EDITORIAL: Ten Greatest Marvel Movies
CBM User JJ63 gives you his ten favorite comic book movies based on characters from Marvel. Continue on to see his list and then take it to the comments section with your own opinion and thoughts.
Hello again, my dear friends. Since the year 1998, there has been around thirty comic book movies based off of Marvel Comics characters. There has been a total of six film companies producing these films, three major studios and three minor ones. The three major ones are Marvel Studios (they have produced a total of eight films with many, many more in the future), 20th Century Fox (they have produced a total of ten films with at least three more on the way), and Sony Pictures (they have produced a total of six films with five more on the way). The minor ones are New Line Cinema (they have produced a total of three films, and no more in the future), Lionsgate (they have produced two films with no more in the future), and Universal (they have only produced one film with a potential Namor franchise on the way IF they get the right people). But which of these are the best? Which are my favorite? Well I'll tell you and at the end I'll name a handful of honorable mentions and why they didn't make the top ten.
10) The Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man was released in 2012, directed by Marc Webb and starred Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Dennis Leary and Martin Sheen. Tenth place was a toss up between this film and Iron Man 3, and at the end of the day I'm a MUCH bigger Spider-Man fan than an Iron Man fan so that's why I chose this one. I felt The Amazing Spider-Man was a solid first film in a series, but if it was going to be it's own separate entity it would just be average. However since it is going to be part of a bigger series, it is a very good first effort. While far from perfect, I thought it got the character mostly right. Obviously lots of things were wrong with it. But it all comes down to one thing: poor writing. For example The Lizard's plan is quite strange, because after he has been in Lizard form for a few hours he reverts back to his human form. So he covers the city in his Lizard formula but what most of us don't realize is that in a few hours they will all revert back to humans. I find it unbelievable that Conners wouldn't have thought through this. I think that was way out of character due to poor writing. Also, the school scene at the end where he negates all of his character development is also an example of bad writing because it feels tacked on to the end just to give Peter a happy ending. Because it overtly contradicts the rest of what happened in the film, the lesson that was learned, the story that was told was all contradicted by this scene where again he seems to be acting out of character. I see this movie as having one big problem, because all of the specific issues boil down to the same thing: poor writing. But that doesn't make the movie bad, all CBMs have their flaws. Even what I consider to be the greatest CBM of all time (Batman Begins) has it's fair share of issues. So this flaw is not unforgivable in any way. With all of that said, the positives by far outweigh the negatives in this film. I feel that Andrew Garfield was a better Peter Parker/Spider-Man than Toby Maguire. Even though I prefer most of the Raimi films overall, I feel Garfield specifically is more suited to the role than Maguire is. Also, I really liked the villain. Granted he wasn't the Lizard I always knew and he wasn't the one I wanted but he was decent enough for this outing. I would've preferred the gator snouted Lizard like the comics but what we got was pretty good. It's just his final plot has one MEGA hole in it and I've already addressed that so I will speak no more of it. The Lizard was nothing to rave about but very good, I liked him at least. Probably the third or fourth best Spider-Man movie villain behind Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus, and MAYBE Sandman. Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man is not amazing as it's title would have you believe. But it is good.
Overall rating: 8/10
9) The Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk, released in 2008 and directed by Louis Leterrier, starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt. The Incredible Hulk has just got to be one of the most underrated comic book movies of all time. This movie receives a ton of hate without cause, when I ask people for a reason to hate it the only thing they can come up with is "poor CGI". While the effects aren't anything excellent, I still feel they were sufficient and at least decent. Anyhow, I view this film sort of as non-canon or more like semi-canon with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Mainly because of different actors in the roles, as well as the fact that it is the only serious, dark Marvel Studio film to date. But while it does manage to have strong, interesting and compelling characters it lacks a strong, interesting, compelling plot. Which is what holds it back from being a truly mind blowingly excellent film, and drives it into just being great. Firstly, Edward Norton is the perfect Bruce Banner. I don't care what anyone else says, I prefer Norton's iteration of Bruce Banner over Mark Ruffalo's. There I said it. That's not to say Ruffalo wasn't amazing. Because he was, but I feel that Norton brought the frightened, tortured man on the run in a way that Ruffalo still hasn't done. Secondly, I think Liv Tyler was great. Although I still prefer Jennifer Connely, Tyler was the perfect choice for this movie. The action is also quite significant, the final battle is an epic brawl that has yet to be matched in the same way. Overall, The Incredible Hulk is a really great movie. Underrated...
