Written by J.T. Johnson
A few days ago, I wrote an article where I picked the best moments out of each film of the MCU. I started there with the Phase One films that brought us through to “The Avengers”. This time, I’m taking a look at Phase Two! This should take us all the way to “Ant-Man” and then I’ll probably have to do a two part article on the far bigger Phase Three as we get closer and closer to the end of The Infinity Saga with “Avengers: Endgame”, set to be released on April 26!
IRON MAN 3
The House Party Protocol
“Iron Man 3” is all about Tony Stark discovering whether or not the suits make Iron Man or if it’s the man in the suit. By the end of the film, it’s pretty apparent that the man who makes the suits is truly Iron Man. The best moment in the movie, though, comes when Tony asks J.A.R.V.I.S. to activate the House Party Protocol.
The film’s villain, Killian, is holding the President of the United States hostage on on oil tanker. Tony and James Rhodes enter the tanker but know that they are outnumbered by Killian’s Extremis soldiers. The House Party Protocol brings in all of Tony’s suits and while Rhodes heads off to save the President, Tony uses the suits to try and rescue Pepper Potts, another of Killian’s hostages.
Watching the film recently, the sequence is still a fun action set piece showcasing all types of Iron Man’s suits. I know there are people out there that don’t particularly like this film, but this sequence is definitely the highlight of the movie and one of the reasons that I actually like the film.
HONORABLE MENTION: At one point in the movie, Tony must improvise in order to break into what may be the mansion for the Mandarin. Tony heads to the hardware store and buys several things in order to build bombs out of Christmas ornaments and a glove capable of electrocuting his foes. It’s another great scene that shows that Tony is truly Iron Man because without him, the suits wouldn’t exist in the first place.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD
“Thor: The Dark World” tells the story the Dark Elf Malekith as he tries to use the power of the Aether to take over the nine realms. In the climactic final battle, Malekith, imbued with the power of the Aether, fights Thor as Jane Foster uses some space altering rods to send them through the realms. It is a unique battle in the MCU and definitely the best action sequence and moment in the movie.
HONORABLE MENTION: In a tragic scene, Thor’s mother Frigga is killed while trying to protect Jane. Her funeral scene is a calm moment before the storm as Thor then sets out on a quest for revenge against the Dark Elves. It is also the moment where we get to see that Loki may not be as evil as he has been portrayed up to this point and perhaps he is not completely beyond redemption, either.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
The End of the Line
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is one of the best films (if not the best) in the MCU. It is filled with many great moments, but the very end is what sticks out for me. Captain America and the Winter Soldier, revealed to be his best friend Bucky Barnes, have just had a ferocious fight. Near the end, though, Cap drops his shield and says that he won’t fight his friend.
Bucky then declares, “You’re my mission!” before he proceeds to knock Cap down and beat the hell out of him. When he sees that Steve won’t fight back, he stops. That’s when Cap makes a claim that Bucky has made in the past, “Then finish it… because I’m with you till’ the end of the line”. Once again, this is another scene that shows that Cap will go to any lengths to save the world or his friends, as the case may be here, and that definitely includes risking his own life in the process.
It also ends with a bit of hope as Cap is thrown from the airship they’re on and into the waters below. However, he is saved by Bucky, a man who must now go on his own quest to rediscover his true identity.
HONORABLE MENTION: That elevator fight! Actually, that elevator fight and Cap’s escape from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. It is a thrilling action sequence that starts off with a slow build. Cap has gotten on an elevator and other people keep getting on as the elevator slowly descends. Cap eventually notices that they are getting ready for the attack. “Before we get started… does anyone want to get out?” Cap cooly asks this before the occupants attack and the chase is on. It’s definitely one of the best sequences not only in this movie but in the entire MCU.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
“Guardians of the Galaxy” cemented Marvel Studios’ legacy of making fun popcorn entertainment, even with their lesser known properties. This film is about a band of misfits that have to join together to stop an evil Kree extremist named Ronan from destroying the galaxy with the power of an Infinity Stone.
Eventually, the Guardians are able to confront Ronan on Xandar after a long battle. Peter Quill manages to get his hands on the Infinity Stone, but instead of killing him outright, he finds that he can temporarily control the stone. However, it will kill him not long after, so the other Guardians have to help him absorb the power.
It soon becomes apparent that this ragtag team is able to withstand the power of the Infinity Stone. Ronan asks how and Peter Quill simply answers, “You said it yourself, bitch. We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy.” With that, some of the galaxy’s greatest defenders has finally come together.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Michael Rooker plays Yondu, Quill’s mentor and the leader of the Ravagers, a group of space pirates. After he crashes down on Xandar, he is surrounded by enemies, but before any of them can react, Yondu whistles and we learn just how lethal his mentally controlled arrow can be and why Yondu is a total badass.
Another highlight would have to be the Battle of Xandar itself. It is a true blockbuster finale to a genuine space opera!
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
In the second Avengers film, the team finds themselves facing off against Ultron, an A.I. program developed by Tony Stark that goes mad. By the end of the film, Ultron has decided to end humankind’s existence by creating a meteor out of the city of Sokovia. Eventually, the Avengers assemble in a church at the center of the city where there is a core that will activate the propulsion systems that will send the city careening down to Earth.
There, they face off against Ultron and the legion of robots that he’s built through the course of the film. It is here that we get another great sequence of all the Avengers, both old and new, facing off against their latest threat. The scene culminates with a great shot of Vision, Thor and Iron Man unleashing their full power on Ultron and while they don’t destroy him quite yet, Hulk provides the final blow in the scene that sends Ultron flying across the city.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Like the first “Avengers”, this film has many memorable moments. The opening scene where the Avengers are trying to recover the scepter Loki used in the first movie is thrilling enough, but there are many great sequences such as Tony battling the Hulk in the Hulkbuster armor and the one where the Avengers are trying to recover a cradle containing a bio life form that Ultron is trying to upload his consciousness into.
That same life form then leads to another great scene: the birth of Vision! When Thor gives Vision a jumpstart with his lightning, Vision awakens and explains why he must help the Avengers stop Ultron. The team doesn’t quite know if they can trust Vision, but when he is able to pick up Mjölnir, this seems to give the team a good enough reason to trust their newest ally and provides us with another awesome moment!
Ant-Man vs. the Yellow Jacket
“Ant-Man” is largely a heist film and a damn good one at that. It’s a smaller (no pun intended) and more personal film in the MCU. It follows Scott Lang, a thief who gets a chance at redemption when he is hired by Hank Pym to steal a prototype Yellowjacket suit from Darren Cross. Needless to say, the heist/destruction at Cross Industries succeeds, but Darren does escape with the Yellowjacket suit and threatens Scott’s daughter Cassie.
When Ant-Man arrives, they engage in an epic battle but on a small scale. While we see the fight mostly from their perspective, it was also unique as we see it from a normal sized viewpoint to see that it’s actually just two small dudes duking it out. It fits with the action that’s expected from an MCU film, but it also contains the signature humor that has been found in the Ant-Man films.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: “Baskin Robbins always finds out.”
And that concludes our look at the Phase Two films in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. I’ll be back next time with “Best Moments in the MCU: Phase Three – Part 1”!