15 Apr,2018 By Jagabond
Is this post travel related? No. Unless you consider I watched many of these movies while on international flights. I’m a proud comic book fan. Not someone who dresses up for Comic-Con, though I admire those who do. I grew up reading comics, and feel the whole good versus evil theme helped shape my childhood in positive ways.
For years, movie studios adapted comic books to the big screen with less than stellar results. With few exceptions, these big budget monstrosities were heavy on action, light on characterization. Then everything changes when Marvel decides to create a Hollywood universe. Stan Lee’s vision finally shone on the biggest of stages.
I’m writing this because Infinity War comes out at the end of the month. The culmination of a decade of Marvel films is upon us. As I reflect back I reminisce on the five movies that made me fall in love with the genre.
#5 – Iron Man (2008)
This was the film that started it all. Robert Downey Jr. was the ideal choice for Tony Stark. In fact, his casting set the whole Marvel universe on its road to dominance. It was a simple premise. The selfish, playboy millionaire suffers a trauma that makes him change his ways. Wartime scenes using an ongoing conflict can be tough to pull off, but these were done respectfully. The unexpected end reveal of Stark admitting his hero life strayed from the comic books and accelerated the pace of films to follow.
#4 – Ant Man (2015)
Marvel probably took their biggest chance here. Who listed Ant Man as one of their favorite heroes growing up? Not many, I imagine. The writers chose to select Scott Lang as the hero, not the more known Hank Pym…instead having the latter as a mentor. The sub-plot of Lang being a Robin Hood thief trying to impress his daughter added to the emotive beat of the story. Casting Michael Douglas wasn’t risky, but Paul Rudd was. Everything paid off big, and don’t forget the incredible supporting role Michael Pena played.
#3 – Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)
The reboot of the most famous Marvel superhero worked to near perfection. This was based on the ‘Ultimate Spiderman’ series, my favorite comic book as a young adult. Focusing on a high-school aged Peter Parker allowed for extra characterization and room for growth. Using Tony Stark as the mentor and father figure was a bold move, as was forgoing yet another Spiderman origin story. The supporting cast and overall atmosphere reflected well the modern times, thus appealing to all audiences young and old.
#2 – Avengers (2012)
Between the first Iron Man and this one, there were quite a few duds. A failure here likely torpedoes the entire Marvel universe. Instead the film blew away expectations. This epic movie incorporates so many characters while also reserving ample time for character development. The battle scenes from New York were choreographed and shot so well it appeared like we were watching stock footage of a real occurrence. I YouTube frequently the scene where Stark offers Loki a drink…what a great confrontation.
#1 – Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
I honestly can’t believe how good this film is. The director went for a buddy action movie sprinkled with slapstick comedy, and pulled it off. The fight scene at the end where Thor gets his lightning back was so good, you think ‘The Immigrant Song’ was written for it. I’m not sure if five minutes went by where I didn’t laugh. Going back decades, this is the finest depiction of the Hulk on either the big screen or television. The Valkyrie character was well fleshed out and played wonderfully by Tessa Thompson.
Some other notes:
-Honorable mention goes to the first Guardians of the Galaxy. In terms of risk, this was also a big one. Take a look at the team makeup. A talking raccoon, sentient tree, wisecracking human…what could go wrong?
-My least favorite Marvel films were Iron Man 3 and Age of Ultron. Both showed little characterization and progression. The former simply had a bad script, whereas the latter felt rushed.
-Everyone loves ‘Black Panther’ and I liked it a lot, but I feel they missed an opportunity to showcase Wakanda more. They should’ve put extra emphasis on the country’s history and beauty, using the setting to help drive the story.
-All this talk of Michael B. Jordan being the best Marvel villain is nuts. Loki wins hands down, with Michael Keaton’s vulture a far away second.
-Hulk needs his own film. Mark Ruffalo has nailed the role perfectly. Other great castings include Chris Evans as Captain America and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. Characters I could do without? Vision and Scarlet Witch come to mind.
Bottom line: Infinity War hits theaters on April 27. The hype is real, building up gradually over ten years and eighteen different films. Nearly everything Marvel touches turns to gold.