Adventure Movies

10 Adventure Movies with Incredible Opening Scenes

July 14, 202312 Mins Read

A good adventure movie is hard to pull off, but there is nothing more fun or exciting than a well-made, globetrotting, or planet-trotting movie. The adventure genre is an enduring genre that usually includes stories about the human spirit and how much it can endure in order to get what it desires.

Nothing is more entertaining than watching a person go through hell and back in order to accomplish their mission. These movies need to have incredible cold openings in order to not only get the audience on its side as well as acting as an introduction to all the main characters. These are ten of the best opening scenes from ten of the best adventure movies.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones Boulder Run
Paramount Pictures

There can not be an article written about adventure movies that doesn’t include Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. The most iconic adventure movie of all time starring the legendary Harrison Ford as the titular Indiana Jones who is tasked by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis do in a pre-World War II era. Spielberg, being a huge fan of the James Bond franchise, made three globetrotting adventure movies about an impossibly handsome man who sleeps with different women with three different and iconic cold opens. The most famous of which being the first one where Indiana Jones has to dodge booby traps, traitorous guides, and an angry native tribe while trying to retrieve a golden idol from an ancient tomb.

The best-known element of the booby traps is the giant boulder that Indy runs away from, narrowly escaping as it seals the anti-chamber forever. Once outside, the idol is stolen from him by his nemesis the evil Belloq, elegantly played by the great Paul Freeman. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most important films ever made, directed by one of the most important filmmakers, with the most iconic openings of all time. The unholy hat trick.

Related: Indiana Jones: Is Phoebe Waller-Bridge the Future of the Franchise?

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The Spy Who Loved Me James Bond cold open with the Union Jack parachute

One of the more famous James Bond movies, starring the late great Roger Moore, who starred in more Bond movies than any of the other actors. One of the three Lewis Gilbert Bond movies in which a vehicle or two are stolen and Bond has to find out why, The Spy Who Loved Me opens with a British submarine being taken. We join Bond, already on a mission, in a post-coital cuddle with a blonde Russian in a cabin at the top of the Alps. She ends up being a spy as well, sending her allies after him once he leaves and skis down the hill. This turns into a classic James Bond ski chase in which Bond skis off the edge of the mountain, falling several thousand feet pulling his parachute, revealing that it has been adorned with the Union Jack.

The amazing Monty Norman James Bond theme kicks in as he parachutes down, fading into the beautiful Nobody Does it Better by Carly Simon. The stunt is shot in a completely wide, somehow tracking the falling Bond, all in a single take. A stunt this audacious had never been done before, and understandably dazzled audiences at the time. An exhilarating way to open a movie that would not be topped for a long time, making this one of the best cold openings in the history of the James Bond franchise.

National Treasure (2004)

Nic Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates in National Treasure
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Jon Turteltaub’s infamous adventure romp starring the outstanding Nicolas Cage as the historian, looking for the hidden treasure of the Knights Templar before a group of hired guns get their hands on it. The hired guns are led by the terrific Sean Bean, who is essentially twirling his mustache for the two-hour and 11-minute runtime because he is cartoonishly evil. We are introduced to Ben Gates (Cage) using Ian Howe (Bean) just as a financial backer to help him find the hidden treasure after finally discovering the location of the first clue, a long-lost ship named the Charlotte.

However, Howe, being an unsavory guy, betrays Gates and tries to kill him by lighting all the gunpowder on the boat and leaving him behind. Gates and his friend Riley, played by Justin Bartha, have to accomplish a daring escape in order to find the treasure before the dastardly Howe can get to it. National Treasure has a fun and exciting way to start any movie, especially a globetrotting mystery adventure that takes all kinds of fun twists and turns.

Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future by Robert Zemeckis
Universal Pictures

Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future is a timeless (*wink*) classic from the 80s that changed cinema forever. Inexplicably referenced repeatedly throughout The Flash this year, this movie is about a 17-year-old Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, who is for some reason friends with a seemingly immortal scientist, who invents a time machine and builds it into a DeLorean, goes back in time to ensure his own birth and save his friend. A movie that shouldn’t work, but somehow manages to pull off an insane premise and has a pretty fun opening. The iconic shot of the camera panning over Doc Brown’s Rube Goldberg machine that he has made in order to feed his dog. aptly named Einstein.

Then Marty arrives at Doc’s house via skateboard to use Doc’s massive amplifier, blowing him back against the wall to which he says, “Whoa… rock and roll.” This scene introduces both of the main characters’ personalities completely visually. which is hard to pull off. We see that Doc is a scatterbrained mess because of the state of his house, and we now know that Marty is too cool for school, literally because he is running late for it. This is an effective and iconic opening to the one of the greatest movies of all time that is efficient and hilarious that hits the ground running.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Paramount Pictures

The most efficient movie ever made, directed by the hilarious John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein of Game Night fame. A hilariously charming action adventure blockbuster about a rag-tag gang of thieves, led by the endearing Chris Pine, go on an adventure for the biggest heist of all: to get back his daughter after being brainwashed by the cruel Hugh Grant. The movie opens with Edgin (Pine) and his friend Holga, played by the magnificent Michele Rodriguez, imprisoned after being caught trying to steal an ancient artifact.

