A while back I planned to work my way through all of the entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in preparation for Avengers: Endgame (in UK cinemas April 25th). Despite having plenty of time for a leisurely re-watch…
…it simply never happened.
So, with less than a month to go until Endgame opens in cinemas, I decided to cram all 21 MCU movies as quickly as possible (taking into account ‘life’ getting in the way). From Iron Man to Captain Marvel I re-watched all the films over the course of a 19 day period.
I kept a record as I went along.
Iron Man (2008)
I’ve not watched this film in years. It gets shown on TV a lot, but I don’t tend to revisit it much any more.
Initial observations: Gritty. It’s clear this movie was produced post-Batman Begins (2005) and released the same year as The Dark Knight (2008).
Secondary observations: Terrance Howard. Jarvis. Yinsen. Coulson. Nick Fury.
Conclusion: A fantastic opener, a million miles away from the tosh that Marvel was once associated with (Howard the Duck, Generation X etc). This is Marvel doing things the way it always should have done.
Straight onto the next movie…
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
It’s been a while since I’ve watched this film too (despite it being in regular rotation on ITV2).
Initial observations: At times this movie feels like a soft reboot to 2003’s Hulk (which it was) and is clearly influenced by The Incredible Hulk TV show (which it also was).
Secondary observations: Reduces origin to an opening credit scene (a huge plus point for this). Edward Norton. Tony Stark. Betty Ross. Super soldier serum. Yeah, there’s some good stuff here!
Conclusion: The final act turns into a crazy CGI-fest, but I do really like this movie and I like Edward Norton as Banner. Shame we never got a sequel.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Until now I’ve only ever watched this movie all the way through once. Take from that what you will.
Initial observations: Slower than the original, with more emphasis on setting up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Too much emphasis.
Secondary observations: Mickey Rourke. Black Widow. The Grand Prix sequence. Sam Rockwell’s very (very) tanned hands. Coulson and Nick Fury!
Conclusion: Enjoyable moments, but at times it’s all a bit too self indulgent. The story just isn’t quite there.
I didn’t have time to watch a movie yesterday, but today it’s time for…
This is the movie which had the hardest sell out of all the initial pre-Avengers films.
A significant change in tone from the Iron Man movies and even The Incredible Hulk. At times Thor is full-on fantasy, at other times it’s sci-fi, but it works very well whatever it is doing.
Secondary observations: Frost giants. The Destroyer. Thor’s very blond hair (and eyebrows). A reference to the Hulk. More Coulson and Nick Fury. The Tesseract. Loki!
Conclusion: A fantasy tale that transforms Hemsworth into a star. The MCU is developing and this time it is handled much better.
Lots of films today…
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
I wasn’t a huge fan of this movie on my first viewing. However, I did like Chris Evans as Steve Rogers. Let’s see how I feel about it now.
Initial observations: I’m liking this a lot more on this viewing.
Secondary observations: The Tesseract. Agent Carter. Bucky. Hydra. Red Skull. Young Howard Stark. Nick Fury.
Conclusion: Much better this time around – I really like it! As with Thor, mystical/fantastical ideas are being explained away as ‘science’, which helps gloss over the comic book elements.
The MCU feels like it’s starting to take shape and it’s thanks to the tonal shift seen in this movie and Thor. I always felt like Captain America: The First Avenger was the slight weak link on the road to The Avengers, but it’s actually not, Iron Man 2 is – Cap is a great movie!
The Avengers (2012)
It’s the big one – The Avengers (or if you live in the UK, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble).
Initial observations: Having established the heroes through solo adventures, The Avengers feels like it has earned its status as an ‘event’ movie.
Secondary observations: Cap vs. Loki. Maria Hill. Mark Ruffalo. Coulson’s ‘death’. “We have a Hulk.” Thanos. Shawarma.
Conclusion: A great team-up movie with some strong performances from all the primary cast members (especially Tom Hiddelston). The film is a bit talky at times, but the final act is superb and there’s no denying this is a standout picture. Oh, and the Hulk is the star!
Another film for today…
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The first post-Avengers movie, so it’s back to solo Iron Man territory. I’ve only watched this movie once, but I remember liking it.
Initial observations: Iron Man 3 has a different vibe to Iron Man/Iron Man 2 – it’s effectively an ‘80s action movie.
Secondary observations: Happy Hogan’s ‘90s haircut. PTSD. Christmas. Trevor Slattery. Many, many suits of Iron Man armour. Stunts! Pepper Potts kicking ass. Bruce Banner. It’s all good.
This movie sets up an exit for Robert Downey JR… but he doesn’t take it.
