Steed has one MoA in the episode "The Girl From AUNTIE", when he strolls into the villain's office and "goes undercover" with: "Good afternoon! My name is..." (Ostentatiously produces a large collection of business cards, flips through them, selects one, hands it over...) "...Wayne Pennyfeather Fitch!"
Another one for Steed in "A Touch of Brimstone" - infiltrating the revived Hellfire Club, he's given an alarmingly huge goblet of strong drink as part of an initiation... he leisurely downs it without a break, then politely asks for a little more.
Tara fighting off her would-be-killers, Earle and Gardiner, in "The Curious Case of the Countless Clues", despite her broken ankle. Indeed, by the time Steed arrives to her "rescue", Tara has not only beaten to two, but is also calmly waiting for him with her feet up and drinking some tea.
The first Avengers story ever had Loki be defeated by Ant-Man. As he held the heroes at bay by making himself radioactive, an army of ants opened a hatch beneath him, causing him to fall into a lead-lined room where he could be taken back to Asgard.
Issue 4 has the iconic image of Captain America being frozen in ice, as the Wasp recognizes him. When he wakes up, he assumes the worst and attacks the Avengers, catching them massively off-guard. He was only stopped by the Wasp growing to her full size in front of him, causing him to hold back and come to his senses.
In issue 6, the Avengers are dealing with a large, alien rock that is about to detonate and can only be neutralized if it's hit very hard in the one spot that isn't pulsing. Thor's hammer would be perfect for the job... except that he was knocked unconscious as Donald Blake. So the Wasp deliberately agitates the Hulk into attacking her. He punches the rock's vulnerable spot when trying to hit her, which destroys the rock and saves the world.
Ultron, and an army of Ultron drones, has committed genocide of an entire country, held off a massive UN invasion force, and the Avengers wade into the battle anyway and are overwhelmed. In his headquarters Ultron is gloating to his prisoners when a wall explodes, revealing Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, Firestar and Captain America wounded, bleeding, their costumes in shreds, standing there. Thor sums up the situation:
And then Ultron kicks their asses. The narration even states that they wouldn't have been able to beat him with their full strength. And then the Scarlet Witch's Hex Power, the only hope they had of beating him, backfires making him more powerful than ever. At which point Justice, who had been left back at the base due to a broken leg (which he got due to his refusal to stay on the sidelines), shows up. He has spent his time studying every encounter anyone has ever had with Ultron, desperately searching for anything which might be useful. He has flown half-way across the world, still with a broken leg, to deliver something that might be useful. Which he hands over to...
For the villain side, basically everything Kang the Conqueror does in the Kang Dynasty storyline that lasted for a year and a half. The first thing he does is give a speech, broadcast worldwide, that lasts for basically a whole issue...but even if he had vanished from the story immediately afterward, this would STILL be a crowning moment, as that one speech leads to military coups, invasions by two separate subspecies of humanity, worldwide supervillain uprisings, basically more chaos than most villains accomplish in their entire career. But, naturally, he doesn't vanish and becomes more and more badass as the story continues, until he conquers the entire planet Earth through military cunning and a knack for predicting his enemies, something no other Marvel villain had ever done. This story essentially turned him into Marvel's version of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
The Under Siege storyline from Avengers 233-237. Baron Zemo led a huge group of supervillains in an all-out assault on the Avengers' headquarters. The villains beat Hercules to the brink of death and tortured Captain America by tearing up mementos from his past and brutalizing Jarvis in front of him, but the heroes—led by the Wasp—rallied to win the day.
The Wasp and Ant-man fought off the Absorbing Man and Titania. In particular, the Wasp used her shrinking spray on super-strong Titania to even the odds.
Thor and Doctor Druid showed up to help the heroes gain a second wind.
Captain America's final defeat of Zemo at the end.
When the Grim Reaper used a group of dead Avengers in a plan against the Avengers. Every member gets taken down, except the Scarlet Witch, who arrived late that day. The lead dead guy was her lover, who has been Not Quite Dead lately. While tied to a chair, she basically talks at them until she can use her magic to try and convert them. The end result is left a little vague for dramatic reasons, so when the heroes go back to their former master, someone just has to say something:
Wonder Man: You brought us back because you though it would be poetic to use us as your pawns... but you forgot something. We're Avengers. And the Avengers will oppose you... to the bitter end... and beyond."
Special mention should go to the cover: the undead heroes, breaking to fourth wall to stare out at the reader. The blurb reads "Yeah, they're dead... wanna make something of it?"
Simon had another CMOA during the Michael/Korvac saga (Avengers #177): after Michael mows down every member of both the Avengers and the Galactic Guardians, he's the first of the survivors to recover and goes one-on-one, overcoming months of aggravatingly whiny self-doubt to do it:
Wonder Man: "Get up, Mike, I want to slug you again! I see you're getting your energy back, but I don't mind! After all, I'm the strongest man alive, my fists hit like Thor's hammer... and I'm not afraid anymore!."
In Avengers #400, Jarvis has been tricked by Loki to use his knowledge of Avengers' history to conjure duplicates of EVERY VILLAIN THE AVENGERS HAVE FACED BEFORE. When Loki doesn't have more use to Jarvis, tries to kill him, but Jarvis activates his Avengers commcard. He has only one card, but it's an ace. The seven Avengers still conscious ignore enemies that were about to kill them moments before, because one of them (Jarvis) is in danger.
