Michael’s Rankings: Updated Marvel Cinematic Universe Films

Having just seen Thor: Ragnarok I was thinking about where it ranks as far as MCU films and then I realized that I haven’t updated them since 2015.  There have been several MCU films released since then as part of Phase 3.  So here I go with an “updated” listing.  There will be a little bit of changes to fit the new films in but my guess is the top film and the bottom film will probably still be the same. And I’m sure I will revisit this list and adjust accordingly as time goes on and even more films are released.  So here is the list (from least favorite to favorite):

17.) Thor:  The Dark World

The sequel to Thor resides at the bottom of the list.  Nothing against this film.  I enjoyed it but compared to the rest of the MCU and specifically to the first one, this one isn’t as good.  To me, the plot felt kinda disjointed and the Dark Elves could’ve been used better (or at least have potential to carry over into future films).  As you will probably notice in this list, Phase 2 films will occupy a lot of the lower ends of this list.  I’ll address that more here in a little bit.

16.)  Iron Man 3

While I do enjoy the reference to Tennessee in this film (though there is no location in Tennessee where Tony Stark visits), Iron Man 3 is the least enjoyable of the Iron Man trilogy.  I give it credit, it does reference The Avengers in trying to tie the story in the aftermath of those events on Stark.  However, it feels disjointed and the ending, while makes sense if you look at it as just an Iron Man trilogy, does not make sense when you look at the bigger MCU picture.  Hence, why it’s so far down on my list.

15.) Iron Man 2

The lowest film in Phase 1, Iron Man 2 is better than Iron Man 3 but compared to the rest of the MCU films, it’s not as enjoyable for me.  It does have the debut of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and she does a great job.  But when compared to the first Iron Man, this one misses the mark.

Captain America:  Civil War

I mentioned before (and will again shortly) about some films being higher on other people’s lists and some being lower.  This is one that probably for a lot of people would be higher but not on my list.  Like Winter Soldier, I’m not a big fan of the tone of this film.  I’m not a big fan of the impetus for the big clash between Cap & Stark.  I’m not a big fan in general of the portrayal of many of the characters in this film with the exception of Black Panther & Spider-Man.  So Avengers 2.5 as I’ve liked to call it is this far down on the list.

13.) Captain America:  The Winter Soldier

This will be the film that most will be higher on their lists.  Why is it so low on my list?  There are a couple of reasons.  One, I don’t like that they blew up S.H.I.E.L.D..  I get why they did it but I think there were a lot of miles they could’ve traveled with S.H.I.E.L.D. still working and on top of that I didn’t like that they said Hydra was pretty much around inside S.H.I.E.L.D. nearly the entire time of existence.  Two, compared to the first Captain America film, I didn’t necessarily like the tone.  Granted, I’m in the minority on that thought but that’s just me.  It’s a good film and probably out of all the Phase 2 films, it ties most into Avengers:  Age of Ultron the best.  But if I am going to choose between which Captain America film I’m going to watch, this one wouldn’t be my first choice.

12.) Thor

Out of the origin story films, Thor is the lowest.  I like Thor but again compared to other MCU films, it ranks lower.  I like the tone of this film better than The Dark World.  It helps that Loki is more prominent in this film as opposed to the sequel.  I will say the next several films are tough to rank because they are all kinda bunched up together.

11.) Avengers:  Age of Ultron

I’m sure that this film will be one that will be higher on other lists.  And I enjoyed it when I saw it in the theater.  However, the main problem that I had with the film is what made it less enjoyable than some other films.  That problem was continuity.  If you view the film on its own, it’s fine.  However, when you tie it in to the other MCU films, there are problems.  One of the main problems is the end of Iron Man 3 and zero explanation of how Stark went from the end of that film to Age of Ultron.  Hydra is barely around in the film and is a secondary villain at best.  The action scenes were great and I really like that they gave Hawkeye some quality screen time.  He was probably the best character in the film.  I’m going on record as saying this will probably be my least favorite Avengers film.

10.) Thor: Ragnarok

The newest MCU film as of this writing.  You can go back to my recent post to see my overall thoughts on the film.  In regards to this ranking, it is the best of the “trilogy” films so far and the best Thor film.  But in trying to be a Thor film, a Guardians film & a Hulk film, it finds itself here.  I like it better than Age of Ultron which has now become the MCU baseline film for these rankings.

9.) The Incredible Hulk

This will be the film that is lower on a lot of lists.  But I really enjoyed this film.  And I thought Edward Norton did a great job as Bruce Banner/The Hulk and I loved Liv Tyler as Betty Ross (which is another complaint about Age of Ultron, they dismiss Ross and have Banner together with Romanov…but given that Barton is married in MCU, that option wasn’t available, anyway…).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Mark Ruffalo fan and what he’s done with the role.  But this film tells a really good story.  I do hope at some point there is another Hulk standalone film.  But until then, this is the one.

8.) Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Guardians Volume 2 is the highest ranking sequel on the list.  It did a great job of taking a lot of what worked in the first film and furthering the story along.  It hits the right tones of action, drama & comedy and ties things together with the first film.

