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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Marvel Reviews: MCU Phase 3B

I covered the first six Phase 3 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (Civil War through Black Panther) in the previous post. This follow-up covers Infinity War, Endgame, and everything in between, as well as one movie that happens after Endgame.

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.

Avengers: Infinity War

Rating: B

The Avengers movies by now have established a pattern that they are going to have huge battles with thousands of things flying around the screen, so although I considered giving Infinity War a minus for all the busy battle scenes, I thought “Why bother? We knew they were going to throw absolutely everything they had added up to this point, except for the TV stuff they try to ignore.”

This penultimate Avengers movie thus isn’t as good as it could have been. I think it’s good enough and has enough twists and stand-out scenes to merit a recommendation, but I can’t give it an A because it’s just a good superhero movie, not a great one. It doesn’t take much of what they learned in the last couple A-rating films and use it effectively. It does have some very funny scenes, mainly those with Thor and the Guardians. I think that deserves a B, at least.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Rating: A

This follow-up to the first Ant-Man movie has a lot of the same feel that made that one great. The scenes about his relationship with his kid are even more touching and help make his connection feel real. There is maybe a little more emphasis on prosaic action movie fights, but there’s still enough of the crazy originality we saw in the first movie. It did still try to copy the heist format of the first, but… well, since it works, maybe that’s the best fit for Ant-Man? I like the movie a lot.

Captain Marvel

Rating: B

I wanted to like Captain Marvel more. It does have a little bit of humor, and kind of fills in more detail on what’s going on off-planet, especially in Kree society (although I have to say I’m not entirely sure they don’t completely change the Kree every time they include them in a movie or TV show.) It’s a pretty solid adventure/thriller flick, but doesn’t really rise to the same level as some of the other films.

One thing in particular annoyed me: the way Captain Marvel cracks jokes after she passes her final crisis and comes into her full powers. Usually, wise-cracking superheroes crack jokes up until they come up against their “boss battle”, then stop as things get serious and they get their asses kicked, not cracking many jokes until after they reach deep in themselves to push through the crisis and defeat the villain. Maybe that’s too much of a cliché. But here, Captain Marvel reaches deep into herself, surpasses her near defeat… and then kicks peoples asses for a very long time while she openly mocks them for being unable to touch her. That just makes Captain Marvel sound like a jerk. Not very heroic at all. It reminded me of the famous “Superman is a dick” memes.

It’s still probably worth watching for its position within the ongoing MCU story, as long as you can ignore the weirdly unheroic climax.

Avengers: Endgame

Rating: A-

I was torn between a B+ and an A- for this. I feel it’s overly long, and of course it’s got those busy parts most superhero movies have these days. But in the end, I decided that the first few scenes were very emotional, as were the later scenes of how people dealt with The Snap. (Question: How does the general populace know about The Snap? Did the surviving heroes do interviews and explain who Thanos is and what he did?)

In the end, I decided the time heist storyline and the reduced number of huge battles, compared to Infinity War, make this a way better film of the two-part story. Plus, it’s got Ant-Man again, and a good scene with the Ancient One.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Rating: A

There are some confusing things about the start of Far From Home relating to the way The Snap and Unsnap are presented, but it does give us some information about the aftermath, which might suggest that undoing The Snap turned out to have just as chaotic an effect on global society as The Snap itself. But the main story is how Peter Parker deals with losing his mentor, Tony Stark, while growing a little closer to Happy.

Without giving away anything about the villain and the plot, I have to say one thing I admired about the movie is that it tricked me. I thought I knew the villain pretty well, and when they introduced him, I thought “Well, they have changed absolutely everything about him. I wonder if this new version is even going to work?” And then it turned out that no, they hadn’t changed as much as they pretended. It was all a clever sleight of hand – which, given the villain in question, is very fitting.

That surprise, plus the usual good script I am now expecting from MCU Spider-Man movies and the funny dialogue, make this another of my favorite MCU films.

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