Ending a movie is often a matter of cutting your losses, especially when it comes to the final lines the viewers hear. With superhero films, there’s often the added complication of planned sequels. This means that any resolution can only be temporary, and things shouldn’t change too much. Often, this means that the film uses its final moments to set up a future installment, paying things forward so to speak.
Sometimes, though, even with these sequels in mind, the movies manage to sum up the experience of watching them perfectly. Often, this gives the line a certain amount of weight. At other times, though, the line works because it charms or surprises audiences. There’s no formula for a perfect last line, and often they are incredibly dependent on everything that came before them. Because of this diversity, the lines on this list are wide-ranging, everything from serious to hilarious to somewhere in between. One final note: after-credits scenes, while often wonderfully strange, are not being considered here (sorry, Deadpool’s Ferris Bueller riff).
With that in mind, here are the 15 Best Last Lines In Superhero Movies.
15. Captain America: Civil War – “If you need us, if you need me, I’ll be there”
Marvel usually likes stasis. It creates a situation that suggests at future dynamics, but does fairly little to substantively change the dynamics of the Avengers, who are the center of this universe. In Captain America: Civil War though, an actual shift occurs. Instead of bringing the heroes back to the point they were at as the movie began, a rift appears; one that keeps Tony and Steve from working together. Through that light, Civil War’s final lines are about reconciling differences, and understanding that disagreements do not equate to a completely broken relationship.
Civil War’s final scene manages to set up a new dynamic for the Avengers while comforting audiences with the knowledge that just because things have changed, it doesn’t mean these guys don’t fight for the same team. When the time comes, they’ll get back together again. Tony and Steve might disagree on just about everything, but that’s why they need each other.
14. X-Men: First Class – “I prefer Magneto.”
X-Men: First Class was originally supposed to be a Magneto origin story akin to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Instead, it became an origin story for all of the X-Men, but the final line still goes to Michael Fassbender’s Erik, who decides to don his infamous alter ego for the first time in the film’s closing moments. Erik and Charles have split after understanding that they’ll never agree on the best way to handle their relationship with humans. It’s in this moment that Erik accepts who he is, and forms his own team of mutants who share his goals.
First Class is a fascinating origin story, one that adds layers of complexity, not only to Erik and Charles, but also to characters like Mystique and Beast. In this film, being a mutant is about self-acceptance, and about reconciling the way you see yourself with the way others see you. In the final scene, Erik accepts who he truly is. He’s not just a holocaust victim, or a metal manipulator, or even Erik. He’s Magneto.
13. Spider-man 2 – “Go get ’em, Tiger”
Spider-Man 2 is all about Peter Parker, and the toll that the alter ego he assumes takes on his persona life and the lives of his loved ones. The final line, spoken by Mary Jane after she abruptly ditches her wedding to be with him, is an acceptance of this part of Peter. He’s always going to be Spider-Man, and now that both Peter and Mary Jane understand that, he can be the hero he’s always wanted to be.
As she watches him leave, Mary Jane looks worried, which only heightens the impact of these final words. She’s accepted that his life will always be in danger, and allowed him to use his powers to protect others anyway. Spider-Man 2 is one of the greatest superhero films of the modern era, and its ending puts a perfect pin on the Peter Parker’s story of self-acceptance. He’s Spider-Man. As terrifying, wonderful, and horrifying as that might be.
12. Blade II – “You didn’t think I forgot about you, did you?”
Blade II came around before anyone knew what a Marvel Cinematic Universe was. That’s what allowed these movies to be so bold and so strange. They were forging new ground, and could do whatever they wanted to. At its core, Blade II is about compromise. It’s a film that forces Blade to team up with the vampires he loathes in order to stop an even more sinister threat.
In its final moments, though, Blade reveals that he’s still the vampire hunter we always knew him to be. The film ends with Blade tracking down Rush, a vampire he met earlier on in the film. When the two meet, Blade kills Rush. He’s still a vampire hunter, and he’s not going to forget about that because of a single mission. Blade II was a fascinating portrait of a dominant black character fighting his way to the top of the food chain. In its final moments, it affirmed its unique identity, and reminded us all who Blade really was.
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron – “Avengers…”
The inclination here would have naturally been to allow Captain America to finish the iconic phrase “Avengers assemble,” but Joss Whedon loves to subvert expectations, and so he does in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the closing moments of this sequel to The Avengers, with a new team assembled and ready for action, he decides instead to cut Cap off, allowing audiences to only hear the first word. In many ways, it was Joss Whedon’s final joke, one last little moment to remind you of all the things that he did so well in both Avengers films.
