With Marvel’s insanely ambitious 23 film arc – starting with Iron Man and culminating with the release of Avengers Endgame – finally coming to a close, now is the perfect time to offer up what I think is the top 100 moments from superhero movies. Superhero movies have been around for a while, but they weren’t a common thing till around the turn of the century, with even more films being pumped out at the beginning of the MCU in 2008. To honor these movies that have entertained us so much, I have compiled a combination of entries that have a bit of everything. Moments that have thrilled us inspired us, made us laugh, and even some that made us cry.
*Warning! Possible SPOILERS below! Proceed with caution!*
Lastly, I wanted to share a few of the rules of my list to help clear up any questions you may have:
1) For a scene to be included, it had to be one continuous scene. The entire Battle of Wakanda, for example, didn’t make the cut due to it jumping back and forth between the action on Wakanda and the forging of the ax with Thor.
2) The movie must have had a theater release. No direct to DVD. Endgame was the cut-off, so no Far From Home.
3) I limited a film to no more than four entries or otherwise, I would have just put the entire Dark Knight movie on here.
4) Most likely I broke these rules and you will just have to get over it.
On to the List!
60. Thor vs Hulk | Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
“We know each other! He’s a friend from work!” This was a fun scene. We didn’t know the whereabouts of Bruce Banner since he took off in Age of Ultron and we were about to get a fun surprise. Thor emerges with a fresh cut forced into an arena battle against Sakaar’s champion. The build would have been even better had we not known who Thor was going to face, but the scene still works extremely well with Loki’s reaction to seeing the Hulk again and Thor realizing his friend from work was still going to smash him. That sounded dirty. Sorry, not sorry.
59. “You’re an Avenger” | Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
I don’t know if this moment had the same impact on anyone else as it did me. If you recall entry #65 where we were officially introduced to Spider-Man into the MCU during the Civil War fight and then back in entry #81, we witnessed the father-son dynamic taking shape between Tony and Peter after Spider-Man’s failure on the ferry help make this moment mean that much more.
All Peter wanted to do was be an Avenger and fight the big fight. Once he realized there was more to it than that, he accepted his role as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Here, though, he was simply wanting to help out and was thrust into a situation that he wasn’t fully prepared for, but there was no turning back no matter how upset Tony was. Tony understood what this voyage meant, and he gave Peter his desire by knighting him an Avenger! It’s almost a throwaway moment, but the pride Peter showed along with the things to come, just gives me an emotional punch that others may not have.
*Note: I just love this video and it sums up why I love this moment so much.
58. Smallville Fight | Man of Steel (2013)
One criticism that live-action Superman had faced was his inability to have a knockdown, drag-out fights with his villains. One reason is being since he is on earth facing humans, he would simply obliterate them with a flick of his finger. The other was as practical as the technology wasn’t ready for such spectacles just yet. Well, there were no excuses to hold back Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel from letting fist fly against counterparts who could dish out the same punishment.
Zod had threatened Clark’s earthly mother and Clark struck with a fury pounding the General into the ground. Eventually, Zod’s troops would catch up and a thrilling two on one battle would take place in the small town of Smallville. We hadn’t seen Superman battle on this scale before and it was fantastic. Clark wasn’t full-on Superman yet but warning others to find safety while he dealt with the threat was showing signs of that hero. Faora easily dispatched soldiers making it look as easy as taking out the trash and throwing in some solid villain lines while she gave Superman a beating as well. Superpowered beings throw down and stuff is going to get busted up. Heck of a fight scene.
57. Captain America’s Retirement | Avengers: Endgame (2019)
If you can overlook all the time travel and what Cap did or didn’t do during his time as a normal person, you can appreciate that this moment has all the feels. We all knew something was going to go down with Steve Rogers during Endgame and this about as a perfect send-off Captain America fans could hope for. An earlier entry discusses his long goodbye with a girl he had a date with, and now we see that old man Steve Rogers was able to live out his life happily with that girl knowing everything was taken care of.
In perfect Steve Rogers fashion, he doesn’t kiss and tell, and his moment with Falcon was fitting. Through seven films, we watched Steve Rogers go from skinny rug rat with the heart of a lion to an oversized man trying to figure out his place in the world to being America’s hero and a true leader of superheroes that defended the universe. All while maintaining that heart and character that made him the man he was before the super serum. So long Cap!
*Note: Sorry, no quality videos (that aren’t being taken down) or pics of this moment due to the recency of the film.
56. Batman vs Superman | Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
I don’t care what anyone says, this was a big moment and I loved it. The Dark Knight vs The Man of Steel, Superman vs Batman for the first time ever on the big screen. Seeing Clark and Bruce meet earlier in the film was fun and then the first official meeting of the two in all their superhero suited glory made my inner child leap for joy. Seeing two of the greatest superheroes ever go one on one was extremely thrilling. The human laying his life on the line to take out a threat to the world just to be lightly pushed about 100 feet just showed Superman’s power and Batman vulnerability. Superman showing restraint by letting Bruce know just how easy it would be to kill him until the Caped Crusader even the odds by dosing him with Kryptonite.
