Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Part 3 (Films 6-1)

Here’s the third and final part of my countdown of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe films to date. In and attempt to mimic The Hobbit film franchise, I was initially going to make one post, then later two, but the script became too bloated and wordy for two, so I decided to go with three. Unlike The Hobbit trilogy, I won’t make 3 billion dollars as a result of my poor editing.

The first part of my MCU countdown (Films 18-13) can be found here, while you can find the second part (Films 12-7) here.

6. Black Panther (2018)


IMDB: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Metacritic: 6.8/10
Box Office (To Date): $278 Million (Domestic) $491 Million (Worldwide)

Released last weekend, Black Panther had a lot of hype surrounding it. And when I say it had a lot of hype, it felt like Star Wars levels of hype. Reviews were amazing, everyone was talking about it, and you couldn’t turn on a TV or computer without seeing a reference to Black Panther. Unlike The Last Jedi, I feel like Black Panther was a superb standalone film that also fit into the greater lore of the established universe. Black Panther is a third feather in the cap of Director Ryan Coogler, who previously created Fruitvale Station and Creed – as a result he’s currently batting a thousand for me.

I’m at a point with Black Panther where the dust hasn’t settled. The film is very fresh in my mind and the questions that are posed to viewers are still rattling around in my mind daily. It’s been a week and I have consumed a lot of entertainment since, but I keep thinking back to Black Panther.

One of the most appealing aspects of Black Panther would have to be the strong supporting cast. Danai Gurira as royal bodyguard Okoye, Letitia Wright as younger sister and scientist savant Shuri, and Lupita Nyong’o as complicated love-interest Nakia are a contingent of feminine strength that hasn’t been shown onscreen so prominently in an action or comic book film. While I am not one to praise work on diversity alone, I do feel that Black Panther is praiseworthy for it’s ability to present these strong minority characters with wide-ranging appeal.

Michael B. Jordan rises from the ashes of the Human Torch (like Chris Evans before him) and gives the most empathetic performance from a Marvel villain to date as Killmonger. Chadwick Boseman conveys a calm and regal demeanor that has yet to be seen in the MCU. At this point, I have stopped questioning Marvel films, but if you take a step back and look – it’s astonishing what this film is accomplishing, and I wouldn’t have thought it a possibility a decade ago.

Bonus Trivia: The Black Panther character predates the political Black Panther Party, despite common misconception. Black Panther was renamed Black Leopard in Fantastic Four #119 to avoid political connection. Readers and creators both resisted the change and the Black Leopard moniker only lasted for one issue.

5. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

spiderman homecoming

IMDB: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Metacritic: 7.6/10
Box Office: $334 Million (Domestic) $880 Million (Worldwide)

Thank you Kevin Feige for your persistence in bringing Spider-Man to to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For those of you who don’t know, Spider-Man films have been licensed to Sony since 1999. In this time, Sony produced five Spider-Man films in two batches with no continuity to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. And man did Sony really start to suck the fun out of the Spider-Man. Amazing Spider-Man 2 is, in my opinion, the biggest letdown of a comic book movie ever. Sony execs had absolutely cuckoo ideas about future Spider-Man installments, too. (Like Jonah Hill as Sandman and Jared Leto as Felicia Hardy). The current deal gives Marvel Studios full creative control over Spider-Man – with box office returns going to Sony and merchandising going to Marvel. The partnership has already resulted in an excellent supporting role for Marvel’s most important character in Captain America: Civil War and probably the best Spider-Man film to date in Spider-Man: Homecoming. (Yes, even better than Spider-Man 2)

Perhaps what appeals to me most in Spider-Man: Homecoming is Peter Parker’s relationship with Tony Stark. While some have knocked Iron Man’s inclusion in the film as taking away from a character who can easily carry a film on his own, I think that the parallels between Parker and Stark were worth exploring, and were well-conceived. The relationship with Iron Man also immediately ties Spider-Man in to the larger story around him. Tony is no parent, nor is he a mentor, but he undoubtedly has a connection to Parker and seeks to take him under his wing. I can relate to Peter Parker in his quest to impress his surrogate father, as I remember trying everything as a teen to impress and catch the attention of my idols. I also remember the difficulties resulting from trying my hardest and failing to impress those I look up to. The result, in my opinion, is one of the best father-son relationships in film as well as a phenomenal coming of age story.

As for my other thoughts on Homecoming, I enjoyed the video diary that Parker kept, introducing his backstory, as opposed to a third Spider-Man origin story in 15 years. I also thought that Michael Keaton as the ‘villain who hates heroes trope’ is done well and fits the greater narrative of the MCU. And finally, the Spider-Man: Homecoming original score by Michael Giacchino is the best of the MCU and one of the more underrated scores in recent years.

Bonus Trivia: Much like Cameron Crowe in preparation for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Tom Holland went undercover at a New York high school in order to prepare for Homecoming. Holland went incognito at The Bronx High School of Science, a highly specialized STEM school. Most of the material went completely over his head. Holland kept his cover through an entire schedule, going from differential equations to linear algebra.

4. Iron Man (2008)

iron man

IMDB: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Metacritic: 8.5/10
Box Office: $318 Million (Domestic) $585 Million (Worldwide)

Iron Man is the granddaddy and cornerstone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was a breakout hit, and Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark is a match made in heaven. I am perhaps in the minority who prefer Iron Man to The Dark Knight, also released in 2008. This film, while it has always been lauded, has experienced something of a Return of the Jedi effect in that with time people nitpick the details and find ways to put down what is truly a great film.

Robert Downey, Jr., in a stroke of excellence, took a weapons manufacturer and out of touch playboy billionaire and made him a truly likeable and relatable on-screen character. Downey’s Iron Man is iconic, and it all starts here. Credit should be due to Downey for creating so much of the character’s on-screen persona, as many lines in Iron Man were ad-libbed by him, as the script was bare-bones even during shooting. To date, Robert Downey, Jr. has appeared in 8 films of the 18 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is set to appear in Avengers films being released this year and the next.

