40. “It’s Okay I can Swim”
Movie: Captain America: The First Avenger
Moment: After Steve Rogers gets his transformation a spy shoots and kills Dr. Abraham Erskine. Rogers sets off the catch the assailant. In an attempt to flee the Hydra agent throws a young child into the river to distract Rogers. The agents plans are foiled when the young boy screams out “It’s Okay I can Swim”.
Why It Stands Out: We have all seen the trope of a villain using a person as a human shield. Giving our hero that choice of saving the innocent or capturing the villain. At first it appears we are getting another one of those tired situations, but those expectations are subverted with a clever little twist.
39. Secret Agent Tony Stark
Movie: Iron Man 3
Moment: Without the help his armor Tony Stark needs to use his wits and ingenuity to take out his foes. Taking tools from a local hardwood store and turning them into dangerous weapons.
Why It Stands Out: Many remember the line Steve Rogers throws out to Tony Stark asking him who he is without his armor. Here Stark really gives an answer. Director Shane Black was back to his old tricks giving us Tony Stark as a twenty-first century Macgyver with the style of a 1980’s detective.
38. Best Stan Lee Cameo
Movie: The Amazing Spider-Man
Moment: Stan Lee makes his traditional cameo with a tad bit more comedy than normal. While listening to music Spider-Man fights the Lizard behind Stan without him ever realizing.
Why It Stands Out: I had to put a Stan Lee cameo on here somewhere. I know some people love them, and some people hate them. I enjoy them when they are done right, typically that means making them as subtle as possible. This is the opposite of that, but it really works. I enjoy when great action and great comedy can mesh well. We get that here.
37. Human Torch Chases Silver Surfer
Movie: Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer
Moment: During the weeding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm a odd figure appears in the sky. That figure is the cosmic powered Silver Surfer. Human Torch flames on to track down the Surfer only to realize he is way over his head.
Why It Stands Out: Easily the best moment in the entire Fantastic Four movie franchise, so much so the initial trailer was actually just this scene. Raising up hopes that we might actually get a good Fantastic Four movie. Those dashed hopes aside this scene still works. It’s a great introduction to the character of Silver Surfer and makes good use of his powers, and ends with a great image of Human Torch’s limp body falling down to Earth.
36. “There’s a Hero in All of Us”
Movie: Spider-Man 2
Moment: Peter Parker gets some sage advice from his wise Aunt May. Reminding him the importance of being heroic, and what it means to be a true hero.
Why It Stands Out: There may not be a better franchise that exemplifies the importance of listening to our elders. Spider-Man 2 used the ‘Spider-Man No More’ story line rather effectively, and needed something like this moment to push Peter Parker back to being Spider-Man. Rosemary Harris sells it perfectly. Making you wonder if she knows Peter’s secret and is just being coy, or if it’s just a wild coincidence.
35. Star Spangled Man
Movie: Captain America: The First Avenger
Moment: With the help of the super solider serum Steve Rogers has transformed from a minuscule private with health issues into a bulking specimen of a man. Instead of hitting the front lines he is used as nothing more than a propaganda tool.
Why It Stands Out: Many wondered how Captain America would translate to modern movie audiences. How do you avoid him coming off as nothing more than a boy scout on steroids? Well, by embracing that side and going even further. Making it a joke before someone else can. Plus the idea of Captain America being a propaganda piece makes a great deal of sense, and that song is very catchy. You also have to appreciate to nod to Captain America’s first appearance in comics.
34. Bullet Train
Movie: The Wolverine
Moment: A group of assassins is attempting to take out Mariko. Wolverine attempts to stop them leading to a thrilling chase on top of a speeding train.
Why It Stands Out: When the trailers for The Wolverine showed this sequence in pieces I thought it looked rather awful. The special effects looked cheap and rushed. In the actual movie I was surprised by how great it actually played out. The use of sound was also excellent. The score was removed and relied solely on sound effects to give it that firsthand feel.
33. The Mandarin Twist
Movie: Iron Man 3
Moment: The feared terrorist mastermind, The Mandarin, is proven to be nothing more than a viral hoax. He is not a terrorist at all but something perhaps even worse—an actor.
Why It Stands Out: Part of me is putting this on here to spite those who had an issue with this. Apparently there was a secret cabal of Mandarin fans that were hiding in the shadows for decades waiting for this moment to let out collective outrage. Personally it was one of the few times Marvel showed they were willing to take a risk. A risk that actually works.
32. Upside Down Kiss
Moment: After saving Mary Jane (again), Spider-Man and Mary Jane share an intimate kiss in the pouring rain.
Why It Stands Out: Although the Peter Parker and Mary Jane relationship in Raimi’s Spider-Man films never completely worked, this was easily the most iconic image from the first Spider-Man. They used the common romantic movie trope of two people expressing their love for one another in downfall of rain, but in a way only Spider-Man can pull off.
31. Future Sentinel Attack
Movie: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Moment: In a not so distant future a group of Sentinels attack a few of the remaining X-Men. The X-Men try to fight back but are too overpowered. When all seems lost Kitty Pryde announces that the Sentinels are too late, and the X-Men disappear to safety.
Why It Stands Out: In the opening of Days of Future Past we see just how devastated the world has become. Not to mention we see an abundance of new mutants, and luckily don’t get buried under a mountain of exposition. They subscribe to the ‘show don’t tell’ model as we see the powers of these new mutants and Sentinels. Staying out above the rest is one of my personal favorites Blink! The use of her teleporting powers was everything I hoped it would be.