The 25 Best Marvel Netflix Moments From Every Series
The release of Jessica Jones Season 2 will bring us one month shy of the Marvel Netflix universe’s third anniversary, and mark our first true follow-up to the team-up epic of The Defenders. In all that time, we’ve seen masked men taking down crime lords, fights over dragon bones and barbershop chatter, along with some of the best fight scenes any Marvel universe has to offer.
Before our beloved #BestDefender Jessica kicks off the cycle anew, we’ve scoured the Netflix MCU for its 25 best moments and scenes, all the way through both Daredevil seasons, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders and even The Punisher. Which of your favorite scenes made the cut?
25. Daredevil – The Devil on Patrol
Season 2, Episode 1 – “Bang”
Daredevil Season 1 didn’t give us the greatest picture of a costumed “Man Without Fear” patrolling Hell’s Kitchen; something Season 2 opener “Bang” sought to rectify off the bat. The brief cold open immediately drew us into a sweltering Manhattan ridden with crime, and gave us an effective glimpse at how “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” handles cops, citizens and jewel thieves alike. You have to remember – none of the Marvel properties had given us true street-level vigilante crime-fighting at that point, and seeing a costumed Daredevil brought to life made a great palate-cleanser before the rest of the season.
24. The Punisher – Rampage
Season 1, Episode 1 “3 AM”
The opening minutes of The Punisher fulfilled both our biggest fears and expectations at once. The series couldn’t lean entirely on a skull-toting Frank Castle taking violent revenge on his enemies, so best to get the series’ pulpiest kills out of the way in one violent crowd-pleasing montage. Not only was the costume sparingly seen in Daredevil, but the “3 AM” montage set the table with as classic a Punisher as you can get, if only to set a benchmark for developing a much more complex character.
23. The Defenders – Taking the Subway
Season 1, Episode 7 – “Fish in the Jailhouse”
If you had to sell The Defenders in one image, it might be the sight of a run-down Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Matt Murdock forced to take the subway to a giant ninja battle. No quinjets, no rainbow portals or super-speed – just three down-on-their-luck do-gooders taking a breather in the most New York of ways: Facilitating alcoholism with a homeless guy’s stolen beer.
22. Iron Fist – Ward Flips Off His Office
Season 1, Episode 5 – “Under Leaf Pluck Lotus”
Look, I’m not trying to be (too) snarky here – of all the standout Iron Fist moments, it’s hard to find many on par with the other series to merit their inclusion. The “Under Leaf Pluck Lotus” scene of Ward Meachum silently flipping off any cameras in his office just stuck with me more than any other image of the series, if only for its rare balance of tone, spontaneity and commitment. Iron Fist could (and should) have been so much weirder than it was, and a slack-jawed Tom Pelphrey flipping omni-directional birds is more than just the perfect GIF – it’s the first time the series stopped taking itself so gosh-darned seriously.
21. The Defenders – Matt and Jessica
Season 1, Episode 6 – “Ashes, Ashes”
Half the appeal of The Defenders lay in watching these characters interact, and the flip side of Luke Cage and Iron Fist brawling it out gave us the terrific push-pull of Matt and Jessica. Krysten Ritter could have chemistry with a coat rack, but it was especially sweet to watch Jessica begrudgingly come to respect Matt, and recognize someone with their own share of past trauma.
20. The Punisher – Frank Goes to a Support Group
Season 1, Episode 13 – “Memento Mori”
The Punisher attending a veterans’ support group sounds like one of those cheesy “What If” comics that end with Frank torching the entire group, but the Netflix drama’s emphasis on veterans and post-traumatic stress made the closing beat a logical resolution for a character that habitually spurned getting too close. Best of all, Micro and Sarah even offered the family Thanksgiving dinner that Frank had nightmarish anxieties about, but Frank knew enough to work on who he’d become and admit his fears, rather than pretend to reclaim something he’d lost.