What would I knock from Iron Man? Terrence Howard. While everything worked out on-screen, Howard was apparently a nightmare on set despite getting paid more for Iron Man than lead actors Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and even Robert Downey, Jr.. Don Cheadle is a superior actor and is far superior in the role of Colonel Rhodes. It’s a shame he wasn’t there from the beginning.

Iron Man holds up. After ten years, it remarkably somehow doesn’t feel dated. It has the best closing lines not just to a comic book film but to a film in general. Also, it features the most shocking post-credits scene as no one was expecting Samuel L. Jackson to pop up as Nick Fury.

Bonus Trivia: During a scene in Tony Stark’s home, antagonist Obadiah Stane plays a work by Antonio Salieri on piano. Salieri is commonly portrayed as being the less-talented and jealous rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)


IMDB: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Metacritic: 8.6/10
Box Office: $333 Million (Domestic) $773 Million (Worldwide)

In this countdown, I have talked about surprises. I wasn’t expecting the casting Paul Rudd as lead in Ant-Man to work, nor was I expecting anything out of Doctor Strange (2016). The biggest surprise, and the last one on this list, is how fantastic Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) turned out to be. I wasn’t just skeptical, I was outright convinced that this movie was going to be dumb after seeing the trailer. I asked myself questions like, ‘Marvel is making a movie about these nobodies?’ ‘The Ooga-Chaka song, really?’ ‘A talking raccoon?’ – I have never been so wrong about a film before watching it.

Star-Lord is this generation’s Han Solo and Guardians of the Galaxy is this generation’s Star Wars. Chris Pratt is also, in my opinion, the iconic ‘box office’ actor of this generation – much like Harrison Ford in past. Guardians of the Galaxy was his breakout leading role. Between Pratt’s leading charisma and his chemistry with the ever-enthralling sci-fi champion Zoe Saldana, and strong performances from the rest of the film’s protagonists, Marvel created what I considered to be arguably the best space-fantasy movie outside of the Star Wars original trilogy.

There is so much to love about Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s an excellent misfit movie. All of the characters experience growth. It has one of the best film soundtracks. It was self-aware and lighthearted. Most importantly – Guardians of the Galaxy was the first wildly-successful fantasy super-hero film as opposed to one grounded in reality. It was something completely different and better in many ways than any comic book film before it.

What could I knock on Guardians of the Galaxy? The obvious is that Ronan the Enforcer is a bit of a one trick pony and is a relatively weak villain, especially when compared to the more recent Marvel outings. Oh, and they made Karen Gillan shave off her hair.

Bonus Trivia: Polyglot Vin Diesel recorded his lines (line?) for Groot in fifteen languages for Guardians of the Galaxy. (Ten of the language recordings were done for the home release) He reportedly said “I am Groot” over a thousand times in recording.

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)


IMDB: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Metacritic: 8.4/10
Box Office: $260 Million (Domestic) $714 Million (Worldwide)

If James Bond and Marvel had a baby, it would be Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Where Captain America: The First Avenger was a alternate past-reality with little bearing on the present, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a grim tale of government conspiracy primed for modern audiences. It was Winter Soldier, and not The Avengers or the first Captain America film where Chris Evans as Captain America is fully realized. It was Winter Soldier that made Captain America relevant. It was Winter Soldier that showed Captain America as an unyielding hero and not a blind patriot in a time where being an anti-hero is the norm. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while being the most mature film in the Marvel catalog, still manages to show a hero in a time of cynicism.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a film I was lucky enough to visit the set of while in Cleveland, Ohio. I knew I was near the shooting location, but I sort of stumbled upon it when I strangely saw signs for the DC Metro all around me. While I didn’t witness the filming, it was fun to see one city transformed into another and later watch that in film.

What’s wrong with Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Nothing. I still can’t find anything to knock to this date. It is a perfectly-balanced film with both character and plot development. We get to see Nick Fury and Black Widow at their finest and most faithful adaptation from the comics. Oh, and isn’t it refreshing when a male and female lead don’t fall in love for once? Anthony Mackie, who has been awesome in so many films for such a long time, gets screen prominence and importance as Falcon. And we see Sebastian Stan go from a relatively minor supporting role in the first film to becoming an out-of-time hero akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator.

Bonus Trivia: Despite guns being frequently used by many characters throughout Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers doesn’t once use or even touch a gun during the entire film.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. (2017)


IMDB: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Metacritic: 7.7/10
Box Office: $390 Million (Domestic) $864 Million (Worldwide)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is truly the perfect sequel. Everything that is good about the first film is turned up to eleven here. It’s so good that it even serves to make the first film better, as events serve to provide explanation to the actions of Yondu and Nebula in the first. The protagonists all grow, both independently of one another and together, and new characters are unique and fitting to the universe.

Michael Rooker, as Yondu, gives probably the most surprising and best smaller supporting performance in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His scene with Rocket and Groot as they seek vengeance after the Ravager mutiny is possibly the most entertaining ninety seconds in a spectacle film to date. Yondu’s relationship with Peter is touching, and stays with you well after watching. He’s also very quotable.

Kurt Russell, as Ego, provides an immediate improvement over the last film’s villain, Ronan The Accuser. While Ego’s motives are always in question and he is clearly a villain, Russell’s charm and screen presence have you almost believing his every line of dialogue.

Gamora’s badassery is on another level in this film, from the opening sequence to her wielding a gun the size of a tank in her showdown with Nebula. In GotG 2, she lives up to her comic book title ‘The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe”. Gamora’s ruthlessness and Nebula’s pestilent nature are explained. The troubled relationship between Gamora and Nebula leave show no heroes, and leave you feeling pity for both.

The soundtrack, in my opinion, is the best mixtape collection of songs for a film to date, and is even better than the first in my opinion, as the tracks more accurately reflect the space fantasy feel of the Guardians and the Southern-Cosmic culture of the Ravagers. Director James Gunn somehow managed to outdo Star-Lord’s opening scene from the first film with Baby Groot dancing around aimlessly while the team is facing intergalactic threat.

