So Black Panther just came out and it was pretty good. Another addition to the canon of the monstrosity that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the film managed to set itself apart from the others through its originality, social relevance, and the introduction of a villain that was for once more interesting than a piece of driftwood.
It’s so good in fact that it’s inspired me to start a whole new series of articles called “Like You Care”, a list series where I’ll be ranking some of personal favorite things that will cover everything from movies to music to pasta sauce. One thing to note is that these lists will be tackling my personal favorite entries, and because of my horrifically poor taste, may not always be the best. Because of the release of Black Panther and boundless originality, the first will cover MCU films.
Honorable Mention. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): This is what I mean by the bad taste thing from earlier. Yeah, a lot of people rag on this, and I would for the most part agree with them. Overlong and bloated, the film tries too hard to cover as much ground at the cost of making a coherent film. BUT, it’s critics often forget that it has a couple of sweet spots. The biggest of these is James Spader’s Ultron who although admittedly could have been written a bit better, still remains an MCU highlight for me Then there’s the introduction of Scarlet Witch and Vision, who have since become MCU staples. All that being said though, the film really holds a soft spot in my part for the scenes in which it shows the Avengers hanging out with each other. I’m a sucker for casual scenes like this, and this film carried some of these best moments. While the scene in the party at Stark tower obviously comes to mind, people often forget the twenty odd minutes towards the end where people everyone’s just hanging out at Hawkeye’s house.
5. Spider Man: Homecoming (2017): Tobey Maguire will, in my eyes at least, be the one true Spiderman. That being said, i’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the compact and well executed film that was Spider Man: Homecoming. Although it was a little cut and dry, the fact that it was as solid as it turns out was an achievement in and of itself considering how much it had to live up to. Remember, this was only a little bit after those two awful Andrew Garfield dumpster fires, and fans were had already given a taste of what was to come in the previous year’s Captain America: Civil War. The small scale, straightforward nature of the film’s plot helped to keep the film from becoming way too bloated, an issue that plagues many other MCU films. Tom Holland’s new Peter Parker is also a very welcome and much needed addition.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy 1&2 (2014 and 2017): OK yeah, I’m cheating a bit here.. but just go with it. Out of all of the properties represented in the MCU, the Guardians of the Galaxy films always seems to have the most creative freedom. While the earth based stories can get a bit formulaic, you can always rely on these films to present something different. They’re also the reason Marvel has been able to delve into such weird and interesting places in the past few years, because without the success of the first film, Disney would have been too scared to fully exploit the Marvel universe. The genuinely likable and hilarious ensemble cast is built up very well in the first film and used effectively in the second. Plus, the second film has more Kurt Russell than any other MCU film.
3. Captain America: Civil War (2016): Watching the creators of the MCU effectively tear down everything they had built over the past decade with a single movie is a guaranteed win in my eyes, so it was nice that the film itself was actually half decent. An Avengers film in all but name, Civil War manages to cover nearly as much ground as Age of Ultron, but without falling flat on its face. Considering how much time these movies spend building up a lame villain that goes down like a pansy in the third act, it was a nice change of pace to simply have the already established heroes beat each other senseless. The morally grey conflict that splits the avengers in two also does a good job of making the audience *gasp* think about the story in a bit more depth. Add in the addition of Black Panther and the triumphant return of Spider Man, and you have one of the stronger entries in the franchise.
2. Captain America:The First Avenger (2011): The World War II set introduction of Captain America to the MCU is in my opinion one of the more underrated entries into the franchise. While it is cheesy and often even outright stupid in some spots, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t believe that the film wasn’t a fun watch. It does a good job of cementing Cap as a franchise staple, and also makes a great use of its historical setting. I also noticed that it was one of the first MCU films to adopt the franchise’s now signature comedic tone. There’s also a musical number earlier in the film that no one seems to talk about.
1. Thor: Ragnarok (2017): Until Ragnarok, the Thor films were often considered to be one of the weak points of the franchise for their over serious tone and hard to digest fantasy elements. Then along came Thor: Ragnarok, one of the best Sci-Fi comedies made in the past few years. I remember seeing the trailer for this one way back when and saying “holy crap this looks fantastic”. I was not disappointed. Although lot of people seemed to be put off by its over reliance on comedy, but I wasn’t one of them. I ate that shit up. Marvel could have really half assed the conclusion of the asgard section of the MCU, but thankfully it chose to do the exact opposite. It also manages to be my favorite iteration of Hulk, a character that I’ve honestly never really been a fan of. Funny, self aware, action heavy, and genuinely enjoyable, Thor Ragnarok is my favorite MCU film.