I’ve had discussions over the last year with my friends at university about Marvel film’s because we’re film students so, it’s a fitting subject. One of the discussions we have is the ranking of our best to worst films in the universe and let me tell you that there have been some very heated debates on this subject, one where things did get a little violent, but here’s my ranking’s to date from worst to best.
1. Incredible Hulk.
Starting off with the Ruffalo-less hulk film. This one is at the bottom because of a few things. Starting off with the secondary villain; The Leader. Yes, it was a nice way to introduce him but he made zero impact for me coming into this film. Secondly, Edward Norton’s portrayal of the character. Yes, Norton has many depths but he chose to explore all different routes into portraying Bruce Banner in a way which made him become stuck. I’m just glad he was replaced by Mark Ruffalo and hopefully, when his own film comes out eventually, we’ll see something which is truly loyal from the page to the screen.
2.Thor: The Dark World
Now the second worst on my list here is the sequel to Thor. There are a few reasons here but all which marvel fans are aware of. Christopher Eccleston’s character. They get someone who is wonderful playing the anti-hero, the villain and yet, they stick him into a role which acts as an underdeveloped antagonist and someone who is less formidable than Loki. Reason number two is this story just acted as a buffer to get one of the infinity stones into the cinematic universe. Even the Agents of Shield aftermath episode was more watchable than this film. Lastly, the Chris Evans cameo where Loki turns into Captain America was unneeded, especially since it was an attempt at humor. Safe to say, though it was a little better than the incredible hulk.
3.Iron Man 2
I was unsure ranking the Iron Man films but I knew where to start with them. Let’s get into this one then; one word: WHIPLASH! I mean come on, he’s hardly a formidable opponent who was only let out thanks to Justin Hammer (who I’ll come to in a minute). The guy’s only thing is his smarts, like Tony Stark but the difference is he was banished because his father was selling secrets to other countries years ago (if I’m remembering that correctly). The decent thing is we see some characterisation going on but when they build him up, he falls flat to the audience. He’s easily defeated and subsequently kills himself when he knows he’s defeated. Talk about a sore loser. Moving onto Justin Hammer, portrayed by the great Sam Rockwell, I thought he’d do this character justice and he did but again, characterisation in the story killed his performance. The third strike for this film is the fact that it wasn’t as playful as the first film. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good sequences but as a whole, it was trying to move on from its playfulness and convert into a drama when it really should’ve stuck to what made the first Iron Man work.
4. Iron Man 3
In my opinion, the second worst of the iron man films comes it’s third. let’s go to the only good part of the film for me, the house party protocol. All the different iron man suits tony has built come in on a spectacular entrance to help him and Rhodey out and save the day. Well, Rhodes saves the president and then doesn’t come back to help. I thought they were supposed to be best friends? Anyway, someone should call child protective services on Tony because he endangers a child and nearly has him killed! I just hope he doesn’t have kids because superheroes make terrible fathers, just look at Wolverine or Reed Richards. Also, the narrative doesn’t work for me, there’s just no connectivity with the rest of the cinematic universe apart from Tony’s PTSD from the Avengers film. It just felt too weak to come away from the universe like that and to be labelled as a marvel cinematic universe film. Another problem with the Iron Man films, the villain. The third introduced, and he’s killed off. I mean lock these villains into some good contracts please, there are actually some decent ones and when you come to make more marvel, you’ll be using more of the same boring archetypes.
The first film of the nose god of thunder, definitely superior in my opinion to the dark world because it’s the origin story. Marvel played it safe and came out with something which laid the foundations for its sequel which immediately brought it down. What was commendable however was Loki’s performance because he played the role of the god of mischief quite well, only to outmatch it in the Avengers film. On the other hand, the story paid too much attention quickly to earth where the pace was inconsistent; fast, slow, slow, fast and stop. Pick a good pace and let us enjoy it. Also, why was Hawkeye in this film? He was hardly necessary. what were the writers thinking? Oh I know, let’s stick an Avenger cameo in there, people will love it. No, we did not love it. In fact, I thought it was a bit of a thankless piece to add, no offence to Jeremy Renner though.
