The year 2017 was a great one for superhero movies, and while Wonder Woman was DC’s best film in its shared universe so far, it’s clear that Marvel had the better year. Not only did we get three fantastic MCU movies, but we got perhaps the best X-Men movie yet from Fox with Wolverine’s final outing in Logan. The Guardians of the Galaxy returned to solve the mystery of Star Lord's father, the God of Thunder clashed with a gladiatorial Hulk in Thor Ragnarok, and Peter Parker landed his first movie in a shared Marvel Universe (and learning some hard lessons from Iron Man along the way) in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
It feels like every year is getting better and better for superhero films, and 2018 looks to be no different, with Avengers: Infinity War, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Deadpool 2 and Aquaman just the tip of the iceberg. You’d think with all of these movies coming out there’d be no more surprises, but 2017 proved that wrong with some of the biggest moments, most surprising cameos and all around shocking scenes. There were deaths of heroes, villains and at least one hammer, family revelations and unexpected team-ups. Here at CBR, we’ve collected the biggest, most shocking moments from 2017’s Marvel movies!
15 STAN LEE AND THE WATCHERS
It feels a bit silly at this point to say that a Stan Lee cameo is shocking, seeing as it’s been the most predictable part of any film that opens with the word Marvel on the screen. The comics legend has been in the background of every Marvel movie for over a decade, and while part of the fun has always been just where he’ll pop up next, we never expected those appearances to all be canonically linked.
In one of the post-credits scenes for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, we see Stan “The Man” sharing everything he’s learned from his various cameos with a group of tall, bald, toga-wearing aliens on the moon. This odd set-up may have surprised movie-goers, but comics fans know that these are The Watchers, immortal beings that observe everything in the cosmos, so old Stan must be their unlikely informant.
14 LIZ ALLEN’S FATHER
Perhaps the biggest twist in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming was the revelation that Peter Parker’s friend Liz wasn’t, as many suspected, longtime comics character Liz Allen, but in fact Liz Toomes, which made her father Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture! As Peter arrived at Liz’s home to pick her up for the Homecoming Dance, he was greeted by none other than the man who’d antagonized his alter-ego Spider-Man for the previous 80-odd minutes of movie time.
It’s not an unfamiliar trope to have a villain be revealed as a family member of a hero’s friend, and it’s not even unusual for the Spider-Man mythos -- just look at Harry Osborn and his Green Goblin father. This was a deviation from anything that had happened in the comics, however, which is perhaps why it was so shocking.
13 ADAM WARLOCK’S TEASE
Despite being the only cosmic-based Marvel movie not to tease Thanos in any way, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 did a great job of setting things up for the future of the Marvel universe. One of the ways it teased the MCU yet-to-come was by giving fans something they believed was already introduced in a previous post-credits scene: the cocoon of Adam Warlock.
Back in the Collector’s lair at the end of Thor: The Dark World, we saw a strange pod in a tank and fans were convinced it was the arrival of Him, the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby creation that served as a weird cosmic Jesus analog, and went on to be the main antagonist of Thanos, the Mad Titan. At the end of GOTG 2, however, we got the real deal: a golden pod that Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign proclaims contains a being she will call... "Adam."
12 KORG’S COMEDIC TURN
The biggest criticism of 2017’s Thor Ragnarok wasn’t the mash-up of storylines (it wasn’t the dedicated Planet Hulk movie many fans wanted) but the lighthearted tone of the film, choosing to add levity to even the most serious moments. One of the ways this was most evident was in the portrayal of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk character Korg.
In the comics, Korg was a powerful member of the Warbound -- a team of allies that accompanied Hulk on his vengeance-fuelled return to Earth following his abandonment on Sakaar. In Thor: Ragnarok, however, Korg is the polite, hilarious gentle giant that helps Thor escape captivity, played by director Taika Waititi in motion capture. While a highlight of the movie for many, some longtime fans were disappointed by this shocking departure from his comics origins and personality.
