Wacky Ranks: The MCU


I want to smell dark matter
I'm going to rewatch every MCU movie and rank them in this thread as I go. I will watch the Disney+ tv shows and probably rank them separately (I haven't decided yet) once I get to them. I won't be watching things like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Netflix shows, sorry! It will probably take me years to finish this thread, if I ever do, as I'll probably only be watching the movies on Sundays when I have nothing else to watch.

Anyway, here's the big list of every MCU movie ranked from best to worst! I will edit this opening post with every movie.

1) Iron Man (2008)
2) Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
3) Thor (2011)
4) The Incredible Hulk (2008)
5) Iron Man 2 (2010)
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I want to smell dark matter
Iron Man

Directed by Jon Favreau

Screenplay by Mark Fergus & Hank Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway

Released May 2nd 2008

I knew very little about the character Iron Man until shortly before this movie’s release. I think I started reading superhero comics around 2007? (I downloaded the entire Marvel ‘Civil War’ event, including all spin-off titles. It seemed good at the time!) It’s fair to say Tony Stark was not a name the general public would have recognised. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man? The X-Men? Those are all man-themed characters who people would know in 2008, but not Iron Man. Marvel Studios couldn’t use many of their most famous characters when starting their shared cinematic universe as the rights belonged to other studios. Iron Man might not have been well known, but he turned out to be the perfect character to start with. So why was this movie such a hit and why did Iron Man as a character work so well in it?

I’m not a great writer, okay, so don’t expect any amazing original (or well-worded!) insights here. There’s plenty of actual professionally written artcles out there about this film and the MCU as a whole. What it seems to me is that they got the tone of the movie exactly right. It’s not ashamed to be a comic book movie, there’s no “what did you expect, yellow spandex?” type lines here. Comic book readers would appreciate the details like recognising Tony’s various armours and such. But more importantly, if you haven’t read comics and don’t know who the fuck Tony Stark is, this still feels like a cool fun action movie. It’s funny but not stupid. It has a man flying in a robot-suit he built but it doesn’t feel goofy. It’s good; it’s a good movie. It was released the same year as The Dark Knight, the most critically acclaimed comic book movie at that point (and probably still today!), yet I don’t remember Iron-Man being dimissed as “KIDDIE CRAP” at the time or anyything. People seemed to enjoy both and understand that there’s more than one way to do a comic book movie!

You get references comic book NERDS would notice like S.H.I.E.L.D. appearing (Clark Gregg good) and a mention of the Ten Rings terrorist group, but neither of those things would put off non-comic readers as they’re perfectly understandle within the context of the movie itself. And if you stayed for the end credit scene and didn’t know what the fuck “The Avengers” are, you’d still probably think “oh cool, it’s Samuel L. Jackson, I like him” and look forward to seeing what this leads to in the future.

So watching it back, yeah I think it holds up well as a good movie. What I did notice, especially in like the frist third, is that it doesn’t really look like anything special cinematically. I haven’t rewatched The Dark Knight for a while but I’m fairly certain it was a lot more visually impressive than Iron Man. The stuff in the cave at the start stood out as looking quite cheap, and also dragged a bit (until he built his first suit and started killing terrorists.) Of course these days they’d just film all that stuff in The Volume and insert a digital cave backdrop later so who’s to say that would be better.

Where the money shows though is on the actual Iron Man suits themselves. They absolutely nailed that and most of the suit stuff still holds up as looking good today. Sure there’s not as much CGI action stuff here as in later films, but that works in the movie’s favour. There’s not a million CGI heroes running around, so we just focus on the one. The Iron Man suit feels special. They take time to show every stage in its construction. We get montages. We get Tony flying for the first time (without the helmet on) and you will believe a man can fly with repulsor technology. There’s multiple scenes of Tony suiting up and they rule. It’s the kind of thing I think is missing a bit from some of the later movies. The movie makes being Iron Man look cool as fuck and that’s important for fans of looking cool as fuck!

