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I agree that Ang Lee’s Hulk is a misfire, but it’s at least an interesting failure. That alone (plus a couple of awesome performances) would bump it a couple of pegs higher in my list, certainly above Daredevil and X-Men: The Last Stand (a film that annoyed me so much, I eventually got exhausted by my irritation and now just try to pretend it doesn’t exist)…

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/cough/ Jeff Bridges, in Iron Man 1. Not Jeff Daniels.

This is a good ranking though.

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It is smart and clever (recognizing that Movie Tony can’t really work as an alcoholic and substituting PTSD for it was particularly brilliant)

Wait… what?

MCU Tony is very clearly an alcoholic. He’s a functional one, but he still is one. That’s not just me, right? Everyone can see that?

and the film’s gender politics are just plain bad (especially after the first Thor was so good in this regard).

There’s an interesting reading of the first Thor movie, which I come to agree with more and more over time, that Thor is kind of a reverge Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a Manic Pixie Dream God if you will. You have this sort of adrift scientist lady, who is pretty consumed by her work but kind of lives the life unexamined, and suddenly this amazing person with a completely wild perspective who doesn’t care about the stuff that she thinks is oh-so-important literally falls out of sky onto her and she learns how to loosen up and live.

It’s pretty great.

Oh, and Sif, of course.

a film that doesn’t feel the need to justify Arnim Zola as a living bank of computers

Is it wrong that that’s the only scene in the film I’m ambivalent about? I keep waffling back and forth on it.

Not Arnim Zola being a living bank of computers, that part was awesome. I mean the fact that the only reason Cap and Co. win is because Zola just fucking monologues at them for about five minutes, giving the entire game away. Really. Isn’t he supposed to be smart? He couldn’t have just ran them around in circles in that bunker for awhile until the air strike arrived? If he’d done that HYDRA would be ruling the world right now.

On the one hand, it’s poetically appropriate, because HYDRA is now 0-for-2 because Zola couldn’t keep his big mouth shut either time. But on the other hand it’s very annoying.

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Random thoughs about some of the lower-tier movies:

My problem with Punisher War Zone is that it tried for the arc most similar action movies do and completely fails to earn it. We’ve seen it a billion times; by-the-book cop has serious issues with vigilante (or cop-on-the-edge or whatever) main character but comes around when he realizes the main character is necessary and gets results. Even though the movie opens with Frank murdering an undercover cop, this film seems blissfully unaware that the Punisher is not Batman. Frank Castle isn’t someone the police should be working with to find a little girl; he should be locked up before he gets her killed too.

Actually that’s also one of my numerous problems with the Amazing Spider-Man; almost everyone would have been a lot better off if Peter Parker were removed from the story. Peter Parker helped create the Lizard just to show how smart he was. Unlike PWZ, it at least has the performances of the actors playing the Stacys to make it watchable.

At least the second F4 movie had some cool SS visuals and one of the better Stan Lee cameos. That’s really all it had though.

I still can’t get over how poorly they handled the great Origins: Wolverine cast. The misuse of Deadpool alone is enough to make this an embarrassment.

None of the Blade movies are great cinema but I appreciate the first two as big dumb action movies. Blade 3 somehow managed to ruin Hannibal King even though “Vampire Detective” is such a great character hook that it didn’t need changing.

Hulk and Ghost Rider are better than their sequels. That is not an endorsement of either.

Daredevil and Spider-Man 3 are better than people say they are. Again, that isn’t saying a lot.

X-Men hasn’t held up well but its still better than X3.

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Iron Man 2 was primarily about legacy. Tony, staring down the barrel of his mortality, was trying to establish one (turning the company over to Pepper; entrusting Rhodey with a suit via the admittedly weird gambit of acting unstable enough that Rhodey decides to just take it), and along the way comes to terms with the legacy left to him by his father. Ivan Vanko is angry about the legacy that his father was prevented from providing him, which could’ve rivaled Tony’s, and so strikes out to tear Tony down and ruin his legacy. And Justin Hammer doesn’t give a fuck about legacy, which is why he’s mainly comic relief who facilitates the plot in some areas but gets immediately steamrollered whenever Tony or Ivan (or even Rhodey or Pepper) bring out their serious shit.

Also, X2 does one thing very bad: That entire ending is bullshit designed entirely to facilitate Jean’s death to set up X3′s terrible version of the Phoenix. The dam busts open, unleashing a flood of water that could kill our heroes. Jean sacrifices herself to telekinetically block the water… and meanwhile, Iceman is sitting right fucking there, and had been the only character in the entire movie not to have had some sort of awesome power moment. Freezing a dam’s worth of water, especially in that snowy Canadian setting, should totally have been his time to shine.

