Believe it or not, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going for over a decade now. There have been 22 films and a parade of characters getting their cinematic due. Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and many more have been introduced to a new generation who utterly adores them. And while Avengers: Endgame marks the final bow for several superheroes, they’ll always live on in our hearts. Here’s 40 outstanding M.C.U. moments that are moving, saddening, hilarious, or many things at once.
40. Nick Fury makes his first appearance
The M.C.U. made after-credit scenes a vital part of the moviegoing experience for Marvel fans. And it all began back in the very first movie, Iron Man . After the credits rolled, an extra scene played involving Tony Stark. He returned to his house only to encounter Nick Fury, who informed him about something called “the Avengers Initiative.” And of course, that simple scene led audiences to the events of The Avengers.
39. Black Panther
During Black Panther, King T’Challa is hurled from a cliff by his rival Killmonger. As a result, he appears to die. But you can’t keep a good superhero down. Turns out that T’Challa was actually saved by M’Baku and his tribe. He then returns from the “dead” to challenge his enemy in style. A movie later, Black Panther “dies” once more in the Thanos Snap, but is put back when the world is set right. Cats really do have nine lives.
38. Nebula and Gamora hug
The relationship between Nebula and Gamora, the adopted daughters of Thanos, forms a major part of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and later, Infinity War and Endgame. They start off as enemies but gradually grow to understand each other. And at the end of Guardians Vol 2, Gamora sends Nebula on her way with a hug. And it’s something completely alien to the blue assassin. It’s seriously tear-jerking and even more so after Avengers: Infinity War.
37. Hawkeye’s family are snapped away
At the very beginning of Avengers: Endgame, we see the fate of Hawkeye’s wife and kids. They’re having a pleasant family picnic when, in the blink of an eye, all of them are wiped out by Thanos snapping his fingers. Needless to say, the ramifications for Hawkeye are tremendous. The scene is every parent’s worst nightmare, even if the Barton clan are eventually returned to life.
36. The Avengers eat shawarma
After Tony’s near-death experience in The Avengers, Tony Stark makes a quip about everyone going out for shawarma. And after the credits roll on the movie, turns out that the superhero team did just that. They all sit around the table and eat without saying a word. Interestingly, the Avengers writers didn’t realize what a perfect ending that was until later and had to shoot the scene months after filming finished.
35. “I am Iron Man”
One of the most iconic lines of the M.C.U. was first said in Iron Man. Tony Stark looks at gathered members of the press, decides to throw caution to the wind and announces who he really is. The movie ends like that, with a bang. But later on, that same line is reiterated in much more tragic fashion. The four words, “I am Iron Man,” turn out to be the last ever spoken by Stark before he goes out with an even bigger bang.
34. Quicksilver’s sudden death
Avengers: Age of Ultron introduced Quicksilver only to kill him off before the movie ended. Some people speculated that this was because there was already a Quicksilver out there, one who appeared in Fox’s X-Men franchise. It was a complicated situation. But no matter the reason, Quicksilver is no more. And he went out a hero, saving Hawkeye and innocent civilians from gunfire.
33. Captain America gets to be with Peggy again
All through Avengers: Endgame, Captain America carries around a photo of his lost love, Peggy Carter. Eventually, once his job as an Avenger is finally done and he’s returned the Infinity Stones to their rightful places, Cap “retires” to the past to be with Peggy at last. The final scene of the movie shows them slow-dancing together, having very much earned their happy ending.
32. Spider-Man turns to dust
All of the Avengers: Infinity War deaths were hard to watch, but none perhaps so much as Spider-Man’s. Young Peter Parker gasped out “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good,” and dissolved to dust while begging, “Please, I don’t wanna go.” It was heartrending. Thank God Spider-Man returned in Avengers: Endgame and finally got that massive hug from Tony Stark.
31. Yondu dies to save Star-Lord
During the climax of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Star-Lord fights his megalomaniacal biological parent Ego. It seems he’ll lose his own life during the battle. Suddenly, though, Yondu arrives to give his adopted son the last spacesuit and save him, dooming himself in the process. All together now: “He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn’t your daddy.” No wonder Quill loses it on learning Gamora died at the hands of her own father.
30. Black Widow manipulates Loki
In one scene from The Avengers, Black Widow proves you don’t need actual superpowers to thwart a supervillain’s plot. Talking to Loki, she pretends to be overcome with emotion in order to get him to gloat about his plan. He may have called her a “mewling quim,” but she thoroughly beat him in terms of manipulation, even if it was too late to move against the God of Mischief in the end.
29. Winter Soldier and Falcon vs Spider-Man
Just because you’re in the middle of a battle doesn’t mean you can’t take time to snark at your teammates. When Winter Soldier and Falcon fight Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War they find themselves unexpectedly out-classed and out-talked. Peter Parker throws out a lot of banter before Falcon’s Redwing gets rid of him. “You couldn’t have done that earlier?” the Winter Soldier grouches. “I hate you,” Falcon mutters back. He doesn’t really.
