Marvel Cinematic Universe: Best To Worst
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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The love I have for this movie was established when the very first trailer came out. This trailer pretty much blow up as soon as it made impact, bringing interest to people whom were originally skeptical of Marvel backing up this strange concept. With clever humor, interesting characters, and the booming sounds of “Hooked in the Feeling” both playing up the comical moments and amping up the action, this trailer perfectly accomplished its goal of hyping up this movie as an unique and enjoyable experience. I had been excited for the film since seeing that trailer and was immediately anticipating the eventual release of this peculiar film. There was a part of my subconscious that was worried about this being a disappointment with the hype I build around it. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t. It really wasn’t. I adore and appreciate every aspect of that this film has to offer. This film beat “The Avengers” as my favorite MCU flick.
David Gunn did an unbelievable job directing this film. Every scene, every image, every frame is eye-grabbing with its bright colors and incredible scenery. He really does incredibly well in establishing its’ expansive universe. I like how self-contained this film is and helps the film stand on its own. In terms of the Guardians, each actor does splendid jobs in portraying their unique and interesting characters (along with making a talking raccoon and giant tree man who only speaks one phrase believable and not too cartoonish). Each character has their moments to shine and provide purpose to the plot. Even the supporting cast is memorable and significant with good performances from well-known actors like John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Michael Rooker, and Benicio del Toro. The overall lighthearted and more comic-inspired tone does not prevent the emotional scenes, character development, occasional raunchy humor, and epic moments of action from making an impact. The interrogation of classic 70s-80s music into the plots and scenes gives Quentin Tarantino a run for his money. I know this film isn’t perfect. The most common complaint is the main villain, Ronan the Accuser. While I feel he works as a powerful and threatening antagonist, he certainly is no “Loki” and certainly not the most interesting character in this film. After I left the theater, I still had that air of enthusiasm clinging to me for the next few days. I swear I was saying “I am Groot” so much that my brother wanted to choke me. Overall, there is an admiration and passion that this film invoked into me that few films ever accomplish. There are films that I like. There are films that I love. Then, there are films that I will keep the experiences and images that they preserved to my subconscious for the rest of my life as a lover of cinema. “Guardians of the Galaxy” was the third one. I can’t say no more, this film has made me speechless... I am mute.
The Avengers (2012)
Watching this movie for the first film was one of the most exhilarating cinematic experiences I've ever received. After five movies of build-up, this film became one of the most hyped films of the decade. Many people were crossing their fingers, praying to the Marvel gods that this movie was not a huge disappointment. I'm sure they were people who thought this film would bomb... boy, were they wrong. This film became "one of the awesomiest movies ever" when it released and burst right through the box office with 1 billion dollars profit. Now, every huge blockbuster makes 1 billion dollars but this was really huge back then. This film set the standard for superhero films that few could ever surpass, not even the future MCU films. But enough of the filler, the point is this film is AWESOME! Joss Whedon succeeded in creating a glorious comic-book movie experience full of funny one-liners, epic battles, and glorious confrontations. All of the main superheroes from the previous films return to their iconic characters and they play off each other perfectly. Honestly, the best part of the film isn't the action scenes and the funny dialogue (although, they are both incredibly well-done) but just the general interactions between this band of superheroes. Seeing them clash and argue and eventually work together is just as entertaining as seeing Loki get drawn around like a ragdoll by the Hulk. Speaking of Loki, he was cool in Thor but he really become a memorable villain in this film. His villain plan is the typical supervillain plan to take over the world but he does it with such a despicable flair that you just can't wait to see it all crumble down like a rampaging Hulk. Nothing more needs to be said. This film is awesome. Everything in this film is awesome. I love this film too much to give two shits about its' flaws. Really if you're a Marvel fan, superhero fan, or fan of action blockbusters, you really need check this film out. At least once. Come on, most of the Earth's population has seen this film. Don't be that one guy who doesn't seen it yet. And don't forget to eat some shawarma while you watch it.