All-in-all it’s fun, and any flaws that it may have are so minimal in comparison to overall allure of the film. It inspired me to read all of the Guardians of the Galaxy comics (my favorite is Abnett and Lanning’s run), and really dive into a new franchise with excitement for the first time in years.

Bonus Trivia: There are some impressive facts regarding CGI in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.. The computer generated opening scene took nearly two years to render. Ego, The Living Planet, consists of one trillion polygons, and is the largest visual effect ever made.

Thank you for reading. This was more of an undertaking than I expected in the beginning, but it was fun to do. Leave your comments if you like and tell me how wrong I am if you want. I can’t say when I’ll return, but I am sure I’ll get the itch to write more again soon.


Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Part 2 (Films 12-7)

In my previous post, I counted down what I feel are the bottom six Marvel Cinematic Universe Films. That post can be found here. Despite them being bottom-tier MCU films, I still enjoyed each one of them abundantly. As the list continues my fondness for these films increases. Not only are the following films more intertwined in the lore of the MCU, but I feel that they are better standalone works as well. In addition to my giving a few thoughts about each film, I will also include user reviews from IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic, as well as box office results.

12. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)


IMDB: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Metacritic: 7.2/10
Box Office: $177 Million (Domestic) $371 Million (Worldwide)

Of the completed trilogies (Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America), the Captain America franchise is my favorite as a whole. While Cap hasn’t truly found his legs yet in this introductory film, it is still a great standalone. Littered with 1940s retro-futuristic sci-fi elements, Captain America (2011) presents a unique and interesting world, set in probably the most important time in American history.

MCU films have produced more memorable romantic relationships than villains, so it’s hard to pick the best. Captain America (2011) establishes what I feel is the best romantic chemistry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter. Haley Atwell was so profound in her role that she received her own critically acclaimed television series, Agent Carter. Sadly, the show was short-lived and only totaled 18 episodes.

Perhaps Captain America: The First Avenger could have been improved with more screentime being given to the charismatic Hugo Weaving, a man born to play Red Skull. While he was menacing when on screen, his character should have been explored more in depth. Perhaps he will make a return in a future installment of the franchise, but I highly doubt it.

Bonus Trivia: The scene where Peggy touches Rogers’ chest after his transformation was a genuine reaction from Atwell, and fully improvised.

11. Doctor Strange (2016)


IMDB: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Metacritic: 8.2/10
Box Office: $233 Million (Domestic) $678 Million (Worldwide)

One of the films I was more skeptical of prior to its release, Doctor Strange (2016) more than impressed me upon viewing. Benedict Cumberbatch more than proves he has leading quality and Rachel McAdams shows why she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the same year for her role in Spotlight. Aside from Iron Man (2008), I think that Doctor Strange shows the most internal growth from a titular character in the MCU. I am also impressed that Strange gets his powers not from any innate Mary Sue-like ability, but from readying and studying books.

(Quick aside: Mary Sue is a loaded term, but I think a pretty basic definition of a Mary Sue is an overly-perfect character who is seemingly good at everything without basis in reason or prior story, who seem to warp the narrative around them. Examples include: Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: TNG; Parzival, the protagonist from Ready Player One; and Rey in the new Star Wars trilogy.)

Again, the major weak point for me in this film are the villains. Kaecilius is too single-minded and lacks depth. Dormammu is more of an entity than a villain. And The Ancient One’s evil never truly comes full swing. If there is a sequel to Doctor Strange featuring Baron Mordo, who appeared in this film as an unrealized villain, more attention must be given to develop his character. I don’t think Mordo will be able to carry his weight against Stephen Strange in a solo film without other forces at work. However, the Doctor Strange franchise has proved me wrong once before.

Bonus Trivia: In the post-credits scene, Benjamin Bratt appears in a second superhero film basketball scene in his career. His first was in Catwoman (2004).

10. Ant-Man (2015)


IMDB: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Metacritic: 8.0/10
Box Office: $180 Million (Domestic) $519 Million (Worldwide)

I applaud the filmmakers’ decision to portray Ant-Man as Scott Lang as opposed to Hank Pym, the original and most well-known Ant-Man. Not only does the MCU have its fair share of scientists as leads, Pym has a fairly dubious past in the comics with his multiple personalities and domestic violence. Lang is a character without the same baggage as Pym, which has allowed for a fresher story.

Casting comedic actor Paul Rudd as lead was a risk, in my opinion. (Even Rudd’s own son told his father he expected Ant-Man to be stupid) I was skeptical of his ability to carry a film with any weight, however he gives a stellar performance in what is at times, a departure for his typical comedic self. I would be intrigued to see what Rudd could do in a film like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Lost in Translation.

I know I sound a bit like a broken record, but Yellowjacket was too one-dimensional for me as a main villain. I have higher expectations for Ghost, who appears to be the primary villain in the Ant-Man sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, which releases this July. The trailers haven’t fully teased Ghost’s motivations or abilities yet, and she remains a bit of a mystery.

Bonus Trivia: Ant-Man has the lowest production budget of any MCU film to date, totaling around $130 million.

9. The Avengers (2012)


IMDB: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Metacritic: 8.0/10
Box Office: $623 Million (Domestic) $1.52 Billion (Worldwide)

The most successful MCU film to date, The Avengers (2012) was the culmination of four years’ worth of buildup and marked the end of the first phase of the over-arching franchise. The Avengers film project may have felt impossible in 2007 to many, but it came together splendidly. It was, to say the least, an event of colossal proportions. Not only that, it remains one of the biggest and best assemblages of a large ensemble cast in a spectacle film to date. And The Avengers has the numbers to back the phenomenon. At the end of its run, Marvel’s The Avengers was the third-highest grossing film of all time.

There’s no doubting the success of The Avengers. But for me, it’s like Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Jurassic World. A solid story without loose ends, but incredibly safe. The plot can be reduced to heroes are called together, heroes fight, heroes come back together and save the day. However, execution is most important, and seeing Loki pick apart the weaknesses of each and every one of the heroes is quite the sight. I think that it goes to show that films/stories can follow a blueprint as long as they are carried out effectively.

