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!
80. Delayed Explosion | The Dark Knight (2008)
I wanted to put the entire Nurse Joker stuff on here, but because of my rules where the scene couldn’t be broken up, I had to pick one hilarious out of nowhere moment.
Joker had just devised a plan that permanently disfigured Harvey Dent and took the life of his fiancé, Rachel Dawes. The last person Harvey wanted to see when he woke up would be Joker, especially in a nurse’s outfit. The understated “hi” just kills every time I watch it. Then we get some great back and forth with a little peek into the mind of a madman. After a game of chance, the Joker leaves the hospital room as his next master plan of blowing up the hospital begins to take place.
Joker nonchalantly walks down the hallway while triggering the bomb with explosions taking place behind him. As he walks out, still in the nurse’s skirt, the explosions stop, and he is dumbfounded. Improvised or not, Heath Ledger’s startling jump once the explosions begin again is freaking hilarious and iconic shot in superhero movie history.
79. Walkman Tomb Raid | Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
I knew nothing about the Guardians of the Galaxy before seeing the previews from the movie. I didn’t look up the comics or any of the characters beforehand, so I went in pretty blind to their world not expecting much. However, this scene let all of us in on what we were in store for with this crew. The scene starts off as nothing special with a red-eyed figure exploring an abandoned planet. We find out he is Chris Pratt, who is Peter Quill aka Star-Lord and goes from a typical searching for something special in a foreign place to a fun opening credit sequence that shows us the personality of this film. Once Star-Lord pulls out the Walkman and Come and Get My Love starts to play, I was hooked. Pratt showed all his charisma here and it was entertaining as hell.
78. Meet Trevor | Iron Man 3 (2013)
Oh, the controversy. People hated this swerve and I can admit I didn’t hate it, but it did take some time for it to grow on me. Don’t get me wrong, Sir Ben Kingsley had me rolling during this scene, it was just that I really enjoyed the villainous creature I thought we were getting. It gets unwarranted hate and I think if people would lighten up, they would be able to enjoy the scene for what it is. Kingsley simply kills it with RDJ having to play the straight man here. One of the funniest scenes of the MCU.
77. Coin Death | X-Men: First Class (2011)
One of the most satisfying revenge kills in superhero movies. We had witnessed Kevin Bacon’s villain character, Sebastian Shaw, take advantage of young Magneto while at a concentration camp where he also murdered his mother because Eric was unable to use his powers and move a coin. He searched for vengeance since then and now he had it. Using his powers to push that coin through Shaw’s skull, through his brain and out the back of his head all the while Charles Xavier was mentally linked to Shaw feeling all his pain. Just a well done and brutal scene.
76. Gwen’s Death | The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Yes, I am one of the few to enjoy these two Spider-Man films and I absolutely love me some Emma Stone. Her Gwen Stacy and Garfield’s Peter had some really great chemistry on screen. If this had been a more loved superhero movie, and a part of the MCU, this moment would have been much more impactful and much higher on this list. One thing I usually criticize about superhero movies is the lack of main character deaths. They are always teased or undone somehow and even though all the signs pointed to the comic book fate of Gwen happening on the screen, I simply didn’t believe they would go through with it.
Say what you want about the rest of the film, but the scene was beautifully shot and well done all around. When Gwen fell, you get the normal gasp of someone falling, but we all expected Spidey to get there just in time like he always did. We had seen him maneuver through falling objects numerous times so this was no different, but the lack of music at first, seeing Emma’s face and then Spider-Man’s web-shooting out looking like a hand reaching for the love of his life and he got her!… That crack of head skull bouncing off the ground was pretty jarring. We could feel Peter’s pain at that moment and Garfield delivered. Excuse me a moment…
75. Vision Picking Up the Hammer | Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
“Whosoever holds this hammer if he be worthy shall possess the power of Thor.” By the time this scene comes around, we have witnessed many people trying to lift Thor’s hammer, even some heroes, but all failed except for Thor. There is even a fun scene at a party where all the Avengers take their turn attempting and again failing to lift Mjolnir. Here we meet a possible new threat that the Avengers think may be a part of Ultron. None are truly convinced of this being intentions but understand it might be the key to help to stop the major world-ending threat with James Spader’s sultry voice. All worries are put aside at the baffling sight of someone other than Thor wielding Mjolnir as Vision hands Thor his hammer so they can get to work. This entry would be much higher if anyone other than Wanda cared for Vison.
74. Black Suit Spidey | Spider-Man 3 (2007)
There isn’t a whole lot to say here except, I just think this is a gorgeous shot. Spider-Man has been fully taken over by this parasite and in a black Spidey suit was fantastic with the reflection off the mirrored windows. Short and sweet.
73. Flash vs Superman | Justice League (2017)
I know most people hate this film, and even as an apologist for it myself, I can admit it has its issues. This end credit scene, however, is not one of them. It was playful and fun showing off both characters’ and actor’s strengths. The Flash nerdy fanboy and Superman’s gracious confidence as they see who the fastest man alive is in a race between Flash’s feet and Superman’s flying. I really wish we could get more of these two on-screen together.
72. Cap’s Long Goodbye | Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Steve Roger’s only wanted to do two things with his life. Do his part by fighting for the freedom he enjoys as an American, and secondly, simply find a girl to dance with. Through the super-soldier serum, he was able to not only fight but save millions of people. For his other dream, that is a bit more bittersweet. You see he found the girl. Even before he was all buff and handsome and heroic. Agent Peggy Carter was just the beautiful dame, no woman, no agent. Just the beautiful agent he had been looking for. In one of the most tear-jerking scenes of the MCU, Captain America has no other alternative but to fly a plane that has WMDs to the middle of nowhere and sacrifice his life. He was able to say goodbye to Peggy and make a date for a dance. All the feels.
71. Vulture Reveal | Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
As the youngsters like to say, oof. This is one of the best reveals that was hidden quite well. Peter was in love with someone other than MJ or Gwen and he was going to be a teenager and go to prom and dance the night away and maybe get a little sugar and supervillain dad…Another fun theater moment to hear the collective “oh my gah” as The Vulture, the man that Spider-Man has been after and even cost him his awesome Spider Suit, answers the door of his dates house! Michael Keaton is just great, and Tom Holland played his “I just seen a ghost” part really well.
90-81 | 70-61
What do you think of the selection so far? What was your favorite superhero movie moment?