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We're gonna need a bigger boat.

So, I've been working on a series of essays breaking down each of the Marvel film, and I figured it would be fun to just post all my "hot takes" that almost every single person seems to disagree with. I'm just putting them out there. Happy to elaborate if you want, but really just want to give everyone a chance to either go, "You're crazy, man!" or post their own Marvel hot takes.

So, here they are:

1. The Incredible Hulk is not the worst Marvel movie. (Thor: The Dark World is.)

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is solid, but it's hardly as deep or great as everyone likes to make it seem. It's a thematic mess by the time it gets to the end.

3. Spider-man: Homecoming is not very good, but it's middle of the pack of Spider-man movies. (I rank them: 1. Spider-verse. 2. Spider-man 2. 3. Spider-man. 4. Homecoming. 5. Amazing Spider-man. 6. Spider-man 3. 7. Amazing Spider-man 2.)

(And now, here come the real hot takes...)

4. Iron Man 2 is the best Iron Man movie, and Justin Hammer/Ivan Vanko are among the better crop of Marvel villains for their thematic relevance and for the way that they function in the overall film.

5. Iron Man 3 *would* be the best Iron Man movie if not for the stuff with the Mandarin. The problem isn't that they changed the character from the comics. It's the way that they did. To turn him into a literal punchline for the sake of pushing a more generic, bland, who-cares villain with a boring and shallow motivation really kills all the good things they do in the film.

6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is a better overall film than Vol 1.

7. Ant-Man is the best Phase II movie.

And finally, the hottest take of them all...

8. Age of Ultron is better than Infinity War.



Those are the bulk of my Marvel cinematic hot takes. Do you have any?



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There are 16 Replies

I suppose I can also do a quick ranking:

1. Black Panther
2. Thor: Ragnarok
3. Captain America: Civil War
4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
5. Ant-Man and the Wasp
6. The Avengers
7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
8. Iron man 2
9. Guardians of the Galaxy
10. Ant-Man
11. Doctor Strange
12. Captain America: First Avenger
13. Iron Man 3
14. Iron Man
15. Avengers: Age of Ultron
16. The Incredible Hulk
17. Thor
18. Spider-man: Homecoming
19. Avengers: Infinity War
20. Thor: The Dark World

That list tends to reorganize itself from time to time. Black Panther is always at the top and Thor: The Dark World is always at the bottom. Everything in between tends to move around. Sort of used a combination of factors, from my general enjoyment of the films, to how well constructed they are, to genuine film criticism. I don't think there's ultimately a genuinely bad one in the bunch, and I enjoyed all to some extent. (Enough that I revisit them from time to time.)

Posted December 30th, 2018 by Jet Presto

Ultron better than infinity war.

can you give me 5lbs of whatever you are smoking? I would like to go into 2019 with this twisted disillusionment.

Gotg2

better than gotg1

Mandarin

I've been told that there isn't any worthwhile adaption of the mandarin to put on film
Hence we got what we saw in Iron man 3. Not a comic book reader so I'm not sure how true this is.


My hot take is that Black Panther is a pretty mediocre film. Killmonger is the only reason worth watching it.



Posted December 30th, 2018 by S.o h.
S.o h.
 

As far as rankings go my top 5 would be

1.winter soldier
2. Infinity war
3.ragnorak
4.Ant man/ ant man 2
5. Toss up between iron man 1 and guardians of the galaxy.

I've always disliked strange and the web slinging man of wuips. Admittedly they were my favorite part of infinity war. I may give their solo films a second viewing.

Posted December 30th, 2018 by S.o h
S.o h
 

RE: AGE OF ULTRON

The primary problems with Age of Ultron are three-fold: first, it is effectively a re-hash of the first Avengers film. (Team gets together. Team is torn apart due to internal conflict. Team saves the day by coming back together.) Second, it spends a little too much time world building and setting up future films. (I tend to think that Marvel has actually been relatively solid at integrating world-building into their films, but there are certainly times Age of Ultron is clumsy with it. See: Thor randomly running off to take a bath.) And third, it devolves into them just fighting a CGI army of baddies.

But, see, I think all of those are also true of Infinity War. The basic structure is pretty much the same, only it's got, like, three threads of the same structure. It's less "team gets together" as much as it is "pockets of the team come together." It's less "Team torn apart due to internal conflict" and more "team literally spread out across the galaxy by external forces." And it's certainly going to be resolved by the team coming together. And, by it's very nature, Infinity War is itself an incomplete film that exists almost exclusively to set up Endgame. And, of course, Infinity War culminates in a giant battle with the Avengers and the Wakandan army fighting a hoard of CGI monsters.

