The final scene of a movie is arguably the one that leaves the biggest impression on the audience, because it’s the last thing they see before they leave the theater and drive home. Their whole opinion of the movie will be based on that scene. Did it end the film in a satisfying way? Was it a memorable moment? Did it properly serve the characters? Final scenes are especially tricky in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because their movies rarely have definitive endings. They all have to lead into sequels and crossovers. But they still have plenty of excellent final scenes.
10 Spider-Man: Homecoming
In the two previous film versions of Spider-Man before Tom Holland came along, Aunt May never found out that Peter Parker had been moonlighting as your friendly neighborhood web-slinger. Only Mary Jane and Harry Osborn ever got that reveal. Of the many things Holland’s Spidey has done to differentiate himself from those past incarnations – going to space, joining the Avengers etc. – one of the most surprising was the twist ending of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Peter is trying out the new costume Tony Stark gave him for size when an incredulous Aunt May spots him in it. She yells out, “What the fu--!?” before we cut to the end credits.
9 Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America’s initial solo outing ended with the moment we’d been waiting for since the opening studio logos played. Steve Rogers wakes up in a 1940s-style hospital room with a radio playing. He realizes something’s up, because: a) he was supposed to be dead, and b) he actually attended the baseball game that is being reported on the radio. So, he runs outside and finds himself in a billboard-laden Times Square in the 21st century, completely baffled. Then, Nick Fury approaches him and says, “At ease, soldier!” Rogers, realizing he’s been catapulted 70 years into the future, has just one thing on his mind: “I had a date.”
8 Captain Marvel
In many ways, Captain Marvel is a prequel. This movie is the “first rodeo” that Agent Coulson mentioned in Iron Man. It’s the first film in Carol Danvers’ big-screen saga, one that will probably continue for a while now, but it also takes us back to Nick Fury’s earliest days at S.H.I.E.L.D. when he was just a low-level agent.
In the final scene, after Danvers has jetted off to find the Skrulls a new home, we see Fury in his office, drafting up the “Protectors Initiative.” And then he sees a photo of Danvers in her fighter jet, with her call-sign written on the side: “Avenger.” So, he changes the name of his proposed superhero team and history is made.
7 Avengers: Age of Ultron
Joss Whedon’s sequel to The Avengers didn’t impress everyone, but it can’t be denied that its final moment is unforgettable. At Earth’s mightiest heroes’ new facility in upstate New York, Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff get ready to train their roster of new Avengers recruits: War Machine, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and the Falcon. As Rogers gathers them around, he comes very close to saying his immortal catchphrase from the comics. He says, “Avengers...” and then before he can add “assemble,” the movie cuts to black and we dive into the end credits. Rogers would eventually utter the line in Avengers: Endgame, and it gave the line more impact that we had to wait for it, so it was a smart move by Whedon just to tease it here.
6 Black Panther
What makes the ending of Black Panther so effective is that the hero learns something from the villain. Killmonger grew up fatherless in Oakland, with no help from Wakanda, and he believed that Wakanda should use its resources to help people like him. He might have had malicious intent, but T’Challa could see the significance in his ethos. He defeats Killmonger in the end, but he doesn’t go straight back to hording his country’s bounty of vibranium. T’Challa expands Wakanda’s reach to the wider world, starting with an outreach program to the very building in Oakland where Killmonger’s father was killed.
5 Captain America: Civil War
The MCU has gotten a couple of unforgettable moments out of the sight of Steve Rogers emerging from the shadows, because it looks really cool. One is in Infinity War, when we see him in full Nomad mode for the first time. Another is at the end of Captain America: Civil War – the dissolution of Rogers’ black-and-white moral compass is solidified when he arrives at the Raft to break all of his teammates out of prison. This is the next stage of Cap’s MCU character arc after losing his faith in the government in The Winter Soldier and deciding to play by his own rules throughout Civil War.
4 Avengers: Infinity War
A lot of fans felt that Avengers: Infinity War didn’t have a proper ending. They felt that it was more of a cliffhanger, making the third and fourth Avengers films a two-parter after all. But in a sense, that’s not true. Infinity War did have an ending – one of the most definitive endings in the MCU, in fact – but that ending was that, for the first time ever, the bad guy won. The Avengers were defeated, the villain did exactly what he said he was going to do, and the heroes are left feeling just as devastated as we are. Captain America gets the final line, as he sits in the pile of dust that used to be his best friend and says, “Oh, God.”
3 Iron Man
Apparently, Robert Downey, Jr. improvised the twist ending of Iron Man. Agent Coulson tells Tony Stark to go out in front of the press and give their prepared statement, providing him with an alibi to dispel rumors that he was the metal-clad superhero that defeated the Iron Monger on the roof of Stark Industries’ main factory.
But then Stark goes out in front of the press, tosses the statement aside, and simply says, “I am Iron Man.” It set the tone for the entire MCU, and the franchise would bring it full circle in Avengers: Endgame when Iron Man sacrificed himself to defeat Thanos.
2 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
It’s impossible not to get a lump in your throat during the final scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in which the Guardians attend Yondu’s funeral. His honor has been restored by the Ravagers after hearing of the sacrifice he made to save Quill and they all set off fireworks in space. It’s a gorgeous spectacle with a real emotional quality. There are so many character moments in this scene, from Kraglin’s uproarious cheer to a tear rolling down Rocket’s cheek, that dare you not to cry. But at the very beginning of the scene, Quill realizing he “had a pretty cool dad” is the clincher.
1 Avengers: Endgame
Some MCU fans have complained that Captain America’s ending in Avengers: Endgame disregards the film’s established time travel rules, because he shouldn’t have been in that timeline to appear on that bench. But in terms of drama, it was the perfect ending. We’ve been following this guy trying to find his place in the modern world for years, and time and time again, he’s realized that he doesn’t have a place in the modern world and he belongs in the past. With the Avengers’ invention of time travel, he was finally able to go back to the past and have that dance with Peggy. That dance scene was the perfect ending for this three-hour epic.