Let's be honest, no matter what I put on this list there will be a slew of disagreements on my choices, but ultimately I find myself, like many, completely entranced by single scenes in films that show what happens when the spirit of the comic books beautiful fuse with the visual and auditory orchestra of film.
5. Captain America Vs. Winter Soldier - "Captain America: Winter Solder"
You know how people always complain that comic book movies lack brutality or look too cheesy? I pretty much deny such a claim with this amazingly choreographed sequence between Captain America and Winter Soldier where, with no special effects, they duel hand-to-hand in one of the most classically made action scenes I've seen in awhile. Using nothing but their fists, they play hot potato as Captain America tries to keep Winter Soldier from piercing him with a knife in a close quarters fight that would make Gene LeBelle proud. The speed alone is impressive and the concentration of the two actors here shows a commitment that makes it work. This is one of the most painful scenes to watch for me in a comic book movie because of the dangerous nature of the Winter Soldier. The man has a frikkin' metal arm that, when it smashes against Cap's shield, you can tell that Cap is barely able to hold on. You feel like bones might break...and that is when you know you've done it right.
4. Batman Stops Joker on the Batpod - "The Dark Knight"
Not going to lie, I was wondering the whole first half of the movie how the heck Nolan was going to incorporate the Bat-bike into the story given Batman had a tank for a vehicle. Pretty much everything that follows from the minute Batman bursts out of the damaged Tumbler on the Batpod with the roaring movie score behind him makes you geek out. And then pretty sure flipping an 18-wheeler was one of the best finales of a fight I'd ever seen in a movie period.
What really caps off this scene is Ledger's maddening game of chicken with Batman. His Joker is not afraid to kill and be killed whereas Batman has rules that restrict him. This leads to Batman going around Joker and skidding to the ground. Like I said, awesome. The only reason it's not higher is simply because it wasn't a purely comic book scene. It was a very realistically done scene and, while it outmatches Captain America's fight with Winter Soldier, it is so grounded that to simply put it to the front of the list be an offense to the imagination that comic book movies are able to instill.
3. Superman Reverses Time - "Superman: The Movie"
What? You thought I was going to only cover movies from this generation? Shame on all of you! I know, I know, you'll call this scene completely cheesy and unrealistic. I suppose we're going to avoid the fact the lead character is an alien super being and that he didn't just, like two scenes previous, lift land up from beneath the crust of the Earth and stabilized an earthquake.
But let's be honest...this is pure perfection for the climax of the first Superman film. Because really, after all those amazing things he did in the movie, what else could you do to top that? This scene requires a suspension of disbelief on the audience's part but again, given the character we are talking about, it's not a far stretch. The film shows the character's heart more than anything, his love for Lois Lane that he is willing to break Jor-El's code to not interfere with humans to save her. So to all the cynics out there...people like you are the reason "Man of Steel" was made and I will forever hunt you down one by one!!! This is Superman boys and girls and no matter how dark you make his colors, how bland you make his character...Christoper Reeves will always be the true Man of Steel to me. And, with pre-CGI effects, it's amazing how well this scene holds up to newer films.
2. Spider-Man Vs. Doc Ock/Train Sequence - "Spider-Man 2"
You know Tobey Macguire's speech pretty much had it nailed. Most stories are about a girl...and if you kidnap a guy's girl you're going to get your ass kicked. It is the drive of saving the love of his life that leads Peter Parker/Spider-Man to fight Doc Ock on a moving train. The choreography is beautiful, the music of Danny Elfman perfectly complimenting the scene in the background, and truly Spider-Man is shown how amazing he is as he bounces around from street to track combating his incredible foe, Doc Ock. Not a moment feels out of place whether it's the original theatrical version or the extended version that shows them battling through a train station that they pass by and leading to Spider-Man getting hit by a train.
All of it ending in Macguire showing his character's heroic worth when he stops a train at full speed by standing at its nose and stopping the train with webbing he shoots around to act as a net. You see his arms smash into the train as he holds on for dear life. And of course, what better way to end it, than Spider-Man waking up in the train, reminded that he is needed and that people appreciate him. Like Reeves, to me, there is only one Spider-Man and it was Tobey Macguire. In that single scene, you see a humbleness that defines Parker. That scene brought together his two sides so beautifully. For he is both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. And both sides needed a little love to move forward.
**Alas: I couldn't find the full scene together so I put the original, theatrical version up in the two parts I found and then the third video is the extended version from "Spider-Man 2.1". If anyone has the full version please send me the ling so I can use it. Thank you.
Theatrical Version - Part 1
Theatrical Version - Part 2
Extended Version from "Spider-Man 2.1"
1. Avengers Assemble - "The Avengers"
Let's be honest, one more time. This is the most hardcore example of comic book-to-movie translations. We thought we'd seen it all up until this point, but boy did director Joss Whedon prove us wrong. In a scene that represents a culmination of half-a-decade of work from Marvel Studios, after five individual movies that introduced the team one-by-one, after already giving us a great first half of "The Avengers" it all comes to this single moment where Marvel Studios brings the comic book world to the cinematic one.
The separate journeys of six characters converging to a moment that only composer Alan Silvestri could make more perfect with his signature theme for the team in the background. What follows is one of the most well-made comic book moments ever. What people fail to realize is how every character has there purpose in the Battle of New York. It's not Michael Bay here where the action is senseless (Although I'm sure Bay pissed himself with jealousy...or gave his signature of approval. Not sure, I don't know the guy.) The scene starts out with the Avengers simply trying to get people to safety then them trying to figure out how to close a portal that keeps sending reinforcements for Loki, the villain.
See up until this point, comic books movies were only seen as individual stories that couldn't exist within others. It had been theorized but always seen as too risky. Marvel got something going here that Fox Studios and Warner Bros. are trying to desperately catch up with with their X-Men and DC properties, respectively. Whether they will succeed is anyone's guess, but it's always the guys who did it first you need to appreciate.
They took the risk, they put themselves out there...and they fucking dominated because of it. In some weird way, this reminds me of a classic time where studios wanted to take a chance. Sure the characters had each done fairly well in their individual movies, but no one knew if audiences could accept the idea they all existed in one universe or if a movie could balance all their personalities. Well Whedon, who had written for the Avengers comic books I might add, was the right guy for the job, giving his signature combination of pop culture medley and thematic science fiction he pulled it off. And this single scene, which makes any fan of comic books and heroes jump with joy, is a pinnacle of the potential of comic book movies. Partly fun (People are running around in tights, you got to have some fun), partly serious, and all imagination.
What matters to me in a comic book movie is a willingness to have fun and push the boundaries. You have lead characters with super powers and gadgets. Nolan only got it right with his original "The Dark Knight" trilogy in terms of being realistic. When it comes to men flying around and heroes fighting for people they love, you need to be willing to enjoy yourself and not take it too seriously. If you do that, you'll find yourself open to amazing moments and scenes in comic book movies that you could only imagine before. Hope you all enjoyed my choices. Have a good weekend!