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It's almost time for Avengers: Endgame, which promises to be a culmination of the first 11 years of the landmark Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because we're in this valedictory stage, we at SYFY WIRE have been looking back at the first 21 movies in the franchise and crunching some numbers.
We've already done our dialogue breakdown for the World's Greatest Heroes, but that was only half of the project. What happens when we add in the physical aspect? Who punches the most? Who likes to kick things? Which MCU character, for lack of a better way to say it, kicks the most ass?
Characters with special weapons got special stats, depicted in a graph further down below — the shield(s) of Steve Rogers got marks for each time it was used for an attack, as well as for every time it was thrown. The same goes for Thor, when dealing with both Mjolnir and Stormbreaker. Swings that do not connect still counted.
The special abilities continued in the fashion of takedowns, such as that super-awesome thing that Natasha does when she jumps up on an enemy, wraps her legs around them, and pulls them to the floor. That's a Black Widow Takedown.
I'll mention this last: As with the tally of lines, everything here should be considered approximate. I watched very closely, very closely indeed, but I'm just one guy with one pair of eyes, and one of those eyes doesn't work that well. Did I possibly miss a punch or a wayward kick here or there? Sure. I admit it.
Now that all of that is out of the way, what does the fisticuff-related data reveal? Who are our most physical, punchy, don't-get-them-angry heroes?
In terms of the original six, Tony Stark does make a decent show of things. Even without his repulsors, missiles, lasers, and gimmicks, he does pretty well. You can take away his stuff, but he's still Iron Man. The guy who talks well over 2,000 times in 9 movies has approximately 226 instances of physical attack.
That is not enough to beat a god. Thor, with physical and special attacks combined (including hits from his hammers and hammer spins), has a total of 293 attacks in 7 films. The God of Thunder tosses that hammer 30 times, and there would definitely be more if Thor: Ragnarok didn't take Mjolnir away from him early on. That movie hammers in the morning and hammers in the evening before Hela ruins the fun, and it's enough for Thor to trounce Stark.
Once he attains Stormbreaker in Avengers: Infinity War, it becomes not so much a game of toss as a game of devastating Thor smashes. He brings the lightning and he brings it hard. (Cue "Immigrant Song," please.)
Who beats them both? The man out of time — the Super Soldier, the guy who can do this all day to the end of the line, the Star-Spangled Man With a Plan, the guy who knocked out Adolf Hitler over 200 times ... in case you haven't guessed it yet, it's Steve Rogers.
Tony actually beats Cap when it comes to punches alone (193 vs. 186), which is impressive, as Cap got a huge boost in that department from his sandbag prep in Marvel's The Avengers. Yes, punching objects or walls (or the rainbow bridge) counts.
When you factor in every other kind of attack, both physical and special? Cap stands proud at 429. This includes 47 shield tosses, something that tends to take out larger groups of enemies (or an entire Quinjet). The tosses end after Captain America: Civil War, but T'Challa made sure to get that man a shield for Infinity War.
Remember the moment in Civil War in which a helicopter is flying away and Cap physically pulls it back down? Yeah, he's far and away the most physical Avenger in the bunch.
With Cap in the lead, Thor in second, and Tony in third, how do the rest of the original squad fare?
Let's set the parameters first: Hulk smashes were counted (as well as Thor smashes), and so were what we're calling "Hulk Smash Sequences." These are smashes from the Hulk that go on, and on, and on. Moments where he goes berserk for an extended period of time, making it almost impossible to count the amount of devastation? That's a Hulk Smash Sequence. Patent pending.
Aside from those things, I also tallied arrows shot by Clint Barton and magic attacks. What I didn't count included the following: any attack with guns, bombs, laser guns, hand repulsors, lightning bolts, head beams, or webs.
This was not to discount the skill that many of these heroes have with the aforementioned weaponry — Romanoff is a poet with firearms, and Tony shoots those repulsors off like they were being paid by the blast. Mostly, the goal was to see who the most physical heroes were, and in what ways.
Hulk does well with 142 physical attacks (including the highest number of tosses, at 31), but when you factor in his special attacks he stands at 163. He still comes in fourth, followed by Romanoff — her punches, kicks, and weapon attacks are all in the 30s, and help her get a tally of 117. Add in her specials and she's got a total of 126.
