MCU Phase 1: Is This Really the Most Epic Major Fight Scene?

Now that Marvel has dropped the first Phase 4 trailer for Black Widow, it’s time to travel the quantum realm and go back to Phase 1 to relive the best of the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Back then, Marvel Studios was still a startup, but it was performing well considering. It all began with Iron Man in 2008, which made the MCU an immediate hit, although some of the movies that followed that up are generally not regarded as the studio’s best work.

However, it all came together, in more ways than one, with The Avengers in 2012 — so it’s no surprise that Screen Rant selects the climactic fight as the best of Phase 1. 

What are Marvel phases?

Kevin Feige speaks onstage
Kevin Feige | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

So far, Marvel Studios has released 23 movies, with the most recent being Spider-Man: Far From Home. With so much storytelling to accomplish, the studio broke up its roster into phases, not unlike a construction crew.  Phase 1 was all about setting up the core Avengers via the movies Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2 (which introduced Black Widow), Thor, (where we met Hawkeye) Captain America: The First Avenger and finally, The Avengers.

Phase 2 advanced these core characters and introduced some new ones a lot of people weren’t familiar with at the time. The roster was Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. 

Phase 3, which built up to the ultimate showdown,  is the portion Marvel just finished. Its movies were Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, Avengers; Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home

Phase 4 sets up new teams and introduces Disney+ to the mix. The movies are Black Widow, The Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Spider-Man 3 and Thor: Love and Thunder. The TV shows are The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, WandaVision (which will lead into Multiverse of Madness) and Hawkeye.

How did Phase 1 play out?

Although it is well known that Disney owns Marvel, Disney did not enter the picture until the very end of Phase 1. Most of the movies of Phase 1 were distributed by Paramount, with the exception of The Incredible Hulk, which was distributed by Universal because that studio has the distribution rights to the solo Hulk movies. 

By now, some of these movies, especially The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, are generally thought of as Marvel’s weaker work. This was before the studio had truly found its feet and it was still figuring itself out. The only one of the bunch that is widely thought of as a home run was Iron Man. 

At least, that was the case until The Avengers came out. By that point, Marvel was firing on all thrusters, bringing together its heroes and villains for a showdown that pleased just about everybody. 

The Avengers vs. the universe

The 2012  film threw out crowd-pleasing moments like so much confetti. Even the Hulk, who had struggled through two movies that few could wholeheartedly embrace, seemed reinvigorated with Mark Ruffalo and the Hulk/Thor fight. And even that paled in comparison to the final showdown with Loki and his army of Chitauri in New York.

That battle had such ramifications it haunted Tony Stark in particular throughout Phase 2. 

One could argue that the Chitarui were rather nondescript alien baddies that were only a match for the Avengers by dint of their sheer numbers. But then there was that moment when the Hulk flung Loki around like the toddlers torturing the toys in Toy Story 3.

Thus victorious, the Avengers lived on to fight another day – but not before chowing down on shawarma, which is arguably still the funniest end credits scene in the MCU. 

So when it comes to the fight scenes of Phase 1, it’s really no contest,  especially when you consider that’s where Thanos made his first appearance, looking rather different before he took on the visage of Josh Brolin. His day would come later, but for the moment, The Avengers – the team  and the movie – triumphed.