Inspired by this post and this post as well as an hour on Wikipedia, I'm now quite curious. Given how prepared a marine expeditionary unit seems to be,

What mythical being would actually be a match for an MEU?

Perhaps a wormlike, burrowing beastie? Or a marine leviathan? A pack of werewolves? Feel free to draw on any literature, but it'd be helpful to provide some background about what your creature is capable of.

I'm thinking of "mythical" as something from pre-2000s literature, but exceptions are possible.

Terms of engagement: [Monster] appears in the middle of the United States and a single MEU is dispatched to fight it, with the goal of subduing/killing/defeating it with minimal destruction. Further resources are occupied elsewhere, and the Avengers are not coming to help.

EDIT: Here's a couple links that might give you some background on what the military is capable of:

Against Godzilla: 1, 2, and 3

Against apes: 1, 2

Against werewolves: 1

Some are slightly sketchy sources, but I think it's a good reference frame to have.

  • $\begingroup$ Just a note here ... I suspect this Q is at risk of being closed as duplicate. Might make sense if you picked the creature of your choice, make your case as to why it could compete with the MEU, and ask for feasibility. $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Nov 12, 2017 at 7:40
  • $\begingroup$ Tons and tons of creatures with strong magic would be impervious to conventional weapons. Think Pennywise, or Freddy Krueger, or The Mummy. Are you thinking about Godzilla, by any chance? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Nov 12, 2017 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ Forget the avengers, call the justice league in fact get aquaman on the line and tell him one of his pet is lost at sea and had wandered too near to the shore... $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Nov 12, 2017 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ @alexander I would LOVE to see an MEU get called in to Derry, Maine to deal with Pennywise. “I am your worst dream come true! I am your-” interrupted as a barrage of grenades, sniper fire, and Sidewinders demolishes the sewers $\endgroup$
    – Dubukay
    Nov 12, 2017 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ You may want to read the manga/anime Gate which is basically about this. the dragon vs fighter jets especially relevant. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gate_(novel_series) $\endgroup$
    – John
    Nov 12, 2017 at 15:54

8 Answers 8


In reality any being that can change what a person sees or thinks would be a match for a MEU

One example would be any of the fae. Through illusions the MEU would be shooting at nothing at best or even each other at worse. The Queen of the Unseelie could run over a MEU like a speedbump alone and she is never alone.

Firepower means nothing when you can't see what you are shooting at.

A siren could charm the MEU and use the soldiers to protect itself

Any sort of possession demon would also be an issue. It can keep changing bodies and normal weapons won't worry it. See Don't kill it as an example.

A MEU has a lot of firepower but there are things out there that won't worry about conventional weapons.


The Faerie Queen

Soft power is the way to deal with an excess of hard power. The Faerie Queen is not one to meet them in open battle but rather to meet members of the unit after a couple of drinks and take them off to faerie land one at a time. These men may return to their families many years later with no memory of intervening time.

Scandinavian Trolls

These are kidnap specialists, almost solely going after men who like a drink, these trolls tend to kidnap people and leave them lying face down in a ditch a couple of days later. It was a well known risk that a man going out for a drink may be kidnapped by trolls for a few days and return with, again, no memory of the intervening time.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Trolls sound like an amazing excuse for a multiple night bender. $\endgroup$
    – glenatron
    Nov 13, 2017 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ @glenatron, What?! No! It was trolls I tell you, trolls! Left me in a ditch with a cracking headache $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Nov 13, 2017 at 15:36

TL;DR -- No

This is going to be tough. Real tough. Here's a capture of some of the assets available to an MEU:


I was tempted to stop reading after the first item... 4 M1A1 tanks! Here's a picture of one of them:


But you know what the real problem is? Range of Engagement. Most of the creatures from mythology are extreme close-range fighters. Makes sense, given the milieu that produced them.

If they are made of any material less tough than depleted uranium, no creature could make it through the lethality envelope to even engage the Marines. And no tricks like sneaking up at night ... the Marines have light-amplification and IR gear.

A couple things you could try...

  • Ghosts -- Something incorporeal might be able to get close enough to actually fight the MEU. Problem is, if it's corporeal enough to do damage, it's corporeal enough to take damage. And our soldiers still have bayonets...

  • Burrowing Creatures -- Think of Dune-style sandworms. They could conceivably burrow up under part of the force and (technical term) "glomp" them. Problem is, even Shai-Hulud will feel the burn from those attack helicopters.

  • The Balrog -- this is the only guy I can see even making a decent go of it. If you go by the movie, it looks like he's essentially made of lava. Small-arms fire should be of little concern to him. But even he wouldn't enjoy those (infrared targeted!) Javelin missiles. And don't get me started on the howitzer...

Honestly, I just don't see it happening.

