With Captain America: Civil War just a couple of months away, the start of Phase Three will see some huge changes come to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With favourites such as Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Spider-Man about to debut in the world, there is plenty of excitement growing for the upcoming movies. But, we should not forget the past. The 12 films in the series so far have proved just how far the series has come. With a great majority of films doing a splendid job, tight casting and some of the most memorable scenes in cinema through the 21st century. The MCU is definitely going to leave a huge mark on cinema history forever. Let’s see how the films so far rank from worst to best…
- Iron Man 2
Maybe the obvious choice, but it had to be. First off, we get Mickey Rourke after he wowed in The Wrestler and Sin City being given very little in terms of character development and being made to look too much like a slimmed down Iron Monger suit. We finally get Samuel L Jackson making his first full appearance as Nick Fury, but where exactly does he go for a majority of the film? Then we had Terrance Howard being replaced (though I did grow to like Don Cheadle a lot more from Iron Man 3 onwards). Though not a bad movie on its own, it is certainly misguided.
- Thor: The Dark World
Now, in my defence I think this film is very funny and the chemistry between the cast was great. It definitely gave us a better look at Asgard and was the first MCU film to really feature alien planets prominently. Though, the lack of menace from Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith and the story was almost non-existant. It did seem the film was just throwing ideas at a wall, hoping something would stick. Though seeing Stellan Skarsgard running around in the nude at Stonehenge is definitely something fun and unexpected, it couldn’t save the film.
- The Incredible Hulk
Don’t make Edward Norton angry…oh, they did! Clearly a huge improvement on the unrelated 2003 ‘Hulk’ by Ang Lee, this film still had a lot to prove. Luckily, the biggest improvement was the actors who stepped up. While Edward Norton may not be the favourite Hulk anymore, he certainly made a good attempt at being Dr Bruce Banner. With Liv Tyler being the heart, Tim Roth proving to be a top villain and William Hurt giving us the true General Ross, what could go wrong? Well not much, but from this film we could see it seemed almost unrelated to the MCU, save for that little post-credit scene which I still believe is a flash-forward to ‘Captain America: Civil War’.
- Iron Man 3
After The Avengers did the best job possible for superhero movies, it was then left to Robert Downey Jr. and his friends since 2008 to somehow continue after this peak. While it was not as good as the 2012 team-up, it certainly did keep the entertainment levels up. Breaking the previous formula slightly from the first two films, we see Tony Stark go against someone with powers. The extremis-powered Killian was certainly a good match for strength and proved to be a greater danger and a better villain than some that came before.
We get to meet Thor, God of Thunder and our first true “alien” for the Avengers. But also, we get to meet Loki. Possibly the best villain the MCU has shown, Loki really gets to have fun and he really gets to show his descent into evil with emotional consequences. The fight between the “brothers” is certainly a highlight for the MCU and to see the legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins take the part of Odin was too great to be true. The film may not be perfect, but it is a fun piece and will be regarded as taking a huge step in the development of the MCU.
- Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Bringing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes together for the second time was no easy task, and the ripples of it still resonate nearly a year later. Joss Whedon had previously done so much for the MCU from taking on The Avengers and giving his touch to phase 2 overall. Though Whedon has said about his struggles with the movie, he certainly did give 110% and maybe put in a bit too much into the runtime of the movie. Setting up many elements for phase three, bombarding many characters into the film and not giving them the necessary breathing space, it was a huge task. Though the film is great, I am sure we could have had a few changes. Ultron was great though!
Funny name? Think it’s a gimmick? Well, it isn’t. Many didn’t know that Ant-Man actually came to comics before many of the Avengers you may know, and it was a worthy wait to see him finally come into the MCU. Bringing a huge amount of humour and truly creating a different character for the screen, it was indeed a lot of fun to finally explore the world from a different perspective. Plus, how many comic actors can really make a character who is a thief become a popular film hero? Paul Rudd really made this character his own, and I am sure Civil War will see him shine again!
- Captain America: The First Avenger
We had Iron Man, we had Hulk and we also just had Thor. To complete The Avengers, we needed the super soldier from the 1940’s. Going back in time, we get a few ties to the other avengers in regards to the serum which would later be adapted and create the Hulk, or even Howard Stark meeting Cap before his son would by 70 years. Also, we get to see a character that possibly is the most vulnerable of all the heroes we had seen so far. Plus, the iconic Red Skull is well achieved by Hugo Weaving, and we need Red Skull back! Plus we got Peggy Carter, and she is awesome!
- Iron Man
Iron Man kicked off the MCU, and he made the Marvel world cool again. The bad taste of Spider-Man 3, X-Men: The Last Stand and Fantastic Four made the mid-2000’s a bit dull for comic adaptations. Iron Man though, proved you could be fun and serious. Robert Downey Jr. made himself the coolest guy in Hollywood by taking this B-list Marvel character and making him challenge and better many heroes that came before. Also, it showed that big stars wanted to be in superhero movies, a trend which still continues today.
- The Avengers
The results of years of work paid off in a huge way. The highest-earning superhero movie of all time, and for a great reason, and some of the greatest fun I have ever had at the cinema. Seeing the return of Loki, we saw the god come to earth to claim it as his own. The Avengers then assemble and bring everyone on their A-game to make a brilliant work of art. Also, who knew that a superhero movie could be that funny, and the biggest laughs coming from the Hulk of all characters? Definitely a spectacle in cinema.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The film which many people apparently dreaded (many people felt mixed on Cap, and few were originally interested in his next solo outing). Coming out in the UK in MARCH! Yes, that is MARCH. It seemed too early of a date to become a blockbuster, but we was wrong. Captain America came back on fighting form and within minutes, proved himself to be one of the most popular characters in cinema today. Chris Evans took the superhero to new heights and brought in “The Dark Knight” of the MCU. It was gritty, intelligent, tough, fun and had heart throughout. The reveal of Bucky may have been obvious from day one, but nobody cares when you leave that film thinking “Captain America is F***ING AWESOME!”. He may not fly, have weapons coming out of his arms or can turn green, but he certainly knew how to fight his critics.
- Guardians Of The Galaxy
Where do we begin? This film was almost doomed from the start. An unknown group of heroes, a director known more from Slither and the live-action Scooby Doo films (Yep, he wrote them. No joke!) and how about the idea of a sentient tree and talking raccoon being friends? Well, you was wrong! This film was just incredible. It was a hug punch of adrenaline into the mainstream and showed that risks should still be taken in Hollywood. The film was just a delight for the eyes, the music from the 1970’s was a perfect complement to the visual treat and the acting was second to none! James Gunn is currently making the sequel, due to be released next year. If it is half as good as this movie, I will be very happy indeed.
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove