Marvel did a great job wrapping up the first phase of their multi-year, multi-film project that culminated with this year’s highest grossing film. They now sit poised to kick off phase two, beginning this May with Iron Man 3. Which will, no doubt, set up the events that will have the Avengers doing the cosmic throw down with Thanos in Avengers 2: This Time It’s Personal (I’m just guessing that’s what the title will be but I’m feeling pretty confident about it). Before all that happens, I thought it would be cool to take a look back on what Marvel has done so far. Here’s my ranking of the first wave of films.
6. THE INCREDIBLE HULK.
It’s a testimony to Marvel that this film is ranked last because it’s actually a pretty damn good film. I just have a handful of problems with it. For one, the basic storyline feels like a retread of Ang Lee’s Hulk, though it is by no means that bad of a film. It just feels a bit repetitive. Second, it’s the only film that feels like it stands alone within the Avengers’ film universe. Finally, I think Marvel’s Avengers hurt this film on a couple levels. In that, while Edward Norton was great in the film, I think Mark Ruffalo would have made this film better (don’t get me started on how pissed I am that Norton ruined the continuity of these films but that worked out in the end). I also feel like after seeing what Hulk is capable of being, this film really missed the ball on it’s potential. Still, a good movie.
5. IRON MAN 2.
Let me start by saying that after re-watching this multiple times, I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone says. There’s some good stuff happening here. Many people say that this entire film felt like a segway into Avengers though, while I can see their point, I never really felt that way. To me, it just feels a lot like the first film with a weaker plot that only upped the stakes by adding more robots that were supposed to be bigger, badder and faster. They ultimately just felt generic and turned it into a basic popcorn film. Not that that’s a bad thing. What ultimately saves this film is some good casting (Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell) and, of course, Robert Downey Jr. I don’t love this film but I put it ahead of The Incredible Hulk because I have at least had a desire to revisit the film as opposed to just watching it half-ass when it comes on cable.
4. CAPTAIN AMERICA.
A lot was riding on this one because, while it may not have been conveyed perfectly in the final film, Cap is the unofficial leader of the Avengers. The boy scout, the heart and soul, [insert generic stereotype here], etc. There was also some hesitance on my part when I heard they had cast Johnny “Flame On!” Storm in the lead, even though I happened to like Chris Evans as an actor a lot. Boy, was I wrong though because this film is fun. The story fills a bit thick at times and, as a result, I think parts of it are a bit muddled. There’s a cleaner, tighter version of this film somewhere inside of it. I also feel that, while Joe Johnston did a good job, I would have liked to see a different director’s version. Still, it’s pretty hard to complain.
I always felt like Thor was the wild card in this whole project. Up until this film, Marvel had succeeded by taking these fantastic characters and grounding them in reality. Making them believable. I was worried that when they ventured out into the cosmos, to the world of Asgard, that things could get a bit (let’s just say) weird. Luckily, Kenneth Branagh and the film’s writers knew what they were doing and, for me, Thor became the surprise hit of the group. Not only was the story great, and tied well into the rest of the Marvel universe, but it also ended up being another case of great casting. Major bonus points for casting a relative (at the time) unknown Chris Hemsworth to breathe life into a character that had always been the least interesting of the bunch to me.
2. MARVEL’S AVENGERS.
GOD, IT HURTS putting this film at only number two on the list. You have to realize that this film even existing was a dream come true to a Fanboy like me. The funny thing is, it did nothing to earn the downgrade to the number two spot. This film is fun, exciting and everything you could have hoped for it to be. Every character got their moment in the sun and some even got more than that (*cough**Hulk**cough*). In the end, while this film was great, it gets a huge bump from the talent involved… and I’m not talking about the actors as much as the icons they got to portray. Unfortunately for this film, it just got one-upped by…
1. IRON MAN.
Great acting. Great script. Great casting. Great fun. It was hard to pick this over Avengers but this really is just a solid flick. It’s the film that reintroduced RDJ to the world. While he makes the film what it is, what he’s surrounded by isn’t too shabby. In a world where Christopher Nolan was never born, this would be the model for making the perfect superhero film and I can’t wait to see him take on Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin this May!
Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.