During the Onslaught Saga, the Avengers face Holocaust and Post. When Cap says "We cannot defeat them" Wasp thinks all hope is lost. It turns that Cap meant they needed to use their own strength against them. Cap activates Post's camouflage to trick Holocaust into shooting the invisible Post (trying to hit Cap). When Holocaust notices he was tricked, he gets so confused that becomes defeatable by Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
The ending of Avengers Forever. When the Timekeepers fling an army of every single evil Avenger that ever existed in the multiverse at the tiny group of time-hoppers brought together to stop their plans, what do said time-hoppers, who have already been through multiple battles do? Proceed to fight like hell, until Rick Jones succeeds in channeling the power he got from the Kree Intelligence in such a way that they can summon up every GOOD Avenger who ever existed to aid them. The ensuing melee is epically awesome.
Carlos Pacheco gets a CMOA for this as well, considering the sheer amount of characters he had to draw for both of those scenes.
One of Tony Stark's Iron Man armors underwent a viral-invasion-induced metamorphosis, turning him into a naked woman with a silvery gleam on her body who turned out to be Ultron. After announcing her intent to destroy the Earth, the Avengers fight her off, so she pulls off several plans to keep it going. With time running out, the Avengers pull a desperate plan. Hank Pym shrinks down the Avenger Ares, and launches him into the mouth of the female Ultron, so he can defeat her from the inside with his secret weapon: A Commodore 64.
For added amusement/WTF factor, that naked metal woman? Was a double of Pym's ex-wife Janet (Ultron has a thing for his 'father''s wife), who was also part of the plan to take it down.
Awesome, if not for the Avengers - this Hank Pym wasn't actually Hank Pym, but a Skrull infiltrator. Making this a CMOA for the Skrull Nation.
The low-level legacy hero Triathlon meets the guy whose power he inherited. Senior guy muses that he should return to action, despite not having any powers, getting by on simply being "old school. And nothing beats old school!"; then he comes to his senses and gives Triathlon his original goggles, which let him see shapeshifters. A day later, Triathlon stumbles onto a secret conspiracy of shapeshifting aliens, and singlehandedly defeats a superpowered sleeper agent. The alien starts whining that his race spent years working on ways of avoiding detection by the humans. Triathlon's response:
"See these goggles? They're old school. And nothing beats old school." (cue the villain getting a sword through his head)
During the Avengers: Disassembled story arc, after the mansion's been leveled, Ant-Man and The Vision are killed, She-Hulk's gone berserk, and Iron Man has humiliated himself things look pretty grim. While SHIELD is investigating what happened, Captain America is told by Hawkeye that some other heroes are here. Cap goes out and sees nearly every former and reserve member of the Avengers has come to help.
The first day after the Parker Family moves into Avengers Tower, May tells Wolverine, "There's no smoking and no drinking in the breakfast room until after noon at the earliest," plucking the burning cigar out of his face and dropping it into the drink in his hand.
Ares gets several MOA during his Avenger career:
During a battle with Iron Man's armors controlled by female Ultron he ran out of ammo, so he just ripped in half one of the armors and used its rocket legs to burn other ones.
Later in the same battle he jumped at one of the armors, embedded a knife in its head and used it to steer while he rode the armor.
In his own mini-series he got two new ones, first by shooting at people with a Gatling gun, while drinking a beer in other hand, and second by surfing a bomb.
In "Breakout", in New Avengers, Daredevil, Spider-Woman and Foggy Nelson are cornered by Carnage in a cramped prison 42 stories underground. Nelson pleads with the then unknown Sentry to step out of his catatonia and help them. A few panels later we see him walk up to Carnage, grab him by the throat and take off straight up. The next page is nothing but a dozen "Boom" sound effects over the exterior of the prison, and then we see him rip Carnage in two in the stratosphere.
The issue to mark the end of Kurt Busiek's first year on the title. Backstory: the Vision, an android, had been angsting a lot about what his wife had had to endure because of his... unique ability to cheat death. He decides on a workaround where he uses his "deaths" as grounds for an annulment, then acts more "robotic" and "logical" around her. He's just been caught out on this when, in their current mission, he has to make contact with some heroes trapped in a giant robot using his built-in comms. This proves difficult. But rather than do the "logical" thing and go for help:
"No! I admit, it is more... painful... than I had anticipated... but this is a setback! I can amplify the signal... scan for the carrier wave... and I will maintain the link!"
One that needs to be seen to be appreciated. Count Nefaria has gained amplified copies of the powers of Whirlwind, Living Laser, and Power Man - turning him into a Captain Ersatz of Superman, power-wise. He proceeds to wipe the floor with the Avengers, hoping to draw out Thor and learn the secrets of immortality. Thor finally appears, Nefaria goes Oh Crap...but then Nefaria takes out Thor, anyway, and the only hope the Avengers have left is the Vision. The entire team piles on Nefaria, keeping him off balance, until the Vision plummets from the stratosphere at maximum density to ram Nefaria into the ground, finally taking him out.
