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Monday, November 2, 2020

Marvel Reviews: MCU Phase 3A

Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins with the Avengers breaking up, continues through the Infinity War, and ends with one film addressing its aftermath. It has almost twice as many films as either Phase 1 or Phase 2, so I will be splitting the reviews across two posts.

Full explanation of my ranking system is here. Summary: C is average, A/B is recommended, D is badly made, F is something to avoid.

Captain America: Civil War

Rating: B-

Not much to say here. It’s a solid entry, does suffer from getting a little bit “busy” in the battle scenes, but it does include a tiny bit of Ant-Man influence to break it up. The plot is kind of generic and ignorable, but the themes are more important. It’s a decent enough movie, not as good as the first Captain America movie, but maybe better than the second? I still recommend it even if you don’t like slugfests because it does set up a lot of stuff that happens in the future.

Doctor Strange

Rating: A-

I have to explain first that I am very into Doctor Strange. He’s pretty much my favorite comic book character. I have a few of the Marvel Premiere issues, the complete run of Doctor Strange vol. 2, and Strange Tales vol. 2, two graphic novels, and scattered other issues, so I made more of an effort to collect Doctor Strange and delve into his backstory than any other comic.

I waited a long time for a Doctor Strange movie done right, especially after the mediocre TV movie in the '70s. It’s the only MCU movie I actually saw in the theater, and it did not disappoint. I could nitpick stuff that doesn’t match the comics (or matches the wrong comics,) but I’m very happy overall. Probably my favorite superhero movie ever. But if I’m going to rate it honestly, it does get kind of busy in some of the battle scenes.

One thing I have to call out: pretty much every standard superhero movie has the hero win basically by finding the one way they can outslug or outzap the villain. Doctor Strange takes an entirely different approach: he can’t win against Dormammu, but finds a way to win without violating his principal of not doing harm (well, kind of… but he doesn’t harm anyone directly.) This is what I want to see in a superhero movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Rating: A-

I may like this more than the first movie, even though I rate them the same. Again, it doesn’t get a full A because of the messy, overwhelming battle choreography, which I suspect has a lot to do with why I forget huge chunks of some of the Marvel movies. But the dialogue is still very funny, and GG v2 has a deeper emotional tone to it. Definitely recommend.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Rating: A

I haven’t seen every Spider-Man movie since they started making Spider-Man live-action theatrical movies, but I haven’t been impressed with most of them. But this one is very good. The actor isn’t a teen, but he’s closer to a teen than any of the others I recall. The script is excellent, very funny. They skipped the origin story, which we’re tired of seeing and all know anyways. His relationship with Iron Man might not have been canon in the comics, but it makes total sense in the context of the MCU. This version of Peter Parker basically feels more like Peter Parker than any other version I’ve seen, despite any deviations from the comics I’ve read.

I can’t think of a single flaw with this movie.

Thor: Ragnarok

Rating: A

Since the previous Thor movies were in some cases a let-down, I was not expecting to like this one so much. But then, two things happened: the MCU people noticed that people liked the funnier Marvel movie more than the serious ones, and they hired Taika Waititi. I haven’t seen much of his work, but I’ve liked all that I’ve seen, with the exception of Eagle vs. Shark. This is certainly the best Thor movie so far, and stands out as one of the best movies in the MCU.

Black Panther

Rating: B

Black Panther has some pretty good moments and has some strong messages about responsibility as a hero and as a nation, as well as some good visuals. Also, I have to admit that the idea of secret nations or cities has always appealed to me, so this movie kind of lures me in with that. But under that fa├žade, it’s just a standard action movie, although I have to admit it’s better at the action than some of the other MCU entries. People who like punchy heroes more than I do should consider watching Black Panther.

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