During the last decade, after watching each new superhero teaser or trailer or film, many conversations started with, “Dude, did you see…” We would think about the moments that got our blood pumping, that satisfied an indescribable need for a film to just kick our ass. So, whether they be teasers, trailers, or scenes from films, these are our top 10 best moments from the last decade.
10. Iron Man Cam
Casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark was the coup among coups for the decade, paired with the Iron Man suit, which is essentially a hot rod with rockets that you wear, we got the ultimate embodiment of cool in the 2008 film. However, since he had a helmet on, we wouldn’t see Downey’s face while he was kicking ass. Director Jon Favreau and his team created an unusual “cockpit view,” so we could see Tony inside the Iron Man suit. The space around him seemed bigger, giving the audience the idea that Tony’s ideas and technology were so big, they would extend out from the cramped helmet. The image of Downey’s face surrounded by the Iron Man’s heads up display is just as iconic to the film as the suit itself.
9. Watchmen Trailer
Clues to what the Watchmen movie would be like were few and far between while the film was in production. Would Zack Snyder stay true to the legendary comic? What would the suits looks like? Could Alan Moore’s “unfilmable” magnum opus finally work on the big screen? Those questions were put to rest by the trailer, which debuted in front The Dark Knight for record-breaking opening weekend audiences. The trailer proudly touts the success of the comic and hints at a truly epic movie experience. Sales of the book went through the roof due to this expertly crafted trailer. Regardless of how the final product turned out, the trailer is one of the best moments of the decade. Also, the use of “The End is the Beginning is the End” by The Smashing Pumpkins from the Batman and Robin soundtrack was a nice touch.
8. Steve Rogers Jumps On Grenade
Marvel and director Joe Johnston took a big gamble “shrinking” Chris Evans to turn him into the pre-super-soldier-serum Steve Rogers, and it paid off brilliantly. To see Evans play the good and honest young man instead of a stand-in was terrific and took the movie to another level. The boot camp training scenes were especially great at showing that Rogers is a smart hero, even without muscles. The way Evans leaps without even thinking spoke volumes about the character, no hesitation. Tommy Lee Jones’ character says it takes guts to win a war. I think lil’ Steve passed the test in this unforgettable moment in Captain America.
7. Berserker Rage
I was lucky enough to see a rough teaser of X2 at the 2002 San Diego Comic Con. Filming was still underway and there wasn’t much to show, but they had already shot much of the attack on the mansion. Needless to say, the audience was blown away by seeing Wolverine finally going “berserk.” The late night raid with Wolverine as the sole protector of Xavier’s students is one of the best scenes in all of superhero film. The animal is let out and Logan becomes an unstoppable force, slicing anything and everything off the bad guys. Leaping from balconies, sprinting down hallways, killing anyone who tries to harm the kids. The scenes also made Hugh Jackman’s roar of rage one of the best aspects of his Wolverine.
See the full scene at JoBlo.com
6. The Dark Knight Teaser
In this case, actions do not speak louder than words. Where most teaser trailers show micro snippets of footage while music plays, Christopher Nolan almost goes the opposite route with the teaser for The Dark Knight. He’s very smart to know that an audience will immediately recognize the Bat symbol, and Nolan slowly reveals it with blasts of light coupled with Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s heart pumping score. But that’s not what makes this teaser special. It’s the fact that it reminds you how good the writing is. You only hear Bruce and Alfred talking, and you wonder who or what they’re talking about. Then you get the best line in the teaser, “Some men just want to watch the world burn,” and are filled with an uneasy feeling, as the Bat symbol is fully revealed, only to be blown apart while the Joker speaks. If you need an example of “less is more,” these 55-seconds speak volumes.