One of the earlier examples, from issue 6 - Captain America comes face-to-face with Zemo, the man who was responsible for Bucky's death and Cap's freezing, and he has this to say:
"I fought your kind, Zemo! I fought you every day of that war! You said Americans were weak! You said we could never fight for freedom. Well, feel this grip tyrant! It's the hands of a man who loves his liberty! Look into my eyes, and know that I would die for my freedoms! The world must never mistake compassion for weakness! And while I live - it won't!"
Monica Rambeau is pretty much made of these, at least under certain writers. Her biggest highlight is probably attacking Zeus, as lightning, and actually hurting him. She was also chosen as leader of the Avengers not long after she joined them. Al Ewing on Mighty Avengers has been giving her a lot of awesome moments, including single-handedly killing a Mindless One - a magical being that's pretty much unstoppable.
In the 2003 story "Standoff", Captain America is trying to prevent a war from escalating.
Cap: Stand your ground, soldiers.
Officer: I have orders. Direct from the President of the United States. Move out!
This, beyond a doubt, is a Crowning Movie Of Awesome! Five years, five movies, an All-Star Cast and a full billion dollars worth of budget (counting this film itself), all as set up for a movie bringing together The Avengers now that they've been established in each of their own films! It could have been a catastrophic failure, but not only did they pull it off, they pulled it off spectacularly!
Now, onto specific moments:
Loki's introduction proves he not only Took a Level in Badass, but now he definitely poses a big enough threat to have SHIELD bring the Avengers together.
Nick Fury willing to stall Loki so that the portal created by the Tesseract will cause the whole SHIELD facility above to bury this new threat and him along with it.
Black Widow's opening scene, after Coulson tells her they've been compromised. She kicks her interrogator's asses easily without effort; impressive in of itself. The real impressive part though is that she did half that Curb-Stomp Battlewhile bound to a chair.
Also, kicking ass with no shoes on. And she just walks off afterward like she's in no pain.
Coulson's threat deserves credit. The man calls up the bad guy, threatens to blow up the entire block if he tries to run, and makes him put Black Widow on the phone. When Coulson's on the case, shit gets done.
Both Coulson's and Widow's casual reaction to her being tied up in a chair and interrogated.
Coulson: We need you to come in. Black Widow: Are you kidding? I'm working! Coulson: This takes precedence. Black Widow: I'm in the middle of an interrogation and this moron is giving me everything.
Bruce Banner actually trolls Black Widow. "I'm sorry, that was mean. I just wanted to see what you'd do. (Grin.)"
Tony's introductory scene is awesome because it is a Call Back to a line from the original Iron Man. He said he wanted to move Stark Industries "in a direction I am comfortable with" and here he is testing the first commerical Arc Reactor. "A beacon of clean energy."
Loki makes an awesomely-timed Dynamic Entry as the piece of classical music that's playing in the background reaches to its crescendo. Even better is that it's Loki's leitmotif from The Ring of the Nibelung.
The old German gentleman who decides he'd rather die than kneel to a guy like Loki. Bonus points for his Kirk Summation one-liner.
Word of God says that he's a Holocaust survivor and it gets better when you hear Joss Whedon's commentary, and learn the character was put in because he realized the scene would have Unfortunate Implications without it. Taking a flaw in your script and turning it into a stand and cheer moment? That's Whedon for you.
Followed by Iron Man'sBig Damn Heroes moment. Set to "Shoot to Thrill" by AC/DC. Dude knows how to make an entrance.
Stark:(To Natasha on the Quinjet's intercom) Agent Romanov... You miss me? (Cue BGM Override via the Quinjet's PA system)
Thor's entrance into the film. As Cap, Tony and Natasha transport their "prisoner", a thunderstorm materializes around the plane. Suddenly, falling like a bolt of lightning, Thor plummets down out of nowhere onto the plane. He then smacks Iron Man aside, seizes Loki and flies away without a word.
Natasha tries to talk Captain America out of following Thor (who has freed Loki) by saying he's a god. The Captain's response? "Ma'am, there's only one God, and I'm pretty sure He doesn't dress like that." Cue jumping out of a plane to hunt them down.
This requires some elaboration. Cap had earlier got his ass handed to him by Loki. Now there's another guy who's even stronger, and Tony went after the two half-cocked. Steve goes anyway.
After soaking up Thor's lightning for five seconds, JARVIS tells Iron Man: "Power at 400% capacity." "How about that", says Tony, who then blasts Thor backwards.
Thor follows it up by quickly recovering and landing on his feet.
When Iron Man headbutts Thor, he staggers back a bit; When Thor headbutts Iron Man, he sends him flying.
It's "blink and you'll miss it", but afterwards, Iron Man's helmet has a noticeable dent.
Iron Man seems to realize he's in over his head when Thor starts to crumple Tony's tankproof armor with his bare hands.
Captain America, during Thor and Iron Man's fight in the woods, orders both men to stand down harshly. Thor doesn't do so, and when Cap tells him to put his hammer down, the big guy takesthis badly. As the god of thunder leaps and prepares to smack Cap down with Mjölnir, Cap's shield blocks it and WRECKS the surrounding area. When the dust settles, Cap's no worse for wear.
And then Cap, calmly and steadily, walks up to Thor and asks:
"Are we done here?"
The initial attempt at ending the fight was quite awesome, even if it was unsuccessful. He shows up out of nowhere and smacks both of them with a well-timed shield toss.