Even when it’s obviously all CGI and there’s nobody actually in the suit, the movie never loses track of Tony as a character. You still get a sense of his personality through the special effect.

Which brings me to probably the single most important thing about this movie and the thing probably most responsible for its success: the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. It’s absolutely perfect casting. Tony, as a character, starts off pretty unlikable in a lot of ways. He’s a womanising arms-dealer and kind of a prick! But he never feels like a cartoon thanks to RDJ. You want to watch him even before you like him. I can’t really stress enough how important he is to this movie and the entire future of the MCU! Director Jon Favreau deserves a ton of credit for fighting to have RDJ cast in the movie. Marvel didn’t want him because they thought he was too much of a risk due to his previous personal problems. He got paid less for the movie than Terrence Howard (who?) It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else in the role now.

Gwyneth Paltrow may be a crazy nut who grows candles in her vagina or whatever, but she’s real good too and has a nice easy chemistry with RDJ. This scene is really sweet!

Villain Problem?

A criticism of the MCU movies, especially the early ones, is that they lack strong villain characters. And that the villains are most often just dark mirrors of the heroes with limited screentime. And that would be an accurate description of Obadiah Stane in this movie. Literally down to having a big evil black version of the Iron Man suit. AND YET, I don’t think it’s a problem here at all. The movie is all about Tony Stark and his character growth. He’s in almost every scene. Stane’s part is relatively small, but he’s used perfectly for Tony’s character development. It helps that Jeff Bridge’s is a great actor and gives a really menacing, snarling villain performance. Like yeah, they could have had him in the Iron Monger suit a bit longer (I imagine it was down to the more modest budget) as he dies basically five minutes after putting it on but he’s still a lot of fun.

Things that have aged but not necessarily badly.

This movie is old now (fiften years!) There’s things in it you wouldn’t see in the later MCU, for better or worse. Here are some of those things!

It’s weird seeing the “Paramount Pictures” logo at the start. Marvel Studios was an idendependent studio not owned by Disney at this point! They were the underdogs!
The words “Kunar Prvince, Afghanistan” appearing on screen right at the start feels a bit weird now. Today’s MCU would have used some fictional country and not referenced the real world War on Terror.
Tony mentions “Myspace” and I’m not sure that was even still a thing in 2008.
The Pepper “taking out the trash” scene with the reporter Tony sleeps with actually has aged very badly and was probably bad at the time too.
Tony is funny and sarcastic but he isn’t really quipy and maybe MCU movies don’t need to be totally full of quips!
Director Jon Favreau has a cameo role as Tony’s bodygard “Happy” Hogan, but it’s a blink and you’ll miss it part here. He has like two lines! He’s super thin! You probably wouldn’t even recognise him as the same charater who would go on to have a supporting role in a trilogy of Spider-Man movies a decade later.


It’s a good movie. Even watching completely apart from the MCU it holds up as entertaining. I will say again that I thought the first part in the cave dragged a bit. I remember the first time I watched the movie it took me a while to get into. The stuff between Tony and the doctor he’s held captive with in the cave doesn’t grab me the way it should. But once Tony gets back to America I was thoroughly invested, and as I said above all the stuff with him creating the suits is great. He has an actual clear character acrc throughout the movie and it’s not muddy or confused at all like some later ones might be. I like the movie! So I’m taking the CONTROVERSIAL decision to rank it in FIRST PLACE out of all the MCU movies I’ve watched so far in this thread!

NEXT TIME: Oh a Hulk movie came out the same year huh.


I want to smell dark matter
The Incredible Hulk

Directed by Louis Leterrier

Written by Zak Penn

Released June 8th 2008

Just one month after Iron Man came the second entry into the MCU. I wonder if they were thinking maybe some people would like one more than the other? Maybe they were expecting IRON-FANS and HULKAMANIACS to debate which was better. TIH also came five years after Ang Lee’s divisive Hulk movie, and while it’s definitely a reboot it kind of acts a bit like it’s a sequel by skipping the origin story and starting with Bruce in the same place he was at the end of that movie. So that’s all a bit confusing! Is the movie any good though?

