“There was an idea called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more.”
*This review may contain spoilers*
Seen as though every other online reviewer has made one, here is my two cents on the ranking of every MCU movie so far…
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) (Phase 3)
The MCU had been building up its big bad since a post credits scene in The Avengers (2012), which had fans speculating for years how and to what extent were our heroes going to inevitably lose to Thanos. As quoted from the original Spider-man (2002), “The one thing (the people) love more than a hero is to see a hero fail”, and boy do they fail. After the events of Civil War left the Avengers vulnerable, Infinity war splits the team into 2 connected story lines, filled with an enormous cast, all with varying personalities and conflicting relationships. Infinity War takes everything that the previous movies built and develops on it all, providing a gloriously epic showdown to a scale and level of sophistication that we may never see again. Joe and Anthony Russo did the impossible, by living up to 10 years’ worth of build-up but still delivering a compelling story, with one of the most shocking movie cliff-hangers in cinema history.
Favorite Scene: After the snap leaves both the Avengers and the audience breathless, the camera slowly pans in on the remaining team as Steve Rogers simply says, “Oh God”.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) (Phase 2)
When I went into the theater for the first time, I expected another generic superhero movie with little to no plot and backed by an incredibly dull lead character. I left the theater utterly shell shocked. TWS feels like the first MCU movie to really transcend the genre, something that subsequent movies evidently tried to replicate, which is why the MCU has become rooted as so much more than a simple collection of superhero movies. TWS is essentially a spy/thriller with a superhero spin and not the other way around. After an unrelatable and under-utilised Steve Rogers drew little love from audiences after Captain America: TFA and The Avengers, the Russo brothers turned the “super” to 100, making Captain America finally feel as powerful and influential as he is in the comics, whilst demonstrating that he actually has a personality of his own. Chris Evans feels more comfortable in the role and the script provides Rogers with far more humanity and a monologue that is enough to make even the Red Skull debate his evil ways. The pacing is fantastic, the action is perfectly over-the-top and the fight scenes are jaw-droppingly choreographed, which surprisingly solidified Captain America as my favorite MCU Avenger.
Favorite Scene: Amid an average dialogue scene on the motorway, a metal arm abruptly smashes through the car window and violently rips Sitwell out of his seat, throwing him in front of an oncoming truck
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) (Phase 2)
When GOTG was announced, I wasn’t the only person reaching for google to see what this was all about. Almost everyone was sceptical of this huge shift into the extended MCU universe, especially given that two of the five leads were a talking raccoon and a tree. GOTG was a huge risk for Marvel Studios but paid off in heaps with an exciting sci-fi adventure that was bounds funnier than any of the MCU films before it. Packed with tons of heart, vibrant visuals and a fantastic 70’s playlist that was integrated into the scenes, GOTG was a clear passion project for director James Gunn and was wholly unique in its approach to its superhero origins. Where the film really excels was its casting, where the characters feel designed around their respective actors. GOTG shot Chris Pratt to stardom, pulled WWE wrestler Dave Bautista into the spotlight for his natural comedic talents and somehow managed to create empathy towards the previously shunned raccoon/tree duo. I am forever recommending this film as the gateway movie into the MCU and it will forever hold a special place for being arguably the easiest to watch of all 23 of the films.
Favourite Scene: During a frantic shootout within a space prison, Rocket climbs onto Groot’s shoulders, catches a gun being thrown from Drax and looks lovingly into its eyes and says “oh… yeah”, then proceeds to destroy everything whilst screaming with laughter.
Captain America: Civil War (2016) (Phase 3)
Possibly the story line a lot of fans were most looking forward to, Civil War decided to reduce the scope of its huge comic book origins and focus on exploring mostly the roster we already know and love. In doing so, watching our heroes regrettably beat on one another was far more personal and emotionally impactful for both the characters and the audience. Despite being called a Captain America film, Civil War centered around the brooding tension between Rogers and Stark that has been present since Avengers Assemble, truly dividing fans by whose side they were on. All the promotional material and behind the scenes with the actors was designed to get fans involved, hash tagging #TeamIronman or #TeamCaptainAmerica which built to an epic, heart-breaking finale that stands out as one of the most poignant scenes in the Infinity saga. Civil War took the MCU one layer deeper and two levels bigger, but never gets bogged down by its formidable cast and even manages to introduce two new fan favorites to its inventory; Black Panther and Spider-man (finally!). Where this film really separates itself from the crowd is with its villain. The MCU had been struggling with generic super villains for years, but Civil War took an ordinary guy and had him defeat our heroes without a vague robot army or another end-of-the-world scheme. Zemo’s plan was brilliantly grounded and unravels slowly towards a plot twist that diverts all expectations. Keeping him alive was a stroke of genius, and he is set to return in the upcoming Disney+ exclusive “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” series!
