I think it’s safe to say that Hollywood has hit rock bottom as far as originality is concerned. Sequels, prequels, reboots, series, franchises being restarted after 30 years, spin-offs, crossovers, and if that isn’t enough, we now have something called cinematic UNIVERSES which are basically a million sequels, prequels, origin stories, TV shows, crossovers and other crap all tied into one.
And a large chunk of the blame (or praise, whichever way you choose to look at it) should be pointed at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’re talking about a UNIVERSE that is the highest grossing film franchise of all time (true). A UNIVERSE that has already released fifteen movies (also true). This UNIVERSE has more movies in the works than there are people in India (not true, but you get the idea). With no end in sight, this UNIVERSE seems to be unstoppable.
However, this does not mean that every single movie/TV series that is a part of this universe is good. Hell no, in fact the MCU has produced more than a few pieces of crap.
So, without further ado, let’s check out some of the worst and best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with the 5 unbearable trash examples (ranked from "kinda unbearable" to “OMG please kill me now”).
16 Iron Man 2 (Sucks)
The first Iron Man in 2008 is still considered by many to be one of the greatest comic book movies of all time. In fact, people still debate whether it was The Dark Knight or Iron Man that altered the landscape of comic book movies forever. Iron Man 2 on the other hand, dropped the ball big time.
Talking to LA Times, Robert Downey Jr had this to say:
"The first one changed everything for me and with the second 'Iron Man' there were certain aspects that were dissatisfying and disappointing to me but at least they lit me right.... [The first one] was a meditation on responsibility and an exploration of how a small group of people can take a two-dimensional idea and, if the winds are right, create something that makes people say, 'That was my favorite movie of the year.' To me, Tony Stark's story is a karma story and a technology story. I love a good action movie - a Steve McQueen or Tom Cruise or Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis or Mel Gibson in the right spot, and you smile and say, 'That's what this kind of movie is all about.' There were two times in my life I prepared for something manically, it was this and 'Chaplin.' I became the expert on this guy."
15 The Incredible Hulk (Sucks)
Ang Lee’s Hulk in 2003 is a weird movie. It was one of those comic book movies that transcended its genre, except not in a good way. Instead of getting an exciting movie with Hulk smashing a bunch of crap, we got a brooding, emo, mundane story that does not warrant a second viewing at all.
In 2008, Louis Leterrier directed a reboot titled The Incredible Hulk, this time starring Edward Norton and a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While it’s a huge step in the right direction as compared to the 2003 version, this movie turned out to be a rather boring affair too. The Incredible Hulk only managed to make 263 Mil USD worldwide. Considering its 150Mil USD budget and the fact that Iron Man made close to 600Mil USD worldwide with an even smaller budget, The Incredible Hulk was an epic failure.
Thankfully, there hasn’t been a solo Hulk movie since. It seems that Marvel-Disney studios have finally figured out how to use Hulk properly and it’s been working wonders since.
14 Avengers: Age of Ultron (Sucks)
I absolutely loathe Avengers: Age of Ultron with a passion. I mean this movie is absolute and utter crap all around. It’s so terrible, that it’s so unbelievable how terrible the movie is. Standing at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes and 66% on Metacritic, I acknowledge the fact that this is an unpopular opinion.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this movie is as horrendous as Catwoman or Batman & Robin. But, it still remains to this day, the only MCU movie that I cannot bring myself to rewatch. There are just far too many things wrong with this movie.
“But how?? No way, Dashran!! You’re an idiotic nutjob!! It’s Avengers! It’s part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! It has Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and Hulk joining forces to kick some bad guy butt! Not forgetting Black Widow and that other dude that shoots arrows. Oh wait! There’s also the other African American sidekicks. If that’s not enough there are like two new supers! Wait, if that’s still not enough for you, there’s Nick Fury! There’s one of the most badass villains in Marvel! There’s the freaking Hulk Buster!! And did I mention that Iron Man is played by Robert “The F***ng Awesome” Downey Jr.?”
That’s exactly my point! The casts and characters of this movie are so freaking awesome on paper that the only way this movie could be anything close to bad is if these characters danced around in Teletubbies outfits, singing the Bananas in Pyjamas theme song. Oh wait…
Then there’s the comedy so cringe-worthy you’d much rather hear the sound of fingernails scratching a blackboard. Yes, we get it. Marvel is supposed to have a lighter, more kid-pleasing, fun tone compared to the all doom and gloom side of the DC world. In the first Avengers, I enjoyed the banter between Captain America and Iron Man, and between Iron Man and Hulk. I enjoyed the scene where Hulk smashes Loki like he’s a rag doll. The humour was appropriate but, when it was time to get serious, the movie got serious. Not forgetting that Agent Coulson died in what has to be one of the most emotional sequences in any comic book movie. Age of Ultron, though, has forceful jokes and silly one-liners throughout the movie. Every freaking scene is a joke and even Ultron turns out to be a joke. The more serious scenes and fight scenes have absolutely no dramatic effect whatsoever, because one moment you have an almost-dramatic sequence but, before you know it, *INSERT STUPID JOKE* followed by *CUT-TO-BLACK*.
