Rivalries between two characters can always make a movie more interesting to watch. Today, we’re going to honor some of the most legendary rivalries of film history. So, let’s dive in and talk about the 15 best rivalry movies of all time.
15. X-Men Film Series (2000-2006)
The X-Men series started in early 2000 and became an instantly loved franchise. Some would even claim this was the first group-up movie that inspired today’s MCU. But the characters are from Marvel, so there’s that.
But, the rivalry in these three films that stood out was Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto). Former friends and bitter rivals collide at every end as Magneto fights for the Mutants, and Professor X tries to prevent his evil plans. This formulates one of the most intriguing and lasting rivalries in film history.
14. Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Alien vs. Predator was a series with immense potential. That’s why some still think of this 2004 merger of the two universes as a highly underrated film. While opinions can be subjective, there’s no doubt about the rivalry between these two species.
In these movies, the Alien race called Xenomorphs is used as one of the most coveted trophies (besides humans) by another alien race called Yautja (Predators). That’s what makes this historic and ancient rivalry one of the best to grace our screens.
13. Rush (2013)
Rush is a true story about an intense and unwavering rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Played by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, respectively, Ron Howard put the rivalry on screen in 2013.
The historical accuracy of this film earned many accolades and wide recognition from critics and audiences alike. However, the portrayal of one of the most forceful rivalries in Formula One makes this film a treat to watch.
12. Warrior (2011)
Warrior is the best MMA movie ever made—there’s little doubt about it. The film begins with Brendan Conlon, a physics teacher, who is struggling to keep his expenses in check. So, he turns to his other trade to earn some money—MMA fighting.
Only to force himself into a global competition with 5 million on the line. However, his most intense rivalry is with none other than his brother. The two estranged brothers fight their way up the tournament, as their enmity towards each other and their father make this an outstanding experience.
11. Sherlock Holmes Franchise (2009-Present)
Sherlock Holmes, the character, needs no introduction. However, Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal in 2009 made this film an unexpected and global hit. Fresh off his success from Iron Man, RDJ thoroughly portrayed the unhinged but unparalleled private detective.
But another thing that needs no introduction is Holmes’ rivalry with his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty. While you don’t see him until the second movie, you won’t help but indulge yourself in the rivalry between two of the most intelligent men on the planet.
Besides that, you will find that his rivalry graces the pages of books, TV series, and remarkable movies as well.
10. The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003)
The Matrix trilogy is another franchise that needs no introduction. A revolutionary and remarkable series that redefined the sci-fi and action genre, has become something of a cult classic and one of the greatest films of all time.
However, at the center of it is the unbending rivalry between the main characters Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Their iconic fights, interactions, and dialogues make The Matrix one of the best rival movies to watch.
9. The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network tells us the story of Mark Zuckerberg and how he came about creating the social network website Facebook. However, the tagline of the film was:
“You don’t make 100 million friends without making a few enemies.”
This thoroughly sums up the entire premise of this movie, as Zuckerberg develops the Facebook social network. But in the process, he gets estranged from long-time friends and creates a few rivalries along the way, such as the one against Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield).
8. The Goonies (1985)
The Goonies is a classic and widely regarded as one of the greatest and funniest movies of all time. However, the adamant opposition between the Goonies and The Fratellis is at the center.
This rivalry throughout the movie drives not only the plot but also plays a vital role in the overall premise of the movie. Making it one of the best rivalry movies of all time.
7. Rocky I & II (1976 & 1979)
Rocky and Rocky II are two of the best rivalry movies ever. The film’s titular character, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), has an intense rivalry against a fellow heavyweight boxer Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
However, the difference is that Creed is one of the most prolific fighters and the reigning champion. So, he looks down upon Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer at the time. This rivalry is so intense that it develops into the second movie all the same. But, they do end up becoming best friends later on.
6. Heat (1995)
Heat is one of the best cop movies of all time, and there are plenty of reasons that make this movie amazing. This includes an awe-inspiring story, jaw-dropping action, and unparalleled acting throughout the film.
However, the rivalry between Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and long-time criminal mastermind Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) makes this film unforgettable. It’s been 28 years since the release, and even now, this rivalry still pops up in conversations. That should tell you about the intensity of this movie.
5. Dead Poets Society (1989)
Dead Poets Society is a wholesome, feel-good movie starring the late-great Robin Williams. However, despite having a story that’ll make you rethink your life, the film surrounds an intense rivalry; between the students and the teachers/old ways of doing things.
So, instead of carving their students’ brains, Williams’ character John Keating pushes them to be free thinkers. This develops sort of an unofficial rivalry between the school officials and students who are just discovering there is more to life than they thought.
4. Harry Potter Film Series (2001-2011)
Harry Potter is a series that’s filled with intense rivalries throughout. While the most obvious one is between Harry Potter and the dark-lord Voldemort, there are plenty of other ones. Such as the powerful rivalry between Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter.
Then, there’s the dark lord and his servants’ rivalry against Sirius Black, Dumbledore. Oh, and there’s also the rivalry of Professor Snape against Harry Potter’s father—leading to his disdain against Harry to a point. So, if you want good rivalries and haven’t seen this series before, you should change it.
3. Top Gun (1986)
Top Gun is one of the best movies of all time for several reasons. It’s one of the first movies to use real jets in fighting sequences practically. A tradition that its latest installment, Top Gun: Maverick, continued.
However, in the first movie, one of the most exciting plot points was the opposition & animosity between Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Iceman (Val Kilmer). Throughout the movie, they go toe-to-toe against one another many times.
2. The Prestige (2006)
The Prestige is one of the greatest films made by Christopher Nolan. Fresh off his successful Batman initiation in 2006, Nolan turned his attention to this Victorian-era drama about two magicians, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman).
While they used to work together, a tragedy strikes during one of their performances, leading Angier to hate Borden passionately. So much so that they become bent on bringing each one down throughout the 130-minute runtime of the movie.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
There are hardly any movies, TV shows, comic books, or even novels with a rivalry as intense, unending, and brutal as the one between Batman and Joker. When Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, many people thought this wasn’t a good decision.
However, The Dark Knight (another Christopher Nolan movie) proved the critics wrong in many ways. The rivalry becomes so strong throughout the movie that Joker would do anything to bring down or unmask Batman.
So, when the time comes, Batman goes one-up by ruining his reputation but doesn’t let the Joker win. Making The Dark Knight perhaps the best embodiment of this rivalry between the Joker and Batman.
- Face/Off (1997)
- Cruel Intentions (1999)
- Romeo + Juliet (1996)
What are your favorite rivalry films of all time? Share with us in the comments below!