After six films, we have finally reached the end of Marvel Studios’ Phase two movies. Many of the movies were big gambles, but with great box office returns and generally favourable reviews phase two has proven a large success. But what movies are the cream of the crop? Therefore, it’s time to rank Marvel’s phase two movies.
6. Thor: The Dark World
Whilst by no means a bad film, Thor The Dark World is clearly the least successful of the phase two Marvel movies. With a distinct lack of momentum and possibly one of the weakest villains in all of Marvel’s movies, Thor: The Dark World rarely manages to be anything other than a bit of fun with very little that is memorable.
Despite this, there is still fun to be had. Chris Hemsworth is naturally born to play Thor and Tim Hiddleston’s Loki predictably steals every scene he’s in. Therefore, it’s a shame the movie sidelines him for much of the movie. On the other hand, there are some fun action scenes, particularly the world jumping finale.
5. Iron Man 3
Probably the most divisive movie out of all of Marvel’s Studios output, Iron Man 3 is a movie people either seem to love or hate. Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. The film probably has some of the best jokes in all of Marvel’s movies and Robert Downer Jr is on typically acerbic form and brings more vulnerably to Tony Start post Avengers. Much of this is to do with director Shane Black’s script, which is packed with wise-cracking dialogue, yet still manages to delve into the soul of Stark.
However, where the film has really divided opinion is it’s treatment of long standing Iron Man nemesis Mandarin. To say the movie’s treatment of him is different is an understatement. It’s a very brave move and one I admire, I’m just not sure it’s pulled off with the greatest success.
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
A movie that had so much expectation it was bound to disappoint, but ultimately I was more disappointed than I expected to be. There’s still a lot to like about Avengers: Age of Ultron, most notably the wit that shines through Joss Whedon’s script and direction, but there’s just something missing from the whole experience.
Possibly it’s the fact that the film has to not only resolve previous plot threads over a series of movies and now even television programs, but it also has to set up new plot threads for films that haven’t even been released yet. However, the most glaring issue seems to be that the film just seems a bit paint by numbers. It feels as though it’s a place holder for the ultimate showdown with Thanos in the next Avengers movie.
Also, isn’t an age more than a few days? That’s all Ultron seemed to last for. Just saying.
3. Ant Man
Depending on your official geek index, you were either super excited for Ant-Man or you thought even the idea was ludicrous. However, even those excited for the movie had some concerns after original director and scriptwriter Edgar Wright (he of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim fame) left the project due to ‘creative differences.’ Despite this and other production problems, Ant-Man was a modest success and one of the more enjoyable Marvel movies for quite some time.
Part of the reason the movie managed to find an audience was how different it was to the previous Marvel movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ant-Man was a much, dare I say it, smaller movie focusing on a small group of characters who are more like us than the Gods and Billionaires found in Avengers. The film was filled with humour and was more a heist movie than your typical superhero movie.
It wasn’t perfect as we were once again presented with another weak villain in the form of Yellow Jacket and some it’s more far fetched elements may not sit well with some audiences, but is was very enjoyable. With a sequel recently announced, I’m interested to see where our diminutive hero goes next.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
If you were to ask me what phase two Marvel movie I was looking forward to the least it would have probably been Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Instead the movie was genuinely great, totally confounding my expectations. Managing to feel connected to the wider Marvel Universe whilst also telling a story of its own, The Winter Soldier is packed with well choreographed action scenes and has a wider impact on the Marvel Universe, including the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television series.
The film also gives much needed development to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and pairs her up with Captain America in an interesting way that doesn’t merely devolve into a superfluous romantic sub-plot. There’s other meaty support from Samuel L Jackson who is finally given something to do as Nick Fury and Robert Redford who plays superbly against type. All in all, the movie is an outright success and has made the anticipation for Captain America: Civil War almost at fever pitch.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
Just how did a movie with a talking raccoon, a sentient tree and the douche from Parks and Recreation manage to be so awesome? On paper, Guardians of Galaxy was the hardest sell, yet through a brilliant script and a somewhat anarchic sensibility brought by director James Gunn, the movies is one of Marvel’s most enjoyable.
Despite having to introduce a whole bunch of new characters along with a cosmic setting, the movie manages to feel gritty and grungy, with each character having their own unique quirks. There’s something to like about each character, whether it’s Drax’s literal understanding of everything, Rocket’s blistering wit, or Groot’s humanity, these characters feel instantly knowable. However, the whole team is brought together by the charming Chris Pratt, whose rise to stardom has been meteoric ever since. This charm is carried through the eighties soundtrack that is simply awesome.
The film is a blast from start to end. Again there’s another forgetable villain, but there’s so much else to enjoy here it’s flaws are easy to forgive. It’s the kind of movie you’d put on if you were feeling unwell or wanted to cheer yourself up. Not only is it the greatest phase two Marvel movie it is a great movie full stop.
So what are you favourite phase two Marvel movies? Disagree with my order? Let me know in the comments below.