So I haven't seen Age of Ultron or Winter Soldier yet which might have downplayed the enjoyment of this film... but not by much. I have seen enough of the Marvel films to get a gist of what was going on. Having said yet, I would recommend you watch the Avengers and most of Phase 2 to understand what is going on this film. The MCU has reached out a point where it's getting more and more difficulty for new fans to get into the stories. But enough about that, let's get on to this amazing movie. First off, everybody in this film does an incredible job portraying these iconic comic-book characters. At this point, these films feel like comic books leaped into the silver screen, especially the main stars: Chris Evan's Captain America and Robert Downey Junior's Iron Man. But special mention has to go for the new additions to this film. Black Panther, played excellently by Chadwick Boseman, is already showing himself to be a badass character with a surprisingly complete story-arc in this movie. AND OF COURSE, THE BIG SPOTLIGHT STEALER HIMSELF, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Seriously, Tom Holland is hands-down the best actor to portray the webcrawler. He brought the humor and the drama to both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Go away, Andrew Garfield. Sorry, Tobey Macguire. You both had your chances but this is the Spider-Man many fans have been waiting for. Now, the story itself I have to give credit for. After seeing Batman v Superman, I see a lot of similarities with these two movies with a similar focus on taking some of the greatest superheroes of all time and having they fight for our amusement. But Civil War has a better focus, better grasp of its characters, and a better plot overall. They really addressed the destruction that these superheroes do when saving the day very fell, something Batman v Superman tried and failed at doing. They also played off the Superhero Registration Act here better than they did in the original Civil War comics this is based on. The film can get really convoluted with a lot of things happening at once but I feel the film handled it relatively well. But what really made me like this movie was two factors. The villain who wasn't your typical super-powered menace but an original man with a strong determination for destroying the Avengers from the inside. He doesn't attack them directly but rather uses his mind to effectively combat these monumental titans. AND THE ENDING which is one of the most emotionally impactful ones from the entire MCU. When these final scenes come up, you know that things were going to change in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Avengers were never going to be the same again... Also, I liked how they brought back Thunderbolt Ross after forgetting about him in The Incredible Hulk.
Marvel did well in making a period piece film when introducing the Star Spangled Avenger to the big screen. Just like with Iron Man and Thor, Marvel's take on the First Avenger popularized the character in the public eye after remaining dormant since the '40s-'50s (art imitating reality?). Even though Steve Rogers is apparently doing better in a more acclaimed movie, I really do love this movie and what it accomplished. There are a lot of good elements of this movie: it's replication of 1940s cinema and attitudes, its' pulse-pounding action, its' interesting and progressive supporting characters, its' memorable scenes where it pokes fun at Captain America's propaganda origins, etc. For once, they actually got a memorable villain out of the Red Skull, played memorably by Hugo Weaving, too bad he gets shafted in a rather anti-climatic fashion. But really the greatest part about this film was Chris Evan's performance as Captain America. He really surprised me by being a really good Captain America. The man certainly came a long way from being The Human Torch. His performance really made me feel for the character of Captain America: an optimistic determined weakling who willingness to sacrifice his protect his fellow man. People have certainly become more cynical and selfish since the 1940s and while this time period wasn't perfect, this aspect of human nature is sorely missed which might be why I like Captain America. We all knew this was coming but the moment where Captain America is forced to enter modern day is still a heartbreaking moment. This movie made me love the character of Captain America and get emotionally invested in his journey which is probably the greatest accomplishment a movie can do.
Iron Man (2008)
Honestly, while I think this is a good movie, I also think it's a tad overrated. Don't get me wrong, this is a cool movie and I'm glad it did as well as it did. Otherwise, they wouldn't be a Marvel Cinematic Universe like we have today. I honestly didn't think this movie was going to be as big of a game-changer as it's turned out to be in hindsight. This film is a fun ride that truly benefits from some incredible special effects and an incredible performance from Robert Downey Junior. Not enough praise can be given to how this man made Tony Stark his own. Not only changing the character and turning him from a B-grade superhero to one of the most popular Marvel superheroes but also making the ultimate comeback performance that most has-been actors wish they could receive. The Iron Man suit is just as incredible of an achievement. It looks badass, looked awesome when flying and shooting shit, and never looked like a computer-generated effect. This film is fun to watch in parts but it's not as amazing of a film that so many comic fans claim it is. I found the opening scene to be rather boring as well as the scenes that don't involve Tony Stark being Iron Man. The other actors are also not as extra-ordinary as Downey himself. Paltrow needed to grow into her Pepper Potts character and greatly improved in the sequels. Howard showed how much better Don Cheadle was in the role as Rhodey (even if he doesn't get to do much in those later films). Even the awesome Jeff Bridges makes for a rather underwhelming villain (even with an incredibly memetic scene). Still to be fair, I haven't seen this film in years and a rewatch might change my opinion. Even then, I can't say that I hate this movie and really I'm glad that this exists and I'm sure the millions of Marvel nerds out there are glad this film exists too.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