7.) Ant-Man

Since the last ranking, Ant-Man dropped out of the top 5 because there were two good films that I liked more but it was tough.  I would definitely say the second half of this top 10 are really bunched together.  I’ll mention again why I really enjoyed this film is that it has the same beats as the first Iron Man.  Paul Rudd is Scott Lang & that totally is what makes the film work so well.

6.) Spider-Man:  Homecoming

These next two films were so hard to rank.  I almost could’ve went with a tie for fifth.  But I decided to go the first MCU Spider-Man film or as I also like to call it “The Redemption of Tony Stark”.  This film not only fully introduced Spider-Man into the MCU but redeemed Tony Stark after the events of Civil War.  It is one of the best Spider-Man films (which reminds me I should rank those at some point) and right up there in the MCU.

5.) Doctor Strange

I would guess this film might rank lower in some lists but I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange was great (even though it’s still weird hearing him with an American accent).  The vibe and feel of the film work well together and the story is compelling.  I would highly recommend watching the film while listening to the director’s commentary.  That is probably one of the best commentaries I’ve ever heard for a film.  So far this would be my favorite Phase 3 film and it does show that for the most part I’ve enjoyed the Phase 3 films more than Phase 2.

4.) Captain America:  The First Avenger

Captain America is one of my favorite superhero characters.  And I love the retro feel of this film.  In many ways those two characteristics are what make this film more enjoyable in my mind than The Winter Soldier and Civil War.  I wish though that the Red Skull had survived (and maybe he did, who knows?) but the tone of this film makes the rewatchability more enjoyable.

3.) Guardians of the Galaxy

The best Phase 2 film to me, this film was a lot of fun.  Of course the cast of characters makes the film that much enjoyable.  The film was unlike any other Marvel film up to that point and it’s charm and quirkyness make it stand out to me.  If there is one Phase 2 film I could watch, this would be the one.

2.) Iron Man

The original classic.  The one that started the whole thing.  I love the first Iron Man.  The story it tells is great.  If one goes back and rewatches it now one can see how dated it was.  There was talk of MySpace and there weren’t really any smart phones and a digital camera was used to take a picture.  But it still holds up really well.

1.) The Avengers

To me, the first Avengers film is my favorite.  I love the action.  I love the story.  I love the soundtrack.  It is an awesome film.  If I’m choosing Avengers films, this is the one I’m more likely to go with (that may change when Infinity War comes around but as of right now this is it).

So that’s my list.  Like I said, it’s a ranking of which ones I enjoy the most.  All of them are good films and can watch them again and again.  There was some shuffling around and obviously next year there will be even more shuffling.

Advertisements

The 25th Anniversary Edition 1991 Version: Comic Books

It’s time once again for the Anniversary Edition. This is a series where we highlight the 25th anniversary of some of our favorite things. These include movies, TV shows, video games, comics and music that came out during the year of 1991. A lot of big things debuted or made a huge impact that year and so we will highlight some of those in this series.

We have previously looked at the year in music, video games, movies, and TV shows in 1991. We now turn to the year in comics in 1991. There were several storylines and characters that made their debut that year.

On the Marvel front, the big crossover event was the Muir Island Saga.  It was a five issue crossover between The X-Men & X-Factor.  The results of the saga included seeing Professor X losing the use of his legs again as well as the members of the X-Men go back to wearing individual uniforms instead of team uniforms.

X-Men Muir Island Saga
On the DC front, the big crossover event was Armageddon 2001.  The event ran May through October and was featured in all the big DC chararacters’ annual comics as well as a limited series specific to the event.  The other big DC comic was the #1 issue of Superman:  The Man of Steel which debuted in July.  With this comic series, it meant that at the time that there would be a new Superman comic book every week of the month.

dc-comics-armageddon-2001-issue-1Superman_Man_of_Steel_1

Another huge comic book miniseries that released in 1991 did so through Dark Horse Comics.  This was a new story in the Star Wars universe.  That title was Star Wars:  Dark Empire.  The first issue debuted in December and told the further adventures of Luke Skywalker and the gang.  These stories, along with many post Return of the Jedi stories, are now apart of the Legends canon of the Star Wars Universe.

Dark-Horse-Star-Wars-Dark-Empire-1

There were several characters that made their debut in 1991.  I’ll highlight two here.  The first is Cletus Kassady, better known as Carnage.  He debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #344 in March and would eventually become the “darker version” of Venom.  The second one is someone that is pretty popular given the recent movie that came out this year and that is Wade Wilson, better known as Deadpool.  Debuting in The New Mutants #98 in February, Deadpool was initially a villain but his popularity drove the writers to morph him into the anti-hero character that he is known for today.

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_1_344New_Mutants_Vol_1_98_001

There are many other comics and characters that were featured in 1991. Is there an issue or character not listed that you enjoy? Leave a comment and share them here. Thanks for joining us this month during our trip down memory lane. We’ll be back next year around this time to look at the 25th anniversary of things that happened during 1992. Until then, break out the comic books and enjoy some classic reading.

