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Sunday, 25 July 2021

You decide! Marvel movies!

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon

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There are times in this life when you have to slam on the brakes.

You may be about to hit a nightmarish bend in the road.

A cat may have just leapt out in front of your tank when you're about to invade a small country.

Or you may have just been about to write a blog post.

One of those things has just happened to me.

And it didn't involve cats.

There I was, all set to launch myself into reviewing that issue of Adventure Comics where the Spectre inflicts a giant squid upon a 1970s Nazi, when I suddenly realised, I don't think I've ever asked you what your favourite Marvel movies are.

Clearly, this is an oversight I must correct.

And I am.

Of course, there are two possible definitions of the phrase, "Marvel movie."

One could refer to films made by Marvel Studios. The other involves films that are based on Marvel Comics strips, regardless of the actual studio behind the film.

For the purposes of this post, I'm including anything at all that features a Marvel character. Granted, by that token, Howard the Duck is eligible for inclusion in this debate. And, if you wish to put Howard forward, that is within your fundamental rights as a commentator.

I, however, shall not be putting Howard forward.

First off, I shall say that, while I've not minded the Marvel Studios ventures, none of them has held any great emotional resonance for me. Ultimately, I think I tend to find them a little too glib to ever be truly gripped by them.

Also, I've not actually seen them all, yet.

Of the Marvel Studios ones I have seen, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has probably been my favorite, thanks to its sense of momentum and conflict.

And, the non-Marvel Studios films?

Two leap to mind.

One is a golden oldie now.

That's Spider-Man 2. The one with Alfred Molina as Doc Ock. Not the one with Jamie Foxx as Electro. 

Possibly tainted by memories of Spider-Man 3, the Tobey Maguire films seem to have gone heavily out of favour in recent times but I do feel Spider-Man 2 is a masterclass in how to handle a super-hero movie and its themes.

My other favourite is Deadpool 2.

The first Deadpool was fine but little of it has managed to lodge in my memory. The sequel, though, is strangely endearing, for such a determinedly cynical film and has a surprising level of ambition to its story-telling.

Also, the catastrophic parachute jump is easily my favourite sequence in any super-hero movie.

It also mocks the idiotic convention of super-heroes jumping from great heights and landing on their knees.

What more could you want from a film?

Probably plenty but only you can tell me what that plenty is. So, if you have favourite Marvel movies, feel free to name them in the comments section below.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - I agree with you about the first Spidey movies being my favs. My memory fails… but my absolute fav was the one with Spidey getting passed along the subway train riders… badly beaten up and the riders show Spidey the love. IIRC that was the one he battles Doc Ock?

Honorable mention to Iron Man 1.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Most of these films I've only seen once but, yeah, there's the Doc Ock, first Avengers film, Civil War, both parts of Avengers Endfgame. And t( first Iron a man was a real game changer.

But nothing will ever beat how I felt sitting down to that Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man film in the late 70s. The film was rubbish, with no comic super villain, but I'd waited so long for it and was so happy!

Anonymous said...

Funnily enough Steve, the Marvel films I enjoyed the most were the Raimi Spider-Man 2, and Deadpool 2.

Tbh, I think with Spidey 2 a lot of it back then was the novelty value (I hadn't seen the first one) of seeing fight scenes that actually looked like old comics come to life. It made me understand what people in the late 19th century got out of seeing films that consisted of just steam trains crossing the screen or whatever.

Generally though, I find a few pages of, say, Jack Kirby's artwork intrinsically more interesting than a cgi Asgard, and theres something about the basic premise of superheroes that makes it harder to suspend disbelief when you see actual human beings playing them. Especially with the more "realistic" films like (sorry) Winter Soldier, or the Nolan Bat-flicks (maybe thats why Deadpool taking the piss works for me).

Also, if I never see another film that climaxes with some sort of giant beam rising into the sky it'll be too soon...


Killdumpster said...

In my DVD library I own approximately 90-95% of all Marvel related movies/tv shows and tv pilots.

Believe it or not, the best Fantastic Four film is the unleashed cheap Roger Gorman film. In my opinion, though a little campy, it's the closest to the source material than any of them..

Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man was good, but I missed the wrist web-shooters. He said that was too unbelievable. Really...

Loved the fx on Spider-Man 2, but having Doc Ock as a nice guy in the beginning of the movie is totally against comics mythos. He's always been a crazy evil a-hole in the books. Spider-Man 3 had a nice interpretation of Sandman, fx-wise, but I was starting to get tired of the whole "sympathetic villian" trope. Just let the bad guys be EVIL!!
The Amazing Spider-Man bummed me out. They took quite a bit of liberty on the presentation of Peter Parker & the Lizard.

Killdumpster said...

Tom Holland's Spider-Man/Iron Boy is annoying. The Cap & Iron Man, Avengers films are enjoyable, and I dig all the Thor flicks. At varying degrees. I'm just glad I lived long enough to see our childhood comics heroes on the big screen.

Not necessarily my favorite, but I REALLY liked ANT-MAN.

Anonymous said...

This is indeed dangerous territory you've led us into, Steve.
Only trouble can come of it!