11 THE DEATH OF LOGAN
Less surprising and more inevitable, the death of Wolverine at the end of Logan was still a shocking moment for fans, purely because we were watching Hugh Jackman play the final moments of a character he’d portrayed on screen for 17 years across nine movies. He’s the only actor to play the Adamantium-laced X-Man on the big screen, and for many he will forever be their Wolverine.
With a hard R-Rating, it was clear from the start that Logan was going to be unlike anything we’d seen from an X-Men movie before, and when we found out that all the other mutant heroes had died, with Professor X not too far behind, it was becoming more and more likely that Logan wouldn’t make it out of this adventure alive.
10 STAR-LORD’S FATHER
When the casting announcements came out for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and it was revealed that Kurt Russell would be playing Ego the Living Planet, we knew that this movie would deviate from the comics in some pretty major ways. Originating in Thor comics back in 1966, Ego is a sentient celestial body, a living planet with a face and a jaunty goatee beard.
In the movie, however, it wasn’t the fact that Russell played the infamous living planet that was the most shocking moment (it was explained that what we saw was merely a manifestation of his celestial form), it was the reveal that Ego was in fact the father of Peter Quill aka the Legendary Star-Lord and leader of the Guardians. A vast departure from the comics, it was an unexpected answer to the question regarding Peter’s heritage.
9 HELA KILLS THE WARRIORS THREE
In one of the most shocking displays of a villain’s powers, Hela’s swift and brutal murder of the Warriors Three in Thor: Ragnarok was as surprising as it was heartbreaking. The Asgardian trio -- Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg -- have been mainstays of the Marvel Universe for decades now, so seeing them dispatched so quickly was a shock to say the least.
Hogun put up the strongest fight, leading an army of Asgardians in an impressive battle against the Goddess of Death, but it all proved to be fruitless, as she mercilessly slaughtered each and every one of them. While it’s true that the characters hadn’t really been used to their full potential in the cinematic universe, it was still a shock to see them killed so easily on screen, especially when they’d played such pivotal roles in previous comics story lines.
8 YONDU’S EMOTIONAL END
If you’d told fans of the original Guardians of the Galaxy movie that, by the end of the sequel, they’d be crying over the death of notorious pirate and child trafficker Yondu Udonta, they may have laughed in your face. Cut to 2017, however, and that’s exactly what happened.
To be fair to the blue-faced arrow-whistler, his character arc in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a big one, with the movie pulling out every trick in the book to ensure the audience connected with him in a stronger way. We even learned the secret history between him and Star-Lord, leading us to see Yondu as the father figure that we never knew him to be and making his death at the end of the movie all that much more emotional.
7 THE DEATH OF MJOLNIR
It may not be the most significant “death” on our list, but the destruction of Mjolnir at the hands of Hela in the first act of Thor: Ragnarok was still a shocking moment in Marvel movie history. Sure, the moment was forecast and spoiled ahead of the movie’s release, thanks to the trailer, but seeing it happen in the context of the film was something else.
We’d already seen Hela display her power is some intimidating ways (the worst was yet to come, with her invasion of Asgard), but her casual destruction of one of the most powerful artifacts in the MCU was an effective way of showing her true strength, and set the course for Thor moving forward. By the end of Ragnarok, he’s still not replaced his beloved hammer, so this is a death that will still be felt in movies to come.
6 MILES MORALES IN THE MCU?
Another surprising cameo that was somewhat spoiled in the casting announcements, it was still pretty shocking to think that Donald Glover’s turn as Aaron Davis in Spider-Man Homecoming could lead to a big screen portrayal of Miles Morales, aka the Ultimate Universe Spider-Man.
In Universe 1610, Aaron Davis was the uncle of Miles and the career criminal known as Prowler. He and his brother were partners until his brother gave up crime when he became father to the soon-to-be Spider-Man. Davis continued as Prowler, however, leading to numerous confrontations with his superheroic nephew. Seeing him appear in Homecoming is the first step for many fans clamoring for a feature-length Miles Morales adventure. They get their wish, too: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is out in 2018, and is an animated movie with Miles in the lead role.
