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MCU: 10 Best Hand-To-Hand Fighters

ScreenRant logo ScreenRant 11/26/2022 Bradley Prom
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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever finally introduced one of Marvel’s oldest and strongest characters, Namor the Sub-Mariner, played by Tenoch Huerta. He is one of the most formidable enemies the MCU has incorporated, rivaling Thor and Hulk in strength and enhanced with vibranium weapons and winged ankle that allow him to fly. The film followed the classic MCU formula with a climactic fight between him and Shuri, the new Black Panther. While they both walked away from it alive, it was still one of the MCU’s most brutal fight as he stabbed her through the gut with a spear, and she dug her claws into him and burned his back.

Namor might outpace them on strength and agility, but there are other characters in the MCU who are truly better fighters than him. On the basis of hand-to-hand combat and martial arts, it’s characters from films like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Black Widow, and the Captain America films who really take the cake. From all of them, these are the characters who are really the best fighters in the MCU.

Shang-Chi

Just as he is in the comics, Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi is one of the best fighters in the MCU. This comes from learning all sorts of fighting styles and techniques from Kung Fu to Krav Maga, as his father had him train to become an assassin for the Ten Rings. While he abandoned that life upon arriving in America, when he was threatened on the bus, Shang-Chi didn’t even hesitate to break out his incredible moves – giving one of the best fights in the entire MCU.

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He only grows more adept and agile as his film progresses, learning the unique style of fighting from his aunt. Even going up against his father who was using the ten rings, Shang-Chi was able to block and strike back, soon earning the mysterious weapons to his side. His future in the MCU is quite exciting, as fans wait for news on Shang-Chi 2 and the prospect of seeing him fight with and/or against others superheroes and villains.

Mandarin (Xu Wenwu)

The talents Shang-Chi and his sister Xu Xialing possess are the products of the regimented and often cruel training from their father, Xu Wenwu, aka the Mandarin. As the rings kept him alive for over a millennium, he only amassed more skill and knowledge to become a legendary and feared fighter.

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As shown in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, there are very few characters who could ever last in a fight against Wenwu even without the rings – which makes it all the more remarkable that Shang-Chi defeated him in the end. As a fighter and a villain, he is ruthless, relentless, and remorseless, always going for the kill. He might rely on the rings for their strength, and yet even without them, his impeccable martial arts skills are unimpeachable and dynamic.

Ying Li

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is not celebrated enough for the incredible fights and choreography as the film showcases the artistry in martial arts. The beauty and power of wuxia is best on display in the fight between Xu Wenwu and his eventual wife, Ying Li. While he tries to beat her back with his sheer strength (using the Ten Rings), she easily redirects each and every attack, defeating him with only a few blows.

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Ying Li was Ta Lo's guardian and all her impressive talents were only enhanced by her aerokinetic abilities, giving her fight a dance-like aesthetic. Unfortunately, she did meet her end when a rival gang sought revenge of the Mandarin, and while it wasn’t shown on-screen, Ying Li certainly took down many of them before being overwhelmed by their numbers and weapons.

Echo (Maya Lopez)

Phase Four introduced another incredible fighter in Hawkeye – Maya Lopez, aka Echo. While Shang-Chi and his family earned their spots by their sheer talent, in spite of their enhancements, it is Maya’s powers that make her one of the best hand-to-hand fighters in the MCU. She has photographic reflexes, meaning she can instantly learn and mimic other people’s movements.

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That, in addition to her natural training combat in karate, capoeria, and MMA fighting, makes her incredibly difficult to contend with. In fact, she could give Shang-Chi a run for his money if they ever cross paths. More of her talents are going to be shown in her upcoming spin-off series, Echo, which could also introduce a fellow master fighter, White Tiger – although that might be saved for Daredevil: Born Again, alternatively.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes)

If people asked who might win between Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes at their height of power, most would probably support Steve. However, Bucky is really the better fighter of the two due to his years as HYDRA assassin, and later rehabilitation in Wakanda – where he presumably received some additional training from the Dora Milaje.

