Avengers: Endgame is coming and is an event film unlike anything in my lifetime (and I’d argue anyone’s). It is the culmination of 21 films before it. 11 years in the making. A huge gamble that seems more like a sure thing in hindsight based on how successful the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has become. So to prepare for the end of Phase 3 and the end of this decade of Marvel domination, I have decided to rewatch all 20 films currently available. I will of course watch Captain Marvel when it comes out in March as well. All of this to prepare for the coming Endgame in April.
I will write a blurb about each film. This isn’t a deep dive review of each film (half of them really don’t warrant as much). This is just my thoughts on the films, and maybe a bit more if it is one that I particularly appreciate or enjoy. Feel free to comment your thoughts below.
So without further ado, here is Phase 1:
Iron Man ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
I don’t think I have watched this movie since I saw it in theaters in 2008 and I had forgotten the joys of this film. I had also forgotten how pointedly anti-military industrial complex the story was (which has aged really well, in my opinion). Robert Downey Jr. and John Favreau really catch magic in a bottle and kick-off the MCU with a great story. It also reveals early on the MCU villian problem. Jeff Bridges is great as Obediah Stane, but his character’s motivations are just money, which is kinda boring as far as villians go. This foreshadows the MCU’s trouble with having complicated and interesting bad guys. But without the magic of this movie, there wouldn’t be an MCU to watch.
The Incredible Hulk ⭐️1/2
This movie wasn’t as bad as I had remembered, but it is still pretty dull. I like that it paid more homage to the TV show than 2003’s Ang Lee snoozer Hulk. The story was simple and so was the action. Edward Norton is earnest in his portrayal, which works in this film, but I do think the casting switch to Mark Ruffalo was a great idea. I just can’t imagine this version of the Hulk having the same chemistry with the Avengers we now know and love. Other than re-introducing the character and his conflict, this is a very skippable entry in the MCU.
Iron Man 2 ⭐️
I can vividly remember seeing Iron Man 2 in theaters and thinking, “there is no way they are going to be able to pull off this shared universe.” The film is a giant mess. The characters are terribly drawn, the action is boring, and it isn’t near as witty as it thinks it is. Plus they are pushing the MCU hard in this film with Black Widow and Nick Fury inserted into the story with no real purpose.
Another MCU misfire. It seems that director Kenneth Branagh wanted to make Thor like Shakespeare and didn’t realize the real asset he had in Chris Hemsworth (no one really did until Taika Waititi). Natalie Portman phones it in as well, and their chemistry is laughable. The only good thing about this movie is it does flesh out one of Marvel’s best villains quite nicely. You really do feel for Loki and understand him on some level, which is good. He is going to be around for a while. It’d be nice to skip this film, but too much is introduced that is crucial to the story moving forward.
Captain America: The First Avenger ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
The throwback vibe of this movie is something I really enjoy. It gives me an Raiders of the Lost Arc meets The Mummy kind of tone (and that is a compliment). Most of the characters get the short stick, but they do a great job of telling Steve Rogers origin story and setting up his MCU arc. It seems to speed through some of the more interesting story bits (Captain America and his team taking out hydra bases is just a montage!?!?). The end is heartbreaking, with Steve never getting that dance with Peggy Carter.
The Avengers ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
I had great apprehension when I walked into theaters to see The Avengers. The movies, as a whole, had just not worked for me up until this point (save for Iron Man and Captain America). I half expected the movie to be a hodgepodge of tones and to be a giant mess a la Iron Man 2.
Joss Whedon had other ideas. He brought together this team like no one else could have. Each time a new member of the Avengers enters the picture, the film picks up steam and magic. It continuous on like a theme park ride until that fateful battle in New York with an iconic “single take” of all our heroes fighting. Each character is drawn perfectly, except Thor. Black Widow is completely redeemed from the messy Iron Man 2 intro, Captain America and Iron Man’s future conflict is presented early in their first encounter. Mark Ruffalo comes in as the Hulk with more humanity than Edward Norton’s previous version.
Loki’s plan is a bit confusing, but who needs to completely understand why a villain is doing what he is doing when its causing such great fight scenes with our heroes?
I can not emphasize this enough, if Whedon was any less successful in this first team-up feature, the whole enterprise may have toppled over. He stuck the landing and the MCU finally took flight in a way that captured everyone’s attention and anticipation.
Average rating for Phase 1 is ⭐️⭐️1/2
This blog will return with Phase 2