Chess scenes in the Marvel films

26 Jun. 2020 | by Peter Wong

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a stupendously successful sci-fi/superhero movie franchise that spans 23 films over 10 years, in a series called the Infinity Saga. Unlike the X-Men movie series, which employs chess as a recurring motif (see my earlier video of such clips), the Marvel films feature the royal game only incidentally. Nevertheless, the franchise has enough good chess-related scenes to please fans of the game, and I have compiled them in a new YouTube video. Considering how the series culminated in Avengers: Endgame, so that the highest grossing movie of all time has a chess term in its title, I suppose such a video is – well, like Thanos – inevitable.

Below are some comments on the selected scenes. I hope you’ll read them only after viewing the video, as they contain some spoilers.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Scene 1

Black Widow quotes a line by a chess-playing AI from the film, Wargames (1983), starring Matthew Broderick. Captain America comes from the WW2 era and there’s a running gag in the series about his need to catch up with modern pop-culture references, but he gets this one!

Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Scene 2

The group of heroes began to splinter here, and the prominent chess set is perhaps appropriate to represent their conflict. Since this internal strife ultimately led to their defeat in Avengers: Infinity War, our heroes could have benefited from a chess lesson about coordinating your pieces! Oh yes, if you examine the set-up position, you’ll notice that the board is orientated incorrectly.

Marvel's The Avengers (2012) – Scene 3

The late Marvel Comics legend, Stan Lee, is seen playing chess in this cameo. According to a YouTube video by Emergency Awesome, this was filmed in exactly the same spot as Magneto’s final chess scene in X-Men: The Last Stand.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – Scene 4 and 5

Two goofy scenes of Peter Parker, the teenage Spider-Man. The second clip, where his sidekick distracted two players in a school chess club, is especially amusing.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) – Scene 6 and 7

An online dictionary defines endgame as: “The final stage of a chess game after most of the pieces have been removed from the board.” Hence, given what happened at the end of Infinity War, its sequel is very aptly named. No literal chess scenes appeared in either of these films, however, so I picked two brief battle sequences that allude to the game. Up for a sacrifice, Iron Man?