Saturday, May 2, 2015
Rankin' Em Up!
Avengers: Age of Ultron is conquering theaters (and cash registers) the world over, bringing Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a close. Also, with the release of the movie, my life can get back to normal and I can actually do stuff that isn't Avengers-related. At least I can after I finish this post cuz right now seems like a perfect time to look back on what has already transpired in the MCU. Here's how I rank the Marvel movies from that first two MCU phases. Let the countdown commence!!
11. The Incredible Hulk - Ang Lee's Hulk movie was a pretentious, badly-executed, artsy-fartsy mess. But at least it was about something. Louis Leterrier's rebooted Edward Norton vehicle is less ponderous and heavy-handed, but it's also little more than an over-long TV episode. Norton seemed like he was phoning in his performance, and in spite of some cool action scenes, The Incredible Hulk is a bit dull.
10. Iron Man 3 - Shane Black's entry into the Iron Man Trilogy is a little too unfocused and rambling. I like what they did with Ben Kingsley and The Mandarin. It was a welcome surprise in an era when most big movies don't pack many surprises. And the stuff between Tony Stark and the kid he befriends in Tennessee is pretty priceless. But the main villain is little more than a bomb with legs and that sucks a lot of fun out of the film. And, honestly, I think it would've worked a little better had Black reigned RDJ in a little bit more.
9. Thor: The Dark World - Thor happens to be my favorite Avenger, but even he can't completely save this movie from being lackluster. The villain is too boring, and the movie suffers whenever Thor and Loki aren't on screen together. The movie does score for having a truly bad ass final battle where Thor and Malekith knock each other through worm holes. And that Captain America cameo is inspired.
8. Iron Man 2 - IM2 suffers from being to much of a set-up for future movies and having basically the same plot as the first movie. You know Stark-must-stop-bad-guy-scientist-with-bigger-suit-than-his? The sub-plot involving Tony's dad doesn't help things much, either. Still, the action is great, RDJ is awesome in the title role, and it's worth it to see Scarlett Johasson kick John Favreau's ass. Or to see her do anything she does in this movie. Plus, Sam Rockwell's a hoot as Justin Hammer.
7. Captain America: The First Avenger - It's kinda hard to put this movie this far down on the list cuz it's pretty great. Director Joe Johnston delivers a movie that's thrilling, fun, and captures the essence of Ol' Winghead in epic fashion. Chris Evans so totally embodies Cap's goodness and strength that you forget all the roles where he played a smarmy wise ass. Hugo Weaving isn't quite compelling enough as Red Skull and that brings the movie down. Plus, I felt (spoiler alert) Bucky dies a little to early in the story. But with Evans kicking ass, plus great performances by Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, plus the best (and most gorgeous) love interest in the MCU in Peggy Carter, plus a rousing musical score, the first Captain America movie is a blast.
6. Thor - You could interchange the first Cap flick and this one. I rank Thor a little higher cuz I like Thor a little more than Cap and cuz the Asgard stuff in this movie is beautifully rendered. Chris Hemsworth is great as the Odinson, and he gets great supporting work from Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, and Anthony Hopkins. Plus, Idris Elba shows up. I'd watch that guy play chess at an old folks home.
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron - From here on up, there's very little to complain about, and any complaining done is pretty much nitpicky bullshit. Age of Ultron was a bit overstuffed with so many new characters, so many characters from other MCU flicks popping up, and so much to set up for future movies. But, it's still thrilling, ass-kicking, and totally awesome. There are plenty of laughs, and new developments that add spice to the proceedings. Age of Ultron is a blast, from start to finish, and that's exactly what you need from an Avengers movie.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - The Cap sequel is a comic book movie disguised as a political thriller. That's a very good thing. The addition of Falcon is inspired, giving Cap a great ally and us some moments of great fun a serious ass-kickery. Robert Redford is terrific as the bad guy in the movie, and the scene where Nick Fury gets assaulted in his car is one of the best action scenes in MCU history. It does go on a little long, but it's a great ride.
3. Avengers - I didn't think Marvel could pull this off. Even with so much set-up out of the way and Joss Whedon at the helm, I never imagined an Avengers movie could be this good. Shows what I know. This movie showed that you could do a big epic superhero team movie that's fun, has epic high stakes, plenty of action, and well-written characters. The bottom line: Avengers is one of the most fun, most jaw-droppingly awesome comic book movies ever made. And one of the best.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy - Ok, if this seems high to you, consider this: No MCU movie has surprised me as much as this one did. It manages to be gut-bustingly funny, ass-kickingly action-packed, and genuinely touching all at the same time. The characters are terrific, a fun group to hang out with. There's not a single boring second in this flick. And the soundtrack kicks ass. Not bad for a bunch of Marvel third-stringers that only hardcore comics geeks knew about. If George Lucas would've seen Guardians before making Episodes 1, 2, and 3, maybe those prequels would've been better.
1. Iron Man - Not just because it started things out. The first MCU flick showed the way for every single Marvel movie that's followed. The tone is perfect. The action is breath-taking. The jokes and the emotional beats work. RDJ is so perfectly cast as Tony Stark, that it's hard to believe he's just playing a character. It's believable enough that you can buy in to the world yet fantastic enough that it transports you. It's the perfect comic book movie. 'Nuff said!
So, that's how I rank 'em. Do you agree or disagree? How do you rank 'em up? Drop me a comment or something and let me know.