Favorite Scene: After a climatic showdown between our heroes, Rogers ground and pounds Stark, ripping off the Iron Man helmet and forcing his shield through the arc reactor powering the suit, then the 2 share an immediate look of regret and shock respectively
Avengers: Endgame (2019) (Phase 3)
After the shocking events of Infinity War, fans were speculating for a whole year as to how the remaining Avengers could possibly remedy the MCU. Given its original story that wasn’t taken from any of the comics, nobody knew exactly what to expect and almost nothing goes the way you think it will. Endgame has a lot of story to tell, yet great pacing, character development and the pre-built interconnected relationships allows for an easy ride through a whopping run time of 3 hours 2 minutes. The plot slowly progresses into a whacky time-heist that rounds off some of the key character arcs that have been over 11 years in the making, giving a fitting send-off to several of the original Avengers and paving the way for the newer heroes heading into Phase 4. Endgame acts more as a homage to the entire MCU, taking us to places we’ve been before and meeting recognisable characters but from different perspectives, to an extent that the film demands revisiting if you are to soak up the whole story. Endgame is like nothing you’ve seen before (in or out of the MCU), reminding fans just how sentimental they have become towards the characters and their stories. After a perfect conclusion to the Infinity Saga, many people are asking the same question: where can the MCU possibly go from here?
Favorite Scene: “On your left”
The Avengers (2012) (Phase 1)
The Avengers was a comic book fan’s dream, which was unprecedented upon its release. Many were skeptical as to whether Marvel Studios could pull it off, with what seemed like a vast amount of lead characters too big for one movie. Not only did The Avengers become the highest opening weekend and single weekend gross at $640.5 million, it started a trend that other studios are still trying desperately to achieve, with connected universes popping up everywhere in TV and film (to varying degrees of success). The film is bright, funny and looks deep into the team dynamic and their contrasting relationships, planting many of the seeds for films that proceeded it. Iron man takes center stage, with his witty dialogue and argumentative nature bringing most of the fun, which plays to the design of the film not taking itself too seriously. Yes, it falls for many of the superhero cliches, including a generic end of the world type plot and an army of faceless enemies, but it is also bursting with fresh ideas that started a whole new wave of tropes to be copied. With more and more attempts to replicate its success and the ground-breaking movie making that has subsequently followed, I doubt The Avengers will age as well as some of its counterparts, but back in 2012 there was nothing in comparison and it should always be respected as the film that brought superhero movies into the mainstream audience.
Favorite Scene: The Hulk rag dolling Loki into the floor, leaving him motionless and squeaking as Hulk quips “Puny God”.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017) (Phase 3)
Arguably the funniest film in the MCU, Ragnarok is more a crazy comedy in space than a traditional superhero movie. When fans weren’t connecting with a dry, unrelatable Thor and even actor Chris Hemsworth admitted he was bored of playing the character, Taika Waititi was brought on board to breathe fresh air into the weakest link of Marvels progressively engaging roster of films. Ragnarok took Thor’s ego and spun him as a lovable goofball, even managing to give the laughably dumb Hulk a character of his own that separates him from Banner. The location and costume design are psychedelically colorful and the characters unscripted laughs turn attention away from its uninspired plot, which would be enough to bomb the movie if you weren’t having so much fun with it. Giant wolves, Jeff Goldblum and Led Zeppelin all in one movie would be sufficient enough. However, Ragnarok doesn’t just revive Thor’s character, it thrusted him to a fan-favorite, which reminds us that every time Marvel feels as though it might start to dry up, these filmmakers always have something unfamiliar and stimulating up their sleeve.
Favorite Scene: After an epic build up to the Grandmasters “Contest of Champions”, the Hulk smashes through his entrance gate wearing medieval armour, yet Thor screams in relief “We know each other, he’s a friend from work!”