Basically, I think the exact same criticisms of Age of Ultron can easily be applied to Infinity War. The real benefit for Infinity War is that, because it's had 18 films previously to set the basic elements up, it doesn't need to waste too much time building. They do a lot of exposition dumps to explain Thanos, since he largely comes out of nowhere. Otherwise, the stones have mostly been explained already in previous Avengers or Thor or Guardians movies.

The benefit to Age of Ultron, though, is that it is actually a complete film. It doesn't spend much time randomly deciding it wants you to sympathize with a murderous sociopath. There are actually some nuances to Ultron that make him more interesting and somewhat entertaining than other Marvel villains (this I say comparatively: Ultron is by no means a "great villain" overall, but by Marvel standards, he's solid.) We get a couple of actual character arcs that are built around the team-up rather than seeing re-hashed arcs from the solo films (I'm not sure anyone in Infinity War gets an arc. Maybe Thor, but his arc is effectively the same one he has in every Thor film.)

I would venture to make an argument that Age of Ultron is actually a better overall film than The Avengers. Unfortunately, it can't be ignored that it exists as a sequel, so the fact that it rehashes a lot from the first film can't be ignored.



RE: THE MANDARIN

See, it's funny to think about *now* given what the MCU has become, but the biggest reason Marvel Studios was so afraid to even try to adapt the Mandarin is that they didn't think magic would really work in the universe. (An interesting concept given they have been building up to an epic event with a purple man wielding literally magic stones to become all powerful.) I think if Iron Man 3 came out after Age of Ultron, in a post-Guardians of the Galaxy world (the world where Dr. Strange exists), they probably would have done more.

I do understand not wanting to make the Mandarin magic-based. And sure, the generic middle eastern terrorist - the MCU's Osama bin Laden - isn't super interesting itself. But I still, frankly, think it would have been better to use the Mandarin to - at a minimum - use tech Tony doesn't understand. That would have made a more interesting conflict, in my opinion.


Posted December 31st, 2018 by Jet Presto

Ooh, some interesting ones in there. I'm planning on doing a rewatch of the MCU movies before Endgame comes out, so I might have better comments on some of those once I get around to that--it's been way, way too long since I've seen Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, or even Age of Ultron to have a good response to those. I will say that I kinda disliked Age of Ultron the first time around and I think the villain being far more interesting in Infinity War is enormous in my book, so I'd be surprised if that opinion changed much...even if I'm not quite as high on Infinity War as most people seem to be.

I do agree about Guardians 2 > Guardians 1. Again, a good chunk of that is due to the villain being far more compelling, as Ego was solid while Ronan remains the most boring MCU villain to date IMO. Also agreed with Homecoming not being a top-tier Marvel film or really all that close, though I'm not as low on it as you are. I give it major points because I think Tom Holland is perfect in that role, but there are a few things that really, really bug me (I get that they didn't want to do the whole origin story again for the third time in 15 years, but Uncle Ben and the "with great power" superhero mandate are so key to that character and they are hardly factors at all in Homecoming or Peter's motivations therein. The mandate in particular is maybe THE quintessential raison d'etre for superhero activity and I hate that it got displaced in favor of Peter just wanting to join the Avengers). It's a weird thing where I've thought Spider-Man was one of the best parts of both other films in which he appeared, but his actual solo film didn't work as well for me--it feels like the Russo brothers and Markus/McFeely have a better grasp on the character IMO. Definitely can't get behind Ant-Man over Winter Soldier or the first Guardians, though, as far as Phase 2 movies go.

My biggest MCU hot take is probably that Thor: Ragnarok isn't in the upper echelon of Marvel films. I liked the movie fine, and some aspects (like Valkyrie) were great, but it relied heavily on the "undercutting of dramatic moment" style of humor which has huge diminishing returns for me. The first two or three times, it was great, but by the end I just found myself rolling my eyes every time something dramatic was happening because I knew it was being set up for a similar style of joke the film had already used a half-dozen times or more before. I guess another hot take would be that the Runaways, which I just watched through for the first time, just isn't a very good TV show. I was surprised to find out that it has gotten pretty good reviews because I found aspects of it so infuriating.

