Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Marvel Movie Moments That Stunned Audiences

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dazzled fans throughout its 13-year (and counting!) tenure. The franchise boasts 24 movies, starring Marvel titans like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as well as four successful Disney+ series: "WandaVision," "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," "Loki," and the animated multiverse anthology "What If...?" Each installment has changed the game for comic book adaptations on the big screen — and given fans plenty of juicy moments to enjoy.

Beginning with 2008's "Iron Man," the MCU immediately established one of its most popular characters with the playboy, billionaire and philanthropist Tony Stark. "Iron Man 2" (2010), "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011) and "Thor" (2011) expanded the multi-film universe, and brought the mighty Marvel characters together in time for 2012's "The Avengers." Since then, audiences have witnessed numerous iconic moments that have gripped the fandom and shaken the MCU to its core.

The Marvel movies feature the rise and fall of a Mad Titan, as well as tragic deaths, epic showdowns, and origin stories that, admittedly, can be kind of hit-or-miss. But no cinematic universe knows how to stun audiences better — and here are the moments that prove it.

Captain America picks up Mjolnir (Avengers: Endgame)

"Avengers: Endgame" pulled out all the stops for its grand culmination of the Infinity Saga. The 2019 film could be considered a celebration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A litany of characters returned during the Avengers' time-traveling adventures, including supporting stars like Rene Russo's Queen Frigga, Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter and John Slattery's Howard Stark. "Endgame" pulled out all the stops when it came to jaw-dropping moments — including following up on a teaser from "Avengers: Age Of Ultron."

Remember when the Avengers took turns trying to lift Thor's hammer in "Age Of Ultron"? Despite their best efforts, only Steve Rogers managed to move Mjolnir a couple of inches. "Endgame" pays off that revelation with Cap finally wielding Mjolnir properly during the final fight against Thanos, proving once and for all that he is, most definitely, worthy.

The moment when Thor's hammer flew into Steve's hands was known to make audiences everywhere erupt with stunned gasps. Who could forget it? After everything he has sacrificed, from "Captain America: The First Avenger" all the way to "Endgame," Steve has proved that he deserves to wield Thor's mighty weapon. Steve is the third character in the MCU to pick up Mjolnir, following the God of Thunder himself, as well as Vision in "Age Of Ultron."

Thanos kills Vision again (Avengers: Infinity War)

Poor Wanda Maximoff. The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) hasn't had an easy time so far in the MCU. Orphaned at a young age, Wanda and her twin brother, Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), first appear in "Age Of Ultron" as enemies of the Avengers. Pietro's tragic death is merely a drop in the ocean when it comes to the heartache Wanda faces. After defecting to the Avengers, the Scarlet Witch falls in love with the synthezoid Vision (Paul Bettany) ... only for their relationship to end in tragedy during "Avengers: Infinity War."

When Thanos (Josh Brolin) comes knocking, Vision realizes that the Mind Stone in his head needs to be destroyed to protect the universe from the Mad Titan's genocidal plan. The only person capable of destroying an Infinity Stone is, horribly, Wanda, whose powers were activated by the Mind Stone. The Avengers do their best to find an alternative, but eventually Wanda is forced to destroy the Mind Stone to keep it away from Thanos, killing her lover in one of the MCU's most devastating scenes.

The sadness doesn't end there. While Wanda grieves her loss, Thanos uses the Time Stone, recently given to him on Titan by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and rewinds time to kill Vision himself. Thanos gets the Mind Stone, Vision dies twice, and Wanda's pain sends her spiraling throughout the Disney+ series "WandaVision." Marvel certainly weren't pulling their punches.

Nick Fury is alive after all (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" offered a political mystery that gripped fans with its themes of espionage, secrecy and second chances. Captain America and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) discover that HYDRA, the Nazi science division Steve Rogers supposedly destroyed during World War II, have secretly been alive and thriving within S.H.I.E.L.D. for decades. Headed by Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), HYDRA begin their takeover in "The Winter Soldier" by assassinating Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Nick Fury's death is a shocking moment that comes straight after a stunning Fury vs. HYDRA car chase sequence. In true Marvel style, however, the super spy doesn't stay dead for long. Another shocking reveal shows Fury alive after all, hiding from HYDRA and awaiting the return of Cap, Black Widow and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Although the reveal does, admittedly, negate the film's previous stakes, Fury's survival ensured his character — and Samuel L. Jackson — had no wasted potential in the MCU. The spy plays key roles in "Age Of Ultron" and "Captain Marvel," as well as Episode 3 of the Disney+ series "What If...?"