Black Widow tricks Loki into revealing his intention to unleash the Hulk inside the Helicarrier and thanks him for his cooperation — in other words, the best spy on Earth manages to fool theGod of Lies. She walked in to talk to the Trickster God in a battle of wits with no real cards to play except for Loki's anger and confidence, and she walked out with exactly what she wanted. What's more, she did this even though Loki was fully-informed on her thanks to Hawkeye, who's undoubtedly familiar with her method of choice. Of course, Loki still got what he intended in the end, so it's also an MOA for him.
Cap slaps away a grenade thrown by one of Loki's mooks while jumping.
...across a broken catwalk over ten thousand feet of fresh air.
How fast is the Hulk? The pilot who "distracted" him by firing off bullets at the green giant tries to get out of Dodge by ejecting himself once the Hulk latches onto his jet... only for Hulk to immediately catch him and hurl him away himself.
Black Widow is in a state of shock after having nearly been killed by the Hulk. She's in a corner hugging her legs like a little girl, which is probably the last time this woman that's been trained as an assassin since childhood was so terrified. She hears from Fury on her comlink that the still mind-controlled Hawkeye is on board the Helicarrier. Still shaking, she quickly pulls herself together to go stop him.
Badly injured and unable to even stand, Agent Coulson lures Loki in close with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, then blasts him with a BFG that blows the Trickster God through at least one wall.
Coulson: "...you lack conviction."
And also, let's not forget that Coulson readily accepted his final fate, as it would give the Avengers an extra push needed in order to work as a team.
Thor's fight with the Hulk. The Hulk nearly curb stomps every fight he has in this movie, from Black Widow all the way up to the alien Leviathans. Thor is the only one in the entire film who puts up anything like an equal fight against the Hulk.
Not only that, but the fight ends in a draw.
Thor not only blocks an overhand strike from the Hulk, but actually starts to shove Hulk's arm back with both of his.
The Hulk knocks Thor through a set of solid steel storage containers and an aluminum bulkhead. Thor picks himself up, realizes that the blow left him bleeding from the nose, and suddenly gives a berserker grin.
Thor uppercutting the Hulk into a fighter jet with his hammer without even looking, then drop-sliding under the plane wing that Hulk hurls at him to hurl his hammer at him to trap Hulk.
Tony's speech to Loki. He threatens a demigod while completely unarmed.
Nick Fury showing why he's the Director of SHIELD during the attack on the Helicarrier bridge, easily taking out a few fully armed men storming in. We waited to see him kick ass ever since Samuel L. Jackson took the role. We got our wish and it was awesome.
During the argument between Steve and Tony that almost escalates into a full-blown fight, Steve tells Tony "Put on the suit, let's go a few rounds." To clarify, Steve Rogers will only consider this fight fair if his opponent has a suit of high-tech, fully loaded with weapons, Powered Armor.
And on Tony's end, he's fully aware how physically superior a super soldier is, and seems to be entirely willing to go those few rounds with Cap WITHOUT his armor. I'm sure that dig about being nothing without it had nothing to do with this.
Although she's a minor character, Maria Hill proves herself to be among the more effective agents in SHIELD, from the Chase Scene against both Loki and Hawkeye to defending the bridge of the Helicarrier with Fury just after getting knocked back by a grenade at the start.
Back to that grenade bit she spots it and leaps to cover while pulling and saving a comrade with her without a thought.
A deleted scene reveals that Harry Dean Stanton was responsible for Banner changing his mind and going back. Not to mention that he gets outright philosophical at one point:
HDS: "Are you like, a big guy that gets all little, or a little guy that sometimes gets big?" Banner: "Y'know... I'm not so sure anymore..."
Can't believe nobody called out on Harry Dean Stanton asking someone if they were an alien. Meta-CMOA.
Here's another one for Banner, when you consider how quickly he Hulked Out to take down the Leviathan. The long, painful-looking transformation on the Helicarrier? That was all Bruce fighting the change!
It says something about how awesome and skilled Tony is as an engineer that he built a walking disassembly rig for his suit just so he could land and casually walk inside his penthouse without breaking stride. He designs a piece of incredibly complex machinery that would give most engineers fits trying to create, just so he can have a conveniently stylish entry into his private home.
A minor one, but the fact that Thor is the only Avenger to realise Loki's got a backer, just from one bit of Loki bluster. Especially given Loki spent the last film, and this one pulling the wool over his brother's eyes.
From this point on, we'll be discussing the last half-hour of the film, where every major character in the film gets at least one Awesome Moment. Marvel saved their best stuff for this film, and it damn well shows:
A subtle one right at the start. Tony is the first one to make it back to Stark Tower in his heavily damaged armor and sees Loki waiting for him. Now, Tony's highly capable as Iron Man, but without his armor, he's just a civilian with a bad heart. But he doesn't even hesitate to walk straight into the building, remove his armor, and confront a god all by himself. Without his armor.
Something to note about the Mk 7. Joss Whedon wanted to use the circular arc light instead of the triangular one, so the Mk 7 was made. However, Joss also gave the Mk 6 a good run: trading hits with Thor, having more fire power than in Iron Man 2, and surviving the helicarrier turbine well enough for Stark to fly back to Stark Tower. This is prominent because when it comes to alterations in comic book worlds, creators tend to be... petty.