The 25th Anniversary Edition 1990 Version: Comic Books

It’s time once again for the Anniversary Edition. This is a series where we highlight the 25th anniversary of some of our favorite things. These include movies, TV shows, video games, comics and music that came out during the year of 1990, the first year of the decade of the 90s. A lot of big things debuted or made a huge impact that year and so we will highlight some of those in this series.

We have previously looked at the year in music, video games, movies, and TV shows in 1990. We now turn to the year in comics in 1990. There were several storylines and characters that made their debut that year.

On the Marvel front, the big crossover event was a sequel to one of the most seminal events in Marvel history. The original event was “Days of Future Past”. The sequel was “Days of Future Present”. “Days of Future Present” would feature crossovers from X-Men, Fantastic Four, New Mutants and X-Factor. Another huge Marvel comic that released that year was in August 1990. That month Spider-Man #1 written by Todd MacFarlane was published. That issue would go onto 2.65 million copies, at the time the best selling comic book.

Days of Future PresentSpiderman1
On the DC front, it was quieter than the previous year. There was no big crossover event and no big series that debuted that year. It did see a one shot Batman comic in February called Batman: Digital Justice. This story was set in the late 21st century and it would be Jim Gordon’s grandson James who would take up the mantle of Batman & would essentially be fighting a computer virus made by the Joker.

Batman_Digital_Justice_cover

There were two prominent characters that made their debut in 1990, one in comic books and the other in comic strips. The one in comic books was Remy LeBeau aka Gambit. He made his debut (briefly) in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 before outright debuting in Uncanny X-Men #266 in August. Gambit would go onto become one of the most popular characters of the X-Men, due in large part to the cartoon series that would feature him as one of the team members. The one in comic strips was Peggy Jean. She made her debut in the Peanuts comic strip in newspapers on July 23rd. She would make appearances in the strip throughout the decade as well as some animated specials. She would be Charlie Brown’s girlfriend and was that way until her last appearance a few months before the end of the comic strip.

Gambit X-Men

Peggy Jean

There are many other comics and characters that were featured in 1990. Is there an issue or character not listed that you enjoy? Leave a comment and share them here. Thanks for joining us this month during our trip down memory lane. We’ll be back next year around this time to look at the 25th anniversary of things that happened during 1991. Until then, break out the comic books and enjoy some classic reading.

The Gwen Stacy Effect

I went and saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2 today (by the way some spoilers are going to follow but then again elements from that movie are based on a comic book storyline that’s 40 years old).  I’m actually a fan of this reboot of the Spider-Man film series.  That’s not to take anything away from the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire trilogy that was released in the early 2000s.  So when the first movie in this reboot series released back in 2012, I was cautiously optimistic.  I liked director Marc Webb’s film (500) Days of Summer.  So after seeing the first film, I enjoyed it.  I thought Andrew Garfield did a great job as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.  I really enjoyed Emma Stone’s work who played Gwen Stacy.

Gwen-Stacy

Gwen Stacy as a character is a key figure in Marvel comic book universe and in the world of Spider-Man.  In the history of Spider-Man, Gwen was early on the girl that Peter was in love with.  They met in college at Empire State University and their relationship (like any relationship) had it’s ups and downs.  Being the daughter of a NYPD Captain made it difficult at times for Gwen and Peter’s relationship, especially when her dad died (during a fight between Spidey and Doctor Octopus in the comics & between Spidey and The Lizard in the movies).  But they stuck together through thick and thin.

Then came the story arc “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”.  This story, which was told over the pages of two issues of The Amazing Spider-Man comic book (#121-122) in the summer of 1973.  In the story arc, the Green Goblin (the Norman Osborn version) kidnaps Gwen & takes her to the top of the George Washington Bridge.  In the subsequent fight between the Goblin & Spidey, Gwen is thrown off the bridge by Osborn.  Peter tries to save Gwen but is unable to and she dies.  Peter blamed himself for not saving her and for a time quit being Spider-Man but would eventually take up the mantle again.

At the time these two issues were released, it was a huge moment in comics.  Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker’s girlfriend and marriage had been hinted about several times.  Her death left an indellible mark on Peter Parker.  Her death had an effect on his life but also her life.  Peter Parker would not be the man that he is nor the superhero that he is without having Gwen Stacy in it.  As much as Mary Jane Watson is known as the love of Peter’s life now, it came in the wake of Gwen Stacy.

We all have that Gwen Stacy in our lives.  Whether it’s a person or an event, there is that moment of loss that in some way shapes who we are.  It is that “Gwen Stacy Effect”.  Those moments that we point to that we see when we look back in our past.  They teach us something about ourselves.  They help us to grow and mature.  They are a part of our story.

As I walked out of the theater and saw the movie version of “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”, I thought about Peter Parker.  I thought about how it’s widely talked about how the death of Uncle Ben defined Peter’s character but it’s also the loss of Gwen that helps define Peter’s character.  Peter is a better person and a better superhero having had Gwen Stacy in his life.  Even though he lost her, we know (through the comics) that Peter would go on to find love (with Mary Jane Watson).  In our lives, we don’t know what the future holds.  But we do know that the Gwen Stacys in our lives are there for our good and in the end we are better off having them in our lives for how long or how short that time is.

gwenstacya