10 Best Friendly Rivalries in Superhero Comics

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Buesing, Dave. "10 Best Friendly Rivalries in Superhero Comics." ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2016, thoughtco.com/best-friendly-rivalries-in-superhero-comics-3954537. Buesing, Dave. (2016, February 28). 10 Best Friendly Rivalries in Superhero Comics. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-friendly-rivalries-in-superhero-comics-3954537 Buesing, Dave. "10 Best Friendly Rivalries in Superhero Comics." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-friendly-rivalries-in-superhero-comics-3954537 (accessed October 17, 2017).
01
of 10

Iron Man v. Captain America

Civil War between Cap and Iron Man
Marvel Comics

Simultaneously two great friends and founding Avengers, as well as ideological combatants. Shared heroic qualities make Tony Stark and Steve Rogers great leaders within the Avengers, but they also match each other’s stubbornness ounce for ounce.

Clashes range from the classic comic book misunderstanding (Iron Man: Armor Wars) to the more modern ethical and political disagreements (Civil War, Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers). The duo’s most well known disagreement led to an actual Civil War among Marvel heroes, and shaped the state of Marvel Comics since 2007. It’s a genuine wonder they are ever on friendly terms at this point.

Who Should Win a Fight?

Iron Man. Put Cap in some Iron Patriot armor and it’s a whole new ball game, but as it stands, this fight is typically Iron Man suited up against Cap wearing cotton/chainmail and holding a shield. It’s like dropping a tank in the middle of a Ghengis Khan raid.

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

Cap almost always wins, which feels right to my heart, but completely illogical to my head. Sure, it’s completely epic to watch Steve Rogers utilize his unmatched tactical skills to take down Tony Stark, but he’s also punching iron. With his bare little hands!

02
of 10

Batman v. Superman

Batman fights Jokerized Superman
DC Comics

You could also quite easily make this Batman v. The DC Universe, but for the sake of brevity (and because Dawn of Justice is on the horizon), we’ll limit the conversation to Batman and Superman.

There’s a great degree of respect between the two heroes, and a clear understanding that they are on the same side of justice. Nonetheless, Batman has taken plenty of shots at Clark’s “boyscout” idealism, while Superman has frequently questioned Bruce’s willingness to cross the lines of darkness and criminal behavior.

There are loads of interesting fights between the two, but Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and the recent Batman: Endgame from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are great reads.

Who Should Win a Fight?

Superman. Nearly invulnerable with just about every superpower imaginable, and he’s fighting a guy who has no actual powers. The fight is Superman’s to lose.

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

...And lose Superman does. Batman frequently wins these fights, with tenacious preparation and paranoia (that one day he’ll need to stop Superman). Batman has so frequently won these fights that as a comics fan, I actually expect him to take down Supes any time the situation arises.

03
of 10

Daredevil v. Punisher

Punisher vs. Daredevil
Marvel Comics

Speaking of heroes willing to cross certain lines, Daredevil and Punisher have established one of the better moral disputes in comics. Daredevil is, of course, willing to beat criminals to a pulp in order to establish law and order, but he’ll never cross the Punisher’s line of righteous vengeance.

There are few comics that highlight this better than Frank Miller’s Daredevil #183.

Who Should Win a Fight?

Daredevil. If he can take on entire armed gangs, swarms of ninja, and the Kingpin’s immovable mass of muscle, surely he can hypersense his way to a victory against the human war factory that is The Punisher.

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

Well, it sure seems like Punisher ties up Daredevil a lot. Romantic fan-fiction jokes aside, I’m going to say the Punisher typically “wins” although all of the duo’s interactions tend to feel like pyrrhic victories.

04
of 10

Wolverine v. Hulk

Old Hulk and Wolverine into battle
Marvel Comics

This wouldn’t be all that friendly of a rivalry if it weren’t for Chris Claremont and John Buscema's excellent work pairing the duo during Wolverine #8. Aside from that, we have Wolverine’s very first appearance in Marvel Comics, where his mission is to find and kill the Hulk (with a side of Wendigo). Likewise, there’s the Ultimate Universe Wolverine vs. Hulk showdown penned by LOST savant Damon Lindelof, in which Hulk tears Wolverine in half and hurls him in opposite directions. But hey, what are friends for?

Who Should Win a Fight?

Goodness, I don’t know why I put myself in these positions. If he’s mad enough, I have to go Hulk. Have you read World War Hulk? You really wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

Hulk. Wolverine has had very minor success in eventually corralling the Jade Giant, but typically the missions involves a whole lot of healing factor.

05
of 10

Rogue v. Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)

Rogue fighting Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers
Marvel Comics

 

This is one weirdly complicated relationship. It’s well known that Rogue actually got her powers by absorbing Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel powers. The oft-forgotten component is that Rogue so egregiously absorbed Carol’s very essence that she put Ms. Marvel into an extended coma.

