Saturday, June 25, 2016

Top 13 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Movies: Part 1

Captain America: Civil War blew all our minds last month with an emotionally gripping story of the MCU being split apart. Now it is time to re-rank the Top 13 Marvel Cinematic Universe films yet again. However, to my surprise, my opinions of many of the films have gradually changed over time after re-watching each one, so this list is a bit different than my previous ones, even if there are some similarities. 

13: The Incredible Hulk
The black sheep of the MCU, The Incredible Hulk has faded into obscurity almost to the point where it is barely considered canon. Sure, it is occasionally referred, but many aspects of the film just do not fit with the rest of the MCU. Part of this is due to Edward Norton not returning in The Avengers, which led to Mark Ruffalo redefining the film version of the Hulk/Banner to astounding success.

As for the film itself, The Incredible Hulk is a fun film. Nothing about it is remarkable, but it tells a classic Hulk story of Banner running from them military. For the type of on-the-run Banner that the film required, Edward Norton did a fine job in the role. Unfortunately, the film starts to fall apart towards end with the introduction of Major Emil Blonsky, aka the Abomination. The final battle between the two is entertaining for some CGI Hulk smashing, but that is about it. The other issue is that the budget and technology at the time could not create a Hulk comparable to the one in the comics. Overall though, it is a solid comic book flick.

12: Iron Man 2
Receiving more hate that it ever deserved, Iron Man 2 is very much a mixed bag. Certain elements are fantastic, while other aspects disappoint. The film tries to use the palladium poisoning as a substitute for Stark's alcoholism arc from the comics. While a few parts of that story as Tony tries to discover what is truly important is effective, it is ultimately buried by uneven pacing and too many subplots. Thankfully, Robert Downey Jr. being himself is always a pleasure to watch, and his ad libbed banter keeps things interesting. And Sam Rockwell is awesome. Marvel, please bring him back in something.

The most notable criticism is that Iron Man 2 tries to be the bridge that sets up for The Avengers, and at the time, the executives at Marvel still had yet to figure out exactly how everything would come together, which is apparent in the film. The building blocks are there, but it is not integrated with the any form of subtlety like later the films. However, it is a necessary evil of sorts to get us to the ultimate payoff that is The Avengers. Oddly enough, I basically agreed with the majority that it was a disappointment upon my first viewing of the film (before I became a critic). However, after multiple viewing, its importance in the overall road to The Avengers and Downey's innate charm made me like the movie so much more entertaining the second and third times around, despite the messy narrative and apparent flaws.

11: Thor: The Dark World
Despite Thor being the titular character, we all know that The Dark World is the Tom Hiddleston show, as he steals every second of his screentime. Sure, his screentime may be limited to the first two Acts, but he eats it up.

Despite Hiddleston’s brilliance, Thor: The Dark World is ultimately the most generic MCU film. There is nothing controversial or world shattering; it is a straightforward and entertaining adventure. The best aspect is the brotherly interaction between Thor and Loki, and visually interesting Asgardian world. Yet, it feels like it lacks purpose or as many memorable moments as the films higher on this list. And Malekith is probably Marvel’s worst villain. With that said, The Dark World is a great entertaining flick from beginning to end and still a favorite of mine in many respects.

10: Thor
Of all the Phase 1 films, Thor had the most potential for disaster! In fact, before watching the film, I feared that there would be no way that a Thor film could work in live-action. Thankfully, to my surprise, Thor turned out to be one of the films in a long line of Marvel productions that defy expectations against all odds.

Kenneth Branagh's Shakespearean background lent itself well to the film's theatrical family drama and archaic dialogue, which is one of the film's stronger aspects. The "fish-out-of-water" comedy with Thor is full of unforgettable lines that I still quote today, and the Final Act brought Thor’s character arc full circle. As a whole, Branagh managed to capture Thor and the world of Asgard in a satisfying manner!

What do you think of the list so far? Please comment below and let me know.

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  1. "Sam Rockwell is awesome." -- most commonly said phrase about him. :D I definitely think Iron Man 2 is the worst of the Iron Man's but you know, if it weren't for Loki's part in The Dark World I would rank it below IM2. I might do anyway...

    Looking forward to the rest of the list James!

    1. Haha, true. lol Rockwell is great. Too bad the writing for IM2 didn't have the same magic as Rockwell and Downey. Thanks for commenting Sarah! :)


  2. Not Fair! Malekith is a cool villain who actually speaks dark elvish. The Dark elf cloaking ships, fighters and unique costume designs and cursed soldiers were all super cool. I think Aldrich Killian was easily a worse villain.

    1. True, I actually forget Killian is the villain in that movie. lol He is probably the worst one then isn't he? Great point Isaac!



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