It’s been a long time since this post has been in the works. I first got the idea for it 11 months ago but then just kept putting it off as I was busy with other stuff. Well, Endgame is only about a week away so it’s time to finally go through with this ranking list. I’ll be ranking all of the intro scenes for the numerous MCU films which lead up to Endgame. Choosing what exactly is the intro scene gets tricky as some have multiple scenes before the opening credits, others have none. Other scenes are extremely short while others are pretty long. In the end the criteria I used here was a “scene” is described as whatever happens when the film first opens without a noticeable shift in location. If it’s a continuous scene that goes across locations that’s different like the Avengers car chase scene with Loki. It’s a continuous shot. In contrast, Guardians 2 has a scene shift before the opening credits, but there is a time skip plus there’s no way to connect the two scenes. I can see some of the scenes selected being a bit debatable, but after watching all the film intros again this seemed like the best way to go about it.
I guess one thing you may wonder is what should an opening scene be like? As you read through the rankings you’ll get a pretty clear visual on what I like to see. Basically, an intro should immediately get you hyped for what you’re about to watch. It should be something that’s either fun or exciting. You can also have a bit of a dark opening setting up the villains. If handled right there are many ways you can go about it. What you don’t want to do is start the film off with a boring scene, an emotional one (No time to care about the characters yet) or any kind of animal violence. There are many more things to consider of course, but that’s a basic guide. Now it’s time for the rankings!
Guardians of the Galaxy: This is definitely the worst of the MCU intros. The scene basically covers the death of Starlord’s Mom and then ends with him abruptly getting kidnapped by aliens. There’s a lot wrong with using this scene to start off the film. It doesn’t get you engaged in the story. The Mom has only been introduced for seconds so she has had no development and while tragic, it doesn’t set the proper tone for the film. There’s nothing particularly entertaining about this scene and is one that you’ll never feel a need to re-watch. It does succinctly cover his origin story, but there should have been a scene before this one. Maybe flip scene 2 (Star Lord in a cave) with 1 and you’ve got a better transition.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2: Wow, two Guardians in a row? It’s pretty close between this one and the first to be honest. This one goes for a romance intro as we see when Starlord’s parents first meet up and Starlord starts to be created. The film does set up his whole growing into the earth gimmick early on, but there’s really nothing to this scene. It ages even worse once you know the twist about the Dad. This is another intro scene that really doesn’t hype you up at all. Of course, we do get one more scene in the film before the credits hit so the director probably realized that as well, but I can only judge the first scene. It’s just very weak and was a red flag for the film we were about to experience.
Iron-Man 3: This scene takes place back when Tony was antagonistic so it can be more tragic than entertaining. One guy named Killmonger really needs to talk to someone about his research so Stark tricks him into going to the roof. The poor guy waits alone there while Tony gets his game on. Tony then runs off and in the blink of an eye he managed to make several enemies and threaten the world. This one’s a bit over the top with how obnoxious all of the characters are. While parts of the intro are entertaining, it’s really more mean spirited than anything else. None of the characters are all that pleasant. Even Happy is in a rebellious mood here.
Captain America: Civil War: This one’s surprisingly low on the list right? It’s not a terrible intro, we’re re-introduced to how Bucky was brainwashed. We see the group use their book of codes on him and he is then sent on the mission where he murders Iron-Man’s parents. It’s pretty quick and to the point, but of course it’s a very one sided affair from the start. I do think a genius like Howard should have had some kind of security in his vehicle considering what he was carrying. It’s definitely one of the darker starts to an MCU film. I’m still no Winter Soldier fan though. We’re slowly getting to the better MCU openings as this is a step up from Guardians.
Iron Man: Now we’re at the original MCU film that started them all. The film starts off with Tony at the dessert being escorted somewhere by the military. Unfortunately terrorists show up and blow the cars away. He is then captured and that’s how the scene ends. There’s definitely a very sudden contrast between his happy banter with the driver and crew before they’re attacked. It shows how quickly a good time can suddenly turn into something pretty nefarious. It’s an effective scene that does quickly let you know that things are gonna be rough for Tony. It’s a very realistic scene with effects that hold up quite well. If anything’s weak about the scene it’s just that none of the characters are particularly likable at this point.
