Random Thoughts on the Marvel Cinematic Universe

(If this is your first time here I’d like to direct you to this page first so you can see where I’m coming from.)

I’ve always preferred Marvel over DC.  It’s not based on a lot of information as I didn’t really read comic books as a kid (and still don’t as an adult).  Despite an affinity towards Batman while growing up, it’s characters like Spider-Man, Wolverine and The Hulk that resonated with me.  There was always something that appealed to me more about Marvel  was that they had a more grounded take on these characters lives.  I know people will argue with me on that point and again, I don’t have a lot to base that on but when I think about Superman’s problem as an displaced god versus Spider-Man who has to choose between stopping a super villain or getting medication home to Aunt May – Spider-Man just seems more relate-able.

When you combine that with the fact that I enjoy popcorn action movies (comic book movies in particular) the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is right up my alley.  Not only has Marvel managed to make a number of fun and exciting films based on these beloved characters but they’ve also tied them together into this wonderful cohesive whole.  I have to say that despite a few minor quibbles, they have yet to make a movie that I couldn’t find at least some enjoyment in.  With that, here are some random thoughts about the MCU.  Also, spoilers abound and you have been warned.To me, Iron Man 3 is a great Tony Stark movie and a mediocre Iron Man movie.  Let me clarify – what I like about MCU Iron Man is his ability to whip around the screen and look awesome while blowing stuff up.  Iron Man 1 and 2 had this in spades but Stark spends most of his time outside of the suit(s) in the third entry.  Even in the finale where there are Iron Man suits flying around all over the place, he can’t manage to stay inside one for more than a couple minutes.  I think they did some really fun thing with Stark’s character – things that cement his actual heroism – but I feel like Iron Man himself (itself) was on the back burner through the whole film.  I’m sure that makes it a better movie than the first two for some people but I’m not one of those people. I still like the movie, it’s just not one of my favorites.

Speaking of Iron Man 3, I liked Trevor.  After looking up The Mandarin, I get the disappointment among longtime Iron Man fans but in it’s own MCU bubble, that twist works so well.  I’ll admit it though, despite my love of Trevor, a Mandarin that lived up to the presence Sir Ben Kingsley creates in the first half of the film would also be great.  Maybe the upcoming One-Shot will lead to Trevor finding his identity in that Mandarin “role” and he’ll search out the real Rings of Power down the line and truly embody his greatest performance.

I love a good underdog story and I think Captain America: The First Avenger is a fantastic underdog story.  I think I like those kinds of stories because I was picked on a lot as a kid (for the opposite reasons of Steve Rogers).  Speaking of Cap 1, it makes me sad that Hugo Weaving likely won’t ever want to come back for a sequel.

avengers-gif_o_145258That moment in The Avengers when the heroes all finally come together as a team and the camera pans around them all Michael-Bay-style always gets me.  The camera spins, the Hulk roars, the music swells and I get all tingly in that part of me that played with action figures as a kid.  It’s five seconds of pure awesome.

Speaking of The Avengers, The Hulk is criminally underused in that movie.  The Banner stuff is fine but it’s when Hulk is let loose on the Chitauri during the final fight that absolutely sells me on the fact that I would see a Joss Whedon made Hulk movie multiple times.  Whedon absolutely nails the physicality of the Hulk. From the hunched over, gorilla-esque stance and movement on the ground to the sheer power and speed of movement Hulk displays as he leaps around the building smashing aliens, it’s spot-on.

I like The Incredible Hulk.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Mark Ruffalo is the better Banner but Ed Norton brought some good stuff to the part and while the physicality of the Hulk isn’t what I’m looking for (see previous point), There still a lot to like.  The final scene where Hulk spares The Abomination is just so powerful.  I still feel the tension of that scene when I watch that movie and it’s right up there where Batman beating Bane’s mask apart near the end of The Dark Knight Rises (which had me gripping my arm rest in all that IMAX glory.  Talk about sound design – dang).

I don’t know what kind of a contract Marvel has with Tom Hiddleston but it better still be for multiple films.  To me, his portrayal of Loki is infinitely watch-able.  I thought maybe that would have worn out by Thor: The Dark World but nope, he’s not getting old anytime soon.  I think Loki gets better every time we see him on film.  Hiddleston’s appearance at Comic-Con proves that people love that character so hopefully we won’t see the end of Loki for quite a while.  While I’m talking about people great in their roles, whatever they’re paying Robert Downey Jr., it’s not enough (I’m not taking his crazy Avengers percentage deal into consideration).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really into reading comics a whole lot.  I do have enough knowledge to understand why there’s a lot of people online that are a bit put off by the fact that Hank Pym isn’t going to be the creator of Ultron in Avengers 2.  That being said, I’m not so invested enough to be upset.  I was okay with how they portrayed The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 and I’ll likely be okay with Ultron’s origin as well.

The Chrises are underrated.  Captain America ReferenceBoth Evans and Hemsworth have done fantastic jobs portraying Captain America and Thor respectively.  Robert Downey Jr., Sam Jackson and Scarlett Johansson get a lot of attention as the “big stars” in the Marvel movies but these two guys do a great job of embodying these iconic characters.

I think Iron Man 2 could possibly have the weakest script out of all the films in the MCU yet manages to be one of my favorites.  To me there’s something about the tone and the action that just works for me.  I love the ties to the greater S.H.I.E.L.D. world as well as the connections to Tony’s past.  Since I’m a big fan of explode-y action in these movies, the final act of Iron Man 2 is just candy to me.  That aerial chase with Stark and the Hammer-oids is just so thrilling despite the rampant product placement.

That’s it for now and I suspect that it’s fairly clear that I really like these movies.  I spent a bit of time re-watching trailers for some upcoming 2014 movies and I was reminded of how excited I am for Captain America 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy and with Avengers 2 on the horizon (oh, and also Amazing Spider-Man 2 even though it’s not part of the MCU), I’m sure there’ll be lots more MCU hotness for me to enjoy.


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