by Brandon Matzke
Well, one of the biggest films of the century is coming out this week. So of course I’ve got to talk about it! Ever since 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Studios has been hitting it big time and time again with their innovative “MCU”. And since their supposed magnum opus Avengers: Infinity War is coming out soon, I thought I’d look at all their films leading up to this one, ranked from worst to best. Keep in mind, this is my personal opinion, and feel free to disagree.
Worst: Thor the Dark World (2013)
Augh, this was a snoozefest. Not only does this film have no memorable aspects, no colors used but grey and somewhat lighter grey, not only is it just freakishly boring, but it forgets to even have a personality. For two hours, we’re dragged from place to place pretending to care, but honestly we’re probably either asleep or trying to turn the lights up. Everyone seems like they’re just sleepwalking through this film, and even the charismatic Tom Hiddleston is flailing to keep this film afloat. Not only is it a boring superhero film, but it’s also a boring fantasy film; offering nothing interesting or unique that we haven’t seen hundreds of times before on Sy-Fy original films. When even Sharknado is more fun to watch than a big-budget superhero film, you know there’s problems. 2/10
Second Worst: Thor (2011)
While The Dark World is my least favorite MCU film, it’s predecessor wasn’t going to win any awards either. You know what’s the best part of having a character capable of traveling to several hundred different types of worlds, with a colorful cast of cosmic figures? Why, plopping him in boring old New Mexico! With a cast of “wacky” normal people, who are about as colorful as chalk-covered sour cream. Wait, that would actually be interesting to look at, albeit gross. For whatever reason, the director decided the best color to represent Thor’s world would be grey. A perfect representation of a dull and forgettable film, don’t you think? 2/10.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The first Iron Man was a ton of fun: it’s sequel was not. It feels like a mess, in the way Spider-Man 3 or Fant4stic are; unfocused, jumbled together, and struggling to be anything great. At least Robert Downey Jr. is still at his A-game… 3/10.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
It’s really a shame we haven’t gotten a truly great solo Hulk film yet; I feel like if he was given the right amount of effort, we could have a truly fun movie. But instead, we’ve gotten rather mediocre films to try and satisfy fans of the not-so jolly green giant. While 2008’s Incredible Hulk is technically the best film in Hulk’s history of solo movies, that doesn’t make it a good film. I remember basically nothing about this film: while Edward Norton is great in films like Fight Club, it’s easy to tell he was bored out of his mind when playing Bruce Banner. In fact, everyone’s bored; especially the director. I remember next to nothing about this film, with the sole exception being the surprisingly brutal fight at the end. But everything leading up to it was a slogfest of boredom, and just forgettable in the long run. 5/10.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Shane Black’s early directorial career has brought us some freakishly underrated films, from 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to 2016’s The Nice Guys. Iron Man 3 is far from Black’s best (I’d even say it’s his worst), but it’s still entertaining in some parts. True, the character of the Mandarin was… how do I say this nicely… completely butchered, and several scenes don’t hold up (at all), but Robert Downey Jr. keeps this film from becoming completely mediocre, bringing his signature charm and wit into this film. Plus, his new suit is pretty cool… 5.9/10.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)
While the first Avengers truly felt like an event, it’s sequel felt like setup for other sequels. It also doesn’t take itself seriously enough; it rarely ever feels like anything is at stake, due to everyone constantly quipping (and 90% of those quips really aren’t that good). It’s plot feels jumbled and confused, with numerous plot holes set aside because “Hey! Omelette joke!”. But I’d be lying if I said that hulkbuster fight wasn’t awesome, or if that hammer gag didn’t crack me up. Plus, it contained a surprisingly smart scene near the end involving the titular Ultron and his spawn Vision. Still doesn’t quite fix everything in between, though. 6/10
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017)
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 might not be as good as it’s predecessor, falling flat on several components (and using cliches in ways that don’t even attempt to hide themselves). With that being said, the cast is still fun to watch, and the fight scenes are kinda cool. Plus, the visuals are cool, and the soundtrack is once again pretty great. 7/10.
