Top 10 Best Superhero Opening Scenes
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Superhero Opening Scenes.
For this list, we’ll be looking at full introductory sequences from superhero movies that make a terrific first impression. However, we’re just looking at live-action films this time.
Which opening scene made you excited to continue? Head to the comments and let us know!
#10: I’m Batman
With his signature style, Tim Burton showed audiences a new type of superhero film in 1989. The opening sequence of “Batman” eases us in as a family attempts to navigate Gotham’s dark and gloomy streets. After their robbery, we see the Dark Knight prey on the muggers. The use of heavy shadows and clever camera framing paints Batman as an otherworldly figure; something to be feared by those with ill intent. Danny Elfman’s playful yet fantastical score helps give the character a larger-than-life quality. All of these elements come to a head as the caped crusader dangles a crook off the side of a building and utters two now-iconic words: “I’m Batman.”
#9: Cab Ride
For a hero as irreverent and chaotic as Deadpool, his first solo outing needed to capture just that. Thankfully, we got the gist of Wade Wilson in the opening few minutes. Following slow-mo shots of carnage and meta credits set to Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” (already off to a great start), we see the mayhem’s preceding events. First is the cab ride with Dopinder where Wade doles out some romantic advice and realizes he forgot the majority of his weapons. Already the tone for “Deadpool” has been beautifully set: things are going to get hilariously violent. And as Wade drops into the car of his soon-to-be victims, that’s exactly what happens.
#8: Mirror Dimension Fight
“Doctor Strange” (2016)
Anyone familiar with the Master of the Mystic Arts knew “Doctor Strange” would have some pretty trippy sequences. Anyone unfamiliar had it made very clear to them during the opening sequence. After Kaecilius murders Kamar-Taj’s librarian and steals rules for a ritual, he and his followers are pursued by a hooded Ancient One. By trapping them in the Mirror Dimension, the Ancient One nearly gains the upper hand. The city block folds in on itself as she battles Kaecilius’ minions, using fan-like projections to batter them continuously. Not only does it simply look awesome, but it immediately got us intrigued for the magical side of Marvel we hadn’t really seen yet.
#7: A Weathered Hero
The world of “Logan” is much darker than what we saw in any of the “X-Men” movies. The movie impresses that on the audience from the very beginning. As criminals attempt to steal the hubcaps off his limousine, a grizzled, exhausted Logan tries to make them see reason. Thanks to the R rating, the ensuing fight is the first time we get to see what Wolverine’s claws can really do to someone. It is completely visceral and a sight to behold. But the opening gets props for more than just its violence. With his healing factor not what it used to be, this isn’t the flashy, undefeatable hero we’d seen before. Life has certainly taken its toll, both on his body and his spirit.
#6: Mr. Blue Sky
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017)
With the team now together, James Gunn knew exactly how to set up their second adventure: with a scene that perfectly encapsulates their dynamic. After an interesting scene of set-up involving Star-Lord's parents, we jump to the Guardians in present day as they prepare for a job. From Quill’s dissatisfaction of Gamora encroaching on his gun-wielding territory to Drax’s sensitive nipples, there’s definitely a lot of Gunn’s humor. However, the clear scene-stealer is Baby Groot, who dances to Electric Light Orchestra’s endlessly catchy “Mr. Blue Sky” while his teammates fight for their lives in the background. Not only is it cute as hell, but it’s also a terrific use of space. And every member gets to have a fun interaction with the little guy.
#5: Riddler Murder / Opening Monologue
“The Batman” (2022)
Although we’ve had many Batman movies in recent memory, Matt Reeves’ take on Gotham’s vigilante offered something new while feeling familiar. The opening sequence introduces its enigmatic villain and hero in two very different but equally compelling ways. Riddler’s murder of Gotham’s mayor is a tremendous case study in lighting and staging. Bruce’s monologue set over several crimes is even more fascinating. Like Tim Burton’s “Batman,” we see the terrifying impact Bruce has left on criminals. But as he monologues, with each perpetrator scared of even the possibility of Batman appearing, it’s shown to be on a much wider scale. The entire sequence is a slow-burn build-up that gradually pulls you into the corrupt, crime-ridden city.
#4: The Comedian’s Demise
There was a LOT of alternate US history to cover for a “Watchmen” adaptation. Luckily, Zack Snyder and his team were able to condense and convey it through this opening scene. We learn part of the world’s current state through the news report the Comedian watches. But his evening is interrupted by an absolutely brutal beatdown courtesy of a mysterious assailant. The fight is signature Snyder, with the slow-mo shot of the emblematic button exciting the comic nerd in all of us. Afterwards, we get the world events that led to this moment in some of the best opening credits ever. Set to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” it beautifully summarizes the world’s state leading into this dark superhero tale.
#3: Nightcrawler’s White House Attack
Following the events of the 2000 original, the human perception of mutants was at an all time low. Matters weren’t helped when Nightcrawler attacked the White House. But for us viewers, it’s a stunning sequence. The fight choreography is fantastic; we could honestly watch Nightcrawler teleport, flip, twirl, and pummel foes like a horrific gymnast all day long. Additionally, the operatic score lends the sequence a grand, epic feeling. And as it would turn out, it was entirely necessary. The attack is an act of war; a message of bloodshed to come. On the surface level, this is an entertaining, power-showcasing moment for the fan favorite mutant. But on a world-building level, it immediately pulled us into the film’s politics.
#2: Thanos Arrives
“Avengers: Infinity War” (2018)
Comic readers were likely aware of Thanos’ power heading into “Infinity War.” But as far as on-screen appearances went, he hadn’t done much to warrant all the clout. Thankfully, “Infinity War” wasted no time in proving that he completely deserved it. The bodies of Asgardians littering Thor’s ship, Ebony Maw preaching of his Master’s supremacy, and the reveal that Thanos already had the Power Stone were enough to set the tone. But just to make sure we all knew, Thanos beat the Hulk into submission before murdering both Loki and Heimdall. It’s an incredibly tense scene to say the least. By having Thanos best the two mightiest Avengers, we were all promptly prepared for what this villain might bring.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Hanging With Surtur, “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)
Humor and Led Zeppelin Set up a More Unique Thor
Ambush, “Iron Man” (2008)
The Charismatic Tony Stark Has His World Turned Upside Down
The Bombing of Nagasaki, “The Wolverine” (2013)
Shows How Impressive Logan’s Healing Factor Really Is
The Story of Wakanda, “Black Panther” (2018)
Engaging World-Building With Lovely Animation
Assault on Strucker’s Base, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)
A Snow-Draped Battle With Plenty of Great Hero Moments
#1: The Bank Heist
“The Dark Knight” (2008)
We have to give props to Bane’s kidnap plan in “The Dark Knight Rises”. But no superhero film has instantly entranced us with a villain the way “The Dark Knight” did. The opening sequence follows a group of clown-masked Joker goons robbing a bank that caters to Gotham’s crime lords. The henchmen have presumably all been told to kill a different member, as they all start to take each other out. That is classic Joker. So too is making sure they all die so he gets the money to himself. It’s thrilling to watch a bank heist, especially one where the criminals quickly turn on one another. But the reveal in which Joker removes his mask upgrades the sequence to a magnificent villain introduction.