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Top 12 Saddest Moments in Marvel Movie History

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) - Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)

Here are all the scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe moments that almost (or may have) brought us to tears.

If you think the Marvel movies are all jokes and fun you're wrong. There have been some truly heartbreaking moments in the movies.

Avengers: Endgame opens in a few days and there will probably have more gloomy scenes. It's expected that a few core Avengers members will die. But, for now, we can look back at all the gut-punching scenes from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) ranked from sad to unbearable.

Update: I was right.

Warning: Contains Spoilers


12. Peter Buried in Rubble

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) - Peter Parker / Spider-Man (Tom Holland)

In Spider-Man: Homecoming Peter (Tom Holland) confronts Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) AKA Vulture. Toomes uses his wings to take out the building supports and Spider-Man is buried in rubble and concrete. He wakes up scared and alone. He tries to free himself and fails. Peter desperately cries for help. At that moment you realize that unlike all the other heroes in the MCU he’s just a boy. A teenager in a world of really scary and terrible people. Now he’s been left alone. Tom Holland brings all his acting skills to this moment and it’s heart-breaking to watch.

But then, in a moment of clarity, he sees his reflection in a puddle next to his Spider-Man mask. He hears Tony Stark’s voice saying “if you’re nothing without this suit. You shouldn’t have it.” He whispers to himself “Come on Peter. Come on Spider-Man”. Then, using all his considerable strength he lifts the concrete and frees himself. It’s a nod to a classic moment from the 1966 Steve Ditko comic Amazing Spider-Man #33.

11. Death of Steve Rogers

Image of Chris Evans as Captain America / Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger movie
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) - Captain America / Steve Rogers (Chris Evans)

Captain America (Chris Evans) is fighting the Red Skull when Schmidt takes off with a plane carrying a doomsday weapon. Steve and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) had been flirting for some time and even made plans to go dancing. But it was in this last chase that the two have their first kiss. Right before he leaps onto the plane and is carried into the sky.
When Red Skull is defeated Steve realizes that the plane is still headed for the United States. He calls SSR and tells them what's happening. The plane is too damaged to land and too fast to stop. Steve realizes he has to down the plane in the Arctic. They both realize he's going to die. His last words to the tearful Peggy are "I'm gonna need a rain check on that dance." Steve crashes into the freezing waters and Peggy is alone.

We knew he wasn't really dying but it was heartbreaking to watch. Steve was revived later but he lost his chance at love with Agent Carter. He gets her back in Endgame but no one could have dreamed that was possible at the time.

10. Death of Agent Coulson

Marvel's The Avengers (2012) - Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)

Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is there from the beginning of the Marvel movies. Dry, sarcastic and official he quickly became a fan favorite and the face of the MCU. His character was even written into the comics. 

In The Avengers there's a fight between Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Coulson tried to intervene and Loki surprises him from behind stabbing him through the chest. Phil manages to get a shot in but dies in Nick Fury's arms. He gets resurrected on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but his death is the motivation for the heroes to unite against the common enemy.


9. Peter and His Mother's Hand


Guardians of the Galaxy opens in 1988. Young Peter Quill visits his mother in the hospital. She's dying from brain cancer. As she feels herself going she reaches out and says "take my hand Peter". He's so overwhelmed by emotions that he turns and runs out of the hospital. Before he can go back he's kidnapped by the Ravagers and never sees her again. It's a moment he regrets for the rest of his life.

Later in the movie, he gets to experience a vision where he does take his mother's hand and it saves the universe. But it's not the same.

8. Death of Killmonger

Black Panther (2018) - T'Challa / Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), N'Jadaka / Erik "Killmonger" Stevens (Michael B. Jordan)

Black Panther introduced one of the best villains in the MCU and the best death. Eric "Killmonger" Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) was a monster who was planning to wage war against the world. After fighting Black Panther in the Wakandan mines he is mortally wounded. He says his father always told him about the sunrises of Wakanda. T'Challa drags Killmonger to an open spot in the mountain and they watch the sunrise. T'Challa tells him they might be able to heal him but Killmonger isn't interested. "Why so you can just lock me up," Killmonger asks. "Nah. Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships because they knew that death was better than bondage." He pulls the spear out of his chest and dies.

