Noovie 9: Cinema's Dueling "Versus" Movies

As you bear witness to the epic clash between titans in "Godzilla vs. Kong," let us verse you in cinema's best bouts: the best "versus" movies.

By Matt Lissauer

Cinema's Dueling Versus Movies - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

© Universal / courtesy Everett Collection

It’s on. "Godzilla vs. Kong" -- the title alone sums the movie up, as the word "Versus" makes us know that this will be one fight of epic proportions. As the King of Monsters, Godzilla, takes on the King of Apes, King Kong, we'll verse you in the many movies that employed "Versus" in its title. There's aliens taking on predators, monsters battling aliens, and let's not forget the fearless fight between Ted and Joanna Kramer! Read on below and take in our list of some of the best (or worst?) "versus" movies.

  • 1Alien vs. Predator

    © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. / Courtesy Everett Collection

    When it comes to "Versus" movies, there have been plenty of ridiculous fights. The most ridiculous of which usually finds two baddies that throw down and go at each other for 90 minutes. In the past we've seen eagles fighting sharks, horror villain Freddy taking on Jason, and even Dracula going toe-to-toe against Frankenstein (er, his monster, that is). We can't feature them all, but we can highlight perhaps the most legendary and ridiculous of these fights, when two sci-fi franchises clashed on screen. We even bore witness to not one but two of these fights. The sacrifice? A potential fifth "Alien" film from "Aliens" writer/director James Cameron -- he walked as Fox pursued this franchise matchup. All was not lost, however, as nuggets of that story eventually morphed into Ridley Scott's "Alien" prequel "Prometheus."

    Alien vs. Predator

    Horror / 2004 / PG-13

    When the wealthy and ambitious Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) funds an expedition to Antarctica, he hopes to find a mysterious source of heat that has been detected. Led by a tough guide, Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan), Weyland and his team uncover a pyramid, but they also find malevolent parasitic aliens. Making matters worse, another extraterrestrial species, known as Predators, arrive to hunt the other aliens, with the humans caught in the middle of the conflict.

  • 2Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

    © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Batman vs. Superman: it was a debate that many comic book fans had between each other in countless basements, bedrooms, and convention halls. Who would win? The man from another planet who gets his super strength from our sun? Or, the man who has a bottomless pit of wealth and an axe to grind? Would this be a fair fight? Would they even realize that their mothers have the same first name?! Zack Snyder gives us the fight and answers these questions. But with the "v" instead of "vs" in the title, was something more philosophical at play? This is, after all, how court cases are titled. Snyder's film had the basis of something interesting and different, but strove for too much. Unfortunately, it left us with a largely underwhelming clash between two comic book titans. At least he redeemed himself and the character arcs in his "Justice League" recut.

    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

    Action / 2016 / PG-13

    It's been nearly two years since Superman's (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel.

  • 3Monsters vs. Aliens

    © Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

    2009's epic animated battle from DreamWorks blends sci-fi and horror, as the 50 Foot Woman, the Fly (er, cockroach) and Mothra come together to thwart an impending alien invasion. "Monsters vs Aliens" pays homage to several classic monster and alien movies, including: "The Blob," "King Kong," "Creature from the Black Lagoon," and "War of the Worlds." While the film didn't prove successful enough to produce a sequel, it did spawn a mini-franchise, with a handful of TV specials and a short-lived animated series. One consistent thread through all that? Seth Rogen as the gelatinous B.O.B. Truly a perfect embodiment of his trademark honking laugh.

    Monsters vs. Aliens

    Animated / 2009 / PG

    When a meteor full of space gunk transforms Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) into a giant, the government renames her Ginormica and confines her to a secret compound with other monsters, like bug-headed Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie). When an extraterrestrial robot lands on Earth and begins a rampage, Gen. W.R. Monger persuades the president to send Ginormica and her fellow monsters to battle the machine and save the planet.

  • 4Joe Versus the Volcano

    © Warner Brothers / courtesy Everett collection

    It might not be Tom Hanks' most well-received title. It's not even his most critically acclaimed fight. But, "Joe Versus the Volcano" certainly stands as continual proof that Hanks is a man with impeccable comedic timing. In one corner stands the average, titular Joe (Hanks), a man who's not sick, except for a terminal disease. In another corner stands a mighty volcano, a mountainous fissure that can give Joe a sense of meaning and a dignified death. Of course, all he needs to meet the volcano head on is some stylish luggage and help from the charming Meg Ryan. And so begins the relationship of one cinema's most classic on-screen couples.

    Joe Versus the Volcano

    Romantic Comedy / 1990 / PG

    Joe Banks (Tom Hanks) is dying, apparently. This is good news, since his life was not much worth living anyway. On the upside, a strange millionaire (Lloyd Bridges) offers Joe a way to die with meaning and dignity: by hurling himself into a volcano. With plenty of spending cash and an ensemble of new luggage, Joe embarks on an absurdist journey to his demise, guided by two very disparate sisters, and trying to puzzle out the meaning of existence.

  • 5Versus

    © Gracenote, Inc. All rights reserved.