Edited January 1st by white lancer

My rough ranking would be somewhat similar to this, though I expect some changes will happen when I rewatch:

Top Tier

1. Black Panther
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
3. Iron Man
4. Captain America: Civil War
5. The Avengers
6. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
7. Guardians of the Galaxy

Mid-Tier (AKA the quality you'd typically expect from a Marvel film--solid, but not amazing)

8. Avengers: Infinity War
9. Captain America: The First Avenger
10. Ant Man and the Wasp
11. Thor: Ragnarok
12. Spider-Man: Homecoming
13. Doctor Strange
14. Iron Man 2
15. Thor
16. Ant-Man

Bottom Tier (AKA mediocre movies)

17. Iron Man 3
18. Avengers: Age of Ultron
19. The Incredible Hulk
20. Thor: The Dark World

Edited January 2nd by white lancer

I will say that I kinda disliked Age of Ultron the first time around and I think the villain being far more interesting in Infinity War is enormous in my book


I can understand that. Age of Ultron felt very re-tread-y at the time. It's also a little unfortunate because I actually think the idea of Ultron is a lot more interesting than Thanos. The difference in films is that Thanos gets substantially more to do, given he is arguably the protagonist. I don't personally find Thanos that interesting. The idea behind Ultron deciding what "saving the world" means - while not an uncommon concept in stories involving AI - was more intriguing than sociopathic moron with bad planning skills who happens to be pretty powerful on his own and is made near invincible with magic stones. At the same time, Thanos clearly gets more actual story. So, in execution, Thanos gets more exploration and thus I see why people find him more interesting. (I personally had problems with how hard the filmmakers tried to get me to empathize with him and justify his actions, and I kinda have a problem with that, but that's separate from this point.)


I do agree about Guardians 2 > Guardians 1. Again, a good chunk of that is due to the villain being far more compelling, as Ego was solid while Ronan remains the most boring MCU villain to date IMO.


Well. I think you can definitely be forgiven for forgetting about Malekith from Thor: The Dark World. But yes, Ronan was definitely boring. Ego wasn't great in his own right, but he was solid. I think the thing that Marvel has been really spotty on is how they make their villains connect. Ego is not just a more interesting villain in general, but he actually connects to Star-Lord. What connection does Ronan have to any one of the Guardians? He doesn't really have one. He's sort of just the Big Bad that the film pushes as a reason for the team to get together to stop, but they have no real personal stakes in it. (This is also one of my problems with Thanos as a villain and why I don't personally think he's that interesting.

I like Guardians Vol 2 a lot more because it is so much more of a character-driven film. And I think that makes it a stronger film. Each character gets their own stories that push their characters as individual, but in a way that also builds the team. The first film was effectively just a team-up film that shows the "power of friendship" or whatever. (Don't mean that to imply it's bad. Just saying why I find it more compelling than Vol 1.)

I give it major points because I think Tom Holland is perfect in that role


Oh, there's no question that Tom Holland is the best live action Spider-man. He really nails the character in the most complete way.

I agree about the responsibility thing, although yeah, can hardly blame them for not wanting to get overly bogged down. I think it's great that they kind of wanted to just...go. But it felt like they missed a few key ingredients. I didn't ever buy that this Peter Parker was a down-on-his-luck nerdy kid. I mean, he's nerdy, but not in a way that would make him the subject of ridicule or social outcast status.

Posted January 1st by Jet Presto

Oh, there's no question that Tom Holland is the best live action Spider-man. He really nails the character in the most complete way.



Posted January 2nd by S.O.H.
S.O.H.
 

I might as well throw my personal ranking there...

Top Tier:

Captain America: The First Avenger
Thor Ragnarok
Captain America: Civil War
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Ant-Man
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers
Black Panther

Mid Tier:

Dr. Strange
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Spider-Man Homecoming
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Iron Man
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Thor

Bottom Tier:

Thor: The Dark World
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2

Haven't seen tier:

Iron Man 3

While I did like Black Panther I dunno about it being the best one of all of them. I tend to go back and forth on some but The First Avenger still holds a good place in my heart.

Posted January 2nd by Fox Forever

@white lancer

10. Thor: Ragnarok
12. Thor: Ragnarok


Since there's only two iron man films in your list I'm going to guess one of these was iron Man 3

Posted January 2nd by Moonray
Moonray
 

Since there's only two iron man films in your list I'm going to guess one of these was iron Man 3

Nah he just really enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok. Not enough for it to be a top tier movie, but enough to push out Iron Man 3 in the mid tier category.

I respect his choice.

Posted January 2nd by S.O.H.
S.O.H.
 



Yeah, Malekith and Ronan are basically the same guy--just your classic generic doomsday bad guy whose motivations pretty much amount just to being evil. I had hopes that a bad guy with the badass title of "The Accuser" had an actual interesting backstory, but bleh. Ego was pretty much a doomsday guy, but the added personal connection and the impact he had on Quill puts him head-and-shoulders above most MCU movie villains, in the top 10 basically by default.



