Here at Toon Zone News, we firmly believe that non-violent solutions to Real World problems are the ones that should be actively sought out and implemented. These solutions are harder to do, but if done correctly, they will tend to be more permanent, resulting in less ancillary suffering of innocent bystanders and more long-term happiness for all parties involved.
That’s why we want our cartoon characters to solve their problems with as much violence as possible.
So, to commemorate the opening of Kung Fu Panda last week and The Incredible Hulk movie this week, and with tongues placed firmly in cheek, the staff at Toon Zone News has pumped up the adrenaline and the testosterone to put together the Hulk-sized Toon Zone Throwdown: our completely subjective picks for the best slugfests in animation, divided into five categories of five fights each. There will be one new Top 5 list per day, starting Monday and running to the opening of The Incredible Hulk on Friday.
In addition to the screenshots for these fights, any title that’s a link will take you to a legal video of the TV show or movie in question, either streaming or downloadable for a fee. Nothing brings across a fight like seeing it in motion.
All fights have to come to an end (despite Dragon Ball Z‘s repeated attempts to prove us wrong), so we’re wrapping up the Toon Zone Throwdown with the Top 5 Takedowns — a cross-section of exceptionally creative or notable ways to end a fight. Obviously, since these moments are usually the climaxes of the TV shows or movies they are part of, there’s even more of a spoiler warning in effect for this entire article.
It’s the final round — there’s no tomorrow. Ready? FIGHT!
The Flash vs. Brainathor
Justice League Unlimited: “Divided We Fall” (2005)
Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos
“Back when I was training as Kid Flash, [Barry] would pull out tidbits of useless information. He called them his ‘Flash Facts.'”
— Wally West, JLA #3
In this fight, the Flash is the last Justice Leaguer standing against a monstrous hybrid of Brainiac and Lex Luthor. To fight him, the Flash runs around the world eight times in 38 seconds, punching Brainathor each time around the world. At first, he runs around the world (a distance of 40,070 kilometers) in 10 seconds. By the end, he’s moving fast enough to run around the world three times in less than 1 second. Thus, the Flash’s starting velocity was (40,070 * 1,000) / 10 = 4,007,000 meters/second — approximately 11,700 times faster than the speed of sound but a paltry 0.013 times the speed of light. If we round the final time around the world to 1 second to simplify the math a bit, his final velocity can be calculated as (40,070 * 3 * 1,000) meters/second = 120,210,000 m/s (a sizable jump to 0.4 times light speed).
Basic physics tells us that Energy = 1/2 * mass * velocity2. If we assume that the Flash is approximately 165 lbs (or about 74.843 kg), this means that the Flash’s first punch had about 6 x 1014 joules of energy behind it (or about 600 terajoules), and his final energy payload was 5.4076 x 1017 joules of energy (540,757 terajoules, or about 540.76 petajoules). For comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki had a yield equal to about 21 kilotons of TNT, which is about 88 terajoules of energy. The largest nuclear device ever detonated was the Russian Tsar Bomba in 1961, which had an official yield of 50 megatons of TNT or 209.2 petajoules of energy. That detonation measured about 5.25 on the Richter scale. The Flash was hitting Brainathor with more than 2.5 times the energy of that blast.
So what have we learned today, class? We’ve learned that if he wants to, the Flash can hit people really, really, really, really, REALLY hard.
Aang vs. Admiral Zhao
Avatar the Last Airbender: “The Deserter” (2005)
Directed by Lauren Macmullan
“To subjugate the enemy’s army without doing battle is the highest of excellence.”
— Sun Zi, The Art of War
“My style? You could call it the art of fighting without fighting.”
— Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon
Why: In this episode of Nickelodeon’s Avatar the Last Airbender, the title character Aang is battling the Fire Nation’s Admiral Zhao. If anything, Zhao’s skill at Firebending, augmented by his almost boundless fury, seems to have the edge over the young Avatar. Then, Aang seems to get a crafty idea in his head. He begins taunting Zhao as only a 12-year old boy can, driving Zhao to even greater heights of anger. Zhao lashes out wildly, until his opponent confidently declares that the fight is over and Zhao has lost.
“Are you crazy?” Zhao demands furiously. “You haven’t thrown a single blow!”
“No,” replies Aang, “But you have.”
As his ships burn from his own attacks, Admiral Zhao can only howl in defeat as he is left impotent on the riverbank, while Aang makes a clean getaway on a flying bison with his friends.
Sun Zi and Bruce Lee would be so proud.
Prince Phillip vs. Maleficent
Sleeping Beauty (1958)
Directed by Eric Larson, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Les Clark
Why: Animation aficionados may have noticed a distinct lack of work from the Walt Disney studios in earlier rounds, but this shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise. There may be lots of action sequences in Disney feature films and TV shows, but most of them defuse or soften the impact of the violence through various means. Also, many Disney films will not permit the hero to openly kill or even seriously harm the villain, opting instead for a conveniently lethal fall or other indirect means to end fights.
