Marvel Cinematic Movies – Ranked

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thorimax3Can you believe we’ve had 17 (!) films since we were introduced to Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark in an Afghan cave? Marvel has truly shown the rest of the movie studios how to successfully do a movie universe, deftly weaving storylines from one character to another, teaming them up when possible and leaving them alone when necessary. As they got their foundation and feet under them, suddenly the head honchos over at Disney let the films start to be a little more unique with a little more flavor. If one film showed that, it was definitely Thor: Ragnarok.

I just saw it yesterday and I’m still reliving parts of it over and over again in my head. I laughed more than I expected (and I expected to laugh A LOT), yet this movie had some of the most dire consequences of any of the MCU films to date. I think the latter is partly done on purpose: so that the events that happen in the next Avengers team-up, Infinity War, don’t come out of left field. I think there’s a good chance we see some serious characters go down in that movie.

ANYWAY…I saw some other people making their MCU ranking thus far, so I decided to do the same. Now of course, art and movies are subjective, so my list will be different than yours and that’s OK. I based my list on a couple of factors: 1. Would I rewatch it again in a heartbeat? 2. How good of a movie is it? and 3. How does it really fit in and impact the rest of the MCU films?

So without anymore yammering from me…

  1. Captain America: Civil War
  2. The Avengers
  3. Captain America: Winter Soldier
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy
  5. Thor: Ragnarok
  6. Captain America: The First Avenger
  7. Ant Man
  8. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  9. Iron Man
  10. Doctor Strange
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  12. Thor
  13. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  14. Iron Man 3
  15. The Incredible Hulk
  16. Thor: The Dark World
  17. Iron Man 2

Yep. I’m a big Captain America fan. I can hear people talking now, and that’s fine with me. Frankly, up until I actually typed it here, I had the first Cap movie at #5 instead of #6, but that’s really how much fun I had with the new Thor movie. If there is any kind of theme with the first group of movies (except for TFA), it is team-ups! Every single movie in the top five features heroes teaming up with one another, sometimes against other heroes, but oftentimes against one villain or another. Frankly when it comes to the Thor film, I’m still processing it, so come back in a week or so and I might have it a little higher or possibly a little lower. I tried to take the immediacy factor out of things, but I still love it to bits at the moment, so it makes my Top 5.

A few other notable bits:

  • I straight-up LOVE Ant Man. If there was more than just Falcon’s wonderful cameo in the movie, I might have even had it higher on my list. Paul Rudd is just hilarious and that Thomas the Train fight sequence at the end is better than most of the “fighting aliens or robots in the sky” parts that many of the films do.
  • Even if a movie is towards the bottom of the list doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I would re-watch any of these movies and really liked them when they first released in theaters. But Iron Man 2 has some huge flaws and frankly I don’t remember much of the second Thor movie. In fact, the way they were able to take Thor and make him one of the BEST Marvel heroes in Ragnarok speaks to Taika Watiti’s ability to work with characters.
  • Many said that Doctor Strange was a better origin movie than Iron Man, and in some ways I do agree, but Iron Man was the first. If we didn’t have that first movie and the impact it made, we might not have the rest of this list.

But, what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Should Guardians 2 be higher? Should Ultron be higher than the Bottom 5? Is Stan Lee the real First Avenger? Where will I put Black Panther on this list? Do I love Captain America too much? (quite possibly). Let me know!

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Overpromising and Underdelivering

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This post deals with a few major topics, one of which is the 90’s Christian band dc Talk. If they aren’t your jam, that’s cool, but I think there are some important points for everyone by the time I finish.

So today was the big day. Most of you probably weren’t even aware of it, but over the last week or two, the Facebook page for 90’s Christian supergroup dc Talk suddenly got busy. Considering the social network didn’t even exist last time they put out an album in the late 90’s, this was curious. About a week ago, they posted an image with one thing on it — 2017. A teaser video soon followed with other Christian artists questioning whether the news was too good to be true. All that led to a “Major Announcement” today at noon.

I, as well as a ton of Christian music fans, kept refreshing their site today ready for the announcement. Would it be a new album? A series of YouTube videos? A reunion tour of sorts? Whatever any of us thought, it would surely be blown away by the announcement. dc Talk was HUGE between 1995 and 1999. When they split up they were still at the height of their popularity and all three of the members continued their careers with solo albums that transitioned into very successful post-band careers for most of them. Today Toby Mac has had perhaps the best career of the three, but Michael Tait is now the lead singer for the Newsboys and Kevin Max recently helped resurrect Audio Adrenaline from retirement.

So.

The announcement came…and landed with a Thud.

dc Talk would be reuniting for…a cruise. A one week cruise that would cost — at minimum — $699 per person.

Social media outrage, considering the Christian audience, was huge.

The top comment on Facebook for the announcement video: “Seriously, that’s it? Now I know how Ralphie from a Christmas story felt when he decoded the message with his decoder. A lousy commercial.”