Black Panther (2018) (Phase 3)
Possibly one of the hardest movies to rank and perhaps deserves a place higher on the list, Black Panther is a film that does everything right, but didn’t quite resonate with me on a deeper level to justify its ascension. Black Panther is expertly directed with beautiful cinematography that is far beyond many of its MCU counterparts, with a standout villain in Killmonger that has legitimate motivations, a compelling back story and intensely acted by Michael B Jordan. The setting of Wakanda led a huge cultural following and the movie dives deep into its African roots, particularly in costume design, that gave a unique experience that is scarcely explored in Hollywood. The plot is constantly moving, but eventually ends up in another villainous plan to rule the world, then unfortunately kills off its most intriguing character. However, a lot of passion is embedded into Black Panther, making it exceptional in a long list of origin stories. Not to mention its 3 Oscar wins, one for its fantastic original score, which many critics believed was unlikely to come from the superhero genre.
Favorite Scene: As T’challa lays defeated, Killmonger lifts up the king and throws him from the top of a waterfall, turns around and shouts “I’m your king”.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) (Phase 3)
Spider-man was always my favorite superhero growing up and I am a huge fan of ALL the Sam Raimi and Amazing Spider-man movies (yes, I do like Spider-man 3 and AS2. Don’t @ me). Therefore, I had a chip on my shoulder going into another untimely Spider-man reboot, but even that couldn’t swerve me from a deep appreciation of Homecomings ability to take something used and make it appear brand new. Tom Holland is the perfect representation of a modern, realistic and awkwardly likeable Peter Parker and Keaton’s vulture was so quirky and utterly relatable, that I was almost rooting for his evil plan! The themes play on the idea that Peter isn’t a fully formed Spider-man yet but so desperately wants to be, which is a trait we rarely see in superheroes. We also see brief scenes with everyone’s favorite Tony Stark, but it never takes the film away from this being Peter’s story. Marvel knew we didn’t want to see another Spider-man origin film, instead taking a pragmatic approach to the issues of a schoolboy becoming a powerful vigilante and developing more on Peter’s personal journey. Homecoming has aged like fine wine, becoming a more integral, light-hearted addition to both the Spiderverse and the MCU with each viewing, where it is almost impossible to not enjoy at the very least.
Favorite Scene: During a rooftop chase in which Peter is following a van full of high-grade Chitauri weapons, he is abruptly caught mid-air and the tone immediately shifts from action to horror, as vulture’s chilling green eyes look down on a panicking Spider-man
Iron Man (2008) (Phase 1)
Iron Man is the film that started it all. When Hollywood was convinced that the superhero movie was dead, Marvel took a huge risk by hiring Jon Favreau to create a film around a character that wasn’t even one of their most popular. Partly due to Robert Downey Jr’s casting as Tony Stark, Iron Man shot to cult status with a post credits scene that had every hardcore comic book fan talking. With his roguish charisma and infectious charm, matched with a screen presence that can push any other A-lister to the side, nobody could play Stark like RDJ, which shot both the actor and the character back into the spotlight. Iron Man set the standard and evolved the template that many of the superhero movies are still following (Marvel and DC alike), combined with a rebellious hero that had audiences enjoying both the character and the alter-ego equally. Iron Man is far from a ground-breaking story, but its light-hearted wit and modern spin on real world issues, combined with a great guitar and rock-based soundtrack that reflects Stark’s personality gave audiences something they hadn’t experience before and brought comic book movies back into the discussion. Admittedly, the giant CGI battle at the end is disappointing and the villain is yet another old white guy in a suit. Nevertheless, Iron Man delivers the first and one of the more fun origin stories that its sequels struggled to live up to.
Favorite Scene: Stark’s genius is shown in full when he creates a miniature arc reactor and his first prototype Iron Man suit “in a cave with a box of scraps”, then proceeds to destroy a small militia and all their Stark Industry weapons single handed.
