Over 10 years and 21 films, there has been countless moments that have kept fans on the edge of their seat, holding back tears, and even cheering with delight, and it all comes down to this. Avengers: Endgame officially starts showing in theaters tonight, offering the final chapter of the Infinity Saga, and excitement couldn't be higher. However, even as we prepare for the end, we can't help but take a moment and look back at the stories and movies that brought us to this landmark moment.
While each of the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have their moments, there are those that stand out in the minds of and hearts of fans as truly rising above the others. Those moments are the ones that we think of when we think about the MCU, iconic scenes that we can't help but come back to. Some serve as reminders of why we're fans while others remind us of why these characters mean so much to us with deeply emotional moments that touch something real within us. These are the scenes that leap off of the screen and into our consciousness that will live long after the credits roll in Endgame.
With that in mind, we here at ComicBook.com wanted to examine some of our favorite MCU moments, and, because rankings are always a good time, come up with our top 10. Now, it's important to understand that this list is by no means definitive. After all, 21 movies, 10 years, and even the television series that are connected to this expansive shared universe have given us a wealth of scenes, moments, lines, and experiences that can't be contained in one list. On top of that, what is the "best" today may change tomorrow -- we are all watching the previous films to get ready for Endgame, after all. But, right now, these are the 10 that rise to the top for us.
So, without further ado, here are our top 10 Marvel Cinematic Universe moments.
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Picking 10 MCU moments was hard, but one moment that came up less as a “best” moment, but more of a “most enjoyable” one comes from Captain Marvel. It’s the scene in which Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) first meets Goose, Dr. Wendy Lawson's cat that was left behind at Project Pegasus after her death.
The moment is one that was featured in trailers for the film ahead of release, and while it doesn't exactly rise to the caliber of some of the others on this list, there's just something downright charming about Nick Fury getting all adorable about an orange tabby that we can't resist.
Especially when we know that darn cat, ahem, Flerken is responsible for Fury's iconic eye patch. Shouldn't have trusted Goose.
It shouldn't have been a surprise. We knew going in that there was more to the story after Avengers: Infinity War. We knew going in that the heroes were at something of a disadvantage when it came to dealing with Thanos (Josh Brolin), and, yet, even until the last possible moment we thought that the Avengers would pull out the victory.
Who didn't scream with relief when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) landed that blow with Stormbreaker? And yet, The Snap still happened. Thor should have aimed for the head, and before we even had a chance to process it, Thanos snapped his fingers and our beloved heroes turned to dust.
You could hear a pin drop in the theater in that moment, and we will never be the same.
Marvel is known for their amazing post-credits scenes, but it's the first one, the one from Iron Man, that makes our list of top moments, and the reason is pretty simple: it's that moment that left no doubt that we would be seeing the Avengers assemble. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) walks into his darkened home only to find Nick Fury there, and Fury reveals to him that he's not the only superhero in the world; he's there to talk about the Avengers Initiative. We still get chills watching it.
This particular moment is actually two moments as there was a bit of a divide over the specific scenes while the sentiment was an all-in. Captain America (Chris Evans) has earned himself a bit of a catchphrase in the MCU with his declaration of "I can do this all day" in situations where that seems improbable. The first one, in Captain America: The First Avenger, particularly stands out because it's not Captain America who says it, but Steve Rogers before he becomes Captain America. The skinny young man is clearly not able to keep it up, but he's determined not to back down. It's an inspiring moment. It's also a moment that's equally as inspiring years -- decades -- later when, in Civil War, he's up against Iron Man and still unwilling to back down.
Amazing and a little heartbreaking, the scene in Marvel's The Avengers when Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) shows up to aid the rest of the heroes in the Battle of New York is easily one of the best. Outmatched against the Chitauri, the heroes need the Hulk. Captain America tells Bruce that now would be a good time to get angry, and that's when Bruce drops a pretty clever truth bomb: he's always angry. That's his secret. Moments later, ladies and gentlemen, we have a Hulk.
Speaking of having a Hulk, that's the next moment on our list. The Hulk may not have multiple movies in the MCU the way many of the other heroes do, but he's been every bit as important to the overall story, which is why this is another one of those dual scenes. In Marvel's The Avengers, Tony Stark stalls Loki (Tom Hiddleston) by offering him a drink and laying out the threat that the Avengers are to him. Loki is unfazed. He, after all, has an army. But Tony has a response for that, too: "We have a Hulk."
That line comes to play again beautifully in Avengers: Infinity War when Loki uses it similarly, having stalled Thanos during the film's opening scene. There's something just great about Loki using the line once used against him on the biggest threat in the universe.
If you've ever wondered just how powerful Captain America is or have simply forgotten, the elevator fight scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an outright epic reminder. Not only does Captain America take out at least 10 men who have weapons intended to overpower him, the scene is also incredibly shot. It's Captain America at his absolute peak, and that's why it's the midpoint of our list.
In many ways a good chunk of the MCU is made up of origin stories, and we're not talking about the films that are very clearly so. No, even inside the more established team-ups, there are smaller origins, and perhaps the best of them all as well as one of the best moments in the MCU comes in Avengers: Age of Ultron when Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) becomes an Avenger.
The moment is significant for good reason. Wanda was, before this moment, not a hero. She is in many ways responsible for some of the events of Age of Ultron, and with everything having gone totally wrong, she could have easily just hidden away in fear. Instead, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) doesn't judge her or question her current motives. He gives her a choice: stay there until safety comes or step up to be not just a hero, but an Avenger.
Wanda steps out that door and becomes a hero -- something that matters years later when she actually manages to thwart Thanos temporarily in Avengers: Infinity War.
Here we have one of the most powerful moments in Black Panther and the MCU overall. After having beaten Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) takes his cousin to see a Wakandan sunset and offers to try to save him from death. It's a huge moment for T'Challa, who is learning how to be a king and hero with compassion as well as strength. However, it's Killmonger who teaches him one final lesson; Killmonger doesn't want to be saved. He doesn't want to be imprisoned like his ancestors before him -- people that Wakanda abandoned.
"Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships 'cause they knew death was better than bondage," he says with his final words.
That moment in the very first Avengers movie where the original six heroes come together as a team for the first time to take on the Chitauri? It's downright iconic. It's a moment that made it to the top of many of our lists, but ComicBook.com's Russ Burlingame perhaps put it best.
"That iconic shot, running on a track around the team as the Avengers theme swells and the original team is back-to-back against an army of aliens for the first time, is not only so effective that it gets used more or less every mainstream news story about the Marvel movies, but that it still gives me chills when I watch it in context," he writes.
Ultimately, there was one moment from the MCU that overwhelmingly was chosen as the top. In Guardians of the Galaxy, with the team facing certain death as the damaged Dark Aster hurtles towards Xandar, Groot (Vin Diesel) extends himself to create a shield around them. It's clear to them that this act will save them, but kill Groot in the process, prompting Rocket (Bradley Cooper) to ask him why he's doing this, why he is sacrificing himself. The answer? "We are Groot."
It's a play on Groot's language which relies heavily on him saying, "I am Groot." But by saying "we are Groot," even if most of us have no idea what Groot is really saying most of the time, there's no mistaking it here. They aren't just a team; they're a family. Perhaps that's the real message of the whole MCU. We may come from different places and different worlds, but when we come together, we become one.
We are all Groot.