That said, I'll put my vote in for the first Guardians movie.
I almost felt my child-like sense of wonder, long dead, coming alive again at various points while watching that movie.
The second one? Eh.

I'll give an honorable mention to Doc Strange and Ultron (in Ultron's case, the character, not the movie).
I agree with K.D., Tom Holland is annoying. For that matter, Peter Parker as a character is annoying. Doc Ock was cool.


Anonymous said...

I’m the rare fan that doesn’t love the first two Raimi Spider-man movies. Peter was too much of a mopey sad-sack for me, and MJ was 100% wrong. I actually prefer the first AMAZING SPIDER-MAN — it’s not perfect by any means but I found Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone really appealing. The sequel was pretty awful, tho!

I liked the first Tom Holland one for the most part, even if Peter’s personality doesn’t seem at all like the character I grew up with. I haven’t seen the second one.

No one’s weighing in on the X-Men movies. Interesting. I like FIRST CLASS a lot, and DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is pretty good too. Haven’t seen the solo Wolverine movies. The Deadpool movies are funny.

I didn’t care for Ang Lee’s Hulk movie at all, and I thought the Edward Norton one was forgettable.

Oh, those Fantastic Four movies….painful. Galactus as a thundercloud, FFS! Never saw the reboot.

I love CAPTAIN AMERICA - THE FIRST AVENGER to pieces! Even though I kinda hate that baggy Brian Hitch costume. WINTER SOLDIER is a completely different kind of movie, superior to the first in many ways, but I still like FIRST AVENGER more. Peggy fighting back tears when she realizes Steve is gone gets me every single time.

The first IRON MAN is very good (although it does seem pretty low-budget to me now!). I remember disliking IM 2 and thought IM 3 was okay. I was kinda stunned that Guy Pearce’s character was pretty much just Sindrome from the INCREDIBLES, straight up.

I like the first and third Thor movies quite a bit. I have almost zero memory of THE DARK WORLD. Dark fairies and goblins in spaceships or something?

I like the two Ant Man movies a lot. I do wonder sometimes how different the first one would have been if Edgar Wright hadn’t got kicked off the project. I don’t love the Guardians movies.

DR. STRANGE mostly didn’t work for me and BLACK PANTHER mostly did. I kinda liked T’Challa better in CIVIL WAR tho, I feel like they dialed back his badass attitude a teensy bit too much in his own movie. But damn, Chadwick Boseman was a terrific actor, with charisma to burn. R.I.P.

Boy, did I love that first AVENGERS movie when it was first released! Seeing the team getting together for the first time, the Helicarrier reveal, SHIELD agents in zip-suits, Natasha kicking ass while strapped in a chair, that stupid Shawarma scene, etc etc — I had a big dumb grin on my face the whole time. Watched it again just recently and I was frankly surprised that it didn’t hold up quite as well for me this time around, but it was still enjoyable. I’m afraid to re-visit the second one, as I didn’t even care for it much the first time. I liked Aaron Taylor-Johnson a lot as Pietro and Paul Bettany is perfectly cast as the Vision.

INFINITY WAR and ENDGAME are both just mind-boggling good. I’m always amazed that they actually pulled off such a crazy-ass stunt. That reveal of Cap wielding Mjolnir gave me the biggest jolt of Nerd Electricity since the opening shot of STAR WARS.


Chim said...

I think I watched all Marvel movies and the new TV series, but I starting to grow tired of the MCU formula. Still here are my favorites:

- Best movie: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If I like to rewatch any of them, it is this movie. I enjoyed the chemistry between Chris and Scarlett. I could rewatch the elevator scene over and over again. And I like the underlying conspiration theme and Cap going underground with a littel help from his friends.

- Spider-Man 2. The fighting scene with Doc Oc and Aunt May at the wall of the building blew me away. That was the first time I realized that movie could actually replicate the comic dynamics. A turning point.

- Thor: Ragnarok. I love the end fight with the Led Zeppelin soundtrack. The moment the music kicks in and Thor makes his big jump and "falls" down on his enemies. Wonderful. I could rewatch it a hundred times. Not the whole movie, but just this scene.

- Guardians of the Galaxy 1 was also a delight, and the intro scene of Vol 2 with the ELO soundtrack and little Groot is also beautiful.

- I have hopes for some upcoming movies like The Eternals (because of the director and because it is another Kirby asset), Thor 4 (because of Taika Waititi) and Dr. Strange (because I really enjoyed the Wanda TV series this year, and again the director Sam Raimi). I hope they add some of their own touch to the old MCU formula.

Chim said...

@Anonymous: Yes Emma Stone was a perfect cast for Gwen Stacy. But unfortunately I didn't liked the two movies.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Ok... after the great posts above triggered Charlie's memory...

Spidey 2 with Doc Ock

Iron Man 1

Guardians of the Galaxy. This could be Charlie's fav. From what Charlie can tell, it really attracted viewers who had no previous interest in comic books.

As far as TV goes....

Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jennifer Jones were certainly worth watching, if not all the seasons at least the first. (At some point one does tire of watching screens, no?) Though Charlie might just put them in 2nd place behind Gotham.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for your comments, so far, everyone. It's nice to know others share my liking for the trio of films I nominated.