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It’s always good to see when someone reminds everybody how fucking awesome Blade is.

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Carlos Fuino said on April 10th, 2014 at 8:27 am

My first reaction to the list was “Dolph Lundgreen Punisher is so old it doesn’t make the cut? Check IMDB. Yes it is. I’m old!”

On the list itself I agree with almost everything. Except for Daredevil. I’d rank it below Spider-man 3, X3, Amazing and maybe even Hulk.
Also, I haven’t watched Dark World nor Winter Soldier. 13 isn’t bad, so my hopes are up for Dark World. And I’m really surprised to see the reactions online to Winter Soldier. I wasn’t expecting it to be much good, but it looks like it is. Pretty excited about it now.

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A well put-together and reasoned list! I especially appreciate that someone else agrees with me on the CAPTAIN AMERICA movies being the best of the bunch! ;)

I list the way you describe the Ang Lee HULK — something about the film also got me, and that’s as good of a way of putting it as anything. The two major differences that I’d go for (of course, I’d move around some — the X-Men movies haven’t held up as well for me, for example), would be IRON MAN 2 and BLADE. The BLADE trilogy never worked for me. I see where it was going for, but I have a feeling that I was just in the wrong place in my life at the time or something. However, I was at the exact *right* place in my life when IRON MAN 2 came out to be sucked into the Senate scenes and especially the subplot with his father’s legacy. Forget Mickey Rourke (although Rockwell’s Justin Hammer is hilarious); I *personally* keep going back to that movie to watch a flawed Stark not learn his lesson.

(also, THE WINTER SOLDIER adds a new resonance to a lot of scenes in IRON MAN 2, I’ve realized…)

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Wolfthomas said on April 10th, 2014 at 8:56 am

Also the Winter Soldiers completely explodes the status quo of the MCU and kick starts the lackluster Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into it’s best episode yet and a completely new direction.

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Terminus said on April 10th, 2014 at 9:21 am

@Murc, they need to make that a “thing”; in Capt America Three have the characters pause halfway through and say “We need to find Zola so we can find out exactly what’s going on”

Next scene is them just bursting into Hydra headquarters and someone yells “DAMMIT ZOLA”

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I kind of wish I hadn’t read the Winter Soldier review because I haven’t seen it yet, but it was definitely on my agenda anyway.

As for the rest, it feels a bit weird seeing some of them where they are, but I only have one real disagreement: The Amazing Spider-Man.

The acting: Agreed about Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, but you’re selling it short by leaving out all the other great performances. Martin Sheen? Rhys Ifans? Denis Leary? Sally Field?

Revenge: that was the character’s original motivation. Catching the guy who killed his uncle. Shoehorning it into Spider-Man 3 sucked, but it worked here. Peter got over it in like a page in Amazing Fantasy #15, because comic book writers didn’t know the word “decompressed” back then and if they had they would have used it as one of Hank Pym’s aliases, but still, revenge is what started him on fighting crime. Otherwise he would have been a fireman or oncologist or something. Admittedly, The Amazing Spider-Man went in a new direction by having Uncle Ben’s killer never be found, but I like that they avoided the way it was handled in the other origins, where Spider-Man scares him and he falls to his death. That’s just a cop-out. Overall, I thought the movie handled the revenge arc very well.

Clumsy plotting: what’s the problem, exactly? It hit the high notes. It tied the weird stuff together well. It was willing to leave out sacred cows like “with great power comes great responsibility.” I like the hints at Ben & Mary actually mattering. I loved the fact that Peter reacted like a normal human by going to the cops, and then they took him seriously. It didn’t work, of course, but most superhero movies just ignore the legal system entirely.

My biggest problem with the movie its pacing. It was well-done but still dragged just because it was only nine years after the first Raimi-Maguire movie, only four years after the third. It didn’t need to spend fully half the movie in high school. But if the Garfield Spider-Man had magically come before the Maguire Spider-Man, this movie would replace it in the top 10.

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I think I would only jostle a few films one or two slots — maybe boost Iron Man 2 just a bit on the simple pleasure of watching RDJ do anything for two hours — but that’s nitpicking. I haven’t (and won’t) seen a better, more accurate, more solidly-justified list.

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Hulk is my most-hated movie of all time, because a Hulk movie should write itself, and because it came first it prevented us from ever getting that Hulk movie. Ang Lee’s vision would have been interesting in a world that already had a movie that told the Hulk origin story, but it did a shit job of telling the Hulk origin story, and how do you mess that up? Also, the three biggest challenges the Hulk faces are foam, poodles, and Lawnmower Man. Wait, who am I kidding, none of those challenges can compare to angst.