This really warrants elaboration. The Leviathan is the thing chasing Tony when he says he's "bringing the party to you." It's a giant, armored, whale of a monster that's shrugged off everything Iron Man has thrown at it. The Hulk doesn't just One-Hit Kill it, he stops it cold with one punch.
To further elaborate, it's also a CMOA for the writers and Banner, as they've actually managed a consistent and well thought-out character arc for Banner. At the end of the last movie he was in, he began willingly transforming and trying to control, or at least work with, the Hulk. Now, as he's alluded to several times throughout the movie, he's mastered it by mastering himself. He's accepted the anger as a part of himself, and in doing so can willingly transform at any time. Because of this, the Hulk is no longer an uncontrollable monster, but rather a useful ally. Banner has mastered the Hulk, which is awesome in and of itself, but even more importantly, the writers have mastered his character arc. So, it's three CMOAsat once.
Banner's Reaction Shot warrants a mention. Every other Avenger has a major "Oh Crap" reaction when they see a giant flying-whale-serpent tearing down Park Avenue, but Banner just looks at the Leviathan, looks at the rest of the group, and starts walking towards the Leviathan with this wordless expression on his face that says "Chill, guys. I got this."
Unless you saw the blooper reel, which showed the same scene... except with Ruffalo taking one look and bolting, screaming "Dudes, you're on your own!" Cue Cap cracking up.
The Oner that follows each of the Avengers in the final battle.
The DVD commentary reveals that The Oner nearly didn't make it in. Joss was told, "We're not sure we can fit this shot into the movie," and responded, "But... this shot is the movie."
Fury then stops one of the planes from flying with a rocket launcher. And even more impressively, he's such a good shot that the pilot survives. It doesn't take with the second plane, but still.
It gets better; Fury made that shot despite only having one eye. No depth perception and a limited vision field, and he still pulled it off.
Iron Man catches the nuclear missile and tosses it into the aliens' spaceship. Even better when you consider he spent his first two movies giving the middle finger to the arms industry and the government. Talk about a nuclear deterrent.
Her jumping off of Cap's shield and catching a ride on a speeding Chitauri glider. By stabbing a couple of knives into the pilot and perching on his back. Then she drives the Chitauri glider with the pilot she just stabbed.
In the final battle, Captain America gets a great moment when he commands the cops to rescue the citizens, but one cop asks why they should be taking orders from him. Cap then responds by taking out several attacking Chitauri by himself
I would also cite the cops themselves: Outnumbered by an advanced alien armada, they still stand their ground, pull out their sidearms, and open fire. New York's finest indeed.
The fact that Cap was able to figure out precisely what needed to be done right down to the exact street he needed the perimeter to extend to is an MOA for Cap himself. Even with the distraction that is fighting off an alien army, Cap is still The Star-Spangled Man With A Plan.
Fridge Brilliance: Cap's a native New Yorker. He might not know the modern city, but the grid was in place when he was around, including Grand Central. He knows the terrain.
And he does know the modern city. A deleted scene shows him eating at a cafe sketching the skyline that includes Stark Tower. And wouldn't your mind just dwell on all the details that have changed?
And in this deleted scene, Cap manages to save a family from a Chitauri trying to kill them by doing what he does best: throwing his shield. After they're saved, his sense of authority and Living Legend status really shines through in this exchange:
And then the big guy snarls "Puny god." at Loki before rejoining the battle.
Made all the more awesome in that they are the only decipherable words spoken by the Hulk in the entire film. Everything else is just grunts and bellows of rage.
The sight of Loki embedded in the floor afterwards is what makes this moment. He's just left staring silently up with this great shocked/terrified, 'What the flying hell just happened?' look on his face.
The moment gets even more awesome when you remember how Loki had singled out Banner on the Helicarrier, taunting him in earshot of everyone as "the beast who makes play he's still a man," and reminding Banner who the cage was really made for. It's extra fitting that "the beast" is the one to give Loki a faceful of karmic comeuppance.
Better still when you recall how Loki has gloated over/taunted them all by this point: Captain America in Germany, Thor during their argument, Black Widow when he was imprisoned (granted she was bluffing, but he was still trying), Tony Stark in Stark Tower, and Hawkeye he's been controlling for most of the film. Then he tries it with Hulk...and it lasts all of three seconds.
This is also a minor CMOA for Asgardian physiology. Anyone else would have been pulverized. Or rather, more pulverized.
You mean Frost Giant physiology. "He's adopted."
It's also a sign of great acting talent when Loki's actor managed to keep a straight-face while being filmed wheezing in a crater. Well, after a few takes.
Not only being able to do it so straight faced, but to make it sound like he's actually in pain.
This is also a CMOA in a meta-sense for the writers in the lead-up to this sequence. In theaters across the globe, when this moment happened, the audience exploded into near-deafening applause because of how many people were looking forward to the moment Loki gets his due and how well they pulled it off.
Joss Whedon, through his long and illustrious career writing, producing, and directing several successful films and TV series, mentioned on the commentary that he considers this moment his Magnum Opus. It was probably a joke, but there are several who would agree without irony.
The Hulk saving Iron Man as he helplessly plummets back to Earth after flying a nuke through the portal the Chitauri were coming from, his suit out of energy.
How about The Stinger? Who honestly thought they'd go into the theater and ever expect to see Thanos, the Mad Titan? Definitely an awesome moment for Marvel.