28. Thor makes a new friend
For those who didn’t see Captain Marvel before Avengers: Endgame, they get informed pretty quickly about how powerful Carol Danvers is. Right near the beginning of the movie, Carol arrives. Thor calls his weapon, Stormbreaker, to him and it whips right past her face. She doesn’t flinch at all. He then announces what the audience might also be thinking: “I like this one.”
27. The Star-Spangled Man With A Plan
After being made into Captain America, Steve Rogers goes on tour to inspire the U.S. troops. A montage of his performances is shown, set to the catchy tune of “Star-Spangled Man.” Those scenes in the movie represent what the character was like when he was created in the ‘40s – a symbol of patriotism and power. They also show Cap punching an actor dressed as Hitler, a reference to the famous cover image of the character’s first comic appearance.
26. Hawkeye motivates Scarlet Witch
Hawkeye is a father of three kids, but he serves as a father-figure to Scarlet Witch, as well. When she breaks downs during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he gives her a pep talk. If she stays hidden in the building, someone will find her afterwards. But if she wants to fight, “you step out that door, you are an Avenger.” She then decides join the team and be a hero, thanks in no small part to the archery expert.
25. Thor arrives in Wakanda
Avengers: Infinity War is full of cool moments, but one of the coolest belongs to Thor. During the Battle of Wakanda, the God of Thunder shows up to even the odds. Lightening crashes to Earth as the Avengers theme plays triumphantly. Maybe things will work out for our heroes after all… But they don’t. If only he’d had aimed for Thanos’ head.
24. Agent Coulson dies
Agent Phil Coulson appears to meet his death at the hands of Loki in The Avengers. It’s a saddening scene, made all the worse by the reactions of Iron Man, Captain America and company. However, he was far from gone forever! A resurrected Coulson became the star of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D TV show, as well as appearing in Captain Marvel.
23. Tony discovers what happened to his parents
In Captain America: Civil War Iron Man’s world is rocked when he uncovers a horrible secret. The man responsible for the deaths of his parents was Captain America’s best friend, Bucky Barnes. At that point, Barnes was brainwashed and working as the Winter Soldier. The scene is painful for everyone, but poor Tony Stark, already suffering from P.T.S.D., gets dealt yet another blow. That scene does rather beg the question, though: how did Barnes wrangle an invite to Stark’s funeral in Avengers: Endgame?
When Thor arrives on Earth in the first movie bearing his name, he has no idea how human customs work. So on receiving a cup of coffee, he behaves as a Norse god would. He yells “This drink, I like it! Another!” and smashes the mug on the floor. He learns quickly, though. A deleted scene from the movie shows the humble god offering to replace the crockery he broke.
21. Iron Man lectures Spider-Man
After Spider-Man screws up in the way teenage superheroes are wont to do, Iron Man tells him off. He also demands he give his superhero outfit back. “But I’m nothing without the suit,” the young man pleads. “If you’re nothing without that suit, then you shouldn’t have it,” Stark answers. Considering his own character development, that line makes perfect sense coming from Iron Man, even if it was tough on the poor boy.
20. Captain America wakes up in the future
The Captain America comics, very popular during World War II, had faded out of the spotlight by 1950. As a result, the series was cancelled. Yet the character remained in the public consciousness, and in 1964 Cap returned, his new backstory being that he’d been frozen in ice since the war. The movies did a similar thing, but with a different time. Instead of waking up “just” 20 years in the future, Steve Rogers finds himself suddenly stuck in 21st century society.
19. Doctor Strange gives the Time Stone up
Even though Doctor Strange was sworn to protect it, he gives the Time Stone to Thanos to save Iron Man in Avengers: Infinity War. It comes as a shock to both the characters and the audience. The latter, of course, had to wait a year to find out exactly what Strange was up to. In Avengers: Endgame the plot is revealed. Tony had to live, Time Stone or not.
18. Goose reveals her secret
At first glance, Goose, the cat of Captain Marvel, appears to be just a regular animal. Nope, turns out she’s a badass, Tesseract-eating alien called a Flerken. The reactions of her human friends when they discover what she can do are priceless. And just to top it off, turns out cute and cuddly Goose was the thing responsible for Nick Fury losing his eye.
17. Captain America fights himself
Avengers Endgame delivered the smackdown fans didn’t even know they wanted: Captain America vs Captain America. When the characters travel back to the Battle of New York, Cap is confronted by the past version of himself, who thinks he’s Loki in disguise. The two end up duking it out in a battle that’s strangely funny.
16. Frigga’s death
Thor’s mother, Frigga, dies in Thor: The Dark World, killed by the Dark Elves searching for Jane Foster. It’s a tragic moment, especially since her son wasn’t even there when it happened. But that event gets revisited in Avengers: Endgame. And this time, the Norse god gets the opportunity to say goodbye. Turns out some deaths can’t be undone.
15. Ant-Man goes giant
Captain America: Civil War provided a stand-out moment for the shrinking Ant-Man. In the midst of battle he does the complete opposite and becomes enormous instead. Gi-Ant-Man! It was pretty spectacular and also hilarious. “Tiny dude is big now!” Falcon yells. And when Ant-Man joins the final fight in Avengers: Endgame, he’s once again giant-size.
