Tyler Christiansen ’21
As of only a few months ago, I was one of the few people in the world who had seen only one or two Marvel films. I just found myself uninterested in the franchise, especially since there were two to three films coming out every year, making me feel inundated by the content. Everyone would always discuss them and while I knew just about every character, I really had no idea what the main storyline was. So, in preparation for “Avengers: Endgame” at the end of April, I watched three Marvel films a week to catch up. It was an arduous and sometimes exhausting experience, but I liked the majority of them for the most part. There are some huge hits and some real misfires, but I am only going to focus on my five favorite MCU films. Spoilers follow.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The opening scene of “Winter Soldier” really lets you know the kind of Cap we are dealing with. The action scenes are more raw and feel more thunderous than “The First Avenger.” The revelation that Bucky is the Winter Soldier, a hired assassin, makes the fight between Cap and Bucky at the end even more emotional. While most of the MCU films fall into the trap of having one-dimensional villains, the Russo brothers upped the ante by having the villain be the hero’s friend from back home. While this is one of the best MCU films, it is not the best of the Captain America trilogy.
4. Captain America: Civil War
Essentially Avengers 2.5, this film centers around the differing ideologies of Tony Stark and Captain America pertaining to governmental oversight. While the villain is still not that well developed, the real conflict comes between our heroes, making it a unique viewing experience. This one is definitely one of the least rewatchable ones, but the sheer emotion is brings with it, especially in the final confrontation between Tony, Steve and Bucky, puts it in the top tier. The addition of Black Panther and Spider-Man are also praiseworthy.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
This one is just pure fun. Essentially Marvel’s form of “Star Wars,” it follows a talking racoon, a tree, a human, and two aliens. On paper, this really should not work, but it really does. James Gunn knows how to put together a soundtrack and put a lighter spin on things, since most of the Phase 2 films are dour, except for Ant-Man. Chris Pratt’s transformation from the fat guy in “Parks and Recreation” to Star Lord and Bradley Cooper as Rocket’s voice are highlights. The infinity stones, which come to full fruition in “Infinity War,” are first introduced in this film, providing a very early set up (“Infinity War” came out four years later). This is the most rewatchable MCU film and the most enjoyable.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
This is going to sound awful, but this was actually the first MCU film I saw in theaters and the second one I had ever seen. I know. I fell asleep in the theater when I first saw it (since I had no idea what was happening) and felt so left out, hence the reason for doing the marathon. Now that I have seen it with context, it is solidly one of my favorites. The Russo brothers had so much to handle (20+ main characters in several in plot lines) and what they came out with is really a surprising feat. The ending is as shocking as it is poignant, leaving me wondering when the film ended: what do they do now?
Ryan Coogler, director of “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station,” made Wakanda feel so real and clearly showed care for his characters, even the villain, Killmonger. This also has Marvel’s best musical score by Ludwig Goransson and some great shots by cinematographer Rachel Morrison. Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa is the highlight of the film; his acting really shines when he visits his father in the ancestral plane and how he tells all of the pas kings they were wrong for keeping Wakanda secluded from the rest of the world. As far as I’m concerned, the thematic elements in “Black Panther” are unparalleled in the MCU. While “Infinity War” is the beginning of the end for the MCU and is a huge cultural moment, it’s not really about anything. “Black Panther” has something to say and it does it very well.
For those who are interested, I did the impossible task of ranking all of the other MCU films from worst to best. And no, I haven’t seen “The Incredible Hulk.”
20. Thor: Dark World
19: Avengers: Age of Ultron
18: Iron Man 2
17: Iron Man 3
16: Ant-Man and the Wasp
14: Captain Marvel
13: Doctor Strange
11: Spider-Man: Homecoming
10: Iron Man
9: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
8: Thor: Ragnarok
7: Captain America: The First Avenger
5: Captain America: Winter Soldier
4: Captain America: Civil War
3: Guardians of the Galaxy
2: Avengers: Infinity War
1: Black Panther