5 THANOS CONFRONTS THE ASGARDIANS
We knew that, like with all Marvel movies, Thor Ragnarok wasn’t over when the credits rolled. As any good fan worth their cinema seat will tell you, you have to wait until the end of the credits to get the full experience. What we weren’t expecting, however, was something so tantalizing in the mid-credits tease.
Thor: Ragnarok ended with the Asgardian race adrift without a home, after its destruction at the hands of Surtur the Fire Demon. Now refugees on an alien transport ship, their biggest troubles seem to be behind them, but as a shadow looms over them, we see that the danger is only just beginning. In front of them sits the gigantic ship that can only belong to Thanos the Mad Titan, and as for the fate of the Asgardians, we’ll have to wait until 2018, and Avengers: Infinity War.
4 MJ IN SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING
For the first time in Spider-Man’s movie history, the latest feature (and the first to be set in the MCU) decided to eschew the usual love interests of Gwen Stacy and Mary-Jane Watson in favor of new character Liz Toomes. It helped to make the film stand apart from what’s come before and gave the opportunity to provide the shocking twist of just who her father is.
What was kept under wraps, however, was the real identity of Peter Parker’s classmate Michelle. Some fans were initially disappointed with the rather small role Zendaya played in Homecoming, but when it was revealed in the final scenes of the movie that she prefers to go by the nickname MJ, people were convinced that her role in later movies will be much bigger.
3 RAGNAROK SHAKE WEIGHT JOKE
This entry on our list is shocking for a completely different reason. While there was a lot of criticism from fans about the amount of jokes in Thor Ragnarok, even staunch defenders of the latest Asgardian movie couldn’t defend a pretty terrible joke made by Karl Urban in the opening scenes of the film.
Urban plays Skurge the Executioner in the movie, a fan favorite character that kicked ass in all number of ways in the comics. Here, though, to see him reduced to a visual gag which saw him playing with a shake weight felt like a bitter disappointment, even considering the more lighthearted tone the movie took overall. They can’t all be winners, and the rest of Thor: Ragnarok is filled with plenty of cool moments for Skurge, as well as plenty of hilarious jokes, so maybe just shake this one out of your mind.
2 MAC GARGAN’S CAMEO
By the time the credits rolled on Spider-Man: Homecoming, comics readers and longtime fans of Spidey had been treated to a whole host of cameos and unexpected characters, from the Shocker and the Prowler, to MJ and Damage Control. The movie was enough of a treat without throwing in another right at the end of the movie, but that’s what we got in the form of Mac Gargan, aka Scorpion.
Adrian Toomes (the Vulture as played by Michael Keaton) is approached in prison by a strange fellow inmate with a scorpion tattoo, who’s determined to get revenge on Spider-Man for putting him in jail. While Vulture seems reluctant to help, Gargan’s talk of “friends on the outside” is enough of a tease for fans to think that Spidey's deadliest supervillain team -- the Sinister Six -- can’t be too far away.
1 THE ORIGINAL GUARDIANS TEAM-UP
A completely unexpected superteam made their debut in this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and it was... the Guardians of the Galaxy?? No, not those a-holes, the other Guardians of the Galaxy: the original team from back in Marvel comics history.
In one of the five end credits scenes, it’s revealed that Sylvester Stallone’s character is actually Starhawk, and he’s putting together a team made up of Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh and the voice of Miley Cyrus. Okay, so maybe they’re not from the original comics, but the characters they play (Charlie-27, Martinex and Mainframe) all are, leading to a lot of fan speculation about their future in the movies. Perhaps it’s just a cool moment where some fun superstar cameos can congregate, but if Stallone wants an MCU team of cosmic Expendables, who are we to argue?