5W Friday Panel: Ranking the Marvel Movies!


Who doesn't love a good ranking? Join the Fifth Worlders as they rank the MCU movies and comment on them. Every Friday, we will host a virtual panel session on a topic of the week, capturing The Fifth World staff having a dialogue about a given subject.  This week's topic: ranking the MCU movies!
   






Chris Maka JL Franke Sean Fields
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Captain America: Civil War
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers
Ant-Man
Captain America: The First Avenger
Doctor Strange
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Iron Man
Thor: Ragnarok
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Thor: The Dark World
Iron Man 3
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2
Thor
Iron Man 2
The Incredible Hulk
Avengers
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Iron Man
Captain America: The First Avenger
Guardians of the Galaxy
Doctor Strange
Captain America: Civil War
Ant-Man
Thor
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Thor: The Dark World
Thor: Ragnarok
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 3
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2
Iron Man 2
Captain America: Civil War
Thor: Ragnarok
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Avengers
Ant-Man
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2
Guardians of the Galaxy
Iron Man
Doctor Strange
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Captain America: The First Avenger
Thor
Thor: The Dark World
The Incredible Hulk
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 3


Marc Singer Greg Morrow
BEST OF THE BEST

Iron Man
Captain America: Winter Soldier

TOP SHELF

Captain America
Captain America: Civil War
Thor: Ragnarok
Avengers
Thor
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Ant-Man

MIDDLE OF THE PACK

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Doctor Strange
Iron Man 2

MEH

The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 3
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy 2

WORST OF THE WORST

Thor: The Dark World
TOP TWO, TIED

Captain America: Winter Soldier
Avengers

TOP SHELF, IN APPROXIMATE ORDER

Iron Man
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The First Avenger
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2

SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOP SHELF BUT WASN'T, STORY PROBLEMS

Captain America: Civil War

SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOP SHELF BUT WASN'T, STUDIO INTERFERENCE

Avengers: Age of Ultron

PERFECTLY GOOD BUT NOT EXTRAORDINARY, IN APPROXIMATE ORDER

Thor: Ragnarok
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 3
Thor
The Incredible Hulk
Thor: The Dark World

CLICHE ORIGINS THAT FAIL THE SEXY LAMP TEST aka I WEEP FOR SQUANDERED POTENTIAL

Ant-Man
Doctor Strange

N/A, HAVEN'T SEEN YET

Spider-Man: Homecoming


JL Franke

Here are our aggregate rankings:

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

 
Here's the data.  This indicates which movies had the most and least consensus among those of us voting, as well as which movies each of us diverged from the pack the most.

JL Franke

When we talked earlier, we came to the conclusion of focusing on the movies we have the most disagreement first, before turning it into a free-for-all.  Looking at the aggregate list from last to first, we do a surprising amount of agreeing on the bottom tier of films.

Marc Singer 

That doesn't surprise me at all.

Sean Fields 

Everything sucks the same.

Marc Singer 

It's easy to agree when something is widely panned; prioritizing the ones everybody liked is harder.

JL Franke 

Quite true.

Chris Maka

I actually like all of these movies -- I am very much the intended audience for this stuff, and they continue to deliver right to my wheelhouse. I'm no judge of which movies are technically or objectively better or worse than another, so I ranked them by how much I enjoy rewatching them. The only one tough to rank was Ragnarok, because it's not out on video yet, and it may grow on me more and rise up the rankings -- hard to say.

Greg Morrow

Ant-Man: By the fucking numbers, not a single unusual or unexpected story beat. The tank in the pocket could not have been more obvious. The final fight putting the daughter in jeopardy could not have been more obvious. Sexist as hell -- Competent woman shunted aside in favor of shlubby man who can do her job better with less training despite being comically incompetent to start with, and then she is awarded to him as a prize by the movie. Fails the Bechdel test. Fails the Mako Mori test. Ex-wife is a nothing; all the business is given to her new boyfriend, leaving her nothing.

The sidekick was fun, though. Good storytelling.

Doctor Strange: Not only by the numbers, it's by the same numbers as Ant-Man: Incompetent man given the keys to the kingdom and becomes improbably competent in far less time than people who have been studying far longer. Another fucking origin story. What I wanted was Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, Sorcerer Supreme, not This Guy Who Learns a Few Spells and Has a Living Cloak.

The cloak failed to meet expectations; people loved it, and I was meh.

Don't dis the cloak.  How else will a Sorcerer Supreme stay warm?

The only way it manages to be less overtly sexist than Ant-Man is by erasing women more thoroughly. You can practically see the script rewrites floating by as Rachel McAdams's role goes from some degree of being integral to being an afterthought. Fails the Bechdel Test. Fails the Mako Mori test. Fails the Sexy Lamp test.

And I was unimpressed at the reiteration of Inception citywarping. I will concede that I don't really have the visual processing skills to get what all the citywarping was supposed to be doing -- I assume that it had a purpose beyond "looks cool", and that we were supposed to be seeing struggles for control in the citywarping between the combatants -- but in the end, all I saw was purposelessness.

I liked the way Strange trapped Dormammu.

Ultimately, the two films -- which were not unwatchable, just not _good_ -- failed in several ways: They offered nothing new and the same old problems, in the same way as each other, when nearly adjacent to each other in the series.

JL Franke

Do you have terse definitions for Mako Mori and sexy lamp tests?  I’m not familiar with them.

Greg Morrow

Mako Mori: a) at least one female character;

b) who gets her own narrative arc;

c) that is not about supporting a man’s story.

Sexy Lamp: The Sexy Lamp test. If you can take out a female character and replace her with a sexy lamp, YOU’RE A FUCKING HACK.

Ant-Man cut scene?

JL Franke

Ah. Thanks!

You liked gotg2 and IM2 more than others. Anything you’d like to say to those?