Bonus Trivia: Sales of shawarma experienced a major boost after multiple mentions in The Avengers. Some restaurants even reported an 80% growth in sales of these spit-cooked meats after the film.

8. Captain America: Civil War (2016)


IMDB: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Metacritic: 8.2/10
Box Office: $408 Million (Domestic) $1.15 Billion (Worldwide)

The Russo brothers arguably did The Avengers better than Joss Whedon in The Avengers  and Avengers: Age of Ultron with their work in this film. Captain America: Civil War serves as a lynchpin to the non-cosmic events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It expands on the stories told in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. It seamlessly introduces characters Spider-Man and Black Panther, and events in this film drive the initial plot of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther (2018). Also, trailers for Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, both to be released later this year, allude to the events in Civil War. In terms of importance to the over-arching story of the Marvel Universe, this film provides what I feel are the most crucial moments in the franchise.

It works well as a standalone, too. Where I felt the story The Avengers told was formulaic, I felt that Captain America: Civil War was unpredictable and gripping. It successfully merges the political and philosophical aspects of the Greater MCU with the personal relationship between Captain America and Iron Man. The smallest of gripes that I feel I could have about this movie is that I had hoped more heroes would have been involved in the civil war between heroes. This would have been, in my opinion, the perfect way to tie together the Marvel television series with the movies.

Bonus Trivia: In the beginning of the film, Winter Soldier is staying off the radar by taking refuge in Romania. Sebastian Stan, who plays Winter Soldier, was born in Romania and speaks perfect Romanian in the film.

7. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)


IMDB: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Metacritic: 7.6/10
Box Office (To Date): $315 Million (Domestic) $854 Million (Worldwide)

In a previous post I made mention of franchises with late entries that dramatically changed the formula for the better. Thor: Ragnarok follows in the footsteps of films like Casino Royale (2006) and Rocky IV that represent a shift in visual presentation and storytelling in a franchise. Director Taika Waititi successfully converts the Thor from a grim fantasy to something that is more vibrant and relatable. Waititi unleashes the comedic potential of Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, and Karl Urban on audiences, while somehow stealing the show himself as the voice of Korg. And despite the lightheartedness that the Kiwi director injects, he somehow manages develop perhaps Marvel’s best dark villain with Cate Blanchett’s Hela.

The risk of changing gear in the Thor series paid off financially, as it generated roughly 50% more than the previous two entries at the box office on a similar budget. I also think this is easily the best of the Thor films. Ragnarok brings more ’80s aesthetic to the big screen in the same vein as Guardians, from the marketing to numerous references to Walt Simonson Thor comics to the homages to films like Big Trouble in Little China. I also want to praise the fully matured relationship between Thor and Loki, as well as Tessa Thompson’s performance as the down-and-out warrior Valkyrie, and Doctor Strange’s striking inclusion in the greater MCU.

Bonus Trivia: This is the first film in which Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum have appeared together in since Jurassic Park in 1993.

Well, that does it for Part 2 of 3 of my Marvel Cinematic Universe countdown. I hope you enjoyed and maybe at least one person reads this before it becomes outdated in a few months when Infinity War makes it to theaters.

Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Part 1 (Films 18-13)

To date, Marvel Studios has released 18 films, with the most recent being the wildly successful Black Panther, which came out this past weekend. The Marvel films are truly something to behold, and their creators have made such a vivid connected universe. The films seem only to get better and more fleshed out with each new release,  and the franchise doesn’t feel like stagnating any time soon. As a boyhood fan of Spider-Man and Marvel comics, each new film is a treat and something I couldn’t have fathomed when I was younger.

In this post and the two to follow, I will rank the Marvel Cinematic Universe films in order of worst to best based on my own opinions. I will include my thoughts on each film, along with user scores from IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic for comparison. This list is purely for enjoyment and is one unpaid fan’s opinion, so please don’t get upset if your favorite is low on the list. So without further ado….

18. Thor: The Dark World (2013)


IMDB: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Metacritic: 7.3/10
Box Office: $206 Million (Domestic) $645 Million (Worldwide)

Here it is. The worst on the list.  Thor: The Dark World is by no means a movie that I dislike, which really says something about the quality of the MCU. In fact, I found Thor: The Dark World to be quite enjoyable at times. It was not without problems however. Both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston felt like they were shackled down compared to their performances in Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012). It’s not just them. Natalie Portman, who has publicly denounced the MCU, gave a weak performance in relation to her enormous talent and Christopher Eccleston had a fraction of the charisma he put on show during the Doctor Who reboot in 2005. Overall, it was visually bleak and not fun to watch, and had no real defining moment or sense of style.

Bonus Trivia: Natalie Portman wasn’t available for reshoots during Thor: The Dark World, and one of them was a passionate kissing scene between leads. Instead, Chris Hemsworth’s wife, actress Elsa Pataky, donned a wig and filled in for Portman.

17. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)


IMDB: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Metacritic: 7.0/10
Box Office: $459 Million (Domestic) $1.41 Billion (Worldwide)

This is perhaps a surprising selection to a lot of fans of the MCU. Avengers: Age of Ultron was well-received critically and was an extreme financial success. Most fans seem to like the film. Joss Whedon expanded the cast and scale in his sequel to The Avengers. It is by no means a bad film. So, what went wrong for me?

My main gripe with Age of Ultron is one simple, but key issue. James Spader does not play Ultron. James Spader plays James Spader. The filmmakers were so illusioned by Spader’s voice that they chose not to alter it in any way (similar to Bettany as JARVIS). I feel this creative decision works against the film and the Ultron character. Spader has such a unique voice and delivery that hearing him unaltered breaks my immersion.

Bonus Trivia: Funny enough, the cast and crew all apparently gave Spader a wild ovation after his first filming, as they were awestruck with his performance.

16. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

incredible hulk

IMDB: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Metacritic: 7.4/10
Box Office: $135 Million (Domestic) $263 Million (Worldwide)

A film that will likely always hold the record for the weakest financial outing for the MCU, The Incredible Hulk stands out a bit like a sore thumb in hindsight, considering the recasting of Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo in all subsequent MCU films. It also has a bit of early installment weirdness, as the MCU Universe isn’t flush like in later films and it doesn’t feel connected to Iron Man (2008) until the end credits scene.