13 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Sucks)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D isn’t always terrible. There are some darn good episodes (particularly when the stories tie into the larger MCU). But, for the most part, it’s just one of those TV series that goes on and on and on and on and on and on with no end in sight, which means eventually you just get tired of it altogether.
I’ll admit, I haven’t watched this series in a while and I don’t intend to pick up where I left off, either. From the get go, I was never a fan of reviving Agent Coulson. It seemed like a move that would undermine the entire emotional arc in The Avengers. But, all would have been forgiven had Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D actually turned out to be a good show.
Alan Sepinwall put it best when he wrote:
"'S.H.I.E.L.D.' hasn’t even offered that much. I don’t hate it, but if it wasn’t for residual affection for Marvel that goes back to childhood, and a sense of professional curiosity about whether this big corporate behemoth of a show can be made to work, I suspect it would have been consigned to the same place in my viewing priorities as the various USA and TNT shows I sometimes watch if I’m folding laundry or sorting my mail."
12 Iron Fist (Sucks)
Over the past couple of years, the Marvel shows on Netflix have not just become some of my favorite comic book TV series, but also some of my favorite comic book adaptations, period. Needless to say, I was eagerly awaiting the final solo show – Iron Fist – before the long awaited team-up that’s happening later this year. Holy crap! Was the first season of Iron Fist an absolute abomination towards mankind or what?
You know a movie/TV series is trash when the people involved come out and say nonsense like, “Iron Fist is not made for critics, but for the fans.” Err hello Finn Jones, critics are (mostly) fans, you moron. Do you think critics would watch movies/TV all day if we weren’t movie/TV FANS? Do you think I would have woken up at 6am and binge-watched Iron Fist if I’m not a fan of the property?
Iron Fist is supposed to be a show about an ass-kicking Kung-Fu master who can make his fist glow and punch through walls. But what we got is office politics that don’t make sense and a convoluted family soap opera. And during the rare instances where action actually takes place, it’s aggressively mediocre.
The only saving grace of this series is:
Oh wait, I must have been dreaming. Danny Rand didn’t die. This show stinks.
Now that we've gone through the stinkers. Let's actually get to the good stuff. Here are the top 11 best MCU properties!
11 Thor: The Dark World (Awesome)
For some reason, most people hate Thor: The Dark World. I on the other hand, enjoyed the heck out of it. In fact, I actually prefer Thor: The Dark World over the first Thor. Directed by Alan Taylor, Thor: The Dark World isn’t perfect, but it does have many brilliant moments scattered throughout, most of which involve Loki. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is, more often than not, regarded as one of, if not the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, here, it’s his finest showing. Who can forget Loki sitting on the floor of his prison cell, broken, upon hearing news of his mother’s death. Or what about Loki imitating the likes of Captain America in the film’s funniest moment?
Thor: The Dark World, as the title suggests, is dark. Unlike most MCU movies which are bright, colourful and reek of joy, this film is the complete opposite. From the brutal murder of Thor’s mom to the obvious sadness that overwhelms Loki, this movie is tragic from start to finish.
10 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Awesome)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 isn't nearly as awesome as the first movie. The first Guardians of the Galaxy - which you will find higher up on this list - actually has an interesting premise. Simple? Sure. But, interesting.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on the other hand, has a messy premise. The gold people randomly show up at random times to catch Star-Lord and gang, ala Ian Shaw in Furious Seven. Then we have the premise with Star-Lord and his dad Ego the Living Planet. If that isn't enough, we also have some stuff with the Ravagers and Yondu. Having various storylines is fine, if it mashes well. Unfortunately, here it doesn't quite intertwine well.
Having said that, the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are as awesome as ever. I honestly do not care about the premise, but the characters kept me entertained and engaged throughout. In fact, the characters are so well written and played wonderfully that there were many scenes where I found myself almost tearing up.
So, nay for the story. But ten thumbs up for the characters and performances.