19. Daredevil – Foggy, Karen, Wilson and Vanessa’s First Dates
Season 1, Episode 5 – “World on Fire”
Foggy and Karen never made sense as a romantic pairing, but the impromptu date in Mrs. Cardenas’ wrecked living room was cute in its own Lady and the Tramp way. Better yet, it was a sweet and effective juxtaposition with Wilson and Vanessa’s private soiree overlooking the city; one that proved darkly poignant when the two bonded in the firelight of a burning city – caused by the same explosion that nearly killed Foggy and Karen.
18. Luke Cage – The Birth of Luke Cage
Season 1, Episode 4 “Step in the Arena”
Perhaps underappreciated was Luke Cage’s ability to embrace the campier aspects of its Blaxploitation roots. The destruction of Genghis Connie’s by way of Cottonmouth’s rocket launcher (another wonderful comic nod) gave us ample time for an origin story of Carl Lucas’ days in Seagate, as well as the experiment that led to his bulletproof skin. It’s an especially effective juxtaposition to watch the classic tiara and gauntlets pounding away at those prison walls at the same time as his rescue in the present; a black Samson always freeing others from bondage. Not to mention, the nod to Luke’s classic “damn fool” costume struck exactly the right tone between complicated comic history and a reinvented character moving “forward, always”
17. The Punisher – Frank, Micro and Sarah
Season 1, Episode 8 – “Cold Steel”
Part of what made The Punisher so surprisingly resonant was its downplaying of ultra-violence in favor of intimate character beats. The friendship between Frank and Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s Micro also added a genuine layer of humanity to Frank, as we got an uncomfortably voyeuristic look into Micro’s insecurity at Frank becoming the man around his house, and spending time with his wife. Bernthal’s work was subtle enough that we wondered if something real might happen between Frank and Jamie Ray Newman’s Sarah, but the near-kiss only reinforced the show’s theme of broken souls desperately looking to reconnect. Ultimately, Micro’s drunken accusations only strengthened his and Frank’s wartime bond, as Frank shared the reasons his heart will only ever belong to his own wife.
16. Jessica Jones – Luke Vs. Jessica
Season 1, Episode 12 – “AKA Take a Bloody Number”
You just knew that Luke and Jessica’s super-strength bedroom antics would lead to a more destructive grapple later on. Still, “Take a Bloody Number” did an effective job of hiding that Luke remained under Kilgrave’s thrall hours after the fact, and the knock-down drag-out fight made an effective symbolic expression of Jessica’s guilt for killing Reva. The fight itself is probably the franchise’s best expression of a super-brawl to date – all shattered walls and flying punches – before Luke’s Terminator-like relentlessness is finally settled with a shotgun blast to the chin. Clever, but ouch.
15. Daredevil – Fisk’s Empire Crumbles
Season 1, Episode 13 – “Daredevil”
Oh sure, we’d waited thirteen episodes and months before for an all-out costumed showdown between Daredevil and Kingpin, but seeing Nelson and Murdock take down the empire with their legal prowess had much more satisfaction to it. And really, a crime drama just isn’t classy without an operatic montage of all the bad guys going down at once.
14. Jessica Jones – Kilgrave Holds the Precinct Hostage
Season 1, Episode 7 – “AKA Top Shelf Perverts”
Jessica Jones put Kilgrave’s power on display multiple times, but never so terrifyingly as the moment Jessica’s attempt to put herself away becomes a near-silent flash mob of police officers and detectives training their guns on one another. More than just an effective and tense image, the moment also stands as backdrop for the horrific realization that Kilgrave doesn’t want revenge on Jessica, but rather seeks – in his own criminally twisted logic – to make Jessica fall in love with him.
13. The Defenders – Midland Circle Hallway Fight
Season 1, Episode 3 – “Worst Behavior”
I tried not to go to heavy on hallway fights, but you have to appreciate the first moment Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist truly got together in battle. The energy was high, the soundtrack strong, and the five minute fight did a great job of highlighting each character’s style – Luke breaking through walls, Jessica inelegantly brawling and Matt struggling to keep pace with an otherworldly Elektra. The moment wasn’t without its emotional beats, either, as Jessica and Luke reunited for the first time since 2015, and Matt slowly realized the identity of his opponent. The Defenders tried a similar trick with its grand finale, but there’s nothing quite like that first time.
