August 10, 2022

Sometimes, superheroes need more than just super strength or the ability to shoot lasers from their eyes. Make no mistake, superpowers are a fundamental element of superhero mythology and can be indispensable in the game of saving the world. But when you are battling criminals, supervillains, and even alien warlords, it can be just as useful, if not more so, to know how to throw a punch or take hits and keep on going, without having to constantly rely on raw superhuman power.

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The writers behind Marvel Comics understand this well. Throughout the company’s history, many characters have been created who each have, among other abilities, a mastery of hand-to-hand combat to make them all the more effective champions against evil (or good, in the case of villains with comparable martial arts prowess). Some of them may not even have powers worth mentioning, but they are still able to stand with the best of those who do, based purely on their ability to fight with their fists.

Daredevil


Matt Murdock as Daredevil

As a young man, Matt Murdock was blinded by radioactive material while saving the life of another. The accident robbed him of his sight but enhanced his other senses to superhuman levels. He uses these abilities along with his natural fighting talents to become the costumed vigilante Daredevil. Murdock’s roots are in Boxing, emulating his father, but he has also trained in gymnastics, stick fighting, Ninjutsu, Jiu-Jitsu, and other martial arts forms to create a combat style all his own.

While his training was unconventional, blending self-taught techniques with instruction provided by Stick, an equally blind ninja master, his powerful senses combined with what he has learned have allowed him to rise to the top as arguably the Marvel Universe’s greatest hand-to-hand fighter. Non-comic book readers can get a taste of Murdock’s renowned skill in the acclaimed Daredevil television series on Disney+, with the irreplaceable Charlie Cox as the character.

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Iron Fist


Danny Rand, the Iron Fist

Raised among martial arts masters in the mythical city of K’un-Lun, orphaned billionaire Danny Rand endured harsh training from a young age to become a living weapon capable of channeling his chi into a mystical technique called the “Iron Fist”, which was also a title passed from one holder to the next. Rand’s mastery of various martial arts styles, including Kung Fu, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, and many others, along with his immense power as the Iron Fist make him a near-unstoppable fighting machine.

The Netflix series starring Finn Jones as Rand may not have done the character justice initially, but its second season proved that there was hope for him. Fans still wishing to experience the fully-realized might of the Iron Fist onscreen in the future should not be denied.

Shang-Chi


Shang-Chi and a dragon

Born the son of a supervillain, Shang-Chi was trained by his father from childhood to become a lethal assassin. But he rejected this destiny and instead used the skills taught to him to dismantle his father’s criminal empire alongside other like-minded individuals in the deadly world of espionage.

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Even though the character has not been particularly prominent and only in recent years achieved a resurgence both in comics and through film by way of integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (portrayed by Simu Liu), Shang-Chi maintained a reputation as a legendary Wushu master, having tutored several important Marvel Comics characters.


‘Captain America’


Captain America in battle

As a veteran of World War II, and having hibernated through the decades to become engaged in the conflicts of the contemporary world, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, boasts nearly unmatched combat experience.

Over the years, he has received training from various instructors and become well-versed in just about every known form of fighting, including kickboxing, Jujutsu, Karate, and numerous others, as well as gymnastics, making Rogers a force to be reckoned with. His knowledge and expertise coupled with the physical enhancements of the Super Soldier Serum have enabled him to take on an entire room full of opponents, superhuman or otherwise, single-handedly. The star-spangled hero is portrayed by Chris Evans is in the MCU.

Black Widow


Natasha Romanoff as Black Widow

A former KGB spy turned Avenger, Natasha Romanoff is probably better known nowadays from the MCU film series, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson. In the movies, the woman known as the Black Widow is presented as an elite hand-to-hand fighter whom few could match.

But within the broader Marvel Comics universe, Romanoff is often overshadowed by other more notable martial artists. Regardless, she remains an expert combatant in multiple fighting styles, such as Aikido, Judo, and Sambo, to name a few. Supplementing her martial abilities are her skills as an acrobat, assassin, and ballerina.

