Tag Archives: Guardians of the Galaxy

Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe

© Marvel Disney

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Marvel Studios and Disney will continue to print their own money with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron today. In preparation for the movie, which has already made over $200 million overseas, I’ve been rewatching the previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I put more planning into this months-long marathon than I do into what I eat. I usually hope patrons will bring us cookies or something equally tasty.

Anyway, top ten lists are always fun (and it’s been a while since I did a top ten list) so, without further delay, I present my ranking of the films of the MCU.

Warning: These are only the films since, apparently, the television shows, tie-in comics and one-shots only complicate the movies.
Warning: This is only my preference. Save your nerd-rage for something else.
Warning: This list contains spoilers.

10. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I’m probably one of the only people who enjoyed Ang Lee’s 2003 iteration of the big green monster. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, but I remember that it at least it tried to be cerebral. Louis Leterrier’s version, on the other hand, is bland; I feel like he only makes horribly average movies for people who hate movies (see Clash of the Titans, The Transporter and Now You See Me). He’s like a French Michael Bay. This film is clearly the black sheep of the MCU as it’s hardly ever referenced, save for the one-shot The Consultant and a line in an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I promised to keep this cinematic. I think it would be incredible (see what I did there?) if the Hulk just stayed in Avengers films or other team-up films in the future.

9. Thor (2011)

I think this is the only film in the MCU that I didn’t see in the theaters. I’ll openly admit that I don’t particularly care for fantasy/mythology stuff. I realize that may seem a bit hypocritical when I’m listing off comic book movies, but let’s move past that. When Kenneth Branagh was announced as the director, I thought it was a match made in heaven. For a time it seemed like Branagh was set on adapting all of Shakespeare’s plays and I’ve always felt the story of Thor is inherently Shakespearean. While the finished product never reaches the Shakespearean epic I had in mind, there are snippets of it bubbling below the surface, specifically when you watch Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston act off each other. You really feel for them as brothers and I’m not just saying that because my brother is blonde and muscular whereas I am dark haired and, well, not (see my earlier comment about eating).

8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Again, knowing that Alan Taylor (someone who’s directed six episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones) was directing this sequel got me excited. I’ve never seen the show–I’m not that kind of nerd–but people really seem to enjoy it and it seems pretty similar in tone to Thor’s mythology. Again, I was disappointed. It’s super-close, but I’m ranking this sequel above Thor because of the Guardians of the Galaxy midcredits tag, the expansion of Thor and Loki’s relationship and because this scene had me cracking up in the theater. I could watch Tom Hiddleston all day.

7. Iron Man 2 (2010)

I know, I know, after I spoke so highly of Robert Downey Jr in my last post, how could I possibly list one of his films so low? Of the three Iron Man films, this is the one I feel like watching the least. It seems there’s a need in sequels to escalate everything so I will give credit to Jon Favreau and company for making the action of the climax less end-of-the-world-threatening than other sequels (see: Thor: The Dark World). Still, the ending was essentially the same as the first Iron Man–people in metal suits fight each other and blow stuff up. Also, Sam Rockwell was wasted in this movie, but  it was a delight to see him pop up in the All Hail the King one-shot (Sorry! I’ll stop venturing from the cinematic part of the MCU).

6. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Let me say this right off the bat: I’ve never really been a fan of Captain America. I like my heroes flawed and Cap’s always seemed too good. An argument could be made that he’s essentially a junkie because he gets his powers from a series of injections, but that is a blog post for another day. Also, I agree with Tocqueville about patriotism; overly showy displays annoy me. That said, I actually do enjoy this film. The World War II setting is great because it forced the writers to deal (to an extent) with technological hindrances of the day. It’s also not a time period we normally see in these types of films and in a market that is quickly becoming saturated with comic book movies, being different is important.

But more on that later …

Which films made the top five? Click through to find out!

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How I Spent My Cinematic Year, 2014 Edition

Critic Roger Ebert has said of Michael Apted’s Up documentary series that it struck him as an, “inspired, even noble use of the film medium … To look at these films, as I have every seven years, is to meditate on the astonishing fact that man is the only animal that knows it lives in time.”

Image from: thedissolve.com

Image from: thedissolve.com

 

Director Richard Linklater achieves something similar with the film Boyhood (and he also does in his terrific Before series of movies). Before Midnight was one of my favorite films of 2013, and now Boyhood is my favorite film of 2014. Filmed over the course of twelve years, we watch the titular boy and his family age in real time. Most of the occasions the film focuses on seem like reletively minor life events, but they take on meaning and heft through the accumulation of time. In the end I was deeply touched by this film. Even though it is not particularly sad throughout, I felt like I’d gotten to know the characters so well that I would miss no longer getting to visit them on screen.