Also, I remember very clearly what Iron Man 2 was about: Tony Stark forgets to have chemistry of any kind (not even the venomous “things have gone wrong but at least we’re still entertaining” kind) with Pepper, and as a direct result of that his entire world falls apart.

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For all its flaws, Punisher: War Zone deserves a higher rank than the Ghost Rider movies if only because of Ray Stephenson’s performance being so much better than Nicholas Cage’s.

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SIlverHammerMan said on April 10th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

How do you feel about the Director’s Cut of Daredevil? Haven’t seen it personally, but I’ve heard good things. I’d be interested to see more superhero movies, especially some of the misfires lower on the list, get recut.

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Re Punisher – “This one is one of the really underrated Marvel flicks.” I’ve been saying that forever. It even shows how Frank Castle goes from “I’m doing this for revenge” in the beginning to, eventually, “Someone needs to stand up for these people and punish criminals that others won’t, so that’s going to be me now.” It’s a shallow character development arc, but it’s there, which is more than can be said for most revenge/criminal flicks.

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Cookie McCool said on April 10th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Thor 2 was too problematic for me to enjoy at all, but I’m glad to see Ghost Rider 2 getting some appreciation. The actual Ghost Rider was legitimately SCARY, which was a nice change of pace from the first one. I just can’t be scared seriously by anything when Donal Logue is around, the man’s just too damn comforting.

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I think Wolverine Origins deserves at least one extra point for having the most straight-out-of-a-comic climax ever with the eyebeams from Deadpool’s head spiral-slicing the cooling tower as it falls to the ground.

I love both the Thor movies so much. Hiddleston’s Loki is the best movie super-villain. Yes, McKellen, but he’s only really great in X2. Loki is more fun and more interesting. I love how his evil plan in Thor 1 is both less traitorous and more monstrous that it appears. And his chemistry with Hemsworth is so great in Thor 2 that I forgave how poorly they used Jane Foster. At least Thor’s plan fails exactly as Odin predicts; his actual plan is to save Jane and then it’s up to Jane to get them back to Earth and to make and direct the final plan to defeat the enemy (but it would have been so easy to give her a more active role when she was empowered by the red CG).

The action scenes are consistently well executed, full of characterization and humor instead of mere bombast (Heimdal demonstrating why he is guardian of Asgard). They’re set up so that Thor (in his glory) seems consistently godlike in power. We focus on Thor’s confrontation with Loki and the decision to use his power at the Rainbow Bridge (which looks FANTASTIC) rather than on a drawn-out fight with the Destroyer. The climax of Thor 2 went for clever and amusing instead of just bigger (and those shots of the overlapping realms look straight of a comic book, only they actually work better in motion with the camera moving around them).

I don’t think Spider-Man 2 holds up very well. Alfred Molina is great, the fight scenes are great, and the subway scene is perfect, but Toby McGuire’s Peter is so whiny that a lot of the movie is just painful to watch. And the conflict with Harry is too stupid (“Look Harry, your dad killed *himself* in an inept attempt to kill me.”)

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candidgamera said on April 10th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Lowest ranking movie on the list I actually bought – #20, Daredevil. Highest ranking movie on the list that I DIDN’T buy – #15 Ghost Rider 2. So I’d say this list is broadly in alignment with my own tastes.

I’d probably rank Iron Man 2 higher though.

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I would put the Thomas Jane Punisher above the Incredible Hulk (haven’t seen Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), but otherwise I have no real disputes with this list. I love the fact that Thomas Jane Punisher isn’t a hero or presented as a superhero. He’s kind of messed up even before his family gets killed, and to a degree he’s trying to get himself killed in taking down the mob that ordered his family slaughtered. There’s really nothing triumphant about it at all, and I like that. If you’re going to do a movie about getting revenge and you don’t want it to just seem like gore porn or a hard right wing “kill the bad stereotypes to save the world” diatribe, you have to acknowledge that actual revenge does not do anything to improve your life.

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Also, the comment about Cap being the token white guy on the team is brilliant, I hadn’t even thought of that. Of course, that does make Falcon getting his ass kicked in the end (even if he kind of won by environment TKO) a little more annoying than it was already, but at least he’s not shot out of the sky or made a hostage to stop Cap or motivate him.

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“Every Live-Action Marvel Movie Since 1998

I take it you didn’t want to address Nick Fury: Agent of Shield (’98) and Generation X (’96)?

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@Cyrus I always thought that Spider-Man was motivated by guilt, not revenge. Guess I’ve been misreading the character.