His words have even greater significance that you probably didn't know. He steals several items from a museum including a mask that he says he "feels". The mask is actually an Igbo mask from Southern Nigeria. The mask is also a Mgbedike mask and they are used for ceremonial purposes. In 1803, after crossing the Middle Passage, a slave ship arrived in Georgia with a cargo of slaves. Some of those people were from the Igbo tribe. While being transferred to a new ship the Igbe people rebelled, killed their captors and took over the ship. But they had no way to return home and realized they'd probably be captured and returned to slavery. They all agreed to commit suicide together. They all jumped into the ocean and drowned. 

Of course, Killmonger's situation was completely different since his incarceration wouldn't have been slavery and he'd probably be released later. But his words are moving and powerful.

7. Tony and Steve Fight

Captain America: Civil War (2016) - Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans)
Captain America: Civil War has the greatest fight scene in the MCU. But it also has one of the saddest. When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) was a teenager his parents died in a car crash. He knew that and grieved that his last moments with them were a fight. He even shrunk away from his mom's last kiss. Years later it was revealed that the Stark parents were killed for Howard's research. Steve's friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) had been brainwashed into being an assassin and was framed in the attack on a UN assembly meeting. The team broke in two trying to fight Bucky and protect him. Tony eventually fought to help Bucky. Then Baron Zemo showed them footage that revealed Bucky had personally murdered Tony's parents. 

Tony is overwhelmed but turns to his best friend and asks "did you know"? Steve did know. Back in Winter Soldier Arnim Zola told him about HYDRA's plans and manipulation of the world scene. One of the images was a newspaper article showing the death of the Starks. It didn't take him long to realize that the Winter Soldier was responsible. But he hid it from Tony. 

That heart-breaking moment when Tony realized Steve was protecting the man who killed his parents led to the greatest and most emotional fight in the MCU. It ends with the death of their friendship. But it looks like it's repaired by Avengers: Endgame.

6. Reunion With Peggy Carter

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) - Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans)
In the Captain America sequel, The Winter Soldier Steve is reminiscing on his past and wanders through a museum. While he had refused to see Peggy Carter, now he finally decides to visit her. She was living in a retirement home. The two are talking about her life and what he should do. He says "For as long as I can remember I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I'm not quite sure what that is anymore. And I thought I could throw myself back in and follow orders, serve. It's just not the same". 

Just then she starts coughing and he gets her a glass of water. When he looks back she says "You're alive! You...you came, you came back". We slowly come to the realization that she has Alzheimer's disease and thinks she's back in 1945. The only connection Steve can make is with someone who's stuck in the past. "Well, I couldn't leave my best girl," Steve says smiling. "Not when she owes me a dance."

It's that moment of connection between the past and the present that makes this scene so painful. The realization that his past is gone and Peggy with it that makes it so sad. Peggy's later funeral is sad too but, in a way, she was already gone and this scene is the real farewell to Peggy and Steve.

That is until Endgame at least.

5. We Are Groot 

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) - Groot (Vin Diesel), Rocket (Bradley Cooper)

In Guardians of the Galaxy, we meet the sentient tree creature Groot. Voiced by the Vin Diesel he only says three words. Rocket Raccoon described it best when he told Star-Lord, Groot "don't know talkin' good like me and you, so his vocabulistics is limited to 'I' and 'am' and 'Groot,' exclusively in that order." 

At the end of the movie, the spaceship Dark Aster is plummeting from the sky onto the planet Xandar and it looks like they're all going to be killed. Suddenly, Groot extends his branches around the rest of the Guardians protecting them. He saves his friend Rocket and his newfound friends. Rocket pleads with him not to sacrifice himself. Groot's last words are "WE are Groot." The only time he ever changed the pronoun. Another Groot grew but we lost the original forever.



