When Marvel sold "Avengers: Infinity War" as the movie that will forever change the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they weren't remotely joking. This event has to be seen to be believed -- but be warned. There is A LOT going on. Some scenes will make you fist-pump in your seat, some will bring you to the edge of it. Most will just leave you in a state of "holy sh**, that just happened." Here are those scenes.
Hulk vs. Thanos
...And Hulk loses. It's one hell of an entrance for Thanos, considering he's spent most of the MCU confined to a space chair. Not only does he beat some considerable sh** out of the Big Guy, he also gives Hulk a case of PTSD, forcing Banner's rage monster to stay largely in Banner for the rest of the film.
How do you establish that Thanos (Josh Brolin) is the biggest bad in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Well, how about by having him kill off Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who up until this point had been the greatest and most beloved/most hated villain in the MCU? This happens in the opening moments of "Avengers: Infinity War," and after a brief fake-out with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thanos crushes Loki's neck like an overripe grape. Now, we've seen Loki fake his own death before, but this seems pretty final; there's even a shot that lingers on his mangled neck and mouth and nose oozing blood. Less clear is what happened to the other Asgardian all-stars -- most notably Korg (Taika Waititi), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Miek (Samuel Vincent) -- but our fingers are crossed.
Tony and Strange Finally Meet (and Argue)
One of the more unexpected joys of "Infinity War" is the interaction between Tony Stark and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). While the characters are, at least superficially, similar (egomaniacal men who find physical and emotional redemption in the oddest of places), they clash spectacularly. Early in the movie, Strange even refers to Tony as a "douchebag;" and their bristly repartee continues throughout the rest of the film, including -- but not limited to -- their time on an out-of-control spaceship and on a hostile alien land. Just because they're in mortal danger doesn't mean they can't quip.
Stark Puts on His New Suit Like a Badass
We can't emphasize how badass, fist-pumping a moment this is in the film's first act. After meeting Strange for the first time, and catching Banner up on post-"Ultron" events (The Avengers have broken up and all that), Tony leads Strange, Wong, and Banner out of the Sanctum and onto a post-9/11 looking street being whipped by wind. Civilians scatter as one of Thanos' space donuts looms over the street. Ebony Maw starts talking smack, and Tony puts on his shiny new nano suit for the first time, which enables him to become that action figure you'd see in toy stores that has weapons and accessories not in the movie. Only this time, he has them -- maybe too many.
Spidey in Space? Spidey in Space.
It's a bit of a leap to go from the grounded "Homecoming" ("I'm just a superhero trying to be a high schooler, you guys!") to putting on the Iron Spider suit and hitching a ride on an enemy spaceship that looks like an evil keyring, but here we are. The moment Pete swings in to help Stark mid-battle with a foe, to standing alongside Iron Man and Strange, fans are given one of the movie's most comic book-y moments. And gotta love the way Peter uses yet another classic '80s sci-fi movie to inspire a way to stop a threat to the team.
Every Gamora and Thanos Scene
Gamora is easily the least well written member of the Guardians (minus her great heart-to-heart with her feuding sister, Nebula, in "Vol. 2.") even though she's played by one of the best actors in the MCU. So it's more than welcoming that she and Zoe Saldana are given scenes with real meat, especially the moments with her father, Thanos, that approach (and achieve) tragedy. Try not to feel your heart ache when she asks Star-Lord to vow to kill her should Thanos capture her. Or when, you know, Thanos captures her.
Cap and Black Widow's Introductions
It's obscene, in a good way, how many "eff yeah!" fist pumps this movie gets from its audiences. One of its best is Cap (sorry, Nomad's) entrance. As Scarlet Witch and Vision are being hunted and pummeled by two key members of the Black Army, one throws a spear -- and Cap catches it before stepping into the light wearing a "come at me, bro" face. Even better? He throws it back, only to have Black Widow catch it this time (ahem, "eff yeah!") as she proceeds to kickpunch the bad guys before Falcon shows up. Yeah, this movie's great.
