15th Jan2014

Ten Best: Movie Rivalries

by Phil Wheat

To celebrate the release of Rush later this month, we though we’d check out some of the most memorable movie rivalries in recent memory…

Rocky vs. Apollo Creed - Rocky (1976)

World heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) comes up with the idea of allowing a local underdog a shot at his title when his opponent drops out of the championship due to an injured hand. Selecting Rocky Balboa when he takes an interest in his nickname (‘The Italian Stallion’), what occurs is a rivalry of the most professional kind. The film culminates in the fight to end all fights, with the two clashing in a monumental battle – the winner? If you’ve not seen it, I’m not going to spoil it for you here.

Woody v. Buzz Lightyear - Toy Story (1995)

It’s actually pretty difficult to recall a time when Woody and Buzz Lightyear weren’t each other’s favourite deputies. Yet the entire first half of Pixar’s groundbreaking 1995 original is moulded around Woody’s jealousy of Buzz’s presence as Andy’s new toy of choice.  Forcing to contend with the deluded space toy, Woody even attempts to trap Buzz in a gap behind Andy’s desk before the plan goes disastrously wrong and he is forced into a rescue mission which helps the two from a close bond for the films to come.

Neo vs. Agent Smith - the Matrix trilogy (1997-2004)

A rivalry that extends throughout The Wachowski’s famous Matrix trilogy, Keanu Reeves begins the series as Thomas Anderson – an ordinary guy who doesn’t realise that he lives in a virtual reality world. A hacker in his spare time (he goes by the name Neo), he becomes aware of the matrix which leads him to suspect the world he lives in – forcing the agents to come after him – namely, Hugo Weaving’s unstoppable Agent Smith.

Professor X vs. Magneto - the X-Men franchise (2000-)

If you’ve seen X-Men: First Class (2011), you’ll know from James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of Professor X and Magneto that the two mutants started off as friends when they were otherwise known as Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr. The latter’s need to avenge his mother’s death causes the paralysis of Xavier sparking off a dark side which spills into the remaining films of the franchise – with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen starring as the two.

Harry Potter vs. Lord Voldemort - the Harry Potter franchise (2001-2011)

It could be argued that the true rivalry at the heart of the Harry Potter franchise is with his fellow student, Slytherin’s Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). However, save for a few scuffs during Transfiguration, it’s ole’ Lord Voldy (Ralph Fiennes) who Potter must ultimately do battle with. Inextricably linked since being a mere babe in a blanket, Daniel Radcliffe’s ‘boy who lived’ survives his attack, instead adorned with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, always there to bring him down whenever he seems to win a Quidditch match or be drinking a Butterbeer, causing him pain whenever Voldemort’s plan to take over the wizarding world is stepped up a notch… but you already knew all of this.

Thor vs. Loki - Thor (2010) / Avengers Assemble (2012) / Thor 2: The Dark World (2013)

It all started off so well; brothers ‘til the end. Well, until Tom Hiddleston’s Loki realises he is in no way related to Thor, a Norse God banished to earth from Asgard for defying the orders of his King father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Before too long, Loki is plotting to kill the man he believed to be his father so he himself can take over the reign of Asgard, not to mention attempting to destroy New York City in Avengers Assemble. Betrayed by these actions, Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) is the one who must stop Loki’s plans from coming to fruition time and time again.  

Cady Heron vs. Regina George - Mean Girls (2004)

A high-school rivalry like no other, Lindsay Lohan’s Cady attempts to infiltrate ‘the plastics’ by becoming the faux friend of Regina George – and attempting to bring her down in the process. As the film goes on, Cady becomes more embroiled in the inner-group of the high school clique she so desperately wanted to destroy. Regina gets more jealous as Cady gets more ruthless paving the way for one hell of a showdown.

Robert Angier vs. Alfred Borden - The Prestige (2006)

In Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, the rivalry between Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Borden (Christian Bale) stems from the consequent tragedy of a magic trick gone wrong; what ensues is a rivalry between the two small-time magicians who attempt to outdo each other in spectacle as their profiles rise. As the film goes on, the two reach extraordinary lengths to discover the secrets of each other’s tricks – building to a climax that’ll leave you jaw on the floor.

Batman vs. The Joker – Batman (1989) / The Dark Knight (2008)

Although branched out in Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman, in which Jack Nicholson took the equally-as-psychotic yet lighter approach, it was Christopher Nolan’s sequel to Batman Begins (2005) which solidified the character pairing of Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne and Heath Ledger’s unnamed Joker as a serious case of classic movie rivalry; an unstoppable force truly meets an immovable object, and the repercussions have consequences which spill over into trilogy-closer The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

James Hunt vs. Niki Lauda - Rush (2013)

The reason why the movie rivalry in Rush rings truer than most is dedicated to the fact that everything you see in Ron Howard’s latest is real. Playboy schmoozer James Hunt and uptight perfectionist Niki Lauda – two figures who would never have met if it wasn’t for Formula 1 – clashed on the race course like no other ever has (with disastrous consequences, caught brilliantly on screen).

Rush is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 27th January 2014 from StudioCanal

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