Marvel Studios caps off a decade-plus of unprecedented success with Avengers: Endgame next month. In that time, there have been countless memorable moments for fans of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as well as for incoming fans. However, having been exposed to and enjoyed different iterations of the Avengers prior to 2008, many of those moments had an extra surreal impact on my excited teenage brain. Before everything we have known with regards to the MCU changes in Endgame, let’s look back on the five most surreal moments of pure nerd joy that Marvel Studios has given us up to now.
Enter Nick Fury
Iron Man kicked off the last ten sweaty years of live-action comic book joyousness; however, moviegoers were not aware of the scope of what was to come until that first stinger at the end of the Iron Man credits. When Sam Jackson as Nick Fury stepped out of the shadows, eyepatch and all, to address Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, diehard comic nerds knew what was coming. And then Fury directly references the Avenger Initiative and I about fainted. I could not believe the things I was seeing and hearing. The cartoons I watched as a kid were coming to life and the masses were eating it up. How fantastical!
Just a few short months after Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe dropped its second film, The Incredible Hulk. While the film wasn’t as fresh or as funny as its predecessor, there was one moment in particular that gleefully caught me off guard. During the climactic showdown between Hulk and Abomination, Hulk does something I never thought I’d see in a wide release, live-action movie: he roars “Hulk Smash!” It comes out of nowhere and put a dumbfounded smile on my teenage face.
Let’s be honest, the entire first Avengers film is a two-hour sweat-fest. However, the experience culminates in the iconic circular pan of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes back-to-back-to-back-to-back in the same shot for the first time. Chills. It brought me back to the Avengers cartoons and now it is one of the most iconic shots in cinematic history. Wow! The only thing missing was Cap not saying “Avengers, assemble!” Honestly, though, it’s probably for the best he never uttered those famous words.
Quite a ways into the MCU, I thought I had been desensitized to all the super heroics imaginable. Yet, Marvel Studios’ films continues to evolve and push the boundaries of superhero storytelling as well as what is possible on the business end of filmmaking. When Spider-Man first flipped into the airport scene in Captain America: Civil War and zipped up Cap’s shield, I got goosebumps. Spider-Man has belonged to Sony almost as long as I’ve been alive and the prospect of two major studios working together to bring the wall-crawler over into the MCU was laughable. Then it happened and it was truly miraculous, in the purest sense of the word.
As I said, Marvel Studios continues to surprise me despite my continual thought process that we have seen it all by now. Even as recently as last year’s Avengers: Infinity War, which boasted a ton of surrealistic geekery. However, the moment that left me truly breathless was when Thanos snapped his fingers at the end. I knew it was coming and it still got me. It was like an out of body experience; as if I was watching myself watch the movie as a bunch of our favorite heroes tragically fell to piles of dust. It is such a powerful scene that I can’t even go into Avengers: Endgame expecting any moment that hits me as hard, though that would be fantastic!
What do you think about my picks for the most surreal moments in the MCU so far? Do you agree? Which moments left you speechless? Sound off in the comments below and let me know!