[Note: With the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on Friday, we’ve updated and re-posted this article.]
Every summer, we’re inundated with a slew of big studio blockbusters that attempt to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the competition with eye-popping visuals and lots and lots of money up on the screen. The trend began with Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, which took the box office by storm in the summer of 1975 but now feels absolutely quaint in comparison to modern blockbuster fare. With technology having advanced to the point where seeing the impossible onscreen has become commonplace, competition is fierce to create something exciting and new in the way of action set pieces. While character may be the most vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to how impactful a film can be, explosions and action sequences are still of great importance to any studio wanting to throw its hat into the crowded summer ring.
Given that Marvel Studios is currently the most consistent blockbuster-creator around, we’ve come to expect thrilling and jaw-dropping set pieces from each and every one of their films (as evidenced by Matt’s MCU Retrospective)—especially when it comes to this week’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In anticipation of that film’s release, now feels like an appropriate time to look back on the action set pieces of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films thus far and single out the best of the best.
In compiling a list of Marvel’s best action sequences, it becomes apparent that bigger doesn’t always equal better. The studio’s Phase One films kicked off with modest means—freshman efforts from a studio that had no track record and was working with “lower tier” source material. Over the course of their tenure, however, a variety of directors and a confidence in the material has resulted in action sequences of all shapes and sizes, offering up a swell collection of memorable set pieces in Marvel Studios’ history thus far.