The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase 1 – Film Series Review

Iron Man (2008)

It’s the film that launched a universe, and here the first is one of the best. Robert Downey Jr. is perfectly cast as Tony Stark. He’s arrogant, brash and yet also redeemable. He’s a charismatic character and the perfect one to kick start a new era of superheroes. It’s a very good origin story as well, seeing Stark become Iron Man to fight off the criminals his weapons have been sold to in order to protect other people. Jeff Bridges isn’t the greatest villain ever, seemingly turning mad for no apparent reason, but seeing Iron Man fight the Iron Monger makes for a pretty great climax and some pretty good action. It’s funny, it’s got some great action and sets up the universe fairly well.


The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Look, thankfully this isn’t an origin story. We know how the Hulk became the Hulk, so that’s dealt with in an opening credits montage. Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner is on the run from the army. But chasing him down is Tim Roth’s Emil Blonsky, a power hungry soldier guy with a bad attitude. He becomes the Abomination, an evil Hulk. It continues the trend of origin movies where the hero fights what is basically an evil version of themselves. But it is decent enough and there’s some good action scenes and special effects. I’m not sure that I’m a fan of the big vein-y ripped Hulk design all that much, but it doesn’t distract me from the film too much. It’s just not the most gripping film ever and is fairly generic. Nothing really special, but some good performances keep it afloat.


Iron Man 2 (2010)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe was beginning to take shape, but none of it was linked together yet. So here comes this film to shoehorn in a load of Avengers set up and references to other heroes so that it would all link together in the next couple of years. There’s Nick Fury and Black Widow making appearances, there’s lots of talk of the Avengers initiative. Tony Stark’s alcoholism is introduced and skipped over fairly quickly, wasting a pretty good storyline. The villains are boring and one note characters, meaning that Iron Man basically end sup fighting lots of Iron Mans in the end. There’s some cool parts, like the introduction of War Machine and Iron Man’s suitcase suit on a racetrack, but other than that, this is just a very disappointing follow up.


Thor (2011)

Chris Hemsworth is great as Thor. He looks the part and he acts the part very well. Kenneth Branagh directs this story of an arrogant son who starts a war between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants. He gets told off by his dad (Anthony Hopkins putting in a good performance as Odin), stripped of his magic hammer and banished to earth, deemed unworthy of lifting the hammer. However, his tricksy brother Loki, played excellently by Tom Hiddleston, is working behind the scenes and meddling with events to get his own way. There isn’t too much action and it isn’t the best, but the story is good enough to make decent entry into the universe.


Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Here he is, the finest man in America. Chris Evans is Steve Rogers, a scrawny little weak guy with a good heart turned into a super buff super soldier in order to take on Hydra, basically Nazis but in a superhero world. Hugo Weaving is great as villain Red Skull, but Evans steals the show as the lovable and earnest hero. There’s some great World War II action scenes and some awesome character moments with Cap himself. It’s a pretty good origin story, but does suffer a bit in the middle when the action and the plot slows down a little. Nevertheless, it’s still a pretty enjoyable film and does a great job of introducing one of the best heroes in the MCU.


The Avengers (2012)

Here it is, the film the world was waiting for. An unprecedented move that unites all the heroes we’ve already met to face down Loki and an invading alien army. It suffers from ‘blue light shooting into the sky’ syndrome, but bringing these six heroes (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye) together was no easy feat and yet Joss Whedon nailed it at almost every turn. The story is pretty good, the team dynamics are great and the humour is spot on. Seeing these big personalities come together and clash makes perfect sense and then seeing them come together for that hero shot near the end is so so satisfying and makes for a great culmination of this first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.



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