But while it fails to connect to other MCU films the way that others do, the filmmakers do an exceptional job with a character franchise that felt a bit doomed after Ang Lee’s failed Hulk from just five years prior. Perhaps my favorite storytelling element of The Incredible Hulk is that the filmmakers decided that viewers were smart enough that the didn’t need to see yet another backstory taking up half a film. Ed Norton, Live Tyler, William Hurt, and Tim Roth all carry their weight here. I really did like this film. It just… kinda is the black sheep of the Marvel Studios films.

Bonus Trivia: Ironically enough the director, Louis Leterrier, wanted to cast Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk initially.

15. Iron Man 3 (2013)


IMDB: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Metacritic: 6.5/10
Box Office: $409 Million (Domestic) $1.21 Billion (Worldwide)

2013 would have to be, by most accounts, the worst year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in terms of quality product. Sure, there really weren’t two films a year released regularly until this point, but still when comparing to other years it lags behind. Fondly, I remember Iron Man 3 as being filmed in North Carolina (my home state), back when we incentivized films being shot here. Since 2014, everything seemingly has moved to Georgia.

As for Iron Man 3, it was high on fan service, and the end of the film is one of my favorite bits of action in the entire MCU. The villains aren’t as good as the previous two Iron Man films (villains have tended to be a real weak point for MCU movies). It’s witty at times, but is almost “PG” childish compared to the rest of the films here. Really, I think Iron Man was strong enough to have a third standalone film, but his rogues gallery is weak, and I can’t blame the filmmakers for going the direction that they did.

Bonus Trivia: At one point in the film, Tony Stark tells a child wearing thick-rimmed glasses that he loved him in A Christmas Story. Peter Billingsley, the actor to whom Tony Stark was referring, was a producer of Iron Man (2008) where he also had a cameo acting role.

14. Iron Man 2 (2010)


IMDB: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Metacritic: 6.4/10
Box Office: $312 Million (Domestic) $624 Million (Worldwide)

Financially, Iron Man 2 was the weakest of the Iron Man films, but in terms of quality, I think it edges out its successor ever so slightly. Iron Man 2 also faced a major casting change with Don Cheadle donning the War Machine suit in lieu of Terrence Howard, who played Rhodey in Iron Man (2008). Jon Favreau brings continuity to the series in his second outing, and the inclusion of Nick Fury and Black Widow are the first steps in expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I give Iron Man 2 the edge over Iron Man 3, mostly because of the villains. The two villains are a great duo in that they foil both each other and Tony Stark. Hammer and Vanko are demented versions of Stark and share his darkest qualities. Justin Hammer is a less-successful munitions manufacturer blindly driven to escape from Stark’s shadow, while Ivan Vanko (Whiplash) is a brilliant inventor seeking to escape the shadow of Howard Stark, Tony Stark’s father. Both villains are on the same quest as Stark, as he too is seeking to escape his past in Iron Man 2.

Bonus Trivia: Jon Favreau butted heads with execs to the point that he didn’t return as director in Iron Man 3. He felt he sacrificed too much of the film’s plot in order to introduce SHIELD and the overarching Avengers plot. This dispute also almost led to Samuel L. Jackson not reprising his role as Nick Fury.

13. Thor (2011)


IMDB: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Metacritic: 7.1/10
Box Office: $181 Million (Domestic) $449 Million (Worldwide)

The best part of Thor (2011), without doubt, is the introduction of Loki, who I still think is the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s more cunning than everyone else, self-interested above all else, and willing to dispose of others to achieve his goals. With Loki, you never quite know what he’s scheming, and he’s both so unlikable that you want him to lose and so cunning that you want him to win. Yet, despite it all, you never know when he will turn his back on other villains.

Thor (2011) successfully introduces the greater cosmic universe, which was later expanded upon in the Thor sequels, and in the Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange franchises. This was, in my opinion both a huge risk and major stepping stone for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2011, comic book movies were still very focused on being ‘realistic’ and ‘dark’ (something that can even bee seen in the marketing for this film, like in the above poster). By straying away from the formula, Thor paved the way for more extraordinary films that require a greater suspension of belief in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In that way, Thor was a massive success.

Bonus Trivia: Second choice for the role of Thor was Liam Hemsworth, Chris Hemsworth’s younger brother. Liam would later make a cameo appearance as an Asgardian actor portraying Thor in Thor: Ragnarok.

Thanks for reading Part 1 of 3 of my Marvel Cinematic Universe ranking. I will continue in the same fashion in the next post, highlighting films 12 through 7.

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island is the perfect kaiju monster film. It’s the best I’ve seen in the genre since Pacific Rim in theaters five years ago. (Though I haven’t seen Shin Godzilla yet and I hear good things.)


Ooo I bet this was a joy to watch in IMAX.

Sure the characters are a little cliche, and there’s a little cheese factor. When I watch a film like this I don’t care much about the depth of relationships between human actors, or their backstories. I just want to be entertained with mega-sized monster action. That’s not to say kaiju films can’t have meaning. Both Gojira (1954) and to a lesser extent Godzilla (1956) were full of emotional depth and social meaning. But in general, whenever these films swing for the fences, it’s a swing and a miss.

Kong: Skull Island is far, far better than its precursor, Godzilla (2014). The 2014 iteration of Godzilla forgot that people actually want to see mega monster destruction and they don’t want to wait an hour to see it. Kong: Skull Island excels in this area, and really never leaves a moment where you think “okay, the characters are safe”. Where I think I got a solid nap during Godzilla (2014), I was giddy the whole time I watched Kong: Skull Island. I’m hoping Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019) takes cues from the latter of these Monsterverse films and not the former. I’m hopeful they will, as I’m assuming a movie with Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah isn’t exactly going to be plot-heavy, and there’s not a lot of room for human character boredom.

