Best Action Scenes of All-Time: Marvel Edition - The Part-Time Critic

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Best Action Scenes of All-Time: Marvel Edition

*Last Update 1/14/2022

From 2008's Iron Man to 2021's Spider-Man: No Way Home, the Marvel Cinematic Universe now boasts twenty-seven films in its canon. I might have missed a significant sequence here and there, but I think I got the majority of them in this 107 entry list of MCU action sequences. When I stand back and look at the sum of it all - Marvel has made an impressive achievement in action cinema. The diversity of sequences on this list means that although Marvel has become known for the "all-out fantasy battles" that define the Avengers films, they actually offer a little bit of every action genre throughout their portfolio. Their vision to give each of their film entries a slightly different genre feel has bled over into their action as well. 

My personal favorite action sequences in the franchise are the epic finales of the original Avengers and the Infinity War and End Game twofer. This is where you see all that action diversity displayed on an epic glorious scale. Whether you like large scale sky battles (Star Wars), technological gadgetry (Batman), or hand to hand fights (Bourne/Bond) - it finds representation here.

There's just no other entertainment property (The Lord of the Rings did it with a smaller scale of main characters) who gave us the epic fantasy battle with a large cast of characters we care for, punctuated by jaw-dropping visuals, excellent visual effects (taking place during daytime thank you!), and memorable moments/lines that make audiences smile every time they see them. For better or worse, Marvel has given us some of the greatest action sequences of all-time and remains the modern day gold standard. That's not to say every sequence they make is gold, in fact, I'd say once you get past the "B" grades, the sequences can become somewhat pedestrian in the action genre. For fun, I've rated and ranked every MCU action sequence in my database. Let me know what you think!

All Marvel Action Sequences Graded & Ranked
*This list is accurate up to the release of 2021's Spider-Man: No Way Home

GRADE: C-
107. "Finale: Hulk vs. Abomination" -The Incredible Hulk (2008)
106. “Captain & Iron Man Catch Loki in Germany” -The Avengers (2012)
105. “Skrull Ambush at a Foreign Temple” -Captain Marvel (2019)
104. “Thor and his Band vs the Iron Giant” -Thor (2011)

GRADE: C
103. “Opening: Eternals Rescue Mesopotamians from Deviants” -Eternals (2021)
102. “Thor Cleans Up a Battle in Vanaheim” -Thor: The Dark World (2013)
101. “Finale: Thor vs. Loki” -Thor (2011)
100. “Deviant Street Attack in London” -Eternals (2021)
99. "Opening: Escaping Ohio and SHIELD on a Plane" -Black Widow (2021)
98. “Iron Man vs. Rhodes Drunk Battle” -Iron Man 2 (2010)
97. “Loki Steals the Tesseract” -The Avengers (2012)
96. “Iron Man Escapes the Cave with Mark 1” -Iron Man (2008)
95. “Thor & Loki vs Kurse & Dark Elves” -Thor: The Dark World (2013)
94. "Red Guardian Escapes Prison and an Avalanche" -Black Widow (2021)
93. “Captain Chases down Winter Soldier for the First Time” -Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
92. “Thor Takes Out Shield to Retrieve his Hammer” -Thor (2011)
91. “Crashing in on a Train and Losing Bucky” -Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
90. “Hela Arrives at Asgard and Takes Over” -Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
89. “Iron Man Saves Hulmira from Terrorists” -Iron Man (2008)
88. "Budapest Fistfight: Sister vs Sister" -Black Widow (2021)

GRADE: C+
87. “Gomora and Nebula Battle It Out” -Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
86. “Finale Fight in the Space Lab Spills Over to Earth” -Captain Marvel (2019)
85. “Sovereign Ships Battle the Guardians for Stealing Batteries” -Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
84. “Killmonger and Black Panther in Ritual Combat” -Black Panther (2018)
83. “Rescuing the 107th from a Hydra Facility” -Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
82. “Berlin Group Work - Elemental Attack” -Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
81. “Opening: Thor vs. Surtur” -Thor: Ragnarok (2017) 
80. "Hulk Battles the Military on a College Green" -The Incredible Hulk (2008)
79. “Amazonian Attack: Deviant Horde vs. Eternals” -Eternals (2021)
78. “Finale: Spider-Man vs. Vulture” -Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
77. "Widow vs. Taskmaster: Opening Matchup on a Norwegian Bridge" -Black Widow (2021)
76. “Transformed Steve Rogers Chases Down Heinz Kruger” -Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
75. “Thor and Loki Escape Asgaard” -Thor: The Dark World (2013)
74. “Iron Man vs. Whiplash in Monaco” -Iron Man 2 (2010)
73. “Finale: One on One and a War on the Plains” -Black Panther (2018)
72. "Chasing Banner in the Favelas and Getting Hulk in the Factory" -The Incredible Hulk (2008)
71. “Opening Beast Battle” -Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
70. "Finale: Taking Down the Red Room, Dreykov, and the Taskmaster" -Black Widow (2021)
69. “Guardians Fight Over the Ball on Xandar and Get Arrested” -Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
68. “Chasing the Skrull Through 1990s Los Angeles” -Captain Marvel (2019)
67. “Tony Stark vs Bradt & Savin in a Small Town” -Iron Man 3 (2013)
66. "Chased in Budapest: From Apartment, to Motorcycle, to BMW" -Black Widow (2021)
65. “Escaping the Planet in a Pleasure Ship” -Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
64. “Venice Pandemonium - Elemental Attack” -Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)


