Arguably, 2014 has delivered the best comic book films we’ve seen in one calendar year. From X-Men: Days of Future Past to Guardians of the Galaxy, I’d be hard pressed to think of a time when this genre was taking bigger risks to reap even bigger rewards. Taking all this into account, now feels like a great time to look back at the best moments from these films and rank them accordingly. Did a talking tree manage to beat out a web slinging wisecracker? Did time traveling mutants have more quality screen time than the citizens of San Fransokyo? Hit the jump to check out my list for the 5 best comic book movie moments of 2014.
Before we jump right in, just a couple of ground rules to this article. First, I decided the best thing to do would be to choose one moment from one film so as to give each of the movies their own chance to shine. Second, these rankings don’t necessarily mean that one of these movies is better than the rest, just that these particular moments rank higher for me than other moments listed. Third, obviously there will be some spoilers so be forewarned here. With this out of the way, let’s get cracking.
5. The Ethical Struggle of Baymax
Of all the comic book adaptations that came out this year, I would say Big Hero 6 was the most obscure. Originally a Marvel comic printed in December of 1998, it had a short lived mini series or two, an appearance here and there, after which it quietly fell into limbo (did you know Baymax was a big dragon thing in the comics?) before being picked up by Disney and made into one of this year’s biggest animated endeavors. There’s a lot to love in this movie, but I found the ethical implications of Baymax set to “destroy” the main antagonist by Hiro to be one of the most interesting parts of the movie. When Hiro discovers the true identity of the mysterious “Yokai”, he decides to avenge his brother’s death and orders Baymax to go against his original programming and end things once and for all.
Baymax’s struggle to understand why he must go from being a lovable healer to destructive powerhouse helps Hiro understand that vengeance for his brother will ultimately lead to nothing. It’s the rallying point for the team and offers an emotional punch for the film that I was not expecting to see from this outing. There are some hilarious moments littering the film (how can you not love Baymax?), but this moment really stood out for me and delivered the heart of the movie.
Honorable Mention: The post-credits scene, as it was a nice surprise to see “The Man” make an appearance.
4. Spider-Man Being Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was….terrible. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. There were too many villains, too many subplots, the dialogue was awful, and the movie was trying to be the stepping stone for a franchise rather than standing as its own film. With that being said, the opening sequence with Spidey swinging through the streets of New York, cracking wise while attempting to stop a rampaging truck manned by Paul Giamatti‘s soon-to-be-Rhino, was fantastic. It felt right overall and really showed off not only Spider-Man’s abilities, but also his personality, which many had felt was lacking from a lot of the older films. It also helped to portray the struggle of Spider-Man vs. Peter Parker as Peter had to take a call in reference to being late for his girlfriend’s valedictorian speech, all the while hanging off the front side of a truck. It was just a great series of tiny moments that encapsulated the character….sigh. What could have been.
Honorable Mention: The death of Gwen Stacy. One of the defining moments of Spider-Man’s history was the death of Gwen, so it was great to see the movie giving it the gravitas it deserved. Now, moving forward, if Sony can ditch the “Peter’s parents subplot” and maybe loan out the character to Marvel Studios, we may be able to turn this thing around.
3. Quicksilver’s Time In a Bottle
X-Men: Days of Future Past, even more so than Guardians of the Galaxy, is a comic book storyline that I never actually thought we would see on screen. Time traveling mutants heading back to the past to avoid a dystopian future run by giant robots? Nah, probably something I won’t see in my lifetime—but here we are! When information started being released and news came that Fox was going to introduce their own version of Quicksilver at the same time as Marvel brings the character to life in Avengers: Age of Ultron, folks were skeptical; especially when people got their first look at him. I’m sure a good percentage of those viewers were more than happy to eat crow when Evan Peters made his debut as Peter Maximoff, and in an unbelievable show of power, took out a room full of armed guards in a slow motion scene to end all slow motion scenes. This sequence stood out from all the others and has made many lists as not only the top comic book movie moment, but also as one of the top movie moments of the year period, and rightfully so.
Honorable Mention: The final fight between the X-Men of the future and the Sentinels, as the sheer display of mutant insanity and final stands of characters we had grown to know and love was great. More than likely, this will be the last time we see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in these roles, and they got a worthy send off all the same.