Greg Morrow

GOTG2: Not the same story; in fact, more than one story, a good script well structured. Good integration of Marvel space stuff. Good integration of music. The only sour note was the arbitrariness of Yondu's death -- it had no inevitability given the technology present in the setting, only contrivance. It was, in basically all respects like the original, without being the same as the original and not believing that it had to be bigger, louder, higher stakes than the original, which is basically the ideal sequel.

IM2: I think it's important to consider its context as only the 2nd or 3rd (depending on the dubious integrality of IH) marvel film. Like GotG2, it was a whole lot of like the original without being the same as the original; the only flaw was the fight at the end, which did fall prey to the "bigger louder higher stakes" problem (IM3 did even worse in that regard). In retrospect, more of its flaws may be more visible.

But "that is not my bird" gets quoted all the time in my circle. You can't beat Sam Rockwell's performance. They had the briefcase suit. They made fucking Whiplash at least marginally plausible. They introduced Widow and Johansson played the hell out of her. Favreau let himself look foolish and weak. And it took Fury's appearance in IM and not only said this isn't just a fire-and-forget easter egg, this is integral to Marvel going forward.

Chris Maka

Wow, that's a great defense of IM2.

Greg Morrow

Some of my opinions are arbitrary and idiosyncratic. Some are not.

Chris Maka

Right there with ya.

Greg Morrow

I neglected to mention War Machine, who also fit and filled out the movie and gave Stark someone to play off who was a peer in the way that Pepper, Hammer, and Fury/Widow weren't.

Chris Maka

I think IM2 and IH are the only two I don't own. May need to pick up IM2 and give it another chance.

Greg Morrow

Just having the briefcase suit and having it look awesome earns mad points, at least in terms of credibility to me as a comic book fan. They're NOT making fun of it, they're not going on about whether its cheesy, they're using it sincerely and trusting the audience to agree with them that it's a genuine fuck-yeah moment.

JL Franke 

Greg's already addressed why he thinks Iron Man 2 rates better than tied for last.  Does anyone have anything to say to that?

Marc Singer 

Yeah, I think Iron Man 2 could have been a great movie that gets progressively ruined by studio interference.

I enjoy the opening sequences, the Monte Carlo race, the Silver Centurion suit, Whiplash, all that stuff.

JL Franke 

Do tell.  Where do you think the interference comes in?  Is it the pushing of Avengers?

Sean Fields 

I think Greg's points are good, but I was just bored as hell with Iron Man 2 for some reason.

Marc Singer 

The movie commits to telling the "Demon in a Bottle" story when Disney (which had just bought Marvel) wouldn't allow them to go all the way and make Tony Stark an alcoholic. This should go without saying, but you cannot do that story without the alcoholism. It just cuts the heart out.

RDJ in this story would have been amazing.

So everything after that godawful party/DJ scene is just aimless.

JL Franke 

That is true.  But it will be far from the last time Disney pulls back from the stunning drama that populates Marvel Comics.

Marc Singer 

No, but it was the first and probably the worst.

Sean Fields 

It'll be the worst unless they tell that creepy Captain Marvel baby story.

Not one of Marvel's finer moments.

Chris Maka

Shane Black wanted to get into the Demon In a Bottle stuff in IM3, and Disney did the same neutering.

JL Franke 

I'm surprised so many folks here are positive on Whiplash.  He was one of the things that tanked it for me.  Mickey Rourke whining about his bird in a bad accent just killed me, and not in a good way.

Marc Singer 

The various MCU elements in IM2 ranged from well done (Black Widow) to poor (that damn shield) depending on how obligatory they were.

I liked him better than Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer. I could see what they were going for, Hammer as a knockoff of RDJ's Stark specifically, but he just never felt menacing.

JL Franke 

Widow was definitely a high point for the film.  Too bad she's so supposedly unmarketable.

Marc Singer 

(In part because the thing Hammer actually hurts Stark with, the alcoholism, was cut out of the movie.)  Rourke definitely had menacing down.

JL Franke 

I guess I just didn't see him as menacing.  I thought he was ridiculously overpowered for a half-naked man.

Give him his bird.

Sean Fields 

He had that "I'll shiv you in the shower" menace happening.

Marc Singer 

I liked him as the half-naked self-made superweapon of the first half more than the big armored suit of the finale.

Sean Fields 

I agree with that, Marc.

Marc Singer 

But I suppose all the IM movies after the first have the problem of, what are you going to pit IM against if not another guy in an even bigger armored suit?

Say, can I talk about the first Iron Man?

JL Franke 

I do think you hit it when you decried the disappearance of the alcoholism, Marc.

Sure, fire away.

Marc Singer 

We all liked it, but I liked it significantly more than everybody else. That's because I've taught it a couple of times, and I've liked it more each time I've gone back to teach it - a surefire sign that we have a winner.

With a few exceptions, any of these movies are crowd-pleasers in the theater, but Iron Man rewards repeat viewing in a way I did not expect.

JL Franke 

How so?

Marc Singer 

The characters feel more layered than they first appear - Tony Stark is clearly dealing with PTSD in the first movie, not just IM3 - and the storytelling is rock solid.

JL Franke 

Is it just PTSD or is it also a significant attack of growing a conscience?  I think he may have both going on, and certainly the latter is directly from the comics.

Marc Singer 

There's a point where I realized that every single character, even Pepper, tells Tony to abandon his mission to reform himself and go back to being an arms dealer or a spoiled playboy. The only one who stands by him all the way through the film is that servo!

He is a posthuman hero for a posthuman age.

JL Franke 

Huh.  I had not looked at it like that before, but it certainly makes sense.

Sean Fields 

I think Tony still has PTSD and that's how we ended up with Age of Ultron.