Overall rating: 8.5/10
8) The Wolverine
The Wolverine was released in 2013, directed by James Mangold and starred Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen and Tao Okamoto. The Wolverine is one the best pure character search movies of all time, second only to the first Iron Man and maybe Batman Begins. It takes a deep, introspective look into Logan's character and it excels at it. This is the first and only one of Fox's X-Men movies where the fate of a race doesn't hang in the balance. Think about it, in X-Men Magneto is going to turn humans into mutants but they will die in the process. In X2, Stryker plans to use Cerebro to kill all the mutants while Magneto wants to use it to kill all the humans. In X3, Magneto is amassing a mutant army to rid the world of humanity. In First Class, Shaw plans to make mutant kind superior to humanity. In Origins, Stryker plans to create the ultimate mutant to kill off all the others. The Wolverine doesn't come close to any of that, It strays away from the grand spectacle and goes more personal than ever before. I'm not saying any of those were particularly bad (okay, maybe X3) but Wolverine is the only one that is ENTIRELY personal. The action scenes and love interests (both of them) were fantastic. The villains and story were sufficient but lackluster, which is why it is rated this low. The final act receives a lot of hate, I can't figure out why. It was a passion-filled, generic yet over the top way to cap off a deep character based story. Add to that great performances and you've got a great movie.
Overall rating: 8.5/10
7) X2: X-Men United
X2: X-Men United was released in 2003, directed by Bryan Singer and starred Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Ian Mckellen, Patrick Stewart, James Marsden, Alan Cumming, Rebecca Romijn, Brian Cox, Halle Berry and Anna Paquin. X2: X-Men United is an excellent film, though a tad overrated in my opinion. Most consider it to be the greatest X-Men film of all time but I personally feel that honor belongs to another. That said, it's still a fantastic movie. Story is very well done, the villains were well portrayed and well acted. Mystique had an even bigger role than before. Alan Cumming's Nightcrawler got to be a boss, especially in the opening scene. Hugh Jackman is an excellent Wolverine. Famke Janssen's Jean Grey was great and in the end had to sacrifice herself for her friends. Fight scenes were minimalistic but well done. The fights against Lady Deathstrike were awesome. My only major gripe with this movie is unlike the first X-Men film, Cyclops' role is diminished. Other than Cyclops though, all of the other characters get their chance to shine. The heart, character and passion from the first film is still there and the story is even better. The action is better too. Overall, other than a lack of Cyclops this is a truly great movie.
Overall rating: 8.5/10
6) Iron Man
Iron Man was released in 2008, directed by Jon Favreau and starred Robert Downey Jr, Gwenyth Paltrow, Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges. Iron Man was the kick-off to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and not to mention a great kick-off. Iron Man was such a huge success because the character was so unheard of, no one had any expectations for the movie at all. We were all blown away by it. The acting is the film's first positive. Excellent performances from all involved with the film. Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, one of the best CBM love interests of all time. Terrence Howard as Rhoadey is great, I wished he would've stayed. Jeff Bridges brings a great performance to a dull, uninteresting iteration of a character. But the film's main breakout star is Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and later Iron Man. The story while mostly stolen from Batman Begins, is still quite good. But it's Tony's character arc that made this movie great. What bogs this movie down, and what keeps it out of the top five is a weak villain. Iron Monger is a good character from the comics, but in the film he is written to be so one dimensional he becomes boring up until the final fight. I loved Jeff Bridges' performance and his completed suit was freakin epic but there is no way around the fact that he is a flat character. Iron Man is an awesome movie, it's a lighter, more fun version of Batman Begins.