Black Panther


Black Panther

T’Challa of the technologically advanced and concealed African nation of Wakanda holds a unique position as both its monarch and chief protector, the Black Panther. His skills as a warrior have been honed since birth, encompassing armed and unarmed combat, acrobatics, and martial arts from around the globe, including those known only within the borders of Wakanda, granting him a distinctive fighting style that incorporates animal-inspired techniques.

With his strength, speed, reflexes, and all other physical parameters enhanced by the Wakandan Heart-Shaped Herb, and the resources afforded to him as his country’s ruler, like the Black Panther armor and weapons, all added onto his already formidable natural abilities, T’Challa, portrayed by the late, great, Chadwick Boseman in the MCU, is a fighter like almost no other.


Wolverine


Wolverine/Logan

Longtime X-Men member Wolverine was born James Howlett, a mutant gifted with several extraordinary abilities, among them, being a regenerative healing factor that enables him to recover from virtually any injury and live well beyond the normal capacity of a human being.

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During a life that has spanned over a century, Howlett, or Logan, as he came to be called, traveled all over the world, fighting in wars and acquiring countless skills, including a mastery of martial combat in its innumerable forms, enough that he has taught many students who would go on to become capable martial artists, such as Black Widow and Kitty Pryde.

Logan’s extensive skill set in combination with his healing powers, signature Adamantium claws, and repressed animalistic fury effectively make him one of the most dangerous men in the world. Hugh Jackman famously portrayed the clawed hero in Fox’s X-Men franchise.


Moon Knight


A battle-worn Moon Knight in the rain

When mercenary Marc Spector was killed during a job in Sudan, he was resurrected as Moon Knight, the avatar for the Egyptian moon god. Essentially Marvel’s answer to Batman, Moon Knight is an Olympic-class athlete, experienced boxer, and master martial artist, with training in Krav Maga, Savate, Silat, and several other styles, all skills which he utilizes on top of his abundant assets in a vigilante crusade against the criminal underworld.

He is also an adaptable fighter with a keen grasp of environmental and armed combat, as well as a high tolerance to pain. It was once noted that Spector prefers to endure blows rather than block them. Clearly, Moon Knight is an especially brutal and unpredictable brawler. Moon Knight will be heading to the small screen soon, portrayed by Oscar Isaac.


Taskmaster


Anthony Masters, aka Taskmaster

Anthony Masters was a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with an amazing talent: He could perfectly replicate any kind of movement after seeing it performed once. After leaving the organization, he put his potent muscle memory to use as a mercenary and assassin, rebranding himself with the sobriquet “Taskmaster”.

Over the character’s infamous career, in comics and related media, Taskmaster has used his gift to copy the fighting styles of various individuals, including Black Widow, Spider-Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Deadpool, and a great many more. As such, Masters has accrued a veritable arsenal of skills and abilities, making him one of the deadliest and most versatile fighters in existence. In the MCU, Taskmaster’s character saw some significant changes and was portrayed by Olga Kurylenko.


Bullseye


Bullseye in the comics

In the pantheon of Marvel heroes and villains, the unfeeling hitman Bullseye does not seem to rank highly among its diverse assortment of martial arts experts, but his resume should convince you otherwise. Bulleye’s list of accomplishments includes besting Black Widow, killing the master assassin Elektra Natchios, and consistently being able to go toe-to-toe with his archenemy, Daredevil, the most celebrated hand-to-hand specialist in Marvel Comics. That alone says it all.

In addition to his under-appreciated martial prowess, Bullseye has marksmanship skill to easily rival that of Clint Barton, and he possesses an uncanny ability to turn anything he can get his hands on, no matter how mundane or seemingly harmless, into a weapon of astonishing lethality. Wilson Bethel brought the deadly marksman to life on Netflix’s Daredevil.

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