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.
Despite the adrenaline rush of the earlier lists, don’t think we forgot about the comedy fights — the ones that are supposed to be funny. Animation has been used for comedy almost since its inception, but here are our highly subjective picks for the top 5 comedy fights in no particular order.
All these writeups may contain spoilers. Ready? Then let’s FIGHT!
Donald Duck vs. Daffy Duck
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
“I’ve worked with a lot of wise-quackers, but you are despicable.”
Why: The stage is set – quite literally – for the biggest comedic battle of them all – the honest irritability of Donald Duck verses the unstoppably looney Daffy Duck. In this short cameo from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the pair hammer out melodies on two pianos and taking pot-shots at each other while Bob Hoskins watches in awe. And so he should, for this is certainly one of the best comedic fights.
But why? Is it the great fusion of animation and live action? The fast and furious collective of classic comic gags ranging from the popular boxing glove to the fuse sizzling cannon?
No – it’s because it was a fight you never expected to see, but always dreamed about. Naturally it wasn’t rare for cartoon icons to face off each other, but rarely two characters from rival studios. And for it to be Donald and Daffy makes it even better. Irritable, aggressive and unsporting, these pair were just begging to be put on the stage together so the audience could watch the sparks fly.
And fly the sparks did. A fun, well executed and much anticipated contest between two of animated histories ill-tempered underdogs. The fact that they’re the born losers of their studios also means one of them will finally end up on top, but you really have no idea which one until the end. Short, but very sweet.
Peter vs. Chicken
Family Guy: “Da Boom” (1999)
Directed by Bob Jaques
Chicken… gave me a bad.. coupon – AGH!
Why: Taken from the bizarre “Da Boom” of season two, this has to be one of the great comedic fight homages. A ridiculously long and continual fight sequence takes all the swipes it can muster at Hollywood.
The event happens in the form of one of the show’s many flashbacks. Following the discovery that he has been given an expired coupon by a chicken, Peter takes this affront personally and the two wage a battle that takes them across town, on top of trains and through offices.
It’s an abstract, bloody, and over-the top affair, poking fun at Hollywood’s super battles. The hilarious over-emphasis on the necessity of such destructive confrontations rarely balances up to their requirements. Nevertheless, Hollywood action films get the audience rooting for the hero’s agenda, regardless of whether it’s really worth the damage they cause in the process. Here we have Peter crushing the chicken’s head in the Xerox machine – a quite nasty moment, but its message is clear: heroes swipe cars, blow up bridges, and destroy property for their own personal crusade…and the audience doesn’t care.
On the surface, it’s ridiculous, vicious, and crazy, but beneath the surface there is quite a clever swipe at the film industry.
Bender vs. Zoidberg
Futurama: “Anthology of Interest I” (2000)
Directed by Chris Louden and Rich Moore
Why: This battle just tops the other Zoidberg focused duel in “Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?” when the giant lobster takes on Fry in a unashamed take on Star Trek’s “Amok Time.” This one scores for the epic nature of the encounter as Zoidberg and robot Bender are enlarged to five hundred feet tall and proceed to decimate a city in their wake.
In one corner we have the inept Doctor Zoidberg now over-sized to become a city threatening mighty monster crustacean. In the other corner we have beer guzzling robot Bender playing a city devastating metal menacing mechanismo. Not only do we have a battle between two of the show’s popular comedy characters, but also a face-off that plays a light nudge/wink to the giant-menacing city genre using two of the typical building trouncing archetypes – the enormous monster and the huge robot.
The event not only covers a wide range of Godzilla orientated homages but manages to throw in some more gentle contemporary nods – watch out for the neat segment between Fry and Bender that mocks the humanity of the Iron Giant.
The fight also remains creative and hilarious all the way through. Watch out for Bender’s brilliant boiling Zoidberg in a stadium of hot water, the human dart gun, and the final death the world’s favorite – and only – humongous robot pimp, pierced through the metal heart by a mighty spire. It’s all big, it’s all silly, and it pits monster against robot with humans as ammunition. What more can you want from a fight?
Suit vs. Suit
The Tune: “Push Comes to Shove” (1992)
Directed by Bill Plympton
Why: This deadpan comic animation is almost totally out of place in the movie it’s in, to the point where the lead character of The Tune ends the scene by asking, “Why am I watching this?” It can run as a short film all on its own, but either way, it’s both riotously funny and completely strange. Just what we’ve come to expect from the quirky imagination of indie animator Bill Plympton.
The setup for this short is entirely irrelevant. It’s just 5 minutes of two guys in suits whose difference of opinion ultimate results in a hilariously deadpan fight, starting with fists in faces, and slowly escalating to increasingly insane nasty things. Cannons get shoved up noses and fired. Dynamite is inserted into someone’s neck socket and exploded inside the head. A tongue is placed in a glass of water right before a live electric wire is applied to the head. The old Bugs Bunny trick of applying plant fertilizer to someone’s noggin produces a new and novel way to use a lawn mower. One character is even force fed a dog, a cat, and a mouse to endure a three-way animal chase inside his head.
Neither character says a word throughout the whole thing, or even seems to be all that upset at something like getting his head painted like a baseball so it can be swatted off his neck to bounce around the room a few times. We’re never learn anything about these two characters or what they have against each other. If nothing else, your mind boggles to see just what they’ll pull out next, and the gleeful impermanence of the damage inflicted allows us to laugh rather than cringe in horror. “Squash and stretch” is a cornerstone technique of animation, and this short is a marvelous object lesson on how to use squashing and stretching as a cornerstone of a good fight played for laughs.
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
Coming up in the Final Round: Top 5 Takedowns.
Concept for Toon Zone Throwdown by Jacob T. Paschal. Toon Zone News Staffers Ed Liu, Duke, and Bird Boy contributed to this article.