As the old 80s ad slogan goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. In no place is this more true than the movies. Every once in awhile, a character appears on screen in such a badass, unexpected blaze of glory that they become everything we never knew we needed. In one memorable moment, they’ve burned an indelible hole into our collective consciousness.
While there are many ways to make an entrance, those below take doing so to the next level with some technical wizardry, stunning visuals and a whole lot of dried ice. Also, capes. It might be hard to remember now, but the first time meeting these characters was an epic experience. So without further ado, let’s get reacquainted with the 15 Best Movie Entrances Of All Time.
15 the T-Rex in Jurassic Park
Way back in 1933, King Kong arrived on the scene amidst rustling trees and femme fatale screams in an entrance like no audience had ever seen, in movies or otherwise. Sixty years later, Steven Spielberg masterfully one upped the experience thanks to an unsuspecting goat and an almighty roar that put the newly created DTS surround sound to the test.
Sure, we had already glimpsed the impressively life-like CGI dinosaurs inhabiting Jurassic Park, but when the most iconic of all finally made his entrance there was little doubt who the real king was. One thing’s for sure, we’ll never look at a glass of rippling water the same way again.
14 The Reservoir Dogs Gang
The opening scene of Reservoir Dogs isn’t only an awesome slow build lead-in to a gang of would-be thieves, it’s also one of the best introductions of a first time director to audiences worldwide. It’s no coincidence the very first voice we hear is Quentin’s. Filled with pop culture references, humor, long-winded dialogue, profanity and a diner - all the makings of what we would come to know as the cinematic universe of Quentin Tarantino are here.
Without knowing anything about these eight men, save for their penchant for slick suits and debating the finer points of Like a Virgin, we’re down to tag along wherever they’re going. Luckily, where they’re going next is the coolest slow-motion walk ever filmed. To this day it’s hard to hear the George Baker Selection’s Little Green Bag and not think someone’s up to no good.
Why is Tim Burton’s 1989 legendary superhero flick considered to have one of the best movie entrances ever? Two words: "I’m Batman." As a couple of small time thugs divvy the night’s earnings on a steam filled rooftop, far in the distance the Dark Knight slowly descends from above. The rest is crime-fighting history.
Michael Keaton’s arrival as The Bat sets the stage for the rest of this gritty take on a beloved comic character, yet still finds time for some fun, and helps usher in the superhero genre that we know and love. All influences on future box office aside, the moviegoer’s first look at Batman is a lesson on how to deftly introduce a character, and create an immortal catchphrase.
12 Honey Ryder in Dr. No
There were a lot of great firsts to be had in 1962’s Dr. No. It’s the first James Bond movie, spawning the longest running film franchise in history. It’s the first time audiences left theaters with a catchy theme song stuck in their heads. It’s the first time we hear James Bond suavely introduce himself. But all those take a back seat as soon as Honey Ryder emerges from the sea carrying a handful of shells.
Considered one of the sexiest moments in film history, this iconic scene sets the bar for all future Bond girls to come. Who cares if, when Ursula Andress speaks, it’s actually the voice of someone named Nikki van der Zyl and she has zilch in terms of onscreen personality. All that really matters is that white bikini and how it pretty much launched the entire swimwear industry into what it is today.
11 Trinity in the Matrix
In the modern days of remakes, reboots and sequels it’s hard to give moviegoers something they haven’t seen before. After a mystifying marketing campaign that left everyone wondering just “What is The Matrix?” audiences got their answer with the entrance of a leather-clad Carrie Anne Moss.
Neo’s slow motion bullet dodge might be the most mind-blowing event from the movie, but Trinity’s time-stopping-360-degree-spinning-Karate-Kid-eat-your-heart-out crane kick that opens the film is what introduced the world to the possibilities of The Matrix and left us all saying... whoa.
10 Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds
Any character that can make a prolonged conversation about milk and nicknames exciting is worth our attention. In a movie filled with memorable entrances that could be on this list (think Eli Roth’s Bear Jew clubbing Nazis, years before Negan ever took a swing with Lucille on The Walking Dead), Colonel Hans Landa takes the strudel.
When Chris Waltz’s SS officer arrives at Monsieur LaPadite’s dairy farm to to play detective over the whereabouts of a missing Jewish family, there’s immediately something vile yet disarmingly likable about him. A whole lot of polite smiling and one enormous calabash pipe later, one of cinema’s most twisted screen villains has left his mark. It perhaps says it all that Quentin Tarantino picked this scene from Inglourious Basterds as the greatest he’s ever written.
9 Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
It might be hard to remember now, but before several seemingly endless sequels, Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow was a breath of fresh air. Throughout the whole of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, this convoluted pirate perfectly walks the line between the absurd and the graceful, which is what makes this introduction so fitting.
As his sinking boat sails into harbor past several hanging comrades and eventually submerges at dock’s edge, Captain Jack purposefully steps off in bold ambivalence. His is a truly great entrance that skillfully encompasses the entirety of this character without ever having to say a word.