I wanted so much more from this movie. Really I think it was the hype that killed this movie. I mean I think this was a good movie that really took risks which I really do appreciate. But I and many more people just expected more and really why shouldn't people have expected more. This was the first film after the incredible Avengers and it looked like it was going to be a darker, more serious take on our favorite snarky red-and-yellow tin man (the "PTSD, almost drowning, and dragging the Iron Man suit in snow" trailer really convinced me of that). This was the second film directed by Shane Black whom directed a film that I really loved. And while I liked the previous two Iron Man films, I didn't really love them as much as Nolan's Batman films, Riami's Spider-Man films, or even The Avengers. So this was going to be the Iron Man that was going to change everything. And then, I watched the movie on an airplane ride to New York and... I liked it. But it felt like just another Iron Man movie. Really the most disappointing aspect of this film is the fact that Tony Stark doesn't change. He doesn't develop. There have been four films with the character and he's still the same egotistical, snarky, immature rich douche in an iron suit he has been since the end of Iron Man 1. But speaking of disappointing, the Mandarin was actually a pretty cool unexpected twist with a lot of depth to it... but yeah, I honestly would have preferred a classic Iron Man vs. Mandarin showdown rather than having Guy Pierce be the main villain. So yeah, I don't hate Iron Man 3... but really this movie could've been much more than it was. And it looks like there won't be any more Iron Man films after this. That's a real shame. But hey, there are worse ways you could've ended a Superhero film trilogy. Also, the whole "removing the arc reactor" epilogue was just abrupt and out-of-nowhere. Not a big fan of that scene.
Honestly, there's not that much I can say about this film. I think it's a good film but nothing really that spectacular. I think Kenneth Branagh was the perfect director for this kind of film. The Asgardians are just basically comic-book versions of the stuff that Shakespeare has done. I also thought Chris Hemsworth was the perfect choice as Thor as he really fit the kind of big-headed god of thunder. But the real standout was Idris Elba as Heimdall, for such a small role the man certainly made it memorable. I'll also give credit for making Loki the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most memorable villain (that isn't honestly saying much but he was still pretty good). Asgard also looks really grand and magnificent, thus making the scenes of Earth seem less visually-interesting in comparison. The film has its fun action scenes but this is still one of the MCU's less-memorable endeavors, in all frankness.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Many people don't like this movie. I can understand why. As a sequel to the popular first film, there isn't that much development for Tony Stark (major problem in the Iron Man series, overall). Plus, there is a lot of forced elements (Black Widow and Captain America's Shield) used purely to establish stuff for future MCU films. Despite these issues, I still think Iron Man 2 is a fun action flick. Returning favorites (Downey Junior, Paltrow, Favreau, etc.) are just as great as they were in the first film, along with fun performances from Mickey Rourke's Whiplash and Sam Rockwell's Justin Hammer. Also, Black Widow was still cool in the film. I saw this film during a plane ride and had a blast watching it. Sure, it's not the most memorable Marvel movie but there are plenty of films worse than this.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
People say it's hard to make a good Superman movie. Well, it's even harder to make a good Hulk movie. Now, I'm not really a Hulk fan but this film along with the INCREDIBLY ABYSMAL Ang Lee film seems to prove that Hulk doesn't work as a main character. Honestly, his greatest hour was in The Avengers which seemed to prove that he really only works as a supporting character. The greatest "Hulk" movie I've seen so far was the one that featured Thor and Wolverine. This isn't a horrible movie and Edward Norton does work as Bruce Banner (I think Mark Ruffalo was better, though). However, I didn't find this movie profoundly interesting or memorable. At least, it wasn't as watching-paint-dry boring as the Ang Lee version.
Need To Watch
I've seen a bunch of "Best To Worst" lists on this site and I decide to contribute to the long pile. Since the release of Iron Man, Marvel films has been booming with their well-established continuity of films known as the official Marvel Cinematic Universe, an expansive and impressive endeavor whose success and universe expansion mirrors the comic-books that they were based on. While they certainly had their missteps, these films can managed to provide some of the most entertaining superhero cinematic experiences. These are the films that helped cement the superhero genre into the mainstream and brought heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, the Guardians of the Galaxy, etc. into the mainstream.
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