Monday, 20 August 2018

The Marvellous Marvel Marathon

Ooh, we thought, do you know what would be a really, really cool thing to do this summer?

No, we said, what would be a cool thing to do?

Well, we said, first off let's stop talking to ourselves in this really creepy way because people will think we've finally gone nuts.

Then, when we've done that, let's watch all of the Marvel films that have come out in order.

This, we agreed with ourselves before stopping this nonsense, was a cracking idea.

And what made it even better was finding a list that put the films in the correct MCU timeline order.

Now, it should be noted that this is an updated list. The one we found didn't list the TV shows as well, but that gives us something to do next summer when we won't have a World Cup getting in the way of important film geekery goodness...

But that's for another year. For now, we're just doing the movies. Starting with...

Captain America

First, obvs, because he was the first Avenger and all this kicked off with that little spat with Germany that the Americans like to take credit for. The film is every bit as much fun as we remembered, light, frothy, but with cracking action scenes and Haley Atwell as the brilliant Agent Carter. Chris Evans nailed this part from the off, and Red Skull is every bit as bonkers evil as the books made him. 8/10.

Iron Man

Do you realise this film came out 10 years ago? Seems like only yesterday. Or at least a few weeks ago. But then, for us, that'll be because we've only just rewatched it. And it stands up to the test of time. Robert Downey Jnr nailed this role from the get-go, and while the final act was a tad tedious at the time, watching it again it's actually a lot better than we remember. Helps that Jeff Bridges is clearly having a blast. There are loads of cool extras on this one too. 8/10.

The Incredible Hulk

It helps a lot, watching the films in this order, because you've had a couple of crackers before this turkey crash lands and ruins the whole vibe. The first time we tried to watch it we barely made it half way through, the second attempt a couple of years later wasn't any more successful, so this third bash was tough. Now, granted, it's not actually as bad as we remembered, the problems with this film don't improve over time. For a start, Ed Norton is no Banner. Secondly, Liv Tyler's Betty Ross is supposed to be Banner's all time love, and yet there's so little chemistry on screen they should have scrapped the story line all together. Tim Roth and William Hurt are both good value as the bad guys, but the whole thing is leaden, one-paced and dull as all hell. And to make matters worse, Joss Whedon came along and showed us all how Hulk should be done, rendering this film entirely moot. 3/10.

Iron Man 2

It's at this point you realise we're actually quite lucky that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU to those in the know) survived these two releases. While not Incredible Hulk bad, this is not the film it could have been. Casting Mickey Rourke as Whiplash was a fine idea, but whoever agreed to set an entire action sequence in Monaco was an idiot. At the time we thought the whole film was a bust, but going back over it now we realise that two thirds of this movie are really good, and Sam Rockwell is great as Hammer (and no one noticed that Don Cheadle was now Rodey, honest). It's the car racing crap that throws this film out of whack. It slows things down, it's a tonal shift in the wrong direction and there were going to be a million better ways to get Whiplash from A (frozen wastes of Russia) to B (where he needed to be for the story) without using this ridiculous device. The extras on the DVD make for interesting viewing too, as no one mentions the lack of Terence Howard and Rourke (a major star again at this point) is conspicuous by his absence. 5/10.


By now the Marvel machine is really starting to pick up the pace, so it came as quite a shock to hear that Lord Kenneth Of Brannagh was directing the Asgardian's debut outing. But when you sit down and watch it, it all makes sense. There's the Norse flavours, the Shakespearian overtones and some fine comic touches, and in the middle of it all Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are playing roles seemingly made just for them. This is as good now as it was then, and while it may be mildly batshit in places... have you read the books? 7/10.

The Avengers

And so we get to the first milestone event in the MCU, and in many ways in the wider cinematic world, as Marvel attempts to create a movie with an ensemble cast so laden with heavyweight stars it should never have been able to take off. And yet take off it did, breaking box office records as it went and giving is The Hulk we'd always dreamed of. And what made it so popular? Basically, the fact it has absolutely everything. The pacing is right, the action is right, the CGI is so good it just blends in with everything else and the laughs still make us guffaw every time we watch it. This is a film with real heart, real passion and a total understanding of what it was trying to achieve. At the time it was pretty much a 10/10 film, but this year that bar got raised... 9/10.

Iron Man 3

So how does Marvel set about following up on it's first major showpiece event? Why, by giving us a Christmas film of course. And not just any Christmas film, oh no, this is one of the all-time classics, up there with The Muppets. It's also the first time Marvel have woven the fabric of previous films into following ones, in this case with Tony Stark suffering PTSD following the destruction of New York and him flying all the way up there in to space n stuff. But this isn't a harsh, stark (no pun intended), downbeat movie. Oh no. Stark befriends a small boy, giving us some great humour to offset all the bad stuff happening, and in The Mandarin one of the best villains they have ever created (and possibly one of Sir Ben Kingsley's finest roles). we also find out The Mandarin is a Liverpool fan. Which is nice. 9/10.

Thor: The Dark World

As the MCU gears itself up for the next big event, it's time to pop back to Asgard and see how things are going there. Last time was fun, wasn't it? So this time should be a hoot too... Or not. Sitting in the cinema, we remember enjoying bits of this movie but essentially being a bit bored. And so we can't say we were looking forward to repeating the experience. But d'ya know what, folks? It's actually really good. Yes, sure, the dark elves story line is nuts and the team didn't really do their research of the London Underground, but small gripes aside this is a tasty little tale. It's dark, it's tragic, it's really funny in places and a lot shorter than it felt on the big screen. This may get watched again willingly.... (You may have noticed that references to the DVD/BluRay extras seem to have all but disappeared — that'll be because Marvel stopped putting any effort in. Seriously, it's got to the stage where you get one or two seven-minute featurettes and a trailer or two if you're lucky. Which is hard enough to swallow, but when you have to put in a second disc for the sake of 15 minutes of "entertainment" you really do wonder why they bothered). 7/10.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

How is it even remotely possible to forget just how good this film is? I mean, we knew it was good, but holy mother even on the umpteenth rewatch we found ourselves holding our breath for most of the film. And this is the one that feels like the game changer. Not yer standard super hero flick, this one (helped in no small part by the casting of that up-and-coming youngster Robert Redford — keep an eye out, he's gonna be a star one day, trust us) is a full-on political thriller. Yes, stuff blows up, yes a man has some kind of jet pack/wings combo, but both of those are really secondary to the plot as Fury is taken out and Cap and Black Widow have to go on the run. This is the film that raised the bar the first time (before the buggers raised it again this year) and it remains a modern classic. Oh, and extras? Yes, glad you asked. One deleted scene and two minutes on Cap's notebook. Nice one Marvel. Really pushed the boat out there. 10/10.

Guardians Of The Galaxy

Now this is where Marvel really started to have fun. Jokes come flying at you thick and fast, the music is a character all of its own and in Rocket and Groot two of our now favourite characters are introduced (and it's a measure of a quality of the film that the audience had so much of an emotional connection with CGI creations). The story rips along at a great pace and the action scenes are also up to scratch. Originally planned as throw-away summer stop-gap, as was the case with Ant-Man down the line, Guardians became a massive hit and embedded the five heroes in the MCU. This was the point where you realise the Marvel juggernaut was really picking up speed. The Blu-Ray extras are OK too, if you can get past the really annoying early-Nintendo stylings of the 'making of' feature, but the gag reel just adds further weight to the argument against their inclusion. Actors goofing around and having fun? Wow, not seen that before...

Next up, Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 (it says 'ere...) 

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