In conjunction with “Thor: Ragnarok”, I figured I’d do a Top 10 Marvel movie list. We live in an era where geeks are considered HOT (that is a lie I tell myself every day) and comic book movies are the epitome of pop culture. And at the centre of that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But Marvel movies go beyond just the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Blade”, anybody? At the Box Office, Marvel movies have grossed more than US$ 9.9 billion in North America, alone.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the Top 10 Marvel movies of all time. Just a reminder, I will not only be focusing on movies that are under the Marvel Cinematic Universe banner but all movies based on the Marvel comics.
10) Spider-Man: Homecoming
If it weren’t for scenes that tried too hard to be a typical superhero stuff, it would be higher up on this list. The parts that have Peter Parker without his suit are brilliant. The parts that have Spider-Man in his complete high tech costume are mediocre. The final action scene feels like a cop-out.
Tom Holland is my favourite Spider-Man. He truly embodies the Spider-Man that everyone knows and loves from the comic books. “Homecoming” is an awesome coming of age story about a young boy who wants to tango with the big boys AKA The Avengers, but learns that his true purpose is to protect the little guy. This movie asks the question, what will you do if you’re a teenager with superpowers? One of the best moments in the film happens at a party, as Peter Parker sits on the rooftop contemplating whether he should show-off in front of his peers or be the “better man.”
The chemistry between Peter Parker and Tony Stark is fantastic, and Iron Man does not overstay his welcome. “Homecoming” should have focused more on the man underneath the suit because that’s where things are interesting. The interaction between Tony and Peter that happens after Peter’s failed attempt at saving the Ferry is more interesting than the Ferry rescue scene itself. Peter’s interaction with Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) in his house and in the car, is more engrossing than their final action sequence.
“Homecoming” is a good movie that should have been great, had director Jon Watts not bothered about large action set pieces.
9) X-Men: First Class
“X-Men: First Class” may not be my favourite of the X-Men films, but it is perhaps the most important. It is important because it breathed life into a franchise that was spiraling into a shithole. After 2 good movies by Bryan Singer – “X-Men” and “X2” – the director decided to jump ship to DC and helm “Superman Returns”. The reigns of “X-Men” was left to Brett Ratner. Yeap, THE asshole Brett Ratner who clearly spent his time harassing women than learning how to make a movie properly. As expected, “X-Men: The Last Stand” turned out to be a giant misstep. Then came “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” which would give “Batman & Robin” a run for its worst comic book movie of all time, spot.
Then came Matthew Vaughn and “X-Men: First Class” and boy, did X-Men become cool again. Unlike the other X-Men films, “First Class” is a prequel that focuses on younger versions of Professor X, Magneto and Mystique, played by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence respectively. While Jennifer Lawrence is completely miscast, McAvoy and Fassbender are remarkable. Fassbender is a standout in particular, delivering a layered performance that allows us to understand why Magneto eventually becomes the extremist we know him to be. The scene in an Argentinian bar is something that I can watch over and over and over again because of how magnetic (pun definitely intended) Magneto is.
My biggest problem with “X-Men: First Class” is its continuity issues. Why does Beast invent Cerebro when it’s mentioned in “X-Men” and “X2” that it’s made by Professor X and Magneto? And if Mystique and Professor X have been friends since young, why do they not acknowledge each other in “X-Men” and “X2”?
I once explained “Deadpool” as such: If Quentin Tarantino, George Miller, and Edgar Wright had a threesome for eight hours and for whatever reason one of them gets pregnant, has a kid that grows up to be a supermodel and that supermodel masturbates on a rainbow, the mixture of the supermodel’s vaginal juices and the rainbow’s residue would be this “Deadpool” movie.
I stand by my statement. This movie is batshit crazy. It had no right to be made, but I’m glad Ryan Reynolds fought hard for it. This is the COOLEST comic book movie ever made. This movie is no story and all storytelling. It’s also extremely hilarious in the smartest of ways. The true heroes, as the opening credits of the movie indicate, are the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who previously penned “Zombieland”.
Interestingly enough, “Deadpool” is also one hell of a love story. The romance between Deadpool and Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is sincere. I genuinely believed that despite how flawed and crazy both of them are, they would die for each other.
“X2” is the first, really good comic book movie after the abomination that is “Batman & Robin”. Sure, “X-Men” set the groundwork in 2000, but it is its sequel, also directed by Bryan Singer that really made people slowly start to take comic book movies seriously.
“X2” opens in spectacular fashion, with the teleporting mutant, Nightcrawler infiltrating the White House. To this day, it is still one of the best comic book movie action sequences. The scene in the X-Mansion where Wolverine goes full berserker mode is also riveting.
But what makes “X2” truly standout is its commentary on LGBT. The X-Men comics have always been a metaphor for the oppressed, but in “X2” we got to witness it on the big screen. This was clearly a passion project for director Bryan Singer, who’s a homosexual himself. One of the more interesting scenes in the movie takes place in Bobby/Iceman’s house.
Now, switch the word mutant with the word gay.
6) Spider-Man 2
It’s hard to believe that the same guy who made this, also went on to make its shitty sequel. Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” is by far the best Spider-Man movie to date. Period. No competition. Toby Maguire may not be my favourite Spider-Man, but boy is this movie effing good.