They try to plead their case as to why they were trying to steal the artifact in an effort to get pardoned for their crimes, which was to revive his wife who had been murdered a few years earlier. What the council doesn’t know is that they are also planning their escape from the prison by just throwing Jarnathan, who is a giant eagle, out of the window and using him to fly away, which is what they do. This is a hilarious and streamlined way to give exposition and introduce all the characters in a fun and inventive way.

Especially when you learn that after they go through all the trouble of escaping, we learn that they had been pardoned. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a masterclass in blockbuster cinema that deserves many more sequels.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Paramount Pictures

Christopher McQuarrie’s first time directing a Mission: Impossible after finding success with Tom Cruise and reviving his career after a few bombs. This entry starts in medias res with the IMF trying to steal back some nerve gas that was going to the maniacal organization known as The Syndicate. The nerve gas is being transported on a cargo plane and Benji Dunn, played by the always excellent Simon Pegg, who cannot figure out a way to hack into the plane to shut it down remotely. Therefore, the only way to stop the plane is to physically be on it, so Ethan Hunt, played by the legendary and insane Tom Cruise, jumps onto the plane while it is taking off.

Hunt is holding onto the outside of the plane as it is reaching altitude, until Benji is able to get the door open for Ethan. This is a stunt that they performed practically, with Cruise actually hanging onto the side of a moving plane. This also was the second movie in the franchise that was marketing the movie based on the insane stunt that Cruise did for real this time. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation has one of the more thrilling ways to open any movie and one of the more exciting openings in the franchise.

Related: Mission: Impossible: Tom Cruise’s Best Stunts in the Franchise, Ranked

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy
Universal Pictures

Stephen Sommers’ action blockbuster masterpiece The Mummy stars one of the hottest casts ever assembled. Brenden Fraiser leads the cast as Rick O’Connell in this silly action adventure romp about a former soldier who teams up with an archeologist, played by the lovely Rachel Weiz, after she accidentally reawakens an evil Mummy. The titular Mummy, played by Arnold Vosloo, wants to revive his long-lost love and take over the world with her.

After the movie gives all of this exposition, the movie starts with an action packed opening with Rick O’Connell outgunned and outmanned in a standoff in the ancient city of Hamunaptra with the Medjai warriors. O’Connell has a lot of guns on his person and is able to hold them off for a while before he is eventually cornered and just when you think this the end for our hero that we just met, the Mummy’s face comes out of the sand scarring everyone away, allowing O’Connell to get away. This is a fun and exciting opening that is cheesy in the best way, which sets the tone for the rest of the movie.

Star Trek (2009)

Chris Hemsworth in Star Trek (2009)
Paramount Pictures

The first J.J. Abrams movie is a very controversial movie among the fans of the franchise due to its retconning of a lot of the cannon of the Star Trek lore. If you are able to look past this fact, you will find that the Abrams Star Trek is a slick two-hour, crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster with an incredible cast that is about living up to your fathers’ legacy. When the diabolical Nero comes back from the future to destroy the Federation one planet at a time in a search for vengeance, the young crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise must stop him before it’s too late. This movie opens in 2233 when the U.S.S. Kelvin is attacked by Nero and once he kills the captain someone must step up to become the new captain and that person is George Kirk, played by the young, up and coming (now action star) Chris Hemsworth in his first real role.

Drenched in lens flares, this scene is surprisingly emotional because Kirk orders everyone to abandon ship, including his wife who is conveniently currently giving birth, so that he can sacrifice himself to save everyone on the ship. She then gives birth to the legendary James T. Kirk in this over-the-top opening scene that sets the tone of this entertaining sci-fi adventure. Star Trek hits the ground running by starting with a big action sequence in this unfairly maligned action blockbuster.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) cast
Marvel Studios

Back when Disney was only releasing two Marvel movies a year and were still able to take their time to actually make both of them as opposed to now, where they shoot out three a year, each one ranging in quality from one to the next. James Gunn directs the first Guardians of the Galaxy, which at the time was a big risk at the time, introducing hard sci-fi concepts into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and it couldn’t have been a bigger success. A motley crew of space criminals must come together in order to stop the devilish Ronan the Accuser, who wants ultimate power to take over the universe.

This movie has what is easily the best opening credit sequence in the MCU with Chris Pratt as the famed (in his mind) Star Lord dancing through the abandoned planet Morag to steal an ancient orb to make some money. What sets this one apart is the fact that Gunn introduces fun and lighthearted energy as Star Lord dances his way through the planet to the tune of Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”. One of the better openings to a movie in recent memory and easily the best in the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the better MCU movies due to its great character work and planet hopping action.

Plane (2023)


Jean-François Richet’s action-adventure thriller starring the outstanding Gerard Butler, the new king of DTV action movies, even though this did have a theatrical release. Butler plays a pilot who is forced to land his titular plane into hostile territory after a massive electrical storm takes out the power. As a former RAF pilot, Butler must use his skills, and the help of a former French Foreign Legion soldier and accused killer played by Mike Colter, to keep the passengers of the plane alive and get them home safely.

The movie gets off to a fast start with Butler being late to pilot the plane, running through the airport terminal to try to catch it in time. This opening runs like clock-work as it runs down and introduces every character and their dynamics with one another all within the first 20 minutes, making way for all the blood pumping action that will come later. Plane is an exciting action adventure movie that does not overstay its welcome and with a very tight and precise script, it gets out while the getting is good.

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