While Boyhood takes the #1 spot, I saw quite a few great films in 2014. There are a lot of new movies that I haven’t gotten a chance to see yet (tops on my to-watch list are Whiplash, Birdman, Inherent Vice, Mr. Turner, and CitizenFour.) Even so, I’ve attempted to come up with a list of some of my favorite new movies I saw this past year. Take a gander below, and tell me what I’ve missed in the comments section.

grandbudapest

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Another Wes Anderson gem with a touching (and very funny) performance by Ralph Fiennes. This film really grew on me after a second viewing.

 

legomovie

The Lego Movie

One of the best times I had at the theater this year (along with directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller’s other great 2014 screwball comedy, 22 Jump Street). This movie is just as fun for adults as it is for kids, and I will continue to check out anything this pair chooses to pursue.

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Douglas Adams Would Have Loved Guardians of the Galaxy

Is it heretical to suggest a favorite author, now passed on, might have loved something new and hip that’s just hit the scene?  I hope not, because I really believe Douglas Adams would have loved Guardians Of The Galaxy, the white-hot sci-fi movie that has burned up the box office and once again affirmed Marvel’s dominance as the house of ideas when it comes to Hollywood blockbusters.

The protagonists in Guardians and those in the works of Mr. Adams share a certain madcap glee in their roles. They don’t use the same methods. Adams’ work in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy actually lampoons the sort of all-out violence that Star-Lord and his crew of misfits employ to solve the pressing problems in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Despite this, some parallels still remain. Without spoiling things too much, the heroes of Guardians use cinematic violence to achieve their goals, for sure, but ultimately carry the day on the strength of their growing friendship and trust in each other’s abilities. While the Hitchhiker movie adaptation did not enjoy the runaway success Guardians currently basks in, I feel like Mr. Adams would have smiled at the amazingly well-realized CGI characters of Rocket Raccoon and Groot. While both characters generate plenty of laughs in Guardians, they also deliver some emotional moments. Their inhuman appearances juxtaposed with their all-too-human foibles helps communicate the notion of a galaxy brimming with possibility. Intelligent life exists in multifarious shapes and sizes.

Indeed, in many ways, Guardians marks the next step in post-racial sci-fi. We see this in the “good-guy” world of Xandar, an enlightened society teeming with sentient beings of all shapes and colors, living and loving together beyond the boundaries of racial identity. Writer/director James Gunn surely calculated all of this when putting this tour-de-force sci-fi epic together, but the movie’s first aim, like the works of Mr. Adams, is entertainment, and it scores big on that account!

If you have seen Guardians and you find yourself wanting more, or if you have not seen it yet and want a primer on Marvel’s spacefaring characters, now might be a good time for a short list of recommended titles.

Guardians1-cov Guardians Of The Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers vol. 1. Anyone who wants to start at the very beginning need look further than this volume for the origins of Marvel’s first Guardians Of The Galaxy. This distinctively 1970’s take on the 30th century features plenty of classic comic book action, and wonder of wonders, thought bubbles! Yes, before it came uncool to reveal a character’s thoughts in today’s post-modern superhero comics (thanks, Brian Michael Bendis), writers could freely provide handy exposition and story elements by showing you what a character was thinking. If you like this one, be sure to check out Vol. 2 as well!

Guardians-Leg-cov Guardians Of The Galaxy: Legacy Vol. 1. In 2008 incomparable duo Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning revived Guardians Of The Galaxy. The movie that’s tearing up the box office like Michael Rooker chewing scenery would not exist without the stories in this collection. Along with artist Paul Pelletier, Abnett and Lanning redefined Guardians for a new era of Marvel readers. If you like this, be sure to grab Vol. 2 as well!

thanos imperative-cover The Thanos Imperative. It doesn’t get much more cosmic than this one! Abnett and Lanning once again deliver the goods as the Guardians, Nova, and a bevy of other characters first aid, then foil the plans of the Mad Titan, Thanos.

 

 

Battlebeyondthestars Battle Beyond The Stars. This campy Roger Corman sci-fi romp is not a Marvel movie, but its characters share the same misfit status and esprit de corps as the Guardians. It’s Seven Samurai in space, what more can a sci-fi fan ask for?

 

–Scott

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