One of the best gags in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is when Dr. Evil, intent to blackmail $100 million out of the American president circa 1969, terrifies the Situation Room with a demonstration of his world-destroying super-weapon's power -- a demonstration that turns out to be nothing more than a clip from Independence Day ("... But the real weapon will look a lot like that," Dr. Evil assures them). The President's shrieks of terror are a testament to the caliber of Independence Day's special effects, and I’m sure Roland Emmerich took the joke as a compliment. But part of what makes the whole thing so funny is its meta punchline: the only way anyone wouldn't recognize that White House-blowing-up scene is if they were living in the 1960s.
The shot isn't just remarkable, indelible, unforgettable -- it's that the shot is more remarkable, indelible, and unforgettable than the movie that contains it. Only Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park brachiosaurus persists in the collective imagination like Independence Day's six spectacular seconds of cutting-edge annihilation. The ice-blue laser stabbing through the top of the building like a straw through a plastic soft-drink lid, the portico flying apart in every direction, the inferno blooming out and swallowing the escape helicopter whole: so simple, so glorious. It's the most iconic moment in action-movie history. Still.