However, it would be a shame to omit the work of Disney entirely, and luckily there is one standout climactic fight among the feature films: the final battle between the valiant Prince Phillip and the evil witch Maleficent at the end of Sleeping Beauty. After her minions and her magic prove incapable of stopping Prince Phillip from his osculatory appointment with Princess Aurora, Maleficent takes matters into her own hands. She transforms into an enormous dragon, challenging him to “deal with me…and all the powers of Hell!” (a line that probably wouldn’t pass muster in a modern-day Disney film). The battle that follows is short but intense, as Phillip pits his sword and shield in a losing battle against the green flame and snapping jaws of Maleficent. Just when all seems nearly lost, the trio of Aurora’s fairy godmothers enchants Prince Phillip’s sword to “fly swift and sure, that evil die and good endure!”
The magic might be what makes the sword penetrate and destroy Maleficent, but it’s unmistakably Prince Phillip’s hand that sends the blade on its way. For being the first time that the hero of a Disney animated movie openly takes out the villain on his own, and for being an intense, cathartic fight on its own merits, this battle from Sleeping Beauty edges out all its competition to land a berth on this top 5 list.
Unit-01 vs. the 14th Angel
Neon Genesis Evangelion: “Introjection” (1995)
Directed by Hideaki Anno
Why: In this episode, the 14th Angel, whose distinctive feature is the ribbon-like arms that slice through pretty much anything, has infiltrated the GeoFront, the first Angel to do so in the series. Two attempts to stop the Angel prove futile, leaving Shinji Ikari in Unit-01 as the GeoFront’s last defense. Ikari does pretty well, despite losing one of the Eva’s arms during the fight. Then his internal battery runs out and the Eva shuts down. The Angel rips off the Eva’s front armor, attempting to destroy Unit-01’s core.
That’s when it happens. Desperate to save his friends and allies (well, except for his complete jackass of a dad, Gendo), Shinji once again unconsciously mind-melds with Unit-01’s core, but the result is far deadlier than previous encounters. Before, Unit-01 merely went mad and just killed the Angels, but here, Unit-01 goes primal. The now-wild Unit-01 cuts through and rips off one of the Angel’s ribbon arms and attaches it to itself, using the material to instantly create a new, human-like arm. Unit-01 then uses its AT Field to blow the Angel away, causing severe injuries and destroying the Angel’s AT Field with little effort.
Then the fun begins. Hunched over on all fours, the Eva grunts and sniffs the injured Angel, grabs its head, looks around like a wolf checking to see if there are any other hunters around, then begins to pick the Angel apart. Suddenly, Unit-01 turns its back to the camera, opens its mouth wide, and starts eating the Angel. Misato, Ritsuko, and the other NERV personnel can only look on in horror as this giant monster literally consumes its enemy, tearing the meat from the bones, occasionally checking to see if there are any other predators around before going back to gorge on the enemy’s flesh. To accentuate the horror, Unit-01 gains large green, human-like eyes to replace the white, pupil-less eyes it has had up to this point. As the Eva finishes devour the Angel, bones and all, it peeks around one more time and then stands up, howling in triumph and breaking all the armor and restraints around its body, looking more human than ever before.
While previous Evangelion fights have had a lot of blood and gore, they were normal fights for the most part. This makes it that much more uncomfortable when this giant monster performs this act of cannibalism — a disturbing event that has yet to be duplicated in any anime since.
AUTHORS NOTE: Despite what it may look like, a lot of thought goes into these top 5 lists. This one went through an unusual number of revisions right up to the last minute, with some entries getting full entries written up, only to get axed (check out our forums for “Deleted Scenes” — they’re not just for DVDs any more!).
The problem was that we were missing a really good Earth Shattering Kaboom to finish everything off. We racked our brains for a while to find one, before realizing that the answer was staring us right in the face:
Daffy Duck vs. Marvin the Martian
“Duck Dodgers in the 24th and 1/2 Century” (1953)
Directed by Chuck Jones
Why: OK, so maybe it’s more of a Planet X Shattering Kaboom. After trading cartoon violence in the inimitable Chuck Jones style, Daffy Duck and Marvin the Martian have had their fill of each other, and begin deploying gigantic ultimate weapons. Too bad they both go off at the same time, leaving a hunk of rock barely big enough for the two to stand on. And yet, they’re still fighting.
Maybe this was Jones’ comment on the nuclear deterrence strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction (which is exactly as MAD as it sounds, even if it proved to be a successful deterrent to all-out nuclear war). Maybe it was just a funny gag. Either way, it’s a perfect expression of one ultimate Truth about cartoon fights: when all else fails or you need to wrap things up in a hurry, blowing everything up is a perfectly good way to do that. Most of Katsuhiro Otomo’s movies seem entirely predicated on this idea. In fact, rather than attempt anything more meaningful, I may just take my own advice right now.
And there you have it! The staff at Toon Zone News hope you enjoyed this week’s look at the finest fights of animation. Obviously, there’s no way only 25 fights can encapsulate all the great moments of cartoon violence in the history of the medium, so if you wanna fight us about our choices, come on and bring it in the Forums! Punk.
Replay Past Toon Zone Throwdown Rounds:
- Round 1: Top 5 Bare-Knuckle Brawls
- Round 2: Top 5 Duels
- Round 3: Top 5 Power Fights
- Round 4: Top 5 Comedy Fights
- Round 5: Top 5 Takedowns
Concept for Toon Zone Throwdown by Jacob T. Paschal. Toon Zone News Staffer Duke contributed to this article.