8 Harry Lime in The Third Man
After hearing half a film’s worth of talk and conjecture over the believed-to-be-dead Harry Lime, we unexpectedly meet him in the limelight (pun intended) of a shadowy doorway in Vienna. Add a zingy zither score and a curious cat to the mix and what we’re left is a classic, albeit very short, moment from 1949’s The Third Man.
Considered by many to be the best entrance ever shot, this film noir standard proves a character’s intro doesn’t have to be grandiose, flashy or filmed by Quentin Tarantino to resonate. Orson Welles’ mischievous grin takes care of that, not to mention some of the best eye acting ever caught on film.
But then again the same could also be said of our next entry on the list, too.
7 Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange
You would be hard pressed to find a more diabolical entrance than the one in which Stanley Kubrick introduces the delinquent “droog” Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange. What’s even more impressive is that nothing really happens save for someone taking a delicate sip of what looks to be milk. Yet somehow in all that lack of movement, Malcolm McDowell’s hypnotic voiceover and one very menacing fake eyelash, we’re left slightly unnerved. Has anyone ever put classical music and a slowly panning camera to better use than Stanley Kubrick?
In a stare down so powerful, Alex’s glare leaves us feeling like we’re somehow accomplices in the horrors about to come. Of course all the creepy sex mannequins surrounding him don’t help either.
6 The Terminator
When it comes to entering a movie, the Terminator does it like a boss. For starters, no one else on this list has the brass to show up naked (reptilian creatures excluded). Then there’s the triumphant display of his bulking bare manhood before all of Los Angeles. And how do you top that? By demanding clothes from a blue haired punk Bill Paxton and then ripping his friend’s heart out. Just another day in the life of a Terminator, but one hell of an introduction for the rest of us.
While the Terminator’s entrance in Judgement Day may be more elaborate and funny, it’s ultimately an homage to the original. After all, you only get to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator for the first time once.
5 Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark
Villains get all the best entrances. Let’s face it, most of the characters on this list are fairly awful and nearly all are dark, either in appearance or nature. Cue Indiana Jones, literally emerging from the shadows and into the light in all his khakied glory.
There’s not much to say about Harrison Ford’s charismatic archeologist that hasn’t already been said before. But the first time audiences were introduced to this fedora wearing-adventurer deep inside the jungles of Peru he was still a mystery, albeit an incredibly cool one. All that changes over the next ten minutes, and before long, we’ll learn he can whip his way into or out of any situation, is horrible at estimating weights, even more horrible at making friends, hates snakes and clumsily avoids boulders. Now that’s a hero we can relate to.
4 The Joker in The Dark Knight
Going into The Dark Knight one of the main questions on everyone’s mind was when and where we were first going to see the Joker. Even amid all that anticipation, Christopher Nolan still found a way to keep the introduction as unpredictable as the character.
At first, there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about the heist that opens the film. A bunch of masked clowns break into a bank, steal a butt load of money, shoot it out with a hot shot bank manager and slowly pick one another off at the behest of their unknown ringleader. A few unusual head tilts later and audiences soon realize he’s been along for the ride the entire time. The Joker mesmerizes from the second his creepy unmasked face fills the screen, then rides off in a school bus, leaving nothing but anarchy in his wake.
3 The Alien
All’s fun and games until a phallus-shaped alien bursts out of your chest. You know a movie entrance is good when even the actors are caught off guard by it. So shocking was the tiny fanged xenomorph that erupted out of John Hurt that one actor fainted while shooting the scene and another walked out of the room over fears he was going to have a heart attack.
Ridley Scott pulled off a lot of amazing feats in 1979’s Alien but none come close to that infamous chestburster scene, which clocks in as the most explosive, and bloody, entry on the list.
2 Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs
There is nothing more terrifying than a homicidal maniac acting civilized. As Clarice Starling makes her way down the basement corridor of a hospital for the criminally insane, she passes some truly depraved and psychotic patients. It’s not until viewers glimpse what awaits calmly at the end of the hall that they realize something far more unsettling is still to come.
A cross between Sherlock Holmes, Jeffrey Dahmer and Martha Stewart, the incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter makes his grand entrance the same way a polite butler cordially welcomes guests to a dinner party. In Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins serves up a master class in acting from the moment he appears and sees it brilliantly through to his very last slurp, a noise made all the more horrifying when contrasted with his refined entrance.
1 Darth Vader in Star Wars
The greatest movie villain of all time deserves the greatest of movie entrances. On paper, Darth Vader’s first appearance in the original Star Wars is probably the least impressive of the others on this list. A door opens, he struts in, looks around and walks out. Boom!
However, add in the Imperial March, a haze of smoke, some ominous wheezing and a billowing black cape and you’ve got the recipe for a cultural phenomenon that still captivates audiences to this day. George Lucas may have screwed the pooch in the years to come but he kicked off his space adventure with a door opening bang and introduced its main villain in the most epic way possible.
Did we miss any of your favorite movie entrances? Let us know in the comments below.