Ant-Man (2015) (Phase 2)
If you had told anyone back in 2008 that the MCU would be moving towards Ant-Man, a film about a scientist who can shrink to the size of an ant and control insects using psionic waves, they would have laughed and likely told you it couldn’t be done. To combat its absurd premise, Ant-Man turned to every-man Paul Rudd, a down-to-earth comedian who audiences could familiarize with before things got really kooky. Scott Lang is a grounded personality struggling with real life problems, which leads to some hilarious fish-out-of-water scenes when he steals the Ant-Man suit from creator Hank Pym. Surrounded by a hilarious supporting cast (including rapper T.I. for some reason?!), Ant-Man continues to prove critics wrong and break boundaries for Marvel, pushing the envelope on the scope and reach of their formula. Like many others on this list, Ant-Man was never going to be an Oscar winning masterpiece, but it offers action that is a relatively scaled down (pun intended!) heist movie that provides more of the easy-going entertainment we have come to expect.
Favorite Scene: Any scene with Luis (played by Michael Pena), from his digressional storytelling voice-over to the crew’s excitement when Luis is told he is already “in the system”.
Doctor Strange (2016) (Phase 3)
Fans were begging Marvel for years to introduce Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Stephen Strange, an arrogant neurosurgeon who travels to Kamar-Taj to be trained as a sorcerer. Similar to Ant-Man, Doctor Strange was another ludicrous idea that couldn’t be done until Marvel went and did it. What we didn’t expect was the psychedelic joyride that was both visually astonishing and unbelievably imaginative that was Oscar nominated for visual effects. Elements of the story are intentionally vague, with a quote from Tilda Swinton stating not everything has to make sense, which would have been a perfect tagline for this film. Swinton is brilliantly obscure, creating a character in The Ancient One that is one of my personal favorite MCU additions. The development of Strange is fantastic, graduating from a haughty, self-centered suit to a wise, spiritual “wizard”, who fits in perfectly with the other bizarre heroes on Marvel’s roster. The story also introduced time travel into the MCU’s box of tricks, which was cleverly integrated into the plot and used sparingly, not to give off its potential as a “get out of jail free” card. Doctor Strange is ironically odd in its placing on this list, as it is above even the good band of MCU movies, but never quite pushes into the outstanding group that is fundamental viewing for the non-hardcore fans and everyday viewers.
Favorite Scene: Accepting her death, The Ancient One uses astral projection to give Strange one last enlightening lesson, revealing the flaws that hold him back from greatness whilst overlooking a dark but beautiful rainstorm.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017) (Phase 3)
James Gunn built a modern classic in GOTG, which would be a difficult task to live up to with its sequel. GOTG Vol 2 is bigger and brighter than the first, matching it on a comedic level and builds on the characters we love, whilst taking a deeper look into some of the Guardians that received less screen time the first time around. However, Vol 2 suffers from an unbearably generic plot and a villain that is only saved by a fantastic performance by the charming Kurt Russell. Without Russell in the driving seat, Ego may well have been the blandest enemy in the MCU but is luckily brought to life with by an actor who is clearly having fun with the role. If you take Vol 2 as an enjoyable palate cleanser to the increasingly sophisticated line-up of the MCU, it’s hard not to have a good time with some of the best leads Marvel has to offer. I can’t get enough of the Guardians, stealing every scene they are in with their childlike banter and hugely varying personalities bouncing off one another. Each member of the team is integral in making the audience root for these occasionally imbecilic clowns, with Gamora being the glue that holds them all together. Rocket is shown for the crude wind-up that he is, which gives us an arc that is both interesting and surprisingly realistic, given that he was never a team player to begin with. However, Drax steals the show as the angry, moronic warrior that probably received the least attention in the original GOTG, with his jokes still hitting the mark on multiple viewings, shooting him up to one of the fan favorite avengers. Vol 2 has many of the factors that made the first so entertaining to watch and enough creativity to keep the film exciting but falls prey to the poor villain curse that looms over many of the MCU films. With a story that has little beneath the surface, Guardians 2 a fun but throwaway film in the bigger picture of the MCU.
