We Live Entertainment’s Favorite and Least Favorite Marvel Films
With the upcoming release of Avengers: Infinity War the Marvel Universe is buzzing and here at We Live Entertainment, we are talking about our favorite and least favorite films of the Marvel World. These films are not limited to just the film created by Marvel under Disney but can include the ones produced by other studios.
Favorite: Doctor Strange
Picking my favorite MCU film is a bit tough. When push comes to shove, I would have to say, Doctor Strange. I enjoy the superhero films that don’t feel like superhero films. This is one of those films. Benedict Cumberbatch was a great choice, and the story was just a refreshing break from the standard superhero formula. It also has one of the more “out there” production designs. Definitely worth multiple watching.
Least Favorite: Iron Man 2
The MCU rarely has a misstep in my eyes but if there’s one film I REALLY didn’t care for… it’s Iron Man 2 (Thor is a close second for me). Iron Man is one of the strongest installments in the MCU, so it really bums me out that Iron Man 2 turned out to be a bland and rushed sequel. I’m not going to say I hated Iron Man 2 because it does have its good merits such as the action sequences being fun when it’s actually there, some funny moments, and a few interesting moments with Tony Stark but Whiplash was so one-note and forgettable as the main antagonist that it’s not even funny, most of the humor fell flat, there were so many scenes that felt rushed, the story was very disengaging, and the pacing really drags on and on. It’s not a bad film, but when I compare it to the other installments in the MCU, it’s just very underwhelming in my book. Definitely my least favorite Jon Favreau-directed film too but it’s not even his fault, I have to blame It on the studio for this one.
Favorite: Black Panther
It is actually hard to choose a Marvel movie that I like the best because there are so many. Even the ones I feel are a little less spectacular – films like Iron 2 or Captain America: The First Avenger – still have merit and can’t be completely slammed. But if I needed to choose a film right now I adored, it has to be Black Panther. Director Ryan Coogler infuses the film with such cool vibes and incredible visuals, from his Wakanda, a technologically advanced nation immersed in its African roots, to bringing to life some of the most kick-ass cinematic female warriors around. The action sequences thrill, per the norm, but the actors in Black Panther – Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o — all dig deeper than your usual superhero fare, forging real connections. The film also has one of the more complicated and grounded villains ever, with Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger. While clearly cut out of Marvel superhero cloth, Black Panther stands out in ways none of the other MCU movies ever have. It’s exciting and action-packed, but it’s also relevant and an important representation of how future filmmaking in this genre can progress.
Least Favorite: Spider-Man 3
As I said, it’s hard to completely dismiss any of the Marvel movies because they’ve each had their own merits, even movies like Daredevil and the Fantastic Four movies (although those probably are still considered the very worst). But I’m going to choose Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 as my least favorite. The 2002 Spider-Man helped set the tone for all the comic-book superhero movies that followed, and while its sequel Spider-Man 2 is awesome, the third installment just fell apart, thus ending that particular Spidey franchise. Some of my main complaints include the fact there are too many villains – Goblin, Venom, AND Sandman – creating too much unnecessary chaos and giving none of them any real chance to be effective – or make the movie in any way compelling. More importantly, though, by this time in the franchise, Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man had grown completely tiresome. His sad-sack interpretation of Parker finally got under my skin in Spider-Man 3, and I seriously just wanted to slap him for all his wishy-washy moments with Kirsten Dunst as Mary-Jane Parker. In contrast, I still love Andrew Garfield as Peter/Spidey the best and even though The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t a great movie, either, Garfield and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy completely make up for it.
Favorite: Captain America: Civil War
I’m sure my favorite MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) film will change and be Avengers: Infinity War once it comes smashing into theaters later this month. Until then, my favorite MCU film is Captain America: Civil War. It gives some of the best action sequences I’ve seen out of Marvel Studios, and it has some really great emotional character development. All the characters play a good role, and it’s not just your typical, “Hey, look who it is,” type of cameo. I also thought it was an interesting choice how the writers wanted to place Captain America in a very skeptical position to test Cap’s perspectives. It also offers one of the best villains I’ve seen with a clear motive and background story because Marvel is known for not having the best villains. Plus, this film introduced us to King T’Challa and our one and only wall-climbing web-head!
Least Favorite: Thor: Dark World
With Thor: Ragnarok being the third MCU film for Thor, it just now feels like Marvel has gotten the character right for the big screen. Thor: The Dark World works on building up the character and trying to make an exciting adventure. However, I find the characters to be far more interesting than the plot or anything that is going on in the film. Good chemistry between our main characters and we get a couple of tension and laughs. But I found the plot to be dull, and unlike Captain America: Civil War, watching this made me feel as if nothing was seriously at stake for our main character. After this film, it really felt like Marvel wanted reboot Thor with Thor: Ragnarok.
Favorite: Black Panther
When examining Black Panther you can’t help but appreciate the magic of each little piece of the puzzle, but when woven together form something that is beyond compare. Music, story, characters, set and costume design, all play an integral part in this film. While watching Black Panther, you know you’re watching a cosmic shift in comic book storytelling. We’ve never seen anything so vibrant and so different from the monotony of superhero films. We are entirely transported and transformed after seeing Black Panther. Ryan Coogler takes you on a journey that couldn’t even imagine possible. Its the film you didn’t know you were missing but once you’ve seen it, can’t imagine being without.
