I love everything about Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. I grew up reading Marvel comics and still do to this day. I can’t believe I live in a time when some of the most successful and well-made Hollywood movies are super hero movies. Phase One of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe included Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers. Since we’re already two films into Phase Two, I thought I’d rank my favorite Phase One movies.
#1 – The Avengers
I think it’s pretty obvious that The Avengers would be my favorite Phase One movie. It was the culmination of Marvel’s intentional yet risky plan. The plan paid off, though, as The Avengers is the third most successful movie of all time. I know that The Avengers isn’t a perfect movie but I really don’t care. I am still thoroughly entertained every time I watch it. Just last week I watched it again and still got goose bumps when the Avengers assembled for the first time in New York City.
#2 – Captain America: The First Avenger
A lot of people are shocked by how much I enjoyed Captain America: The First Avenger. I really like Chris Evans as Steve Rogers and that Rogers already had the heart of a hero – he just needed the body to go along with it. Even though Hugo Weaving wasn’t too crazy about the film or his role in it, his Red Skull was wonderfully over-the-top in his quest for world domination. I’ve probably gone back and watched Captain America: The First Avenger more than any other of the Phase One films, mostly because it entertains me from beginning to end.
#3 – Iron Man 2
A lot of people didn’t like Iron Man 2 because they thought it had more to do with setting up The Avengers than continuing Tony Stark’s story. While Nick Fury and Natasha Romanoff played large roles in Iron Man 2, Stark still stood at the center. We got to see Tony wrestling with his role as a super hero and the further development of the arc reactor and his armor. I actually liked Iron Man 2 more than the original. Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell were better villains than Jeff Bridges and I loved the final action scene with Iron Man and War Machine.
#4 – Thor
So far Marvel has done a tremendous job of hiring directors to match the tone and style of the story they’re telling. Kenneth Branagh, who directed Thor, is best known for his work with Shakespeare. That experience makes Thor the smallest, most intimate and most character-driven of the Phase One movies. I like that Thor’s main focus is on one small town in New Mexico as opposed to the world hopping adventures of Captain America and Iron Man. Thor also introduced Tom Hiddleston as Loki who, other than Robert Downey Jr., is probably Phase One’s MVP.
#5 – Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. has been a movie star for a very long time with numerous falls from grace and career renaissances. Casting him as Tony Stark was a stroke of sheer genius. Downey Jr. anchored Phase One with his performance. Many people wouldn’t have even given Iron Man or The Avengers a second thought if it weren’t for his involvement. I like Iron Man and thought it was a great way to kick off Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. However, I am more entertained by most of the other movies in Phase One. Iron Man got the ball rolling but most of the other movies took it much further.
#6 – The Incredible Hulk
Even though it’s last on this list, I really did enjoy The Incredible Hulk. I never saw Ang Lee’s Hulk and I’m probably better off for it. Thankfully the rights to the Hulk fell from Universal back to Marvel and Marvel was able to produce their version of the hero. Edward Norton was a great Bruce Banner and his Hulk really did become a hero in fighting the Abomination. The problem with any Hulk movie, though, is that there isn’t much to do with him as the Hulk. He’s big, he’s strong and he smashes stuff. That was great for The Avengers but it isn’t enough to carry an entire movie.
I loved Phase One and, so far, I have loved Phase Two. Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks great and I don’t think I could be any more excited for Guardians of the Galaxy. I love all of the characters in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and I hope they keep adding more and keep making movies for the rest of my life.
What are your favorite Phase One movies?