Before Thanos’ snap, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had many amazing moments.
Image: Disney

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken us all on quite a ride. From assembling the Avengers to going cosmic with the Guardians, or visiting Wakanda with Black Panther, these past 11 years and 21 movies have produced a lot of incredible moments. But what are your favorites? The moments that have stuck with you years later? The io9 staff has ours, and maybe they line up with yours. Here they are, in no particular order.

(To be fair, after seeing Avengers: Endgame this list could be filled just with moments from Avengers: Endgame, but we’ll disqualify that film for now.)

The Avengers - “I’m always angry”

The Chituari looked like too much for the Avengers. How could this group of superheroes ever find the strength to defeat such a foe? Well, in Bruce Banner’s assertion that he’s always angry, we saw that a hero was buried in all of them. In the case of the Hulk, that hero just so happened to be able to stop an entire space slug with a single blow. Coupled with Alan Silvestri’s score and Joss Whedon’s direction, it was one of the first goosebump-producing scenes in the MCU. And it wouldn’t be the last. - Germain Lussier

Captain America: Civil War - The Airport

The Avengers had some great hero team-up action. Avengers: Age of Ultron even more so. But it wasn’t until Captain America: Civil War that some filmmakers truly took the MCU out for a spin and saw what it could do. Seeing a dozen heroes on opposite sides for a change, and kicking the crap out of each other, was one of the most exhilarating and exciting things many of us had seen in a superhero movie. It was a dream comic book panel brought to life, filled with memorable moments, humor, and dialogue. - Germain Lussier

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Vulture is Liz’s Dad

Shocking moments are kind of the bread and butter of the MCU, but few stand up to the moment Peter Parker goes to pick Liz up at her house and runs into his arch-nemesis, the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. The fact that it’s Keaton as an actor makes it that much better, but director Jon Watts flips the entire movie on its head at that moment, adding a new level of stakes and emotion we didn’t even know was possible. - Germain Lussier

Black Panther - The Busan Car Chase

Black Panther’s South Korea sequence is one of our favorite Marvel action sequences of all time, and it’s not even the big climactic fight or anything. The James Bond-ian set up is delicious enough, but from the moment Okoye rips her wig off and goes to town all the way to T’Challa’s chilling “Every breath you take is mercy from me” to the captured Klaue, it’s just nonstop delights. It’s blisteringly fast, funny, filled with great moments of action for Black Panther and Okoye, but it’s also one of the best soundtracked moments in a Marvel movie—that fantastic mix of Vince Staples and Yugen Blakrok’s “Opps” with Ludwig Göransson’s bass-pounding percussion coming together to make musical heaven. The whole thing fading out for T’Challa’s leitmotif the moment he flips the car he’s just wrecked with his suit pulse to fly through the air? Chills. - James Whitbrook

Captain America: The First Avenger - Steve and Peggy’s Long Goodbye 

The First Avenger is still my favorite Cap film—I love the World War II aesthetic, I love its embrace of the earnest idealism of Steve as a character. I love it taking the time to put Chris Evans in that original-style Cap suit just so he can do a show tune. But I love it most for Peggy Carter. She’s played to perfection by Hayley Atwell, and her relationship with Steve is so well done, right up until the very end, when Steve has to sacrifice himself to stop the Red Skull’s warplane from bombing New York. The swelling strings, Peggy tearfully re-arranging their dance date, only to tearily call out Steve’s name when his radio cuts out? My heart can’t take it. Paired with Steve’s final line at the very end of the film, “I had a date,” and there I am sobbing all over again. - James Whitbrook

Guardians of the Galaxy - Peter Opens the Awesome Mix Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy’s licensed soundtrack, and the way it’s weaved into the movie, is an incredible feat. But my favorite moment with it isn’t technically from the first “Awesome Mix” that Peter carries with him throughout the film, the last memory of his departed mother. It’s when, having embraced the new family he’s found with the Guardians at the end of the film, he opens the actual last gift his mother gave him—a final letter, alongside the second volume of the Awesome Mix. He puts it into the Milano’s sound system, tears in his eyes, and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” swells into the soundscape. A promise of new adventures—some of them good, some of them bad, some of them both—on the horizon, and no odds insurmountable by the galaxy’s newest heroes. A great cap to Peter’s arc throughout the film, paired with a classic tune. - James Whitbrook

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Scarlet Witch’s Mind Games

No one in the MCU’s ever called Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch, because the films very quickly decided to completely abandon her magical canon roots in favor of making her a generic energy caster whose powers are rather inconsistent from film to film. But, the entrance she makes in Age of Ultron was a truly inspired spin on the idea of Wanda being able to wreak havoc on those around her. Wanda being a psychic manipulator introduced an interesting new power set into the MCU—a place lousy with all manner of people who use brute strength and laser beams to fight. - Charles Pulliam-Moore

Captain America: Civil War - Zemo’s speech

One of my bigger issues with comic book movies has always been the idea that people are expendable. We’re so focused on the superheroes making cool explosions, we don’t stop to think about the individuals caught in their path. The big villain of Civil War, Helmut Zemo, was one of those individuals. As he explained to T’Challa near the end of the film, he was just one man whose world was destroyed in one of those cool explosions. He had no powers. No riches. Little influence. He used the only weapon he could—the Avengers themselves—to get revenge for his family. It was a big battle that came from a small conflict, and it showed us that one man’s grief can ignite a war. - Beth Elderkin

Thor: Ragnarok - “I’ve been falling for 30 minutes!”

