The 10 Best Action Sequences From The MCU Phase One

Now that Marvel fans are knee-deep in Phase Four and the multiverse has been busted wide open, Phase One feels like a distant memory. It’s been a decade since the Avengers first assembled on the big screen as a team of just six remarkable people, pulling five solo adventures together in a wildly ambitious crossover event that reshaped the face of blockbuster cinema.

RELATED: Every MCU Phase One Director, Ranked

All these years later, after the Avengers Initiative has been joined by dozens of new heroes and the entire universe has been saved from annihilation, some thrilling action set-pieces from those Phase One movies still stand out.

10 Loki’s Goons Attack The Helicarrier (The Avengers)


Loki talks to Black Widow in The Avengers.

When Loki’s goons attack the Helicarrier, all six of the Avengers have got something going on. The sequence cross-cuts between Thor fighting the Hulk, Natasha fighting a brainwashed Clint, and Loki making his escape.

Tony and Steve repairing a broken engine has a video game side mission vibe to it, but it brings the bickering pair closer together ahead of the big finale.

9 Showdown At Culver University (The Incredible Hulk)


The Incredible Hulk and Tim Roth

When Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner goes to visit Betty Ross at college in The Incredible Hulk, her warmongering father, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, shows up with the full force of the U.S. military.

This set-piece – which was modified in the multiversal antics of What If…? – essentially boils down to a tense confrontation between the Hulk and his main adversary, British Royal Marines-trained officer Emil Blonsky. Blonsky injects himself with a knock-off version of the Super Soldier Serum so he’ll be a physical match for the Hulk as the “Abomination.”


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8 Whiplash Attacks The Monaco Grand Prix (Iron Man 2)


Mickey Rourke as Whiplash in Iron Man 2

Although the jumbled plot of Iron Man 2 doesn’t quite come together, it does have some thrilling action sequences. When Tony travels to the Monaco Grand Prix, he surprises everybody by taking part in the race. Then, while he’s going around the circuit, Whiplash comes out onto the track, cutting cars in half with his electrified whips.

As Tony contends with his latest bitter rival, Happy shows up with his armor in a nifty briefcase. The movie didn’t flesh out the Whiplash character in a satisfying way, but this sequence gave him an awesome introduction.


7 Thor Fights Loki On The Rainbow Bridge (Thor)


Thor holding Mjolnir on the Rainbow Bridge

Just as the final battle of Thor: Ragnarok would later take place on the Rainbow Bridge, the final battle of the original Thor movie also took place on the Rainbow Bridge.

Thor ultimately foils Loki’s plan by destroying the Rainbow Bridge. As they both fall into space, Thor is saved by Odin as Loki admits defeat and allows himself to disappear into the void. Thankfully, the scene leaves Loki’s fate ambiguous, which allowed him to come back in movies and streaming series for another 10 years.


6 Steve Rogers Liberates The Hydra P.O.W. Camp (Captain America: The First Avenger)


Captain America First Avenger

While Captain America: The First Avenger mostly follows the familiar beats of a superhero origin story, it does have one subversive twist. The super-soldier program is initially deemed to be a failure and Steve is used only as a propaganda tool. Convinced that he has more to offer, Steve goes rogue and teams up with Peggy to liberate a Hydra P.O.W. camp.

RELATED: 5 Things Captain America: The First Avenger Got Right (& 5 It Got Wrong)

This gives the story an exciting midpoint that raises the stakes. Not only is it the first time that Steve proves himself as a hero; it also marks his heartwarming reunion with Bucky.


5 Iron Man Is Chased By A Pair Of F-22 Raptors (Iron Man)


Tony first shows off the full might of his upgraded Iron Man armor when he returns to Afghanistan to liberate the citizens of Gulmira from the Ten Rings. While this act of heroism is a resounding success, he runs into some trouble on the flight home.

On his way toward U.S. airspace, he’s spotted by a couple of F-22 Raptors, who pursue him and threaten to shoot him down on behalf of the U.S. Air Force. There’s a hilarious juxtaposition in the scene as Tony calls Rhodey to inform him that he’s the man in the flying suit and he needs to call off the fighter jets.


4 Cap And Iron Man Take On Thor (The Avengers)


Iron Man, Thor and Captain America fighting in The Avengers.

While the first handful of Avengers recruits are bringing in a handcuffed Loki on the Quinjet, they’re intercepted by Thor, who extracts his mischievous brother and disappears into the woods. Iron Man and Captain America chase after him and Marvel’s trio of flagship heroes engages in a fight.

The night-time woodland setting gives the sequence a dull visual palette, but the ensuing brawl is a fun mishmash of superpowers, like the reverberation of Thor’s hammer against Cap’s vibranium shield or the thunder channeling through Mjolnir causing Iron Man’s tech to operate at 400% capacity.




3 Thor Tries To Take Back His Hammer From S.H.I.E.L.D. (Thor)


Hawkeye gets his MCU introduction through a little backdoor pilot in the middle of Thor. When the God of Thunder infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D.’s desert camp to retrieve his hammer, Clint Barton has an arrow aimed at him the entire time.

RELATED: 5 Ways The Thor Franchise Was Disappointing Before Ragnarok (& 5 Ways Ragnarok Improved It)

Thor’s goal in this sequence is clear – to get his hammer back – and when that goal becomes moot, because he can no longer lift the hammer, he’s so crushed and defeated that he allows the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to arrest him.


2 Tony Stark Escapes From The Cave (Iron Man)


Iron Man escapes from the cave

Mark I is a big, clunky suit of armor – and the subsequent models that Tony designed in his lab were undoubtedly more impressive – but it gets a glorious introduction when the Ten Rings terrorists realize Tony and Yinsen are building a weapon of their own.

Yinsen sacrifices himself while the armor is powering up, then Tony emerges in the armor and doles out brutal retribution. The Ten Rings henchmen shoot at him, but the bullets just ping off the armor. Then, with a badass one-liner (“My turn”), Tony mows them down with flamethrowers in his wrists.


1 The Battle Of New York (The Avengers)


Like the Fort Knox showdown in Goldfinger, the climactic battle sequence from the first Avengers movie became the benchmark for its franchise’s finales. From the iconic shot of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes assembling on-screen to the cinematic splash page swooping across the city to Tony’s poignant sacrifice, the Battle of New York is the gold standard for Marvel battle sequences.

This sequence is so memorable that Marvel keeps returning to it. First, the Avengers traveled back in time to revisit it. Then, Hawkeye re-examined it in both flashbacks and a Broadway musical adaptation.

NEXT: The 10 Best Action Sequences From The MCU Phase Four (So Far)

(left to right) Han Solo is frozen in carbonite, Harrison Ford as Han Solo looking over his shoulder, Han Solo is run through by Ben Solo's lightsaber


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