Ego killed Meredith Quill (Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2)

"Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2" introduced fans to one of the MCU's most powerful villains — and worst fathers. Second only to Thanos, Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell) is a pretty despicable person. He seems like a dream come true, at first, for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and the rest of the Guardians. It isn't long before the sinister truth is revealed, however.

Mantis (Pom Klementieff) tells Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) the truth about Ego: He's evil, he's killed thousands of his children, and he's probably going to kill Peter too. Meanwhile, Ego lets his facade down while revealing his plans to Star Lord — and lets it slip that Peter's mother, Meredith, didn't die from natural causes after all.

The Celestial chillingly reveals: "I returned to Earth to see her three times. And I knew if I returned a fourth I'd never leave ... So, I did what I had to do. But it broke my heart to put that tumor in her head." The moment is equal parts shocking and horrifying. Peter snaps back to reality with the haunting revelation that his father killed his mother. Russell plays Ego's admission nonchalantly, adding to the moment's ice-water-in-the-face admission.

Quicksilver's death (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)

Nobody, it seemed, expected franchise newcomer Quicksilver to die in his first MCU appearance. He was right; we didn't see it coming. 

Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (aka Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch) are two of the most decorated characters from Marvel Comics. Their arrival in the MCU, teased in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier's" post-credits scene, seemed like a huge deal that would propel the MCU further into mutant territory.

Alas, the twins weren't the package deal they initially seemed to be. While Wanda went on to have vital roles in "Captain America: Civil War," "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame," as well as starring in her own Disney+ series "WandaVision," Quicksilver was abruptly killed during the Battle of Sokovia while saving Hawkeye from an Ultron bot. The archer names his son after Pietro in his honor, and a fake Quicksilver (played by Evan Peters) appears in "WandaVision." But that's as far as Pietro's impact on the MCU goes.

Quicksilver's death happened for a number of reasons. Marvel President Kevin Feige said in 2015 that it "adds stakes to the film," and "shows repercussions to Ultron's actions," as well as "solidify[ing] Scarlet Witch's character, and Wanda's arc in the movie." A primary motivating factor might have been those pesky "X-Men" movie rights belonging to 20th Century Fox at the time. The studio owned the rights to Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, the latter of whom (also played by Evan Peters) had prominent roles in "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," "X-Men: Apocalypse," and "X-Men: Dark Phoenix."

The Mandarin isn't the Mandarin (Iron Man 3)

This Marvel movie moment certainly stunned audiences, though largely for the wrong reasons. "Iron Man 3" took Tony Stark on an emotional rollercoaster of a journey, as he battled his inner demons following the events of "The Avengers" as well as an iconic villain from the comics: The Mandarin. Fans were eager to see Iron Man's nemesis brought to the big screen. At first, the character had a sinister presence in the film as a merciless terrorist — until Tony got a look at who "The Mandarin" really was.

Played by Ben Kingsley, the Mandarin — real name Trevor Slattery — turned out to be an actor, hired by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) as a cover. The reveal landed a few laughs, but for many die-hard comic book fans this stunning moment served as a disappointment. Marvel is continuing the storyline with "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," which features a different version of the Mandarin, portrayed by Tony Leung.

Black Widow's death (Avengers: Endgame)

Before Tony Stark's sacrifice during the final battle of "Endgame," Natasha Romanoff shocked audiences by leaping to her death to retrieve the Soul Stone and reverse the effects of Thanos' snap. Black Widow and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) traveled to Vormir as part of the Avengers' Time Heist. There, the Red Skull gave them the same warning he gave to Thanos and Gamora in "Infinity War": To retrieve the Soul Stone, a soul must be sacrificed.

The two friends then found themselves fighting to sacrifice their lives and keep the other safe. Ultimately, however, it would be Natasha who gave her life for the Soul Stone. Her death was a sobering moment that, like with Quicksilver, few viewers saw coming. Black Widow is one of the MCU's original Avengers, after all. 

Her absence from the final fight against Thanos was felt. Although, in hindsight, Nat's sacrifice might have been the perfect send-off for her character after all.

For fans, the blow from the red-haired Avenger's death was softened by the release of her solo movie "Black Widow." 11 years after her first appearance in "Iron Man 2," Natasha finally became the star of her own film, as she battled her past in a MCU prequel set between "Civil War" and "Infinity War." While fans will miss Natasha, a new Black Widow was set up in the film to take her place, with Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) picking up the mantle.

The Avengers assemble for the first time (The Avengers)

An oldie but a goldie. What Marvel fan could forget the stunning moment when the Avengers assembled on the battlefield for the first time? Joss Whedon's "The Avengers" brought Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye together for an almighty cosmic clash that turned New York City into the site of a Chitauri alien attack. Led by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) at Thanos' behest, the aliens wreak havoc on the city. Thankfully, the Avengers are there to save the day.