Coming at a time where we weren’t getting 273 comic book movies a year, it’s surprising that Sony allowed Sam Raimi to make a movie like this. This movie is free of cheese, nods, and winks. It takes itself seriously, very seriously, and tells a story about a teenager with a ridiculous amount of burden to bear. “Spider-Man 2” is personal, just like a Spider-Man movie should be. While the movie is titled Spider-Man, the focus is on Peter Parker. Here Peter Parker realizes that he shouldn’t be in a relationship with Mary Jane, although it’s something he has wanted since he was a little boy, because he knows that being together with her would put her life in danger. Even his relationship with the villainous Doctor Octopus is fleshed out.
This is a superhero movie that transcends geekdom, one of the very few to do so.
5) The Avengers
Watching “The Avengers” on the big screen, for the first time, still remains one of my most memorable cinematic experiences. After laying the groundwork in films like “Iron Man”, “Thor”, “Hulk” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”, all eyes were on Joss Whedon to execute what many considered at that time to be the biggest film in the history of cinema. This was going to change the game forever, one way or another.
Whedon teased it out. Our favourite characters bickered and got into minor scuffles. It was fun and at times, even emotional – Loki murdering Phil Coulson. And then came the big moment. And it DID NOT DISAPPOINT. Every single second of the climactic battle sequence had me either go WTF or HOLY SHIT, before getting a heart-attack and dying on the spot, only to be brought back alive when my friend said, “Oi! I bought tickets for round 2 already.”
“That’s my secret Captain. I’m always angry.” *Orgasms*
4) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” propelled the Russo brothers to heights they probably never imagined reaching. Prior to this, Joe and Anthony Russo were known for working on many episodes of “The Community”. But even then, it was evident that these were filmmakers who were first and foremost geeks. And when they got the opportunity to work on “The Winter Soldier”, they did not disappoint.
“The Winter Soldier” is a comic book movie that played like an espionage thriller. The first Captain America movie was more light-hearted, fun and full of hope. “The Winter Soldier” is completely different. From almost killing off Nick Fury, to the end of S.H.I.E.L.D as we know it, “The Winter Soldier” does not mess around. This movie also reintroduces Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers’ childhood best friend who was thought to be dead. The friendship between Bucky and Captain is still one of the more interesting character arcs in the MCU and is explored even further in “Captain America: Winter Soldier.”
3) X-Men: Days of Future Past
I kept switching back and forth between “Days of Future Past” and – spoiler alert – “Logan” for my number 2/3 spot. Ultimately I placed “Logan” at number 2 for how ballsy it is.
“Days of Future Past” marks Bryan Singer’s triumphant return to the X-Men franchise. While Matthew Vaughn reinvigorated the franchise with “First Class”, Singer tied the best parts of X-Men together, while completely erasing the shitty movies. Goodbye “The Last Stand”, Sayonara “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”
Oh, this movie is a blast from start to finish. The cool action sequences take place in the future, where Fan Bing Bing, who plays Blink, steals the show despite not having a line of dialogue. The meat of the story takes place in the past, 10 years after the events of “First Class”. Surprisingly, this wasn’t just the Wolverine/Hugh Jackman story, but rather, an emotional and thrilling tale with well-written characters all around, and even better performances. Even Jennifer Lawrence who as mentioned before this, is totally miscast as Mystique, delivers a fine performance.
Surprisingly, it is Evan Peters as Quicksilver that goes on to steal the show, in a thoroughly enjoyable extremely comic book-y scene.
Just like “The Dark Knight” and “Deadpool” before it and “Wonder Woman” after it, “Logan” further proves that comic book movies aren’t necessarily a genre, but a form. “Logan” isn’t a film about a man with superpowers going up against a giant light beam in the sky. “Logan” is a western-drama about once strong, powerful men coming to terms with their old age. It is a great story about a father, grandfather and a daughter. This is a tale about kinship and the pain that comes with it.
Everybody dreams of becoming Wolverine; to have claws and be able to heal all wounds in an instant. “Logan” is a story that shows you the sufferings that come with it – when everyone you love is dead and gone and you’ve lost your cause for living. Everybody dreams of becoming Professor X; to be able to read and control minds. “Logan” deals with the repercussions of having the most powerful mind in the world when you’re at the age where you’re unable to control it.
1) Captain America: Civil War
This was an easy pick. “Captain America: Civil War” is hands down the best Marvel movie to date. It seems Disney-Marvel Studios have struck gold with the pairing of the Russo brothers (directors) and Markus & McFeely (Scriptwriters). “Captain America: Winter Soldier” was great, this is greater.
There are so many things that could’ve gone wrong in this movie, from juggling a large ensemble to making the disagreement between the members of The Avengers feel organic. Making everything look cool is one thing, making the whole thing meaningful and purposeful is another *cough* BVS *cough*.
While THE AIRPORT SEQUENCE has etched its name in the history books as one of the best comic book film action sequences, the thing that really sticks with me is how the Russo brothers make you flip-flop between supporting Captain America and Iron Man. The Russo brothers could’ve taken the easy route and made one the by proxy villain and the other, the clear hero, but they didn’t. They chose to challenge us and made a movie worth dissecting and debating. Ultimately, who you route for depends on your own moral compass and opinions on real-world politics.