12/ CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. DIR: JOE JOHNSTON.
It makes a lot of sense that the director they hired also directed The Rocketeer. Both films are very similar, and carry a lot of the same pros and cons. They certainly look the same, with a strange gloss given to the screen to give it more of a 1940’s feel to it. This was the first film to try and build up to the Avengers that worked. But more importantly it works as a good character piece to who would become one of the key members of the whole series.
Chris Evans was an inspired choice to play the shield wielding hero, both looking and acting the part to perfection. While the Red Skull is a weak villain overall, he’s played with the intimidating silliness only Hugo Weaving can deliver. Of All of the MCU origin stories this one has the most going on, yet it’s a surprisingly focused film for its content. The action is fun in that cartoony way of the older superhero films. The World War II setting helps out with Steve Rogers as a character and in giving us a good old good vs evil story with little grey area – kind of ironic when you consider the sequels.
Despite this, outside of its setting, The First Avenger doesn’t feel unique. We’ve seen the things we see here before, and often better handled. Like in The Rocketeer – also, am I the only one who thinks of the videogame Uncharted 2 during the train scene? I do feel that it gets more hate than it deserves and is a solid turn out for the series. It does appear to have been getting more love these past few years, so maybe I’m not the only one.
11/ CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. DIR: ANTHONY AND JOE RUSSO.
For good reason the Russo brothers have become the golden boys of Marvel. Their work within the studio has produced some of the studios best and most thought provoking work. For many, this came to a head with Civil War. While I do disagree with those who call this one the best of the Captain America films, I do think that it is still a good effort. There’s a lot to love in Civil War. The ideas are bold and challenging to people’s beliefs. On top of that it also provides a solid film with strong writing, direction and acting.
Working more like an espionage film than a typical superhero film, we get a gritty story with many twists and turns. While it can feel a little heavy handed at times we usually get an action scene around the corner. Most of these scenes are great, with the famous airport fight being incredible to watch. We also get some better character development from the ensemble cast than we did any Avengers film before it. At the time I considered it to be the Avengers film I always wanted. I even liked how the villain was just a man. No powers, suit or money – just a man who blames the Avengers for his family’s death.
Sadly, I find that Civil War’s impact has lessened with time. I attribute most of this to the ending. Not the fight or the final resolution, they work very well. It’s not even Rogers surviving the film, although I do feel that his death would have brought more weight to it. It’s that it ends on a surprising up-beat note. After everything that happens we are basically told that the team will be back together soon enough. It makes the film feel a little pointless to me in the long run. It is a shame. But everything leading up to that is too good for me to pass us seeing it again.
10/ ANT-MAN. DIR: PEYTON REED.
I think that like everyone and their dog, I’m more interested in what this film could have been than what we got. In the hands of Peyton Reed, we got a solid little family film. In the hands of Edgar Wright though, we could have had the best film of the whole series. That being said though, I do like Ant-Man as it is. This is mostly seen as a fairly average film. I tend to rate it a little higher than that.
That is mostly down to the performances. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily have amazing chemistry, with it running just as strong with Michael Douglas. These three alone would be worth the viewing. I love Michael Pena as the comic relief and Ant-Man’s daughter deserves some praise given her way. Tonally speaking this is one of the lightest of the MCU. It feels more like a family film, with kids given more consideration than usual. Because of this it can feel a little too fluffy at times – nothing of real distress or upset happens throughout the whole thing. This could throw people off it as an entry to the series, but as a stand alone it does a fun job.
We still have villain issues and the pacing is a little off. Reed and Wright’s ideas and styles don’t always mix too well. But I like the comedy and the action is pretty mind-blowing at times. The shrinking gimmick is effectively used throughout the film. It also made me weirdly appreciate ants after seeing it. That can’t be a bad thing. So, while messy I still think it’s a good choice of film to put on with the kids.