Captain America: This film starts off near the arctic as some scavengers are looking for something. It’s dark out, but they are determined and see Captain America’s shield. At long last they have uncovered the super soldier. The scene ends at that point as we cut to the past. It’s a pretty direct intro that builds up some hype for uncovering Cap. Yeah, it can be a bit annoying to know that we won’t be back to the present until the end but I suppose that’s unavoidable. It’s a pretty low-key intro, but one that holds up.
Thor: In this film we start off with Jane and her father following a tornado. It’s really going to help Jane’s data project, but unfortunately they run over someone. Turns out that it’s Thor and now they’re worried that he might be hurt. That’s where the scene ends before we get a flashback to explain what happened. It’s a decent scene as the tornado does add some tension. Tornado watching definitely isn’t for me though. Definitely seems way too dangerous and risky if you ask me. For a film opening it does deliver on some hype but I do think it would have been more fun to have started with the big fight against the ice beings.
Black Panther: This film starts off with an introduction as to what Wakanda is. It then transitions into a scene of T’Challa’s father destroying a traitor and flying back to Wakanda. It helps us get the villain’s motivation as well as a very quick introduction on Wakanda. This is one of those films where it’s a little debatable on if it’s the same scene, but as the narration really isn’t a scene and there isn’t really a big transition I thought it was fair to meld the two. It was a nice twist to have an informant on the inside and the scene does show why you don’t want to mess with Wakanda. It also did produce one of the MCU’s better villains so that’s always good.
The Incredible Hulk: While I’m still not this film’s biggest fan, I will admit that the intro was pretty ambitious and certainly was handled very well. It basically recaps the Hulk origin without having us go through the whole thing yet again. The music is intense and it sets the tone pretty well. We do get a surprisingly violent visual when Hulk breaks into the base the first time, but for the most part the whole thing moves very quickly. It’s got a very Jason Bourne type feel to it that works very well. I’d like this futuristic angle to show up in more MCU titles.
Antman and The Wasp: This one starts off with an early mission of Wasp and Ant-Man trying to stop a rocket. Unfortunately Pym’s belt stops working so she has to be the one to make the sacrifice play. She was long thought to be dead, but now Pym thinks there is a way to save her. It’s a pretty solid intro and continues off of the premise from the first one. Now that Pym knows it’s possible to return from that micro dimension, he’s ready with a plan. It was also cool seeing Janet in costume as a hero. The suits really looked good and you get a nostalgic feeling from seeing the old team in action.
Iron Man 2: This one’s pretty solid in a similar way to the Hulk intro. It starts out by showing us Ironman’s big speech at the end of the first film. This time we’re seeing it from the eyes of Whiplash and his father though. The father ends up dying and Whiplash blames Tony so he starts planning on how he can get revenge. The intro is basically a long montage scene of him preparing his armaments and getting ready to attack. I always like these kind of villain montage credits like how Black Manta had a good one in Aquaman. It shows a level of determination on the villain’s part and one that will certainly serve him well going forward.
Captain America: Winter Soldier: This intro is pretty low key, but fun nonetheless. It starts out with Captain America running around on the track and mocking Falcon. They have some banter in good fun, but at the end of the day Cap is a super soldier so a race between these two is hardly fair. Falcon gives him some media suggestions and then Cap rides off with Black Widow to get ready for a mission. It’s not an opening that is trying to be “hype” so the alternative is to be fun. I think it does a good job. The “On your left” moment definitely became a quality meme and he’s just a fun character. This also introduces the friendly rivalry between Falcon and Cap pretty well.
Captain Marvel: This is another interesting case as there is technically a scene shift here. It starts out with Marvel waking up on a planet with an injury and then she’s back in the present getting ready to spar. I consider the scene to be over after the sparring session as I don’t think the scene is even a minute long otherwise. The sparring session is pretty fun and the intro does throw in some suspense. It’s a good way to start off the movie and the music for the fight was solid as well. It’s nothing spectacular, but I think it’s a fundamentally good opening. There’s really nothing wrong with it and I always do love a good fight.
Spider-Man Homecoming: This one starts off with Vulture getting his guys ready for one of the biggest cleanup jobs they’ve ever had. It takes place almost right after the Avengers and naturally there’s a lot of debris everywhere. Unfortunately in the interest of public safety Ironman has hired his own crew to clean up so Vulture and his guys are kicked out. Most of them were already desperate for cash so now they’re either doomed or will have to go for a life of crime. It sets Vulture up as a pretty sympathetic villain and I do think he did a good job in punching one of the contractors out. He’s a villain that you like almost right away and when an intro does that within 1-2 minutes you know you’ve got a solid one.
