With Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp“ buzzing into theaters this weekend, it’s worth reflecting on the best action sequences the Marvel Cinematic Universe has spawned to date. Here are the top five that exhaust every ounce of energy when watching.
1. The Airport Battle (“Captain America: Civil War”)
The airport battle is the undisputed favorite, mainly because it’s also the most memorable sequence of any MCU film to date. Living up to its promotional promise, a full-blown brawl commences between two groups of Avengers at ideological odds. Diplomacy isn’t an option for this franchise, and thus our devilish fantasies of pitting our favorite superheroes against one another is fulfilled in live-action extravaganza. What ensues is visually exhilarating, spectacularly choreographed and written with enough levity to soften the somber stakes. Most importantly, Spider-Man’s “Empire Strikes Back” reference is dropped with such confidence that even the Battle of Hoth would be proud of said association.
2. The One-Take Casino Brawl (“Black Panther”)
Director Ryan Coogler and DP Rachel Morrison work harmoniously to evoke the vibrant spirit of Wakanda and its people. However, no frame of theirs comes more alive than the single-take casino brawl once T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) cover is blown. Filmed on location in Bosan, South Korea, this cinematic gem of pure, unedited frenzy is as dazzling as it is dizzying. The MCU typically sticks to a rigid formula for most of their fight sequences. This time, the studio loosened the reins by allowing auteur sensibilities to guide the flow of action. The swinging crane setup effortlessly pivots the camera from one small skirmish to the next without time to breathe. Moreover, the cinematography morphs into a dance of danger in which breaking hold becomes a matter of triumph or defeat.
3. Thor brings Stormbreaker to Earth (“Avengers: Infinity War”)
*VIDEO CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE DUE TO COPYRIGHT*
Audiences will forever remember the moment everyone cheered once Thor appears back on Earth with his recently crafted hammer, Stormbreaker. With one boomerang throw and a whole lot of lightning for an extra deep fry, an entire battalion of Thanos’s army vanquishes. This newly forged weapon certainly reinvigorates the Norse god shrunken in his sorrow. More so, it provides a blinding wave of hope to an unbeatable war not seen onscreen since Aragorn unleashed the Army of the Dead in Peter Jackon’s “Return of the King.”
4. Hulk Smashes Loki (“The Avengers”)
Short, sweet, hilarious and oh so satisfying. Sick of yet another Machiavellian monologue, Hulk dispenses with formalities and gets to smashing. The moment is so sudden and bonkers that the only response is high-pitched cackling. It took all of about thirty seconds to undo Hulk’s poor reputation from his previous two standalone films. This sequence also epitomizes the lighthearted comic book feel of the Marvel brand. When compared to the stoic and bleak “The Dark Knight Rises” – also released in 2012 – hanging with the Avengers seems like the more pleasurable option.
5. Rainbow Bridge Fight (“Thor: Ragnarok”)
Leave it to Taika Waititi to seamlessly pull off a music video battle set to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” Goosebumps form aplenty watching Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie battle their way across the Asgardian rainbow bridge. Who knew plowing through an onslaught of monsters unleashed by his sadistic evil sister (Cate Blanchett’s Hela) was the recipe for getting Thor’s groove back? Furthermore, who needs an eye when you can make an overnight transformation from stone-faced brute to destructive clean-cut charmer?