6. Iron Man.
Finally, one Iron Man film I enjoy. The origin story is the best because it’s playful, it’s enjoyable and most importantly; the film is watchable! You have the Mark 1 suit which is helpful even though it’s Tony’s most basic suit. But come on, he put a flamethrower on it! How much more badass can you get? It could fly! Well, for around five seconds before plummetting into the sand. But it’s the best film in the Iron Man set of films because it’s not sucking the joy out of all the characters, it’s relaxed and the creators are having fun with the characters and the film and building onto what could happen next. Unfortunately, what came next was Iron Man 2. Set along to some classic rock music, it was well worth the watch from Marvel first venture.
7. Captain America: The First Avenger
Going back in time to see the weak “I can do this all day” Steve Rodgers, we see Chris Evans take on the role of the all-American wartime hero, bashing out justice with the howling commandos and Peggy Carter against Hydra and the Red Skull. Here what’s as good as the shield is that we see a whole different batch of characters, Iron Man’s Father (Howard) and the life of Steve in wartime America, well only up until he’s transformed via the Super Soldier serum. With great special effects and a solid story to act as a buffer for the avengers, we see one marvel film which helps connect to all marvel films to date (minus the Incredible Hulk). My only sob of regret is that they bring back the Red Skull soon, maybe team up with Helmut Zemo to create the masters of evil but you know, get people with superpowers so it’s not just the Hulk smashing them around like he does to Loki in Avengers.
Now the size changing Paul Rudd is at my number eight. Purely for performance reasons. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable flick, which you watch over and over again. now this is set after Age of Ultron and marvel have perfected their storytelling. They’ve learned their lessons from phase one and are really showing what they’ve got in their arsenal. Well, they’ve got the same villain problems as phase one but let’s focus on the positives here. You have enjoyable characters such as Scott Lang, Hope Van Dyne and Michael Pena’s Luis, as well as the little people who create the ant’s when Paul Rudd is at a microscopic size of an ant (hence the name; Ant-Man). But don’t get me wrong there are more comical parts included in this film through sheer awkwardness, freaking out at Ant-man’s size changing ability and the heist’s teams antics throughout the film. (Insert Luis telling you a backstory here while I move onto my next film).
A superhero team up to end all team ups! complete with a lack of time for hawkeye as well as other main characters! It sounds like I hate this film at the moment, doesn’t it? Well, not completely as it was the collection of all the marvel heroes on the screen to date, complete with Mark Ruffalo as the hulk who stole the show, just let him say hulk smash next time okay steve? Also, what happened to the wings on your head like in the comics? But let’s be honest our favourite bits were with the thor punching, Loki throwing hulk! but in the end, it all worked out as one of the highest grossing films of all time. what we see is everyone falling together to stop something no single hero could withstand. What we saw before us is the start of something which Joss Wheadon gave the world, a mark of excellence.
10.Avengers: Age of Ultron
Right after the first is the second avengers film. Bigger, slightly better and coming with more of a bang right from the start! did someone say a hulk selfie?
Well coming into the Age of Ultron, with Joss Wheadon at the helm again for a second outing what I loved was more Hawkeye and Hulk screentime cut in between more jokes at the start with everyone attempting to lift Thor’s hammer. the fighting scenes were more elevated, there was a lot more for the heroes to lose, even Joss Wheadon said for this he was looking to see if “these people could actually stand each other”. Sometimes they don’t, which nearly erupted civil war early where we see the different ideologies of Iron Man and Captain America coming to the surface, we see exactly what the audience want. the addition of Wanda and Pietro were astounding, though, the threat was elevated because the avengers have never dealt with other superhumans before. Now they have, we can certainly see more of these threats in future films.
11. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Well, I do regard this as the second best captain America film because it has everything you want; Action, Romance, Espionage, the twist and an amazing third act. You begin with Steve trying to be a man in the modern world but the lies of corporate America are still making him a nonbeliever in a world where technology has taken over; “this isn’t freedom, this is fear” which sums up brilliantly the modern world as it is today. Moving on, you can’t feel anything but heartbreak as Steve checks in on Peggy Carter, but one moment he recognises him, the next she doesn’t it turns out. This part nearly had me in tears because it felt like Steve’s world is gone, everything has moved on which reminded me of the animation version of Ultimate Avengers; ” You should’ve left me in the ice”. Moving on, the action is spectacular, the lift sequence where he takes on ten men at once is spectacular but was a nightmare to film (I’m imagining).Nevertheless, we see him taking on the establishment Hydra which infiltrated shield from the very start of its existence! We see the hellicarrier’s fall and Steve’s trust gone but all to bring back his friend, Bucky Barnes. One thing we will always see, though, is Steve’s humanity, he wants to believe he can turn away from people who need his help but he can’t.
12. Guardians of the Galaxy
The premise here is a Marvel adventure in space. Input some heroes kicking butt and you have the guardians of the galaxy. The main reason I have this as my number two is because it was my favourite marvel film until I gazed at Civil War. All kidding aside, it assists with the connects to the bigger marvel universe through the infinity stones and gives marvel fans the what are the infinity stones story and why we need to keep them falling into the wrong hands speech. Hey, it was bound to happen sometime and probably will be explained again when Infinity War Part 1 comes out. So what makes this my second favourite marvel film you’re wondering? Michael Rooker. I genuinely hope Marvel keep this blue alien around for a long time because he works so well with the Guardians. We see him at the peak of his acting credibility because he pays the friend/enemy role perfectly. You can always count on You to steal a scene, especially with the whistles that keep going on so he can have the last word. Chris Pratt is just a pleasure to watch on screen because of the amount of depth he can give to one character. We’ve seen marvel do lots with their character and fall flat but here with him, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Gamora and Groot (I am Groot) I would love to see more of this and never get bored because of what they have at their disposal; “losers, folks who have lost stuff”. They create characters here which are so emotional, we have no choice of a vested interest in the adventures of these heroes.
13. Captain America: Civil War
Right, finally my top film which just so happens to be the latest release from marvel. there are some fantastic things here such as the blend of action and comedy; the aftermath of agent 13 and Steve’s kiss, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and the Spider-Man quirkiness. Starting off with the negative because there will always be some form of it in these films; the raft, why are tony stark and general ross not in there, Tony inadvertently created Ultron and cost an extensive amount of damage to the world, not to mention the loss of life in Sokovia (and Quicksilver’s life, something which I’ll never get over) and General Ross helped create Abomination from my lowest rated Marvel film so the question I’m asking is, why the hell are they not in the raft when in fact Steve is trying to do something good here and save the world from five winter soldiers. Also, someone should really call child protective service’s on Tony Stark, in Iron Man 3, he nearly got a kid killed and nearly got Spider-Man killed at the airport. I mean come on Stark, don’t you know what the words too far mean? But it could’ve been worse, spider man could’ve taken the *coughs* water truck like war machine did. Moving to the positive side, it shot straight from the comic’s from the inciting incident, i.e. the explosion and the registration act but I’m always going to be #teamcap on this one. but the villain!!! the villain!! Helmut Zemo wasn’t the typical throwaway villain, he is quite possibly the best villain we’ve seen in the cinematic universe to date! He’s a cold, calculating, emotionally driven character who knew that he couldn’t take on the avengers but he knew he could divide them and he did so beautifully.He was a villain who had a clear purpose and I genuinely hope Daniel Bruhl’s back for more. Something which I found to be a standout was the character of the Black Panther. The standout hero showed every attribute and just about every way that he is a force to be reckoned with! On the other hand, the writers humanised him in a way to show that the path of vengeance, in his case is wrong. Overall, if this is what marvel can throw at us, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for their next films.