Earth's Mightiest Heroes make for an impressive team-up as they strike their now iconic pose mid-battle. Superhero team-ups are more common nowadays, but in 2012, "The Avengers" was an ambitious, never-before-seen spectacle that dazzled comic book fans, bringing multiple Marvel titans together on the big screen for the first time. "The Avengers" launched a multi-movie world where fan-favorite characters could cross over from film to film — and it all began with this awe-inspiring moment.

Killmonger 'kills' T'Challa (Black Panther)

Another fake-out death that had Marvel fans at the edge of their seats was that of T'Challa in "Black Panther." 

The King of Wakanda (played by the late Chadwick Boseman) faces a challenge for the throne from his estranged cousin, Erik "Killmonger" Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), son of his uncle Prince N'Jobu (Sterling Brown). Having already bested the likes of M'Baku (Winston Duke) in ritual combat, T'Challa is fairly confident going into his fight against Killmonger. So are the audience.

That's why his apparent death hits hard, and stunned many viewers on first watch. Killmonger's defeat of T'Challa solidifies him as one Marvel's most dangerous villains. In one stroke, Killmonger creates a power vacuum in Wakanda and immediately capitalizes on it, putting his own plans to conquer the world with vibranium technology into action.

Like Nick Fury in "The Winter Soldier," T'Challa bounces back from defeat stronger than ever. His final fight against Killmonger goes differently: T'Challa outsmarts his cousin and overpowers him using the vibranium train mines. The two share a poignant scene overlooking the sunrise in Wakanda in farewell, another stunning moment in the Marvel universe.

Everyone turns to dust (Avengers: Infinity War)

For most Marvel fans, the memory of fan-favorite characters turning to dust following Thanos' snap feels permanently branded into their brain. Unforgettable? That's an understatement. Having played it safe in previous movies, the MCU threw caution to the wind and killed off half its population during the epic event that was "Avengers: Infinity War," as Thanos snapped his fingers while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet.

Characters who bit the dust (or became dust) included Wanda Maximoff, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), T'Challa, as well as most of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Most heart-wrenching of all, perhaps, was the "death" of Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Stranded on Titan, the web-slinger senses his imminent end using his spider-sense. The teen hero collapses in the arms of his mentor, Iron Man, after uttering the now famous line: "Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good."

That "Infinity War" downer ending propelled the stakes going into "Avengers: Endgame," making it Marvel's biggest event so far. (The upcoming multiverse madness might change that). Watching the Avengers turning to dust in the wind represented their stunning failure in the war against Thanos, and their worst moment in the series. Well, so far.

Captain Marvel shrugs off a headbutt from Thanos (Avengers: Endgame)

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) was one of the most anticipated additions to the Avengers' roster in the prelude to "Endgame." Her 2019 solo film, the first female-led movie in the MCU, established the space-traveling heroine as one of Marvel's most powerful characters. A clash with Thanos seemed imminent — and it didn't disappoint.

Carol Danvers entered the final fight against Thanos and the Black Order late, but her impact was felt instantly. Under fire from the Mad Titan's spaceship cannons, the Avengers and their allies took cover. Enter Captain Marvel. In full binary mode, Carol decimated the Black Order's spaceships, turning the tide of the battle in the good guys' favor.

But her epic run wouldn't stop there. Carol faced Thanos one-on-one and, like Wanda Maximoff, would prove strong enough to give the Mad Titan a run for his money. In a strong display of power, Captain Marvel shrugged off a headbutt from Thanos, forcing him to use the Power Stone to incapacitate her. 

So, is Carol the most powerful Avenger? If this moment is anything to go by, perhaps.

Everyone returns (Avengers: Endgame)

Arguably the most stunning moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this one began with a signature heads-up from Sam Wilson: "On your left." 

The remaining Avengers had been forced to pull out all the stops to undo Thanos's devastation — including inventing, and then perfecting, time-travel. Thankfully, their work and sacrifice was worthwhile, because just as all hope seemed lost, and Steve Rogers was. facing down the might of Thanos' army, the characters dusted during "Infinity War" returned at last — with plenty of reinforcements.

Everyone, it seemed, showed up for the awe-inspiring moment that stunned audiences and spawned countless reaction videos. Black Panther, Shuri (Letitia Wright), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Wakandan army, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and the Asgardians, the Ravagers, a score of sorcerers led by Doctor Strange and Wong (Benedict Wong) — the gang was all there, joining forces in a culminating fight that would display the Infinity Saga at its finest.

This stunning scene didn't just bring the on-screen characters together; it united audiences as well. The best movie moments in this franchise have had that power — and perhaps the best part is that the MCU feels like it is still in its prime.