an expected trope of the show, the second fight was a complete surprise. Coming out of nowhere, this rematch interrupts the main story and after it’s done Peter just exhaustedly returns to his place in it and carries on as if nothing has happened.
Cloud vs Sephiroth (Final Fantasy: Advent Children 2005)
If you have never played the game Final Fantasy VII then you may as well fuck off when it comes to watching the film “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children,” because it was not made for you in any way. This film doesn’t just do fan service easter eggs, IT IS entirely created as one big fan service. The entire story, style, scenes and character appearances all pander to nerds like me who can count how many hours they ploughed into playing the game (I played through it three times, and accumulated around 60 hours each time, not including the times my team got killed). The film even thanks the fans who loved their world and tells them this is for them.
Right at the heart of this film’s climax is the inevitable big fight between our main guy (and admittedly miserable) Cloud and the villainous Sephiroth, the back story to this feud of which you’d need an entire novel to cover. All you need to know, is that when the fight starts and those first bars of the undeniably awesome “One Winged Angel,” every Final Fantasy VII fan watching it gets all kinds of giddy.
Any outsider would be baffled by the resulting sword fight, new viewers probably wondering if they are supposed to have super powers or be magicians while watching them fly around while clashing swords with little explanation. Even regular FFVIII fans would be hard pressed to explain how Cloud wins the fight and what the hell was that thing he did to finish off Sephiroth.
Really, just best to enjoy the fight and feel lucky you can revel in that beautiful music without having to press multiple combinations of coloured buttons.
Wolverine vs Hulk (Hulk vs Wolverine, 2009)
Marvel have had some cracking cartoon shows throughout the years (you may now hum the theme to X-Men: The Animated Series), but there has always seemed some reluctance to try a more cinematic and mature approach to their animation. The success of Into the Spiderverse may have changed this somewhat in the future, but ten years ago was another fun little exercise that broke the mold for it’s time.
Hulk vs Wolverine was a short movie (a double bill feature with Thor vs Hulk), loosely based on the duo’s rivalry dating back from everyone’s favourite Canadian’s very first appearance in Incredible Hulk issue 181. The film gets right into what we came to see, with a wild brawl breaking out in the woods where Wolverine gets to use his claws and draw blood in ways he’d never be able to back in his 90s TV show.
Naturally, this being Marvel after an inconclusive fight the two have to team up against a common enemy. In this case that enemy comes from a team made up of Wolverine’s most vicious enemies, including the first real authentic appearance of one Deadpool.
It’s a fun little show and the fight between Hulk and Wolverine definitely delivers. Even more satisfying is the hilarious ending where once they have defeated their common enemy the two simply resume resume kicking the hell out of each other just where they left off.
Batman vs Superman (The Dark Knight Returns Part Two: 2013)
Compared to Marvel, DC have always had grandeur ambitions for their properties ventures into the animated world. With a tradition of translating their most beloved stories into adaptations worthy of the label “films,” probably their most daring project was to turn Frank Miller’s epic and brooding and game changing Dark Knight Returns limited series into a two part dvd movie.
Just as in the comic, this story of an aged and broken down Bruce Wayne in taking the cowl once again ends with a showdown with a Superman who is now an operative for the US Government. This is the ultimate clash between the two (you know the one that doesn’t end with them finding out their moms had the same name), in everything from the actual fight to their clash of personalities and ideologies.
While most of this two parter sticks close to Miller’s original story the film deviates when it comes to the finale with a larger battle in terms of the scope of the battlefield and the elaborate super powered moves inflicted. This does make for a more spectacular fight, with the rest of the motivations driving the fight remaining, even if the hatred shown by Bruce towards Clark is tempered significantly (much of Miller’s dialogue was dropped in the animated outing yet showed up in BvS).
As animated famous comic book characters battling goes, it’s hard to think of one that is the right mix of physical and emotional action. Not to mention ends up with a clear winner.