Whedon’s incredible ability to write for and hone in on these characters is evident in both films, but it’s ultimately Whedon’s own personality that shines brightest in the finished product. There’s a certain lightness to both films that only Whedon can provide, and it’s that kind of lightness that allows him to leave audiences hanging the way he did at the end of Ultron. He denied them momentary satisfaction, even as they understood that it was truly the end.
10. Batman Returns – “Merry Christmas Alfred, and good will toward men… and women.”
Batman Returns is as much about Catwoman as it is about Batman, so it’s fitting that its final line is an acknowledgment of that fact. Although it’s uttered by Bruce, it’s a Bruce who now understands exactly what he was always dealing with in Selina Kyle, and exactly how much respect she deserves. In the film’s final moments, Bruce finds a cat in a Gotham alleyway. He’s looking for Catwoman, who disappeared during the climactic final battle.
In part, Bruce is drawn to Selina because she’s so elusive, and the film’s final seconds, we see the Batman insignia as Catwoman looks on. The end of Michael Keaton’s run as Batman cemented him as one of the best to ever take on the role, but in its final minutes, Batman Returns pivots to the freakishness of Catwoman. Both of Tim Burton’s Batman films focus on the fundamental strangeness of their characters, and Catwoman is the pinnacle of that concept. On top of it all, the ending’s set at Christmas, and who doesn’t love Christmas?
9. Hellboy II – “Babies?”
Hellboy II is a fundamentally charming film, and that’s what it makes its final moments so unimpeachably perfect. Hellboy has found a family, and in the film’s final moments, he comes to understand just how big that family is about to get. He’s not having one baby with the love of his life, Liz, he’s having two! After a massive fight with all of humanity at stake, Hellboy understands it’s time to settle down. He’s thinking about a calmer future, one where he can have a real family and a safe future.
The final lines are a perfect send-off. They serve as a gentle reminder of everything that made Hellboy great. Its characters, its dialogue, and the wonderful sense of specificity of its world. The film ends on a note of promise, not one of hardship. In many ways, Hellboy is the ultimate outcast. He has been neglected and thrown away by the world. In this final moment, though, he finally has a home. He’s accepted, he’s loved, and he’s having twins!
8. Deadpool – “Till next time, this is your favorite neighborhood pool guy singin’ ‘I’m Never Gonna Dance Again the way I danced with you.'”
“See? You don’t need to be a hero to get the girl. The right girl will bring out the hero in you. Now, let’s finish this epic wide shot, pull out, there we go, that’s nice. That’s going to be the only thing that’s pulling out tonight. Who doesn’t love a happy ending, huh? Till next time…”
One of the more recent entries on this list, Deadpool chooses to use its final moments to tell us that its story was maybe a sweeter one than anybody might have imagined. Deadpool was a smash hit for a reason. It lampoons every self-serious superhero movie on this list, and uses its central character to tell a truly unique story, but also a distinctly romantic one.
In the end, Deadpool is talking to the audience, telling the camera how to give the film its perfect ending. He’s also reminding them that his fears about his appearance were largely unfounded. For all of its bells and whistles, Deadpool is a largely conventional film. What it’s really good at is reminding audiences just how fun superhero films should be. These are people who run around and fight people in spandex. They work hard to save the day, and maybe they’re a little bit profane along the way. What’s better than that?
7. Batman Begins – Gordon: “I never said thank you.” Batman: “And you’ll never have to.”
Batman’s origin story has been told ad nauseam, but it’s never been told better than in Batman Begins. The first film in a trilogy, Batman Begins was tasked with introducing Bruce Wayne and making sure that he was a figure worthy of three films. In its final moments, Batman reveals his desire to make his city a safer place. Significantly, Batman does not want or need gratitude from Gotham in return. He wants to be a symbol, so unimpeachable and powerful that it can become detached from pure heroism. Batman is whatever Gotham needs it to be, and the limits of that are tested in the film’s sequel.
In Batman Begins, though, Gotham needed a savior. It needed someone willing to fight for it, someone who believed that there were people who wanted to save it. Batman gave those people a reason to fight, which might actually be all they really needed. Gordon doesn’t need to thank Batman because that’s not what he’s there for. Really, he’s just there to help.
6. X-Men – “A war is still coming…”
Magneto: “A war is still coming, Charles. And I intend to fight it by any means necessary.”
Xavier: “And I will always be there, old friend.”
Way back in 2000, superhero films were much less ubiquitous than they are today. X-Men was near the beginning of their rise to their current prominence, and it’s a franchise that still exists in some form today. The first film is actually a relatively intimate experience, especially by today’s standards. It follows the conflict between Professor X and Magneto, working carefully to explain why they are in such opposition to each other.