Conclusion: A more stripped back tale than the hero heavy Avengers, with a focus on Tony Stark rather than Iron Man. It’s Marvel does Lethal Weapon. I like it!
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
I’ve only watched this movie once before. I’m aware it’s not a fan-favourite.
Initial observations: More of a sci-fi/fantasy mix than Thor.
Secondary observations: Naked Stellan Skarsgård. Jane Foster on Asgard. Frigga’s funeral. Loki. Captain America cameo. The Collector. Infinity Stones.
Conclusion: Looks great (with some creepy looking elves) and the cast are fine, but as with Iron Man 2 the story isn’t strong enough. It’s a snooze-fest.
Onto the next film…
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
This is one of my favourite entries in the MCU.
Initial observations: Action-packed from the get-go. I love this film.
Secondary observations: The Falcon. Batroc the Leaper. “Last time I trusted someone, I lost an eye.” The Winter Soldier. Agent 13. Alexander Pierce. A reference to Stephen Strange. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
Conclusion: Marvel switches genres again, effortlessly moving from sci-fi/fantasy to ‘70s-inspired political thriller. It’s a great move and a great movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Another favourite! I’ve watched Guardians of the Galaxy more than any other Marvel Studios movie.
Initial observations: After nine movies that all feel connected, this is the first entry that seems to be doing its own thing.
Secondary observations: The soundtrack. The humour. Drax. Rocket. 2We are Groot.” Star-Lord’s distraction. Dancing Groot. Howard the Duck. This movie is a blast from start to finish.
Conclusion: Easily my favourite of all the Marvel Studios movies. Perfect casting, lovable characters, a killer soundtrack. A heck of a lot of fun.
Life got in the way, so it’s been a few days since I watched a movie. Time to crack on with the second ‘big’ entry.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
I wasn’t a huge fan of this movie when it was released. Let’s see if my opinion has changed.
Initial observations: The character development/interactions are good, but there’s a bit too much going on.
Secondary observations: The Hulk and Black Widow. “He’s fast and she’s weird.” Scarlet Witch’s bizarre accent. Ulysses Klaue. Peggy Carter. Heimdall. Hulkbuster Iron Man. Excessive property damage. Hawkeye’s family. Linda Cardellini. The Red Room. Nick Fury. Erik Selvig. Vision. Thanos. I feel exhausted.
Age of Ultron serves up another possible exit for Robert Downey JR…. but once again, he doesn’t take it.
Conclusion: The first Avengers movie felt like it was earned, whereas this one feels like it just happens. It’s not bad, but it is slow and spends too much time setting up future movies (Black Panther, Civil War, Ragnarok, Infinity War).
Another film to round off the day…
This is a favourite.
Initial observations: A heist movie that adds a new dimension to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Secondary observations: De-aged Michael Douglas. Peggy Carter. Pym Particles. “Just get on the damn ant, Scott.” Classic Ant-Man and the Wasp. Falcon. Thomas the Tank Engine. The Quantum Realm. A Spider-Man reference.
Conclusion: Fun and humorous, with a return to small scale adventures. A breath of fresh air following Age of Ultron.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Initial observations: A Captain America movie AND an Avengers movie all rolled into one. Civil War is effectively Avengers 2.5.
Secondary observations: Scarlet Witch’s accent. De-aged Robert Downey JR. William Hurt. Black Panther. Everett Ross. Peter Parker. Aunt May. “Underoos”. Zemo. “Are you Tony… Stank?”
Conclusion: Another great entry in the MCU and a fantastic way to introduce Black Panther and Spider-Man. The airport battle is superb and Zemo is a good villain.
Doctor Strange (2016)
I loved Doctor Strange the first time I watched it, yet found it slow on my second viewing. I wonder how it will be on this viewing?
Initial observations: Marvel takes another step forward with its visual creativity.
Secondary observations: Mads Mikkelsen. The Ancient One. The Multiverse. Wong. Dormammu. Time loop.
Conclusion: The film is still a little slow in places, but I do really like it. The visual effects are fantastic and I’m really interested to see where Marvel goes with the Multiverse.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
I loved this upon release, but have not watched it since. I’m really looking forward to revisiting this movie. Was it really released two years ago?!
Initial observations: A sequel that understands what made the original fun and then cranks things up a notch.
Secondary observations: De-aged Kurt Russell. Mr. Blue Sky. Howard the Duck. Sylvester Stallone. Taserface. David Hasselhoff. The Watchers. “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all.” Pac-Man. Adam Warlock.
Conclusion: Great stuff! Doesn’t quite have the same re-watch value of the original Guardians, but it’s still a great movie.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Another movie that I’ve only watched once before. This is perhaps the curse of Marvel’s release schedule – I don’t have time to go back and re-watch the movies as often as I would like.
