We are reaching the finale of Phase 3 of the MCU with Avengers: Endgame merely a day away. As such I thought it would be a great time to reflect back on some of my favourite moments and scenes from the MCU’s history. I will be restricting this to the 21 cinematic releases, so TV is right out. As always this list is just my opinion, and I would love to hear your favourite MCU moments in the comments.
21) Doctor Strange: The Astral Plane – Whilst Doctor Strange may well have just ended up as a functional remake of Iron Man but with magic instead of technology, there is a moment that really stood out, and that is when the Ancient One first introduces Stephen Strange to the world of magic knocking him into the Astral Plane. What follows is an incredibly trippy scene with Strange tumbling through a number of different dimensions and planes, including one scene of just so many hands. It’s about as trippy and bizarre as the MCU has ever got, and it is commendable that they were willing to do that for Doctor Strange.
20) Iron Man: First Flight – The tagline for the original 1978 Superman was ‘You’ll believe a man can fly’ but that may actually be more appropriate for the moment in the MCU’s opening installment Iron Man where Tony Stark tests his Mark II suit for the first time. It’s a truly epic moment, that has been replicated several times in the MCU’s history with other heroes, but never in a way that produced the same spine tingles that the original managed. And having it all set to Ramin Djawadi’s awesome piece of music ‘Driving with the top Down’. Superb.
19) Captain America The Winter Soldier: Highway Fight – Whilst I don’t think the Winter Soldier twist really works in the MCU because of the awful job that The First Avenger did in setting up Steve Rogers’ friendship with Bucky Barnes. But the fact that the twist wasn’t impactful (it is also one of the most well known comic twists ever) shouldn’t detract from the fantastic action scene the Russo Brothers created. It shows why The Winter Soldier was such a great villain, proving more than enough of a physical match for Black Widow and Captain America, particularly in the hand to hand fighting with Steve. It is a brutal fight.
18) Iron Man 3: Mandarin Twist – Probably one of the most hated moments in the MCU, but one that I had to include for the sheer audacity of it (it helps that I’m not in the hate it camp). I understand why people hated it, Ben Kingsley was a very intimidating figure as The Mandarin, and Aldrich Killian didn’t end up being a top tier villain. However the scene where Tony discover that he’s actually actor Trevor Slattery is so genuinely hilarious that I couldn’t help but love it. I still hope we’ll see a full superpowered version of The Mandarin with his ten power rings, but as it is I thoroughly enjoyed the twist.
17) Avengers Age of Ultron: Farm Scenes – Age of Ultron is not a hugely beloved film, but it has some of the strongest character work in the entire MCU. Some of those great scenes are the moments on Hawkeye’s farm. We get to dive so much further into Hawkeye’s character and learn about his whole family. Similarly this is the start of the growing friction between Tony and Steve, something that lead to eventual breaking apart in Civil War. I’m so glad that Joss Whedon fought so hard to keep everything on the farm in.
16) Thor Ragnarok: Sakar Gladiator Fight – Do I wish they hadn’t shown the Hulk reveal in the trailers for Ragnarok? Absolutely. But does that detract from what was a great fight sequence, packed with both epic and hilarious moments? Nope. The actual gladiator fight between Thor and Hulk is great, but it is some of the supporting characters reactions that really sell it. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in particular delivers two of the biggest laughs from the film; one with his sheer terror at seeing the Hulk again, and one in his big celebration after the Hulk batters around Thor as he had done to Loki back in The Avengers. We also get some great Korg moments from Taika Waititi.
15) Captain America Civil War: Tony v Steve and Bucky – There are definitely some much bigger and better fight scenes than this in the MCU, but none that carry the emotional weight that the finale of Civil War does. Robert Downey Jr’s performance when he discovers that Bucky murdered his parents is so powerful and raw. The fight itself is completely brutal and heartbreaking as you see Zemo has clearly won and succeeding in destroying the Avengers, something that is still being felt today.
14) Black Panther: “You Are All Wrong!” – Black Panther is always going to be a highly political film, just because it revolves around the king and his governance of a country. The moment that I really loved, and that is so important in this time as some major countries are looking to become more insular, is when T’Challa meets his forefathers on the ancestral plane. He tells them that their policy of keeping Wakanda isolated and shut off from the outside world is wrong. It’s a powerful moment in the film, and very possibly Chadwick Boseman finest moment as T’Challa to date.
13) Captain Marvel: Unlocking Her Potential – The newest film in the MCU certainly delivered some great moments, with Goose stealing a ton of scenes. But the one I’m going for is the moment that Carol Danvers realised that she is being held back by the Kree Supreme Intelligence, and removes the chip that inhibits her abilities to unlock her full potential. It’s the big heroic moment that the entire film has been building up to, and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes.
12) Captain America The Winter Soldier: Lift Fight – The lift scene is the first big indication that The Winter Soldier really understood how to get the best out of Captain America. As more and more SHIELD Agents, pile onto the lift we see that something is wrong, and Cap’s line of “Before we get started, does anyone wanna get out” is just a great action movie line. It does a great job of showing just how much stronger Cap is than the average humans, and sets up the brutal physical action of the film. Oh and the little shield flick up he does at the end is pretty cool too.