I’m not sure how these two ever get along in the same room, but there are brief moments when the super powered heroines team-up for the greater good. There’s even a shockingly charming A+X issue in which the two get their nails done, hair done, everything did.

Who Should Win a Fight?

At this point? Captain Marvel. If the two found themselves fighting again, I have to think the deep-seated revenge factor kicks in and Carol whoops her butt.

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

Rogue, but limited sample size.

06
of 10

Wonder Woman v. Aquaman

This is one of the vaguer heroic rivalries but the potential for a clash between these two isn’t just fisticuffs, it’s actual war.

One is the princess of Amazonian Themyscira and the other is the King of Atlantis, but both are extremely proud royalty. It’s no surprise that in the alternate reality of Flashpoint we see a near endless war between the two, and that threat is always imminent, no matter how professional the Justice League interactions.

Who Should Win a Fight?

Wonder Woman. On paper both heroes are quite equally matched, with super strength and cool weapons. Nonetheless, Wonder Woman is a part of the DC Trinity and Aquaman is world renowned for a movie starring Vinnie Chase. I have to give the nod to Wonder Woman.

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

Nobody. It’s all out war, and ain’t no winners there.

07
of 10

Cable v. Deadpool

Cable and Deadpool don't get along always
Marvel Comics

The duo so friendly they shared a comic book for 4 years (in case you’re wondering, yes, you should totally go check out Cable & Deadpool!).

Cable & Deadpool share a beautifully contentious relationship, with Cable generally playing the straight “I need to save the future” man to Deadpool’s zany wackadoodle with guns. If you needed any more evidence that the two have a troubling friendship, you need look no farther than Cable & Deadpool #2. Spoiler alert: But Cable uses his telekinesis to literally blow up Deadpool’s head… twice.

Who Should Win a Fight?

Deadpool. He’s virtually unkillable, and knows more about Cable than any other mercenary/assassin is ever likely to find out.

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

Cable. Wade’s what you might call… self-defeating. Doesn’t mean Cable’s not totally jelly of Deadpool’s movie though.

08
of 10

Invincible v. Dinosaurus

invincible fights dinoaurus
Image Comics

My only non-Big 2 publisher pick, which should give you some clue as to how perfect this friendly rivalry is drawn in the pages of Invincible. Dinosaurus is nothing short of a terrorist with a genuinely infallible name when Invincible decides this archenemy actually has a righteous cause and he’d be better off working with Dinosaurus than against him!

Naturally, the ethically dubious partnership hits a bump in the road, but that doesn’t stop Dinosaurus from risking life and limb to save his one-time friend’s life. It’s a shockingly beautiful relationship from start to finish.

Who Should Win a Fight?

As much as I love Dinosaurus, Invincible is a Superman surrogate with the holy grail of comic book powers. He gets the win.

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

Since Dinosaurus ultimately won Invincible over to his side, I have to say Dinosaurus is our in-continuity winner.

09
of 10

Spider-Man v. The Human Torch

Spidey and the Human Torch
Marvel Comics

The Spidey / Human Torch relationship successfully blends humor, petty jealousy, and contentious superhero team-ups. It’s easily overlooked, but Spider-Man nearly gave up the tights if not for a speech Johnny Storm gave at Peter Parker’s high school (Amazing Spider-Man #3). Both serve to inspire and enrage the other, and while The Thing and The Human Torch would be just as appropriate in this spot, Spidey and Torch’s meetings atop Lady Liberty are a beautiful thing.

Who Should Win a Fight?

Spider-Man’s my all-time favorite comic book hero, but it sure seems strange that he should win in a fight against a Human Torch able to go supernova at a moment’s notice. Then again, Spidey always seems to beat the Molten Man, so why not?

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

Spider-Man. He whips up that webbing asbestos he can.

10
of 10

Namor v. Reed Richards

Reed Richards fighting the Sub-Mariner
Marvel Comics

This is actually probably the least “friendly” rivalry on the list, as Namor is an outright Fantastic Four villain for much of the 1960s, and more importantly, he’s blatantly gunning for Reed’s wife every chance he gets!

Nonetheless, recent years have seen Reed (smartest guy in the room) and Namor (brashest guy in the room) working together as part of Marvel’s morally ambiguous Illuminati. Namor’s time among the Avengers also classifies him as a hero whom Reed must begrudgingly respect. There’s no love lost between Namor and Reed, that’s for sure.

Who Should Win a Fight?

Namor. He has the edge in just about every category that doesn’t involve malleability or thinking on your feet. His super-strength and stamina should overwhelm the leader of the Fantastic Four nine times ouf of ten.

Who Usually Wins the Fight?

Reed. If you think the smartest man in the Marvel Universe can’t outwit Atlantean royalty, you haven’t seen Mr. Fantastic in action.