Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Ten Best and Worst Marvel Movies

With Avengers: End Game being released later this month and Marvel hype at its highest, I thought it would be time for me to rank all the Marvel films of the modern era.  I realized that I was pretty close to seeing them all, so I  decided to watch the ones I hadn’t yet seen and try to rank them in some sort of order.  I have now done that, so now I will give you the top and bottom ten of that list, every Marvel movie post-Blade. Let me know if you are interested in the list in its entirety.  Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments.

Top Ten Movies

10. The Avengers

2012

The Avengers was a big deal when it came out.  It pulled together four heroes who each had already had their own movies and built a larger cinematic world.  The Avengers isn’t perfect, but it is an entertaining spectacle which really feels like a comic book come to life.  The beginning has some parts which lean more to the uninteresting end of the spectrum, like the theft of the tesseract at the beginning, but the introduction of Thor, the battle of New York, and the overall humour between the characters makes this a winner.  If this movie had not been a success, movies would be in a very different place right now (whether you think that is a good or bad thing…).

9. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

2018

This may seem like a rash choice, what with the film being so recent.  It may also seem like I’m jumping on the hype train of hyperbole which so many movie fans have been using with this film in the last few months.  I’m not necessarily on the same page as declaring this “best comic book movie of all time!” (clearly as its at 9), but there is no denying its strengths.  It tells a really personal story from the point of view of a great main character, while introducing a lot of wackiness and vigor to the Spider-man franchise.  The blend of various animation styles is also to be commended.

8. Spider-Man

2002

One of the first big hits of the superhero movie movement, Spider-Man really showed the potential of what these films could do.  Sure, there is a lot about it that seems dated now, like the CG, the design of the Green Goblin, and some of the music choices.  But all of that is on the periphery.  The reason Spider-Man remains a great film is because it really invests in its characters and has a lot of heart at its core.  Sam Raimi knows how to tell the story of Peter Parker in an intimate way that few other comic book directors do, and still makes it a fun, light piece of entertainment at the same time.  The upside down kissing scene has entered film history as one of its iconic moments, perhaps more so than any other Marvel movie moment (though we’ll see how the Thanos snap holds up).  And the Uncle Ben story-line remains the best superhero origin story.

7. Avengers: Infinity War

2018

Again, I’m going recent with this one.  And again, its not a perfect movie by a long sight.  But what Infinity War is is a complete encapsulation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Everything they had done in the decade previous was building up to this smorgasbord of comic-y plot and action.  They brought their biggest and baddest villain yet into the fray, presenting the heroes’ biggest threat and highest stakes.  We end up with a bunch of great pairings, from Iron Man, Dr. Strange and Spidey, to Thor and the GOTG.  The story-line will conclude at the end of April with End Game, but Infinity War really went all out.  Many people may have thought it to be a clusterf***, and who knows what someone who has never seen a Marvel movie would think about it, but I thought it really embodied the idea of a long-form, comic book crossover.

6. Guardians of the Galaxy

2014

Among all the MCU films, Guardians seems to be the one that has the most individual style.  From the vibrant colours, cool soundtrack, and interesting cast of characters, Guardians does a lot of things right.  To be fair, it doesn’t feel like a superhero film at all; instead, it feels more in the vein of a Star Wars movie and works as such.  Chris Pratt gained superstar status with this film, while Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot were also great characters in their own right.  Its hard to find a Marvel movie with as much humour and as much of a sense of fun as Guardians of the Galaxy.

5. X-Men: Days of Future Past

2014

Days of Future Past is like the Infinity War of the X-Men franchise.  It was a conglomeration of all that came before it.  It meshed the old and new crews together in a double layered story of past and future.  On the future half, we see some crazy mutant power action as the remaining X-Men use their powers in creative ways to defeat the Sentinel killing machines.  I love when hero powers are used creatively and in ways that make sense, not just overpowered people causing everything around them to fly up in a debris chaos (cough, X-men Apocalypse).  In the other half of the movie, Wolverine has his consciousness sent back in time to stop a crucial moment from happening that would mean doom for mutant-kind.  This movie is full of great moments, character arcs, and, like the Avenger’s films that would come after, a wonderful representation of the crossover event.