Marc Singer 

Also, I love the retelling of the origin (which is faithful to the comics but also perfectly updated for the War on Terror) and the whole Gulmira sequence in the middle, which is a textbook case for a Hollywood film telling a divided audience exactly what they want to hear about American power during an uncertain time and an unpopular war.

Nobody would confuse it for an arthouse film, but Favreau knows exactly what he's doing.

JL Franke 

One of the issues I have with the overall MCU arc is that they mix together Stark and Hank Pym.  Ultron just being the most obvious.

Marc Singer 

One of the issues I have is that they give Stark all of Hawkeye's quips, so Hawkeye has no personality!

JL Franke 

It is one of the better origin films made in the genre.  Really, the only thing I faulted it for was having a snoozefest of a villain (well acted as he was).  But that's an issue that runs rampant through most Marvel films.

Marc Singer 

I think IM's origin and Cap's origin are note-perfect.

JL Franke 

So wait, RDJ is playing a Tony/Hank/Clint hybrid?  He's actually the Super Adaptoid!

We go deep in our allusions here.

I agree, Marc.  Which brings us to Cap, where we all liked the first film, but Sean liked it a little less than the rest of us.  Want to comment, Sean?

Sean Fields 

I liked Cap but I didn't have perhaps as much fun with Cap as opposed to the films I picked ahead of it. Cap is a pitch perfect origin film and ticks off all the boxes for story. I just enjoy the goofier elements of a Ragnarok or GOTG Vol 2 more.

Marc Singer 

The only problem I have with Cap is that it doesn't handle the transition from "origin story" to "war movie" all that well.

Sean Fields 

With that being said Cap being Cap was why I found myself really liking Civil War and Winter Soldier.

Marc Singer 

And I actually like the USO sequence! I just don't like it as a bridge into the war story part of the movie.

Like, I get it's more "realistic" that the army would not send their one and only super-soldier into combat, but realism is not why we go to Marvel movies.

Sean Fields 

(I also think I would have had a different opinion if I didn't see WW this year)

Marc Singer 
I don't think anybody would have objected if General Stan Lee or somebody just said, "Son, go punch some Nazis."

"Go ahead, son.  Nazis won't punch themselves."

JL Franke 
Actually, I don't find that part realistic at all.

I could see them not letting him go into combat if they thought they could replicate the formula with some additional research on him, but to just use him as a war bond salesman was actually the worst part for me. I've not met many military decision makers who sit back on their weapons unless they're the single-use kind.

Marc Singer 

I thought the number was cute on its own terms (nobody does a period piece like Joe Johnston) but it grinds the story to a halt. In fact it sticks the story in a well that it then has to climb out of.

JL Franke 

Agreed.  So why did you like it so much?  You were highest of all of us on it.

Marc Singer 

Because this is a minor structural quibble with a movie that otherwise gets just about everything right.

And really, if you get Captain America right - and nobody gets Cap right like Chris Evans gets Cap right - that's the moral core for the entire MCU right there.

(Also, I am a huge fan of The Rocketeer. Marvel chose their director wisely.)

An underrated classic.

JL Franke 

For me, I loved the supporting cast -- one of the strongest in the MCU -- and loved the fact that they had a really solid villain.  The appearance (and relative faithfulness) of the Howling Commandos gave me fanboy goosebumps.  And the scene where he walks all the POWs back to camp was a major chill moment in the movie series for me.

True, it was a great match.

Marc Singer 

Since we're on the origin movies, how about Thor?

JL Franke 

Sean, I let your WW comment almost slide off the screen.  Can you expand on that?

Marc Singer 

(I'll wait)

Sean Fields 

I feel that WW felt more like a soldier making the big sacrifice of giving up her home to go to war. Cap and WW did it for the right reasons but I somehow felt more engaged with Diana going into the world, learning about our flaws and still fighting. I also just liked the fighting better.

But Red Skull >Ares

JL Franke 

Jeff Bridges riding a segway and puffing a stogie > Ares.

Let's see Ares look this chill on a Segway.

Marc Singer 

Yeah, the Red Skull is a much better villain. And good news, everybody--he's relevant again!
(pardon me while I pour myself whatever Tony was having in IM2)

JL Franke 

There's a part of me that's surprised Thor's not ranked higher.  I liked it quite a bit, and it's solidly made and has one of the best villains the MCU has produced.  But for some reason I don't find it nearly as rewatchable.

My one real complaint about Winter Soldier was they backed off the idea that Redford was playing the Red Skull.  That would have really elevated the film, I think, to show how easy America could embrace some of the ideals of the Nazis without even thinking about it.

Sean Fields 

I liked Thor but the idea of Thor for me is always this that this dummy who fights with everyone kinda learns to be better and he doesn't truly get to that until Ragnarok. Also, it's epic at times but has shifted down the list with each new MCU entry.

Marc Singer 

Clearly Winter Soldier came out a couple years too early.

Sean Fields 

Or Redford as Hate-Monger.

A sadly relevant villain these days.

Marc Singer 

I may be slightly overvaluing Thor because I'm still basking in the glory that was Ragnarok.
But I don't think so. Marvel generally does their origin movies very well, and Thor was no exception. It used to be in my top 5 until the better sequels pushed it out.

Sean Fields 

You need that first movie to get to Ragnarok but it's definitely not as good.

JL Franke 

Is it time for me to talk about how I did not see the same movie as you guys on Ragnarok already?

Sean Fields 

Go for it.

Marc Singer 

Not yet.

JL Franke 

Okay, I'll hold. :-)

We all uniformly panned Dark World, but I wonder if we did it for the same reasons.

Marc Singer 

Thor works on its own terms because it gets the family drama right, it builds the greatest villain in the MCU, and it pulls off the neat trick of making Asgard work even though it has to split its focus between two different worlds.

(To get a sense of how hard this is to do, compare Thor to another superhero movie that came out in 2011 and ask yourself: how did you like Oa?)

In fairness, OA was far from Green Lantern's biggest problem.

