13 MCU Flashbacks That Actually Made A Major Impact

List Rules
Vote up the MCU flashbacks that were more than just filler.

For as long as major filmmaking has been around, the flashback sequence has been used to highlight serious emotional moments that have a huge impact not only on the characters in the film but also on audiences. As such, the best MCU flashback scenes follow suit by letting filmgoers live in some of the most important moments in the lives of their favorite heroes and villains. 

Marvel Studios has made great use of the flashback over the years. Think of Thanos adopting Gamora mid-genocide in Avengers: Infinity War or Hela slaughtering the entirety of the Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok. The opening scenes of Black Widow and Guardians of the Galaxy provide insight into the vastly different psyches of Natasha Romanoff and Peter Quill. And we all had tears in our eyes when Killmonger found the body of his recently murdered father in Black Panther. So, take a stroll down memory lane and vote up those MCU flashbacks you just can't forget.


  • The demise of Tony Stark's father was mere background fodder in the original Iron Man and became a serious plot point in Iron Man 2. MCU fans didn't discover the truth behind Howard and Maria Stark's mysterious end until Captain America: Civil War, where it was revealed via flashback/security tape footage that the Starks didn't perish in an automobile accident as was previously thought. No, they were slain in cold blood by the Winter Soldier so he could take Howard Stark's successfully recreated Super-Soldier Serum from the trunk.

    While the Avengers were already on rocky ground thanks to the Sokovia Accords, Bucky Barnes's slaying of the Starks became the straw that broke the camel's back. Steve Rogers knew that Bucky had eliminated the Starks that night and never told Tony the truth about his parents' death. The friendship-fracturing events of Captain America: Civil War would see half of Earth's Mightiest Heroes become fugitives. It would take Thanos's arrival to bring Cap and Iron Man back together again.

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  • Peter Quill's entire existence is rocked to its very core when he learns his father is alive in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. If the first Guardians film was about Star-Lord creating his own family unit out of a group of misfits, the sequel sees what happens to that group when blood ties rear their ugly heads and threaten to upend everything. For years, Quill failed to come to terms with the demise of his mother, as well as the absence of his father in his upbringing. When Kurt Russell's Ego finally shows up, Peter is seduced by the idea of having a familial relationship he never really got to have during his youth.

    Of course, Peter doesn't need to have a relationship with Ego because he has already created his own family during his years in space. This is proven in the momentary flashback sequence during the film's finale. Just before Quill manages to fight back against his evil father, Yondu spurs Quill into reflecting on the relationships that had gotten him to that point in his life. We see Quill with his mother, laughing with Drax, flying with Rocket, having an emotional moment with Gamora, and learning how to shoot with Yondu as a boy. And that's when everyone knew Ego was going to get his butt kicked.

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  • Nothing in the dozens of hours in the MCU provided viewers with a better understanding of the confusing nature of Thanos than this flashback sequence from Avengers: Infinity War. Here you have the Mad Titan committing mass genocide on Gamora's home planet, only to have him single out an innocent child for mercy. Thanos turns the young girl away from all the violence, having her focus on a perfectly balanced dual-blade instead. Thanos would end up adopting Gamora as his daughter, and say what you will about his abhorrent parenting tactics, but we suppose it is better than slaughtering the girl. 

    Infinity War and Endgame made Thanos one of the most memorable villains in the MCU not only because he was tough as nails, but also because he was a complex character. Couple this flashback with Thanos's sacrifice of Gamora on Vormir and you've got the makings of a fantastic bad guy. Throw in that weird, wrinkly chin and bing, bang, boom: icon.

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  • 4
    136 VOTES

    Wanda Remembering The Night She Lost Her Parents In 'WandaVision'

    Wanda Remembering The Night She Lost Her Parents In 'WandaVision'
    Photo: Disney+

    Much like her comic book counterpart, the Wanda Maximoff of the MCU has had a life full of trauma. From losing her twin brother in Avengers: Age of Ultron to being forced to slay the love of her life in Avengers: Infinity War, the Scarlet Witch has basically known nothing but loss during her time on Earth. And it all started with the sudden and tragic loss of her parents when she was a child.

    At its core, WandaVision is all about the Scarlet Witch coming to terms with and working through the emotional scarring that has defined her entire existence. Thanks to the incessant meddling of Agatha Harkness, viewers were treated (or is it "subjected"?) to the moment in Wanda's childhood where her parents were slain during a bombing in Sokovia. We'd already gotten a version of this story in Age of Ultron, but WandaVision clued viewers in on a vital detail: Wanda unwittingly used Chaos Magic to keep a Stark Industries mortar shell from going off and killing the Maximoff twins as they cowered in the rubble of their leveled apartment.

  • The Janet van Dyne of the MCU will probably never get to become the Avengers mainstay her comic book counterpart is, but that doesn't mean Marvel Studios has sold her short thus far. The original Wasp served as the emotional wedge between Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne in Ant-Man, and her role was bolstered for that film's 2018 sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp. If you're not game for Michelle Pfeiffer as the originator of the Wasp moniker, we're not sure what to do for you.

    Hot on the heels of Avengers: Infinity War, this flick introduced the Quantum Realm and Janet's connection to it via a flashback sequence that was remarkably similar to one from the first film. Fans not only got to see Janet sacrifice herself to stop a Soviet nuclear warhead from wreaking havoc on the United States, but also got some tantalizing glimpses into the Quantum Realm itself. The Quantum Realm would become quite a big component of not only Avengers: Endgame, but Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, as well.

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    131 VOTES

    Young Natasha Escaping The US With Her 'Family' In 'Black Widow'

    The fantastic opening flashback scene in Black Widow, which gives off some serious The Americans vibes, fleshes out the background of Natasha Romanoff and gives some context for her detached personality. The lengthy prologue establishes the main characters of the film, from Romanoff and Yelena Belova to Alexei Shostakov and Melina Vostokoff, and provides everything from emotional beats to action sequences. Getting to see a "family" of Russian spies face off against a cadre of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the mid-'90s is exactly the kind of comic-bookery fans love to see from Marvel Studios.

    In about 10 minutes, viewers are introduced to the character traits that will define each of the four main players: Yelena's innocence at the time of their escape, Natasha's natural instincts in flying the plane and fierce protection of Yelena afterward, Melina's reluctance to return to her homeland, and Alexei's desperation to earn the glory he believes he deserves. All in all, the flashback gives a glimpse into the lives of a fake family that not only ended up becoming a real family in the end, but was also unable to move on afterward. Yelena never managed to get over the ordeal, Natasha rebelled against the Red Room in the years following, Melina was emotionally defeated by the dissolving of her family, and Alexei not only lost the one good thing that ever happened to him, but was also denied his Red Guardian status.