9 Captain America: The First Avenger (Awesome)
Captain America: The First Avenger isn’t a great movie, but it does what it’s meant to do brilliantly. This film came out in 2011, a time where we were not yet bombarded with 793 comic book movies a year. It also came in a time where most comic book films, such as Thor and Green Lantern, were nothing but a compilation of sh*tty explosions and CGI. Don’t get me wrong, Captain America: The First Avenger has an abundance of those too, but it also came with a great protagonist that we could get behind. The main premise is simple, maybe even a little boring, but Captain America himself was brilliantly written and wonderfully brought to life by Chris Evans.
When we see young, skinny Steve Rogers jump on a grenade to protect his fellow troops, we immediately bought into the fact that he’ll one day be a great leader. This movie is exactly that: Steve Rogers’ journey from a nobody with a big heart to becoming one of the greatest soldiers in the fictional world.
8 Ant-Man (Awesome)
Ant-Man is probably one of the few Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that actually focus on being a good standalone film instead of a teaser for things to come. The plot is simple, but it is tight-ish. Good guy has a special suit. Bad guy wants to mass produce his own version of the special suit and, you know, do bad guy stuff with it. So, good guy hires a convict (who’s actually a nice guy) to stop bad guy. The end. Peyton Reed and the scriptwriters (mostly Edgar Wright) play with this premise like it’s the best toy they never had.
The stakes are low, but it has never felt higher (not like The Dark Knight but in a better-than-most-of-MCU-crap kinda way). There are no convoluted storylines, no exploding cities, no cities in the air, no thousands of alien robots serving as nothing more than punching bags for the heroes to destroy 5000 different ways in sloowww moootion. Instead, there’s a one-on-one battle that takes place between a guy in a goofy red suit and another guy in a goofy yellow suit, on a kid’s play set while Thomas the Tank Engine circles them. YES! Thomas the bloody choo choo tank.
7 The Avengers (Awesome)
I think the more I watch The Avengers, the less engrossed I am in it. It’s rewatchable but not as rewatchable as the likes of Captain America: Civil War and Guardians of the Galaxy. However, I will never forget the first time I watched The Avengers in the cinemas. It was undoubtedly one of the greatest cinematic experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Take watching Spider-Man swing from building to building for the first time in 2002 and watching Optimus Prime transform for the first time in 2007 and multiply that by tenfold, that’s the feeling I got watching The Avengers.
Hulk: That’s my secret Cap, I’m always angry!
But it isn’t just the large spectacular action sequences that are awesome. The best aspect of The Avengers is the characters and their interactions. Every single one of these characters have great chemistry with one another, and that isn’t something that's easy to accomplish.
Just like every other movie on this list, the villain is a letdown. Sure Tom Hiddleston is great as Loki, but he doesn’t actually do much. But, the MCU has always been about the heroes, and the heroes are AMAZING here.
6 Iron Man (Awesome)
Iron Man was supposed to be a relatively obscure comic book that’s pretty much a Batman ripoff. I walked into it with absolutely no expectations whatsoever. The concept of a cinematic universe was pretty much non-existent at that time. I walked out surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this film. Just like The Dark Knight, 2008’s Iron Man changed the game big time. It is, for better or worse, the reason why, these days, we have approximately nine million comic book movies in cinemas every year.
Robert Downey Jr.’s performance in this movie was the stuff of magic. It wasn’t anything like any of Daniel Day Lewis’ transformative performances. It was something else entirely. RDJ seemed to be playing himself and it worked on every level. Just like Wolverine is a role Hugh Jackman was born to play, Robert Downey Jr IS Iron Man.
5 Daredevil (Awesome)
What’s great about Daredevil is the fact that it isn’t merely a comic book TV series. It is that and so much more. Just like The Dark Knight in 2008 and Logan earlier this year, Daredevil is a series that transcended its genre.
On the surface, Daredevil is about a blind ass-kicking ninja who runs around Hell’s Kitchen at night dishing out brutal - nay, beautiful - justice. But in actual fact, Daredevil is a crime-thriller about the criminal justice system and the power of the media. Also, Wilson Fisk AKA Kingpin is perhaps the best villain in the MCU right now. Yes, and that includes Loki. He’s a villain I absolutely love to hate. He gets under your skin, messes with your emotions, and you’re just there, sitting on your couch, helpless, hoping that he would just die. He’s also not evil just for the sake of being evil or world domination, but rather, to accomplish something on a more personal level.
Not to mention, the action sequences in Daredevil are a thing of beauty. Daredevil has some of the best action sequences in any on-screen comic book adaptation, ever. I’m not just talking about TV shows here, I’m comparing it to comic book movies too. AMAZING!
