It’s been ten years since an eye-patch wearing Samuel L Jackson told Iron Man he was assembling a team to save the world. Now the accumulation of that ten years has lead to the third Avengers film, Infinity War.
Ten years and nineteen films. Never has a film series been so successful, critically praised, fan loved and box office destroying. Enough is most certainly enough now! We have one more year and three more films before this MCU’s third phase ends and our true ending is given. But very recently I’ve watched all the films in preparation for the release of Infinity War. I feel that now is the best time for me to rank them all from very worst to absolute best.
It’s no secret that I’m not exactly fond of this series. On the whole I like them, but there are too many of them, and honestly, they’re mostly just average films for me. There are certainly those I love, just as there are those I hate. Every single one has its pro’s, and every single one has its cons. This is all opinion of course, so feel free to disagree with me on any point. Or agree. I’ll also mention that I’m not really a comic book reader. I’ve read a handful, but most of them didn’t involve superheroes and those that did so far haven’t been Marvel.
So this will be judgement by film only.
19/ THOR: THE DARK WORLD. DIR: ALAN TAYLOR.
I really hate this film. It’s the only MCU film that I think is completely insufferable. When I watched it last, I couldn’t finish it in one sitting. It’s dull, it’s boring, it has no lasting consequence to the series – outside of introducing us to one of the six Infinity Stones. It’s a very made-by-committee film. Nothing is artistic or creative, it’s all just a calculated story to get bums in seats.
The film’s director Alan Taylor, who gave us some of the best Game of Thrones episodes and the awful Terminator Genysis, is very much a hand for hire director. A studio wants something done and he just shoots it, with most of his own ideas getting side-lined. He clearly has talent – he did give us the death of Ned Stark – but there is none of that flare here. He does bring some of his Game of Thrones strengths to the sets, but they’re too grey and uninteresting that they don’t stand out.
The acting is the worst of the whole series. It feels more in place in a soap-opera than an Avengers film. Hemsworth feels out of his element while his chemistry with Natalie Portman is non-existant. Portman is clearly not happy being here – the same sadly goes for Sir Anthony Hopkins, giving one of the worst performances of his career. The less said about the woefully miscast Christopher Eccleston the better, as he provides the series worst entry in the long list of bad villains. We do thankfully have Tom Hiddleston’s Loki on top form. He supplies the best scenes of the whole film. Sadly he’s not in it very long. I know it has its fans, but to me it’s just so boring, ineffective and just plain bad. It’s the only one I would call unwatchable. Thankfully, it’s only up from here.
18/ IRON MAN 2. DIR: JON FAVREAU.
Admittedly Iron Man 2 shares a lot with Thor: The Dark World. It’s a mess, at times embarrassingly so, with a very committee feel and a lack of artistic vision behind it. I would even argue that it may be a more boring film, with a huge dead zone of interest in the latter half of act two. But I do give it some interesting ideas and much better acting. Most of the original cast and crew return for this one, and it’s not like they forgot how to make a film.
The action is pretty solid, with a very cool fight scene on a race track. While Mickey Roarke is clearly not too happy to be here most of the other cast members do a good job. Downey Jr is still pitch perfect as Tony Stark and Don Cheadle is a far better casting of Rhodes than Terrance Howard. Sam Rockwell does a typically great job at playing the corporate sleaze villain. I also appreciate the idea of the celebrity superhero, which was something very new at the time.
But there is no denying that this film is just a colossal mess. There’s three separate stories at play, and they don’t really connect at the end. Half of the film is just dedicated to setting up The Avengers and other future superhero films. I really cannot express how bored I was during watching this film! The dissatisfying ending did not help matters at all. It just feels like the first Iron Man film, but with far sloppier writing and worse effects. Just like Thor: The Dark World, if you put a gun to my head and forced me to tell you specifics that happened in this film, then I would be dead. They’re both beyond forgettable. I know it has gained a following of late, but it’s one I’d say you can definitely skip.
17/ AVENGERS: THE AGE OF ULTRON. DIR: JOSS WHEDON.
This one is a hit or miss film. Everyone agrees that it has its issues, but typically people either really like it, or really don’t. Placing it here should give away where I fall in that. While the films starts off well enough – with a decent action scene, a fun party at Avengers Tower and a legitimately creepy introduction of the film’s titular villain – but it all quickly goes down hill from there. Most of the Marvel assembly films have their own issues, but they don’t feel clustered and hard to follow. This one does.
Age of Ultron sadly demonstrates everything I don’t like about the MCU. There’s so little character development given to anybody in this film. The only characters who aren’t ignored are Iron Man, Hawkeye and Scarlett Witch. I still don’t care for Hawkeye, he’s just a very bland action hero to me – someone who I could see more in a film like Taken or Bourne than an Avengers film. Iron Man has a good learn from your mistakes story – which gets completely undermined when he doesn’t learn from his mistakes. In fact he makes the same mistake as he did at the beginning – which created Ultron – but now it works, apparently. Ultron is the crutch that the film leans on – and it suffers for it. Outside of his introduction he is such a poor, non-threatening, almost laughable villain. Admirably played by James Spader, but still poor.
Scarlett Witch is really the only new thing I liked in this film, giving her interesting powers and dilemmas. The action is fun I suppose, but it’s very CG heavy and towards the end feels very poorly choreographed. This is easily the worst film I’ve seen with Joss Whedon’s name on it – I include Alien And Predator Ranking in that. I’m not a fan of Whedon as a writer or director. He has talent – particularly for television and especially with teen audiences, such as Buffy. He is the wrong man to write and direct a superhero film, especially of this magnitude. I don’t hate Age of Ultron – well until Vision arrives, then I tune out completely. But this is an Avengers film! This is what the films before were meant to build up to. It could have – and should have – been so much better.