Superhero movies often excel at making a grand entrance, hooking the audience within the first few minutes. They do so with some spectacular action scenes or just some thrilling or emotional moments that get viewers interested in seeing what’s in store for them.
From the first Guardians of the Galaxy‘s giddy dance number to the brutal assassination of The Comedian in Watchmenhere’s a list of the 10 best opening scenes in superhero movies.
10. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
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Zack Snyder’s crossover epic begins with Bruce Wayne recounting a dream he had about the death of his parents. This sequence juxtaposes Thomas and Martha’s murders with Bruce’s fall into a bat-filled cave, symbolizing his descent into grief following this tragedy. Each frame of this beautiful scene looks like a panel from an actual comic book, and the somber song that plays in this scene captures the loss of Bruce’s innocence at the hands of a random criminal.
And with the swarm of bats carrying him into the light, audiences see his rise out of that darkness as Batman. But this proves to be a brief glimmer of hope, as the film later shows how far the Dark Knight has fallen after facing so much tragedy and heartbreak in the pursuit of this “beautiful lie.”
9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
As the Guardians fight a wild Abilisk trying to feed on the Sovereign’s batteries, baby Groot spends the mission dancing around to Electric Light Orchestra’s Mr. Blue Sky. In one glorious take, the camera follows baby Groot as he jams out across the battlefield while his teammates deal with the interdimensional beast in the background. And with the colorful and explosive visuals accompanying it, this upbeat song turns the scene into a cosmic rock concert, making it the perfect contrast to this terrifying, high-stakes battle.
8. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Though he finds himself imprisoned by the evil Surtur at the start of this threequel, Thor easily breaks free and battles the demon lord and his army of monsters to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. But with Heimdall not manning the Bifrost, Thor must still fend off Surtur’s infernal legions and escape a Fire Dragon with jet-like “thrusters” on its back.
This scene oozes such excitement and imagination that it reassures audiences that this film will be a return to form for Thor. Not only do the visuals pop more than the previous two Thor films, but it also shows that the God of Thunder can be funny as well.
7. The Batman (2022)
In a stark deviation from typical superhero movies, The Batman starts like a horror movie by showing the Riddler spying on the mayor of Gotham through his point of view. Once the mayor is left alone in his apartment, the film shows the Riddler hiding in the room with him, and the audience can only watch and wait for the killer to strike down his prey.
The scene is a masterwork of Hitchcockian suspense that is only made creepier by the Riddler’s heavy breathing and the classical piece Ave Maria playing in the background. It also establishes that this is a different kind of Batman movie, one that has more similarities to The Silence of the Lambs than your usual cape-and-spandex popcorn movie.
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Opening in a postapocalyptic world ruled by Sentinels, Days of Future Past shows the surviving X-Men face off against a trio of these killer robots. The X-Men put up quite a fight as they use their powers to help one another (Blink’s use of portals makes the scene especially eye-catching). However, what really grabs the viewer’s attention is how easily the Sentinels overwhelm and slaughter their superpowered foes, including Iceman.
But just when it seems like all hope is lost, Kitty surprises everyone by sending Bishop’s mind back in time and making it so the fight never even happened. This scene effectively shows just how terrifying the Sentinels are, with just three of them defeating the X-Men with their adaptive capabilities. It raises the stakes effectively, and brings a sense of danger and alarm that permeates the entire movie.
5. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Dark Knight Risesthe final film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, begins with a CIA agent interrogating three men said to be working for Bane on board a flying plane. But when one of the prisoners does speak up, it is revealed that this henchman is Bane himself. The masked villain catches everyone by surprise again when his soldiers come down from a much bigger plane and shoot them down.
Not only that, Bane’s men latch onto the CIA aircraft, drag it across the sky, and cut it open until it’s nothing more than just a giant tin can. What’s even more impressive is that this scene had zero CGI. The filmmakers actually took a prop plane, ripped it apart, and dropped it from the sky.
4. Watchmen (2009)
Zack Snyder’s vision of Watchmen naturally begins with the death of the Comedian, Eddie Blake, at the hands of an unknown assailant. As Blake watches TV in his high-rise apartment, audiences are given a glimpse into this alternate America in which Nixon is still president and the world faces nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The scene then gives audiences an ultraviolent fight between Blake and the intruder, with exceptional choreography and Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable playing in the background.
This one scene features so many bits of foreshadowing and references to the source material that it feels as though it was taken straight from the pages of Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel. It all culminates with the Comedian getting thrown out of the window and to his death, with his iconic blood-stained smiley face button falling with him.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
After Peter Quill watches his mother die and gets kidnapped by the Ravagers, the film skips to the present day as he explores the planet Morag. Once the grown-up Star-Lord finds an ancient temple, he puts on his headphones and listens to Redbone’s Come and Get Your Love on his Walkman.
With Quill dancing without a care and using an alien rodent like a microphone, this unexpected and silly scene introduces the film’s easygoing hero and sets the lighthearted tone of the movie. From this moment on, audiences knew that they were about to watch something special.
2. Avengers: Infinity War (2019)
As an Asgardian distress call echoes in the background, Avengers: Infinity War effectively sets the stakes and dark tone of its story in its first few seconds. Thanos and his Black Order first appear on the Asgardian ship, having slaughtered half of Thor’s people and taken down the God of Thunder himself. Thanos then displays his frightening strength by taking down the Hulk without breaking a sweat. Not only that, but he impales Heimdall and snaps Loki’s neck right in front of Thor.
So in just the first scene, Thanos defeats two of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and kills some of the franchise’s beloved characters. And as he claims two of the six Infinity Stones, Thanos already establishes himself as the most terrifying threat the Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen at that point.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Christopher Nolan’s classic film begins with a team of robbers pulling off a bank heist for the Joker. But nothing is ever as it seems, as the bank is revealed to be owned by the mafia, and the robbers kill each other one by one for their shares of the loot. There are also many stellar action pieces, as two robbers zipline between two skyscrapers, and one drives a school bus through the bank.
In the end, the Joker reveals himself to be the last surviving robber and makes his escape by squeezing into a fleet of other school buses. The ending is far-fetched, but this scene still makes for an unforgettable and chilling introduction to one of the best superhero movies ever made.