  • $\begingroup$ What about vampires, various superheroes, gods, creatures that can teleport, incorporeal creatures with methods of causing non-physical damage, living planets? Would no e of these have a chance? $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2017 at 10:05
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    $\begingroup$ Seriously? You left out Gojira? If he can handle the whole JSDF, he should be able to deal with a mere expeditionary force $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Nov 12, 2017 at 10:18
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for Balrog. He's fast and smart enough to avoid being bracketed by howitzers, but the missiles indeed are a different story.... $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Nov 12, 2017 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @nzaman come on now ... Gojira is not available, having been slain by a giant moth. ;D To your point, though, the JSDF has a mixed record against the Big G ( godzilla.wikia.com/wiki/J.S.D.F. ), but has beaten him. My contention is that the superior mobility of MEU compared to G will allow them to control the range of engagement in a way which the JSDF struggles with given the crowded conditions of Japan. $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Nov 15, 2017 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe, but they also have less firepower and sheer numbers. And didn't Big G have a son or something that showed up in a later movie, or am I thinking of the Hollywood version? $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:37

There are loads of possibilities

There are many creatures that have an even or better chance against the MEU, particularly since you allow any pre-2000s literature (I assume you include films, TV, plays and comic books in that). Below is just one example:


Obviously there a loads of types of vampire so lets look at a vampire based on Dracula. Maybe it his American cousin. For those unfamiliar with Dracula here is a quick run down of his abilities.

  • Dracula has superhuman strength which (according to Van Helsing, it's equivalent to that of 20 strong men.
  • He does not cast a shadow or have a reflection from mirrors.
  • He is immune to conventional means of attack at night.
  • He can defy gravity to a certain extent and possesses superhuman agility, able to climb vertical surfaces upside down in a reptilian manner.
  • He can travel onto "unhallowed" ground such as the graves of suicides and those of his victims.
  • He has powerful hypnotic, telepathic and illusionary abilities.
  • He also has limited teleportation/
  • He can enter and leave sealed spaces.
  • He is unable to die by the mere passing of time alone.
  • He has limited control over some animals (rats, bats, foxes, owls).
  • Dracula can also manipulate the weather and, within his range, is able to direct the elements, such as storms, fog and mist.
  • He can shapeshift at will into dogs, bats and mist. He can also turn into moonbeams and can change his size.
  • By biting someone he gains hypnotic power over them and with successive bites he slowly turn them into a vampire.

His weaknesses are:

  • Loses his supernatural abilities during the day.
  • Loses his rational thought at the sight of blood.
  • Loses his powers if near a religious symbol usually a crucifix.
  • Has to sleep on his home soil, shouldn't be an issue for an American vampire in the USA.
  • Cannot cross running water unless carried.

Based on the strengths above it seems like a standard MEU would stand little chance of stopping a vampire like Dracula. At night bullets and missiles would go straight through him. If he needed to approach unseen he could create mist to hide him or turn into a moonbeam. His ability to pass through cracks would get him into tanks and armoured vehicles with ease. Even helicopters would be unsafe as he could simply fly inside them. Any sailor the vampire bites would at best collapse and at worst turn on his fellows. The daytime would be the only safe time for the MEU. They could attempt to seek put and kill the vampire but if he is smart he will be hiding somewhere. Probably in a perfectly ordinary looking house in the middle of a city. At night the MEU's only chance would be to hide on an island somewhere surrounded by running water.

  • $\begingroup$ I’m not very convinced by that- having read Stoker’s Dracula and watching a group of six untrained, average individuals take him down I really can’t imagine that a special ops force would have any additional trouble. As you point out, they’d be limited to the daytime, but they’re still quite capable of dealing with a threat like that. Can daytime Dracula dodge anti-tank missiles and steady howitzer/mortar fire? $\endgroup$
    – Dubukay
    Nov 12, 2017 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Dubukay No, but he doesn't need to. he looks like a human so he just needs to hide in a town/city. Van Helsing and co could only kill Dracula because they tracked him down and took him out in the daytime. At night he is practically impossible to kill and can only be repelled. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2017 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, I'll grant that they might not be able to kill him during the nighttime, but what would keep our MEU troops from doing exactly what Harker & co did? Staying inside a tank sealed against chemical warfare and waiting until daytime to track and attack? $\endgroup$
    – Dubukay
    Nov 12, 2017 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Dubukay How would they track him? Helsing used a telepathic link between Dracula and Mina but in this situation the vampire would't have time to set that up. Also, Dracula can get through any seal according to the books. It was only using sacramental wafers that Helsing kept him out. I assume an MEU doesn't carry those? $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2017 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know about that, a "seal" in the 19th century is very different from a "seal" today. We're talking about the difference between a coffin or window nailed shut instead of a tank that can be literally airtight: dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a202911.pdf $\endgroup$
    – Dubukay
    Nov 12, 2017 at 16:46

Oh the possibilities lets start:


Phoenix image

Every time you kill it, it just comes back like napalm. Your MEU would likely die from attrition fighting this.