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Glad to see Spider-Man at 10 with Amazing Spider-Man at 23, if only because there was so little that the latter did better than the former. Sure, Andrew Garfield is less whiny and more wisecracky, but what else is there? No, better FX doesn’t count.

I also groan at the thought that someone somewhere eschewed “With great power comes great responsibility” for:

“Peter? I know things have been difficult lately and I’m sorry about that. I think I know what you’re feeling. Ever since you were a little boy, you’ve been living with so many unresolved things. Well, take it from an old man. Those things send us down a road… they make us who we are. And if anyone’s destined for greatness, it’s you, son. You owe the world your gifts. You just have to figure out how to use them and know that wherever they take you, we’ll always be here. So, come on home, Peter. You’re my hero… and I love you!

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Not sure I’d rank the Captain America movies as better than the Avengers but the first Cap movie gets better every time I watch is so I may just have not seen it enough times. I saw Winter Soldier last night and loved it so I’m curious how it will hold up on repeat viewings. It already has a leg up on some notable recent sequels like Iron Man and the Bond reboot where I couldn’t decide if the second film wasn’t very good or if the first had just raised my expectations too much. It isn’t without flaws but at the very least Cap 2 exceeded my expectations and that’s impressive since THIS is the Marvel movie I’ve been looking forward to the most ever since Avengers dropped the ball on Cap’s “man out of time” arc*.

*Which, lets face it, is the most interesting thing about the character and it goes away once you give him too much time to acclimate.

@Slarti: Assuming “Apocalypse” means “Age of Apocalypse”, I feel like that will be their final opportunity to redeem their terrible Bobby Drake. AoA Iceman was awesome.

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It should be pointed out that Amazing Spider-Man had more acrobatic action and jokes. All your critiques are still valid.

*SPOILER*
It also had the same damn ending as Spider-Man of temporarily pulling away from the girl at a friend’s dad’s funeral.

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farwell3d said on April 10th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

There is no world where that insipid and boring Ed Norton Hulk is superior to Lee’s.

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The second and third Iron Man movies werent that great with the third one being downright boring. The entire objective of Iron Man 3 to me was “Well fuck guys since we’re paying RDJ a money bin sized paycheck, this motherfucker will be in every scene sans armor. WE’RE GETTING OUR MONEYS WORTH GODDAMMIT”.

Your right in that Thor did have a lackluster villian and a macguffin, but I felt that of all the Marvel movies (i havent seen winter soldier yet) it nailed all of the essential aspects of Thor (including how thor fights should go, which is the most difficult part to nail imo).

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“Freezing a dam’s worth of water, especially in that snowy Canadian setting, should totally have been his time to shine.”

Frozen water still has momentum. Is being crushed to death by ice that much better than drowning?

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I agree with the comments on the first X-Men movie. When I first started reading comics, the X-Men were my life. I went into the movie positive that it was going to stink, considering the relative difficulty of the concept and how terrible comics movies had been to that point. To this day, the fact that film worked as well as it did is a god damned miracle.

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Not too much to complain about with the list (I never saw Man-Thing, the Punisher films, or Winter Soldier). I’d probably rank Iron Man 3 lower as Pepper ends up dealing the decisive blow against the main villain and the film feels like a Robert Downey Jr. movie, not an Iron Man film (and I actually liked The Mandarin twist).

X3 should be lower. From using internet memes like “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch”, and killing major characters off-screen (James Marsden is a moron, but still), the film was more a terrible homage to other X-Men adaptations rather than an actual movie.

I really wish we could combine Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man into one movie. More of Garfield’s snark. More of Maguire’s lack of confidence. The best thing about Spider-Man was the stark personality change between Parker and Spider-Man, something neither movie fully captured.

Also, pet peeve: nobody protected their identity more than Spidey. In ASM, Peter readily reveals his identity to Gwen. In Raimi’s films, multiple people figure it out either through their own volition or accidentally.

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Love your choices for one and two, and I entirely agree where IM II is concerned. IM II has Tony Stark fighting robots, which was about as boring a decision they could have made. They turned classic IM villain Justin Hammer into comic relief, criminally under utilizing Sam Rockwell’s amazing talents. I would say if there is a single(!) scene I found entertaining in the entire film(!) it was the Monaco fight.

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Very surprised about X-Men First Class and Captain America: The First Avenger placement (while I like both I don’t think they are as good as some of the others but meh) but all of the others sit pretty well and the comments are what I think about the movies too. Maybe even a little more generous than I would be.