All the things that were internal to that movie worked. My only complaints were 1) the awful "Hawkeye" scene (NOTE: does not actually contain Hawkeye) and 2) not enough Destroyer.

JL Franke 

True.

Marc Singer 

And 1) was studio mandated. On its own terms, Thor is great.

Sean Fields 

Really? I didn't even like Loki as a villain until later. I thought everyone was kinda simple in that first go-round.

Marc Singer 

Also the only one of the Thor movies to do justice to the Warriors Three. (pours out whatever Tony was drinking in IM2)

Sean Fields 

I will give you the Warriors Three and Sif point though.

Marc Singer 

I thought Loki was richest in Thor because that's where his family conflicts are most pronounced.

JL Franke 

My issues were the frost giants were pretty bland and the fact that it ruins some of its pacing for humor that's not the best timed.  The scene where the Warriors Three and Sif are smiling and waving through the window is cute, but I thought it tripped up the tempo that the movie had established.

Reminder, that's Hogun "the Grim" on the left.

I've yet to be disappointed by Loki in any of the movies.

Marc Singer 

The fish-out-of-water stuff is my least favorite part of that movie, but it works to propel us through that stage of Thor's exile and redemption. But the family drama on Asgard is solid.

JL Franke 

But oh, that Sif scene where she eventually skewers the Destroyer?  Give me more of that, please.

I agree.  Well-developed and well-acted.  I think that's where Branagh is at his best.

Marc Singer 

Yeah, the Destroyer was great. I remember when it came out I couldn't believe that a big-budget Hollywood film was doing Kirby designs that faithfully. We take it for granted now, but back then we weren't so far removed from superhero movies that were embarrassed to be superhero movies.

Did you want to move on to the sequels?

JL Franke 

Yes.  I asked earlier about how much we all (relatively) disliked Dark World.  What were the main issues we had?

Dvandom 

(pokes head in) Dark World is really the only one I have no desire to see again.  There were several forgettable MCU movies, many with fridge logic of worse, but Dark World has all of those AND it was rendered largely irrelevant by Ragnarok's sharp veer.  Could a Ragnarok that actually followed through on Dark World have been good?  Maybe, but irrelevant now, as is Dark World.

Marc Singer 

Kind of like Iron Man 2, they feint towards a classic comic book storyline (Simonson's Casket of Ancient Winters stuff) and then veer away, providing something much less interesting in its place.

Sean Fields 

Dark World felt rushed and kinda just a vehicle to get the Aether into the greater MCU.

Dvandom 

Now, there's a bunch I haven't seen again, but that's because I dislike Disney's practice of releasing bare-bones DVDs in order to try to push BluRay sales (I have no BluRay player, and no particular interest in getting one).

JL Franke 

Dark World did seem like the first movie kidnapped by Marvel's desire to have an Infinity Stone in every pot.

Sean Fields 

Kurse was also very Darth Maul in it. Wanted him to do more and be cooler but alas, no.

Marc Singer 

The movie also cannot reconcile its high drama on Asgard (which is completely leaden) and its comedy on Earth (which is forced and painfully unfunny - I mean, somebody thought "Selvig doesn't have pants" would be their big laugh moment). It's like somebody watched the first Thor and put it through that ray that makes Bizarros.

JL Franke 

As well as Kat Denning's inability to say Mjolnir.

Marc Singer 

That was funny the first time... in the first movie.

JL Franke 

I also found Malekith as played by Eccleston a completely uninteresting character.

Marc Singer 

Yeah, zero personality. Which he doesn't have in the comics either, but because he's so steeped in Celtic lore he doesn't need it. Malekith in Simonson's comics is a mythological character. In the film he's just a generic Evil Alien.

But speaking of aliens... are we ready for Ragnarok?

Sean Fields 

They could have made the Dark Elves more sympathetic bad guys. Like these Asgardians are taking our stuff that's why we fight.

JL Franke 

Part of that is Marvel/Disney doing that whole "they're not really gods" thing, which I was glad to see Ragnarok step back from at least a little bit.

Sure Marc.

Marc Singer 

I think you're the odd man out on this one. Why didn't it work for you?

JL Franke 

I covered a lot of this in my entry in the Ragnarok panel as well as my post on Marvel movies in general. Essentially, I hated the fact that the film took three giant, epic, meaty, dramatic tales, and reduced them to farce and romp.

There's being creative with your source material and then there's taking a colossal dump on your source material.  Ragnarok felt like the latter to me.

Marc Singer 

I can see that. The funny thing is, even though Waititi jettisoned Simonson's plot, he captured the spirit of those stories so much better than Dark World. Which is not hard, as DW didn't even try, but still.

JL Franke 

True on DW not trying.  I didn't feel like they were trying to adapt anything.  It was almost like they pulled Malekith's name out of a hat.

Marc Singer 

But the scenes of Loki getting hoisted on his own petard like the trickster that he is, those felt true both to Simonson and to the legends that Simonson was also drawing on and adapting into his own idiom.

JL Franke 

Loki rocks in every movie, great and small.

Marc Singer 

The other thing I liked about Ragnarok was that it managed to balance the mythological parts with the space odyssey that has always been a part of Thor since Kirby.

In some ways, this was the most Marvel of all the Marvel movies -- "Hey, we've got Surtur and Hela and the Executioner, but we've also got the Grandmaster!"

JL Franke 

Though Surtur is a comic foil, Hela is a vamp, Executioner is nowhere near as badass, and Grandmaster is pretty awesome, but nothing like the comics.

Marc Singer 

I didn't even think Surtur was a comic foil. They play him that way in the opening, but by the end there's nothing funny about him. I liked that move.

JL Franke 

True, at the end of the movie, he was the Enterprise's self-destruct sequence.  But he was never scary, and when I first read Simonson's story, boy was he ever scary.

