The 10 Best Action Sequences From The MCU’s First Phase

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

RELATED: Every MCU Phase 1 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 sets from these Phase 1 films stand out. always.

ten Loki’s henchmen attack the Helicarrier (The Avengers)


Loki talks to Black Widow in The Avengers.

When Loki’s henchmen attack the Helicarrier, the six Avengers have something to do. The sequence intersects between Thor battling the Hulk, Natasha battling a brainwashed Clint, and Loki escaping.

Tony and Steve fixing a broken engine has a video game side mission vibe, but it brings the pair closer to bickering before the grand finale.

9 Showdown at Culver University (The Incredible Hulk)


The Incredible Hulk and Tim Roth

When Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner visits Betty Ross at the University of The Incredible Hulkhis warmongering father, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, shows up with the full force of the U.S. Army.

This decor – which has been modified in the multiversal antics of What if…? – essentially boils down to a tense confrontation between the Hulk and his primary adversary, British Royal Marines-trained officer Emil Blonsky. Blonsky injects himself with a counterfeit version of the Super Soldier Serum so that he is a physical match for the Hulk as “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 confusing plot of iron man 2 doesn’t quite come together, it has thrilling action sequences. When Tony goes to the Monaco Grand Prix, he surprises everyone by taking part in the race. Then, as he circles around the circuit, Whiplash arrives on the track, cutting the cars in half with his electrified whips.

As Tony confronts his latest bitter rival, Happy shows up with his armor in a nifty briefcase. The film didn’t flesh out Whiplash’s character satisfactorily, but this sequence gave him an impressive introduction.


7 Thor fights Loki on the rainbow bridge (Thor)


Thor holding Mjolnir on the Rainbow Bridge

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

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


6 Steve Rogers Liberates Hydra POW Camp (Captain America: The First Avenger)


captain america first avenger

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

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

It gives the story an exciting midpoint that ups the ante. Not only is this the first time Steve has proven 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 the full power of his upgraded Iron Man armor when he returns to Afghanistan to liberate the citizens of Gulmira from the Ten Rings. Although this act of heroism was a resounding success, he ran into some trouble on the flight home.

En route to US airspace, he was spotted by two F-22 Raptors, which pursued him and threatened to shoot him down on behalf of the US Air Force. There’s a hilarious juxtaposition in the scene as Tony calls Rhodey to inform him that he’s the man in the flight suit and needs to call off the fighter jets.


4 Cap and Iron Man take on Thor (The Avengers)


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

As the first handful of Avengers recruits bring a handcuffed Loki onto the Quinjet, they are intercepted by Thor, who extracts his mischievous brother and disappears into the woods. Iron Man and Captain America pursue him, and the trio of Marvel heroes engage in combat.

The nocturnal woodland setting gives the sequence a lackluster 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 channeled through Mjolnir. running Iron Man’s technology at 400% capacity.




3 Thor tryna get his hammer back from SHIELD (Thor)


Hawkeye gets his introduction to the MCU via a little backdoor pilot in the middle of Thor. When the God of Thunder infiltrates SHIELD’s desert camp to retrieve his hammer, Clint Barton has an arrow pointed at him the entire time.

RELATED: 5 Ways The Thor Franchise Was Underwhelming Before Ragnarok (& 5 Ways Ragnarok Made It Better)

Thor’s objective in this sequence is clear – to retrieve his hammer – and when that objective becomes moot, because he can no longer lift the hammer, he is so crushed and defeated that he allows SHIELD agents to kill him. ‘Stop.


2 Tony Stark escapes the cave (Iron Man)


Iron Man escapes from the cave

Mark I is a big, clunky piece of armor – and the later models 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 their own weapon.

Yinsen sacrifices himself as the armor powers up, then Tony emerges into the armor and hands out brutal retribution. The Ten Rings’ henchmen shoot at him, but the bullets only bounce 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 The golden fingerthe climactic battle sequence of the first avengers the film became the benchmark for its franchise’s finales. From the iconic shot of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes assembling on screen, to the cinematic cross-town cover page, to Tony’s harrowing sacrifice, the Battle of New York is the yardstick- or Marvel fight sequences.

This sequence is so memorable that Marvel keeps coming back to it. First, the Avengers traveled back in time to revisit it. Then, Hawk Eye revisited it in both flashbacks and a Broadway musical adaptation.

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

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