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I liked Ang Lee’s Hulk…but it wasn’t a superhero film. Certainly it pushed the envelope harder than the rest of this list, even if the envelope got torn as badly as this metaphor.

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The thing about Dancin’ Evil Peter, I thought, was showing that becoming evil didn’t suddenly make Peter Parker suave and cool the way becoming evil so often does in stories like that. It made him act in the uninhibited way that a total nerd like movie Peter Parker would perceive as cool. But still isn’t.

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Iron Man 3 felt like a commentary on the bloodthirstiness of moviegoers. Toward the beginning we get Tony announcing that he’ll kill the Mandarin after the new people keep pushing him for a bigger reaction while he’s clearly too shocked to think straight. Then it turns out the Mandarin was just a stooge anyway and killing him wouldn’t have solved anything. One of the bigger problems I had with Spider-Man 2 (which is still the best Spider-Man movie) is that they killed Doc Ock at the end instead of setting up the Sinister Six (SM3 certainly had a lot of villains to choose from). Loki and Magneto seem to be the only villains who are allowed long-term arcs.

Is anyone keeping score on which major villains actually survive their movies? I’m really hoping for a Thunderbolts movie (original premise but not necessarily cast) and that’ll never happen if they off Moonstone or Beetle right after they introduce them in Hulk 3 or Iron Man 4.

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Am I completely alone in finding Iron Man 3 overly long and underfocused? The entire small town segment felt indulgent and syrupy. That kid? Who liked that kid?

I felt the movie did a good job with portraying the depth of Tony’s PTSD, but I’m not sure that the cause for it was communicated well enough for people that haven’t seen Avengers – I had, but felt it was not well done.

I think it’s important to filter criticism of a comic book movie to remove one’s pre-existing biases, e.g. too much criticism of the movie gets lost in debating the translation of the Mandarin.* I do think that Iron Man/Tony Stark is most compelling when exploring the duality – how the suit frees Tony to translate his mental brilliance into brilliant action. Iron Man 3 hinted at Tony becoming human and vulnerable as his home and armor were stripped away… but then he’s killing super soldiers and dissecting government conspiracies.

* I’d say the changes were made for interesting reasons and had interesting execution, but it didn’t completely stick the landing.

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I liked Hulk, so shut up. Even with the Hulk Dogs and Papa Banner’s scenery chewing, it’s still better than The Incredible Hulk, which seems to be among the white sheep of the Marvel movie family despite being a mediocre load. And it’s not worse than Punisher. All I took away from that was that the real Frank Castle doesn’t move fire hydrants. He simply doesn’t.

RIP John “Mr. Bumpo” Pinette.

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“news people” not “new people”

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“Iron Man 2″‘s big problem is how muddled it was. It’s the one movie where it seems like the creative team weren’t all on the same page about how the whole ‘shared universe’ thing was going to work. The various setup elements detract from the main plot rather than adding to it, neither of the villains really becomes a credible threat, and whatever it’s trying to say about Tony’s character never really comes through.

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I’d probably put The Amazing Spider-man at 19 or so – I went to it expecting very little, and it delivered a very solid, entertaining Spider-man movie, and easily much better than the terrible capstons to the previous X-Men and Spider-man trilogies.

I’d also probably put Spider-man 2 down with X2, and toss Iron Man 1 and 3 somewhere into the mix with the Cap movies for the best of the bunch. Iron Man and Cap are really where I felt they got the fundamentally best mix of story, characterization, action and humor.

More importantly – I loved the X-men and Spider-man growing up. Me enjoying movies about them is no surprise. But I never particularly cared for Iron Man, and liked the idea of Cap more than I actually read his comics. So having movies that *made* me into a fan is a step above anything the X-Men or Spider-Men movies did.

More than that, they both get into the core of the character and what makes them truly awesome, and are able to communicate that to the viewer – that is what truly puts them on the top of the chart, at least for me.

Avengers was an amazing endeavor, but fell a bit short on actual plot in favor of punching enormous alien bug dragons over and over again.

And X-Men First Class was fantastic, but has a pretty hard cap on how high it can go due to abruptly having all the minorities die off or turn evil halfway through the movie.

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I’d probably put Cap 1 a bit lower – certainly a good movie and definitely in the top 10, but had sort of a saggy middle.

I have trouble deciding between Cap 2, Iron Man 1 and Avengers for the number one slot. Cap 2 is probably the most tightly executed of the Marvel character movies, but Iron Man 1 sorta blew my mind in ways that Cap 2 didn’t. And Avengers, while slightly more flawed than either of them, sorta did the impossible by balancing all the characters and making them A) fit together and B) still letting them all shine (except for Hawkeye, arguably).