I would actually agree that the idea of Ultron was better, but I thought the execution was much worse. Going into Infinity War, I wasn't especially interested in Thanos as a bad guy because I thought he'd be just another of those doomsday villains, but they managed to give him more layers than that. It probably helped that there was an actual actor that could convey actual expressions, but I enjoyed Thanos because of the gravitas with which he went about his business. He wasn't exulting about his power or beating his enemies, he wasn't having fun or enjoying himself, and he wasn't simply evil for evil's sake. I enjoyed the way that he seemed to hate what he was doing even though he thought it was the only way, and that he carried on even though he knew he'd be vilified for it and even though it was going to cost him personally. I never felt empathy for him or that his actions were justified--to the contrary, he seemed clearly insane to me, but in a more understated way rather than the over-the-top madness that I usually see. That's what I found interesting to him, personally...and he did have a personal connection with Gamora and Nebula, and to a lesser extent Drax. Though I will say that Gamora was dead-on to call him out on his professed "love" for her, and it was bullcrap that the Soul Stone bought it as legitimate.



Just noticed this one. Shuri and Okoye would like a word with you. And Nakia, Ramonda, M'Baku, Klaue...poor T'Challa might have been outshined by his supporting cast in that movie (after being one of the highlights of Civil War), but it's only because that supporting cast sans W'Kabi was excellent.



Oh, yeah. Originally had Ragnarok at #10 before I realized I wanted to put Ant-Man and the Wasp ahead of it, so I accidentally put it in twice (and forgot about Iron Man 3). I'd put Ragnarok at #11 and Iron Man 3 at #17.

Edited January 2nd by white lancer

I never felt empathy for him or that his actions were justified


That's good, but it seemed pretty obvious - even without hearing the filmmakers talk about it in the blu-ray extras - that they were trying to get audiences to sympathize with him. In many ways, Thanos's goal and motivation is literally the same as Ultron's, just that he got more time on screen to be comparatively fleshed out. You're right that having an actor with a face helped. That alone makes the execution better.


I would be curious what a Top 10 villains list even looks like in Marvel. I suppose we'd count Loki, but Loki in Avengers is meh. Loki in Thor 2, Thor 3, and Infinity War is barely - if at all - a villain.

Posted January 4th by Jet Presto

Top 10 villains list even looks like in Marvel. I suppose we'd count Loki, but Loki in Avengers is meh.

I can be reaching as I saw Thor 1 a long time go. Doesnt loki become a stronger villain if you watch Thor 1 and then the Avengers? I mean his motivations are heavily laid out in Thor 1 if I remember correctly.

Marvel recently came out and said he was being influenced by the mind stone so he may not even be a villain. More of an anti hero?

Posted January 4th by S.O.H.
S.O.H.
 

I felt they were trying to get me to understand him, but in my mind understanding isn't exactly the same as sympathizing or empathizing. Understanding his motivations for doing what he was doing was good, but it didn't change the fact that trying to eliminate half of the life in the universe is downright insane. Feels like splitting hairs at that point, though.

As far as a top 10 villains list for Marvel...it's tricky, because after obvious few it's not so good. Something like this, maybe?

1. Loki
2. Killmonger
(gap)
3. Vulture
4. Winter Soldier
4. Thanos
5. Ava Starr
6. Ego
7. Helmut Zemo
(gap)
8. Hela
9. Pierce
10. ...Stane, maybe?

After the first 7 or so it becomes really difficult. Hela is another generic doomsday villain--even her "personal connection" to Thor doesn't really change anything in that film (really wish she could have had a confrontation with Odin)--but at least she was fun. There are some tricky choices like the inclusion of Loki, Bucky, and Ava, given their varying levels of antagonism. Do we include minor villains? I quite enjoyed Klaue, and Nebula deserves consideration (though she's both minor as a villain and has the same issue Loki does). The Maximoff twins, if they count, were my favorite part of Age of Ultron (particularly Wanda). Even Ebony Maw was kinda cool, but super limited. If we included the TV shows, it becomes easier--Wilson Fisk tops the list for me, and Kilgrave, Cottonmouth, Gao, Mariah, Mary, Bullseye, Jigsaw, Dottie, Whitney Frost, Aida, Garrett, Ward, and Raina all become contenders. Easier to develop villains with the extra time TV provides, though they still have some stinkers, of course.

Edited January 5th by white lancer
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