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He’s gone toe toe-to-toe with some of the best, such as Black Widow, Black Panther, and Ayo, matching them move for move. His inclusion in Thunderbolts alongside fellow assassins, Yelena Belova and Taskmaster, will hopefully lead to some groundbreaking and thrilling fights.

Black Panther (T'Challa)

Shuri was able to hold her own against Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s climactic fight, using her best asset – her intelligence to outsmart and weaken him. Her brother, T’Challa, was just as clever but overall a far more impressive fighter. This is natural as he was raised and trained to be the next Black Panther as his birthright, and then further enhanced with the power of the heart-shaped herb.

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His best showing really was in Captain America: Civil War as he fought against Captain America, Winter Soldier, and Hawkeye with ease. What sets him apart is his fighting style, as unlike Steve and Bucky, who favor powerful strikes and punches, T’Challa lives up to the Black Panther mantle with his claw swipes and agility.

Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff)

It’s no surprise to see Natasha Romanoff among the best fighters in the MCU. Like Shang-Chi and Bucky, she was raised and trained to be an assassin, learning all sorts of fighting and killing techniques. She got off to a good start in the MCU with her cool hallway fight scene in Iron Man 2, and ended with honor with the fights in Black Widow.

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Her sister, Yelena, is close on her heels, and as her role develops in the future, she can take Natasha’s spot among these illustrious fighters. However, for now, Natasha still ranks higher because she not only has the experience of a Black Widow assassin, but also as a high-level SHIELD agent, being the best spy in the MCU, and a galaxy-saving Avenger.

Daredevil (Matt Murdock)

If there is one fight scene in the whole of the MCU that might stand above the rest as the best, many fans will probably say the hallway scene from Daredevil, and they would certainly be right. That moment is cemented in the fandom's collective mindscape as Daredevil at his best, so fans are eager to see what he can do now that he’s made his long-awaited return in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

While that show emulated a delightfully lighter tone than Daredevil, he was still able to showcase his impressive talents in a new hallway scene – though not as epic, it’s still very fun. Thanks to his heightened senses, history with boxing, and the fact that he doesn’t give up no matter how beaten, broken, and bloody he is, Daredevil is one of the most formidable and tenacious fighters in the MCU. It has fans excited for Daredevil: Born Again, and the fights and new street-level heroes who could come into play.

Taskmaster (Antonia Dreykov)

When the trailers first dropped for Black Widow and Taskmaster was shown, most probably assumed it would be Tony Masters like in the comics. As such, it was a surprise that under the mask was a new adaptation of the character, Antonia Dreykov, which soured the experience for some viewers. Nevertheless, the film still showed how terrifyingly powerful and skilled Taskmaster is.

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She has all the training and indoctrination of the Black Widows with the extra-special photographic reflexes of Echo, making her incredible difficult to defeat. She could learn an entire martial arts style that would take years of practice to perfect in mere moments – shown by how she copied the fighting styles of Winter Soldier, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, and Black Widow. She is on the roster for the Thunderbolts like Yelena and Bucky, so fans will get to see her showcase her talents again soon.

Iron Fist (Danny Rand)

Overall, Danny Rand is by far one of the best fighters in the MCU, despite the unfavorable response to the character and show, Iron Fist. Since he was found and brought to the sacred city of Kun-Lun, he was trained to be their champion, learning the skills that would help him defeat the Hand's ninjas. He even had to fight a dragon, Shou-Lao, to earn the power and title of Iron Fist – upon which his punch became strongest in the franchise.

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Interestingly, Iron Fist actually makes his placement complex as he eventually loses the power of the Iron Fist – first to his friendly rival turned mortal enemy, Davos, and then to his girlfriend, Colleen Wing. She is also a strong contender for the best fighter, given her training in the Hand and the fact that she runs her own dojo. As such, she’s a character very deserving of returning to the MCU, like Daredevil and Kingpin. Nevertheless, even depowered Danny Rand’s martial arts skills could still rival the best of the best.

NEXT: 10 New MCU Heroes Who Should Be Introduced In Phase Five

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