Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top 12 Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies: Part 2

The Top 6, now we are getting to Marvel's premiere films; the best of the best! In my eyes, Marvel has four distinct tiers of quality. First are the almost universally agreed upon weakest films, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. Second tier includes the Thors films and The First Avenger. Tier three is the very strong, albeit not quite perfect, films of Iron Man 3 and the numbers 5 and 6 on this list. Lastly is the "Core Four" as I like to call; the final four films on this list. These are the four films that stand above the rest of the MCU, as well as the rest of its respective genre. For the previous part of the list, click here.

6: Ant-Man
Showing a more lighthearted and fun side to the Marvel Universe, Ant-Man is the best origin film since Iron Man back in 2008. It introduced us to a character with numerous faults, and yet Paul Rudd manages to make him one of the most grounded and relatable characters in the MCU. He is even a father; relatively new territory for superhero flicks. Everything about Ant-Man should not have worked. Honestly, the fact that the film received so many positive reviews baffles me, but it is most definitely deserving of every positive thing about it. Read my full review here.

5: Avengers: Age of Ultron
My initial review of Avengers: Age of Ultron might have been a bit too positive. In retrospect, the film certainly had its narrative flaws. It should have been at least 30 minutes longer, and inclusion of a romance took away from necessary plot development. However, where it faltered a bit narratively, it more than made up for with some of Whedon's most effective characterization yet. He dives into each the character's psyche and shows us what makes them tick. And in terms of sheer geeky awesomeness, Age of Ultron most definitely delivers thanks to the addition of unforgettable new characters like Vision and the Scarlet Witch. For more thoughts on the film, read my review here.

4: Iron Man
Before The Avengers, Thor, and Captain America, Marvel studios made a film that would be the foundation for all other Marvel movies to build on in the future, and they could not have kicked off the franchise any better than with Iron Man.

Casting veteran actor Robert Downey Jr. in the role of Tony Stark remains the best casting decision ever for any comic book film. From his chemistry with Paltrow to the adlibbed dialogue, Iron Man elevated every aspect of the film. Even after re-watching at least eight times, the movie never gets old, and that’s largely thanks to Downey.

Words cannot even express what it felt like to see Nick Fury stepping forward to say, “I am here to talk to you about the Avengers initiative.” At the time, it was only something that I could have dreamed about, and as a geek, it was about as good as it gets. To this day, it remains one of the defining moments of my movie watching experience.

3: Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy defied all expectations. Not only did it become highest grossing film of the year domestically, it shocked both fan and critic alike with its complete disregard of the conventional.

James Gunn's writing and direction is bold. He did not care about what audiences expected or even wanted. He told us exactly we wanted, and we all loved every minute of it. His style is in-your-face and unforgivingly his own, and that is my type of filmmaking!

Thanks to the stellar chemistry between the cast and Chris Pratt's innate goofball charm, GotG assembles a team of misfits unlike any other. It is like a combination of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Mass Effect, and Firefly, packed full of 80s references, action, and absurdly lovable characters. Even if you have never seen a Marvel film, there is so little connection to the main universe that it does not matter, yet there are still plenty of Easter Eggs for the fans.

Guardians of the Galaxy is bold and audacious filmmaking at its finest with James Gunn's complete disregard of typical genre conventions that care more about making a unique film than a generic crowd pleaser, yet it surely does please. GotG is like a cult classic with lovable quirky characters and endlessly quotable dialogue, except with box office success and a big budget; what more could you ask for?!

However, I feel as though I need to watch it yet another time before ranking it at number two, which could very well happen in the near future.

2: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier truly took me by surprise. I expected a fun action packed adventure with my favorite comic book character; what I actually got was something far superior.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a thematically strong film loaded with meaningful social commentary on the various aspects of politics, freedom, and government control. It uses the fact that Captain America is an unwavering force of freedom to convey the themes without ever coming off as pretentious. Everything expressed in the film is a core aspect of Cap's character, and that is exactly why it works so well.

Upon my second viewing, I watched the film with the intent of finding something wrong with the film, and yet I could not find a single noteworthy flaw. Of course, no film is absolutely perfect, but it is one of the most well crafted films that I have ever. Each scene flows into the next effortlessly. It takes big risks, and yet never falters. The plot functions like a well oiled machine, and yet it has an emotional core. While I am sad to see Joss Whedon not directing Avengers: Infinity War, the film is left in good hands with the Russo Brothers.

1: The Avengers
Could there be any other? Joss Whedon accomplished the impossible with The Avengers and that makes him mighty (Firefly reference). Never before has a comic book film been so bold and unforgiving in the fact that it is based on a comic book. It perfectly captures the spirit of the comic, while still being easily accessible to the general public, an impressive feat in and of itself.

Somehow every character is given their moment to shine, and Whedon's expertly written banter is pure perfection. Among the previously established characters, Whedon even managed to build Black Widow into a far more fascinating character than anyone could have ever realized, and The Hulk, who, at the time, never received a proper film adaptation, nearly stole the show.

The Avengers could have easily been a disaster if left in less competent hands. Behind all of the spectacle and humor, ultimately, the film has heart; that's the real reason The Avengers is a classic that will go down in history as one of the defining films of the our generation. Will Age of Ultron be able to best it....

For a future continuation of this list, I have considered ranking Marvel's TV series like Daredevil and Agent Carter alongside the films. Please let me know what you think of that in the comments, because it is something that I have wanted to try. 

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  1. At last! The end of the list. In my opinion it would not be a great idea to include TV shows on this list. It is much harder to sum up a TV show, with some episodes being weaker than others. It could work if you made a ten-movie/show list so that some movies and shows must be left out and only the best can make the list.
    But really whatever you want to do. Very good job summing up each film.

  2. Nice list!
    Captain America: Winter Soldier and Avengers are in exactly the same places on my list, too. I am really looking forward to Civil War and I am very confident in the Russo brothers directing Infinity War.

  3. I'd have Winter Soldier 1 and Iron Man at number 2 and I don't much rate Avengers 2 but a great list! Also, I LOVE Iron Man 2 so it's not universal, dude! Hammer rules! Bring him back!

  4. I actually... like... Guardians... more than Avengers.... GASP. But yeah, I do. Although I guess Avengers does deserve the top spot just for being the groundbreaking movie that Guardians probably couldn't have existed without. The Core Four indeed! Great list James! I love the blurbs about each movie!


One rule: No strong profanity. If you want to link to one of your posts, please do; I am always interested in other reviews and such.

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