Slow motion ( or “slowmo“ if you‘re cool like that) was invented by the Austrian priest August Musger in the early 20th century. Over the decades we have seen slow motion used to awesome and memorable effects (The Matrix, The Untouchables, etc) and we’ve also seen some blunders. Today we are going to be counting down the greatest slow motion scenes in film history, more specifically, comic book film history. Leave your personal favorite in the comment section below.
10. Bullet Stopper – Superman Returns (2006)
Bryan Singer’s helmed Superman Returns may not be that loved by fans of the genre but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t sneak in an impressive scene here and there. After a botched bank robbery, a mad man with a machine gun shoots down several police cars from the top of a building, until Superman (Brandon Routh) shows up to stop him. The man fires a few hundred rounds at our caped hero to no avail and then he even (stupidly) tries to shoot Superman in the face. We watch as the bullet travels in slow motion striking Superman right in the eye. The weird thing is, Superman doesn’t even blink, wouldn’t you blink even if it’s just a reflex?
9. Green Goblin Razor Fight – Spider-Man (2002)
Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man was a game changer for the comic book movie world, breaking all types of records upon its release. The film had multiple scenes with Spidey facing off against the Green Goblin quite memorably. One scene had the Goblin hurling CGI razor blades at our hero in slow motion as Spider-Man dodges them Matrix style.
Fun fact; while the razors were of course CGI, Spider-Man himself was computer generated as well. I guess nobody could actually move like that, guess no acrobat in the world could pull that off.
8. Hulk’s Secret – The Avengers (2012)
One of the first shots created for this massive superhero film was Mark Ruffalo’s Dr. Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk and chasing Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in slow motion. It was used to encapsulate the sense of mass and weight they wanted for the Hulk. Though when we learn of Bruce Banner’s little secret, is the scene we all remember most. His secret being, of course, that he’s “always angry” and can apparently transform into the Hulk at will. We then see Bruce transform into the Hulk in a brief slow motion scene before he goes completely smashy.
7. Cross Kills Mr. X – Wanted (2008)
Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov made his English-language film debut with this big-screen adaptation of Mark Millar’s action-packed graphic novel. While we see plenty of memorable slow motion shots features the main cast; James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and Angelina Jolie (curve the bullet, anyone?). The greatest moment came during the opening of the film when Mr. X (David O’Hara) executes superhuman feats to kill four would-be assassins, but is then gunned down himself by a rival, Cross (Thomas Kretschmann). Mr. X is shot in the back of the head and we see the bullet in slow motion exit out of his forehead before we see the whole thing in reverse where we ultimately see Cross sitting comfortably in a room miles away with a sniper rifle. Sniping, like a boss!
6. Epic Fight Scene – 300 (2006)
According to Cinema Sins Zack Synder’s 300 features about 375 slow motion shots, which take up about a half hour of the film (or 1800 seconds). Now, not every slow motion scene was that great or even that necessary, but there are still a few highlights that stand out. The greatest moment comes when the blood flows freely in the bruising battle scene, in which Leonidas (Gerard Butler) takes on a horde of luckless Persians. Pure visceral mayhem at its finest.
5. Times Square Slow Motion Save – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
When Spider-Man first encounters the films villain, Electro (played by Jamie Foxx), who has the power to control electricity, things becoming shocking (sorry). After Electro uses his powers to thrust an entire police car into a crowed Times Square Spidey springs into action. With only one functional web-slinger Spider-Man shoots a web stopping the police care from hurting anybody and then quickly using his webs to save a few pedestrians from being electrocuted. Quite an awesome demonstration of his quick reflexes and his spider sense working overtime.
4. “Slo-Mo” – Dredd (2012)
The principal MacGuffin of this dystopian sci-fi flick is a drug that is literally referred to as “Slo-Mo”. The user of this drug will indeed feel like they’re in slow motion with everything over-saturated and bright as can be. When Dredd’s bullets pierce through the bodies of the bad guys, the images are so detached from regular motion, they become almost beautiful. These stylization and color palette of these “Slo-Mo” scenes make them some of the most eloquently gorgeous violence in modern cinema.
3. Nightcrawler Attacks The White House – X2 (2003)
X2: X-Men United gets off to a spectacular start that instantly makes it a cut above the original, as Nightcrawler (a blue-skinned mutant who is capable of teleporting himself, and others, instantly from one place to another) tries to assassinate the President of the United States. The inclusion of Mozart’s Requiem, Dies Irae coalesce with the visual vividness to make an powerful (albeit concise) slow motion sequence, in which Nightcrawler dispatches the security order effortlessly, and breaks into the Oval office, where the President is holed up. This scene alone solidified its spot as one of the greatest sequels of all time, comic book or not.
2. Quicksilver’s Pentagon Kitchen Scene – X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)
X-Men: Days of Future Past had the task of combining two well-known casts into one movie: the main cast from the original trilogy and the 1960s crew of First Class (Jennifer Lawrence’s young split kicking Mystique, among others). Ironically, the character that people seem to be talking about the most is the super speedster Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters. In a standout, two-minute scene the young mutant recruit playfully foils some soldiers’ attempts to capture James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender’s Magneto and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine by flicking away their bullets and making them punch each other — all to the smooth vocal styling’s of Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle.”
The slow motion kitchen scene is so aesthetically and visually cool that a gaping plot hole has been (for the most part) disregarded by fans: How, in 1973, did Quicksilver possess that Croce-playing Walkman in the first place, given that technology didn’t come to light until the ’80s (and how does the music keep speed with him)?
1. Opening Credits – Watchmen (2009)
Zach Synder makes the list yet again, this time with his adaptation of the graphic novel The Watchmen. The opening credits of the film is a brilliant instance where slow motion really worked perfectly with the material, it calls to mind both a period aesthetic while concurrently depicting how glorified the old days
Following on from the very well done death of The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the Bob Dylan classic “The Times They Are a-Changin’” begins and we are treated to a credit sequence in the form of a unforgettable montage. The sequence shows an alternate history of the United States, in a world populated by superheroes. It’s also filled with a plethora of Easter eggs throughout. Like shout outs to Batman, when his parents are seemingly saved from sudden death. JFK getting assassinated by a superhero. Ten minutes of pure cinematic gold. Snyder would have had to have exhausted a good few scenes on exposition, whereas the use of this smart piece of slomo allows him to get right to it.
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