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Monday, October 12, 2020

Marvel Reviews: MCU Phase I

Time to start reviewing the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the time of this writing, I’ve watched every MCU movie and series, excluding animated material, with the exception of The Punisher Season 2 and the final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A new series, Helstrom, will drop later this month.

I decided to bundle the film reviews, sorting them by Phase. Between each Phase will be a review covering shows that were released around that time. There will be a couple surprise extra reviews.

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.

Iron Man

Rating: B
Shaky Start, Steady after 25% Mark

I’m not completely thrilled with this, but the fight scenes are restrained, compared to some other superhero films, even if a little pervy about explosions. It has a good opening scene, but the rest of the film’s first quarter bounces up and down in terms of quality. Eventually, the movie settles into a steady pace. Not too special, in terms of plot, but a few character moments stand out compared to other superhero portrayals. A decent beginning to Phase 1.

The Incredible Hulk

Rating: C

Couldn’t find a way to watch this a second (third?) time, and it’s one of those movies I think I haven’t seen, but it turns out I did. Checked out the Honest Trailer for this and verified that yeah, I’ve seen it. It’s just nothing special. Watch it if you absolutely have to watch everything, but don’t worry about it if you have other stuff to do.

Iron Man 2

Rating: C

I just watched this a month or two ago, and I still had to check out the Honest Trailer for this as well. Couldn’t remember if this was the one about the guy with the whip, or the other guy.

It was the one with the whip.

Basically, same advice as for Hulk.


Rating: C-
Slow Moving Throughout

I liked Thor when I was a kid, because I was into Norse mythology and thought it was cool that Marvel had a comic influenced by it. Even liked Marvel’s take as an adult, bought a limited series of Baldur the Brave, although I’ve forgotten the story now.

But maybe it wasn’t as good as I remember, if I were to use this movie as a guide. The movie looks great design wise, although the meaningless use of tilted camera shots lowers the quality. The real problem is that most of the action is tedious. It just plods along without real excitement. There are hints of some good stuff from the future of the Thor franchise, but I think it’s easily skippable.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Rating: B

For something that’s clearly more on the “punchy” end of the superhero spectrum, I actually liked this the most of the Phase 1 movies before The Avengers. I think there’s a couple reasons for this:

  1. A punchy hero as basically special ops during WWII actually makes more sense than many other punchy hero concepts.
  2. I have kind of always liked Cap’s pure morality more than grimdark troubled superheroes.
  3. There’s something just perfect about actual Nazis as villains. Especially Nazis with superweapons.

Another reason why I might like this despite it being about a punchy superhero is that there aren’t all that many punchy/shooty scenes. The movie really dives into the origin story, so there’s a heavier focus on his motivation, his pre-Cap army training, and the process of becoming famous as a symbol way before he actually gets to fight Nazis. And aside from Cap’s big rescue operation and the final confrontation, most of his career is only hinted at – an odd way to use a montage, but there you go. So if you find origin stories too boring, take that into account.

The Avengers

Rating: B-
Shaky During Big Battle

I think I’m going to go with a B- instead of a C+ for the first Avengers movie because there’s quite a lot I like about it, It just turns into a cloud of CGI nonsense during large chunks of the big battle scene. This is a complaint you’re going to see a lot from me: I don’t like “busy” scenes with lots of stuff flying in every direction that you can’t quite focus on. I prefer the moments where you can see a clear interaction between characters and clear decision points.

I definitely recommend this movie if you are planning on trying out the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series.

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