Back to the battle, the Lock and Load Montage of all the heroes (save Bruce Banner) before they head out to save the world
It was spoiled by the trailers, but the money shot of the heroes as the camera was circling around them was nothing but a thing of beauty.
The mere image of all of these characters on screen together (take note that before that point, they were never ALL on screen together,) now a unified team ready to kick some ass, the first legitimate comics crossover in the history of the big screen.
The shot was already awesome in the trailer. Hearing it with Alan Silvestri's main theme? Awesome times ten.
And as Silvestri's main theme is heard in bits and pieces throughout the film but not given its fullest treatment until now, this (and in fact, the entire score) also counts as an MOA for him.
Especially better as in the trailer with a different theme, the scene felt anxious and uneasy—the implication being, "Well, the Avengers are in some kind of trouble." With the main theme playing in the movie proper, it's a complete "hell yeah" moment, with the exact opposite implication, that of, "The Avengers are ready to kick seven kinds of ass."
There was just something about seeing the Hulk smashing his way through the Chitauri, especially at one point when an alien Leviathan is headed for an office building full of people. The camera pans inside and hear stomping as the Hulk makes his way through. Everyone gets the heck out of the way before he smashes through the window and onto the beast.
And when he latches onto the Leviathan, he manages to make it turn away from the building at the last second. How? By hanging onto the side of its mouth and pulling it.
Loki has trapped Thor in the cage built for the Hulk - which Fury notes earlier had unbreakable glass that should've been able to stand up to even one of the Hulk's punches. Thor smacks it with Mjölnir, and it gets a very sizable crack. What really sells this is Loki's reaction: he goes from gloating to startled, and takes a big step back with a look on his face that shows he was actually scared for a second. It takes him a few seconds of nervous laughter to cover it up.
Later, he uses focus and the right angles to get his bearing in a box spinning and rotating at nauseatingly high speeds plummeting to the ground at terminal velocity - something that would be totally impossible for any normal person - and then he rockets out of the thing!
A very subtle one, but before the awesome shot showing all the Avengers as the camera circles around them, we see the Chitauri all stop to growl and snarl at them after Hulk punches out a Levithan. This is a hardened alien army that exists just to exterminate life without a second thought, and they've all stopped to turn their attention to six people. You know the Avengers are officially getting started when they've proven themselves a threat to such a force.
Made better by the Hulk defiantly roaring back.
Thor's fight with Loki, especially this moment: For a moment it seems like Loki might actually be swayed to the side of good... and then he stabs Thor, declaring that the thunder god's sentiment makes him weak. Thor's response is to strike Loki before dropping him face-first into the ground, then taking out the knife. And then...no followup. He just fights the whole battle wounded, not a word of complaint.
There's something just amazing about Iron Man letting Captain America do what he does best, as we see Cap rallying his team and giving each Avenger their orders to save the day.
Cap's orders, period. One could look at the concept of just six people, three of them close-to-normal normal humans, defending the entire island of Manhattan from a massive alien army, and laugh. And you'd be right. It shouldn't work. But Cap's strategy makes it perfectly sensible and believable, keeping the Chitauri contained while placing each member in the unique position where their unique powers can be at maximum effectiveness:
Romanov: Guys.... (A new wave of Chitauri is coming through the portal.) Stark: Call it, Cap. (Endorsing Steve Rogers as the tactical commander of the group.)
Rogers: Alright, listen up. Until we can close that portal our priority is containment. (so six people aren't trying to cover the whole city, even though the Chitauri are flying in from above)
Barton, I want you on that roof, eyes on everything. Call out patterns and strays. (Clint, with his superior eyesight in an optimal vantage-point, can tell the other Avengers what's happening and keep a running commentary, so everyone knows exactly what's going on where — while providing cover for them with his arrows.)
Stark, you've got the perimeter. Anything gets more than three blocks out, you turn it back or you turn it to ash. (so Tony is in the position where he can unleash the full potential of his firepower and maneuverability, and he's not wasting his capabilities on individual skirmishes.)
Thor, you've gotta try and bottleneck that portal. Slow 'em down. You've got the lightning; light the bastards up. (to limit the spread of the army and keep them tripping over themselves as they try to pass through.)
You(Natasha) and me, we stay on the ground, keep the fighting here. (they can leave the heavy-duty work to the more powerful members, and keep the individual Chitauri busy as well as rescue civilians.)
And Hulk? [Beat.] ... Smash. (Hulk's job was sowing general disarray and keeping the forces unorganized. The guy was damn near impossible to stop unless contained and everything he touches pretty much folds right then and there. His aptly put 'Smash' is generally what kept the heat off of most of the Avengers because Hulk was bouncing around and disrupting what semblance of an attack command they had left. Once the Hulk was cornered, the battle went downhill).
Even just a little earlier, there's an awesome (but easily missable) example of how strong a leader Cap is: before Banner and Stark show up, they all initially come together to set up a plan. Cap insists they work as a team, but Thor and Hawkeye object - saying they'd rather deal with their own issues with Loki. Cap's response? "Save it." He then goes on explaining his plan as if neither of them had even said anything, and despite having only met him that day the superspy and warrior prince both drop the issue and listen.
