A couple weeks ago Paramount launched a massive campaign for Mission: Impossible – Fallout centered around Tom Cruise’s willingness and ability to do his own stunt work. One of the key sequences featured in the campaign was his HALO jump, something that was used on the IMAX poster, was the subject of a number of featurettes and more.

Watching Cruise and the rest of the cast and crew endlessly talk about how he engaged in several jumps to get all the shots necessary for the film – efforts he was joined in by the requisite technical crew – got me thinking about other notable “jumping out of a perfectly good airplane” moments on film. Specifically, I started thinking about how that device has been one used a number of times in various entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That’s a niche subset, of course, as plenty of other action/adventure movies have similar scenes. But Marvel Studios loves having its characters engage in a little skydiving, so here are four such moments from the first 10 years of the MCU.

Iron Man 2

Tony Stark doesn’t do subtle and that includes making an entrance at the revived Stark Expo. So when he wants to get everyone’s attention he jumps out the back of a cargo plane and flies down, dodging (mostly) the fireworks being set off below until he finally makes the super hero landing on stage amid a line of dancing girls in Iron Man outfits.

The scene is notable for a couple reasons. First, it shows how brash Stark has become in the years since outing himself as the hero. Second, the trailer shows Pepper Potts dramatically kissing the Iron Man helmet before throwing it out the back, sending Tony out to retrieve it. That’s not how it plays out in the film, though, as he just jumps with helmet on after a bit of flirtation with Pepper.

Captain America: Winter Soldier

By the time of The Winter Soldier, Cap has already established himself as a hero in the modern age and found a purpose through working with SHIELD. Joining a strike team that includes Black Widow to rescue a ship that’s been taken hostage by terrorists at sea, Cap of course leads from the front, diving – sans parachute – into the ocean to stealthily board the ship and prepare the way for the rest of the team.

There is, of course, the dialogue between two other team members about whether or not he was wearing a parachute when he jumped that establishes how tough Cap is. But it’s his exchange with Widow before jumping that really stands out for me as it helps establish *who* the character is. Talking about his love life, or lack thereof, is everyday workplace banter and it shows that Natasha is what might be called his “work wife.” The exchange displays how even extraordinary people sometimes have ordinary conversations and lives that have to be fit in and round their adventures.

The Incredible Hulk

With Abomination rampaging through Harlem, Bruce Banner has finally convinced the military that’s long been hunting and trying to control him that he can be useful. So they fly him toward the chaos. Still in human form, he intentionally falls out of the craft, assuming the adrenaline spike from doing so will trigger the transformation into the Hulk, something that doesn’t go quite as planned, but it all turns out alright in the end.

One of the main themes with the Hulk is that the change into the creature is often outside of Banner’s control. In the movie he’s spent years trying to keep it from happening and regretting when it does. Now he *wants* to change and can’t, something that will come up in later movies. It also sets the stage for Banner’s line in The Avengers about having tried to kill himself, only to have “the other guy” emerge and survive.

Black Panther

Over the course of the movie we see time and again what kind of man, king and hero T’Challa is. Right at the outset it’s established he’s not only conquered his fear but he’s done so in part thanks to his belief in the technology and skills of those around him. That’s why when he’s about to raid a convey of human traffickers he doesn’t hesitate to be spit out the bottom of the plane he’s in, falling (again without parachute) toward the ground still able to disperse other weapons and ultimately land where he needed to be.

What’s great about this is that, as I said, he’s completely confident in the way he’s leaving the aircraft, showing no fear and no concern about his fate. That winds up being in stark contrast to how he freezes when he comes face to face with his ex-girlfriend, who’s been undercover as a victim of the traffickers and who isn’t as grateful as he expected for the rescue.

What did I miss? Which one is your favorite?

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

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