I've been on a kick for the last few days of re-watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in chronological order, as opposed to release order. And I. Am. LOVING IT!
Seriously, I haven't been this geeked up in a long, long time. I think I went through a period of super-hero fatigue towards the end of the last Marvel Phase -- just too many movies in a row, leading to a "resolve your problems by punching them" fatigue. But I signed up for Disney+ and thought this might be a fun way to experience the films now that the first decade is complete.
I hadn't seen "Captain Marvel" before. When it came out, I was turned off by negative reviews and, frankly, the burning mohawk.
But I watched it after "Captain America: First Avenger" and it held up really well! I thought it was basically the same movie as the first Cap installment, and I got a lot of pleasure out of seeing a young Nick Fury and Agent Coulson, particularly with the perspective of knowing what would eventually befall them.
In fact, that nostalgia, that foreknowledge of what was yet to come, has informed a lot of my enjoyment of the films so far. It adds an element of timelessness that was missing on the first go-around for those films I'd seen before.
I just finished "Iron Man 2" and so far, they're all still excellent movies that hold up well, even 10+ years later. Without getting too far into the weeds, here's how I'd rank them so far:
- Iron Man: An exceptional super-hero movie, head and shoulders above the rest. Pitch-perfect on every note, successful at everything it attempted. It's clear with the perspective of a decade of experience that this was indeed the affirmation Marvel needed that They. Could. Do. This.
- Incredible Hulk: Norton's performance is great and the overall production excellent. I found myself wondering how I'd react to the Ruffalo takeover, but setting that aside, the movie just hums. I remember being blown away by the "Origin story recapped in the opening credits" approach when I first saw it and that is very much reinforced on a later viewing. Non-stop awesome action and story from the get-go, an assertive and confident refutation of the turgid, overly-in-their-heads Ang Lee approach. This is Marvel Studios saying "This is what we're about and what we're about is unapologetic super-hero AWESOMENESS!"
- Captain America: First Avenger: I just love Steve Rogers. His spirit, his can-do American underdog-ism, everything about him. The movie dragged a little in the second act but I think maybe knowing how Cap 2 and 3 turn out influenced me to bump this one a little higher than I might have otherwise. Hugo Weaving is great, as always.
- Captain Marvel: As I said, I was disincentivized from seeing this the first time due to negative reviews from friends and the Internet. Also the aforementioned flaming space-mohawk. But I really enjoyed it! Brie Larson's performance was sometimes strangely disaffected, but I think that must have been at directorial instruction -- "Super-heroes are very serious, don't take this lightly." I think ultimately what bumped this down slightly below Cap's intro is that with Cap, we have a character who becomes more of what he already is when the movie starts, whereas Marvel is discovering who she was all along. It's also harder to do a movie where the main character is fighting against institutional oppression rather than, say, a guy with a big red skull for a face. Still, a thoroughly enjoyable and well-done movie.
- Iron Man 2: Fun, but ultimately it felt a little soulless. I think mostly it suffers from being a sequel -- it's hard to match the interest and drama from an origin movie. Though as we'll see from Ragnarok, not an impossible challenge! Still, just a little too much CGI slugfesty for me to match the appeal of the other offerings.
Next up is "Thor" and I have to say, I haven't been this excited to watch a movie I've already seen once in ... well, maybe ever. I liked the film quite a bit on first release and now, knowing what is to come for the character and the franchise, I look forward to experiencing it again.