Initial observations: A Spider-Man movie that slots into the MCU perfectly. Yay!
Secondary observations: Damage Control. The Spider-Man theme tune. Tony Stark. Happy Hogan. MJ. The Shocker. Karen. Captain America. Donald Glover. Gwyneth Paltrow. There is a lot going on in this film, but it never loses it’s focus on Peter Parker.
Conclusion: Marvel Studios reignites the Spider-Man movie series by sidestepping the origin and focusing on the teen comedy angle. Spidey meets John Hughes.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
I can’t wait to re-watch this movie!
Initial observations: Comedy. ‘80s vibe. An unrestrained Chris Hemsworth. What’s not to love?
Secondary observations: Heavy metal. Matt Damon. Sam Neill. Loki. 177a Bleeker Street. Hela. Valkyrie. Pure Imagination. Jeff Goldblum. Korg and Miek. Hulk. The Revengers.
Conclusion: Thor actor, Chris Hemsworth gets to let loose and demonstrate his comedic skills in easily one of the best Marvel movies EVER. Ragnarok is hilarious from start to finish and stands up to repeat viewings. Fantastic.
Black Panther (2018)
Marvel hits its stride here – perfecting some of its weaknesses and playing to its strengths.
Initial observations: Marvel meets Bond.
Secondary observations: Shuri. Killmonger. Okoye. This is so good.
Conclusion: A fantastic action movie, with a likeable cast. Black Panther is superb and boasts the best MCU movie villain in Erik Killmonger.
I didn’t have time to watch an MCU movie yesterday… but I do today and it’s a good one!
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
A film that brings together a decade’s worth of characters should not be this good – but it is!
Initial observations: This feels like the beginning of the end.
Secondary observations: The Black Order. Loki. Scarlet Witch’s accent (do accents really change this much?). Cap’s beard. Drax’s invisibility. 14,000,605 possible outcomes. Red Skull. “Evacuate the city. Engage all defences. And get this man a shield.” Thor’s arrival in Wakanda. “We’re in the endgame now.” ‘The Snap’. Spidey’s death.
Conclusion: Fantastic. Simply fantastic! The movie juggles so many characters yet doesn’t drop the ball. Sure there are a couple of plot holes, but the sheer magnitude of this picture glosses over any issues. A milestone in cinema which stands up to multiple viewings.
Time for another movie…
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
A palette cleanser on the road to Endgame. I thought this was enjoyable enough the first time around, but will it stand up to a second viewing.
Initial observations: It’s back to a small-scale tale that has nothing to do with Infinity War.
Secondary observations: Michelle Pfeiffer. Kitchen fight. Ghost. Bill Foster. Hello Kitty Pez. Quantum Realm.
Conclusion: A fun, yet slight adventure movie. It feels kind of non-eventful in the grand scheme of things, yet there’s a lot to like in this film. Just about stands up to a second viewing, but it’s not as good as Ant-Man.
Almost at the end… but it’s not over yet.
I’ve had to go back to the cinema for this one.
Captain Marvel (2019)
Initial observations: Still feels slow on second viewing.
Secondary observations: Thank you Stan. Skrulls. ’90s. Blockbuster. De-aged Samuel L. Jackson. Coulson. Goose. Just a Girl. The Avenger Initiative.
Conclusion: A fairly slow movie, but there’s a lot to like. While I don’t think this is a great film, Captain Marvel feels like an empowering character – and one who is going to kick Thanos’s ass!
And that’s it. I’ve managed to get through all 21 movies, with plenty of time to spare.
My favourites were Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther and Infinity War. That said, I’ve enjoyed re-watching all of the movies.
While some of the films are not quite as strong as others, there’s no denying that each entry is at the very least entertaining. Yep, even Thor 2 has it’s moments (even if it did nearly put me to sleep).
What Marvel Studios has achieved with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is simply incredible. No other studio has ever managed to maintain this consistency – that’s in terms of quality and release schedule – and no studio has made me this excited about seeing the next entry in a movie series.
Roll on Endgame – I need to see how this all plays out.
Whatever the future holds post-Endgame, Marvel Studios deserves its success right now. The studio has taken a formula that has worked so well in the comics and has applied this to the big screen in a way that no one could have predicted.
Since publishing this post, I have now watched Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. If you would like to know my thoughts on both of these films, then I highly recommend you take a look at my Endgame review and my Spider-Man: Far From Home review.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I had a blast working my way through all of the movies – this cinematic universe truly is something special.
For more Marvel-related posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below. Nuff said.
- What is X-Men: Fear the Beast?
- How much money did Avengers: Endgame make?
- Steve Ditko’s best Amazing Spider-Man covers