14 Moments Where MCU Heroes Earned Their Stripes

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Vote up the moments where MCU heroes truly earned their Avenger bonafides.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of the most heroic Avengers moments where superheroes prove just how good they are, but not all moments are created equal. And the most heroic moments in the MCU prove this to a tee.

Sure, Tony Stark did some heroic stuff in Iron Man and Iron Man 2, but he didn't become a true superhero until he flew that missile up into space at the end of The Avengers. Yeah, Scarlet Witch had been palling around with the Avengers for a few movies before Avengers: Infinity War, but she cemented her title as a true hero when she destroyed the Mind Stone in Vision's head while simultaneously holding off Thanos.

Some heroes use strength, others prove their selflessness, but all of them have a defining moment where they stopped being just a hero and began living up to the title of "superhero."

  • Tony Stark was never stepping into the Iron Man armor by himself. The man had to make room for his massive ego to fit in there with him. You don't spout off a self-descriptor like "Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist" without thinking pretty highly of yourself. And if Iron Man and Iron Man 2 were about Tony working on his personal demons while trying to get a grip on the superhero lifestyle, his arc in The Avengers is all about becoming more of a selfless hero than a selfish one.

    Steve Rogers straight-up tells him, "You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play." So, when Tony basically sacrifices himself to save untold amounts of countless lives at the end of The Avengers (much like Steve did at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger), it is a pretty big moment for Stark. That was when he stopped being just Iron Man and started being an Avenger.

    249 votes
  • When Doctor Strange Locks Himself In A Time Loop With Dormammu
    Photo: Doctor Strange / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Stephen Strange's journey from "egotistical surgeon" to "Sorcerer Supreme" in Doctor Strange is one of great humility. The man viewers meet at the beginning of the film is one who is only concerned with himself in pretty much all facets of life. By the end of the movie, Strange is willing to lock himself in an endless time loop where he is brutally slain by Dormammu over and over again to save everyone on the planet.

    Clearly, the stakes were about as high as they get, but we're not sure the Stephen Strange of Doctor Strange's opening would've been willing to make that bargain. Strange would go on to play an important role in Avengers: Infinity War, as well as the finale of Avengers: Endgame, but it was the climax of Doctor Strange that proved the Earth was safe in his capable hands.

    235 votes
  • When The Guardians Of The Galaxy Grab The Power Stone
    Photo: Guardians of the Galaxy / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    This group of a-holes became an adopted family the moment they joined forces to take on the might of the Power Stone and end Ronan the Accuser's grand plan of wiping out Xandar. Sure, Xandar was unceremoniously razed by Thanos off-screen sometime before the start of Avengers: Infinity War, but there would've been no Xandar to raze if the Guardians of the Galaxy hadn't saved it in the first place!

    After Peter Quill tries to get Ronan to participate in a typical James Gunnian dance-off, newfound hero Star-Lord picks up the Power Stone, and the force it contains is too much for him to handle. Alas, Gamora, Drax, and Rocket are there to save the day as they join hands to share the energy between them. And a spacefaring super-team was born!

    217 votes
  • When Captain America Rescues Bucky And The Howling Commandos
    Photo: Captain America: The First Avenger / Paramount Pictures

    Steve Rogers is Marvel's goodest boy. He's not just a good guy... he's the goodest guy. That is made abundantly clear in Captain America: The First Avenger. He tries everything he can think of to enlist in the United States military and join the fight in WWII. He stands up to a man twice his size who is belittling the service of those fighting the Third Reich. He even jumps on a dummy grenade he believes is real to save those around him. Steve Rogers is about as good as they come.

    And though he showed off his heroic disposition on numerous occasions before saving his best friend Bucky, the Howling Commandos, and countless other soldiers from Hydra's clutches, that was the moment he truly became the first Avenger. Steve, ever the one-man wrecking crew, went into the Hydra base alone and came out with dozens of grateful soldiers at his side. That's just the kind of dude the original Captain America is.

    226 votes
  • When Thor Sacrifices Himself To Protect The Warriors Three
    Photo: Thor / Paramount Pictures

    When viewers first meet the God of Thunder at the beginning of Thor, he isn't exactly the superhero people would eventually come to know and love over the following decade of MCU films. Odin calls his eldest son a "vain, greedy, cruel boy," and, well, he's pretty spot-on with that harsh assessment. Of course, Thor is stripped of his power and banished to Earth shortly thereafter, doomed to learn the error of his ways or be stuck living as a normal (albeit gorgeous and strong) human being for the rest of his days.

    Thor manages to learn his lesson quite rapidly as Loki sends the Destroyer after the powerless Odinson and his friends - Sif and the Warriors Three - after just a couple of days. Despite having none of his Asgardian might, Thor sacrifices himself to save everyone else, getting battered in the process. Humility, thy name is finally Thor! An Avenger is born at that moment as his powers return and he gets back to what he does best: kicking all kinds of butt.

    193 votes
  • When Scarlet Witch Blasts The Mind Stone Out Of Vision's Forehead
    Photo: Avengers: Infinity War / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    As was made abundantly clear in WandaVision, the Scarlet Witch really has had a rough go of it in the MCU. She lost her parents at a very young age thanks to a Stark Industries bomb in Sokovia. She lost her brother at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron as he sacrificed himself to save Hawkeye and an innocent child. She was unfortunately responsible for the accidental demise of a bunch of innocents during the opening of Captain America: Civil War. And, to top it all off, she was forced to slay her true love, the Vision, by destroying the Mind Stone, thereby stopping Thanos's quest to eliminate half of all life in the universe.

    After Wanda goes through the trauma of ending her partner, Thanos ends up reversing time anyway, killing Vision for the second time in a span of about 30 seconds. But don't discount how incredible it was for Wanda to hold off Thanos while destroying the Mind Stone at the same time... that takes some serious power.

    201 votes