Favorite Scene: Whilst Drax recites a fond memory of his late wife and daughter, Mantis places her hand on his shoulder to understand his feelings, which has her break out in tears as Drax sits in a neutral state
Iron Man 3 (2013) (Phase 2)
Following the huge success of The Avengers, Iron Man 3 had big shoes to fill. For the most part, the third outing for fan-favorite Tony Stark boasted some creative action sequences and showed a surprisingly humane side to Stark as he copes with anxiety from the events at the end of The Avengers. The characters are amusing and ended in a twist that divided the fan base, which had the terrorist The Mandarin turn out to be an eccentric English actor, which I thought was a risky stroke of genius that drastically enhanced a pretty uneventful story. IM3 benched Iron Man for much of the movie, focusing on Tony Stark’s ingenuity to get himself out of trouble, which delivered a different perspective to the character and provided slick action scenes that are incredibly fun to watch. This film falls painfully flat on both its super villains and an uninvested third act. The final showdown sees the president of the united states in mortal danger, whilst an army of anonymous henchman are taken out by automated suits. It is incredibly cheesy! Instead of giving Pepper Potts a sleek new Iron Man suit, they play with the damsel in distress trope that sees Potts turned into a trashy extremis superhuman to defeat our main villain, with little build up to this climactic moment in between.
Favorite Scene: Attempting to escape capture, Stark must fight his way out a compound as parts of his armour sporadically attempt to build the Iron man suit.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) (Phase 3)
FFH is one of the movies I had to revisit for this review, mainly due to my initial mixed opinions on the film. After watching FFH in theaters, I was severely underwhelmed by another dry villain with little to no motive for being evil. I had a hard time seeing past his group of ex-Stark employees, which seems far-fetched for them to be murdering groups of innocent civilians for monetary gain, one in which even points this out! Where this film definitely vibes as a sequel to the fantastic Homecoming, FFH feels much less a Spider-Man movie than another relaxed Marvel add on, but I appreciated the stories direction to take Spider-Man from his home territory of New York. However, upon second viewing with less expectation and pressure passed down from preceding movies, FFH advances nicely on the issues caused by “the blip” and Stark’s death in Endgame, as the film attempts to pass the baton from Tony to Peter. Overall, this film succeeds in doing so, with Holland demonstrating enough talent and likability to carry the larger franchise, with a moving call back to the first Iron Man film that has both us and director Favreau smiling in appreciation. In a similar style to Homecoming, FFH has a general comedic undertone that is universally funny, naturally integrated with its high school environment taken straight from the comic books that will resonate with younger audiences. Altogether, FFH is a disappointment. But if you don’t take it too seriously, it should pass a couple of hours with a smile and several big laughs.
Favorite Scene: As Peter begins to test his new defense tech EDITH, he unintentionally calls a killer drone on his high school rival, then must inventively destroy it without any of his friends noticing.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) (Phase 2)
I’m aware of an underlining dislike for Age of Ultron, but I honestly enjoy this film. The second outing for the Avengers was always going to be an uphill battle, given the cult status of Avengers Assemble and following a strong phase 2 for the MCU. Age of Ultron doesn’t quite live up to expectations, mainly down to a poorly developed villain with a monotonous end-of-the-world evil scheme, relying on an army of blanket robot goons. Particularly given his domination in the comics, Ultron is always on the back foot which gives an impression that the Avengers were never genuinely at risk of losing. However, AOU warms up the tension ready for Civil War, with well written dialogue between our heroes and fleshing out Hawkeye as his family is introduced and compensating for a previous lack of screen time. The film generally looks bright and inviting, displaying creative action sequences that occasionally borderline on too extravagant to the point of the film being cringe worthy. Several new characters are introduced, but most of which aren’t anything vaguely interesting. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch seem tacked on and give us very little reason to care, as their backstory is taken straight from the book of superhero cliches and the accents feel forced and exaggerated. Despite this, Visions debut is slowly constructed, which leads to a great introduction in a scene that is both anxious and calm, funny, well written and visibly alluring. AOU does flaunt an impressive soundtrack and several dazzling visuals, which brings this film back to life when everything else appears cluttered and overstuffed.
Favorite Scene: Rogers and Romanoff enter a shield training facility, teasing Caps famous phrase but just cutting off “Avengers, Assemble!”
