10 – Thor: Ragnarok
Taika Waititi’s idiosyncratic style melds seamlessly with the God of Thunder as Thor: Ragnarok immediately becomes the strongest film in the Asgardian’s trilogy. Eminently re-watchable, it’s a highly entertaining affair as Thor now seems to have picked up some Earth banter and finally moves on from being a fish out of water.
Ragnarok is another good Marvel film. It moves things forward nicely into Infinity War and is joyous in its appreciation and use of zanier aspects of the comic books this universe is based on. Marvel have consistently grown braver when it comes to tone, but they could still do with improving in a couple of areas. They don’t have to follow every serious moment with one of humour.
9 – Captain America: The First Avenger
I had reservations about Chris Evans. He has the physique of an action figure (seriously, that size and leanness?) but I’d only seen him playing the cocky jock type really, with Sunshine not overly impressing me. How silly do I feel now!
Evans is as earnest, well meaning, and heroic you could be without being cheesy. Steve Rogers is a good man (a worthy man Mjolnir might think) and doesn’t change when his body does, keeping the promise he makes to Dr Erskine (the always excellent Stanley Tucci). The same values that have him picking up a trash can lid and standing up for himself shine through when he saves millions of lives later whilst standing up to the Nazis and Hydra as Captain America.
For a film that could have so easily alienated foreign audiences, Steve Rogers is a character we can all root for. The WWII setting sets it apart in aesthetic and tone, and seeing a pyjama clothed Cap hoisting a motorbike above his head for the US recruitment drive is a sight to behold! Patriotic, yet never so much to be a turn off. A great balance.
8 – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Rightly assuming we all know the story by now, this isn’t really an origin tale; it’s more about learning lessons. He’s already got the powers and a suit, but at 15 his wants exceed his abilities. Holland’s Peter is acrobatic, clever and witty, but not overly mature as is befitting his age. There’s none of the overt awkwardness of Maguire or the occasional meanness of Garfield. It’s all different enough to make this fresh, and more importantly a much truer representation of the character from the comics.
I didn’t think I’d be calling a Marvel film mundane, but here we are. Not in a bad way mind you – that grounded quality comes back not just in the environment but also in the characters. This is most obvious in the villain. It brings me great joy to say that Michael Keaton gives us a great villain in The Vulture. His standard kookiness is on display, but with both honour and malevolence mixed in. Like Peter he’s had a rough time, but he chooses to deal with it very differently.
Leaning fairly heavily on the themes introduced in Iron Man 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming mixes Ultimate Spider-Man with just enough MCU to make a thoroughly entertaining movie.
7 – Iron Man 3
Post Avengers this could have been a tricky one. Why would they bother tackling baddies on their own when they could just get Thor or Hulk to come flying in? Watching Iron Man 3 I found myself not giving them any thought. This is a great self-contained(ish) story.
This time around Stark is a wreck. He may be a hero of Earth now but he’s prone to panic attacks and letting his ego get in the way. Calling out the villain and giving him your address is one thing. But not preparing for it is criminal! Without his friends or his tech it’s up to Tony to prove he’s a hero without the armour, and he does so in great buddy cop meets James Bond style.
Black and Downey Jr. were great together in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and that same relationship is present here, with plenty of sharp dialogue that serves the cast well, especially in scenes that Tony shares with Rhodey and Harper. Pepper Potts even gets to step up this time around.
Iron Man rescuing people from a blown up plane is a fantastic real life stunt, and they even manage to make how he puts on the suit cooler again.
In the end though, Tony Stark is Iron Man, suit or not, and this third film does a great job of showing that. Highly underrated.
6 – The Avengers
This is the big payoff that was promised when Nick Fury appeared at the end of Iron Man’s credits. Nothing like this had been seen before, and with all the films leading up making a big splash (apart from maybe Hulk) this film was hyped to the max, and for the most part it delivered. Director Joss Whedon was the perfect choice for such an ensemble piece, juggling the characters well whilst giving them all some quotable dialogue.
Hawkeye gets a bum deal (being taken out early on and made into a Loki pawn), but Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk is by far the strongest representation yet, stealing the show on several occasions.
If you want character progression I’ll refer you to the solo films. But if you want action, humour, and a geekasm of superheroes doing their thing? This is the one for you.
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