Iron Man – The Cave Escape
It’s only fair that we start at the beginning, when Tony Stark first introduced the world to his alter ego: Iron Man. The Mark 1 armor may not be as polished as the ones that came after, but striking from the darkness, unleashing flamethrowers, and making his first aerial escape proved in a single scene that Marvel’s second-rate hero could be box office gold.
Thor – Frost Giant Frenzy
No Marvel hero had a bigger hill to climb than the god of thunder, but his first solo film wasted no time in showing that he wasn’t just deadly with his hammer – but the more intense the fight, the wider the grin on his face. Smashing skulls alongside the Warriors Three, Thor’s mocking screams, and devastating lightning attacks showed what fans could expect – even if he needed his daddy to come to his rescue.
The Avengers – Shakespeare in the Park
When an Asgardian is taken into custody, some hiccups are to be expected. So when Thor first arrives to confiscate Loki from Iron Man, the billionaire takes exception. The fight that followed between Stark and Thor was actually storyboarded before director Joss Whedon even joined the film, which means Marvel knew from the start that the heavyweight rumble would be the perfect way to bring the Avengers’ big three onto the same page – and they were right.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron – Hulk, Meet Veronica
It’s hard to choose one fight from the Avengers’ second team-up, since the movie is really one battle after another. But considering how long comic book fans were hoping to see Tony Stark’s Hulkbuster armor – a suit able to withstand, and defeat Hulk – the final reveal is hard to beat. Especially with the added on-call part replacement, making it even easier to beat Hulk by smashing him through a skyscraper – one floor at a time.
Guardians of the Galaxy – The Kyln
Everyone loves a prison break, but the one featured in James Gunn’s space opera turned out so well, so funny, and so perfectly tailored to show each character’s personality, Marvel actually ended up releasing the sequence as a free preview ahead of release. The response was even stronger in the finished movie, when Rocket, Quill, Gamora, Groot and Drax all showed that being a killing machine doesn’t mean you can’t be hilarious, too.
Thor: The Dark World – Fun With Portals
The battle between Thor and Malekith may not be as clear or satisfying as his fellow Avengers’ biggest fights, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as much fun to watch. As the two men fight, the random, invisible portals between this realm and others send the pair tumbling from one planet to another, from dirt to sky and back again. For innovation alone, the scene deserves serious credit.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Xandar’s Defense
Audiences didn’t know what to expect when Star-Lord teamed up with the Ravagers, but what they got was a one-of-a-kind aerial attack, sending an entire fleet of scavenger ships to outsmart one massive cruiser. James Gunn turned to dogfighting references instead of space ships, and the benefits show. Plus, once the dogfighting ends, it’s time for the Nova Corps’ heroic arrival, and for Rocket and the Ravagers to play a little live-action Space Invaders to protect the civilians on the ground. forget Marvel – this is one of the best action sequences in years, period.
Ant-Man – Small Scale Showdown
From the very first trailers for Marvel’s most unlikely hero, it was obvious the idea of a shrinking superhero would be played for laughs. The final fights between Ant-Man and Yellow Jacket didn’t have to be fought on ant-scale, but the model trains and harmless kids’ toys being turned into completely new weapons meant action and comedy – a perfect mix that made Ant-Man a welcome addition to a shared universe already filled with heroes.
The Avengers – Battle of New York
Is it cheating when a movie turns its entire third act into one massive fight sequence? Who cares: the battle of New York was everything a comic book fan could have dreamed of: Cap leaping over cars and rescuing hostages, Thor unleasing lightning from New York skyscrapers, Iron Man flying through urban valleys at breakneck speed, and Hulk… smashing. The cherry on top came in the sweeping shot flowing from one Avenger to another, not to mention the spinning look at the team that cemented them as Hollywood legends.