Captain Marvel (2019) (Phase 3)
I could be convinced to move Captain Marvel up the list, as it is far from a bad movie. This film has the makings of something fantastic: an Oscar winning lead, more Sam Jackson, an intergalactic premise and the Skrulls, an alien race of shape-shifters. So why is this film so forgettable? I have seen Captain Marvel twice and I still have a hard time recalling the plot. Stories that revolve around amnesia can be hard to pull off effectively, with Captain Marvel feeling uninspired like we’ve seen it all before. At this stage in the MCU, audiences need more than the signature Marvel formula in order to gain a deeper resonance with the story and the character, but CM plays it safe with a sub-genre of a half-hearted thriller. Brie Larson does a passable job with the lead, yet every seen she shares with actress Lashana Lynch had me questioning why she wasn’t cast in the role. The plot takes an unexpected turn at the end, which injected some buzz back into the adventurous third act, with Skrull leader Talos being the standout performance in an otherwise so-so group that partly plays on our previous love for the characters. Some of the CGI is questionable, particularly on Goose the cat, but all the jokes around him work, solidifying this as another straightforward, relaxed watch that viewers could be forgiven for passing up.
Favorite Scene: As Danvers explains where to find Talos’ lost ship, he turns to his “science guy” in disappointment and asks if being in orbit was too hard to figure out.
Thor (2011) (Phase 1)
I feel bad for the first Thor film, as fans give our lead such a bad reputation pre-Ragnarok. The story develops Thor well, from a brash and arrogant prince to an empathetic and wise leader, which would be enjoyable to follow if the film wasn’t stuffed with underdeveloped side characters and a lifeless second act. Thor opens with an epic depiction of Asgard and our leads, with a pitch perfect performance by Anthony Hopkins as the regal all-father Odin that develops a fantastic father/son relationship with both Thor and Loki. After the few impressive action scenes and playful gags showing oddball Thor discovering coffee and demanding an animal to ride, Thor attempts to recover Mjolnir in an epic scene that is both dramatic and iconic, but unfortunately the entertainment stops here for the majority of the film. For the most part, Thor suffers from poor pacing and a lack of compelling dialogue to keep viewers interested, until the climactic showdown with Loki that seems too little too late. On par with RDJ’s Tony Stark, Tom Hiddleston was another example of Marvel’s pinpoint casting as Loki, a villain so infectiously mischievous that he has been brought back unexpectedly on multiple occasions, even being given his own Disney+ tv series in 2021. Thor isn’t a bad film, but I wouldn’t advise watching it if you’re tired…
Favorite Scene: After eating an entire box of Poptarts and a plate of pancakes, Thor drinks his first coffee then throws it on the floor, shouting “this drink, I like it. Another!”
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) (Phase 1)
The First Avenger feels wholly unique, given its well-integrated world war 2 backdrop with a futuristic spin with Hydra’s introduction. The film is slow but interesting, following “skinny” Steve Rogers from Brooklyn, to military training, all the way through to the super soldier enhancement. The test scene in which Rogers is transformed is extremely well made: tense, dramatic and visually well put together, which is unfortunately the most excitement we get from this film. Besides from the awkward yet charming relationship between Cap and Peggy, Rogers is unrelatable and underutilised, with most of the best superhero action being shown in a montage. Action scenes are underwhelming and Evans seems almost bored in the role. Hugo Weaving as Red Skull is fantastic, built as an evil super-villain that is the worst of the worst, but again he has few memorable scenes to be remembered by. TFA has some great characters that keep things enjoyable, notably Tommy Lee Jones as a no-nonsense Colonel and Stanley Tucci as the witty Dr Erskine, both of which prevent the film from drying up. It is strangely ironic that Captain America’s debut is most interesting when he was a kind-hearted skinny kid trying to pull a girlfriend.
Favorite Scene: As Cap is running through a modern times square and stopped by Nick Fury, his initial reaction to being told he’s been asleep for almost 70 years is to wistfully recall he missed his date
Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018) (Phase 3)
It’s hard not to enjoy a film led by Paul Rudd that is just as hilarious as the first Ant-Man, with Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp being the perfect ass kicking accomplice to Lang’s Ant-Man. However (and it is a BIG however), AMATW has an abysmal plot that sees our heroes talking quantum realm physics in order to bring back Pym’s lost wife Janet, but never even begins to explain anything that comes of it. Janet and Scott are connected somehow, she has strange superpowers and the villain in this film is trying to soak up Janet’s “quantum energy” to fix her inter-dimensional glitching. Honestly, this is the surface level explanations we get, which leads to the most enjoyable scenes being that of Scott under house arrest due to his actions in Civil War. Ghost is by far one of the least compelling villains in the MCU, with an origin story that is a rehash of almost every comic book villain ever, not to mention the cringe-worthy dialogue they gave actress Hannah John-Kamen (who is otherwise a great actress!). Ghost can’t work out if she is angry, desperate or occasionally just strange, a huge disappointment for a character that has intriguing superpowers that are well opposed to our heroes. AMATW is passable as an enjoyable detour from the common MCU experience, with the same humor and lovable characters from the first film carrying it to the credits.