The Doctor Strange scene in Thor: Ragnarok was a welcome treat—especially for someone who enjoys the guy more when he’s a supporting character. Thor hangs with Doctor Strange and gets some exposition (along with infinite amounts of beer), and then we see the return of Loki—who Doctor Strange had sent away so he and Thor could converse. That moment, Loki returns, giving us what might be one of the funniest lines in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. An under-appreciated comedic gem: “I have been falling for 30 minutes!” - Beth Elderkin

Black Panther - “What are those?”

T’Challa may be the king of Wakanda, but his fashion sense sometimes needs a little work—a fact pointed out by his far more stylish sister, Shuri, when he shows up to her high-tech lab wearing mandals. “What are thoooose!” references a Vine meme that obviously predates Black Panther, but the moment is important in the movie because it effortlessly illustrates their playful sibling relationship, while also showing us that even though Shuri’s been raised in isolated Wakanda and is a certified genius, she’s also a culturally hip, internet-obsessed teen. It’s also probably the funniest moment in the entire movie. - Cheryl Eddy

Thor Ragnarok - Just Korg

From the moment fans heard Taika Waititi would be directing Thor: Ragnarok, there were hopes that he’d be showing off his much-loved comedic skills in front of the camera, too. Waititi did not disappoint, popping up to voice Korg, a good-natured alien who resembles a “pile of rocks” (in his words) that Thor encounters when he’s forced to be a gladiator on Sakaar. Korg is the perfect addition to the humor-focused Ragnarok, and also the perfect supporting role for Waititi. We never see his face, but we don’t need to; his offbeat delivery is unmistakable from the first moment he’s onscreen. - Cheryl Eddy

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We don’t have the clip yet but, Goose is good.
Photo: Disney

Captain Marvel - Delicious Tesseract

Captain Marvel drops some pretty serious hints that Goose the cat is not, in fact, just a cat—but the true power of the Flerken is revealed in the most hilarious, startling, and honestly kind of gross manner. You’ll never look at your own kitty the same way again after seeing Goose’s maw open wide, sprout tentacles, and gobble up the tesseract (depositing it in one of its handy internal pocket dimensions) to keep it away from those pesky Kree. - Cheryl Eddy

Thor: Ragnarok - “He’s a friend from work!”

We love Thor: Ragnarok, if you didn’t notice, and another funny line from the film gets even better when you realize the touching story behind it. The moment Gladiator Hulk comes into the ring, Thor is ecstatic, screaming “Yes!” at the top of his lungs. As the Grandmaster sits—looking a bit confused—and Loki tries to escape, Thor shouts out that the two of them know each other because “He’s a friend from work!” At San Diego Comic-Con in 2017, Chris Hemsworth shared where that line came from: “We had a young kid, a Make-A-Wish kid on set that day,” Hemsworth told EW. “He goes, ‘You know, you should say, ‘He’s a friend from work!’” It’s one of the best lines in the movie, and the heartwarming story behind it makes it equally memorable. - Beth Elderkin

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Black Widow’s Reveal

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was one of the first examples of Marvel Studios setting out to make a movie about superheroes feel decidedly non-comic book-y. Being a pseudo-spy thriller of sorts, the film relied on excellent fight choreography, misdirection, and intrigue rather than dazzling special effects to keep the action pumping—and while Captain America’s fight in the elevator is very nice, it doesn’t have the same “oh shit” factor that Black Widow’s surprise reveal toward the end of the film does. Even though Winter Soldier’s primarily a movie about Steve’s relationship to SHIELD and Bucky, it’s the movie where Widow’s given the most time to shine and demonstrate what it is that makes her such a vital part of the original Avengers team. - Charles Pulliam-Moore

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Steve budges Mjölnir

In retrospect, you can kind of look at this scene at the tiniest bit of foreshadowing to what happens to Thor in Ragnarok because, in that one moment, the god of thunder knows that his worthiness isn’t entirely absolute and, much to his surprise, noted mortal Steve Rogers might be able to move Mjölnir. More than that, though, the scene’s a choice example of the Avengers’ usually off-screen downtime, where they have a chance to just mess around like the group of dorky friends that they are—and the MCU could always use a little bit more of that. - Charles Pulliam-Moore

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