[alert type=”green”]As we get closer and closer to the US launch of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the penultimate film in the second phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we thought we would take the time to look into the first phase of the blockbuster films, break them down for those who have yet to see them (all four of you), and get you ready for what’s coming up next. [/alert]
The One Where it All Began – Iron Man
Before 2008, superhero movies were adequate at best. The Blade and X-Men movies were the cream of the crop and that is saying a lot. It was not until the long awaited arrival of Tony Stark to the silver screen, did people begin to look at comic book movies differently.
What Iron Man showed the world was that comic book characters have a lot of depth to them and they make a good source material for movies if done right. By now everyone reading this has seen the first Iron Man movie and if you have not then I recommend that you do. Mainly as a reference to see how the movies have progressed over the year but also because it’s a fun movie.
Whether you are familiar with Tony Stark or not, Iron Man does a good introducing you to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) version of Tony Stark. Newcomers are treated the arc of the billionaire turned superhero, while veterans see a modern re-imagining of the classic along with plenty of Easter eggs.
The One Everyone Forgets – The Incredible Hulk
When most people see the Hulk they see mindless beast. However, I see a modern take on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Similarities can be drawn from the split personality to philosophical man’s inner beast/animal.
Although it is the lowest grossing movie of the Phase One films, it is one of my favorites. However, I am very biased towards the green giant, I even enjoyed the previous outing to the silver screen. Unlike the rest of the Phase One movies, expect Iron Man 2 for obvious reason, The Incredible Hulk is not an origins story. It briefly tells you the origin story at the beginning but after that its business as usual. I thought this was a great approach as the origin story is not all that great and it cuts down the time until the big reveal.
The Incredible Hulk has far less comedic than Iron Man which is a given considering the themes explored like; radiation poisoning, treason, hidden military agenda and the ever popular secret military weapons/programs. The only thing that got to me was the love story. However this has been a staple of The Incredible Hulk, so my complaint is a non complaint.
The One To Remind You – Iron Man 2
The main issue I have with Iron Man 2 is that it has no justifiable purpose, I see it as a movie equivalent of a filler. The only import event is the introduction of War Machine. There was a hint of the Demon is Bottle storyline but nothing more.
To be brutally honest, Iron Man 2 is the only movie of Phase One which can be skipped without missing much. I can only recommend it for fans of the villain Whiplash or War Machine.
The One No One Asked For – Thor
At this point, the general movie going population started noticing that something was going on with these Marvel movies. More characters kept jumping into other movies with the most prominent being Agent Coulson. Those few who watched Iron Man 2 and stuck around to the post credits scene got treated to a tease of the weapon of choice for the God of Thunder.
I’ve never been a fan of Thor and I was not looking forward to his silver screen debut. However, as most Marvel movies tend to do, I ended up enjoying it. Not as much as Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk, but a lot more than Iron Man 2.
The origin story was glossed over fairly quickly, however they did give Thor a nice character arc. He went from an arrogant would-be king to learning what it means to be king. Along the way they introduce the love interest and a character who would become important as time goes on. One thing I love about the MCU movies is that they can balance the serious tones with humor. Other movies seem to confuse angst with seriousness/grown-up themes.
The Long Trailer – Captain America: The First Avenger
By now the general movie going public started catching on to what Marvel was doing. Not only was it mentioned in both Iron Man movies, but it was blatantly outed when at the end of Thor it said “Thor will return in The Avengers”. Now a we get a movie with a subtitle related to this group known as the Avengers.
I’ve never been a fan of Captain America. I understand his relevance and importance within the Marvel universe; I mean, my favorite character was a result of people attempting to duplicate the super solider serum. However, I never really connected with him and silver screen incarnation did not change my stance on him.
In the final Phase One lead up movie we see how Steve Rogers turned into the iconic Captain America. What stood out most for me was well they managed to convey the principles that Steve Roger stands behind. I actually was eager to see what would happen when he eventually got the power. When he did I was thoroughly entertained. As entertainment as someone who knows the source material could be.
The One That Broke Records – The Avengers
Looking back now, it’s difficult to imagine that there was a time when the Blade and X-Men movies were considered the best comic book/superhero movies. Comparing them, or most other superhero movies, to The Avengers seems unfair. The hype behind Avengers was built over 5 movies with a solid amount of time spent exploring most of the major characters. This allowed The Avengers to hit the ground running and apart from the first 30 minutes, it was firing on all cylinders.
Yes, I am fully aware of my bias towards The Avengers. I also aware of the various plot holes. My favorite one is the one I refer to as staff-ex-machina for obvious reason. However none of them detract from how much I enjoyed the movie. It is exactly what I think a summer blockbuster should be, that is a blend of action and drama, sprinkled with comedy and poured over a strong arc with hints of mystery and intrigue.
Now that Marvel had assembled earth’s mightiest heroes, they need something to do. What did Marvel do? They decided to introduce the general to public to the Infinity War by teasing the mad titan, Thanos. I, like most Marvel fans, began bouncing off the walls of the thought of seeing the Infinity War brought to life with the same, if not better, care and attention Phase One had gotten.