10 years ago in 2008, Tony Stark, played with a roguish, career-redefining charm by Robert Downey Jr, stood in front of the media and revealed he is Iron Man. Later in the after-credits scene of the movie, he meets Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) who tells him he is not the only superhero around and whether he heard of the Avengers Initiative. At the moment, if you had not been a follower of Marvel comics (like this writer), you would have never realised that the magic that was about to unfold. Now a decade late and 18 blockbusters in, Marvel Cinematic Universe is considered the biggest and the most loved franchise over the world, with quite a few studios trying to ape their formula and failing at that. Even the bad movies in Marvel are quite watchable, and are only called bad because they failed to jump the bar the previous movies have raised so high.
This week, Marvel studios is ready with their biggest movie ever made, Avengers: Infinity War. Bringing nearly every superhero they have launched in MCU (save for Hawkeye and Ant-Man, who are giving it a miss... or are they?), Avengers: Infinity War is considered the biggest ensemble movie ever. Directed by Russo brothers, the movie begs us to ask this - Can it meet the gargantuan task of exceeding the benchmarks set by its own franchise? We will will find out in a couple of days.
Till then, let's go back to all the movies that Marvel has made and find out which are the five best movies, and which three movies disappointed us the most.
Captain America: Civil War
The movie version of the Civil War may lack the roster or the scale of its comic equivalent, but there is no denying that it is a well-made ensemble movie with some brilliant moments. Even with nearly all the Avengers in its (and even introducing two news ones in the universe), it gives everyone their moment to shine and yet remains a Captain America movie. The nearly 15-minute long airport sequence is a thrilling scenes, with dollops of humour, and the final, and far more intimate, battle between Iron Man and Cap with Bucky is heart-breaking.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Among all the main Avengers, it is Captain America who has the luck of having the best trilogy. Styled in the manner of a '70s political thriller, Captain America: Winter Soldier brought Russo Brothers into MCU and history was made. Though some of the twists can be seen from far, it is nevertheless a terrific spy actioner moving at an engaging pace, with Cap and Black Widow's camaraderie being the highlight. The Hydra within SHIELD as a concept was quite cool, and Sebastian Stan was really good as the amnesiac, conflicted antagonist.
When it comes to the visuals and VFX, The Avengers may look a bit jaded now. But there is no denying the fact that it compensates for that by never reducing the thrill of seeing the superheroes assemble for the first time. The Avengers also introduced to us Mark Ruffalo's version of the Hulk, which is by far the best take on the green superhero. Loki was a fantastic scenery-chewing villains, and director Joss Whedon's knack of making witty quips only added to the fun. The final battle of New York is just 20 minutes of adrenaline-pumping entertainment. Don't tell me you didn't clap when Hulk smashed the hell out of Loki!
Ever since the movie became a monster hit at the box office worldwide, there are certain sections of audience calling out Black Panther for being a generic superhero movie riding on minority appeasement. Which is a wrongful accusation indeed! While the movie has its flaws (a comparatively disappointing third act), Black Panther has to be commended for mixing superhero elements with real-life commentary, while also building up a new world for the fans. Plus, it also gave us an awesome, sympathetic villain in Michael B Jordan's Erik Killmonger.
That scene of Thor fighting Hela's minions in the climax to the beats of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song is enough to find Thor: Ragnarok to be on this list. But the movie, directed by the talented Taika Waititi, has more such moments that makes it one of the most rewatchable superhero movies ever made. Ragnorak made good use of Chris Hemsworth's comic flair, and every scene of his with both Loki and the Hulk/Banner was pure fun. The jokes mostly hit the mark, the supporting character were quirky (The Grandmaster, Zorg), Tess Thompson made a fine Valkyrie and Cate Blanchett was superb as the powerful (if tad underused) antagonist, Hela.
Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World is universally considered the most disappointing Marvel movie made in the MCU. Let me reiterate the fact - disappointing, NOT bad! Directed by Game of Thrones fame Alan Taylor, the movie has its highs, like Loki's walk on the grey path, the final battle and that beautiful funeral scene for Thor's mother, Frigga. But it continues to harp on the boring romance between Thor and Jane Foster (played with so less enthu by Natalie Portman), and the villains were boring.
The Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk's biggest problem is save for a couple of references here and there and the return of General Ross in Civil War, MCU behaves like it never exists. The movie had its share of production problems with lead actor Edward Norton taking control of the project, which led to his exit from the franchise (and the character getting recast with Mark Ruffalo). Thankfully, it was better than Ang Lee's Hulk and ditched the origin story to focus more on Banner's run from the US army and his reignited romance with Betty Ross. But it couldn't go beyond the usual superhero tropes and was the lowest grossing MCU ever.
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 is enjoyable on a lot of counts. Robert Downey Jr was still on kickass mode, Don Cheadle made for a better Rhodey than Terence Howard, we get introduced to Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Sam Rockwell was rocking as Justin Hammer. The Monaco Grand Prix race scene still remains one of the best-executed action scenes in MCU. And yet, Iron Man 2 is considered a disappointment on three main counts. First, instead of focussing on Iron's Man's drinking problem, it tried to focus on universe-building. Second, Mickey Rourke's Whiplash was quite underutilised. And third, the whole discovery of a new element to help Tony Stark overcome his radiation poisoning felt very convenient. And these three were quite major issues.
Agree with our list? Do you think we should have mentioned some other MCU movie in the best and the worst lists? Share your thoughts below. Meanwhile don't forget to catch Avengers: Infinity War on April 27, as the movie releases in India.