Sean Fields 

That actually touches on something I talked about with a friend earlier today tangentially related to this.  But it is spoilery for The Punisher and I'm not sure I should bring it up.

JL Franke 

I haven't seen it yet, but can deal with spoilers.

Sean Fields 

Well, if you read the Punisher comics then it won't really matter but I can save it for a bit for the end.

JL Franke 

Sure.

Marc Singer 

Jerry: Yeah, they would have had to commit to a whole movie about Surtur and Asgard. I can see the complaint that Ragnarok had too many disparate elements to do them all justice, but god, would I rather have that problem than a movie like Dark World that doesn't have nearly enough in it.

Also: Goldblum, man. Goldblum.

JL Franke 

I firmly believe you can make a faithful adaptation of the Surtur Saga (at least in tone if not plot points) and still have it be really, really good.

Marc Singer 

Oh, I do too. But after Dark World, was it even worth trying to redeem that? They got off to a terrible start that didn't even set up the next movie properly. Better to go with a clean break, I think.

JL Franke 

I have no issue with Goldblum as the Grandmaster.  He's nothing like the comics version, but that's not a big thing for me.

Marc Singer 

I thought he was a delight. I would love to see him and Benicio del Toro's equally weird Collector play some role in the Infinity Wars, but I kind of doubt Marvel is going to bother picking up those threads. I think they're just going to cut straight to the main event on Earth.

Sean Fields 

Goldblum as Grandmaster was a great parallel for BDT's Collector.

JL Franke 

I'm also disappointed that (probably thanks to Incredible Hulk poisoning the well), they decided to turn Planet Hulk into part of the comedy.  Ruffalo would have acted the hell out of a true adaptation.

Agreed, Sean.  On that note, can we turn our attention to Guardians?

Marc Singer 

Yeah, that could have easily supported its own film too. But, again, better a movie that combines too many good ideas than one that can't muster a single one of its own.

JL Franke 

Marc liked the first much less than you and I did, while he and I liked the second far less than you.

For Infinity War, it looks like they're combining some elements from the original miniseries and some from the Hickman Infinity series.  I'm actually pretty stoked about the possibilities there.

(So yes Marc, I agree that they're going to drop both Grandmaster and Collector threads)

Marc Singer 

(single tear)

Sean Fields 

I had FUN with Guardians 2. I probably enjoyed it for similar reasons as to why I enjoyed Civil War more than others might have. I think everyone was really human and had to examine themselves, and although there can be arguments for how much growth everyone actually made it was a true illustration of each character and their flaws.

Plus it was bright and had spaceships and a giant Pac-Man fighting in a planet's core. It made me feel better as a human that even aliens had jerkasses.

JL Franke 

I think the largest issue I had with GotG2 was that the heroes were so passive.  Aside from purposely taking the mission they're on when the movie first starts, everything else is them reacting to stuff happening to them.  It feels less heroic in that way and also starts to be vulnerable to the same analysis protagonists in horror films usually fall prey to.

Marc Singer 

I didn't care for GOTG2 for the same reason Greg liked it: it was too close to the original. Except in my case I didn't really care for the original.

Sean Fields 

That's the thing to me though -- I don't think the Guardians are heroes.

JL Franke 

But I did greatly enjoy the first film.  What didn't you like about it, Marc?

Marc Singer 

But the movies completely want us to root for them. If they want to do a movie about antiheroes, fine, but make them actual antiheroes, not cute and cuddly rascals.

JL Franke 

I'm fine with them being mercenaries and thieves as well.  But dang, act with some agency, please.

Sean Fields 

They are a-holes but not 100 percent dicks. They are a bunch of Han Solos.

Nothing wrong with that.

JL Franke 

Which is good, since I'm not sure you can be an outie and an innie at the same time.

Sean Fields 

I root for them in opposition to 100 percent dicks. The Nova Corps are the heroes of the first film.

Marc Singer 

The GOTG movies just aren't my sense of humor. Too many of the jokes are built around wacky CGI characters, glaringly obvious video game references, retro pop hits that have already been used in plenty of other movies.

I mean, you get no points for raiding Quentin Tarantino's record collection unless you're actually Quentin Tarantino, you know?

Basically, I think the GOTG movies are engines for generating memes.

JL Franke 

Oh man, a Tarantino GotG film would be something. "I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!"

Marc Singer 

Which is the smart play to make in 2017, economically speaking. But it's not what I'm looking for in a movie.

JL Franke 

Funny, but man, does that feel disrespectful to the comics Yondu.

Marc Singer 

A Tarantino GOTG movie would be something the Gunn movies are trying to be, and falling far short of. And right now, a thousand Disney lawyers are launching into action to make sure that NEVER FUCKING HAPPENS.

JL Franke 

Marc, you remind me of my statement that the Marvel movies are fun flicks, but largely fail to be great films.  I think there are moments of brilliance (some of Whedon's camera work in Avengers is being copied by other movies now), but largely they feel churned out to make lots of dollars and set up the next flick to earn lots of dollars.  Commerce vs. art.

Marc Singer 

OK, now that I've gotten that off my chest: Did anybody else think GOTG2 would have worked much better if Kurt Russell had been playing Eros instead of Ego?

That's Starfox to you, sir.

JL Franke 

YES

Marc Singer 

As both an antagonist and Star-Lord's dad and oh god I can't believe I'm invested in this

Sean Fields 

Would have been another Thanos connection so yeah, maybe.

JL Franke 

I think anything that could have saved on exposition would have been a major win.

Sean Fields 

Imagine if they just stuck to the comic book origin.

Marc Singer 

Jerry: I don't think any superhero movies really achieve "great film" except for maybe The Dark Knight - they just don't have that kind of ambition. But the Marvel movies work very, very well as entertainment, which is all I'm looking for.