I know I had expectations. I was actually at the final dc Talk concert in 2001 when they briefly reunited while all doing their own music. I was on board for almost anything. Almost. This was not it.

To be fair, I think the announcement is cool, I just am not game for a cruise at that pricepoint and the hype for it was overblown for that announcement.

Christian music not your thing? Let’s talk superheroes.

Two major superhero movies have released recently. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. Both did well at the box office to start their run, but I think its definitely fair to say that one of them will be remembered a lot more fondly than the other.

When they announced Batman fighting Superman in a movie, they promised a lot. They plastered that logo all over Comic Con that year and had people put it on their Most Anticipated lists years out from its eventual release. The two greatest superheroes in comic history, squaring off? Sign me up for that.

And then…it was okay. Meh. After seeing the trailer, I was primed, but most of the best parts of the movie were verbatim from the trailer. The set-up was wonky for their fight and ultimately didn’t pay off like I would have hoped. I don’t want to dissect the movie too much, but I’ll say I had a number of issues with the movie, but ultimately I would say I enjoyed it. More good than bad. But…

In both the case of dc Talk and BvS, the case is clear. They OVERPROMISED and UNDERDELIVERED.

Now…let’s crack open Captain America: Civil War. In many ways this is a response to DC’s BvS tale. The top two heroes in Marvel’s Universe going at it and fracturing their teams apart. Unlike in DC’s movie, the folks at Marvel accomplished a phenomenal feat — a highly entertaining and intelligent action movie. And the trailer? It was great, but it left SO much for audiences to unpack for themselves.

If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about, but the Airport scene in Germany…in the trailer it is really given the briefest of mentions. But that scene. That scene. In 17 minutes they gave us everything that BvS didn’t.

But even then the movie kept giving and giving and giving. The final act was emotionally brutal and in its own way, even more thrilling than all the action that preceded it.

Marvel OVERDELIVERED.

And thus, I come away from these three events with this lesson: When you are giving an audience something, don’t promise what you can’t deliver. If you’ve got the goods, the audience will find usually find you anyway, so try not to overpromise.

There are a number of other lessons to be learned from the releases of these two movies, but we’ll stay away from those today. Instead, just make sure that if you are going to promise the world, you deliver what the audience expects.

Double Movie Day – Wolverine & Gravity

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I don’t get a chance to watch a double feature too often, but last night, I rented two movies I missed when they were out in theatres. Once school starts in the fall, it gets a lot more difficult for me to get to the movies, so Wolverine and Gravity slipped by me. (I also don’t subscribe to Netflix — just don’t have the time to justify the expense — so I actually rented these from the local gas station that does rentals. Life in a rural town.)

The-Wolverine

Starting with Wolverine, I’m super glad I got this one for a few reasons. First — can’t go wrong with mutants, ninjas, samurai warriors, and Hugh Jackman. Seriously — I think I could watch that guy in anything. The concept is great — what if you take away what makes Wolverine fearless? With his quick-healing abilities stripped away, you see Wolverine become vulnerable. He is already dealing with the after-effects of X-Men 3 and the death of Jean Grey, but when you add in the physical limitations, you see him at his most desperate.

I’m also grateful I decided to rent this one since I’m probably going to see Days of Future Past later today or this weekend. While I probably could have gone in without seeing Wolverine goes to Japan, it certainly will help fill in a few blanks. I’ve tried to stay away from a ton of spoilers for the new movie, but I’ve also heard Bryan Singer makes some timeline changes, which may undo what was done to the X-Men Universe in the the third movie, which he abandoned in favor of Superman Returns. 

gravity

Once that was done, I grabbed some grub, then settled in for Gravity. I wanted to wait until the sun went down and I made sure to rent the Blu-Ray. Was it as impressive as seeing it IMAX 3-D — I highly doubt it, but I can imagine the enormity of seeing it on the really big screen and seeing it last night in the comfort of my living room impressed me.

Just the description is either terrifying or electrifying — only two actors on screen (!), with the bulk of the movie with only one of them portraying the vastness and danger of space. Sandra Bullock. Wow. What a performance without actually going into space itself. George Clooney was also fantastic in his role as Bullock’s guide/mentor/conscience.

There was a moment — and if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about — when I thought about how when I put my earbuds in my pocket and then pull them out and I have to solve the Gordian Knot to get them usable again. While I was fairly confident that Bullock’s character would survive the movie, there were so many moments that would have stopped me and left me wondering when the end would come.

I don’t usually watch the special features on a movie much anymore, but after watching Gravity, I had to watch these. How they simulated the space and microgravity, the lighting, everything that went into it. I think that, more than anything, is the magic of what Director Alfonso Cuaron did here. The technology they had to basically invent just to make this movie work.

Both fabulous movies and it made for a great night at home.

(And I still made time for writing!)