The Dark Knight (2008))
I struggled over whether this was Moment #2 or #3, but I settled on #2 simply because it’s longer than the first few minutes of Iron Man and perhaps more artfully and deliberately crafted. Here’s another example of an impossible choice of moments: how do you pick the best scene in The Dark Knight, which I would say is the greatest comic book movie of all time? There’s so much that the film does right that it’s a disservice to select just one among the many – the interrogation scene, the confrontation with Two-Face, Lucius’s subtle “Good luck.” But one standout in the film is Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker, and his introduction into the world of the film is nothing short of cinematic perfection. This audacious bank robbery is meticulously planned by The Joker – and filmed by Christopher Nolan – demonstrating the mad genius of both. It also lets us know that this might not be Batman’s movie, after all; indeed, following this heist all we wanted was more Joker.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012))
Will this list look different in five years, after the hype dies down? Possibly. But for now, Bruce Wayne’s escape from Bane’s prison is the greatest comic book movie moment because it does precisely what comic book movies are supposed to do: combining the possibilities of film with the iconography and mythology of comics to entertain, to move, to rouse, to inspire. I’ve written at length about the majesty of this moment, but as the greatest comic book movie moment of all time Bruce’s escape brings our hero back from the death of his soul. Broken, at rock bottom, equal parts angry and afraid, Bruce realizes that his survival depends on his inner strength and a penultimate confrontation with his demons before facing Bane for the last time. As Hans Zimmer’s score rises, Bruce climbs with it, ready to make a leap of faith. Surrounded by a cloud of bats – his chosen avatar – Bruce leaps – and lives, and the Dark Knight rises.
(Since the film is still in theaters, we'll have to content ourselves with the thrilling Zimmer score. Imagine the fire.)
These were moments that made my list but didn’t crack the Top 10, comic book movie moments that would probably comprise #11-15 on this list, presented here without comment and in chronological order.