Endgame is over now. Thank you, Tony Stark, you’re the one who started it all. In a cave. In Afghanistan. Back in 2008. It was that long ago. If you could still remember, there were two big comic book movies in 2008. and if I have to pick between the two, for me, Iron Man is 2008’s comic book movie of the year.
2008 is the year when two billionaire-playboy get to don the suit. One’s a smarmy genius, who almost got himself killed but was crafty enough to escape, then had changed of heart—his shrapnel-threatened heart—changed his ways and made himself a gold and red armor. The other “playboy” wears a decidedly darker suit, humor imbalanced, probably a sociopath, and a bit slow-footed to make convincing Ninja moves—y’know, like, disappearing in the dark, or throwing knives.
While The Dark Knight definitely took more risks, thus, has more balls, I’d say that Iron Man is the—slightly—better movie. In TDK, the Joker threatened Gotham with murder in order to get the hero out of his cowl, but in Iron Man, breaking the “superhero rules” is the ultimate punchline. And at least, in that sense, Iron Man was more ballsy than Batman. Batman revealing his identity to public was a big plot point in TDK, and Iron Man subvert that by having Tony Stark announce to the world: I am Iron Man.
A lot people thought they saw the future of comic book movies in The Dark Knight: gritty, grounded, dead-serious, sprinkled very little humor (despite having a main character dressing up as a bat, which in itself, is silly). Iron Man was actually the future of comic book movies. As it’s obvious now with Disney/Marvel’s lopsided victory over WB/DCEU. In a sense, TDK is the exception, not the rule.
Could we go to the ranking now? Well, I’ve done this before. There were a few changes since then, some updates, movements. Otherwise, some things never change.
22. The Incredible Hulk (2008). Say what you want about Ang Lee’s Hulk, that’s still better than this movie. This louder rehash only improves on the special effects, the action, which everyone soon forgets once Mark Ruffalo shows up in The Avengers.
Do I want to re-watch this? Nope. But if I really have to, I’m going to watch it for Tim Roth and Edward Norton and tune out the big CGI fight near the end. It’s not an abomination, this big CGI fight—but it has the Abomination.
21. Black Panther (2018). This movie just gets worse the more I think about it. I mean, good job Marvel, for telling us that the one who wants to help the oppressed should be the villain and the hero’s the one who wants to keep the status quo. Killmonger should be the hero, Black Panther, the villain. Plot twist: Black Panther’s a covert CIA agent. That would have made sense. Even if we ignore that, the action scenes are just boring. And on top of that, there’s one bad CGI fight near the end, which is an abomination.
Do I want to re-watch this? Nope. If you take away the “African-ness” of it all, the story’s actually pretty generic. And I can’t remember any memorable scene in this movie that I’d want to go back to. You know what, I’d rather re-watch Coach Carter, Blade, Blade II—even Blade: Trinity—than to re-watch this middling mega-blockbuster from Disney.
20. Captain Marvel (2019). I appreciate how they tried to “re-mix” the Marvel formula for superhero origin story, despite the mixed results. And while Carol Danvers proved to be a big help to the Avengers, storytelling-wise, an overpowered superhero is a liability. Just notice how she was sidelined for much of Endgame. Otherwise, she would have solved most of their problems easily. I like the Skrulls though, and Ben Mendelssohn, he’s terrific.
Do I want to re-watch this? Don’t you think it’s too soon for that?
19. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker is a perfect middle ground for those who find Tobey Maguire too dorky and those who find Andrew Garfield too dicky. Pete trying to master his superpowered suit (not superpowers, mind you) is quite a bop, but his superheroic fights, not quite blitzkrieg. A more appropriate title: The Self-Serving Spider-Man.
Do I want to re-watch this? Not really. I’ll just play the Blitzkrieg Bop sequence on YouTube and maybe re-watch Spider-Man 3 instead.
18. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). Sure, it’s action-packed, implausible, and over-edited Bayhem-style. Shield-wielding Jack Ryan on steroids meets cybernetic Jason Bourne in a “political thriller” that’s loaded with frantic action and massive explosions but short on actual thrills.
Do I want to re-watch this? I know some peoples’ ovaries or testicles explode at the sight of Sebastian Stan or Winter Soldier’s metal arm or cool Captain America unlocked. But not me. Not me. The masochist in me would rather watch the shaky cam-fest that is The Bourne Ultimatum. Or better, I’d just watch action movies with real balls, like The Raid, or Scott Adkins’ Ninja 2 or Hard Target 2.