GRADE: B-
63. “Opening: Thor and his Band vs the Ice Giants” -Thor (2011)
62. “Avengers First Fight with Ultron” -Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
61. “Iron Man vs. F-22 Raptors” -Iron Man (2008)
60. "Pym Lab and Helicopter Fight" -Ant-Man (2015)
59. “Spider-Man Makes a Washington Monument Rescue” -Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
58. “Bucky Breaks Out of Captivity via Baron Zemo” -Captain America: Civil War
57. “Finale: Battle of Xandar” -Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
56. “Finale: Beach Warfare & Stopping Tiamat” -Eternals (2021)
55. “Finale: Bucky vs. Captain in the Skies” -Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
54. “Thor vs. Iron Man vs. Captain America” -The Avengers (2012)
53. “Opening: Star Lord Escapes Karath” -Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
52. “Apartment Showdown: The Villains Bust Out" -Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
51. “Dark Elves Break into Asgaard & Empty the Prison” -Thor: The Dark World (2013)
50. “Final Planet Showdown with Ego” -Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
49. "Opening London Mirror World: Ancient One vs. Zealots" -Doctor Strange (2016)
48. “Finale: Three Spidey's & the Sinister Five at the Statue of Liberty" -Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
47. “Black Order vs. Vision and Scarlet Witch in Scotland” -Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
46. “Captain America & Black Widow vs. Ultron in Korea” -Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
45. “Iron Man vs. Iron Monger”-Iron Man (2008)
44. “Interrupted Weapons Deal Leads to a Neighborhood Chase” -Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
43. “Yondu and Rocky Kill of the Ravages” -Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
42. “Finale: Infiltrating Hydra Base & Taking Down Skull's Plane” -Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
41. “Vulture vs. Spider-Man on the Ferry” -Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
40. “Finale: Hong Kong Time Loops” -Doctor Strange (2016)
39. "Ant-Man vs. Falcon" -Ant-Man (2015)
38. “Casino Shootout & Street Chase in Korea” -Black Panther (2018)
37. “Escaping Mandarin's Compound One Suit Piece At a Time” -Iron Man 3 (2013)
36. “Elevator Battle” -Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
35. "Bus Bedlam: Shang Chi Shows Off Against Machete Man" -Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
34. “Opening Hostage Operation Against Batroc on a Ship” -Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

GRADE: B
33. “Attack on Stark's Oceanside Manor” -Iron Man 3 (2013)
32. “Finale: Thor, Loki, Hulk & the Revengers vs Hela” -Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
31. "NYC Finale with Rhodes, Drones, Widow and Whiplash” -Iron Man 2 (2010)
30. “Nicky Fury Assassination Attempt” -Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
29. “Doctor Strange vs. Kaecilius in the New York Sanctum” -Doctor Strange (2016)
28. "Air Force One Sky Rescue” -Iron Man 3 (2013)
27. “Bridge Mayhem: Spider-Man Meets Dock Ock and the Green Goblin" -Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
26. “The Wasp Fights for Tech in the Lobby & Kitchen” -Ant-Man & the Wasp (2018)
25. “Macau Skyscraper Scaffold Melee" -Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
24. "Finale: Ant-Man vs. Yellow Jacket" -Ant-Man (2015)
23. “Spider-Man vs. Doctor Strange" -Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
22. “Opening: Attack on Hydra Castle” -Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
21. “Finale: Battle for Sokovia” -Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
20. “Prison Break” -Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
19. “Thor vs. Hulk in the Arena” -Thor: Ragnarok (2017) 
18. "Greenwich Finale: Thor vs. Malekith” -Thor: The Dark World (2013)


GRADE: B+
17. “Captain America & Black Panther chase Bucky from Apartment to the Streets” -Captain America: Civil War (2016)
16. “Finale: Exposing Mysterio in London” -Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
15. “HeliCarrier Attack and the Group Splits” -The Avengers (2012)
14. “Finale: Shang-Chi vs. the Mandarin & his Monster Mash” -Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
13. “Black Order vs Strange, Spider-Man, and Iron Man in New York” -Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
12. “Illusion Overwhelm: Mysterio vs Spider-Man” -Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
11. “Opening: Captain's Crew vs. Crossbones” -Captain America: Civil War (2016)
10. “New York Mirror Maze: Strange, Mordo, & Ancient One vs. Kaecilius” -Doctor Strange (2016)
9. “Highway Battle: Winter Soldier vs. Captain, Widow, & Falcon” -Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) 

GRADE: A-
8. “'House Party' Protocol Finale at the Docks” -Iron Man 3 (2013)
7. “Finale: Fighting for the Lab in the Streets & Bay of San Francisco” -Ant-Man & the Wasp (2018)
6. “Hulk vs. Hulk Buster” -Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
5. “Iron Man vs. Captain America & Bucky” -Captain America: Civil War (2016)

GRADE: A
4. A “Superhero Showdown at the Airport” -Captain America: Civil War (2016)

GRADE: A+
3. “Finale: Thanos vs Avengers on Titan and the Wakandan Plains” -Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
2. “Finale: The Avengers vs. Thanos & his Army” -Avengers: End Game (2019)
1. “Finale: The Battle of New York” -The Avengers (2012)

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