12. Iron Fist – Danny Vs. Zhou Cheng
Season 1, Episode 8 – “The Blessing of Many Fractures”
One of Iron Fist’s best moments is a fight scene that seems almost at war with the series itself. There’s no tiptoeing around the fact that that Finn Jones’ casting as Danny Rand was a controversial one – comic accurate or not – in light of the character’s racial appropriation, and it’s almost too perfect that fan-favorite Lewis Tan ends up in a role that steals the series out from under him. The scene itself is oddly out of place, as Tan’s Zhou Cheng drunkenly blocks Danny’s path and maintains a significant advantage, but nonetheless ends up beaten down and ignored by the next scene. Still, in those brief minutes Tan displayed more charisma and genuine martial arts prowess than Jones managed the entire series, bring a pulp Kung Fu energy sadly lacking from other showdowns.
11. Daredevil – Matt and Elektra’s First Fight
Season 2, Episode 5 – “Kinbaku”
Our love for Jennifer Garner aside, the first Daredevil film and its subsequent spinoff got Elektra so, so wrong. Season 2 had the unenviable task of not only introducing Elodie Yung’s version as partner and complicated love interest, but also a recurring threat for The Defenders and an integral part of Matt’s own past. “Kinbaku” accomplished that in spades (overlooking the head-scratching “Ten Years Ago” timeline), establishing a bond between Matt and Elektra rooted not just in dissection of wealth and privilege, but their mastery of multiple fight styles. The sexy bout in Matt’s old boxing gym set off more than a few sparks, and made effective shorthand for a character introduced midway through the season.
10. Luke Cage – Bulletproof Love
Season 1, Episode 12 – “Soliloquy of Chaos”
Come on, how many superhero properties can actively pull off incorporating their own soundtracks into the plot, along with the artist? The twelfth episode cameo of Method Man wasn’t just great for showcasing the close-knit nature of the hip-hop and Harlem communities, but also to illustrate that Luke Cage had achieved heroic fame in his own right. Not to mention, Meth’s subsequent “Bulletproof Love” was just a great track to begin with, even before the effective montage of policemen stopping every black man in a bullethole hoodie – including one of their own.
9. The Punisher – Billy Recruits Lewis to Anvil
Season 1, Episode 4 – “Resupply”
Don’t ask us why Daniel Webber keeps getting cast in the role of crazed military gunmen, but his portrayal of jaded veteran Lewis Wilson opened up a host of deeper issues for The Punisher. At first, Billy Russo breaks down the economics of military investment to potential Anvil recruits, driving home the hypocrisy of highly-trained soldiers having no means to earn their worth back home. It’s a sobering look at privatizing the military industrial complex, made all the more dehumanizing when Wilson’s PTSD prevents him from earning a spot. I never looked to The Punisher for a complex dissection of wounded warriors, but something out these early scenes really struck at the core of the character’s popularity with military and law enforcement.
8. Daredevil – Ben Urich’s Last Stand
Season 1, Episode 12 – “The Ones We Leave Behind”
Poor Ben Urich really got the short end of the stick in the Defenders franchise, but darn if Vondie Curtis-Hall didn’t know how to make those final moments count. The penultimate Season 1 episode saw Urich’s last story interrupted by Fisk’s coolly intimidating presence in his home, but the veteran reporter never once blinked in the face of mortal danger. Fisk couldn’t forgive his mother being made the subject of an investigation, and Daredevil has been all the poorer for Curtis-Hall’s absent thereafter.
7. Luke Cage – Crispus Attucks Fight Scene
Season 1, Episode 3 – “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?”
It’s harder than you might think to build an exciting action sequence around someone with bulletproof skin. And say what you will about the Defenders’ propensity for hallway fights, the Crispus Attucks incursion of Luke Cage’s third episode was bursting with “holy s---” ways to show off its hero’s invincible style – car doors as battering rams, pipes torn out of walls and couches flung out the windows. You don’t get much cooler than Luke Cage taking on an entire building to the tune of Wu Tang’s “Bring Da Ruckus,” and few Marvel films can even come close to imbuing action with this much style.