Iron Man is having trouble getting through a Leviathan's shell, so he comes up with an alternative strategy:
Thor bottlenecks the portal. How? He lands atop the Chrysler Building, summons a thunderstorm, uses the building as a lightning rod, and fires an enormous blast of lightning into the portal so powerful it blows up several of the Leviathans outright.
Thor and the Hulk going Back-to-Back Badasses on one of the Leviathans, even taking out the beast itself.
Followed by a CMOA punchline as Hulk sucker-punches Thor, just 'cuz.
What hits the roof in this one is the off hand Combination Attack that goes by perfectly without either character so much as glancing at eachother to pull it off. Hulk rips out a chunk of Leviathan armor and drives it into the thing's head. Standard Hulk. Thor decides to follow this up not one second later, using Mjnolir to drive the spike, and a thunderbolt for flavor, into its brain. This being what dropped the Leviathan out of the sky.
Iron Man firing a beam at Cap's shield to reflect the shot off and into some Chitauri ala Marvel Ultimate Alliance was awesome. Just the teamwork between the two.
Considering that at an earlier point in the film, Cap and Iron Man were just about to come to blows over clashing egos, seeing the two team up flawlessly when push comes to shove is a sight to behold.
Tony's verbal sparring match with Loki as he casually offers him a drink.
Loki: What have I to fear?
Tony: (nonchantly pouring himself a drink) The Avengers. (seeing Loki's puzzled reaction, he rolls his eyes a little) It's what we call ourselves. Sorta like a team. "Earth's mightiest heroes" type thing.
A slightly more subtle CMOA for Tony's Character Development: He doesn't mention himself, even when it would have been pragmatic to scrape up every second of long-windedness he could because he was stalling to activate his next suit. The only time Tony makes reference to himself as one of the Avengers is with the word "we".
This could also be his willingness, were his suit not ready in time and Loki killed (or, for all he knew, turned) him, to discount himself from the head count of Avengers (and in the latter case, he's completely confident in the team's ability to put him down, if it comes to that).
There's another option, which is that part of the reason Loki was letting him speak and stall at all was because Tony was seemingly completely at his mercy, and the last thing that would help with distracting Loki from him rearming himself was him bringing up what a threat he was. The true test of what was on his mind, himself or the team, comes when he's all suited up, and he gets an opportunity to finally add himself to the list.
Selvig gets a quiet but crucially important moment: Despite the fact he was under Loki's mind control, he still subconsciously managed to fight back enough to put a backdoor sabotage into the portal device. Without that, they would never have been able to close the portal - plus, it just shows his sheer strength of will.
Selvig comes round in the middle of an apocalypse he made possible, on the edge of a tall building. Natasha approaches him, cautiously, staring over the edge, clearly ready to start talking him down from the ledge, enough so that she doesn't realize why he's yammering about the scepter at first. But it turns out Selvig's only thought is for closing the portal... and he's staring directly at the solution. It's a great, if subtle bait and switch that shows how strong a person he his.
Similarly, Clint is asked "What did it (the Tesseract) show you?" He replies, looking straight at Loki: "My next target." He goes on to talk about getting the iridium, but note that Clint is an assassin - he may have had just enough fight left in him to decide that Loki was going down.
Pay attention when the Hulk shouts Tony back to life in the end — the arc reactor's light is off at first, then comes on again when Tony does. Percussive Maintenance be damned, the Hulk may be the second most qualified person on Earth to handle arc reactor technology!
And before he does shout, watch him. It looks as if he's quickly thinking it over, making you remember that inside the giant green rage monster is the mind of one of the greatest scientists in the Marvel universe.
After two movies' worth of Captain Obvious moments, JARVIS scores a personal CMoA by being ahead of the game just as he needs to be.
Tony: Jarvis, put everything we've got into the thrusters! JARVIS: I just did.
In the first post-credits scene, a Chitauri talks to Thanos about humans. Everything about that scene shows that Nick Fury succeeded magnificently in his plan to make mankind known across cosmos, as something not to be messed with.
"To challenge them is to court death."
Sorry, but Thanos deserves one, too. Just the confident grin he gives, despite being handed a great defeat. Then again, he is one who knows all about courting Death.
Two of the Deleted Scenes, which would have served as Book Ends for the bulk of the plot, Maria Hill is interrogated by the World Security Council, where she states in the first one that the Avengers were a mistake. And then it turns out she actually thinks they were the best thing for the situation and then proceeds to call the WSC out on trying to nuke New York and telling them that SHIELD has it on record, so they better not try to go after Nick Fury. Wow.
Even better - When she calls out the "morons" for trying to nuke Manhattan, she's initially told that the matter is "not in question" & the WSC are clearly trying to get her to provide damning testimony of Fury. After closing her statement by outright stating that despite her past disagreements with Fury's actions & making several complaints about him, she agrees with what the ones he took in regards to the Avengers & the invasion, before making the point of calling the WSC out on the nuke.
Hill: Oh, and, uh, as for the matter that's "not in question," where you morons tried to nuke New York? Well, that's on the record. As in, we recorded it. We do that; we're S.H.I.E.L.D. So, if you're thinking about coming about coming after Nick Fury, ever...think really, really hard.