Least Favorite: Spider-Man: Homecoming
I know that I will get a lot of hate for this but Spider-Man: Homecoming is my least favorite Marvel film to date. Lackluster action, predictable storylines, mediocre characters, and juvenile humor make Spider-Man: Homecoming a failed attempt at bringing Spider-Man up to date. Tom Holland certainly has the chops to pull off Spider-Man but needs better writing and action scenes to back him up. The writers seemed too focused on mimicking a John Hughes style instead of focusing on the characters and story at hand.
Favorite: Guardians of the Galaxy
The switch into a more irreverent tone in the MCU by James Gunn with his merry band of misfits and with the Awesome Mix Vol 1 as a soundtrack that’s synonymous to the film makes Guardians of the Galaxy my favorite. It also features Zoe Saldana as one of the first women of color playing a superhero in the MCU in her role of the deadly Gamora and is totally one of the first characters in the universe that I could identify with. Everything from the introduction of this bunch of A-holes who save the world and start to redeem themselves as an outlaw space family to the bombastic and colorful world Gunn created with his team to give the MCU a Space Opera universe that paved the way for Thor: Ragnarok (and fingers crossed on Captain Marvel) is what makes this one my top pick. Also, the Awesome Mix Vol. 1 is the mixtape my husband and I share instead of just a song.
Least Favorite: Doctor Strange
Even Wong listening to Beyonce couldn’t save this film for me. Maybe it was basic origin story fatigue, one that we’ve seen time and time again in films like Batman Begins and Iron-Man that really did this one in. While I was excited for Scott Derrickson to take the helm and go to some dark and potentially scary places here, this one played it really by the numbers delivering a film that just didn’t do it for me and had some problematic casting choices with the Ancient One. The pacing of the action and humor didn’t land or showcase the strengths of the director I had hoped would shine through here.
Undoubtedly, The Avengers made an impact on the MCU and the superhero genre as the whole in 2012, bringing together a fantasy line-up one could only dream of. Four years later, Captain America; Civil War had no problems shattering glass ceilings once more. Basically ‘Avengers 2.5,’ Civil War forced audiences to take sides between Team Cap and Team Iron Man as our favorite superheroes squared off against one another. Civil War made the events of ‘Age of Ultron’ actually matter as well as set the course for the rest of Phase Three. Plus, Black Panther and Spider-Man were quickly welcomed into the MCU in the midst of the superhero dispute. It’s not as grounded as say ‘Winter Soldier’ was, but still a thrill ride that’s hard to beat. Cue the airport sequence.
Least Favorite: Iron Man 2
While there’s no bad MCU movie, in my opinion, Iron Man 2 sits at the bottom of the barrel. For a solid eight years, Iron Man was my favorite MCU movie until Civil War. When Iron Man 2 came out, it felt like the sophomore slump – a placeholder keep us satisfied until The Avengers. Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell are both fine actors, but forgettable within the MCU. Even Robert Downey Jr.’s not as fun as the first time around, especially when it comes to that infamous birthday scene. At least we were introduced to Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow for the first time. Other than that, it was the start of a series of weak sequels for the MCU.
Jon Favreau’s Iron Man was one hell of a way to kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man was one of the best casting decisions in superhero film history. Downey Jr completely embraced the role and the source material. Some critics have even argued that Downey Jr. isn’t even acting when he plays Tony Stark. Iron Man was an origins story that felt fresh and new. The plot dealt with terrorism and weapon trafficking which was incredibly relevant to what was happening in the world at the time of the film’s release and still in many ways is relevant to what is going on today. While Jeff Bridges was probably the weakest link as Obadiah Stane, especially in the third act, I would still argue that he was one of the most well-rounded Marvel villains. I like that the story built him up as a character and gave the audience some backstory as to why he turned evil. I guess I should also take a moment to mention that I was incredibly disappointed when Don Cheadle replaced Terrance Howard as James Rhodes. I liked what Howard brought to the role and felt like he gave the character a lot more edge than Cheadle did. I remember seeing Iron Man in theaters and being blown away by the visual effects. Favreau, who has since gone on to direct several other films that have pushed the boundaries for visual technology, really embraced technology with this project which made watching Iron Man feel like a visual experience unlike any other before it. What Favreau was also good at doing was balancing the visuals with character development, substance, and story. When we first see Tony Stark put on the Iron Man suit, it feels like such an epic moment. Audiences watched Stark transform into this high-tech kick ass machine. For all these reasons combined is why I still think that Iron Man is one of the best films, if not the best, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Least Favorite: Thor
The bar set by Iron Man was not an easy one to top especially during phase one of the MCU. The Incredible Hulk didn’t do much to wow audiences, and Iron Man 2 is commonly referred to as the worst film in the MCU. While I would agree that Iron Man 2 is a bad film, I do believe that Kenneth Branagh’s Thor is just as bad, if not, slightly worse. Thor as a character was one of the lesser known Avengers, but considering the part he has played in the MCU, I guess it now makes sense why he has had a total of three standalone movies. When I watched Thor for the first time, I honestly couldn’t believe that Paramount spent so much money on a film that not only looked incredibly fake but featured so many horrible performances. I remember laughing when I first saw Chris Hemsworth in this role because he’s performance felt so forced. Please don’t even get me started on Sir Anthony Hopkins whose performance was cringe-worthy at best. In my humble opinion, the only good thing to come out of Thor was Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki. Hiddleston was the only actor in the film that seemed to be trying and gave me a reason to care. Loki was entertaining, comedic, and memorable. I was invested in his character but honestly couldn’t care less about anything else happening on-screen. I guess I should also point out that Thor: The Dark World wasn’t much better.
