Sunday, May 5, 2019

Top 10 Movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Top 10 Movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had a good run for the past eleven years. Better than most would've ever expected when Iron Man hit the scene. Now twenty-two films later, and the first saga of its universe has come to an end. While revisiting the previous spin-offs and installments in preparation of Avengers: Endgame, I compiled what I consider to be the best of the MCU so far.

How would you rank the top ten movies? Feel free to let me know in the comments below! (This does not contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.)

#10 Spiderman: Homecoming

What does Tom Holland's version got that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's versions don't? To be honest, Tom Holland. While I don't have anything against the other Spider-Mans, this third remake is the charm for the friendly neighborhood superhero. Here's a young kid who wants to be a hero but needs a mentor to get there. Sure, Tony used him in Captain America: Civil War, but he didn't quite know what he unleashed with Peter realizing how much he wants to help other people in need. It's the same thing we've seen before, but its approach of a millennial character makes it more relatable in a a lot of ways.

#9 Tie: Avengers: Infinity War / Endgame

The Avengers will do anything to stop Thanos from coming, but as the purple bastard says himself, his destruction is inevitable. If Avengers: Infinity War is the all-out war in Walmart on Black Friday at midnight,  Avengers: Endgame is opening presents on Christmas morning. Both are drastically different, and yet you couldn't have one without the other.

#8 Captain America: Civil War

Unlike Cap's previous movies that always showed what a man out of time he was, his third installment strips him of everything he loves and believes in - individual freedom with the Accords, Peggy Carter, respect and loyalty to Tony Stark, his good friend Bucky. As much as this film centers around his arc, it also supports newer Avengers that will take up the mantle soon - Scarlett Witch, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Ant-Man. It's a great 'solo' film as well as an ensemble with a perfect balance of action and character development, drawing the line between Tony and Cap. United, they stood a chance against Thanos, but they divided and the universe fell apart. #forshadowing

#7 Thor

An Asgardian blond angel is banished to Earth and crosses paths with astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster who tries to help him recover the Mjolnir and claim his rightful place on his father's throne. A mix of a Nordic-Shakespearean fantasy and straight-up action movie, Thor could've stuck out like a sore thumb, and for a lot of Marvel fans it still does but not in a good way. As someone who thoroughly enjoys the fish-out-of-water story, it's always entertaining to watch Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston in the heyday of these iconic roles. Adapting Thor from his comic book origins could've easily been cringe-worthy-corny, but director Kenneth Branagh gets a great performance out of his leading men. I appreciate its sequel Thor: The Dark World, and not the biggest fan of Thor: Ragnarok, his first film is the right mix of funny and action-packed for me.

#6 Ant-Man

Nobody initially paid attention to Ant-Man, and that's a disappointing feeling. It even took me a few years after it was released to finally jump on the bandwagon, and once I did, it's hard to not fall in love Scott Lang training to use Hank Pym's shrinking technology and help him with Hope carry their legacy. Watching grown people shrink down to the size of ants is not normal, even in superhero movies so far, and Ant-Man uses this to its advantage with a hilarious yet heartfelt script between father and daughter duos. The film diverts from other plots by making this more of a heist film, an origin story, and introducing the importance of the Quantum Realm.

Though I truly appreciate the bad-assery and tenderness of Ant-Man and the Wasp finally reuniting the Pym family, the script is too similar and its ending is almost ruined by a last-minute Infinity War easter egg.

#5 The Avengers

Can't you hear the movie's theme song just by looking at this gif? BECAUSE I CAN. With only three spin-off movies under its belt, The Avengers unite to beat the legendary trickster Loki and recover the stolen Tesseract. Honestly, the future of the MCU was hedging its bets on director Joss Whedon to pull together a smooth script with so much action and humor. If these actors didn't have chemistry or the writing didn't capture their personalities, this could've been a disaster. While the individual origin movies for Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man are essential in rounding the group up, this mega blockbuster is the deciding factor for the rest of MCU to fulfill its course. 

#4 Iron Man

Almost ten years ago a little movie called Iron Man started the Marvel Studios experiment. Director Jon Favreau committed to putting a superhero film on the map with what essentially becomes the Marvel formula. The eternally cool billionaire, playboy, philanthropist is forced to create his first suit when he's kidnapped by terrorists and realizes his mentor turned against him. One of the greatest risks hiring the sarcastic and pedantic Robert Downey Jr. pays off, and he's perfectly paired against Gwenyth Paltrow, Terrance Howard, and Jeff Bridges. Because Tony has taken a lesser role in the following ensemble films, it's great to return to his origin film where the story focuses on him. Before there was a formula, Iron Man was just winging its style, and its direction still feels fresh while plenty of counterparts feel dated. 

#3 Black Panther

Even though T'Challa is next in line for Wakanda's throne, what does he have to become in order to be worthy of the crown? His first film dives into racial and societal accomplishments as well as implications of a country that has hidden itself from colonialism and struggling Wakandans struggling around the world. One of my favorite parts of Captain America: Civil War is T'Challa hijacking the story trying to avenge his father's death and learning to not let vengeance consume him. His first installment lived up to the hype of seeing his character on his own for the first time. This film is culturally significant through its story, performances, and production design, and it's impossible to not be blown away by the cast, music, and costumes. WAKANDA FOREVER.

#2 Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Once Cap was transplanted into the 21st Century, he steps his toes in contemporary waters with The Avengers. Cap's sense of duty hasn't shattered yet, but it's beginning to when he discovers his old friend has been turned into a superweapon and S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised by Hydra. In his own sequel, The Winter Soldier rings in some of the MCU's best directors so far with The Russo brothers. The script is a great bridge for Steve's arc, building on who his older identity, corruption, and his connections with other Avengers like Natasha and Sam. The film steps back from generic sequels that just sets up another villain and comes across more as a political thriller with the good amount of action and superheroic vibes.

#1 Captain America: The First Avenger

Director Joe Johnston's work for Cap's first movie is the most unique approach in the MCU. While all the other Marvel features are modern enough to be considered "21st Century contemporary" or "futuristic", CA: The First Avenger brilliantly captures "The Greatest Generation" and connects it to Cap's future arc in all of the subsequent films. Though the running time could've effectively used less of The Red Skull and focused more on Cap, it's a classic hero vs villain film that comes alive with the music, costumes, and stand-out performances by Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, and others. Despite the seventy year difference in the timeline from The Kid from Brooklyn to Captain America, we can look Rogers from The Avengers to Endgame and sense his history from this launching point. The film's wonderfully adventurous, romantic, charming, and funny without being a parody. My vintage-loving heart would feel betrayed if I didn't love this until the end of the line.

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