Truthfully, King Kong isn’t at the forefront of the minds of movie-goers or even most film-geeks or monster fans for that matter. The average movie-goer likely hasn’t seen any iteration of King Kong aside from Peter Jackson’s version in 2005, and anyone who watched that version likely were driven by it being his follow-up project to Lord of the Rings. And it’s not like kids are sitting around with fond memories of the original, as their grandparents were likely born after its release. By comparison, Kong has starred in 8 live-action films in 85 years to Godzilla’s 29 films in 64 years. I think Kong: Skull Island will breathe a little bit of fresh air into the franchise, and I will be eagerly awaiting Kong’s return in Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020.

And who knows, maybe Kong: Skull Island will surprise at the Oscars and win the award for best visual effects, giving the franchise a bit more steam. It’s up against stiff competition, and I think it’s a dark horse, but the nomination is definitely deserved. Whoever wins will join the esteemed company of Babe (1995). The award does have some history with the franchise, as it was created, at least in-part, as a result of King Kong (1933). King Kong (2005) also won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 78th Oscars.


1995 has to go down in history as the weakest year ever for visual effects.

As for the film itself, I really don’t want to give too much away. I went in without seeing a trailer, which is ideal in my eyes as trailers are often misleading and unrepresentative of the film being advertised. The cast was great and the characters were well-designed caricatures of different tropes often seen in action and monster films. The time period and setting are fitting to Kong and are from a paradigmatic moment in history. The themes associated with the era area appropriate, but not preachy. Action was regular, but not exhaustive like the more-recent Transformers live-action films and I enjoyed the pacing as well as the fight choreography. Overall I enjoyed Kong: Skull Island thoroughly from start to finish (and especially the post-credits scene.)

Coming out this year we have two more kaiju fims. Pacific Rim: Uprising releases in March and Rampage will follow in April. I’m a bit more upbeat about the Pacific Rim sequel than Rampage, but I will withhold strong judgement on both. I just feel like Dwayne Johnson movies are mostly bland and appeal to the lowest common denominator. And while I am a fan of the retro video game series, it’s not like I played them for a compelling story. I don’t want to be contradictory here either. A kaiju film doesn’t have to have to be a retelling of Macbeth, but it certainly needs something more than the current IMDB synopsis, which is “Based on the classic 1980s video game featuring apes and monsters destroying cities.”. That said, I would totally pay for a Macbeth Monster movie.

2017 Year in Review – Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the Post-Geekdom Era

A few posts ago I mentioned that I watched four films in theaters in 2017. Three were entertaining Marvel films, the fourth was Star Wars: The Last Jedi, another Disney-owned film. I guess this is pretty much apparent if you’ve read the title. In this post, I’m going to talk about The Last Jedi, and how it failed for me on so many levels. Oh, and this review has spoilers. If you’ve avoided spoilers for this movie this long, I applaud you. But if my read-by-no one blog is the one doing the spoiling then it’s your own fault.


I want to thank my wife and the other poor sucker who accidentally landed here for reading.

In this post I will discuss my take on Star Wars: The Last Jedi and also touch on our post-geekdom society. (Complete with charts!)

If I’m going to the cinema, I go for entertainment and scope. I didn’t get either with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Instead of being entertained, I was left with a mixture of confusion and frustration regarding the direction taken. Instead of seeing a film with a massive scope dealing with an ongoing intergalactic war with severe ramifications, I was handed a skirmish confined to, at most, a few hundred humans and maybe a dozen aliens. (Really, where the hell were the alien characters in this movie?)

The realization that I made, somewhere between the Verizon Wireless ‘Can You Hear Me Now’ joke and the introduction of Vice-Admiral Hunger Games, is that this is not remotely Star Wars. Even if it wasn’t masquerading as Star Wars, subverting Star Wars lore at every turn, I doubt I would have enjoyed it as a standalone film.


This is the worst costume design in the history of costume designs. Infinite frumpy brown ruffles and Kool-Aid dyed hair. Seriously, this deserves a Golden Raspberry.

I wanted to like it. I really did. I wanted to go in reasonable and tempered expectations. That said, I watched the haunting trailer with Mark Hamill’s ominous voiceover over and over. The critical praise was near-universal. The film was said to be the second-coming of The Empire Strikes Back. It’s all anyone in my office talked to me about weeks leading up to release. I couldn’t go from point A to point B without being reminded how excited I should be for this sure-to-be hit of a film. My loving wife took time and bought me a ticket to go see something I was sure to enjoy. When I got to my seat, I was feeling the kind of excitement you feel when you’re weightless at the top of a roller-coaster. I knew I would like it and I was open to what was to come. I was by no means someone with a negative outlook from the beginning.

I eagerly awaited films like The Dark Knight and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. I knew they would be good. My most absurdly high expectations of those films were blown away. The point I’m trying to make is that whenever I know a film will be good, it typically lives up to expectations.  If anything, high expectations of a film have only increased my chances of liking it, as opposed to the opposite.

I also appreciate films deviating from the established norm in a franchise or changing tone. Rocky IV, Army of Darkness, and Casino Royale were all late prequels that completely changed the formula with great success. Star Wars isn’t sacred in this way and a changing of formula is often good. The Last Jedi went off-formula, but that wasn’t the problem.

I also support the casting choices and am happy to see Star Wars having a racially diverse cast, but really I could care less about casting if the film stinks of mediocrity. If filmmakers and critics think that audiences didn’t like The Last Jedi because of ambitious fan expectations, because they changed the formula, or because there’s a diverse cast, then they are delusional.


Sure, keep telling yourselves it’s not bad. (Oh, and Rotten Tomatoes ensured there was nothing fishy about their fan reviews, just that people didn’t like the movie.)

With everything prefaced, The Last Jedi for me was the biggest letdown of a film-going experience ever. And when I say that I was let down, I am not talking nitpicks or minor details about what characters can and can’t do. This film was flawed on a very basic level. Problems include, but are not limited to the scope of the film, the off-putting modern humor, the confusing or lacking character motivation, the absence of continuity from the last film and from the franchise as a whole, the pointless and preachy side-quest, plot points that could be resolved with simple communication, and a lack of setting up any mystery or intrigue for the next in the series (and killing off actors who are alive and keeping characters of dead actors alive).


