Marvel Cinematic Universe Rewatch – Phase 2

This is the second installment of my Marvel Cinematic Universe Rewatch which will take a look back at the MCU movies released between 2008 and 2012, usually referred to as Phase 2.

Wait, what is this about? Check out the intro post here.

Check out the Phase 1 post here.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

The Good:

  • Tony having PTSD from New York was a great addition to his character. I think any time you can showcase mental illness in a movie or TV show in an honest way and show that it can affect anyone, even Tony Stark, you make the conversations about mental illness that much easier to have.
  • I really like Tony building dozens of the suits as a way to deal with his PTSD and his experience of New York from The Avengers.
  • The kid humanized Stark – a lot of people didn’t like him, but I felt this was a fun addition without the Cousin Oliver effect.
  • Getting Tony out of the suit having to figure things out for himself without his tech was a welcomed change. It showed Tony being Tony.

The Bad:

  • The Mandarin reveal – Five years later and I’m still upset that we didn’t get the real Mandarin. I know this character is problematic because of horrible racist overtones from the older comics but there was definitely a way to do this in a way that modernized the character and not insult a huge region of people.
  • On that topic, I really wish they played more into the Ten Rings group that Mandarin leads and which was featured in the first Iron Man move.
  • Not a slight on IM3, but Marvel really didn’t do anything further with A.I.M. after this movie which is a big organization in the comics.
  • The Iron Patriot paint job. ‘Nuff said.
  • I really wished Tony made a proper suit for Pepper (Rescue) instead of her wearing one of the Iron Man suits.
  • The Mark 42 suit was easiest the ugliest suits of any of the main suits.
  • Tony destroying the suits was the most un-Tony like action in any of the movies, and it was an empty gesture – especially as someone watching the movie because you knew there would be more movies with Iron Man in them.

Overall Thoughts:

I definitely like this movie, though it does rank in the bottom of half of all MCU movies, but above Iron Man 2.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

The Good:

  • Thor and Loki’s relationship – Hemsworth and Hiddleston have great chemistry.
  • Darcy is still fun – definitely one of the best side characters in the MCU.
  • Thor riding the train may the moment that makes me laugh the most in all of the MCU.

The Bad:

  • Natalie Portman is only a vessel for the aether. Much like the first movie, she’s not given much to do.
  • This movie is more of a device to movie the overarching Infinity Stone story arc forward instead of a Thor movie.

Overall Thoughts:

There’s not much else to add. While entertaining this is definitely at the bottom of the MCU movie list.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

The Good:

  • Anthony Mackey was a great addition to the cast and gave Cap someone to bond with – someone from his world.
  • Steve catching up on what he missed over the last 70 years was really cool, and a fun callback to The Avengers where he “understood that reference”.
  • The Bucky reveal in the theater was awesome. I knew going in that the Winter Soldier was Bucky because I know the books. But when that mask came off and everyone in the theater realized it was Bucky? That was cool to experience other people experiencing it.
  • Embedding Hydra into SHIELD was great but like most things, I wish it was threaded through other movies (see more on this in the Ultron write up below).
  • Classic Steve good guy stance. Neutralizing threats before they happen came up and caused Civil War 2
  • Robert Redford was so good in this movie to no one’s surprise.
  • The “theme” for Winter Soldier character is the best villain theme since Joke in The Dark Knight.
  • The elevator fight scene was so bad ass. So many people in that tight space – great choreography.
  • Bringing back Garry Shandling was a joy. He’s so fun to watch in anything he does.

The Bad:

  • In the previous movies Nick Fury was always the guy in charge. In this movie I felt like they weakened him, much like Darth Vader was when the Emperor was introduced, or the Morpheus and elders in the Matrix sequels.
  • The council was the worst part of Avengers, and they got too much screen time here.
  • They kept teasing this weird love story between Cap and Nat and it was so bad. It definitely didn’t need to be in the movie.
  • The senate hearing at the end was so forced and felt tacked on. That scene could have been left out and the movie would have been fine.

Overall Thoughts:

This is my favorite MCU movie by far and probably the one I’ve watched the most. CA: TWS also was the first movie to break the mold of super hero movies and do a genre movie – the spy thriller. Very cool move, and we’d see more of this in future movies.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The Good:

  • The original Iron Man movie was a big risk because he was a B-level super hero at that point (at best) but he had some brand recognition. Guardians of the Galaxy, however, had even more risk since these were largely unknown characters. This bet did payoff in a huge huge way, and I feel like this gave Marvel “permission” to get real weird.
  • This movie had an amazing soundtrack and it’s really the only MCU movie to this point or since where you remember the music. GotG2 continued this, but the first soundtrack was stellar.
  • Speaking of the music, the opening title scene and dancing set the perfect tone for the movie.
  • This was our first good look at Thanos in the MCU, and in the actual movie, not a cut scene.
  • I mentioned this in The Avengers review but the group emphasized saving people in final battle. This is how heroes behave (unlike the heroes in DC movies).
  • Groot. That’s it.
  • Probably the most jokey MCU movie yet which would pave the way for Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Dave Bautista was a breakout star in this movie. He was so good, and would continue to grow in these movies.
  • Howard the Duck is MCU cannon.