Classical Zombies

Contrary to the modern zombie mythology, classical zombies didn't have the convenient headshot kill rule. Instead there are no ways to kill a classical zombie except perhaps obliteration. There in lies the problem, no MEU has enough firepower to obliterate a hoard of classical zombies and their numbers just keep increasing.


I don't think any MEU will have ordained priests in the rite of exorcism if that even works.


God's wrath.....


This would be a more fair fight as maybe some of them may have crosses however most their weapons wont count for jack when he can travel at ridiculous speeds and turn into mist or bats (good luck using missile strikes on that). Good luck staking him with a branch from a judas tree. Not many soldiers carry silver with them either (except maybe wedding rings).

Then this is always this guy:

Grim Reaper


Ultimately, the real answer depends on how well aware the marines are of the creature's capabilities. If they go into battle in full knowledge of what they're up against, then virtually all of the mythical creatures you can think of will be pretty easy to deal with -- they all have their weaknesses. On the other hand, if you try to tackle a beast without knowing that it's invulnerable to your puny projectile weapons, then you're going to take heavy casualties before beating a hasty retreat.

The other thing to take note of is collateral damage. Not just civilians, but also property. You stated that the monsters show up in the middle of a city; a major military assault in that kind of environment is going to destroy a lot of valuable real-estate, even if there aren't any actual people around to get injured or killed (and your troops may not be aware of that either). This could cause your guys to pull their punches; they're not going to just throw everything at it unless they feel they have to, which gives your monster time to fight back.

That said, here are some of my thoughts of things that could stand up to a modern military assault.


Yeah, I know, it's a modern franchise rather than a genuine mythical creature (they are pre-2000's though, so hopefully meets your requirements), but those guys certainly can take out major military hardware without any repercussions.


Yes. Those Aliens. Again, another modern franchise rather than mythical (but again pre-2000's), but they did pretty much exactly what you're asking for here: took on a full assault from a well-equipped military in an urban environment and totally dominated them.


Okay, I know there are plenty of different concepts of what these guys are and what they're capable of, but think about it: they're demonic beings, with authority from Hell itself to do anything and the capabilities to match. Oh, and no physical vulnerabilities at all. If you take it at face value, military might is just not going to stop them. You need an exorcist (and presumably a pretty good one at that, if things are bad enough to be sending in an entire combat unit). But if the army doesn't realise that, then they are going to get totally wiped out.


Kinda the other side of the coin to the above. I'm not sure what a bunch of angels would be doing that would cause humanity to want to launch a military assault against them though? Perhaps there is some evil that they've been sent to deal with? Perhaps that evil is secretly supported by major political groups or individuals who don't want to lose their power?


I can think of several possibilities.


The dragon from The Hobbit, he would probably do fairly well, assuming he could resist bullets. He has some form of ranged attack since he can breathe fire, which would destroy most ground troops, but artillery might be a problem


Even though they are not technically mythical, they are still very cool. Although a few of them could probably be taken out be artillery, any more might as well take over the planet.


Probably used less than other things, but they are still gods, and that is fairly self explanatory.


Given there are enough of them, the military will probably be overrun. Orcs would have limited range, but are probably stronger than the average human, and might be able to survive a few gunshots.

  • $\begingroup$ Are we allowed to use more than one? Apparently we are, since the OP mentioned "a pack of werewolves", but then almost anything could take down almost anything if you could send ENOUGH of them. $\endgroup$
    – A. B.
    Mar 14, 2019 at 2:01
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    $\begingroup$ That apart, yes, if Daleks counted you'd be in trouble; if even one of those things manages to hide out for a while, it'll start doing something techy and before you know it you've got an entire fortress or swarm of bio-engineered monsters or fleet of hastily scrambled Dalek motherships on your hands. And EVERYTHING Daleks do is always armed to the teeth. But yeah, the OP said mythical. $\endgroup$
    – A. B.
    Mar 14, 2019 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! Oh, also, we edited your question to fix the grammar. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2020 at 20:59

The Nemean lion is a lion that has impenetrable skin and extremely sharp claws. It can only be killed by being crushed or strangled through the indestructible pelt.

The cockatrice instantly kills anyone or anything (except for weasels) that it looks at, touches, or breathes on. It dies instantly if it hears a rooster or sees its own reflection.

Medusa turns to stone anyone that looks at her face.

The Lernaean hydra has poisonous breath and exceptional regenerative capabilities.


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