JL Franke 

I'll point toward Logan as another example, and parts of Wonder Woman (oh, what could have been), but I largely agree.

Marc Singer 

There is something to be said for doing commerce with skill and panache and some affection for the source material.

JL Franke 

True.  The better Bond movies are a great example of that.

Marc Singer 

Logan managed to depress me, which is not usually a reaction superhero movies intentionally set out to achieve.

Sean Fields 

Which is actually a good place to ask my kinda Punisher related question -- how close to the source material should the movies/shows be? As a comic book fan, the surprises or character reveals are often killed for me because I know who the character is beforehand.

JL Franke 

My opinion is that they don't have to be beholden to the source material except 1) the soul of the characters should be the same, and 2) if you're adapting a major, historically good story, you should be pretty damn faithful.

Marc Singer 



In most cases, I think the spirit matters more than the letter -- I'll take Taika Waititi's energetically faithful mishmash of story ideas over, I don't know... (trying to think of a superhero movie hurt by faithfulness to the comics - it's a pretty thin list - Green Lantern, maybe?)

JL Franke

Watchmen?

Marc Singer 

Oh god, yes. Talk about the letter and not the spirit.

What wasted potential.

JL Franke 

Yeah.  For the best adaptations, you should have both.  And if you can't have both, go for spirit and use the characters in a wholly original story. (See: Dark Knight)

Marc Singer 

You have to make some concessions to the different medium -- you're dealing with one (or a very few) two-hour installment instead of months or years’ worth of short installments.

Sean Fields 

I like the both approach. I love comic book stories and arcs but sometimes when I reread them I'll say I'm glad that they are in this format and not live action. Same thing with anime.

Exactly.

JL Franke 

True.

Sean Fields 

I also like a new twist on an idea, done properly. It's the done properly part that is the problem.

JL Franke 

So we've hit most Marvel movies, but I did want to talk about Spider-Man: Homecoming.  I was first surprised that it did so well in my bottom-up analysis, and then I was doubly surprised that everyone else liked it a lot less than me.

Marc Singer 

I actually like it a lot -- like I said, I wasn't ranking those middle ones too closely.

Sean Fields 

Think it might be Spidey fatigue?

Marc Singer 

The only reason I didn't rank Homecoming higher was that, while the high points were very, very high (Keaton especially), it had some weird story bumps in the middle.

JL Franke 

That could be.  I admit I really don't care for the first half of the movie when it's really Iron Man Jr.  But wow, the second half (from the opening of the door on homecoming night on) is perhaps the best Marvel film they've done so far.

Marc Singer 

Yeah, too much Tony Stark and too much shtick with the suit. But once it becomes a Spider-Man movie again, it's a FANTASTIC Spider-Man movie.

Sean Fields 

Agree.

JL Franke 

And I never would have thought I'd say this before seeing the movie, but Vulture is probably Marvel's second-best movie villain.

Marc Singer 

And I love how it opens up a whole new class of villains for the MCU. Finally, some guys who aren't looking for an orb or a gem or a stone - they just want to steal some shit!

Sean Fields 

But I might also just hate Tony Stark as well.

JL Franke 

And probably third-best adapted villain behind Loki and Kingpin.

Sean Fields 

Agree, Marc.

Marc Singer 

Yeah, that character is so well conceived, from the visual design to the concept of making him a scavenger (of course!).

JL Franke 

I LOVE that it has nothing to do with the infinity stones.  Love love love love love that!

And he has real motivations.  He's looking out for his family and sticking it to the people he thinks stuck it to him. No going over the top to win at business, no trying to conquer planets, no big abstract causes.  Just basic human motivations we can all understand.

Marc Singer 

Just out of curiosity, who here predicted that Marvel would put out a movie that made us love the Vulture before DC got around to freaking Darkseid?

JL Franke 

If the teaser from Justice League is any indication, they may never get around to Darkseid.

Marc Singer 

(steals a case of whatever Tony was drinking in IM2)

JL Franke 

Sad, isn't it?  The decision making over at WB is atrocious.  But that's a different panel.  :-)

Marc Singer 

Before we launch into a very, very different panel, should we talk about the other solo movies?

JL Franke 

Yes!  Who do we want to cover next?

Marc Singer 

I'll go to bat for Ant-Man, which I liked a lot more than I ever expected to.

JL Franke 

Go for it.

Marc Singer 

Like I said before, Marvel does origin stories very well, and this one is no exception. I also appreciated the variation in tone (something WB needed to learn 4 or 5 years ago), the willingness to make both a comedy and a caper movie.

One of the things Marvel does right is giving each film its own generic identity while remaining firmly within the superhero genre.

JL Franke 

I agree.  And to my points elsewhere, they wisely chose to do an original story that fit well with the feel they were going for.

Marc Singer 

So you get period piece superhero films, or spy movie superhero films, or sci fi or what have you. Ant-Man came at the right time for a comedy. And unlike GOTG, I felt the comedy was grounded in the characters and performances, not the CGI.

Sean Fields 
I like it but I also now see Greg’s points, ESPECIALLY about the Wasp’s role in it.

Marc Singer 

(Though that said, I loved the gags like the train fight, which pulls a great trick of making us think we're watching a conventional train fight before reminding us of the actual scale of events.)

Sean Fields 

But then again if it was the Wasp’s movie it would have been 15 minutes.

JL Franke 

Good points.  Really, my only issues with Ant-Man were 1) The Evangeline Lilly character was pretty much a waste, 2) The movie contradicts its own logic at times, and 3) it features yet another evil businessman.

Marc Singer 

I wanted to see the Wasp suit up, too. But the thing is, we need to acknowledge that those complaints hold for almost any of these movies. I mean, we still have yet to see a Marvel movie with a female lead. Even WB eventually figured that one out!

JL Franke 

True.  Marvel seems to hate the idea of having a super-heroine that does anything other than wrap her legs around necks.