Favorite Scene: When Lang’s size regulator malfunctions, he infiltrates his daughters’ school as the Ant-Man theme changes tone to match his childlike size.
Iron Man 2 (2010) (Phase 1)
Iron Man 2 is the only film I have ever left the cinema early for. I was definitely being too harsh on the film as it isn’t at all bad, it’s just not all that good either. Many fans criticize the villain Whiplash, but I’m a fan of Mickey Rourke and I enjoyed his gritty and brooding portrayal, but IM2 doesn’t show him a deeper respect to develop him into anything special. The film lacks a cohesive plot, instead feeling like a collection of cool individual scenes presenting Stark as an unsavory, reckless mess. There are numerous sub-plots that aren’t engaging and another army of faceless robots that ends in CGI explosions and a pretty dismal showdown with Whiplash that leaves you unfulfilled. Sam Rockwell is having tons of fun playing Justin Hammer, a character I know almost nothing about and never shows up again. The Monaco grand prix scene is exhilarating, but it’s unfortunately one of few memorable scenes in the film. IM2 is not as fun or fast as its companions, but the great performances and witty dialogue should be enough to satisfy the fans.
Favorite Scene: As Stark and Rhodes prepare for an enemy attack, Rhodes stresses that they don’t stay put as it is “the place you go to die”. As the two bicker, they become surrounded by Hammer’s robots and must fight their way out of the “kill-box”.
Thor: The Dark World (2013) (Phase 2)
Unfortunately, there is almost nothing original in TDW. Malekith is the most generic of all MCU villains, with absolutely no personality or motives for his evil plan, he simply just wants to live in darkness. The story attempts to force us to care about so many underdeveloped characters, particularly Thor’s mother, Frigga, whose death scene feels contrived as we hardly know anything about her. The Warriors Three were cardboard cut out characters in the first film, but now they seem to each get their own small scene that has little to no significance of the overall plot, in which TDW has very little of anyway. The Ether’s powers aren’t fully explored and the only real development we see on a character level is the conflicting relationship between Thor and Loki, with Hemsworth sleepwalking through most of his scenes. I partly blame an uninspired script, with the best scene being an unscripted joke by Hemsworth. Thor: The Dark World is entirely forgettable, with very little substance to keep audiences engaged.
Favorite Scene: As Thor enters a home on earth, he abstractedly hangs Mjolnir on a coat rack.
The Incredible Hulk (2008) (Phase 1)
The only thing we must thank The Incredible Hulk for is not tanking the MCU before it had even begun. Firstly, Banner / Hulk works fantastically as a supporting character in The Avengers and Ragnarok, but it is difficult for him to lead a solo movie fluidly. Banner has little entertaining characteristics when he is not bouncing off others and the films most exciting scenes require the Hulk himself, who has no intelligence. The CGI really wasn’t up to the task of bringing this character to life, giving us an ugly cartoon fist fight with two giant monsters who are only good at smashing things. No creativity. No levels or emotion to the action sequences. This film has a plethora (yes, I used plethora) of blank stares, the likes of which had me doubting whether our leads were really being played by Keanu Reeves and Kristen Stewart. The jokes are flat and the story is safe and linear, with forced chemistry during the romantic sub-plot and multiple moments that could be taken completely out the movie and it wouldn’t affect the overall plot. The villain Blonsky makes numerous decisions that are ridiculously unrealistic and is nothing but a hollow soldier, albeit one of the few good performances by Tim Roth. The Incredible Hulk is incredibly bad, putting it straight to the bottom of the list as being the only unwatchable film in the MCU.
Favorite Scene: When the credits rolled.
Did you enjoy this special review? Do you agree or better yet, have any conflicting opinions? Please leave me your feedback to see more posts like this and like, comment, share and subscribe to see regular content!