Overall rating: 9/10
Spider-Man was released in 2002, directed by Sam Raimi and starred Toby Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Willem Dafoe, J.K. Simmons and Rosemary Harris. Spider-Man is considered by most (and myself) to be one of the first truly great comic book movies of our time. While all the haters can whine all they want, this movie is great. Spider-Man has an amazing story/plot about Peter and Norman and their character arcs, and a lesson in power and responsibility is learned by both the titular character as well as the audience. The first Spider-Man is so great because of how iconic and innovative it was. But a strong cast didn't hurt it either. While I feel Toby Maguire was a miscast, he still did his very best under the circumstances. Rosemary Harris did very well as Aunt May, although that is a somewhat easy character to play. James Franco is a great Harry Osborn, and is until he becomes Green Goblin Jr. in Spider-Man 3. J.K. Simmons is perfect casting, and nailed the part of J. Jonah Jameson. But where this film's casting shines the most is in the casting of Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn. (also known as The Green Goblin) Personally I feel this performance is on par with Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's Jokers. Those are the top three greatest comic book villains of all time in my opinion. Say what you'd like about the suit, I thought it was awesome. I mean Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin is the Joker in a green monster-themed Iron Man suit. That is lame how? The design wasn't exactly the same as the comics, but the character is 100% true to the comics. Overall, Spider-Man is a great movie and among the first of the great CBMs of our time.
Overall rating: 9/10
4) The Avengers
The Avengers was released in 2012, directed by Joss Whedon and starred Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlet Johanssen. The Avengers, this is probably where I lose most of my readers. Because I'm sure a great majority would have placed this at the top. I loved it, however I feel there are others that are better. That said I feel that The Avengers is still an amazing movie mostly just because of the impact it had on the industry and how it was just so cool to see previously set up heroes coming together on the big screen. Obviously multiple heroes together had already been done in the X-Men and Fantastic Four movies, but those characters all originated in the same movie. Avengers was the first that would have heroes that were already set up as solo characters, now coming together. Of course The Avengers is not without flaws, of course there is the fact that it lacks any kind of a story line at all. But it realizes what it wants to be and owns it. It doesn't try to be anything else. Combine that fact with excellent performances, a fantastic main theme, a great villain, some of the best action scenes of all time and you've got a truly great, iconic film. The Avengers IS overrated, but still amazing.
Overall rating: 9/10
X-Men was released in 2000, directed by Bryan Singer and starred Hugh Jackman, Ian Mckellen, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Rebecca Romijn and Anna Paquin. X-Men was the first test run sort of for Marvel, to see if their comic book characters could actually be adapted well on the silver screen. X-Men proved that comic book movies can still work and it is the movie that started the massive superhero craze that we are surrounded with today. That ALONE gives it a place in the top five, but I feel it even deserves to be in the top three. I personally thought that the story was excellent. Because it is four stories, all stemming from different places merging together and creating a single cohesive excellent plot line that is very emotional, deep and though provoking. That's another thing, this was the first truly thought provoking comic book movie. It deals with themes of tolerance, oppression, registration, genocide, acceptance, etc. I feel Bryan Singer was the perfect man for the job because he has dealt with a lot of that is his own life. All the actors are wonderful as well. Sir Ian Mckellen is an excellent Magneto, Hugh Jackman is an excellent Wolverine, I loved Patrick Stewart as Xavier. Anna Paquin is hated for "not being hot enough" all I can say is y'all are a bunch of vagina starved children whining about a girl's appearance. She got the character right, so there is no reason to hate. Famke Janssen is a fantastic Jean Grey. Magneto's henchmen Toad, Mystique and Sabretooth played by Ray Park, Rebecca Romijn and Tyler Mane were all very cool with Mystique being the best of the bunch. Halle Berry is just OK, but James Marsden is a great Cyclops. That's my next point, that X-Men 1 gets Cyclops right. That is one reason (along with being more iconic, and more personal) that I like X-Men 1 more than X-Men 2. X2 while a great movie, it more or less ditched Cyclops. X1 has a lot of great scenes featuring him and that is one area where it beats it's sequel. Overall, X-Men is the most iconic Marvel film, and is one of the few that brings up more mature, thought provoking, serious themes.
