Part One – I Got 5 On It
I was having a discussion with other human beings one day, and out of that discussion birthed an idea. An idea to reveal the greatest moments/scenes in Marvel Studios history. What was the conversation, you might ask? We were discussing the reasons why Thor might collectively be the least successful of the Avengers movie franchises (a discussion that forgets about Incredible Hulk, and is all relative since any other studio would love to have a franchise that makes as much money as Thor). I surmised that it might be because Thor has arguably (and inexplicably) the worst fight scenes, something that tends to arguably make a movie more rewatchable. Setting that argument to the side for the moment, it did get me thinking about the greatest scenes in the Marvel movies, and I do love a good list, so here we are.
Now, for the purposes of this list, I’ll only be including the Marvel Studios produced films, so all X-Men and Spider-Man movies are out (and they suck anyway). What constitutes a scene will be based purely on my opinion, so just know that going in. (It’s also very possible I don’t know the technical definition of what constitutes one single scene, so that’s why I’ve been adding ‘moments’ in where I can, but then again nobody has ever read Back Issue Ben for facts.) Also, in the interest of coherence (and to avoid a top 5 that would be all Avengers scenes) I’ll be determining the five best scenes from each Marvel movie, and presenting them in descending order. That means this week, I’ll be giving you the fifth best scene of each movie, and next week will be the fourth best scenes of each movie, and so on. I’ll probably nominate one as the best of each grouping, I don’t know, we’ll see when we get there. (Also, since just about all of the “after the credits” teaser scenes would probably make these lists, they will be excluded.)
With the explanations and introductions finally over, let’s delve once more into the madcap insanity that is the innermost recesses of my convoluted mind.
THE FIVE SPOT
Iron Man – 10%
“Okay, we're gonna start off nice and easy. See if 10% thrust capacity achieves lift.”
The first scene up from the inaugural Marvel Studios movie, is Tony Stark building the Mark II suit. Testing out his boots for the first time, Stark sends himself flying backwards into the wall, before getting doused with foam by his robot assistant. These scenes provided the perfect mix of special effects and comedy, which would be a staple of the studio moving forward. This scene in particular never fails to get a laugh, even on repeat viewings.
(There were several great quotes that didn’t qualify as great scenes in my estimation. From “Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave,” to “I am Iron Man,” I tried to go with overall scenes instead of quotes. That last one was a tough omission though.)
Incredible Hulk – On the Run
“Me angry… very bad.”
Bruce Banner, on the run in a foreign country from General Ross and his soldiers, runs into a bully from work, and we get our first glimpse of the Hulk.
(The Incredible Hulk is the forgotten child of the Marvel Studios family, having been the least successful film in their catalog. They even went so far as to recast Bruce Banner, but that probably has more to do with Edward Norton’s reputation as a difficult actor to deal with. Regardless, this is an underrated movie.)
Iron Man 2 – The Donut
“Sir, I’m gonna have to ask you to exit the donut.”
Nick Fury makes his first legitimate appearance in the Marvel movies, and helps Tony unlock the secret to saving his life (and get over what is probably a vicious hangover).
(I have to say, Iron Man 2 is a bit of a tough watch now. Robert Downey Jr. absolutely saves this film from being all the way terrible. He deserves every dime Marvel pays him. Rockwell as Justin Hammer is not bad either.)
Thor – Unworthy
“You better call it Coulson, ‘cause I’m starting to root for the guy.”
Thor fights his way into the S.H.I.E.L.D. research station where Mjolnir is located, but in the end, finds out he’s still unworthy. An emotional moment that further humbles Thor on his continued redemption arc.
Captain America: The First Avenger – The Right Candidate
“He’s still skinny.”
Steve Rogers finds a simpler way to capture the flag at the top of the pole, earning himself a free ride back to camp. This scene highlights Steve’s strategic mind, which is the real power behind the character of Captain America, as well as his self-sacrificing dedication, as highlighted in the scene with the grenade. All are meant to highlight to the audience why Steve is the right choice, and to develop the burgeoning appreciation of the lovely Peggy Carter.
(I love Peggy Carter so much.)
The Avengers – The Big Three
“You want me to put the hammer down?”
Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America meet for the first time, and in true Marvel fashion, fight each other.
(The power of seeing all these characters in the same movie can only diminish with time, but this was an unprecedented moment in the history of superhero movies.)
Iron Man 3 – PTSD
“I’m sleeping downstairs! Tinker with that!”
Stark has nightmares about the battle of New York, and his suit almost hurts Pepper as a result.
(I loved how his experience with the Avengers in New York had such a lasting effect on Tony, that he didn’t just walk away from it like it was any other thing.)
Thor: The Dark World – Surrender
“Perhaps next time you should start with the big one.”
Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three are locked in battle against an army, but Thor easily dispatches their giant rock monster, ending the conflict. A very fun scene that makes good use of the under-utilized Thor supporting cast, and ends on the Indiana Jones-type nonchalant defeat of a preening foe.
(Also a cool callback to the first appearance of Thor in the comics.)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The Lemurian Star
“I thought you were more than a shield.”
I could easily include the entire sequence of Captain America and Black Widow infiltrating the Lemurian Star with brutal effectiveness, but I’ll keep it specifically to Cap vs Batroc. Batroc proves himself to be a formidable opponent for just about anyone else, even taunting Steve into fighting without his shield, but Cap puts him down with ruthless efficiency.
Guardians of the Galaxy - Thanos
“I will bathe the starways with your blood.”
Finally, the moment many have been waiting for since the end of Avengers, moviegoers get their first full look at Thanos. While the scene may not have resonated as much with the casual viewer, for a fan like me, it was pure joy to see the evil cosmic despot on the screen in all his purple-faced glory for the first time.
Note: this was the hardest movie to omit all of the great quotes from. From Star-Lord's pelvic sorcery, to his Jackson Pollack paintings, and Drax's great reflexes, this is easily the most quotable Marvel movie ever made.
That covers the first ten. As for the best single moment of this group of moments, we’ll go with the Avengers. I have a feeling that’s going to end up being a theme as we continue.
Tune in next time for the fourth best selections. I have a feeling I’ve made another huge mistake.