Ant Man was a film I had no hope for: look at the title for further evidence. However, I found myself pleasantly surprised by it, and I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the most entertaining films of its year. Is it flawless? No. It’s villain is dull, and some scenes definitely could’ve been cut. But the script is fun, the cast is giving it their all (especially Michael Pena, who may be the best part of this film), and the direction gives it this sense of chaotic fun. Plus, where else do you see a giant-sized Thomas the Tank crashing through a house? 8/10
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Many people don’t like this film; I don’t see why. 2011’s First Avenger is a genuinely good film, feeling like a classic adventure film in the vein of Indiana Jones in the best ways possible. It’s a fun movie, and one that I feel doesn’t deserve the bad reputation it’s somehow received. 8/10
Doctor Strange (2016)
I love trippy stuff. 2001, Vertigo, Donnie Darko, you name it. But even then, it’s not the biggest reason why I enjoy Doctor Strange. For a superhero film, it deals with surprisingly complex themes and ideas, and I’d even call it somewhat philosophical. It helps that I first saw this in Imax, where I truly felt sucked into this film. I even bought the Blu-Ray, something I almost never do (unless I truly love a film’s visuals). 8.5/10
Iron Man (2008)
The film that started it all; 2008’s Iron Man was a little film that showed up out of nowhere, and showed the world that Marvel Studios is capable of making darn good movies. It feels a tiny bit awkward to re-watch this one, due to the advancements made in the MCU since it’s release, but it still remains as an entertaining film with a great performance from Robert Downey Jr. 8.5/10
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
I adore Spider-Man: he’s one of my favorite superheroes, I grew up watching the Sam Raimi movies, and I even own a poster of Amazing Fantasy #15, Spidey’s first appearance. With that being said, I was hugely disappointed by Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man series, which were less movies and more trailers for other films that we didn’t even get. But when Marvel took Spidey back, we got something that reminded me of why I love this character. Homecoming is a perfect film for the audience who grew up with these films; perfectly capturing teenage life in a way John Hughes would definitely approve of, along with a pretty fun superhero film. Plus, that car scene. You know the one. 8.9/10
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
I already reviewed this one, so here’s the link: https://ghs-voice.com/tag/thor/
Black Panther (2018)
Again, reviewed it. Still great; and definitely buying it when it comes out on DVD. https://ghs-voice.com/tag/blank-panther/
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
You know what I never expected from a Captain America film? A serious and complex spy-thriller where it truly feels like important things are truly at stake. You know what worked perfectly? That very description. Winter Soldier is a surprisingly smart film, with some legitimate concerns about national security, government control, and everything Captain America ever stood for. It also has some of the best action in recent film history, and some of the biggest thrills in recent cinema. 9.5/10
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
How do you make a sequel that somehow manages to be better than Winter Soldier? Why, you make it bigger! Civil War finds a way to make the commentary and action of Winter Soldier to apply to the rest of Marvel, making everything feel much more important and at stake. It also contains the best fight scene in the Marvel franchise (the airport scene), which itself deserves major credit. 10/10.
2nd Best: The Avengers (2012)
The Avengers was a rare case of a big-budget film with a ton of hype that never let down. It’s entertaining, action-packed, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. It’s every fanboy’s dream come true: nobody feels out of character, and best of all they actually argue sometimes, leading to several engaging, funny, and even thrilling sequences. Plus, this film has a sense of humor (“Does mother knoweth you weareth her drapes?”), and is entertaining for almost anyone. 10/10.
Best: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
When a film is considered a modern classic by none other than Steven Spielberg, I think it’s safe to say it’s pretty good. Guardians has everything a MCU film needs: entertainment value, memorable characters, humor, and one catchy soundtrack. True, the villain is basically a collection of cliches, but the film is smart enough to avoid him when possible. Guardians is almost an action/comedy, and it pays off: it’s hysterical, action-packed, and a blast from start to finish. 10/10.
Well, that was every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. I can’t wait to watch Infinity War (which I’m seeing in Imax for maximum effect), and I’ll definitely be reviewing it.