5. Introducing Nightcrawler
X-Men was a solid film and setup a decent universe for many more adventures in sequels. Armed with a bigger budget and more time, Bryan Singer set out to make a spectacular sequel that would live up to the potential that was only hinted at in the first film. To open X2, he chose to introduce a new character, there would be no Wolverine or Professor X to hold your hand for the trip back into the land of the X-Men, instead the audience is immediately thrust a scary blue guy who can teleport into other rooms and away from bullets, and he’s attacking the White House! He’s gonna kill the President! Singer opens X2 with an operatic action sequence that is brilliantly choreographed and executed.
4. The Joker’s Magic Trick
In The Dark Knight, we first glimpse the Joker during a fairly fiendish bank heist. We get that he’s crazy. We get that he’s dangerous. He’ll kill his own men and terrorize innocents. But, only when he strolls right into a meeting of Gotham City’s worst of the worst, do we truly meet the Clown Prince of Crime. What’s so special about the scene is that: 1) The Joker is never shown as a tough guy, he’s always kinda frail looking, but in reality he’s MUCH physically stronger than he looks. He just chooses the right times to show it. In this case, grabbing the goon and slamming his face down on a pencil. 2) He murders the goon in a sick and grotesque way. 3) He does it with a sense of humor. He makes a joke out of the whole thing. Even the audience doesn’t know whether to laugh or be shocked. They were both. It was such an uneasy moment in the movie theater and the action was such a simple move, you bet your ass The Joker had the mob’s and the audience’s undivided attention.
3. Spider-Man 2 Train Fight
The impetus behind making a comic-to-film adaptation should be an attempt to capture the spirit of what you’re adapting, using the medium of film to create a experience comparable to reading one of the better stories or sequences from your source material. Spider-Man didn’t quite make it. Much of Spidey’s humor was there and the web-slinging was top-notch, but it really was just a rehearsal for the accomplishments in Spider-Man 2. Pound for pound, shot for shot, punch for punch, the fight sequence between Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus on the train may be the greatest display of superheroics ever put on-screen. Yes, even better than Superman catching the helicopter. The fight is so well choreographed and each character is using every tool they have to win; it utilizes the best movie magic to evoke the great fights in the comics. And writing this took forever because I kept watching the YouTube clip. Still feels the same as it did in 2004.
2. The Incredibles
The Pixar film is everything you wanted out of your superhero movies but were afraid to ask, full of moments you wished for in other superhero movies. The the film is very innocent without being naïve; it’s upfront and honest about the characters. It showed vigilantism as a way of life in a way no other film from the decade captured so well. Of course Dash wants to play football, he knows he’s good at it and would run faster than any of the other kids, he’s just being honest to himself. Of course Frozone and Mr. Incredible lie to their wives about bowling to sit in the car listening to the police scanner, hoping for a chance to rescue someone, they’re just being honest to themselves. They can’t help it. What’s funny is that even though it’s an animated feature, The Incredibles is the most human and realistic depiction of superheroes and their daily lives. Though it’s not based on any previous comic book, The Incredibles shows us exactly just how it’s done.
1. P.S. Nick Fury
Great casting aside, this scene tops our list of moments because it works and nails it on so many levels. In superhero comics, the last page is one of the most important; you gotta get your reader to come back next issue. The last page might be a cliffhanger or the promise of something even bigger and better to come. In Marvel’s 2008 film, Iron Man, they set out to do just that. They set up the world of Tony Stark, but what’s the next level? The post-credits scene with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Tony Stark announces Marvel’s mega-ballsy, all-in promise of not only another Iron Man adventure, but one with The Avengers. What would that entail? Who would be on the team? Who would play each of the heroes? So many questions arose, but pure, child-like excitement and anticipation washed over the audience members who knew what was up. To others, the sight of Sam Jackson may have elicited a confused, “Huh-what?” But, in no time, I’m sure one of their friends told them all about The Avengers. In the age of internet spoilers, spy set photos, and all the bullshit, this was one of the best kept secrets in all of movies. We had no idea what was going to happen. In a way, the reaction was also of appreciation, fans collectively nodding to Marvel, going, “Nice one, guys. You got us. And, we’re in for the ride.”
Check back tomorrow for Earth’s Mightiest Decade — Part 5