Favorite: Guardians of the Galaxy
Deciding on a favorite film in a series that has been remarkably consistent can be tough. There are definite highs and lows, but even when you get to the cream of the crop of the MCU, it’s practically splitting hairs. That said, I’m the loon that prefers Age of Ultron to the first Avengers and finds Iron Man 2 to be entirely enjoyable, even if it’s not up to par with other MCU favorites. As a favorite, I’m almost inclined to say Black Panther, thanks to the movie’s work at fitting in with the rest of the series and offering up more in the way of thematic resonance. I could even go for Captain America: The First Avenger, a film I’ve championed since its initial release. However, it’s truly the underdog bet of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that continues to sit up top for me. Guardians of the Galaxy went from being an obscure comic series to having their own theme park ride. James Gunn’s impressive space opera managed to fit right into the MCU and leave a considerable mark thanks to fantastic casting, a sharp script, a damn good soundtrack, and a level of heart that made us all care for this group of a-holes. While the sequel attempted to double down on what was enjoyed by many while delivering an incredible visual experience (and a superior soundtrack), it just wasn’t the same as the introduction to Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Racoon and Groot. Even with one of the weakest Marvel villains (sorry Lee Pace), the film excels at providing sci-fi fun, memorable characters and lines of dialogue, engaging setpieces, and a sarcastic tone that gave the MCU a shot in the arm. There’s a reason we’ve seen so much more cosmic elements in the MCU since Guardians, and it’s because this was a film that opened up the series to so many more creative and colorful ideas. Plus, it’s so much fun to watch.
Least Favorite: The Incredible Hulk
Given how I enjoy even the weakest of the MCU films, it came down to choosing one or the other for this pick. Sure, I find there to be very little weight to the first Ant-Man film, though it gave me some interesting visuals I could get behind (and the sequel looks to promise much more of that element). And while I already shared my love for Age of Ultron, the other MCU film that seems to get a lot of debate amongst fans, Iron Man 3, is one I haven’t warmed to overall, despite being a film by the wonderful Shane Black, of all people. I have a real soft spot for the first Thor, as it works better than it should, despite the stakes being the safety of a two-road town in New Mexico. However, as time has gone on, it has become clear how plain Thor: The Dark World truly is. It’s a film that, while entertaining for its characters, seems to be devoid of much cinematic personality, fitting the (unfair) claim of most MCU films being more of an assembly line product. All that said, I guess I have to put the winner(?) of this title to The Incredible Hulk. Despite the best efforts by Edward Norton to make a worthy film (efforts so strong they got him effectively kicked out of the series), Louis Leterrier’s B-movie monster brawler just doesn’t quite match up to the rest of the series. There’s even an argument to be made that Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk is a better film (flawed, but visually ambitious, easily). The Bruce Banner-focused story plays like an extended episode of the 70s TV series, which gives it a fun factor but lacks much depth in the various characters we see. There are some solid action beats, and Tim Roth is a lot of fun (fittingly one of the better villains in one of the low points of the series), but the film never takes off in a way that genuinely works for Hulk in the way the Avengers films and Thor: Ragnarok did for the big green rage monster.
Favorite: Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange was a character I knew nothing about from the comic books but seems to me the perfect combination of metaphysical and super powered to appeal to me. I loved all the philosophical lessons Strange, The Ancient One and Mordo discussed. When it came to the action, the visual effects were actually doing something different. Of course, they had the technology to pull it off, but the idea behind jumping between realms, bending the cities for somewhat different purposes to Inception, and utilizing time loops captivated me in a way that destruction porn doesn’t equal.
Least Favorite: Ant-Man
I know people love it but to me, Ant-Man is 90 straight minutes of exposition, for things that truly are not that complicated. It gets to a point where Paul Rudd is explaining the scene he is in, “I have to step over these ants. Can I step here?” and Cory Stoll explains why he’s crazy, long after Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lily already told us his backstory. I have no attachment to Ant-Man, but I’d imagine if I loved the character I would feel insulted if they kept explaining him to me. It certainly doesn’t make me want to read more about him. And Rudd is a funny guy, but what passes for humor in Ant-Man is not funny. The side trio of criminal buddies aren’t telling jokes. They’re just talking fast, and reinforcing stereotypes that black and Latino men are criminals. Ant-Man did better in Civil War where he actually had funny things to say and cool powers to contribute.