The MCU isn’t typically the first thing you’d associate with horror. However, amongst the playful jibs and pop culture references, Earth’s mightiest heroes have had to face off against far more terrifying threats than Titans and alien invasions.
Despite saving the world countless times, Marvel’s finest have faced the cost along the way, but they do not look like they’ll be stopping any time soon. Though we celebrate their victories, it’s hard not to forget the often heart-stopping terror and frights they’ve encountered.
Vision’s Corpse Appears – WandaVision
From the get-go, we know that nothing is as it seems in WandaVision. While the dinner altercation in episode one offers the first of many jarring contrasts to the otherwise light-hearted tone of the sitcom-inspired series, the end of episode four manages to startle both viewers and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). The scene initially has tension brewing between Wanda and Monica (Teyonah Parris) as the former expels the other woman from her home – and Westview – using her powers.
When Vision (Paul Bettany) arrives moments later, we are stunned to see that he is now a reanimated corpse – the very same one that Thanos (Josh Brolin) obliterated back on Wakanda in Infinity War. The brief lapse in what had previously been nothing but perfect harmony is an incline to Wanda’s conflict with her magic; she cannot let go of the past nor process her grief, effectively highlighting how powerful she can be.
Scarlet Witch in Pursuit – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Whether you perceive her as villain or heroone thing is for sure, Wanda is truly terrifying as she launches her pursuit of Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Christine (Rachel McAdams), and America (Xochitl Gomez). Horror is Sam Raimi‘s specialty, and he refuses to let even a single second slip through his fingers. The entire scene fulfills classic horror-slasher conventions from well-timed jump scares to the haunting image of the bloodied Wanda closing in on the trio from behind.
It is made more frightening because the chase takes place under dark lighting in a narrow hallway; Every time Strange attempts to fire a hurdle Wanda’s way, she blazes through it like it’s nothing. At this point in the film, we’ve already seen what Wanda is capable of and, despite not being at her full potential here, she is clearly not someone you’d ever want to cross.
Ultron Crashes the Party – Avengers: Age of Ultron
As celebrations are underway, Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his merry band of heroes is met with evil bot party crasher Ultron (James Spader) donning damaged armor and taunting the team. His introduction understandably kills the mood but delivers in setting up a tense, disturbed, and well-kept pace throughout the film.
Ultron’s physical appearance upon his debut is creepy beyond a doubt. Created by Stark to assist them with threats, the artificial intelligence is a fine example of science gone wrong as it turns against the Avengers in a bid to destroy humanity – what could be scarier than that?
Thanos Kills Loki – Avengers Infinity War
Picking up immediately from the end of Thor: Ragnarokfans see a grim opening to the third chapter in the Avengers franchise. The Asgardian distress call lowers the tone immensely compared to Ragnarok; It plays out over footage of the ship now damaged beyond repair with the bodies of Asgard natives scattered along the floors. All hope appears lost against the Titan as both Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are benched from the fight straight away.
After killing half of Thor’s people as well as Heimdall (Idris Elba), Thanos is approached by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) offering a truce. The Norse trickster shows a change of color when he pulls a dagger on the Titan; however, his efforts are futile and Thanos suffocates him before snapping his neck in front of Thor. It is a dark end to the once comedic fan-favorite villain, especially because we are made to watch the chain of events as they happen.
Zombie Iron Man – Spider-Man: Far From Home
While still in mourning for the loss of his mentor, Peter (Tom Holland) is terrorized by a projection of a reanimated Iron Man crawling from his grave towards the young hero. This targeted attack comes directly from Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is desperately trying to exploit Peter’s weaknesses.
This is by far one of the scariest and most unexpected moments within the MCU, especially because the nature of the film is delving into Peter’s grief. These are strong elements of horror that alter the dynamic of this sequel; it’s easy to forget how young Peter actually is in the grand scheme of all that he’s been through, but having him confront his grieving head-on signifies that he still needs a helping hand to guide him.
The Nightmares – Avengers: Age of Ultron
Wanda proves herself to be quite the worthy adversary and ally to the team upon her first appearance in Age of Ultron. During one of her earliest encounters with the group, she is able to manipulate each of their minds and project their deepest fears – which near enough immobilizes them as they come to understand who they’re up against.
Watching Earth’s mightiest heroes face their anxieties and falter into a state of vulnerability is a daunting exploration, especially when the Hulk also falls victim to the mind games. It portrays that their weaknesses stem from within their own pasts and potential decisions; some of which they are trying to make up for; it shines new light upon the Avengers, foreshadowing and warning of the events to the Infinity Saga’s conclusion, raising the stakes higher than ever.
Wanda Dreamwalks into Her Variant – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
There are plenty of moments from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that are pure nightmare fuel. That being said, the simplicity of how this particular scene is conveyed is a credit to Raimi’s direction and Olsen’s acting. Wanda, now searching for Strange and America, is successfully able to dreamwalk into Earth-838, and she does so by taking over her variant’s body.
We begin the transition by welcoming ourselves into Earth-838 Wanda’s home; she ultimately has everything that Earth-616 Wanda wants. The perspective switches between following this universe’s Wanda with her sons to the unseen observer watching her. Earth-838 Wanda knows something is there; It just becomes a matter of when the Scarlet Witch will appear. The imagery of the photographs coming to life alongside the reflection in the window captures the film’s darker aesthetic perfectly. There is an unnerving sense of discomfort present, and this keeps up for the remaining runtime.
Hulk Hunts Down Black Widow – The Avengers
For the majority of the first act, we are anticipating the debut of Bruce Banner’s perpetually angry, green alter-ego. With Stark jokingly taunting him to unleash the beast and Loki’s motives eventually revealed, Banner finds himself losing control in the bowels of the ship – and Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) has a front-row seat. Pinned beneath a piece of debris, the Black Widow struggles with trying to calm the Banner and freeing herself before the Hulk inevitably breaks the good doctor’s hold on him.
It is arguably the most frightening scene in the whole film. Natasha is armed with nothing but her own combat skills and intelligence as she must outsmart the Hulk before he catches her. It looks to be a losing battle immediately because Banner’s alter-ego strides inches behind as the window for an escape opportunity narrows. Although we know this would never be the end of an integral character so early into the game, we still can not help but fear for Natasha to get away on time.
The Stark Murders – Captain America: Civil War
The clash between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man is further and heavily burdened by Bucky’s (Sebastian Stan) involvement with the deaths of Tony’s parents. Though the revelation of Bucky being the one to commit their murder is a nail in the coffin for Steve and Stark’s friendship, the grainy CCTV footage presented to Stark is equally difficult to watch.
The film shows Bucky, under the control of HYDRA, brutally beating and strangling the Stark parents; it’s a scene made devastating by the realization that this is not truly Bucky and that he is under the influence of his HYDRA training as the present-day Barnes is faced with the turmoil of his actions. At the same time, however, this scene signifies the hold HYDRA can have over one’s mind.
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