17. Captain America: Civil War (2016). This should have ended with that mid-movie orgy, not with the Tony-Cap-Bucky threesome. Despite its supposed depth, the plot’s one big excuse to break the Avengers apart as it forgoes the most sensible thing friends do to settle dispute: Talk.
Do I want to re-watch this? Just the parts with Wanda, Paul Rudd/Ant-Man, Spider-Man, and Aunt May in it. And, yes, that mid-movie fight.
16. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018). Two Wasps and two Giant-Man’s couldn’t lift this movie above “pretty decent.” It’s twice bigger than Ant-Man but half the thrills, half the fun of the original.
Do I want to re-watch this? Maybe. For the sight gags. And Luis. And that truth serum. Oh, it’s not truth serum.
15. Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau, 2010). Iron Man 2, or: How To Make A Bloated Sequel. Black Widow made her first appearance in this movie. That’s the most vivid detail I remember from this really really long talky Robert Downey Jr. movie. That and Tony Stark literally pissing his pants.
Do I want to re-watch this? Yup. Because I can’t remember much of this movie.
14. Doctor Strange (2016). Not the Ditko/Kubrick/Miyazaki/The Matrix mind-trip Kevin Feige said it needed to be. Ditko, sure, a li’l bit from The Matrix and a lot from Inception, minus the latter’s dream within a dream logic and the Wachowskis’ stylish kung fu mix.
Do I want to re-watch this? Maybe just the hospital fight scene, with Rachel McAdams. Otherwise, I’d just go see the Doctor Strange in Ragnarok and Infinity War.
13. Thor (2011). Maybe it’s this: Norse gods, comic book movie, and Shakespeare just don’t mix too well. However, Kenneth Branagh’s mystical drama and canted camera angles didn’t all go to waste as movie hits the mid-high notes when Thor descended onto Earth. The second act also has the movie’s best fight sequence: Sif, The Warriors Three, and an initially hammer-less Thor versus the Destroyer
Do I want to re-watch this? Just did, recently. And it’s pretty good but only up to the point when Thor regains his hammer and his worthiness and sends the Destroyer flying.
12. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Joe Johnston brought his Rocketeer aesthetic into an alternate 1940s giving it a frozen in amber quality. However, Cap’s journey from the skinny undersized soldier with a huge heart to the beefcake super soldier with undersized shirt, is just a little bit more than plain information dump (Cap was once a mascot, he once worked with Stark’s father, he’s still a virgin). And I wish there were more scenes with Cap and Agent Carter together, much much more than that last minute kiss. And the ending would have been more heartbreaking.
Do I want to re-watch this? Maybe not. But if there’s going to be a new movie with Cap and Agent Carter in it, I might be interested.
11. Iron-Man 3 (2013). A turd of a third act, but mostly fun ride. Shane Black fucks with the fanboys by making the Mandarin a bumbling idiot. Stark without the suit is refreshing, kind of remedies the excesses of the first sequel, only to revert to the same problem in the end.
Do I want to re-watch this? Probably. There are some genuinely fun moments. Like when Iron Man saves those people from the plane.
10. Thor: The Dark World (2013). Step-brothers and arch-enemies get to do more in this sequel. So does Natalie Portman—sadly, in her last appearance as Jane Foster. Thor was dumb enough to think he can destroy the Aether with his hammer. So was this movie. Dumb fun.
Do I want to re-watch this? Definitely. Especially from the moment Loki helped them escape to that part Thor had to take the subway. This also makes Thor’s reunion with his mother doubly sad. He knows she’s gonna die, is tempted to tell her and save her. But Frigga knew what’s best. Just like all mothers. And after you re-watch this and Endgame, I’m sure it will make you wanna hug your mother too when you come home.
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Not quite the sequel Joss Whedon wanted to make. A little loose, a little deeper, a lot bigger than the first. It is not without its flaws, but the better parts outweighs the bad.
Do I want to re-watch this? Yes. Just did recently. Still love the witty banter, Elizabeth Olsen. Still cried for Quicksilver. And if we don’t have that Mjolnir lifting contest in this movie, Cap wielding the Mjolnir in Endgame wouldn’t have been sweeter.
8. Thor: Ragnarok (2017). More outrageous, if less heartfelt than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ragnarok is laugh-out-loud fun with Hulk vs. Thor as its centerpiece, Cate Blanchett as Hela, and those two fight scenes that burns Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” for fuel.
Do I want to re-watch this? Maybe. It was really hilarious the first time but I don’t think it’s funny and re-watchable as, say, Deadpool 2 or as memorable as the Guardians movies. That Led Zep sequence, very iconic tho.