Sean Fields 

It really sucks we never got a Widow film.

Marc Singer 

My understanding is that was all down to Ike Perlmutter nixing any movie centered around a non-white guy. As soon as Kevin Feige got control of Marvel Studios, Black Panther and Captain Marvel got greenlit.

I still don't understand how they haven't done a Widow film, though.

JL Franke 

Good for Feige if true.

Sean Fields 

Which is dumb because that’s pretty much easy money.

JL Franke 

Though he could still green light a Widow movie any time he wants.  It's not like ScarJo is retired.

Marc Singer 

Yeah, I don't get the logic there at all.

JL Franke 

We keep coming up with movies we wish Marvel would do.  This is two panels in one!

So what about Doctor Strange?

Marc Singer 

Oh man, someday I will talk about my imaginary treatment for a Falcon movie.

Sean Fields 

Minority groups will show up for representation alone and if it’s a good story? Easy money.
Black Panther is going to make truckloads of money for Marvel.

Marc Singer 

I was pretty cold on Doctor Strange. I mean, it hits all the beats for a Marvel origin movie, but... it hits all the beats for a Marvel origin movie.

JL Franke 

And BP has the most promise I've seen of reaching for and achieving that level of art that I feel is missing from Marvel films.

Marc Singer 

Yeah, the trailers for BP look outstanding.

Sean Fields 

Even before the trailers I was going to see it. They had my wallet when they announced it with Coogler at the helm.

JL Franke 

I think I would have been more down on Dr. Strange if it didn't bring the Ditko Dimension to life.  I can forgive much with that.

I've been lukewarm about the past few movies (including Strange, Civil War, and Ragnarok), but BP and IW both have me pretty stoked.

Marc Singer 

I liked the visuals - this was one of the rare movies I saw in IMAX 3D, and I didn't regret the decision. I'd be bored if I saw it on TV, though.

(Wait - do we need to talk about Civil War?!?)

JL Franke 

I can see that.  I purchased a copy of it and I still haven't found myself yearning to watch it.  Though I tend to get them.  I think the only ones I don't own at the moment are Civil War and GotG2.

Sean Fields 

Dr. Strange will be the Avatar of MCU films in a decade.

JL Franke 

It will receive three completely unnecessary sequels?

Did we skip Civil War?

That goes to show how much I think about it. :-)

Sean Fields 

I enjoyed Civil War probably the most out of our group.

Marc Singer 

OH, IT IS ON

Sean Fields 

Did it have plot holes and issues? yes.

Is it a weird love triangle story? Yes.

Marc Singer 

Civil War was another movie that, whatever its flaws (and I didn't think it had that many) it perfectly captured the feel of Marvel comics.

Sean Fields 

Do I still despise Tony? Yes.

Marc Singer 

It had two moments that I never knew I wanted to see on film until I saw them on film.

JL Franke 

Do tell.

Marc Singer 

And oddly for a movie about Captain America and Iron Man, they both starred Ant-Man.

JL Franke 

Ha!

Marc Singer 

One was the restaging of the Hawkeye-shoots-an-arrow-with-Ant-Man-on-it from that Avengers cover.

One of the all-time great covers.

JL Franke 

A wonderful issue.

Sean, so I'm not the only one with Tony fatigue?  Or is this more personal?

Marc Singer 

The other was the debut of Giant-Man and all the chaos that ensued. (Which looked like it would have been FUN AS SHIT to film. Seriously, if you gave me the opportunity to dress up as giant man and stumble around a green screen and smash a scaled-down prop airplane? I am totally there.)

Sean Fields 

Personal.

Marc Singer 

I would happily remove Tony from other Marvel movies, but not this one.

JL Franke 

You're right, Marc.  I kind of want Marvel to replace Stan Lee cameos with Ant-Man cameos now.
Care to expand, Sean?

Marc Singer 

Paul Rudd is so great in that -- "Your shield, Captain America!" He's simultaneously playing a guy who adores these heroes and taking the piss out of them in one line.

JL Franke 

It also doesn't hurt that Paul Rudd can do absolutely no wrong.

Sean Fields 

Tony is necessary for the MCU. He just does stuff with limited thought of the fallout.

Marc Singer 

Paul Rudd is the cowbell of the MCU.

JL Franke 

There is something to be said for the idea that Tony Stark is actually the biggest villain in the MCU.

Sean Fields 

And for all his talk of being better he still is profiting off of the fallout, especially in Spidey.

Marc Singer 

I thought Tony was absolutely necessary for that movie - the conflict between him and Steve feels very natural (once you get around the contrived dilemma that sets the plot in motion - seriously, how was that the Avengers' fault?) and very earned.

Sean Fields 

Tony Stark is the architect of most of his own problems and a global problem in Ultron.

Tony was definitely necessary for Civil War.

JL Franke 

And that is something I wish they'd explore more.  Disney/Marvel would never allow for one of their stars to do a heel turn, but a movie where Iron Man does that turn could be fabulous.

Marc Singer 

And they introduced the Black Panther about as well as you can introduce him in a storyworld that doesn't have the FF. He had just the right ambiguity (hero or villain?) that Lee and Kirby brought to his first comics appearance, without all the clich├ęs that came with it.

The Russos have done a fantastic job with the Cap sequels, and I think they are absolutely the right choice for Infinity War.

Sean Fields 

Wouldn’t even be a heel turn just an evolution of his world view of order and the future. Could become The Maker like Ultimate Reed Richards.

Hopefully with better fashion sense.

JL Franke 

I see that.  But he disappears for much of the second half of the movie.

Though hopefully more interesting than The Maker. :-)

The Russos do know how to bring the gravitas to their movies without it feeling forced.

Marc Singer 

I kind of doubt that Tony or RDJ will be around after the fourth Avengers movie, though. And honestly, that's probably for the best for all concerned.

