Christian “The Warrior” Lee may be the ONE Lightweight World Champion, but the talented 21-year-old Singaporean is also an avid comic book fan.
Since the start of the new millennium, comic book movies – especially those involving superheroes – have dominated the box office and provided endless hours of entertainment for the masses.
Although Lee is not from the Marvel or DC Universes, the mixed martial artist has used his own superpowers to thrill fans on the global stage and ascend to the top of ONE Championship’s lightweight division.
But which films have put the Hawaii-based athlete on the edge of his seat? We’re about to find out.
In this exclusive, “The Warrior” reveals his top five Marvel superhero movies and explains what makes each one so incredibly special.
#1 Avengers: Endgame (2019)
At the top of Lee’s list is the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame.
The fourth Avengers film brought together the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in a way that has never been seen before, and it became the biggest motion picture experience in history.
“The first one was my favorite when it came out. But, I think the last one, Endgame, ended up the best,” the Evolve and United MMA representative admits.
“It was cool that they brought together [stories] from every movie that they released, and they added in little pieces of it and made it into one big movie. It was really cool to watch. I didn’t expect everyone to come back alive halfway through it.”
The emotional climax saw the farewell of Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, who was played by Robert Downey Jr. If you heard weeping in your theater, rest assured it was not “The Warrior.”
“It takes a little more than that for me to cry,” the lightweight king says with a chuckle.
#2 Iron Man (2008)
Landing at the number two spot is Iron Man, which marked the official launch of the MCU. While Lee enjoyed the story, he specifically loved Downey Jr.’s acting.
“I thought he did a great job playing the character and going through the whole series,” the Singaporean explains.
“He made the whole show by how well he played it in the beginning. His performance was fantastic. I feel like that is what rejuvenated his whole career.”
Another reason “The Warrior” connected with the first movie of the Iron Man trilogy more so than the later installments was because of the performance of Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, a.k.a. Iron Monger.
Ultimately, it was this specific origin story that kicked off the highest-grossing film franchise in history, and it is also what drew Lee in.
“It was just really cool that they made a movie that was realistic, with him being trapped in the cave and having to build the suit of armor,” the champ adds. “I really liked how the movie played out.”
#3 X-Men (2000)
Everybody’s favorite mutants slide into the third slot.
The X-Men franchise has seen many changes over the years as new installments hit the big screen, but “The Warrior” still prefers the original trilogy, and its supervillain, the best.
“I liked the original trilogy more than the later films (2011’s First Class, 2014’s Days of Future Past), and Magneto is one of the strongest villains in all of Marvel,” he says.
Lee – whose sister, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela, has long hailed X-Men and Wolverine as her favorite Marvel superheroes – was also allured with the thought of having superpowers during his childhood and being called to attend Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
“A big reason why I like it is because of the possibility of being born with superpowers,” he adds. “I think every kid wishes he or she would be born with some superpowers. I think that’s the main thing.”
#4 Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Coming in at number four is Thor: Ragnarok.
Academy Award-winning director Taika Waititi took control of the franchise with Ragnarok, and the infusion of humor, bright colors, and epic scale matched the heart of Marvel’s cosmic universe.
“The action scenes were terrific, and how they did the fighting was great,” Lee says. “They put a bunch of different characters in there like the Hulk. That stands out among the series.”
The MCU’s most notorious villain, Loki, got his shot at redemption in Ragnarok and the complexity of that specific character captivated the Singaporean as well.
“What makes Loki interesting is the fact that he is Thor’s brother and he is the villain, but sometimes, you can see that he wants to be good,” the ONE Lightweight World Champion continues.
“He is always on the fence, and it makes him unpredictable. You don’t know if he is going to come through as a good guy or remain the villain.
“I think [Chris Hemsworth] did a great job, too. He made Thor how Robert Downey Jr. made Iron Man. If you put anyone else in there to play that character, it just wouldn’t seem right.”
#5 Black Panther (2018)
Rounding out the list was the cultural phenomenon of 2018, Black Panther.
Director Ryan Coogler brought a unique vision to the blockbuster film, which Lee absolutely loved and connected with.
“Black Panther was one of the most popular superhero movies in Hawaii. It was just so different than the rest of the movies. They brought in the culture of Africa, and they would have a fight scene with a bunch of mixed martial arts in there,” he explains.
“The [incorporation of mixed martial arts] was really good. They definitely did their homework. In one of the fight scenes, he had the guy in a reverse triangle, which was pretty good. They did their homework trying to make it as realistic as it would be in reality.”
What else helped to draw the ONE Lightweight World Champion into the world of Wakanda? The rich culture the cast and crew brought to life on the silver screen.
“I liked how they had so much culture in the movie and, at the same time, their country was the most technologically advanced, but it maintained a lot of the culture,” Lee continues.
“I think adding diversity is great. Adding in African-American superheroes and Asian superheroes [is great]. In the beginning, the only actors you would see in Hollywood films would be Americans or people with light skin. Now, you’re seeing all the movies trying to add in [some diversity] and make everything they do culturally diverse.
“Putting actors of different races in films is great. I love to see different ethnicities on the big screen. I think it’s only right. There’s talent everywhere. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is – if you’re a good actor, you’re a good actor. I love to see cultural diversity.”