Movie Frenemies With Chemistry We Could Watch Forever

List Rules
Vote up the love/hate pairings you can't get enough of.

Everyone loves to love a good cinematic love/hate dynamic. From the sports-comedy tandem of Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy, to the unforgettable stepsibling duo of Brennan Huff and Dale Doback, to other pairs of characters that don't include Will Ferrell, movies are littered with "frenemy" pairings of two characters with genuine conflict but also, at some point in their relationship, legitimate respect or affection for each other.

Vote for your favorite and least favorite movie frenemies in the list below!

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  • Rival naval pilot academy students Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) and Tom "Iceman" Kazansky (Val Kilmer) may not like each other much personally, but at the end of the day, they are united in fighting for the same flag. Probably the top two students at the prestigious TOPGUN fighter pilot school in Miramar, CA, they quickly clique up. Iceman is not shy about expressing his chief umbrage with Maverick. "Every time you go up in the air you're unsafe," he rants after a training flight. "I don't like you because you're dangerous." Maverick does not disagree. They both want to win the TOPGUN Trophy, awarded to the premiere student in each graduating class. After a tragic accident involving Maverick's wingman Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards), Iceman nabs that award.

    Their heated animus dissipates in the face of real danger. Upon graduating, they are instantly called into service to rescue a naval ship. Maverick and Iceman team up to take down enemy MiGs, and happily acknowledge their newfound respect for each other.

    Thirty-six years later, the legacy sequel Top Gun: Maverick gave us one final scene between the beloved frenemies. Kazansky - now a widely respected Admiral - greases a few wheels to bring Captain Mitchell back to Top Gun, this time as an instructor for a collection of elite pilots tasked with a top-secret, time-sensitive mission. In a scene that poignantly - albeit somewhat necessarily - mirrors Kilmer's personal battle with cancer, Maverick goes to visit his adversary-turned-friend at his home for a bit of advice. Mav talks, Iceman types. As the scene closes, Iceman's voice is finally heard - strained, and quiet, but retaining its confident command - and he and Maverick share one final embrace. It's a moving coda to one of the defining action-movie pairings of the 1980s.

  • In Kathyrn Bigelow's action cult classic Point Break, former college football star-turned-FBI agent-turned undercover surfer Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) and surfer drifter-with-a-secret Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) might seem to be unlikely buddies at first: Johnny is driven and intense, while Bodhi seems to exist merely to ride the most righteous waves he can find. But Johnny falls in with Bodhi and his entourage when he is tasked with assisting zany veteran agent Jimmy Papas (Gary Busey) by pretending to be an aspiring SoCal surfer as he tries to find a group of surfers Papas believes to be the "Ex-Presidents," a group of ruthlessly efficient bank robbers.

    Unfortunately for Johnny, he discovers that his new bestie is actually the ringleader of the Ex-Presidents, and though both characters still ultimately respect each other, they are separated by opposing sides of the law. During an epic foot chase, their friendship prevents Johnny from shooting a fleeing Bodhi - though the criminal surfer is wearing a Ronald Reagan Halloween mask, both characters are at that point aware of the other's identity. However, Bodhi's decision to coerce Johnny into helping him carry out a robbery while holding Johnny's girlfriend Tyler (Lori Petty), and Bodhi's ex, hostage does put a further strain on their relationship.

  • Batman And Catwoman, ‘Batman’ Franchise
    Photo: Batman Returns / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Caped crusader Batman/Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) and jewel thief/occasional good guy/occasional bad girl Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) find themselves alternately in conflict and in love/lust during the definitive Batman adventure, Batman Returns. First, Catwoman is an avenging do-gooder, saving the underserved in Gotham City. Next, she is stirring up trouble, bombing the business of her homicidal former employer Max Schreck (Christopher Walken).

    When she faces off against Batman, theirs is an ambiguous energy. These two rubber-clad weirdos find themselves drawn to each other, despite at this moment being on opposing sides of justice. In the end, despite Selina's plans to get even with Schreck, Batman/Bruce Wayne tries to convince her to retire to a life of happiness and contentment with him. Though she demurs in this Tim Burton-helmed, Daniel Waters-penned gothic masterpiece, there are other iterations of the Batman/Catwoman coupling that end more happily.

    There have been other on-screen Batman/Catwoman pairings, from the good (Adam West/Lee Meriwether in Batman '66) to the bad (Christian Bale/Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises). And then there's Matt Reeves's three-hour Batman/Catwoman showdown in 2022's The Batman, between Robert Pattinson's Caped Crusader and Zoe Kravitz's Selina Kyle. But ultimately, Keaton/Pfeiffer is all the Batman/Catwoman you'll need.