There are several memorable moments during this one on one battle. The look on Superman’s face when Batman blocks his punch after inhaling Kryptonite, Superman being tossed around like a rag doll and then absorbing Batman’s punches as the effects start to wear off. If it wasn’t for the polarizing reason the fight comes to an end (which I was fine with btw) and the fact that we all wanted something so much more and different, this moment would rank so much higher.
55. The Opening | The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
“Black…all important movies start off with a black screen…” The meta opening similar to Deadpool but more family-friendly, of course, sets the tone for this entire film. From calling out Superman and stealing Michael Jackson’s lyrics as his own, Lego Batman already has us rolling. There is so much goodness and Easter eggs galore that I couldn’t fit them all into this one entry slot. It’s simply one of those scenes that you notice something new every time you watch it. Joker and the rest of the Rogues Gallery (and then some, Condiment Man!) make their appearance quickly, but somehow they are introduced well enough to have their own identities. Who needs origin stories?
While Batman of course saves the day and Gotham once again from Joker, he also does something worse than thwarting his evil genius plan or locking him away. Batman hurt Joker’s feelings. I just love this movie and this opening sequence is the most comic book Batman stuff we have ever seen on the big screen. Heavy metal Batman theme for the win.
54. “I Come to Bargain” | Doctor Strange (2016)
Self-sacrifice is a common occurrence with superheroes and those moments help make up a lot of this list. Coming from previous selfish individuals just makes that sacrifice hit all that much more. Doctor Strange was filled with some dazzling spectacles and magic, but with no other way to save the world insight, Strange decides to make the ultimate sacrifice. He locks Dormammu into an infinite time loop in order to stop his destruction. The only issue is that he would have to suffer the same fate, being constantly killed forever. It’s a ballsy superhero play that pays off. Stellar effects and visuals during this standoff make it one of the more memorable showdowns.
53. Iron Man and Captain America Meet Thor | The Avengers (2012)
Before this first ever team up movie event, there had been four solo films that connected the MCU during the first phase. The Incredible Hulk didn’t have that great of a solo showing and had recently been recast so he was taking a back seat essentially. Iron Man, Captain America and Thor was practically the MCU’s version of DC’s “Trinity”. These were the three major characters carrying this franchise on their backs in more ways than one and so their first ever meet up on screen is pretty special. Especially considering where we were headed.
Iron Man and Cap were able to arrest Loki, but his brother Thor had different plans for him. We see Thor’s might, Iron Man’s wit, and Captain America’s determination in a fun standoff. Iron Man and Thor do most of the fighting with Tony cracking the jokes of course, and with Cap coming in at the end showing his willingness to throw himself into battle against a god, this scene simply highlighted a lot of their character strengths in a short but effective way.
52. Football Explosion | The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
A stadium jam-packed to see their two teams battle it out on the field, a beautiful voice singing the anthem, while villain Bane strolls up the tunnel seeming up to no good. We just don’t know what to expect though. As the ball is kicked off and the game begins, Bane calmly pushes a button detonating an explosion. We see it echo throughout the city, but then it hits the stadium and the field while the players are running…Man, this is just an incredible scene.
The ground gives way, players are swallowed up, the ball carrier just barely able to outrun the damage, but when he turns back to see the carnage, we are all shocked. Nolan effectively knows how to create grandiose scenes but also brings them down to a personal level. I think Tom Hardy knocks it out of the park here being eloquent and intimidating at the same time.
51. Charles’ Death | Logan (2017)
We have seen Professor Xavier die on screen before in much more melodramatic and grandiose fashion. This time, however, was more subtle but made such a bigger impact. From the first X-Men back in 2000, Charles and Logan have had a special relationship. They connected and cared for one another. Here in Logan, they were the only two remaining still trying to help one another. Both ailing fighting for one more day. Both haunted by their previous actions. We get a sweet moment as Charles tries to rest, telling Logan this was, “the most perfect night I’ve had in a very long time.”
Patrick Stewart does a wonderful job of making us feel his pain from whatever horrible thing he did in Westchester. “Logan” comes closer as he pours his heart, and then we see someone who looks like Logan plunge his claws into Professor Xavier’s heart. What makes this even more tragic is that earlier in the film Charles tells Logan, “I always know who you are, it’s just sometimes I don’t recognize you.” Charles’ perfect night crushed by an unceremonious death. Heartbreaking.
70-61 | 50-41
What do you think of the selection so far? What was your favorite superhero movie moment?