KD, having seen the other FF movies, I can very well believe the Roger Corman one is the best.

Dangermash, I remember seeing that Nicholas Hammond one in a cinema and I was not thrilled by it. I think I saw it on a double bill with Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, which was more to my approval.

Chim, I am intrigued about The Eternals, mostly because the recent trailer was so unrevealing about what to expect.

Redartz said...

I too greatly enjoyed the second Spider-Man film, thought Molina's Ock was phenomenal. Greatly preferable to the Green Goblin armor of the first film (although I did like Willem DaFoe as Norman Osborn).

Big fan of the Avengers film, Civil War, Black Panther and Guardians. And Ant-Man. Plus I rather liked the first X-men film, and it's follow up. Okay, so I've liked most of the Marvel films. Hey, I remember when all we had was Lou Ferrigno.

Oh, and best Fantastic Four film: The Incredibles...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I liked The Incredibles too, Red.
Also, the original Robocop was much better than either Dredd film, and both Kill Bills were infinitely preferable to that terrible Elektra flick...


Anonymous said...

Was Winter Soldier the movie where Arnim Zola makes his final appearance? I forget.
That was kind of eerie. Steve Rogers and the Black Widow are in some kinda secret installation and Zola's face starts materializing on multiple computer screens.
That was a very clever way to use Zola. It's just close enough to the original character to satisfy us old comic book nerds.
And creepy, to me anyway. A disembodied ghost in the machine with that hollow voice.

Sean, it had never occurred to me that the Kill Bill movies might have been inspired by Elektra. Maybe. Tarantino is another comic book nerd, I assume.
I dunno about a connection between Judge Dredd and Robocop. They seem like two different animals to me. But Deathlok and the Terminator? Definitely.
I agree that the Kill Bills and Robocop were far superior to those other films you mentioned, but I thought the second Dredd was watchable, anyway.
That actor who played Dredd, Karl Urban, I assume his face musta hurt after having to scowl like that for entire scenes.


Anonymous said...

The writers who created Robocop did admit being influenced by Judge Dredd , Deathlok and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, I seem to recall.

Professional warrior (soldier, cop) gets killed, brought back to life as cyborg : Deathlok obviously

Satirical TV news bits = DKR

Cliche “Law and Order” rhetoric combined with Over The Top Violence : Judge Dredd

Near-future Urban Hellscape : all 3 sources, but mostly Deathlok and DKR

Future Crime elements extrapolated from current trends : Judge Dredd and DKR


Anonymous said...

There are certain elements that have become standardized tropes in many Marvel movies:

The villain is basically an evil twin of the hero, with VERY similar powers : BLACK PANTHER, first IRON MAN, first ANT-MAN, Edward Norton INCREDIBLE HULK, first two CAPTAIN AMERICA movies

A seemingly benign supporting character suddenly turns evil late in the movie : THOR, DR. STRANGE

And of course, the movie ends with a generic CGI / videogame Cut Scene battle : CAPTAIN MARVEL, BLACK PANTHER, SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING, IRON MAN 3, etc etc etc.

The “Evil Twin” thing isn’t a huge problem, except in cases like BLACK PANTHER where it’s combined with the CG Cut Scene Battle and you literally can’t tell which Panther is which. But I think they need to give some serious thought to coming up with ways to freshen up those 3rd Act Set-Piece battles. When people complain about “Superhero Fatigue” it’s things like the repetitive boiler-plate battle scenes that are at the root of the problem.


Anonymous said...

You forgot to include daddy issues as a standard Marvel Studio trope there, b.t.

M.P., I've no idea if there was a direct influence on Kill Bill, but those films were pretty much what I'd want to see in Elektra, and fwiw Tarantino directed part of the first Sin City flick along with Miller.

Years ago I recall reading that Tarantino was briefly in talks to direct Green Lantern (he dodged a bullet there, eh?) and later dismissed the idea of doing superheroes as he'd rather do his own stuff.
Which is a shame, as his best film - Jackie Brown - was an adaptation, and I reckon he could do a really interesting fresh take on some Marvel character that avoided the usual cliches...


McSCOTTY said...

I have enjoyed most of the Marvel movies with particular favourites being:

Black Panther
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain America - The Winter Soldier

But my favourite is still "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014)the soundtrack alone is a classic. Maybe that's because I wasn't a big fan of the guardian comic so came to the film with no preconceived ideas.

Sean: Re Tarantino - I wonder what the were thinking about giving him Green Lantern, very strange choice. A Tarantino Punisher movie might have been interesting though, it certainly couldn't have been worse than the Punisher movies that were made.

Anonymous said...

I guess if a studio are looking for a director they go through the usual names Paul. Or maybe Tarantino was the one who was the interested party - hasn't he been in talks for ages to do a Star Trek film because he's a fan?

The Punisher - or Luke Cage & Iron Fist - seem like the obvious choice, but it might be interesting to see Tarantino do something a bit different. Maybe he could be the one to finally make a decent FF film, you know, with that invisible bitch an' Flame On and sh*t...