Overall rating: 9.5/10
2) X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class was released in 2011, directed by Matthew Vaughn and starred Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jen Lawrence, Nick Hoult and Kevin Bacon. I will admit I was not originally excited for this movie, I was disappointed because I originally heard that it was going to be an origin movie for Xavier, Magneto, Beast, Cyclops and Jean. But when I later heard that Cyclops and Jean weren't even going to be in the movie. I was upset by it. However I was very much pleasantly surprised by it and it has now become one of my favorite movies, Period. One major reason for this is because Magneto is my favorite villain, and I thought that Fassbender portrayed the character perfectly and was even a bit better than Ian Mckellen's amazing iteration of the character. The story of Magneto was told perfectly as well. Other examples of great casting in this film are James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence and Nick Hoult. Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw is among the best Marvel movie villains of all time. Who knew he could be such a bad-*** villain? Who knew he could take a relatively unheard of villain and make him epic? No one did. James McAvoy is an amazing Charles Xavier, though I still prefer Patrick Stewart I felt McAvoy was perfect for the younger iteration of the character. Jen Lawrence brought us a deeper, more emotional side to Mystique though I still prefer Rebecca Romijn's MUCH sexier iteration of her. Nick Hoult is a good Beast, the design is a little weird but cool in it's own way. Overall, this is the best X-Men movie and one of the best comic book movies ever made.
Overall rating: 9.5/10
1) Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2 was released in 2004, directed by Sam Raimi and starred Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, J.K. Simmons, Rosemary Harris, James Franco and Alfred Molina. Well well, here we are. Spider-Man 2 tops the list for me. Maybe I'm alone in my view, but if that is the case then so be it. I don't care what any one else says, this is the best Marvel comics based movie of all time. Mainly because of the amazing story and character development. The heart, emotion and passion is there and more present than in any of these other movies. The story is among the most well written of our time. The villain is excellent, Dr. Octopus' story and character arc are all very well done and his story is so heartbreaking yet so inspiring when he does the right thing at the end. The lesson learned is so amazing, it's about the gifts we are given and what we do with them. But also about giving up what we love most in order to do what we know is right. The action scenes are nothing to scoff at either, I love the bank robbery scene and the climax too. But the best one by far is the fight scene on the train, and then how Spidey saves the train. This scene has so much emotion, so much power, it's amazing. I also love the inclusion of the Spider-Man No More story arc. The soundtrack is excellent as well. Overall, Spider-Man 2 is the very best that Marvel has to offer and is still the only Marvel Comic based movie that is on par with Nolan's first two Dark Knight films.
Overall rating: 10/10
A few honorable mentions....
Iron Man 3-As aforementioned, tenth place was actually a tie between this and Amazing Spider-Man, but I'm a MUCH bigger fan of Spider-Man than Iron Man.
Blade 2-The only Blade film I've watched from start to finish all the way through. I thought it was awesome, just not awesome enough.
Thor 1 & 2-Are both great movies, there are just certain issues with each that keep them out of my top ten. For one thing, the first Thor while good overall has dozens of cringeworthy scenes taking place on Earth. Not to mention the supporting cast (except Loki) is horrible in both films as is the romance. These are both really good, just not top ten material.
The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer-I don't give a f%ck what any one else thinks, this movie was really good. Visuals were amazing, some really great acting and action scenes. I really liked it, just not top ten.
Thanks for reading, and please remember all of this is subjective. Thanks! Feel free to comment.
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