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Recap, before the release of Marvel's 'Loki', 'Black Widow', 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' and 'Eternals' this year

We catch you up to 23 good, bad and ugly Marvel universe films, starting from 'Iron Man' in 2008 to 'Avengers: End Game' and 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' in 2019.

May 26, 2021 / 12:13 PM IST
Salma Hayek as Ajax, the leader of the Eternals (screen grab). Eternals is scheduled to release in November 2021.

Salma Hayek as Ajax, the leader of the Eternals (screen grab). Eternals is scheduled to release in November 2021.

Marvel's Avengers: End Game came out before the pandemic started. Many of us saw the film in theatres. Indeed, a popular podcast gave the example of this movie to show why cinema halls will survive this public health crisis (sense of community, occasion while watching the Avengers films).

Marvel is releasing Eternals in November 2021, and many of us have seen the adrenaline-pumping teaser released yesterday (May 24, 2021). Directed by Chloe Zhao, whose last movie Nomadland won Oscars for best picture and best director, Eternals features an ensemble cast including Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kit Harrington, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, and others.

The movie seems to take off from where Avengers: End Game left things. Here, we do a quick recap 23 movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that kicked off with Iron Man in 2008.

23. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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They could never get Hulk right until actor Mark Ruffalo showed up on screen in the first Avengers movie. I quite liked Edward Norton for the vigour he brought to his role in this version of the Hulk, but we can frankly say that the movie, well, sucked.

22. Iron Man 2 (2010)

The Formula One racing scene was out of the world, but the movie dropped in quality steeply after this early scene. There were no major changes in the cast and crew, but somehow the fizz had gone out. Even Robert Downey Jr. looked a bit jaded as Iron Man.

21. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

This critic was never a fan of Thor, but even he would admit that these movies are among the funniest in the MCU. Directed by Alan Taylor, who also made Terminator: Genisys, this movie was a letdown thanks to its unmemorable and meandering plot.

20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

This sequel had a lot going for it. The first part had been termed a critically-acclaimed, quirky entertainer, but the sequel could not match the original’s popularity. Director Peyton Reed will once again direct the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which is scheduled for release in 2023. I am keeping my fingers crossed for this one.

19. Avengers: The Age of Ultron (2015)

This was the worst of the Avenger movies, IMO. The heroes just don’t seem to end their quarrels which beyond a point is tiresome. Thankfully, the madness was to end here itself. The other three Avenger movies were nothing short of great.

18: Captain Marvel (2019)

The conceit of the main character is a problem, but even when you look past that the movie is an incoherent mess. However, some of the action sequences were great.

17: Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017)

The sequels continue to perform badly. We will have to wait until 2023 to find out how Vol. 3 does. With Dave Bautista retiring from his role of Drax the Destroyer, the franchise is now in a crucial phase.

16. Doctor Strange (2016)

Benedict Cumberbatch brought a lot to the movie. His charming, eccentric presence steadied the ship to a great degree. The climactic sequence was great, but up until then, the movie was slow-moving to a fault. There is a sequel coming up and we can’t wait to watch it, even if it is just for Cumberbatch. Strange will return in the Multiverse of Madness next year.

15. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Tom Holland gets to see Europe, but this critic returned home unimpressed. Holland is the funniest actor to play Spider-Man, but the action sequences were uninspiring. However, do watch out for the sublime performance of Jake Gyllenhaal.

14. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

I have always been partial to the Captain America films, but this one remains my least favourite to date. What happens if Iron Man and our hero are up against each other? Can’t wait to find out? Watch the movie.

13. Thor (2011)

The first Thor set the template for the upcoming movies. Natalie Portman puts in a memorable performance as the physicist who plays Thor’s romantic interest. The movie was funny and the action sequences of Thor beating everybody to a pulp made sure that you walked out of the theatre feeling fully charged and ready to go.

12. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

I thought the origin story was superbly done even though it takes quite a while before we see Captain America in all his hulk. But there is more to the movie than testosterone. The chemistry between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is one of the great things about the movie even as it transports you to an alternative version of World War II.

11. Avengers Assemble (2012)

The movie showed the world what computer-aided special effects can really do. The climax was unending but we were on the edge of our seats, were we not?

10. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Child actor Ty Simpkins, who played Harley Keener, and his interactions with Tony Stark made all the difference between this movie from being just good to it being rip-roaring, endearing fun. Guy Pearce brings his usual, studied brilliance to this picture.

9. Ant-Man (2015)

The visual effects are detailed and dazzling. The acting by Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas brings a hard-to-miss quality to the film. The movie’s smaller stakes meant that director Peyton Reed had a great playing field that he took advantage of and the critics welcomed the movie with open arms.

8. Avengers: End Game (2019)

The film kept drawing crowds that stood in long queues to take in the last instalment. The Avengers don’t just avenge Earth, they save it as well. Some of them die, but we won’t tell you which ones in case you haven’t caught up with the picture yet.

7. Thor: Ragnorak (2017)

The best Thor movie if you ask me. Cate Blanchett is unbelievably good as the supervillain and Thor’s family story gets vitiated further. Thor: Love and Thunder will once again feature the dishy Chris Helmsworth as the God of Thunder and will release next year.

6. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

The sequence at the Washington Monument is breathtaking. Tom Holland is markedly different from the mopey Tobey Maguire and the intensely serious Andrew Garfield. Michael Keaton is marvellous in his role as the villain. Next up is Spider-Man: No Way Home, which would the third part featuring the web-slinger.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Possibly the funniest film of the entire franchise. The bunch portray hesitant, selfish heroes who ultimately end up saving the world even though they don’t want to at first. Director James Gunn shows incredible flair in orchestrating the picture and Chris Pratt excels in delivering his lines with a deadpan.

4. Iron Man (2008)

A spectacular beginning to Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Robert Downey Jr. demonstrates why he is probably the best to portray a Marvel comic book hero. The storyline is absorbing and the climax is quick and neat. A great movie to introduce yourself to the MCU.

3. Avengers: Infinity War (2017)

The biggest draw to the movie is its anti-climactic ending in which the Avengers actually lose to Thanos. This is the third part of the Avengers franchise and we cannot hope for a better cliffhanger. What will the world’s best-known bunch of alpha males and females do next?

2. Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)

I loved the scene in which the SHIELD head played by Samuel L. Jackson is trapped in his own SUV by the villains. He tries a dozen things with his hi-fi customised vehicle before giving up. After The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Wanda Vision earlier this year, we are now looking forward to the release of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in July.

1. Black Panther (2018)

I don’t think the media went berserk because the lead was a black actor. This picture was a genuinely good entertainer. If superhero movies are your cup of tea, you would walk out of Black Panther in glee. The acting was superb, the action sequences were wonderfully choreographed and the movie was put together with love and care. Watch out for Wakanda Forever next year.

Happy watching!
Nandhu Sundaram lives in the tiny town of Arumanai in Tamil Nadu. He is a freelance journalist who writes on film and politics and the intersection between the two.

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