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MGK, have you read the Deadpool screenplay that was making the rounds a couple years ago? I’d be curious as to where you’d rank it story-wise with the rest of these films.

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You totally forgot The Incredibles, but I’ll forgive you this time.

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I am sitting here nodding vehemently but I am also in an SSR t-shirt after having seen Winter Solider twice in one week so I may be biased.

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Oh, also! I’m so happy someone else understands the Punisher thing.

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The amazing thing about Man-Thing is that it doesn’t even use “whatever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing’s touch.” No that adding the catchphrase would have helped, but how the heck do you skip something like that?

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The TV Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD is mesmerizing (but not in a good way) for the sight of a cigar-chomping David Hasselhoff trying to play Fury. But to their credit, the writers clearly had some idea of the comic books they were adapting.

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Oliver Fugate said on April 10th, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Remove revenge as a motivation in the Nolanverse? Bruce was going to shoot Joe Chill. He got lucky that someone beat him to it.

Heck, in the original comics Bruce let Joe Chill go and his criminal peers off him. Nolan’s vision makes revenge and guilt, minor factors for Bats in the comics, become central.

The Nolanverse trilogy was a big, bloated mess full of great ideas. It wasn’t that true to Batman, however.

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You really rated Daredevil, Punisher, and Spider-Man 2 that high?

Have you forgottem that Michael Clarke Duncan seemed half-asleep? (not saying he’s a bad actor, he jst seemed not to put any effort into the role)The fight on the teeter-totter? The fact that DD beats the Kingpin by getting him wet???

Spider-Man 2 was a boring mess. I remember walking out of it with my brother-in-law, who’s not a comics fan, and bother of us agreeing it wasn’t a good movie.

The fact you said “The Thomas Jane Punisher movie, however, is probably the best of them if you forgot Marvel Comics existed” should have clued you in that you ranked it too high. The people behind ignored everything to do with the comic except for one Ennis storyline. Take away the skull on the shirt and it’s just a bog standard vigilante movie.

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I also see you left out Men in Black (which is based on a comic Marvel owns) and Kick-Ass (although the comic was only created to pitch the movie)

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Edgar Allan Poe said on April 11th, 2014 at 1:12 am

What’s Iron Man 2 about? That’s simple. It’s about everyone trying and failing to be be Tony Stark. Justin Hammer wants to be Stark the playboy genius, but he’s hilariously bad at it. Ivan Vanko wants the inheritance he feels the Starks denied him. Rhodey and Pepper reluctantly try to fill his shoes as Iron Man and as CEO of his company, respectively, and while they do a better job than the villains, they’re still no substitute for the genuine article. Finally, Tony saves the day and his own life by being Tony Stark super-hard.

And then there’s a live-action Genndy Tartakovsky fight, and it is awesome.

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Going allllllllllll the way back to the top of the comments for this one:

“Wait… what?

MCU Tony is very clearly an alcoholic. He’s a functional one, but he still is one. That’s not just me, right? Everyone can see that?”

Actually I’d sort of disagree with the assumption that movie Tony Stark is meant to be a functional alcoholic…it’s a valid interpretation, I won’t argue that it’s wrong, but I don’t think the movies present it as definitive one way or the next…but MGK’s point is that a lot of comic-savvy moviegoers have been wondering when Marvel Studios was going to adapt the Demon In a Bottle arc because the three things that Tony Stark in the comics is known for are A). being Iron Man, B). the huge mess that was Civil War, and C). being an alcoholic. Tony Stark and alcohol is like Hank Pym and beating his wife…you can argue that maybe it shouldn’t be a primary character trait but a bunch of people immediately point to it as one.

And I agree with MGK that adapting that arc to the movies probably wouldn’t have worked out very well. I think that if you have to have a movie where Tony Stark wrestles with some demons that PTSD over flying a nuclear warhead into an alien mothership during a huge battle in the middle of New York works a whole lot better in the context of the Marvel Movies rather than trying to shoehorn in a sudden bout of dramatic alcoholism.

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Potomac Ripper said on April 11th, 2014 at 2:28 am

Winter Soldier was even better the second time. MCU Phase 2 is full speed ahead.

The equivalent of a summer comic book event that shatters the status quo and creates storytelling opportunities for the next year.

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@Cyrus I always thought that Spider-Man was motivated by guilt, not revenge. Guess I’ve been misreading the character.

Sure, guilt is his primary motivation, or responsibility in general. But his original motivation? The first time he put on the costume and went out the window to beat someone up, he was thinking, “No power on earth will save that guy who killed my uncle.” In the comics, he quickly had it rubbed in his face that that’s the wrong attitude. In the movie, it seemed like a more organic character growth towards helping people, rather than just taking out his grief and guilt on small-time crooks.

