- Superhero movies have the advantage of being able to convey stories visually, with some of the best moments not relying on dialogue.
- Fight scenes and montages are often used in superhero movies to communicate story elements without the need for dialogue.
- Some standout scenes, like Sandman’s transformation in Spider-Man 3 or the memory of the Valkyries massacre in Thor: Ragnarok, effectively use visuals and music to convey emotion and backstory.
Some of the best scenes in superhero media show rather than tell, creating some incredible scenes that convey a story without a single syllable of dialogue. Stories adapted from comic books have an inherent advantage in re-creating their source material visually, with some superhero movies lifting shots straight out of panels to re-create iconic imagery. Compared to other kinds of source material, superhero stories are intrinsically visual, meaning that their film and TV adaptations have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of visual language. Some of the best moments of all time in comic book movies don’t even have a single line of spoken word.
There are many types of scenes in superhero movies that lend themselves to this format. Of course, fight scenes in superhero movies and TV are always a treat to watch, the best of which needs no dialogue as fists do the talking instead. Many films in the genre also make gratuitous use of montages as well, which helps to bear some of the burden in easily explaining the often convoluted backstory comic books are known for. Whether it’s a haunting character examination, lore dumping expository montage, or simply an awesome fight scene, the superhero genre has no shortage of excellent scenes without the need for any lines of dialogue.
10 The Birth Of The Sandman
While Spider-Man 3 is typically regarded as the weakest of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, a single standout scene raises its estimation in the minds of many viewers. After Flint Marko falls into a particle accelerator, he is transformed into a loose amalgamation of sand in the shape of a person. Without the ability to speak, the nicely-aging CGI effects that compose Marko’s body convey the despair of his condition through body language alone, despair which turns to determination as the Sandman struggles to manifest in order to hold a locket with his daughter’s picture. The humanity of the somber scene is punctuated with a heart-breaking orchestral score as Marko’s sadness turns into a grim determination.
9 The Memory Of The Valkyries Massacre
Thor: Ragnarok introduced Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie into the MCU, an alcoholic drifter running from her past as one of Asgard’s legendary protectors. Valkyrie has to confront this past during a scuffle with Loki, who forces her to re-live the memory of the trauma as an underhanded fighting tactic. The dramatic, swirling lighting around the Valkyries’ last battle that fills Thompson’s mind looks like something out of a renaissance painting. In just a few moments, the audience completely understands the trauma that Hela inflicted on Valkyrie, the stunning sequence making each frame worth a thousand words as Valkyrie watches her sisters die.
8 Watchmen’s Opening Montage
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen had a difficult task in realizing Alan Moore’s famous book of the same name. The world of Watchmen is similar to our own, but with history having been affected in several key areas by the advent of superheroes in the early 20th century. Snyder expertly takes audiences through a tour of the dark world’s history with a brilliant montage spanning the ages, chronicling crucial moments in superhero history in the film’s grim timeline. Set to the tune of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, this brilliant sequence serves as a perfect primer to both the lore and tone of the world Watchmen takes place in.
7 Superman vs. Doomsday
Superman & Lois
Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman is an under-the-rader contentder for one of the best on-screen interpretations of the Man of Steel, and the stunning finale to the series’ third season put his portrayal to use in a stunning action scene. Clark’s somber determination to put down the rampaging Doomsday is palpable as he impales the creature on the spire of a building, taking the fight all the way to the moon when that doesn’t work. This bombastic season finale has so many great moments, from Superman freezing Doomsday underwater to realizing he’s still alive by hearing his heartbeat, giving season 4 of Superman & Lois big shoes to fill.
6 Omni-Man Destroys The Flaxans’ World
Up until the point in the series this scene happens at, viewers unfamiliar with the comics may still be shaky on Omni-Man’s evil intentions, having only seen him reveal his true nature in a single bloody fight against the Guardians of the Globe. When he winds up stranded in the Flaxan’s world for what could’ve been years, this stunning montage makes it clear in no uncertain terms that Omni-Man is not a good guy, callously destroying the Flaxans’ entire planet to a driving techno beat. The stark, blood-red color palette and quiet horror of Nolan’s actions makes for a goosebumps-giving sequence.
5 Life’s Incredible Again
Though not adapted from an existing comic or story, Brad Bird’s The Incredibles has earned its place in the superhero movie hall of fame as a heartwarming, yet action-packed take on a super-powered family. After being stuck in hiding for so long, Bob being able to let loose on his missions while simultaneously hitting the weights and making more time for his family provides a wonderful high point that the animated movie really gets across with a lively montage. The infectious positivity of the sequence makes it impossible not to smile as Michael Giacchino’s genius original score floats through Bob’s reinvigorated life.
4 Quicksilver Speed-Blitzes Magneto’s Prison
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
One of the best scenes in the entire X-Men franchise, the audience getting Quicksilver’s point-of-view as he unleashes his super-speed on the guards of Magneto’s prison without killing anyone was an unforgettable moment. Popping in Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle in his Walkman as he casually and comically dismantles the prison staff, Quicksilver demonstrates just how detached from danger he is no matter the intensity of the situation. This scene was good enough to warrant a repeat performance in X-Men: Apocalypse, giving Quicksilver another wordless slow-motion action setpiece.
3 Deadpool’s Opening Credits
Considering Deadpool’s reputation as The Merc with a Mouth, it’s hard to believe his solo movie debut could have such an effective scene without a single line of dialogue. Yet the film’s opening credits do just that, guiding audiences through the carnage of Deadpool’s pursuit of vengance on the open road in a moment of stopped time. The lovingly-rendered CGI is punctuated with tongue-in-cheek captions giving credit to characters like “Hot Chick” and “British Villain”, juxtaposing the violence with Juice Newton’s Angel Of The Morning. It’s hard to imagine any line of dialogue that could’ve introduced Deadpool‘s action, line-crossing humor, and fourth wall breaking better than this opening crawl.
2 Daredevil’s Hallway Fight
A relatively grounded hero compared to many other Marvel properties, Netflix’s Daredevil series was always sure to provide a grittier, more vulnerable hero than the MCU had seen previously. Season 2, episode 3 “New York’s Finest” contributes to this tone with a brutally realistic, claustrophobic fight scene that does the movie hallway fight trope justice. The viewer feels Daredevil’s mounting exhaustion with every punch he throws, the long takes lingering on the action as if to force audiences not to look away. The incredible choreography, set design, and Charlie Cox’s physicality come together to create one of the most memorable scenes in the entire series without speaking so much as a syllable.
1 The Joker’s Bloody Smile
Joker has been critically-praised as an artistic, thoughtful film that just happens to focus on a super villain from the comics, and one of the final scenes of the movie makes it hauntingly clear why. As the bubbling sentiment of frustration and violence boiling within Gotham the entire film boils over in a riot that frees Arthur Fleck from his arrest, he finally realizes his place as a symbol of a new movement. Accepting his newfound position, he simply smiles, wiping a smile of blood onto his face and dancing amidst the chaos. Though nobody speaks, the message that Arthur has passed the point of no return, officially becoming The Joker, is made crystal clear.