End-of-the-year lists are a beautiful time to look back at the television and film that most moved you, most inspired you, most defined the promise of a moving picture. Well, never mind all that nonsense, let’s talk about characters trying to beat the absolute shit out of each other. A good fight scene is a bloody work of art, the backbone of any action storytelling worth watching. With blockbusters getting bigger, special effects getting better, and the fate of the entire universe constantly at stake, it’s harder than ever to stand out from the pack with just a few people doing their best to inflict bodily harm. But oh, 2018 was up to the task; this year had weird fight scenes, wild fight scenes, fight scenes you genuinely could not believe didn’t involve more CGI.
Before we begin, though, I should mention I have a pretty concrete idea of the difference between a “fight scene” and an “action scene”. Do I appreciate Tom Cruise learning to fly a helicopter just so he can almost die while crashing it into a mountain? Absolutely. Thanks, Tom Cruise. Is Chris Evans politely introducing himself to a sentient alien tree in the middle of an all-out war for Wakanda during Avengers: Infinity War an incredible action-comedy beat? Oh, 100%. Should more movies include a scene where Jason Momoa rides a Lovecraftian sea-beast into battle like he did in Aquaman? Obviously, yes.
But “fight scenes” aren’t always about being the biggest; usually, it’s the opposite. A fight scene is far more about the millions of ways you can frame two or three characters standing across a room from each other, convinced they have to punch someone else into a coma. So without further ado, here are 2018’s ten best fight scenes from both TV and film.