11) Captain America The First Avenger: Steve & Peggy’s Goodbye – I do not like The First Avenger for many reasons, but amongst the boring rubbish there is one absolute gem of a scene, Steve and Peggy’s goodbye over the radio as he prepares to crash Red Skull’s plane. The performance from Hayley Atwell, who is actually the focus of the scene as the plane goes down is incredible, and it is truly one of the finest performances from any MCU film thus far.
10) Guardians of the Galaxy: Opening – The opening to the first Guardians of the Galaxy is an absolute masterclass in how to set the tone of the film. The ominous and heavily science fiction opening is quickly blown away as Star-Lord begins listening, dancing, and singing along to Redbone’s ‘Come And Get Your Love’. It’s a brilliant change of pace, and lets you know exactly what kind of film you’re in for with Guardians of the Galaxy.
9) Spider-Man Homecoming: Ride To Homecoming – Michael Keaton is a hell of actor, and I don’t think he has ever been scarier or more intimidating than when he is revealed as Liz’s father, and takes her and Peter to Homecoming. Watching Keaton figure out who Peter is, and then giving him the “dad talk” when Liz leaves. The switch he makes from friendly dad to the Vulture is incredible, and Keaton is truly terrifying in that moment.
8) Avengers Infinity War: “Bring Me Thanos!” – WHAT AN ENTRANCE! Just as the battle in Wakanda is going horribly Thor makes an incredible alongside Rocket and Groot before unleashing a cry of “BRING ME THANOS”. It is the pinnacle of so many epic moments throughout Infinity War and the moment that so many people still talk about even a year after the film came out. It may well be the greatest entrance ever made in film and backed by Alan Silvestri’s iconic Avengers theme it’s a true hero moment for the ages.
7) The Avengers: Circle Shot – It is still ridiculous that The Avengers came together. Just look at how many attempted shared universes have flopped since. But the defining moment where the team truly assembled for the first time is the now iconic shot with Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye standing together in a circle. It may just be the single most iconic shot of the entire MCU, and it is one that rightfully earns a high place in the greatest MCU moments list.
6) Black Panther: “Is This Your King?” – Michael B. Jordan is absolutely incredible throughout Black Panther, but one of his finest scenes has to be during the ritual combat between T’Challa and Killmonger. Coogler had shown how skilled he was at directing these scene from the first ritual combat, but he took it to another level as we watch Killmonger demolish T’Challa. Jordan’s disgusted cries to the watching Wakandan people of “Is this your king” will certainly live long in the memory.
5) Avengers Infinity War: The Soul Stone – I’ve mentioned before about how none of the predictions to do with the Soul Stone ended up being remotely close to the truth of where it was located. And what we got was actually one of the most beautiful and emotional moments in Infinity War. The performances from Josh Brolin and Zoe Saldana are fantastic, and the moment she goes from triumph to horrified realisation are heartbreaking. There are a lot of brilliant and emotional moments in Infinity War, but the Soul Stone was one that really got me.
4) Thor Ragnarok: God Of Thunder – It always felt as though the Thor films didn’t really want to embrace the mythological inspirations and origins of the character, that was until Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. When Thor encounters his sister Hela he is soundly beaten in hand to hand combat, until he sees his deceased father Odin. Reminded that he does not need Mjölnir as he’s the God of thunder he finally taps into his powers once again. The entry into the battle on the Bifrost is right up there are one of the great hero moments, but it also is the culmination of Thor’s journey through the film.
3) Avengers Age of Ultron: After The Party – These big heroic moments and action sequences are all very well, however you cannot beat seeing the Avengers bonding together, and seeing these characters interact. Seeing everyone attempt to lift Mjolnir is hilarious, and it comes back full circle brilliantly when Vision later manages to lift the hammer, putting away any doubt over whether he can be trusted. And then at the end to have it all blown away by the creepy arrival of Ultron himself, this is easily one the MCU’s greatest moments.
2) Captain America Civil War: Airport Fight – The greatest action sequence in the MCU’s history to date has to be the airport fight in Civil War. Seeing all these beloved characters go head to head with one another is truly epic, and to see all these differently powered people in conflict is fantastic. And the dialogue throughout is so funny, and so perfectly suits how every character would act in that situation. Not only was this the first time that we saw Giant Man in the MCU, but it was actually the first time we got to see Spider-Man in action. It is such a perfect action sequence, and will be hard to outdo without seeing some kind of supervillain team up.
1) Avengers Infinity War: *Snaps Fingers* – The Snap. A moment so iconic in comic book history, that many never thought would truly be transferred to the big screen. But here we are, with half our heroes destroyed by Thanos’ snap. It has already become a defining moment in modern cinema history, heartbreaking and brilliantly executed. It is obvious that the snap will not be a lasting effect, because virtually everyone who was destroyed by the snap has upcoming projects based upon them. However this doesn’t actually lessen the impact of seeing so many beloved character wiped out, particularly Tom Holland’s performance as Spider-Man pleading with and apologising to Tony, it’s breathtaking stuff.