4. Thor and Odin Argue


The first Thor movie sets up the royal Asgardian family perfectly. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is celebrating his coronation as king of Asgard when Frost Giants try to steal an artifact from Odin's (Anthony Hopkins) vault. The whole thing is a scheme by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to disrupt the ceremony and make himself a hero. Thor doesn't know that. He takes a group to attack the Frost Giants. The battle goes south but Odin arrives and saves them. As Odin is chastising his son for endangering Asgard with his impetuousness and calls him a child. Thor blurts out that he's an "old man and a fool".

Odin bows his head. As his voice breaks with emotion, he banished his son to Earth. It could have been a simple scene but Anthony Hopkins really sells it. Many people said they cried on set while filming the scene. It truly is a powerful moment and makes their reunion later that much more emotional.

3. Death of Yinsen

Iron Man (2008) - Yinsen (Shaun Toub), Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)

Iron Man is the beginning of the MCU and has some of the most moving scenes but one stands alone. Tony Stark is a playboy who revels in the chaos of war. He's captured by the terrorist group the "Ten Rings" to build a weapon. He’s put in an underground lab in Afghanistan to build them a weapon. He works with his fellow prisoner Dr. Ho Yinsen to repair his heart and escape. As they're building the arc reactor and the suit of Iron Man armor Yensin reveals that he misses his family and looks forward to seeing them again.

During the escape the Ten Rings mercenaries realize something is wrong and are breaking into the lab. Tony needs more time to boot the armor systems. So the doctor grabs a gun and races out of the lab to fight them. He’s immediately shot but it buys Tony time to activate the armor and fight the soldiers off. As Yensin lays dying he tells him that he had never planned to escape and was expecting to die. He was looking forward to seeing his family in the afterlife. This selfless act moves Tony to become a better man and a hero.


2. Death of Peter Parker

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) - Peter Parker / Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)
In Avengers: Infinity War Thanos gets the six Infinity Stones and snaps his fingers. It's not immediately obvious what happened. But soon it becomes clear. He's "balance to the universe" by killing off half of all sentient life in the universe. People slowly dissolve into dust. One hero after another blows away.

All the deaths in Infinity War are sad but Tim Holland makes it even more painful. While most just look confused Spider-Man's spider-sense tells him something is wrong. He tells Tony "I don't feel so good" before collapsing into Tony's arms. He begs Tony that he doesn't want to go but falls to the ground. His last words are "I'm sorry". Tony is left alone to mourn the loss of the boy that he had come to live as a son.

1. Death of Tony Stark

After Endgame opened a new movie took the crown. Thanos had recovered the Infinity Gauntlet. He already told Tony, Thor and Captain America he'd decided to use the stones in a new way. Instead of eliminating half of the universe he'd wipe out the whole thing and start over.

Just as he was getting ready to snap his finger again he was attacked by Tony. Thanos recovers and sneers "I am inevitable." But when he snaps his fingers he discovers the stones are gone. Iron Man has taken them and puts them into his suit. He snaps his fingers after saying "I am Iron Man".

Thanos and his army fade into dust and the universe is saved. Tony collapses.

The saddest part of this being his last words are these are the words that started the MCU. Now they're the words that ended them.

As Tony lies on the ground Peter tearfully says goodbye. Pepper leans over to Tony and says "Tony, look at me. We're gonna be okay. You can rest now."

At that moment, Tony realizes he's finally achieved what had motivated him throughout the movie. in fact, that's what been motivating him throughout his time as Iron Man. Protecting the ones he loves. He had refused to save trillions of people to save his wife and daughter Morgan.

He lays his head down and passes away.

It's a heart-wrenching scene and one that transcends the entire 22-movie franchise. It's the death of Tony and the death of the MCU as we know it.


What do you feel is the saddest scene in the MCU? Let us know in the comments below!

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