6. Jessica Jones – Jessica Realizes Kilgrave Is Alive
Season 1, Episode 1 – “AKA Ladies Night”
Jessica Jones was never going to be the broody brawler of its Netflix predecessor, and instead needed more psychological thrills. The first hour of the purple-drenched noir drama accomplished that in spades, especially as the already-traumatized Jessica put together the pieces of young Hope being taken to Kilgrave’s famous haunts. Krysten Ritter brought an element of fear to Jessica Jones that placed the series on an emotional spectrum far above most superhero stories, and director S.J. Clarkson perfectly matched the frightening tone around Kilgrave’s return.
5. The Defenders – Luke Cage Vs. Iron Fist
Season 1, Episode 2 – “Mean Right Hook”
It’s practically tradition that superheroes come to blows before their big team-up, and no one needed to watch Danny Rand beaten down more than an audience that sat through Iron Fist. Though the series’ fight choreography often leaves something to be desired, “Mean Right Hook” made painstakingly clear how Danny’s measured strikes simply bounced off Luke’s unbreakable skin; leaving speed his only option. The actual Iron Fist hit was more than just a great GIF for the trailer as well, letting us see how their different powers and strengths actually interact. If ever we do get a proper Power Man and Iron Fist team-up, that first fight was a great jumping off point.
4. Daredevil – “Red” and Frank on the Roof
Season 2, Episode 3 – “New York’s Finest”
There are a lot of great Punisher-Daredevil scenes, among them the terrifying precision of Frank’s faceless arrival at the hospital and subsequent first fight with Matt, or the one-upped hallway siege with the Dogs of Hell. All the same, it’s hard to overlook the note-perfect comic homage that sees Daredevil chained up on the roof and trading vigilante philosophy with the militarized killer, before being forced to take aim at poor Grotto. There’s good reason Season 2 gave Jon Bernthal a wide-enough berth to flesh out his take on Frank Castle, and the rooftop scenes proved Daredevil at its most thoughtful.
3. Luke Cage – Luke Held at Gunpoint
Season 1, Episode 2 – “Code of the Streets”
Luke Cage didn’t shirk its position as one of the first black-led superhero franchises – it made black history a thesis statement. In the wake of Pop’s death, gone was the smooth Luke willing to brush off insults by neighborhood thugs, and in his place stood a righteous avenger unwilling to stand by as young men perpetuate a culture of gun violence and casual n-words. Luke Cage took what might have been a throwaway mugging at the top of its second hour, and elevated the moment into Mike Colter’s passionate soliloquy about the historical significance of Crispus Attucks, and his own need to step up as a hero to the community. The earliest hours of Luke Cage were full of moments crackling with specificity in a way few superhero properties know how.
Jessica Jones – Jessica and Luke Break the Bed
Season 1, Episode 3 – “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”
2. Jessica Jones – Jessica and Luke Break the Bed
Season 1, Episode 3 – “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”
For all its psychological horror, Jessica Jones also got to explore another rarely-seen corner of the Marvel universe: the sexy one. Luke and Jessica’s first sex scene was all guilt and angst, but the discovery that Luke had his own superpowers – thus neither needed to hold back their strength – offered a bed-breaking and refreshing moment of joy in the otherwise moody drama. It’s not just the raciest Marvel has ever been, but also the first in a string of Jessica Jones scenes that feel almost exclusively tailored to the female gaze and women taking complete ownership of their sexuality.
1. Daredevil – The Hallway Fight
Season 1, Episode 2 – “Cut Man”
Hallway fights are something of a comic prerequisite for Marvel’s Netflix shows, but it’s true what they say – you never forget your first. The second hour’s one-take (ish) beatdown between Matt and a cadre of thugs holding a young boy hostage very much set the tone for the Netflix universe, making up for their lack of alien invasions with good old-fashioned stuntwork. From each brutal hit to the manner in which Matt gets visibly tired after each bout, “Cut Man” gave us something the franchise has often imitated – but never duplicated.
Jessica Jones Season 2 will premiere on Thursday, March 8, with Luke Cage Season 2 and Daredevil Season 3 expected later this year. Which of your favorite Marvel Netflix moments did we miss?
Gallery: Every Live-Action Marvel TV Series, Ranked