4. Logan

2017

Say what you will about the X-Men franchise, but they aren’t afraid to try something different now and then.  Sure they have some bad films, but they also have some great ones.  This only happens when you take risks; for example, having a movie centered around your most popular character as an aging recluse pondering his own existence and importance.  Logan is a superhero movie unlike any other superhero movie.  Its dirty, its contemplative, and its more concerned with character growth than action and cool-looking visuals.  It takes a character we have known for over 16 years (two characters actually) and places them in a more relatable and realistic situation than we have seen thus far.  The journey of Wolverine comes to its conclusion in a way that is both surprising and satisfying.

3. Iron Man

2008

The MCU’s first movie remains its best.  Iron Man is just a solidly plotted and paced film.  Its a great character journey which sees Tony Stark embrace his role as the eventual headliner of the Avengers.  They don’t rush through this journey, but give it the time and detail it needs.  Iron Man is just a really strong, really focused movie.  I know I’m not really selling its spot this high on the list, but I do feel it is one of Marvel’s best, I really do.

2.  X2: X-Men United

2003

This one kind of surprised me when I was ordering my list, but the second X-Men film is a really strong movie (despite its horrible title).  The film explores themes of xenophobia and isolation while also being a great action-adventure.  The powers are used interestingly and each character is played to their strengths.  Wolverine being forced to take the role of protector is awesome to watch, while Nightcrawler provides an interesting look at a faith-based mutant.  Throw in that dramatic ending, and you have one fantastic comic book movie on your hands.

1.  Spider-Man 2

2004

No superhero movie has more heart than Sam Raimi’s second Spider-man film.  I love comic book movies, but I wouldn’t include many of them as being one of the “great films”, but this one gets that inclusion.  What SM2 does so brilliantly is that it focuses right in on Peter Parker and his every day woes.  He is a superhero of course, but it comes at a cost; not in the form of a dramatic loss, but more of a quotidian struggle.  And most of all, it has strained his friendship with the love of his life, Mary Jane.

Mary Jane is not just a token love interest, as so many other superhero movies have.  She is the fulcrum of the entire story.  The conflict between Peter and Mary Jane is foremost of everything else that Peter has to deal with, be it failing grades, losing jobs, or battling Dr. Octopus.  But that’s not to say this is just a love story; the Doc Ock story-line is just as compelling and gives us some fantastic set pieces, especially the train sequence.

Sam Raimi does an amazing job of capturing the plight of Peter Parker and the sacrifices of being a hero. The whole movie builds on top of that, questioning the idea of what a hero is and whether Peter even wants the burden anymore. He is doing what is right, but it isn’t easy for him.  And then it all culminates in that moment when he turns around and Mary Jane learns the truth.  Its such a cathartic moment.  Great movie.  Still the best Marvel has given us.

Bottom Ten Movies

There have been over 50 Marvel movies made in the last twenty years.  Wow, that’s a lot.  They can’t all be gems.  In fact, a lot of them weren’t.  Lets take a look at the bottom ten.

10. Daredevil

2003

Its been a long time since I’ve seen Daredevil, but I can say its quite forgettable.  Bland story-telling with a lot of the awkward cheesiness that came with the early Marvel flicks.  And of course there is that awful fight scene in the park between Mat Murdock and Elektra.  This may be unfair since I haven’t seen it in such a long time, but on the other side of the coin, absolutely nothing was encouraging me to rewatch this.

9. Venom

2018

There is a scene where Tom Hardy crashes a fancy restaurant, climbs into the lobster tank, and proceeds to eat the lobsters raw while lounging in the tank.  And that pretty much sums this movie up.

8. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

2014

The second Ghost Rider film is admittedly better than the first.  That doesn’t mean its good.  Its a pretty boring plot with ridiculous editing.  Its like they were afraid to slow down the movie for even a moment, and as such you get a frantic and fractured tone.  I find that this sort of editing style, which is seen a lot in the really bad superhero movies, means that the filmmakers feel like they have a crap product they are trying to dress up as best they can and don’t actually have any confidence in the material.

7. Fant4stic

2016

Fox decided they wanted to keep their Fantastic Four property by giving the team a new look.  “Lets make it grittier and more realistic!”  Unfortunately this is a tone that doesn’t fit F4.  Many people disparaged the first outing (which is why we got this dreary mess), but I actually thought the light-hearted nature and the way the characters discovered and used their powers made for a pretty fun film in 2005.  There is nothing fun on about this new rendition.  Reed is a jerk that doesn’t really get redeemed, the powers aren’t used to their potential, and the whole thing feels like a slog.

6. Punisher: War Zone

2008

The filmmakers here seemed so desperate to make a “brutal, psycho” Punisher movie, it was pretty hard to watch.  It reeked of “look how edgy we are!”  And along the way, we never actually get any sort of in with the main hero.  The movie is actually mostly told form the perspective of the unlikable villain, and they just assume we will be on Frank Castle’s side without actually giving us much reason to be.

5. Hulk

2003

I know there is a contingent of people out there who thinks this is a hidden masterpiece when it comes to comic book movies.  I am not one of those people.  I found the “flare” added to the editing and camerawork to be distracting and annoying.  I found the dialogue too much to take.  And there were a lot of moments I was simply bored.

4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

2014

Some movies are considered a mess, but then there is this heap which is Amazing Spider-man 2.  So the second film in the first Spidey series is the best of the bunch, but the second in the next Spidey series is almost the worst.  There felt like there was no coherency to the storytelling here at all.  I don’t find Garfield likable in the Peter Parker role (I think he tries way too hard to be awkward and geeky), and his supporting cast isn’t much better (with the exception of Emma Stone).  Not to mention that the character design in this is maybe the worst I’ve seen in a superhero flick.  Green Goblin, Elektro, Rhino, they all look awful.   Thank goodness the MCU got Spider-Man back on track again.

3. Ghost Rider

2007

Ghost Rider really embodies the cheesy super hero movie.  It feels rushed, its villains are horrible, and it wants so desperately to be cool but isn’t quite sure how.  And there’s something to be said for Ghost Rider making two spots on this bottom list…

2. Elektra

2005

Ohhhh, yikes this was bad.  No one involved with this movie seemed 100% present.  The story was either uninteresting or didn’t make much sense.  Elektra never really seems like a badass assassin, and so her turn to “good’ doesn’t work.  The villains are pretty lame.  I didn’t care about anything going on, and certainly not with this “bond” she makes with that girl. The fight scenes feel like they belong in television rather than a blockbuster movie.  This is just really not a good movie.

1. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

2009

How does a franchise that has made so many good movies, with a character as great as Wolverine, wind up with a movie this bad?  And to think that the Wolverine series would eventually reach the heights of Logan, its baffling.  In fact, the Wolverine trilogy may be the only movie trilogy I can think of that gets better with each film.

So many things make this movie awful.  The pacing was very inconsistent and off the rails.  The dialogue was completely vapid.  The filmmakers were more concerned about having this movie look cool, that they didn’t really put anything into making it, you know, watchable.  And all of the characters around Wolverine were basically cardboard cut-outs.  Boy oh boy, do I dislike this movie.  But again, eventually we got Logan.  So we can put this one behind us.

So there you have it; the best and worst Marvel has offered us in the last two decades.  End Game will be out this month.  Which half will it fall into?  I suppose we will find out.  Thanks for reading, and be sure to  leave your own comments on the film below.

5 Responses to “The Ten Best and Worst Marvel Movies”

  1. Great list! I am so pleased to find in your top 10 Spider-Man of 2002. Garfield simply does not have the necessary charisma to play Spider Man in the later film.

  2. there was a hulk vs giant cat fight? i don’t remember that!

  3. I agree with you on this list!


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