There is an action sequence early on in the season that reminded me of the classic one-take fight sequence from Oldboy (the Korean one, not the crappy American remake). Heck, there is also this other badass action sequence involving Daredevil and an evil ninja, Daredevil vs Wilson Fisk, Daredevil vs another ninja, Daredevil vs… you know what, screw it. Every single action sequence in Daredevil is BADASS.
4 Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Awesome)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a rare gem. It is one of those comic book movies, just like The Dark Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy and Logan earlier this year, that transcends the comic book genre itself. In fact, calling Captain America: The Winter Soldier just a comic book movie severely undersells the movie. This is an espionage-thriller-drama that just so happens to have comic book characters in it.
While the first Captain America movie was a fun origin story, this took the franchise to a whole new level. It also introduced us to the phenomenal pairing of directors the Russo brothers and scriptwriters Markus and McFeely - a pairing that would go on to up the game of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Who would've guessed that two brothers who previously worked on a sitcom would turn out to be one of the best things in the MCU.
After the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this pairing went on to make Captain America: Civil War (a movie you'll find much higher up on this list) and are now currently filming Avengers: Infinity War.
3 Guardians of the Galaxy (Awesome)
For whatever reason, I didn’t quite enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy the first time watching. Maybe watching Star-Lord dance his way to victory during the climax of the movie left a sour taste in my mouth. Or maybe, I was just having a bad day, because I re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy last month and it’s freaking awesome!
Right from the get-go, you know you’re watching something totally unique. A comic book movie unlike any other. This is a movie that isn’t so much about the story but the characters - the titular team, of course.
There are many brilliant comic book movies, but only few that transcends the comic book genre itself. The Dark Knight is a crime-thriller, Logan, a family drama and Guardians of the Galaxy, a Sci-Fi comedy.
2 Jessica Jones (Awesome)
When you mention dark and realistic comic book adaptations, people often think of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. While that is true, it isn’t the darkest. That would be Jessica Jones. Now, darker doesn’t mean better, but what Jessica Jones did right was take full advantage of its MPAA rating to tell a great story.
Emitting a hypnotic vibe, Jessica Jones is engaging literally from the first sentence in the show – "New York may be the city that never sleeps, but it sure does sleep around" – all the way till the last word of the last episode. What’s great about Jessica Jones is the fact that a bigger emphasis is put on the underlying themes and the storyline than the ass-kicking. If you remove the superhero/supernatural elements from Jessica Jones, it would still be a fantastic show, because Jessica Jones is profound. It is, at its core, a story about a rape victim trying to overcome her past traumas. It shows you how power hungry rapists can be and highlights their desperate need to control their victims.
But none of this would have worked had the characters not been up to par. Thankfully, every single character in this series is wonderfully written. Jessica Jones has superpowers but she’s not a superhero, not even close. Heck, she doesn’t even want to be one. She’s a little bit of a recluse, a part-time asshole and a full-time drinker. Exploring these layers of her character is exciting, yet disturbing at the same time. The villain, Kilgrave, is excellent as well. There isn’t a single episode in which I didn’t hope Jessica would kill him in the most brutal manner possible. Even the supporting characters are fantastic all round.
If you haven’t caught Jessica Jones, please do so NOW.
1 Captain America: Civil War (Awesome)
Easy pick! Captain America: Civil War is one awesome action sequence after another, connected by more awesome sequences in the middle and, sandwiched in between, is an awesome storyline jam packed with awesome characters. Yes, it is a clinic of awesomeness! The movie starts off with the Avengers going ape-sh*t on some Bane wannabe and his minions. At this point, you’re already struggling to contain the growing bulge in your pants, regretting your decision to wear boxers instead of briefs, only to think to yourself "HOLY SH*T! This is only HALF the Avengers and the storyline hasn’t even kicked in! Okay then, I’ll just remove my pants completely."
People tend to label the MCU as a “bright, colourful and happy” franchise, unlike their all-doom-and-gloom counterpart, DC. While this may be true for most parts, it isn’t necessarily an accurate remark for both the Russo Brothers’ MCU projects – Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. Working with the writings of Markus and McFeely, the Russo brothers have directed two of the best MCU movies, and they’re hardly sunshine and rainbows. While it may not be an espionage-thriller like Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War isn’t just a comic book movie. It’s a movie about war and political agenda. Do the lives of many outweigh the lives of a few? Are regulation and control necessary?
Mix that with great appearances by Spider-Man and Black Panther, not to mention the now legendary AIRPORT SEQUENCE, Captain America: Civil War is not only the greatest MCU property to date, it’s also one of the best comic book movies of all time.
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