During their brawl on the Helicarrier, Thor initially goes hand-to-hand with the Hulk. When he realizes that won't work, with the Hulk charging at him, he assumes his three-point "Hammer summon" pose, and calmly holds it for the several seconds it takes for the hammer to get to him from wherever it had been stowed away since we last saw him with it. He gets it just in time to pivot and give the Hulk a kiss on the chin with it.
And when the Hulk is rushing him as he's waiting for his hammer, Thor actually has a look of minor fear on his face, but rather than relocate and try to summon the hammer again, Thor waits where he is, with unflinching faith in Mjölnir's timing.
The closing scene of the Avengers parting ways, and Thor returning Loki to Asgard. The smug bastard spent the whole movie killing people for kicks and taking every moment to rub everyone's noses in it. Seeing him defeated and being led away gagged and bound while the Avengers look on might be one of the greatest moments in film.
The wide grin on Clint's face really makes it sink in.
Other film-related moments:
This isn't a story-relevant MoA but... just look at the film's amazing opening week gross of $207,438,708 and behold.
It's now the fastest movie to date to make $250mil, grossing that in just 6 days (for perspective, the movie's budget was $220mil). Keep in mind that this only accounts for domestic gross; by the time it hit that record, it had already grossed $500mil in international markets thanks to the slightly earlier launch.
It was also the fastest to reach $100mil (2 days), $150mil (2 days), $200mil (3 days), $250mil (6 days), $300mil (9 days), $350mil (10 days), $400mil (14 days), $450mil (17 days), $500mil (23 days), and $550mil (31 days). And while it couldn't catch Avatar's time record, the film has now grossed over $600 million at the domestic box office.
And the movies it has topped are certainly no box office slouches. The following movies lost their North American box office records to The Avengers: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (opening weekend for any film; summer opening weekend; opening weekend, adjusted for inflation; IMAX gross during opening weekend; days to reach $100, $150 million; and highest cumulative gross 2-4 days after release), The Dark Knight (opening week for any film; opening weekend, adjusted for ticket pricing; days to reach $200, $250, $300, $350, $400, $450 million; and highest cumulative gross 5-28 days after release), Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert (theater average - wide release), Alice in Wonderland (3D gross during opening weekend), Avatar (second weekend for any film; days to reach $500, $550 million; and highest cumulative gross 29-43 days after release) and Spider-Man (highest monthly share of domestic earnings). To put those marks in perspective, it took the records of four films that are in the Top 12 in the worldwide all-time box office, one of the highest-grossing concert films of all time and the opening to one of the highest-grossing superhero film series ever.
It's made a BILLION globally in just 19 days. This means that it has made back it's budget, AND the budget of every single other film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well! Again, in 19 days!
Not only that, but in doing so, it TIED with Avatar and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 for fastest-to-billion. That's huge, regardless of it's final gross in the future.
It's currently the highest-grossing comic-inspired movie ever, regardless of whether or not you adjust for inflation.
Another sign of how big a hit it was? Shawarma sales apparently shot way up after the film's release because of the post-climactic scene of Tony rambling about wanting to try some of it after he almost dies chucking the nuke through the wormhole, and the post-post-credits stinger of the exhausted Avengers chowing down on it in a trashed restaurant after the fight.
In the USA, in the month that it was released, Avengers earned more at the box office than every single other movie combined.
"I'd like to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative". Ten words which made comic fans the world over Squee. Fast forward four years and fourfilms, and they led to this. The amount of work to build a running story over five films to culminate in something even generally accepted to live up to the hype is definitely a moment of awesome for all involved.
Can we say this is an MoA for Mark Ruffalo? Originally expected to be the worst part of the film due to previous lackluster Hulk movies, widely hated as a Replacement Scrappy for Edward Norton, mocked roundly whenever promotional pictures came out... and then the actual movie was released, and his performance pretty much shut everybody the hell up. His success overlaps with heartwarming if you're aware of the personal traumas (face-paralyzing brain tumor, murder of his brother) that have nearly ended Ruffalo's career twice in the last decade - and that Ruffalo's survived them while maintaining a reputation as one of the most professional and genuinely nice people in Hollywood.
Not only that. Before the Avengers movie came out, there were no plans on a Hulk movie, based on previous movies being lackluster. After Avengers came out, a Hulk movie is talked about with Mark Ruffalo.
That story alone is a CMoA. Seems like these actors are genuinely nice guys who seem to see their hero status to kids as something to take seriously. Oh and in case you don't know? Loki's a villain story-wise, but the actor shows himself to be Mean Character, Nice Actor greatly.
Later, that kid gothis shields autographed by Captain America. Luckiest. Kid. EVER. Coulson must be seething with jealously.
Probably the biggest one of all is the fact that it made a crossover movie this size work. While X-Men proved that a superhero team movie could work, The Avengers proved that a movie with multiple characters from multiple franchises is more than possible, a fact that prompted DC to try to revive its Justice League of America movie idea.
Furthermore, Joss Whedon achieved this by creating a film that earned a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, outside Pixar, that kind of score is typically associated with art house movie quality!
The awesomeness of the film's ending was underscored when the How It Should Have Ended webseries did their own take on the Avengers...and didn't alter the ending at all. It was shortened, obviously, and comically exaggerated, but that's it. These guys will change the endings of anything (even Toy Story 3 for crying out loud!) but this is the one time they didn't. It was as if they were saying, "This film's ending was so awesome even we don't think it should've ended any differently!"