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Not sure if this was mentioned elsewhere, but the thing I liked about the revenge arc in Amazing Spider-Man was the fact that it is a logical initial impulse for Peter to follow and think he’s honoring the “great power, great responsibility” axiom. He let the thief go, thief killed Uncle Ben, the responsible thing is to hunt down the thief. It takes another mentor figure to tell him “no, you’re not being responsible by doing this”. You see it on Peter’s face the minute Captain Stacy says the word vendetta. It never occurred to Peter that he was doing that, but once it’s pointed out, it’s unavoidable. And from that moment on, the thief is completely forgotten, because Peter is made to see his larger responsibility.

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Christian Williams said on April 11th, 2014 at 7:26 pm

I agree with this list, with the exception of FF2. FF2 should be ranked somewhere around 456 out of 32.

Any movie that takes Galactus, the World-Devourer, the primal force who is seen by everyone as their own private version of the Devourer… and reduces him to a fucking cloud? No, just no.

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DensityDuck said on April 12th, 2014 at 3:08 am

RE: Thor 2 gender politics. I *did* think it was weird that Jane never had a “here I am voluntarily using the Evil Power and being tempted by it” moment. It’s just kind of…there.

Like, seriously, NOBODY in the writer’s room said “you know what would work? If she was all ‘hey here I am using my power, I can be superpowered too’ and Thor got to give a stern speech about how ‘power needs control or it will destroy you’ or some bullshit like that”.

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DensityDuck said on April 12th, 2014 at 3:10 am

RE: Spider-Man 2. What I did like was how Raimi and company followed a comic-book arc in the fight scenes with Molina; like, the first one is Golden Age-style, with Doc Ock being all dapper and holding a cigar with his robot arms, and the fight involves Ock throwing bags of money (with an actual “$” on them!) and ends with Aunt May hitting him on the head with her umbrella. And then we go to the Nineties grim-and-gritty, street-person Doc threatening civilians.

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DensityDuck said on April 12th, 2014 at 3:11 am

RE: Winter Soldier. You know, you’re right about the “skip the heist” thing, and in fact I totally forgot that they skipped it until you brought it up!

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26. I have Blade: Trinity on DVD. I skip to the scenes with Parker Posey, and only give it my full attention when she’s talking to Ryan Reynolds.

25. There is, by my count, precisely one good moment in Fantastic Four – the “Don’t even think about it.” “I never do.” exchange. Oh, and the problem with Jessica Alba’s Sue is that she just doesn’t come across as smart.

8. Iron Man 3 seems to be Marmite. I liked it a lot, although I’d probably rate it below X2 and Thor.

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(but it would have been so easy to give her a more active role when she was empowered by the red CG).

Like, seriously, NOBODY in the writer’s room said “you know what would work? If she was all ‘hey here I am using my power, I can be superpowered too’ and Thor got to give a stern speech about how ‘power needs control or it will destroy you’ or some bullshit like that”.

Personally, I think the best place for her to take a more active role would have been in the climax itself. She’s got that rift manipulation iPad thingy, she could use it to teleport passerby out of the way of flying debris or to throw flying debris at the dark elves or get Malekith away from Thor when he has the upper hand or something.

But clearly she should have got to do something more in the movie.

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olfactory_ninja said on April 12th, 2014 at 4:24 pm

And here’s hoping they can keep up the momentum of the last few movies by the time they get to Doctor Strange.

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kingderella said on April 13th, 2014 at 6:13 am

Opinions, I have them:

NO WAY First Class is better than X-Men & X2, both of which should have been ranked higher anyway.

Haven’t seen Winter Soldier yet, but I wouldn’t rank First Avenger this far. The Chris Evans CGI pre transformation was giving me the Uncanney Valley creeps.

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Troy Wilson said on April 13th, 2014 at 11:30 pm

@Slarti and @Matthew Johnson: Even if Jean was in fact the only one who could save the team in X2, the ending is still effed up. Why? Because it wasn’t made crystal clear why she needed to actually leave the jet in order to do what she did. Maybe she could only lift it from the outside. Maybe the power she expended would have damaged/destroyed the jet and those inside. Maybe both. Maybe [fill in the blank with your own reason]. If you’re going to kill off a major character (or, heck, even a minor one), you better make it totally, utterly, and mind-numbingly clear why said character couldn’t have evaded danger by taking a different path (like, say, lifting the jet while still inside it). When Jean tells her teammates – via Prof X – “This is the only way”, she neglects to tell them (and us) WHY it’s the only way. A quick “I’d destroy the jet if I did this inside” or “I can only lift it from outside” would’ve more than sufficed. But nope, no dice. I suppose I shouldn’t be so bothered given that possible explanations do indeed exist, but I also shouldn’t have to be deciding which explanation to choose when I could instead be involved in the moment. It feels like the filmmakers believed the explanation was more self-evident than it actually was. It feels sloppy.