Eren vs Annie (Attack on Titan, Episode 25, 2013)
If you’ve never watched the TV series or read the Manga (you read em back to front by the way, crazy I know), it’s hard to comprehend just how vast in terms of story, characters and concepts the world of Attack on Titan really is. Neither is it possible to convey how relentless the grim tension keeps hold of the viewer in this nightmarish world.
For simplicity sake, it’s about the last survivors of humanity living behind massive walls to protect them from flesh eating giants called Titans, that stumble around with creepy and horrific smiles. Armies of young scouts are trained to take the fight to these creatures and one such soldier Eren finds he has the ability to turn into one the Titans. With mysteries growing on mysteries, half way through the epic first season their appeared a new blonde haired female Titan that seemed more intelligent and formidable than it’s brethren.
Everything built up to stunning finale to season one, where the identity of the female Titan was revealed to be Eren’s comrade Annie, who like him can change into one of the giants. However, it’s clear she has an allegiance to forces who’s agenda is not to the survival of humanity.
The resulting battle of the literal giants is epic and inflicts a toll on the city in death and destruction on a gargantuan (oooh I used that word), level. Furthermore, the results of the fight only leave more hopelessness and mysteries. So very like Attack on Titan.
Attack on Titan is an incredible series, taking a relatively hokey premise of rampaging giants and used it to tell a story of politics, intrigue and loyalty amongst friends. It has great action pieces and surprising twists that lay their seeds subtly for those paying attention.
Obi Wan Kenobi vs Darth Maul (Rebels, Season 3, 2017)
When the Star Wars canon expanded into animated TV shows like Clone Wars and Rebels, it was obvious that once rare light sabre battles would be a regular (even weekly) occurrence. Thanks to the wonders of animation, these duels were fought at a blinding pace with tons of impressively energetic acrobatic moves. Yet as fun as these were, they became such a staple that they all merged together after a while. Even the emotionally charged encounter between Ashoka and her old master as Vader lacked what is known in pro wrestling as psychology (Vader jumping around like a luchador looked, well, weird).
Fortunately, there was one conclusion to an aged all rivalry which brought a reverence beyond lots of flippy move and unfeasibly fast fencing skills. The final confrontation between Darth Maul and a now ageing Obi Wan takes place near the end of the series of Rebels, with an obsessed Maul pursuing his obsession for vengeance all the way to Tatooine.
If any Star Wars fan watches just one scene from any animated series, this is the one to watch. It’s guaranteed to induce goosebumps as the two face each over around a camp fire in the Tatooine desert night, with just a light sprinkling of the Star Wars theme. This is not the Ewan Mcgregor version of Obi Wan that Maul has faced before, but the wise, measured Alec Guinness era of the character. Moved on from the self destructive hatred of their past rivalry, Obi Wan is resistant to Maul’s jibes until the briefest frown on his face betrays that a nerve has been struck when Maul threatens the young Luke Skywalker.
The fight itself is over in seconds from the first touch of lightsabre. However the observant will notice that Maul attempts to use the same maneuver he killed Qui-Gon with (the blow to the jaw with the lighsabre unit in Phantom Menace) and that Obi Wan both blocks this and slays Maul with one stroke of his blade.
It’s a clever fitting end, a quiet, sad victory for Obi Wan in the face of the tragedy of the character of Maul. Dying in Obi Wan’s arms, Maul asks if Luke is really the chosen one and when told “yes” dies happy that someone will take revenge on Palpatine. It’s a true example of the Dark Side that Maul’s dying breath is wasted on hate and vengeance and that’s all he can see in “The Chosen One”. The sad look on Obi Wan’s face silently conveys this.
There is more true Star Wars in this scene than anywhere to be found in The Rise of Skywalker. It also shows you don’t need a long protracted battle with multiple, elaborate sequences to have a truly great fight that captures the heart.
If you’ve enjoyed this selection and have any suggestions reach out to me on twitter at @dazzalovesmovie because honestly I’ve not got a lot on my plate right now.