7. Avengers: Endgame (2019). Funny how Infinity War has all the sex, and Endgame, the sequel/season finale/Episode XXII, has all the unintentionally funny, badly acted prelude. You know, the part where the actors still have their clothes on, and they try to act, the scene where the guy meets girl and suddenly their situation calls for them to have 100% pornographic sex? That’s what the opening third of Endgame is like. The “time heist” is like the foreplay, licking, eating, etc. And don’t ask about the final third. I bet, 90% of those who love this movie hasn’t seen porn–good porn–yet. And that their high opinion about this movie will surely change once they see the real thing.
Do I want to re-watch this? Are fuckin’ kidding me? No one says NO to porn, even superhero porn. Definitely yes.
6. Ant-Man (2015). Small movie, small hero, big heart—or at least a heart that’s relatively big for an ant. It’s a movie about “families” and therefore a family movie—minus the adult-oriented jokes of . . . Guardians of the Galaxy.
Do I want to re-watch this? Yes. Mainly for jokes, care of Paul Rudd and Michael Pena. And those memorable size-shitfting scenes: Ant-Man dodging bullets while running on a scale model; Ant-Man and Yellow Jacket fighting inside a brief case while The Cure’s Disintegration plays on an IPhone; Ant-Man hanging on the edge of a vinyl, Luis passing out when he saw Ant-Man, etc.
5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018). This movie, is nothing but pure pornography. With minimum falling & rising action, constantly tensed, fake moans, grunts, and all, Infinity War is seemingly in a state of constant climax. There are some funny banter, but the movie mostly rushes through its plot that it couldn’t wait for the jokes and emotional moments to land, except when it comes to Drax’s and Quill’s really good plan.
Do I want to re-watch this? Yes. And probably, back to back with Endgame.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). It’s bigger, brighter, crazier than the first, but also—heavier, deeper. Not a step down but a step into the right direction. A fun tearjerker that could reduce you to tears while these A-holes tries to save the universe.
Do I want to re-watch this? Rocket always cry at end of GotG movies. He should have cried at the end of Endgame too. Because he got his family back. He got Groot back. And the girl with antennas. And the rest of the A-holes. Except Gamora. Rewatch? Sure, why not?
3. Iron-Man (2008). This is where it all begun, the Mark I of all Marvel movies. This is where Marvel finally hammers it home. In a cave. In Afghanistan. Tony Stark’s billionaire-genuis-playboy suits Robert Downey Jr. perfectly in the same the way the red and gold weaponized armor suit fits Tony Stark. It could have been near perfect, had it been able to follow up its rock riff-fueled arc with a better climactic fight. Still, that leaves us with a few highlights: that kick-ass sequence where Iron Man saves a family from terrorists in Afghanistan and that crude big black armor suit blasting out of the cave with bad-ass flame throwers!
2. The Avengers (2012). Very few things are better than seeing Captain America and Tony Stark working together the first time, seeing the Avengers assemble for the first time. And nothing beats Bruce Banner/Hulk’s most iconic punch-line: “I’m always angry.” Ditto with perfectly orchestrated massive superhero fight in final third. Think of it as Zack Snyder meets Michael Bay city destruction, but better, way way better. Why? Because Joss Whedon knows how to vary multiply divide, shoot and compose iconic, massive, but coherent action scenes. He makes demi-gods bleed and face failure, flesh out their human side instead of the super. He never forgets the audience, the ordinary people caught between the forces fighting. He knows when to throw a punchline, knows when to punch. And most importantly, he knows when to SMASH!
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Bounty hunters? Check. Space adventure? Check. Awesome soundtrack? Check. Pop culture references? Check. Wait, this isn’t Cowboy Bebop-great but it’s Serenity-good—which is awesome. Going Kevin Bacon to save a planet from imminent destruction? Dance off, bro!
Guardians of the Galaxy is action-packed, heartwarming, and entertaining as hell. All the more impressive considering all these A-holes are based on semi-obscure comic book characters. Which is to say, the Guardians are like your B-side Avengers. Star-Lord is your all-too human, Terran, Captain America from the past, the ’80s kid with a Walkman, Rocket Racoon is the genius, tech savvy and snarky Tony Stark, Groot is the Hulk, and Gamora is your green Black Widow with better characterization, and Drax is, though not exactly like Thor, the muscular comic relief. And Guardians is of those cases where B-side is actually better than the A-side. Not necessarily more popular, but better.
You know what’s better than super egos clashing together and working together to avenge the world? A bunch of misfits, A-holes, losers, working together to save the galaxy. And even if you cried when Iron Man sacrificed himself in Endgame to save everyone, take note that Groot did it first. He sacrificed himself so the rest of the Guardians could finish their mission. You know what his last words were? We are Groot.