Rocket and Thor's Heart-to-Heart
Rocket (once again voiced by Bradley Cooper) has long been one of the more sympathetic characters in the MCU; writer-director James Gunn has gone as far as to call him the heart of the Guardians. And so there's a very brief, but touching, moment when Rocket talks to Thor about what's happened to Asgard and his family (planet destroyed, everybody murdered). Rocket doesn't say explicitly that the same thing has happened to him, but we know he's a one-of-a-kind genetic experiment that has gone through all sorts of pain (both emotional and physical). This scene is about what's unspoken as much as what's spoken; all the hurt and sadness that hangs in the air between characters. And it's part of what makes "Infinity War" so special.
Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts
It cannot be overstated what a joy it is to watch Doctor Strange in "Infinity War." Sure, his standalone movie was fine and featured a great introduction to the arrogant magician, but in this movie -- he's the full-on master of the mystical arts. His powers have clearly grown and matured since the last time we saw him. One of the greatest examples of this is, following Thanos regaining the gauntlet, when Strange tries to take him on alone, first growing numerous arms and then multiplying himself to try and hogtie the villain. It's one of the more visually dazzling sequences in the film and proof that, sequel or not, Doctor Strange is one of the most exciting characters in the MCU right now.
Groot Makes the Handle for Stormbreaker
For most of "Infinity War's" runtime, teenage Groot (again voiced by Vin Diesel) has his nose stuck in a vintage handheld videogame (undoubtedly one of Quill's earthly treasures). He refuses to engage with the other characters or the larger threat. That is, until the situation with Thor and his new hammer, Stormbreaker, proves dire. That's when Groot puts the two halves of the weapon together (searing him painfully) and chops off his own arm to form its handle. Not only is it an impressive emotional moment (no matter how aloof and detached he may seem, Groot gives a sh**), but it's also just so, so cool. He, too, gets a hero moment.
The Black Army vs. Wakanda and the Avengers
From Black Panther ordering a section of the energy dome protecting his country to be deactivated to give the heroes a brief tactical advantage that also makes their job that much harder, to the Black Army digging under the dome to crush some Avengers, this battle has EVERYTHING. It's the Stefon night club pitch of third act superhero movie set pieces.
The Way They Take Out the Black Army
Cap and Black Widow are unfortunately relegated to being set piece figure heads, delivering more punches than meaningful dialogue. But their fights against the Black Army and their alien dog-like horde are *chef's kiss.
Bucky Uses Rocket as a Weapon
Considering how much importance Bucky's rewiring at the hands of T'Challa's brilliant sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) has been given during the mid-credits sequences of both "Captain America: Civil War" and "Black Panther," you'd think the Avenger Formerly Known as Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) would have more to do in "Avengers: Infinity War." Sadly, that just isn't the case. He basically just looks cool (that new arm!) and fights a lot. But, he does get one of the most triumphant moments in the movie, when he bonds briefly with Rocky (the raccoon asks him how much his arm would cost) and then picks up the Guardian, spinning him around while they both fire machine guns at a rampaging alien army. It's a brief moment, but one that firms up their friendship and makes for a laugh-out-loud, cheer-out-loud thrill.
Team Black Widow vs. Proxima Midnight
Who doesn't want to see Natasha, Scarlet Witch, and Okoye take on the evil Proxima in a three-on-one-battle that results in one of the genre's most satisfying villain deaths ever?
Thor Returns to Earth
When Eitri the Dwarf King (Peter Dinklage) describes the properties of Stormbreaker to Thor, he notes that it could possibly open up the Bifrost, a portal that could allow Thor to go anywhere in the universe. So, you know where Thor is going when he finally gets a hold of the magical weapon: Wakanda. But it doesn't make his sudden appearance in the movie's third act any less thrilling. In fact, when he shows up, jolted by a rainbow-colored beam, joined by Rocket and Groot (his new erstwhile companions), it is arguably the most pump-your-first-in-the-air moment in the entire movie. It's such a striking image, loaded with so much emotional power, that you can't help but give your best Asgardian war chant. Or just yell. Why don't you just yell.