Professor X is fundamentally peaceful, and believes that mutants and humans should work together to make a better future. Magneto, on the other hand, sees mutants as the next evolutionary step. During X-Men’s final moments, it perfectly sums up the conflict that will always brew between the two characters. Magneto will always be around to fight his wars, and Charles will always be around to stop him. They’re yin and yang, and in a way, they complete each other. It’s a little messed up, but it’s kind of beautiful too.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy – “A bit of both”
Star Lord: “So what should we do? Something good, something bad, or a little bit of both.”
Gamora: “We’ll follow your lead, Star Lord.”
Star Lord: “Bit of both.”
Guardians of the Galaxy ends on the perfect summary of everything that has come before it. This band of misfits are all good people, or trees, or raccoons, but they have an edge which makes them a joy to watch. After the band has united and formed a lasting bond, they set off for a new adventure, and decide that they don’t have to be heroes or villains. Instead, they can just have tons of fun.
Guardians of the Galaxy is really a movie about family, and the final scenes show us one that is already deeply committed. The fact that Gamora finally calls Peter Quinn “Star Lord” is a signal to audiences that he has earned her respect. This is a motley crew if there ever was one, but they’re together, and that’s what’s really important. The Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t heroes, and that’s okay. Actually, it’s more than okay. It’s what makes them worth watching in the first place.
4. The Incredibles – “Behold! The Underminer…”
“I am always beneath you but nothing is beneath me! I hereby declare war on peace and happiness. Soon all will tremble before me.”
The Incredibles is one of Pixar’s best films, and it’s also one of the best superhero films of all time. In its final moments, after the primary antagonist has been dispatched and the family has been made whole, a new threat emerges in the form of The Underminer. His final speech is completely hilarious, filled with every supervillain cliché in the book. More importantly, though, it gives the film’s central family a reason to start fighting again.
Although The Underminer may be ridiculous, he’s disposable. The team he’s up against is solid now, unbreakable even. They’re a family, quite literally, and they’ve all come to embrace their roles within that dynamic. Love is what drives The Incredibles, and it’s certainly on display in this final scene. The Underminer may have declared war on peace and happiness, but he probably should have asked the Parr family first.
3. Captain America: The First Avenger – “I had a date”
Marvel movies don’t usually end badly. They like audiences to leave with a feeling of uplift, and a sense of resolution. Captain America: The First Avenger decides to leave things on a less fulfilling note. After Captain America saves the day, he is frozen in ice for 70 years. When he wakes up, he discovers that everything he knew and loved from his old life has disappeared. It’s easy to forget, but Captain America might be the most tragic figure in the Marvel Cinematic universe.
He’s been ripped from the life and the world that he knew, and now he’s here, in the present, completely alienated not only by the world, but by its people. He tells Fury that he’s okay, but that he had a date. He had plans seventy years ago, and now those plans have passed him by, just like everything else in his former life. Now, he can only be a hero. It’s his defining trait, because it’s the only thing that came with him from the ’40s. His name might still be Steve, but he’s really just Captain America.
2. The Dark Knight – “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves…”
“…but not the one it needs right now. So, we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.”
There are few superhero films that cast a longer shadow than The Dark Knight, and a large part of that comes from the way it manages to synthesize the themes of a typical Batman film into modern events. In the end, Batman turns from a hero into a villain, because that’s what his city needs from him. The beauty of the film is that it allows its central figure to undergo this transformation. It allows him to be hated, because Gotham needs a person to blame.
The Dark Knight knows when it’s time to quit. The ending happens almost immediately after the climax, and leaves little time for any real resolution. That’s kind of the point, though. It tells you that everything in Gotham is not as it should be, but that Batman is willing to do whatever he can to make things right. He’s willing to fight for his city, or become its enemy to save the reputation of another man. He can be whatever they need.
1. Iron Man – “The truth is, I am Iron Man.”
Iron Man suggests throughout its runtime that it is not your average superhero fare. It confirms this in its final minutes, when, instead of denying his involvement in the climactic battle, Tony Stark chooses to own up to it. Actually, he’s not really owning up to it at all. He’s embracing it. He wants to be the hero for once, and after the journey he went on in Iron Man, he almost deserves it.
In truth, though, Tony Stark is arrogant. He likes the sound of his own name, and he enjoys the fact that he can save the day. Tony Stark is Iron Man, and the world knows it now. Of course, back in 2008 when the film came out, no one had any idea what kind of juggernaut Marvel would eventually become. Looking back, though, Iron Man provides the perfect introduction to this universe, and to the arrogant character who is still at its core.