JL Franke 

I agree, Marc.  Though I wonder how they're going to "retire" all of these heroes.  I don't think you can just kill them all, but if you don't you run into the question of why aren't they around for any of these big blowouts anymore.

Sean Fields 

Thanos wrecks shop and then TIME STONE TIME! Reboots history. Introducing mutants and F4.

Marc Singer 
So, since we're on the subject... should we wrap this up with the Avengers?

JL Franke 

Sure!  Who wants to start?

Marc Singer 
If they do that, I think they'd need to go total reboot for the entire franchise. And I don't see them doing that, not with BP and Captain Marvel still on deck.

JL Franke 
Though could the Avengers who need to be "retired" instead get "lost" in the event?

Sean Fields 

Cap Marvel is a film in the past and you can keep certain elements when you restart.

Yeah, that could work.

Okay, Avengers. Liked it, necessary. Will watch it less nowadays.

JL Franke 

Then if they're desperate, we find out that they've been in an alternate universe where everyone's drawn badly by Rob Liefeld.

You knew this was coming.

Marc Singer 

I think some of them will probably "graduate" to bigger and better things that take them out of the storyworld, as Thor clearly will with the Asgardians. (If there are any Asgardians left after IW... poor bastards.)

JL Franke 

Avengers is a movie that I didn't much care for the first time I watched it, but I get little nuances every time I rewatch it, which has been a lot.

Marc Singer 

I enjoyed both movies, in that kid-in-a-candy-store (or new comics day) kind of way. I saw both of them twice in the theaters, and I've rewatched Avengers once or twice at home.
They are fun to watch, but it's kind of like eating nothing but candy.

Sean Fields 

Avengers is a fun way to see first meetings.

JL Franke 

Ultron had too many moments that I call Grrr moments.  Things that pull me out of the film.  Ultron being a jaunty little killer robot was one.  Vision just being the most awesome at everything as well as a smooth Brit was another.  And Vision picking up Thor's hammer and everyone going, "Oh, okay, guess he's one of us now" was the third.  Also hated, hated, hated the bad accents on Wanda and Pietro.  Actually, pretty much hated everything about Pietro.

Avengers I have a soft spot for because a) some of the camera work by Whedon is just incredible and has been copied by others, including the Crisis on Earth-X crossover last week, and b) Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.

Marc Singer 

I liked Age of Ultron more than the movie probably merits. Like I said, I saw it twice in the theaters, and this is not a movie that rewards repeated viewings.

JL Franke 

True that.

Marc Singer 

But as soon as I hit that scene of all the Avengers in the forest fighting Hydra... that just flips some switch deep in my subconscious and I am eight years old again and I cannot believe I am actually watching an Avengers movie. Much less one that has Vision and the Scarlet Witch!

Sean Fields 

That was cool.

JL Franke 

I love that battle scene.  Even though yet again the Avengers (including Captain America) kill people and no one says a word about it. But that's a different panel as well, I think.  :-)

Sean Fields 

Watching Age of Ultron after the last American Godzilla made the twins weird to watch.

lol

Marc Singer 

Ultron suffers from being overstuffed with material and not giving any of it room to breathe.

Sean Fields 

Ha! Just realized we had Tony Stark as a villain already. Just in a robot body.

JL Franke 

Good point.

Marc Singer 

Like, the whole thing with the Vision and Thor's hammer... that's just a shorthand to establish that he's heroic, which is okay, except... that completely shortcuts the whole point of the Vision's first appearance when they don't know if he's a hero or a villain. It cuts off his moral arc because they had to make room for that shitty cave sequence, you know?

And Quicksilver... not a great accent, I agree, but I think I would like him better than the X-movies Pietro if they let him do the stuff Pietro does.

JL Franke 

Oh, the cave sequence.  What a waste.  Especially since it was a dark and mysterious teaser for a comedy movie.

Marc Singer 

(Which means sticking around for subsequent movies and being overprotective towards his sister. And a dick to the Vision.)

JL Franke 

You and I will have to disagree on the X-movies Pietro, who I find one of the highlights of the franchise.

Sean Fields 

Have em both in Kick-Ass and be happy.

lol
Marc Singer 

I like him in those movies, but the Avengers Pietro is much closer to my Platonic ideal of Pietro from the comics.

JL Franke 

Just needs a better actor. But I can see what you're saying.

Marc Singer 
True.

JL Franke 

So is there anything else we want to cover?  We've been at this longer than most Marvel movies.

Marc Singer 

We need an MCU J. Jonah Jameson. Like, now.

JL Franke 

True.  But can they get anyone to top JK Simmons in that role?

JK laughs at the thought.

Marc Singer 

Nobody can. I think that's why they haven't featured him since the Raimi movies.

More seriously, the teaser scenes... they have become my least favorite parts of the Marvel movies.
They're never directed by the same people and they break up the flow of the movies to do the set-up work that nobody wants to do in their own films.

JL Franke 

True.  That is one of the downsides of the tightly shared universe.

Marc Singer 

If the Marvel movies go on past Infinity War... and they are clearly too lucrative not to... I hope they disconnect them a little.

JL Franke 

I am with you.  I'd like for them to feel more like independent movies.  And maybe at the end you realize there's actually a tapestry.  They could get Jonathan Hickman to design the overarching plot.  :-)

So shall we wrap things up?  Any final thoughts?

Marc Singer 

Nope. In the true spirit of Marvel, I think somebody who is not a part of this panel should come in and write a teaser for the next panel. Presumably involving some sort of stone or gem.

If you have a topic you'd like to see the Fifth World staff address, tweet the topic to @5thworldonline and include #FridayPanel in your tweet.




5W Friday Panel: Ranking the Marvel Movies! 5W Friday Panel: Ranking the Marvel Movies! Reviewed by Chris Maka on Friday, December 08, 2017 Rating: 5
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