As usual, the unfortunate Mr. Barton comes in last (of the OG six), but he also only has 4 appearances. His physical attacks only come to 27, but his nickname isn't "Puncheye," is it? Hawkeye shoots approximately 79 arrows in 4 appearances, with none at all being shot during his brief cameo in Thor. When it comes to firing off arrows, Legolas doesn't clench up. With arrows included, Clint has a total of 106.
Expanding outward to our new heroes, and we get even more information. Peter Quill has laser shots (and quips, Thanos knows) to spare, but he wouldn't last six seconds in a one-on-one with Winter Soldier. (Now I really want to see that.) His laser shots don't count here, and neither do Rhodey's repulsors.
There's one character who punches and kicks more than both Hulk and Natasha. Technically he's a hero-turned-villain-turned-hero, but he still counts — Bucky Barnes has a fisticuff tally of 140. His line count is very small, but when he turns into the Winter Soldier, he's an unstoppable physical machine. This doesn't even account for his vast array of guns and bombs, which is considerable. He can mostly thank Captain America: The Winter Soldier for the edge here, as he never stops stopping in that movie.
When it comes to the (kind of) team of Ant-Man and the Wasp, who fares better? Scott Lang may run off with the lines in this match-up, and he does have a decent showing of physical attacks in his first movie, as well as in Civil War. When paired with Hope, though, things are different — he may have the quips, but she brings the brawn. She brings the brains too, really … so does she actually need him? Probably not, but whatever.
In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Lang only racks up 3 punches and 3 kicks. That puts him at 6. Hope, on the other hand, once she was finally allowed to join the fight? With attacks both physical and special she lands at 34 for that film.
On the magic side of things, we've already counted Loki, who uses most of his magic for deception, and really only heavily uses his magical knife-conjuring trick in Thor. Doctor Strange, for all of his bluster and quaff, has 31 magic attacks. Again, he doesn't always use his magic for attack, and Wanda Maximoff turns out to be the true Sorcerer Supreme of the MCU (attack-wise, anyway), with 44 magic attacks. She tends to hit a little harder, too, and doesn't need a sentient cloak.
In terms of the Guardians, Drax takes the top spot with 56 attacks, where he is helped a lot by his monster throat-stabbing fest in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. If not for that, Gamora would probably have taken it with 35, as she loves that extending sword. Quill only narrowly beats his fellow gun enthusiast Rocket — he has 24 over Rocket's 21. Still, if you were to put the two of them in a one-on-one match, my money's on the trash panda. Gonna need to see that, too.
T'Challa has a great showing with a physical tally of 117, and I counted his claw swipes as punches. He has a combined total, with special attacks, of 123 when energy blasts from his suit are factored in. It's not a shocker, but Okoye definitely prefers to use her spear over using anything else — she has a combined weapon attack score of 30, and when everything is put together that only increases to 33. That's for just two films.
With only one film, Carol Danvers gets it done with 57 physical attacks, which does not count her fist-blasts, of which she has three. These are pretty much the equivalent of a Hulk Smash Sequence — moments where Carol just lays waste for an extended period of time. I hope that we'll be seeing more of those, because they are glorious. With those included, Carol nabs an even 60.
Take his web shooters away and Peter Parker stands at 26. Yes, this is ignoring about a million web shots, but that's a projectile and fair is fair. For what it's worth, when MCU Spidey does get physical, he definitely prefers to kick.
When it comes to the movies as a whole, the ones that were biggest on physical action were probably the Captain America movies, with Civil War being the all-around most difficult film to tally in almost every way. Nothing beat the airport battle in terms of coming close to driving me right into a sanitarium.
Take all of these stats away, though, and what do you have? Take away the serum that made Steve a super soldier. Take away Romanoff's years of training. Take away Barton's bow, and remove Wanda's magical abilities. You know what you still have? A group of hearts that beat something pretty damn fierce. You can take away their stuff, their abilities, their suits, and their powers, but it wouldn't matter — every single hero on this list (except for Quill) would still do whatever it takes.
They'd go higher, further, faster, and they could do it all day. As Abraham Erskine might say, physical power is not as important as what every character here truly is: a good person.