Best Moments in the MCU: Phase Three – Part 1

I take a look at the best moments in the first four films of MCU's Phase Three!

Written by J.T. Johnson

Welcome to the latest edition of my “Best Moments in the MCU” series! This time I’m taking a look at the first four films in what is considered Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Captain America has one more solo adventure, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man make their own solo MCU debuts and the Guardians of the Galaxy have their second thrilling adventure!

With great films comes great moments, but which moments stood out the most in each film? Let’s find out now!

Cap vs. Iron Man

Captain America and Iron Man face off in ‘Civil War’!

In Cap’s third film, the Avengers are forced into signing new accords that will keep them in check by a governing body. Steve Rogers thinks this is a bad idea while Tony Stark thinks they need to be kept in check. Eventually, sides are chosen and Cap is on the run, not only because he doesn’t agree with the accords, but also because he wants to protect his friend Bucky from certain death when the authorities come looking.

After tracking down main baddie Zemo to Siberia where an army of Winter Soldiers were made, Cap and Bucky head that way ready to face an army of super soldiers. Having discovered Zemo’s plan himself, Tony arrives to call a truce and join in bringing the madman down.

Unfortunately, they are surprised when they find that Zemo has killed all of the frozen soldiers. The real reason he wanted the three of them there was to show Tony that Bucky had actually killed his parents in 1991. When Tony confronts Cap about this, Steve admits that he knew and a brutal fight commences.

Normally, when you have a story where two of your heroes face off against one another, they eventually realize the error of their ways and team up. It seems like this is going to happen, but those hopes are quickly dashed and the Avengers are changed forever with the reveal.  It also marks the end of a powerful friendship between Steve and Tony that has been built up since their first meeting in “The Avengers”. It’s a well earned gut punch to the audience and easily the best moment in “Civil War”.

HONORABLE MENTION: Iron Man and his team are sent in to take Steve’s team down in the middle of the film and this culminates in one of the greatest battles in the MCU. Everything was leading up to this massive fight at a German airport and it did not disappoint. Not only did we get to see our favorite heroes square off with one another, we also got the debut of the amazing new Spider-Man in this film, played perfectly by Tom Holland.

Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther also got to show what he could do as well and Scott Lang got big… I mean, really big! It ends with Cap and Bucky escaping, but that doesn’t mean there are no losses. The rest of Cap’s team is taken into custody and James Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, is gravely injured as a result of a misfire from Vision. The filmmakers didn’t wimp out on this fight and it is still a joy to watch today as much as it was three years ago!

Battle in the Mirror Dimension

Doctor Strange fighting evil forces in the Mirror Dimension.

Doctor Stephen Strange is a brilliant surgeon who suffers a horrible accident that takes away his steady hands. He seeks out the Ancient One for a cure and ends up discovering a hidden world of sorcerers that help protect us from various threats across the multiverse. One of those enemies is Kaecilius, a distraught sorcerer who wants to join Dormammu in the Dark Dimension.

During one of their encounters, Doctor Strange traps Kaecilius and his followers in the Mirror Dimension, a place that looks like our world but where no one in our world can get hurt. It is also a place where the laws of physics do not apply and the battle that Doctor Strange and Kaecilius have here is one of the more unique fights in the MCU considering that the world is constantly changing around them. Every time I watch the movie, this is the film’s biggest highlight.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The first is the fight between Doctor Strange and another sorcerer’s astral forms. It happens while Christine, Strange’s love interest, is having to operate on a wound Strange sustained earlier. We see them flying around the hospital duking it out and see how the battle subtly interacts with the real world. It’s also funny to see Christine jump every time something unexpectedly falls or when Strange reveals his astral form to her.

An Appropriate Sendoff

Yondu gets an appropriate sendoff in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’.

Like the first film, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a fun adventure that contains plenty of humor and colorful action sequences. This time, the Guardians face off against Ego, a living planet that also happens to be the father of Peter Quill. Soon, though, they learn that Ego is planning on eradicating all life in the Universe in order to be the only supreme living being left.

The best moment in this film, though, is a tragic one. After defeating Ego, it looks as though Peter is going to die on the planet with his father. Yondu, Peter’s true father figure, arrives in time to save him. Unfortunately, Yondu only has one breathing apparatus in order to survive in space and he valiantly gives it Quill and sacrifices himself for his “son”.

Afterwards, Yondu is given a proper Ravager funeral when the other Ravager factions discover what he did. It was established earlier in the film that Yondu was actually exiled from the other Ravagers for selling kids to Ego. By giving his life for Peter, the factions attend his funeral and give him a proper sendoff. It is a rather touching moment and easily the best in a fun-filled film that lives up to the original.

HONORABLE MENTION: Stan Lee’s cameo is always something to look forward to, but this one is great because it’s a little fan service and it pretty much confirms a major fan theory. While going through 700 jump points, Rocket, Groot and Yondu pass through an area of space where we meet the Watchers, a group of people that watch over the Universe but don’t interfere. Sitting in the middle is Stan “The Man” Lee as he talks to the Watchers about all of the persona’s he’s appeared as on Earth.

Considering that Stan pretty much made the Marvel Universe with several other talented artists and writers in the comic books, it only makes sense that this guy that’s been popping up in all the films is someone that’s been overseeing everything the whole time.

The Vulture Twist!

The Vulture has a heart-to-heart with Spider-Man in ‘Homecoming’.

Thanks to the MCU, we finally get the perfect big screen live-action Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. In this movie, Tom Holland perfectly plays both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He’s also a high school kid that is trying to balance both his personal life and that of being a superhero.

In this film, he ends up facing off against the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. Meanwhile, he is attracted to a girl named Liz and he eventually finds out that she is attracted to him. After asking her out to a dance, he heads to her house to pick her up.

Everything seems to be going good for Peter until the Vulture himself opens the door. As it turns out, Adrian Toomes is Liz’s father and this makes for a tense car ride to the school. On the way there, Adrian silently realizes that Peter is Spider-Man, the superhero that’s been giving him trouble all this time.

The scene culminates with a gun toting Adrian explaining to Peter that he’s going to let him live because Spider-Man saved Liz in an earlier scene. Peter falsely claims that he won’t say anything, but the revelation leads directly to their climactic final battle soon after. The movie itself is a wonderful combination of signature Marvel action mixed with a John Hughes aesthetic that works wonders for the movie, but it’s this tense moment between to major rivals that stands out above the rest.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Tony has a heart-to-heart with Peter Parker after Peter royally screws up an operation. Tony tells Peter that he needs to be more responsible and after he takes Peter’s suit, Peter says that he’s nothing without it. Tony tells him, “If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it.” It’s a good lesson for Peter and it also shows us how far Tony has come since we were first introduced to the arrogant arms dealer in the original “Iron Man”.

Also, Cap’s post-credit scene may be one of the best due to it pretty much spoofing post-credit sequences and our anticipation of them.

That wraps up this edition of the “Best Moments in the MCU”. I have only one more article in this series coming up where I’ll take a look at the remainder of Phase Three leading up to “Avengers: Endgame”!

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