    "Versus" is such a mighty entry that it doesn't even need to spell out who is going up against who. There's a prisoner who goes up against his own personal demons. That prisoner then faces a group of mobsters. And, then the two battle zombies. All this culminates in a final clash between good and evil. The Japanese flick certainly has everything you would want in a good "versus" movie including a healthy blend of Samurai sword fights and zombie re-deaths! It's like if George A. Romero, Sam Raimi, and John Woo had some kind of bloody, ass-kicking, un-dead love child.

    Versus

    Horror / 2000 / R

    An escaped prisoner (Tak Sakaguchi) and a mysterious young woman (Chieko Misaka) face an onslaught of indestructible undead fighters in Japan's Forest of Resurrection.

  • 6Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    © Universal / courtesy Everett Collection

    With a mighty punch, and a couple of 1-ups, unassuming Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) takes on the whole world. Edgar Wright's criminally underrated action rom-com is packed to the brim with stunning visuals and captivating effects that perfectly blend the worlds of manga, video games, and graphic novels. Of course, the titular Scott is not really up against the whole world, but to him it feels that way. Instead, in order to win the heart of his new girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) he must face her seven exes head-on. It's not an easy fight, as Captain America Chis Evans and Superman Brandon Routh are included in this bunch, but Scott certainly holds his own against them. Fans of the film can look forward to a 10th anniversary re-release later this month in select Dolby Cinema theaters.

    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    Action / 2010 / PG-13

    As bass guitarist for a garage-rock band, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) has never had trouble getting a girlfriend; usually, the problem is getting rid of them. But when Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) skates into his heart, he finds she has the most troublesome baggage of all: an army of ex-boyfriends who will stop at nothing to eliminate him from her list of suitors.

  • 7The U.S. vs. John Lennon

    © Lionsgate / courtesy Everett Collection

    If you were a teen in the '60s, chances are you would have been in love with one of the Beatles (or Elvis; or the Rolling Stones; or Dylan -- but ya dig). Towards the end of the decade, however, if you were part of the U.S. Government, you were out to get the rowdy anti-establishment rockers under control. Filmmaker David Leaf walks us through the transformation of John Lennon from mega music star to outspoken anti-war activist. An ideological fight soon ensues as the U.S. fears Lennon's words might lead to greater dissent. It may not be a conventional bout, but for a "Versus" movie, there couldn't be a more provocative fight.

    The U.S. vs. John Lennon

    Documentary / 2006 / PG-13

    Lennon arouses the ire of the U.S. government when he focuses his musical talent and power of celebrity to campaign against the Vietnam War. Filmmakers David Leaf and John Scheinfeld focus on his life and antiwar activities with Yoko Ono during the years 1966-1976.

  • 8Kramer vs. Kramer

    © Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    This might not be the first "Versus" movie you'd expect on this list, but for a courtroom battle, "Kramer vs. Kramer" sure packs some emotional punches. Adapted from a best-selling novel, the film is about a workaholic husband (Dustin Hoffman) who turns himself around as he raises his boy (Justin Henry) after his wife (Meryl Streep) leaves him. The film not only solidified the careers of Hoffman and Streep – each winning Oscars for their roles – but it also went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. For a "Versus" movie "Kramer vs. Kramer" stands as a character study that doesn't take sides.

    Kramer vs. Kramer

    Drama / 1979 / PG

    On the same day Manhattan advertising executive Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) lands the biggest account of his career, he learns that his wife, Joanna (Meryl Streep), is leaving him and their young son, Billy (Justin Henry). Forced to raise his son alone, Ted loses his job but gains a stronger relationship with the child with the help of another single parent, Margaret (Jane Alexander). When Joanna returns to claim custody of Billy, the ensuing court battle takes a toll on everyone concerned.

  • 9The People vs. Larry Flynt

    © Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

    Of course if we're looking at cinematic courtroom battles, no movie stands up to justice like "The People vs. Larry Flynt." Milos Foreman's biopic explores the rise of Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson), publisher of Hustler Magazine. Publishing smut, of course, will lead to many in-court battles over free speech. Eventually Flynt finds himself smack-dab in the middle of a landmark Supreme Court case over a parody ad featuring the Reverend Jerry Falwell. Played brilliantly by Harrelson, the role of Flynt garnered him an Academy Award for Best Actor. The real Flynt even appears on-screen as a judge. The popularity of the film led to the real Flynt and Falwell having regular meetings and public debates. They became so chummy that they even swapped Christmas cards and family photos. Upon Falwell's death in 2007, Flynt would realize that the result of their epic legal clash was an unexpected one: "We became friends."

    The People vs. Larry Flynt

    Drama / 1996 / R

    Pursued by opponents who say his "Hustler" magazine breaks decency laws, pornographer Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson) hires lawyer Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton) to help fight his legal battles. A zealot shoots the men near a Georgia courthouse, and though Flynt discovers he'll never walk again, his fighting spirit -- like his love for stripper Althea Leasure (Courtney Love) -- stays strong. Ultimately, the unlikely free speech warrior takes his biggest case to a showdown at the Supreme Court.

Related tags

Godzilla vs. Kong

About the Author

Matt Lissauer

Matt Lissauer is a writer & data manager for Noovie. When he is not busy writing listicles, Matt is enjoying life in New Jersey with his lovely wife and three kids.

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