  • Heat is the story of two obsessive careerists who doggedly prioritize their work over every meaningful personal relationship in their lives, until it consumes them almost completely. LAPD Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and expert thief Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) run into each other at work - unfortunately, they operate on opposing sides of the law. They should exist in diametric opposition to each other. But part of the excellence of Michael Mann's film is that they don't. After Hanna realizes that his tracking efforts have led him to be tracked in turn by McCauley, he develops a begrudging respect for his charge.

    This leads to an iconic diner scene (Pacino and De Niro's first shared scene ever), wherein Hanna buys McCauley a cup of coffee as a bit of a ceasefire. Hanna has nothing he can pin on McCauley yet, so they get together to talk. And they find out that, despite the one vocational hurdle, they have more in common than not. But ultimately, unfortunately, the job is the rub.

    "You know, we are sitting here, you and I, like a couple of regular fellas," Hanna bottom-lines it, conceding his weird respect for his counterpart. "You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do. And now that we've been face to face, if I'm there and I gotta put you away, I won't like it. But I tell you, if it's between you and some poor bastard whose wife you're gonna turn into a widow, brother, you are going down."

    "There is a flip side to that coin," McCauley counters. "What if you do got me boxed in and I gotta put you down? Cause no matter what, you will not get in my way. We've been face to face, yeah. But I will not hesitate. Not for a second."

    Unfortunately, a scenario comes to pass wherein their mutual professional admiration may give way to the demands of these lifers' chosen jobs. Let's just say not everybody in that diner scene gets out of Heat alive, although even in the end, the survivor gently sees off his dying counterpart.

  • Powerful mutants Erik Lehnsherr, AKA "Magneto" (Michael Fassbender/Ian McKellen), and genetics professor Charles Xavier, AKA "Professor X" (James McEvoy/Patrick Stewart), kick off their relationship as friends in the superior prequel X-Men: First Class. Magneto is able to control metals with his mind, while Xavier has intense telepathic capabilities. The duo teams up circa 1962 to battle energy-absorbing mutant Klaus Schmidt, the former Nazi officer who killed Erik's mother, now known as Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Together, they recruit the unofficial "first class" of mutants to train for this mission, the original X-Men.

    When their mission is over, they part company, as Erik is convinced that mutants are evolutionarily superior to normal humans and deserve to reign over them, while Charles wants to work with them. Erik goes underground, while Charles opens a covert school for mutants. In 2000's original X-Men, Erik/Magneto instigates a proper takeover, doing battle with his minions against Charles and his students and colleagues. Charles's team is victorious, and Magneto is imprisoned in a metal-free cage. At the end of the first film, Charles and Magneto's frenemy relationship is reiterated, as they do battle in a weirdly amicable game of chess. The former friends will always possess a weird fondness for each other, despite Magneto's many attempts to do away with Charles and his team.

  • What concludes as a beautiful friendship wasn't always quite so good-looking. In Michael Curtiz's immortal Casablanca, Rick's Café Américain owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart in a star-making turn) oversees a Moroccan bar populated by a variety of noble and unsavory characters, including Nazi officers and their collaborators in the Vichy French government. Rick feigns neutrality in all political matters, but in reality has been known to help resistance fighters seeking refuge in free countries at Rick's Café. Rick also has a past (of which happily corrupt local police captain Louis Renault is aware) as a gun-runner for Ethiopian resistance fighters, and did battle on the (losing) left-leaning side of the Spanish Civil War.

    Renault (Claude Rains), who technically is under the command of Vichy France, generously looks the other way as Rick oversees plenty of illicit gambling in his bar. Fugitive Czech resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and his wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), Rick's former lover, arrive at Rick's Café, hoping to secure letters of transit that will secure them passage to the then-neutral America (the movie transpires before the bombing of Pearl Harbor that prompted US involvement in WWII). Pursuant Nazis arrive at the bar, led by the malicious Major Heinrich Strasser (Conrad Veidt, who in real life left Nazi Germany). From here on out, the film involves Rick eventually warming up to the idea of helping Ilsa and Laszlo evade the baddies and escape for greener pastures. Though Rick is somewhat friendly with Renault, Renault feigns loyalty to his Gestapo bosses, and generally abets Strasser as he strives to capture Laszlo.

    At the end of the movie (spoiler alert), Renault eventually opts to let Laszlo and Ilsa leave town peacefully, after Rick has killed Strasser (a murder Laszlo intends to peg on "the usual suspects"). Now fully on the side of the resistance, Laszlo pitches that the duo ditch Vichy France-occupied Casablanca to live with Charles de Gaulle's Free French, aligned with Allied forces, in Brazzaville.