As everyone who knows me is probably aware, I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The lowest I have ever rated a Marvel film is 3 out of 5. For every comment I hear about “there’s too many comic book films” I think, no, there are too many BAD comic book films. I’m looking at you Fantastic Four, Batman vs Superman and Justice League.
10- Doctor Strange
Doctor Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), prolific brain surgeon, big headed douchebag and rich playboy is brought crashing down to Earth after a car crash wrecks his most prize possessions. His hands. After the realisation that his career is over, he spends every last penny he has scouring the globe to find a cure and restore his steady hands. What he finds is a bald lady called The Ancient One ( Tilda Swinton) going on about other realities and all that good stuff. He thinks it’s all bollocks but it turns out The Ancient One knows some shit. This has some of the best visuals in any MCU film, a decent villain, some funny moments and is a very good origin story because it has something others lack. A hero who you start off hating but you end up liking and being interested in.
9- Avengers Age of Ultron
With the first Avengers film being such a huge success, both critically and financially, the second get together of Earths Mightiest Heroes was always going to have it’s work cut out living up to the expectation. Whilst not as well received as the first, it’s still a bloody fun ride if a bit darker (someone dies). Great set pieces combined with some zingy dialogue (well, this is a Joss Whedon movie) make for some truly joyous moments (Captain America pulling Iron Man up on his foul language springs to mind). All in all, this deserves more love than it gets.
8- Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr?? The guy with the drug problem? Playing a superhero?? That’ll never work! That’s what I think most people thought when this film was announced. How wrong they were. This film introduced Tony Stark, billionaire playboy philanthropist, maker of kick ass suits and general smug git. It also set up all that came after in the form of a (now traditional) post credit scene involving super cool Samuel L Jackson, an eye patch and a whole lot of geek shrieking when he mentions “the Avengers Initiative”. I lost my shit whilst I heard other people leaving the cinema saying “they wasted big Sam in that, who the fuck was he meant to be!?”.
7- Captain America: The First Avenger
Another origin story, this time making puny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans. NO, NOT THAT ONE!) into studly and buff Captain America. The interesting World War 2 backdrop, spot on casting and emotional ending (the last line is a killer) all make this an excellent entry in the MCU. They also used the word Avenger in the title. Almost like they were building to something. #Marketing
On paper, this shouldn’t work. Comedy actor playing the worst sounding superhero (a fucking ANT!?) and a director who wasn’t the first choice (Edgar Wright spent years developing this, only to leave citing “creative differences”). The thing is though, it works really bloody well. It’s action packed, really funny and has some jaw dropping special effects (YOUNG MICHAEL DOUGLAS!). It also has Evangeline Lilly in it. Which helps.
5- Guardians of the Galaxy
Again, another one that shouldn’t work. A talking raccoon!? The guy from Parks and Rec?? An eight foot walking tree!!?? Yup, all here and all absolutely superb. The Guardians added a cosmic layer to the MCU and is also the one film on this list that (apart from the appearance of an Infinity Stone) doesn’t feel like it’s trying to fit in to the bigger picture too much. It’s a joyous romp through the galaxy with the best soundtrack this side of Xandar!
4- Thor Ragnarok
When I watched a little film from New Zealand called Hunt for the Wilderpeople, I immediately told everyone I knew, people I didn’t and god damn it anyone who would listen that they had to see it. After hearing the news that the director of that film was now at the controls of the next Thor movie, I almost lost my shit. After months of anticipation, Ragnarok arrived in all its quirky Kiwi glory. Funny, full of action and with a sprinkling of Hulk, the return of Loki and a couple of excellent cameos, this was my movie of 2017 (tied with Blade Runner 2049). It was perfect.
3- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This is the one where Marvel flip-reversed it. Wait, SHIELD are the good guys, right? Hail Hydra! Cap doesn’t know who to trust and now, his brain washed best mate is back from the dead, has a cool metal arm and is trying to kill him. I know, right? Crazy shit. This feels almost like a cold war thriller and not a superhero film. It’s really really amazing.
2- Avengers Assemble
The culmination of all the hard work. Phase one complete. Earth’s mightiest heroes unite against a common enemy (Loki) and an army of aliens to stop, yes you’ve guessed it, Earth being destroyed. What on paper looks like a thankless task of having to give 4 mega heroes each something meaningful to do in 2 and a bit hours. Well, Joss Whedon pulls it off in great style. Really satisfying this one. Especially the “puny god” bit.
1- Captain America: Civil War
An Avenger vs Avenger smack down with more “AMAZING” (ahem, Spider-Man pun) moments than you can shake a stick at, this film pits Tony Stark and Steve Rogers against each other when the government tries to legislate super heroes like a branch of the FBI or something. Tony says yes because he’s wracked with guilt, Steve says hell no because he’s so damn righteous! What follows isn’t your usual good guy/bad guy dynamic. Shades of grey, shifting loyalties and bold introductions of new characters make this the most interesting Marvel film to date.