They're all good, but which ones
In honor of Captain America: The Winter Soldier's home video release, Guardians of the Galaxy's continued box office success, Ant-Man beginning filming and me deciding the site needs to be more varied, I decided to look back on the ten films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe and decide which ones are the best and which are the still good but not so best. Now remember, I like all of these films, to the point where number 10 is the only one I'd call mildly bad. In fact, the entire top 6 all received perfect scores, so this is solely about my personal favorites and my personal opinions. If yours are different, feel free to comment, just don't leave a dick message.
To be fair, Iron Man 2 had a lot to deal with. It was marvel's first film made since announcing the whole thing was building up to The Avengers. So Iron Man 2 had to be both a sequel to the original Iron Man and set up for the future Marvel movies. And while many critics complain that the films all feel like trailers for The Avengers, this film is the only one I'd probably agree with them on. The film certainly isn't bad, it's just a bit of a mess. It reminded me closely of Spider-Man 3 (Which probably isn't a fair film to bring to mid. I'm am one of the few people who like Spider-Man 3). The film has the same great cast as the first, with some great new additions and there are some really spectacular moments in the film, especially the final fight scene. However, the film has got too many stories going on at once with some fun but underdeveloped villains. Plus, the film's tone often ranged from goofy to dead serious and it never really transitioned well between the two. Overall, a disappointing movie, though not a bad one.
There's a lot to like about Thor. The film brings to life what was arguably Marvel's strangest characters until Guardians of the Galaxy and they made the film believable and often visually striking. Too bad I can never remember all that much about it. It's simply a case of a film that, while offering up a good origin for a cool character, just doesn't really have that much to do. The film often feels like it's taking it's time not because it's how it's paced and more because there just isn't that much to do. I mean, besides notable world-building things like Hawkeye and Odin's vault, the film doesn't add much to the Marvel universe. Even worse, the film's own big setpieces and climaxes don't leave that much of an impression. Overall, it's a solid, entertaining film that works, but can never offer up anything really worth revisiting.
I do like Thor, I swear. It's just that, while a great character acted very well by Hemsworth, Thor's solo outings do make the weakest series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That's all. As a film, The Dark World works better than the original. The story feels more epic, the action is a lot better, the characters more interesting and the humor spot-on. However, the film just plays it safe. Sequels, if they're to be good, must build upon the original. Often times, that means offering up a darker film, with higher stakes, murkier morals and maybe the hero loses... briefly. That happened with Iron Man. With Captain America. Hell with both Spider-Mans. And yet, that doesn't happen here. Thor never really faces much of a real threat. And that made for a entertaining, but bland and safe film.
I'm, from what I gather, am in the group that likes the Hulk a lot more than most others. In fact, I'll be completely honest. A lot of the same problems I criticizes Thor: The Dark World for are present in The Incredible Hulk. The hero never really faces that much challenge, the villain's lame and non-threatening, we learn nothing new about the characters and the film plays it largely safe. Quite simply, the only reason I put this over Thor is because I like the Hulk more than, well, Thor. I'm a little more okay with just watching the Hulk smash and Banner try to, for the millionth time, find a cure. I'm a little more forgiving too. Here, the filmmakers had to bring the Hulk back after a failed, but ambitious attempt. So, I do understand playing it a bit more safe then they could have, especially in comparison to a sequel to a popular film. All nitpicking aside though, both films are good, I just like the Hulk better. Simple as that.
The one that started it all. The original Iron Man had the task of kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turning a second-tier character into a household name. And the film accomplishes that easily. Now yes, that's all mostly due to Robert Downey Jr. who made Tony Stark a household name. But you just can't deny the sheer good filmmaking going on here. Sure the story is a little by the numbers and the villain's only notable trait is that Jeff Bridges is awesome. But the film is just such an entertaining movie that it's easily one of the most re-watchable superhero films of all time. Sure, it's nothing groundbreaking (Well, at least not til after the credits), but it's a great ride that kicked off a great chain of events.
I didn't get a chance to review this film and honestly there isn't too much to say about it. It's one of those "it's good, trust me, just go see it" kinda movies. It's impressive that Marvel was able to pull such a strange cast of characters into a strong team, but here a raccoon, a tree, aliens and a human make for the best superhero team since, well, The Avengers. The film might not have a great story or villain, but the film is funny as all hell, features some great action and more than enough of it's own style. The cast is great, especially Chris Pratt and James Gunn does a great job bringing this cast of characters to life. Again, nothing too special, but when a film really does feel like they're bringing us to new worlds, something is being done right.
That won't be controversial at all. Yes, the definitive, continuity driven team-up film this entire series has been building up to... is only fourth. But hey, it still got a perfect score, so shut up. Look, I won't lie, Avengers isn't really known for it's masterful storytelling. The story is just an excuse to get the characters together, but that's also all it needed to be. The scenes are executed perfectly, with some of the best chemistry for a superhero movie ever. The characters interactions feel organic and the film's a ton of fun because of it. And, of course, the final battle is the stuff of film legends. It's a masterpiece in entertainment, but overall, not one in storytelling.
Yes, again, controversial. I know a lot of people hate it, mostly because they can't accept anything new or interesting, but I digress. I loved Iron Man 3. On the surface, it delivered the funniest script and the best action and effects in the series thus far. But it was even more than that. This was the first film to have a story that was just utterly great. Tony's story arc is fantastic, with tons of character development and the best performance by Downey yet. The twists, yes including THAT twist, are brilliant and genuinely surprising seeing as how they actually kept them secret. This was the first time in the series that managed to be thrilling during the action and during the quiet character scenes. I know it doesn't work for some people, but if this really is the last Iron Man movie, then the series went out on a high note.
This is still my favorite film of the year, and for good reasons. As you probably have figured out right now, Captain America is my personal favorite of the Avengers. And much like Iron Man 3, The Winter Soldier pitted Cap in a dangerous and dark situation. Chris Evans is spectacular as Steve Rogers, who's dilemma with SHIELD and the government in this might is easily the best story in the Cinematic Universe yet. Hell, the whole thing is the best story yet. I don't get the complaints that this film doesn't take any risks, especially considering it's big reveal is by far the most shocking chance to the comics story yet. Not only that, this one had some genuinely good villains and The Winter Soldier himself is a great new character worthy of exploring further. The sequel stepped it up in a big way... though not big enough, because, if you haven't already figured it out...
The Best MCU Film Is...
I know it's not a choice shared with many people, but here's how I see it. Combine the great actors bring these great characters to life, at the time the first really good and interesting story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a great sense of humor and some awesome action, a cool villain with a lovably goofy evil plot, some strong world-building, genuinely sad moments, a huge amount of rewatchablity, a setting that's shown off expertly by the director and a script that brings it all together nicely and what do you get? Not just my personal favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, but my second favorite superhero movie of all time (Spider-Man 2 can't be stopped!). I know it's not a choice I shared with many, but it makes perfect sense to me.