Antman: This scene ranks pretty high as it gives us what may be the best portrayal of Hank Pym since United They Stand. The fact that he immediately slammed the guy who brought up Janet was pretty solid. The scene itself doesn’t sound too dynamic on paper as it’s basically just Pym finding out that Stark stole his formula and telling them not to try anything like that again. The slam is just what pushed the scene over since it showed Pym’s resolve. There are times where it’s not good to just sit there and listen to the villains. Pym definitely wasn’t putting up with any of that.
Thor: The Dark World: This one opens up with a pretty big war scene with Asgard and the armies of Malekith. War scenes tend to bore me, but this one spiced things up by adding a lot of fun energy effects for both sides. I think that was the difference here and made it stand out more than normal. It follows the intro scene guidelines to the letter. Starting off with an action scene like this is the perfect way to strap everyone into their seats and prepare you for a fun time.
The Avengers: Now we’ve got the classic Avengers film. This one starts with the tesseract finally appearing to be active and Loki uses it as a portal to enter Earth. From there he quickly takes down SHIELD and escapes as Fury prepares to assemble the team. It’s a great way to start up the film. We are introduced to the big villain right away and it also makes the whole thing feel even more like a crossover from the get go. It’s just hard to top this one and that’s why only a few have. It’s not a big over the top fight or anything like that, but the scene has a lot of energy. It’s filmed well and the music also helps.
Avengers Age of Ultron: This one starts off with the Avengers raiding an enemy base and obtaining the cosmic scepter. They also have a quick skirmish with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver which was fun. It’s currently the only time we’ve ever gotten to see the full team on a normal mission in the film continuity. It’ll likely be the last time as well so that’s why it was a lot of fun. It’s not a fight that they ever had a chance of losing, but it was certainly entertaining nonetheless. I’d certainly be down with a prequel that takes place around this time so we could have more moments with the whole team. The 3 Avenger titles so far have all certainly had great openings.
Dr. Strange: This one starts off with a villain group infiltrating a monastery and murdering some monks before getting some kind of book. That’s when the Ancient One shows up and we get our first big fight scene. It’s a pretty fun fight since she’s using magic to manipulate the environment and as a result everyone has to fight while jumping around and everything. This is always a great way to start off a film and it also introduced the Ancient One well. It makes sense to show us an action scene with her since the rest of the film is mainly with Dr. Strange.
Avengers: Infinity War: This is definitely an opening that I’ve seen numerous times and certainly ages well. Not only does it kick off immediately where Ragnarok ended (Which was a great idea) but it really shows how fierce Thanos is. The opening is basically the entire scene of Thanos showing up and then ending when he blows up the ship. It gave us a lot of memorable lines and seeing Hulk take the full Mcnuggets combo from Thanos was great. There are some logic questions you’ll have from that scene since it doesn’t make quite as much sense when you think about it, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a very powerful scene. This is a villain introduction scene handled to perfection. Really, Infinity War as a whole is basically perfect and really hard to top. There’s almost no way Endgame even stands a chance, but if it can match this then the MCU saga really will be complete.
Thor: Ragnarok: It was a close call between this one and Infinity War, but I have to give Ragnarok the slight edge. It begins with Thor seemingly being captured by Surtur and then he fights his way out as he stops Ragnarok before the event can even begin. The fight is great here and it’s probably the best Thor had looked up to this point. He got to show strategy, speed, and strength. It’s his ideal moment and Surtur’s homeland made for a pretty cool backdrop. Then you’ve got the music that plays during the scene and you’ve really got a masterpiece. It’ll be tough for any opening to beat this one’s.
So, that’s my MCU intro scenes list! Marvel’s definitely got a lot of films here and with the MCU going as strong as ever I’m sure there’ll be enough new scenes for another list in the distant future. While I don’t have any other lists in my immediate plans, future editorials will talk about what it means to be a good hero and likewise, what makes a good villain. Editorials are fun to write although they do take more time than the normal posts for sure. If you’ve seen all the MCU films, would you agree with the list or is yours completely different? Sound off in the comments and remember that intros are one of the most important parts of the film. Arguably the only parts that are anywhere near as important are the ending and the general climax of a title.