There are plenty of times in life where patience is a virtue. The start of a Marvel film is not one of those times.
When it comes to Marvel movies—and all mainstream blockbuster films, if we’re being honest—it’s important to hook the audience right away. We need to know that the time commitment is going to be worth it, and the first few minutes need to convince us of that.
Fortunately, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has got their opening scenes down to a fine art. The opening sequences for MCU films have successfully enticed viewers in varying ways, from funny character-establishing moments to heartbreaking setups.
Which of the openings across all the MCU films stick with us to this day? Here are our picks for the best Marvel movie opening scenes.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy struck audiences in a completely new way when it was first released. It showed us that other worlds existed within the Marvel universe, and it paved the way for the journey of a rag-tag bunch of misfits who formed the titular team.
After the death of his mother, we find Peter Quill attempting to locate an orb from a long-perished city. However, as he puts his headphones on, Quill begins listening to “Come and Get Your Love,” dancing to the music and generally having a good time as he retrieves the artifact.
That scene perfectly sets the tone of the film. Instead of being a space film that took itself too seriously, Guardians of the Galaxy promised a sarcastic adventure akin to Indiana Jones in space.
7. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Thor’s image suffered in the films before Thor: Ragnarok because he came off as too dour and too moody. However, Taika Waititi came along to fix that, and he did it right from the movie’s opening sequence.
As the film opens, we find Thor narrating his adventure up to when he finds himself trapped in a cage by Surtur, which is then revealed to be Thor talking to himself before Surtur drops him out of the cage to chat.
Of course, Thor escapes and calls upon Mjolnir to fight the beasts that threaten him, all set to “Immigrant Song” by Led Zepplin.
The whole affair is wonderfully Taika, infused with the director’s signature oddball nature and successful in how it evolves Thor into a new character that has shed the boredom of his former self and taken on new life.
6. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
Even before walking into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we knew we were in for a weird journey through the magical multiverse. But who expected infinite realities to drop straight out of the gate?
As America Chavez and Doctor Strange run towards a glowing book, we realize that this isn’t “our” Doctor—he’s a variant with a ponytail, and we’re in the middle of a dimensional chase into the multiverse and the dangers of America Chavez’ powers in traveling across it.
The opening is very Sam Raimi and the flare of Raimi’s direction showcases itself quickly with spectacular visuals while also setting the maddening tone of the rest of the film.
5. Black Panther (2018)
Few MCU movie openings set a standard for the rest of the film in the same way that Black Panther does.
Here, we watch the history of Wakanda turn into King T’Chaka’s visit with his brother N’Jobu in Oakland, California… where N’Jobu had hoarded weapons to use in the violent race battles.
The scene is intense as T’Chaka uses his inside man to expose N’Jobu and tell him that he knows of N’Jobu’s crimes against Wakanda.
It may not have the explosive opening that other MCU films have, but it paints a solid picture of the early 1990s and the tensions that led a Wakandan prince to betray his orders and begin taking a side.
4. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
The opening to Avengers: Endgame was always going to be watched with great interest since the previous film left us with a cliffhanger and several story threads still needing to be wrapped up.
But, against expectations, Avengers: Endgame didn’t open with a grand fight, nor did it open with heroes discussing what to do with half the world gone. Instead, we witness a tragic scene that starts with a happy Clint Barton teaching his daughter how to shoot arrows.
He steps out to retrieve an arrow and turns around… to find that his whole family is gone. No warnings, no sounds. Just disappeared.
He shouts and runs, but he doesn’t know where to. He’s distressed, confused, and only the audience knows what’s happened—and that what makes our watching him so horrifying.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
After the iconic opening to the first Guardians of the Galaxy, the sequel had to go bigger and better in its re-introduction of the team.
After a brief interlude in which we see Quill’s mother being shown a strange-looking plant by his father, we jump to Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Drax, and Baby Groot about to defend the Sovereign’s batteries from an inter-dimensional creature.
The creature arrives, and ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” follows Baby Groot as he dances around the fringes of the battle in one continuous shot, ending with the team beating the creature and winning the day.
It’s funny, weird, and utterly James Gunn, which is why the Guardians movies work despite their uniqueness from other superhero movies.
2. Loki (2021–Present)
It may not be the biggest battle or most visceral opening in the MCU, but it’s still one of Marvel’s best opening scenes. Here, we watch Loki as he steals the Tesseract and disappears during the events of Avengers: Endgame, only to end up in the desert faced with the TVA.
Loki heads from his quest of “Glorious Purpose” to finding himself hopelessly lost in the one place that exists to keep the timeline safe from rogue variants—and the series gets going right away. There’s no dense plotting or warning of what’s to come.
Because of that, Loki works from the start to become the best MCU series so far, as we’re shocked at Loki’s arrest and invested in the journey he takes into a completely new part of the MCU.
1. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
It’s been a few years, but there still hasn’t been an MCU movie opening as iconic or powerful as the introduction of Thanos on the Asgardian ship, taking what remains of the people of Asgard to Earth.
In this opening, we find Thor defeated, Loki trying to weasel his way from Thanos’ clutches, and Hulk being mercilessly beaten by the Mad Titan, all before he snaps Loki’s neck and blows the ship apart using his newly acquired Infinity Stone.
As the first full introduction of the MCU’s biggest threat, Thanos is a power unlike any we’ve seen to this point. The manner in which he massacres the two strongest Avengers is the perfect shock we need to understand his might and capacity.