14. Thor vs Hulk
In Thor: Ragnarok, the Norse god, thrown into a gladiator arena, prepares for his opponent to come out and confront him. Turns out it’s his old teammate the Hulk, in full-on monster mode. Thor is delighted. “I know him! He’s a friend from work!” he yells. It’s one of the funniest lines in the film, and yet it wasn’t the idea of the writers or actors. In fact, a child visiting the set as part of Make-A-Wish came up with it. And now he’s part of M.C.U. history.
13. Cap and Black Widow undercover
At one point during Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff have to go undercover. She’s a pro at it; he isn’t. Romanoff demonstrates her considerable talents by practically turning into a different person. She immediately denotes Rogers as her pretend fiancé and then kisses him in public. It was terribly awkward for Captain America, but it worked.
12. Hulk explains his emotions
Poor Bruce Banner. Whenever he feels too much he transforms into a massive green monster and puts his friends in danger. No wonder he says this line in The Avengers: “That’s my secret, Cap. I’m always angry.” He’s able to turn into the Hulk at will, then, but the emotions buried beneath that quip are rather sad ones.
11. “Is he cool?”
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Yondu uses his flying arrow to float. This makes Peter Quill think of something. “You look like Mary Poppins,” he says. Yondu then asks, “Is he cool?” Quill decides not to correct his mistake and answers in the affirmative. “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” Yondu bellows out. It was the line which spawned a thousand memes, as well as loads of Yondu-as-Mary-Poppins fanart pieces.
10. Captain America vs Bucky
Captainn America assumed for a long time that his old friend Bucky Barnes was dead. Nope, he actually got rescued by the enemy and experimented on for decades. By the time Cap finds him again, during Captain America: First Avenger, he is the Winter Soldier. Only one phrase both of them knew is able to snap him out his programming. “I’m with you till the end of the line,” Steve Rogers says. And it works.
9. King T’Challa’s speech
At the end of Black Panther, King T’Challa delivers a stirring and powerful speech to the U.N. The world assumes that Wakanda is a small farming nation, but all that is about to change. “More connects us than separates us,” he says. “But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.” Wiser words were never spoken.
8. A significant character saves Iron Man
A small boy wearing an Iron Man mask pops up in Iron Man 2. He’s one of the innocent civilians Tony Stark saves from the Hammer drones. But later, that throwaway character was retconned into being none other than a young Spider-Man. Tom Holland himself confirmed it in 2017. Turns out Peter Parker was part of Stark’s life for longer than anyone knew.
7. Falcon receives Cap’s shield
In the Captain America comics, Sam Wilson, A.K.A. Falcon, was made the new Cap when Steve Rogers handed him the title. It’s true that the “Captain America” name has been passed about a bit in the wider Marvel world. Falcon, though, was the first black character to ever hold it. And in Avengers: Endgame the same thing happened. Old Rogers gave his shield to Wilson, passing his legacy on.
6. Hulk vs Loki
Loki thought he was an all-powerful being, but he was no match for the Hulk. Just as the villain was delivering a speech/temper tantrum about humans being beneath him, the mean green machine came along and Hulk Smashed him into the ground. “Puny god,” he announced before walking away. It was such a good moment that it almost – almost – got a callback in Thor: Ragnarok.
5. Black Widow opens up
Black Widow is the most secretive member of the Avengers, but in Captain America: The Winter Soldier she shares some of her motivations with Cap. “The truth is a matter of circumstances, it’s not all things to all people all the time. And neither am I,” she says. Steve tells her that’s a hard way to live. “It’s a good way not to die, though,” she answers. The line has extra resonance after Avengers: Endgame.
4. The Mandarin reveals his true identity
The M.C.U. is always up for subverting expectations. And in Iron Man 3, Tony Stark fights his way to supervillain The Mandarin, only to find that there never was a Mandarin. Turns out the baddie Iron Man intended to fight was actually a dim-witted actor hired to play a role. It was a hilarious twist in the Stark saga.
3. The Avengers army descends on Thanos
In what was possibly the biggest moment ever in the M.C.U., almost every superhero joins forces to defeat Thanos. All the snapped heroes return, weapons in hand, and some familiar faces are hidden among the vast crowds. The Wakandan army from Black Panther, the Ravagers from Guardians of the Galaxy and, most surprising of all, Howard the Duck are all in there.
2. Iron Man creates his first suit
Trapped and imprisoned by terrorists, Tony Stark begins working on a bulletproof metal suit. He thinks it’ll be a “ticket out” for him and his fellow prisoner Yinsen. It is, but in the end it turns out to be so much more than that. That first suit, and some vital advice from a dying Yinsen, form the genesis of Iron Man.
1. Stan Lee’s tribute
Many deaths have shaken up the M.C.U. since it started, but Stan Lee’s passing was a real-life blow. The writers of Captain Marvel created a special scene to highlight the comic book legend’s traditional cameo, which he filmed before he died. In the movie, the heroine encounters a man, who’s presumably the real Lee, rehearsing for his role in Mallrats. “Trust me, True Believer!” he says. The pair then share a smile. A fitting goodbye to the M.C.U.’s beloved creator.