I love the rest of the film, which is all the more reason why the above stands out as marring an otherwise excellent piece of entertainment.

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Troy Wilson said on April 13th, 2014 at 11:58 pm

I suppose that even if (and it’s a big if) Jean could’ve lifted the jet from the inside, perhaps she couldn’t have done so quickly enough to avoid the oncoming deluge. So she had to step out to first protect the jet and then lift it. Maybe that’s the explanation which the filmmakers felt was blatantly obvious. With a dash of suicide-due-to-rise-of-dangerous-powers thrown in for good measure.

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DensityDuck said on April 14th, 2014 at 12:11 am

Will: The thing I find about Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 was that they were, in a way I hadn’t seen the new Marvel movies do yet, comic book movies. That is, I could very easily see what happened in those movies happening on the pages of a comic book.

This is in no way a slam on the movies, which I really enjoyed. But the earlier movies were regular movies about comic-book subjects; they were staged, shot, dialogue and acting and plot progression, all of it was basically just Generic 21st-Century American Movie.

I’m not really describing this very well, because I don’t quite have the language for it. But it seems almost like IM3/T2 were playful in a way that earlier movies weren’t.

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lance lunchmeat said on April 14th, 2014 at 3:54 am

Ever gonna finish ranking all the national anthems?

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They make it clear why Jean had to be outside the jet – her enhanced powers were interfering with electronics. Remember the museum scene earlier in the film? She was sorting out tv screens and stuff.

As for Iceman not freezing the tidal wave – they make it clear that this Iceman isn’t as experienced as his comic counterpart and is still a student. While it may’ve been badass to have him successfully freeze the wave, I don’t think it’s a plot hole that he wasn’t able to do so. If anything, they maybe should’ve had him try and fail.

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Troy Wilson said on April 14th, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Thanks for attempting to clarify, @Zach. Though, to be honest, this is the first time I’ve heard/read anyone give that explanation, so I’m still not sure if the filmmakers made it as clear as they could (or if, in fact, it’s even the explanation they had in mind).

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Cookie McCool said on April 15th, 2014 at 10:48 am

I always assumed Jean had to be outside the jet because she is just terrible and useless and can’t make good decisions, and also it was easier to make the ultimate dumb sacrifice than choose between two boys. But I’m not sure if she was meant to be weak or was just weakly written.

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I always assumed Jean had to be outside the jet to lift it for the same reason you have to be outside a bucket to lift it.

Seriously, try picking up a bucket while standing in it. Go on, try. I’ll wait.

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My whole problem with Amazing Spider-Man was Andrew Garfield as Spider-man was unlikeable…maybe a second watching would change my mind but I sat through the movie wondering why he was being such a pain in the ass and had so much attitude with everyone

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Troy Wilson said on April 16th, 2014 at 4:18 am

You shouldn’t have to assume, @Will; neither should I. We should *know* – and if the filmmakers had done their job, we would. As I said in my first post on the subject, a quick “I can only lift it from outside” from Jean after her “This is the only way” would’ve economically sealed the deal.

Re: the bucket, um, I don’t have telekinetic powers.

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malakim2099 said on April 17th, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I’m not reading through all 74 comments prior but here’s a hypothetical for you MGK:

If we didn’t get “All Hail the King” made with the Thor 2 DVD release, how far would that have knocked IM3 down? Because that turned it from “Augh really?!?” to “Hey, that’s pretty cool” to me. I just didn’t like that twist at all, mainly because I like the Mandarin as a villain. (And if Ben Kingsley also plays the “Real” Mandarin, that’s a major bonus.)

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Is it wrong that I started to hum “My Humps” from the elevator scene to the bridge escape in Winter Soldier?

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“Ebert’s favorite superhero movie and justifiably so: this is the height of Sam Raimi’s creative vision. Just watch any of the Spidey/Ock fights; they are simply perfect filmmaking. The balance between action and drama is expertly maintained. Alfred Molina’s performance is staggeringly good. I could say so many more things but they would all be superlatives.”

Spider-Man 2 is note-perfect Spidey to me, and is the reason why I can’t muster up interest in the reboot.

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