The Bad:

  • Lee Pace was great as Ronan, but not given much back story. Typical MCU villain. Hopefully he’s more fleshed our in Captain Marvel.
  • Why does Ronan’s thugs know where the stone is but never get it before Quill shows up?

Overall Thoughts:

15 minutes into the movie Ali asked me why she was crying in a movie with a talking raccoon and tree.

Like CA: TWS this was a bit of a departure – GotG is a full on space opera and fits along side other space/sci-fi movies. If there was no such thing as super hero movies or the MCU this movie could still exist, though it may not have had the audience or massive success.

For better or worse this movie influenced the books like no other MCU movie other than maybe Iron Man. The group in the movie had much different personalities than they did in the comics, and those personalities seeped into the comics. If you liked the movies, that was good. If you liked the characters as they were, then you may not be happy.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The Good:

  • Banter of opening fight – The Avengers had grown from a group of people who were throw together into a true team between movies.
  • James Spader was sooo good. His performance is one of the brightest spots of this movie.
  • The Hulkbuster/Hulk fight makes me giddy. It was my favorite part of all of the trailers and remains my favorite part of the movie. It fills me with such childhood glee.
  • It’s okay that Quicksilver died. Scarlet Witch is a much better character (and Olsen is a much better actress)

The Bad:

  • Ultron wasn’t portrayed as the threat he really should was.
  • This movie was a standard “kill all humans” AI story – that’s been told a hundred times – but in the MCU.
  • The Nat/Bruce “love” story was bad. I hated this arc throughout the movie and when it popped up in Ragnarok and Infinity War.
  • All throughout the movie they foreshadowed that Clint was going to die, and it was such a bait and switch and felt cheap. I had a feeling going in someone was going to die, and they beat you over the head for the whole movie that it would be him.
  • After J.A.R.V.I.S. downloads into Vision, Tony needed a new artificial intelligent system for his suit. FRIDAY not the best AI and any actor/actress would have a tough act to follow after Paul Bettany.

Overall Thoughts:

Marvel has been slowly building up to Thanos, who definitely deserves the hype, but so does Ultron. In the movie they got to Ultron super fast without a lot of setup. There was no cut scene at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, they could have had a short scene of Banner and Stark working in a lab talking about AI, showing that it was something they were interested in, or trying to create. They already had a name for it (Ultron protocol) so clearly it was talked about off screen.

Ultimately Ultron should have been threaded through more MCU movies and possibly even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to really showcase the threat he was, because as it stands now Avengers: Age of Ultron was just a pit stop along the journey to Infinity War that introduced two new Avengers and an Infinity Stone.

Ant-Man (2015)

The Good:

  • The movie starts off with a S.H.I.E.L.D. flashback where they digitally de-aged Michael Douglas and it looked so good. Marvel will go back to this well several more times (Tony at the start of Civil War), Kurt Douglas in GotG 2), and will be de-aging Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg for the entirety of the upcoming Captain Marvel movie.
  • Michael Peña literally steals every scene he is in. Kurt and Dave are also incredibly fun.
  • Like GotG and CA: WS this is a genre movie, and brings the super heroes into a heist movie. It really works well.
  • I love Scott’s daughter. She’s a young actress (7 at the time) and was better than you’d expect a 7-year-old to be.
  • Paul Rudd is a treasure in everything that he is in. And now he’s a superhero.
  • The Thomas the Train fight was so much fun. You could only do this in a movie like Ant-Man and it not be ridiculous.

The Bad:

  • I think they wrote Hope totally wrong. Evangeline Lilly did well with what she was given, but the writers did that character no favors.
  • Cross is another poorly developed villain. Nothing else much to say there.

Overall Thoughts:

Ant-Man is a fun movie that works within the MCU, but not one that I feel needed to be made. I’m glad we have it, but as far as important characters go, Ant-Man would be on the bottom of the list for me, even though Ant-Man (Hank Pym) and the Wasp (Janet van Dyne) in the comics are founding members of The Avengers (Captain America is not a founding member).

Hi, I'm Mike. I'm From the Internet.