Can you please stop doing bad CGI of Carrie Fisher? (And stop doing CGI of people in general? It never looks good.)

My problems with The Last Jedi go beyond the work in question. The makers and several media outlets have been outright nasty to people who have criticized this film. They’ve went ’80s film bully style name-calling to lumping critics an amorphous group of far-right fanatics. There are so many sad examples from a group of people who can’t take criticism in stride. In short, if you don’t like this film, you’re ridiculed and I find that sickening. It’s part of a new trend of post-geekdom and something that needs to stop.

Five or six years ago, I considered being geeky as the new norm, a part of culture that was finally accepted. It was a time where you could admit to the world that you enjoy playing video games and reading comics. Now, we’ve passed golden flicker of time and are living in a society where everyone and their mother wears a Flash lightning bolt tee, but none of them have read the comics – that it’s cool to be a nerd in real-life or in Hollywood, but only on the surface. There is still a lingering disdain for nerds and it shows, and anyone that doesn’t walk the mainstream line is treated no differently than they ever have. The best part about being a nerd is being able to discuss (sometimes heatedly) works of fiction without judgement. Being a nerd means accepting others and their opinions.

The creators of this new Star Wars are guilty of ignoring and ostracizing their fans. They hurl insults like basement-dweller and man-child to people who care about Star Wars. I can’t stand to accept that these people are the ones at the helm of a creative franchise I adore. Someone in their position should be humbled to have been given such an opportunity and adore their fans and the work that preceded them. By comparison, look at Ryan Reynolds. He has nothing but good words for the fans, is passionate about the projects. He even accepts that The Green Lantern and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were far from loved by fans, and listened to them, creating the near-universally loved Deadpool film. Rian Johnson and his cronies are not of this ilk and his production coupled with his arrogance should not be near Star Wars. Of anyone in Hollywood, how did this guy get to direct a Star Wars movie followed by his own trilogy set in the Star Wars universe?


Be like Ryan Reynolds. Learn from your mistakes.

Moving back to The Last Jedi, it didn’t feel like I was watching Star Wars. It felt like I was watching another movie wearing Star Wars pants. Star Wars has veered, and I don’t like the direction. For a franchise that I have consumed and adored my entire life, this may be the moment that I take my exit. (Solo looks like crap, too. There’s no way audiences will accept Alden Ehrenreich as a replacement for the charismatic Harrison Ford. It will be at the forefront of minds during the entire film.)

But, I really want to end on a positive note here. I want to be a positive person and take something from this rant. The score, again created by John Williams, was phenomenal. The man is 85 years-old and is still producing work of this level. He’s truly a legend.

2017 Year in Review – Hitchcock and Carpenter

Movies by two different directors monopolized my home viewing experiences from 2017. That’s not to say I didn’t watch a lot of other movies, but I did see a decent amount from the catalogs of Alfred Hitchcock and John Carpenter. Prior to 2017, I had already watched several films from both directors, but never pooled so closely together. Some of the films have been re-watches and some I’ve watched for the first time. In this post I will discuss my thoughts on both directors.

Alfred Hitchcock was truly a master of suspenseful storytelling. What impresses me most about Hitchcock is that he had a clear vision of how to make a movie-goer react, and could translate it to the screen seamlessly. Further, I don’t find his films to be dated, especially when it comes to his pacing. In my opinion, pacing is one of the major detractors for the modern viewer of most films from the Classical Hollywood Era. The other, in my opinion is acting-technique.


Another great thing about Hitchcock films is the cameos.

Here are the Hitchcock films I watched in 2017: Psycho, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, North By Northwest, Rope, and The Birds. Every one of these films is a solid 8/10 or more for me, and are truly worth a watch for anyone with a remote interest in watching classical pictures.

The best of the lot, in my opinion, was probably North By Northwest. It had all of the grandiose scope, wit from a leading role, and suspenseful action of the best James Bond films from the following decade. If you’ve seen the Connery Bond films, you’ll immediately spot their inspiration in this Hitchcock classic. You want to root for Cary Grant, who plays protagonist Roger Thornhill. He never fails to make a sly remark on his current situation, which is constantly in flux. Unlike most other films of the era, North by Northwest unfolds quickly, and you don’t want to divert your eyes for a moment. The airplane scene is iconic, and is one of my favorite scenes in all of cinema history.

What impressed me most in all of the Hitchcock films though, more so than anything related to the story-telling or presentation, was Grace Kelly’s ability to steal every second she was onscreen. I can’t name any other actor or actress with the screen presence of the Pennsylvania-born Princess. Perhaps the only others I can name with that level of on-screen charisma that even come close for me are Sean Connery or Harrison Ford.  While it’s a shame for us that her film dossier is so short, good for her for pursuing the life of her choosing outside of Hollywood. I am eager to watch To Catch a Thief, but I almost don’t want to anytime soon as I enjoy having a Grace Kelly film to look forward to.

I was also able to watch and enjoy some films by John Carpenter during 2017. Among the Carpenter films I watched this year are: Escape from New York, Escape from L.A., The Thing, They Live, and Big Trouble in Little China. Apart from Escape from L.A., they are all quality without taking themselves too seriously. Escape from L.A. has some merit, but was poor overall, unless you’re into campy CGI surfing scenes, Do-or-Die basketball challenges, or another movie with Steve Buscemi in the ’90s. (What movie was Buscemi not in in the ’90s though?)


Don’t go around high-fiving each other for a job well done on the CGI. Chances are, it’s going to look terrible in a few years.

Carpenter’s scores ooze ’80s awesomeness, and his world-building is near unparalleled for me. I feel like there’s a strong desire for more of this ’80s aesthetic which can be seen in the success of properties like Stranger Things, Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy, or the It remake. While nostalgia always sells, there’s something apart from nostalgia that is mystifying and appealing about ’80s sci-fi and horror created in the vein of John Carpenter. I think we’re set to see more movies and TV shows looking to cash in on this audience desire in 2018.


Oh, it’s not just CGI surfing either. You’re probably better off to not include that leather-clad basketball to the death scene either.

Unfortunately, The Thing prequel made in 2011 (that Carpenter did not direct or give his blessing to) did not satisfy the thirst for more Carpenter awesomeness or ’80s nostalgia. I find it to be far worse than Psycho II (A film that Hitchcock was not around to give his blessing to). It’s rare that I just stop a movie without finishing, but that’s just what I did with The Thing (2011). And when I say rare, I mean like <.01% of films I’ve watched rar, as the only other movie I think that I haven’t finished on purpose is De Palma’s Black Dahlia. I even made it all of the way through Pixels, a movie that I think made me physically ill. At least it didn’t kill me, like Rotten Tomatoes just tried to do to John Carpenter.


Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

Thanks for reading. Sorry I didn’t connect the dots between the two directors, but their end- products really couldn’t be more different in many ways. I just happened to enjoy both at the same time. In upcoming posts I plan to give some superlatives for films I watched in 2017 and finally vent my frustrations for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the most disappointing film in my life, even taking recency bias into account.

2017 Year In Review – Marvel Movies & Comics

I recently got back on the horse and started writing about movies again. My last blog post highlighted changes to my viewing habits and additions to my collection. It was far less snarky than previous entries. In this post I will discuss the three Marvel films released in 2017, and take a moment offer my take on Marvel comics in 2017.

I don’t get to the theater much anymore, but I was able to watch several movies in the comfort of my own bed. In fact, I only went to the theater four times over the course of the whole year. I’m actually surprised I went that often, as I enjoy spending free time with my baby and wife, and I am pleased with my home viewing setup and patient enough to watch most films in their home-release phase.

Three of the movies I watched in theaters were Marvel films: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. I thoroughly enjoyed all three from an entertainment perspective, and I feel that the Marvel movies have hit a balance that pleases moviegoers and fans alike. (The fourth movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi will not be discussed in detail here in this post, but in short, I hated it.) Since I don’t attend the theater often, when I do go, I want to see something I know I will savor, that will also be diverting.


Making a Sequel 101: Don’t take a menacing villain portrayed by a great actor and have him flop and flail around over the duration of the film, and definitely don’t have him be on the butt end of ‘yo mama’ jokes.

While some are cynical about comic book films dominating the current movie-going climate, I don’t agree with the argument. I can appreciate both the entertainment-oriented flick alongside the thinking-man’s film, and have a separate set of expectations for entertainment than art. I think many movie-goers fall into this category. Going to the cinema is about entertainment, and it is easier to digest an artistic film in the comfort and quiet of your own home. I also think part of the cinema experience is about spectacle, so I don’t think these superhero films are going anywhere anytime soon. The formula that these movies follow is just like a good pop song. It may use the same chords as the last one, but the lyrics are different and it is catchy nonetheless. In some ways, they are the perfect form of the modern blockbuster.

If I had to pick a favorite of the recent Marvel bunch, it would be Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, though the other two aren’t far behind. I’ve fell in love with the dynamic that James Gunn has brought to the Guardians. Maybe its overwhelming success can in-part be attributed to the fact that there are no preconceived notions on what these characters should be or how the story should be approached. They’re a fantastical and colorful approach to the comic genre, which has very much tied to “realism” for most of its existence.  Either way, I eagerly await the third installment of the Guardians franchise. The inclusion of new characters like Adam Warlock, and other unique potentials like Bug, Jack Flag, and Moondragon to the third film can give the franchise a lot of room for creative license.


Call up the ol’ Loverbug. He’s a perfect fit for the film franchise. I think the Guardians can use some self-deprecating humor.

Moving on to Marvel comics, 2017 wasn’t such a great year for Marvel in print, as it seems they have alienated a lot of their fanbase and lost a lot in sales as a result. I’ve read that they’ve dropped an estimated 10% in print sales (mostly due to a decrease in sales from their overpriced floppies), whereas DC Comics have grown by about the same number.

Some will point to needless rethinking of established characters at their core being a driving factor in the slump. I think the problem is more simple. Marvel insists on yearly overarching events interrupting comic runs and, more importantly, they charge too much for mediocre physical comics. I’m a fan of comics in print, but it’s hard for me to justify spending $4-5 and issue, especially when I can get Marvel Comics Unlimited for the same amount every month. Plus, I like being able to have comics on demand, versus visiting a comic book shop, where I’ve typically felt unwelcome. I think we are going to see many comic shops go the way of Blockbuster Video if they can not adapt to new trends.

I’m not of the belief that print is a dying format and I think this is reflected in DC Comics recent growth. I merely think Marvel’s pricing does not reflect its quality, as it is more expensive than DC, and DC readers seem to be more satisfied with the product. I bring this up is because I’m interested to see if this downturn in sales and disinterest in current releases has any long-term affects on future Marvel movies releases. Since many of the films are drawn from comic stories at a basic level, having a disappointing recent set of stories to choose from may reflect negatively on the films. Also, I want to see how comic book retailers adapt, as Marvel commands a serious presence in these stores. (Basically 40% of the entire market is Marvel)


Marvel in 2017 summed up: Take an established character who has spent 75+ years grappling with Nazis, retcon your stories to make him a secret Nazi all along just to sell comics, then end it all by acting like nothing happened. I don’t know what’s worse, that or taking a Holocaust survivor and making them a Nazi.

That’s not to say that I haven’t read some excellent Marvel comics for the first time this year, but they’ve all been at least a few years old. Some of my favorites have been Beta Ray Bill’s introduction in Thor by Walt Simonson, Cable & Deadpool, Spider-Man: Blue, and Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy run to name a few.

Overall, it has been an up and down year for Marvel. I don’t expect to see so much success at the box office while Marvel in print struggles. Something will have to change as they’re two sides of the same coin at this point. With Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp all on the horizon, I don’t see the comic book blockbuster going anywhere any time soon. (Funny enough, none of these titles would have had audiences buzzing a decade ago.) With nothing to get me engaged with print comics or setting foot in a comic store, I think something will have to change in 2018 for Marvel comics in print. Or perhaps we are seeing the end of the comic book store.