It's okay I guess? It exists? It’s not bad? I feel like I’m going to struggle to find things to say here because the movie just isn’t that interesting. It starts with a montage during the opening credits explaining how Bruce became the Hulk. Turns out he injected himself with what we’ll later learn is the super soldier serum, and right away I think they’ve made a mistake. The whole gamma bomb origin is kind of silly, sure, but it’s also iconic and having him transform into the Hulk for the first time with a nuclear explosion in the background would have been a far more interesting start to the movie. Bruce is played by Edward Norton, who is undoubtedly a good actor but his performance here isn’t a patch on RDJ as Tony Stark. I’m not saying he has to be all flashy and witty like Stark, but his Bruce here is just kind of…a guy. He never really feels that much like he’s struggling with a raging green monster inside, which I think is really the biggest problem with the movie…

So the Hulk himself. The big green guy. If you’re making a Hulk movie, you’ve got to get him right. So what do we get here? The Hulk is in three sequences. In the first we don’t get a good look at him because it’s inside a dark and moody Brazilian bottling factory. The idea being that he’s more scary if he’s some unseen monster stalking Brazilian bullies. I don’t really think it works though. The Hulk is really big! He smashes things! He’s not a slasher movie villain. The scene just kind of comes across like they’re trying to save money by not showing the Hulk much, or that they don’t have confidence in the CGI. But then the next time he appears it’s in broad daylight fighting some army guys and there’s no hiding him. This movie came out in 2008, and I think at the time the Hulk’s look was fairly well received (certainly better than the reaction to how he looked in the Ang Lee movie.) Watching it now though he just kind of looks like a cartoon. It’s hard not to think about the much bettere version coming in just a couple of years. It doesn’t help that even the college backdrop in this army fight scene looks fake. I guess they couldn’t find one that looked just right to film in front of? The final time we see the Hulk it’s in a big video game style fight with another CGI monster and this actually works the best out of the three Hulk scenes. Because Hulk and the Abomination are both CGI it looks like they’re really hitting each other and the fight has some fun moments like Hulk using a car as boxing gloves and doing his hand clap sonic boom thing.

It occurs to me, though, that at no point does Bruce transform into the Hulk out of anger. The first time is self defence, the second is because the army force him to turn, and the last is to save the city. The movie seems a bit reluctant to show Banner/Hulk as a force of unctrollable rage. Like yeah he does blow up a load of tanks and stuff but it doesn’t seem like hs actually kills any of the army guys (the one he squashes conveniently has super powers.) Maybe they didn’t want to risk alienating the audience by making Bruce too scary or something. There is one nice cute scene where he can’t have sex with Betty because if his heart beats too fast he might transform. (Sadly I can’t find a youtube clip of it! The MCU was still allowed to be horny in 2008!)

Betty is played by Liv Tyler, who I think does a good job with what she’s given. She has decent chemistry with Ed Norton and they have a couple of nice scenes together. She is basically just there to help Bruce though and doesn’t really get much with her asshole army dad (William Hurt) beyond the surface level “I’m doing this to protect you!” “You’re doing this FOR YOU!” stuff.

Villain Problem?

Tim Roth plays Emil Blonsky (The Abomnination) and is good at what he’s given. I mean he does a good tortured look and a good “GIVE ME MORE POWER” type speech. I guess the parrallel with Bruce is that Bruce wants to get rid of his rage power while Blonsky just wants more? But they don’t get any scenes together as humans and Blonsky is really just here to fight. And the Abomination fight scene is pretty decent so I guess he serves his purpose well enough.

Hurt is just generic army hardass, and again he’s at least well cast in the role. There’s also Tim Blake Nelson as Samuel Sterns (who we’ll finally see as super villain The Leader in 2024!) as a kind of comic relief kind of bad guy. He feels a bit out of place when he first appears, but it’s good to have a character with a bit of personality even if that personality is pretty goofy. There’s a few other nice light moments like Bruce buying stretchy purple pants and I like the part where they play the “Lonely Man” theme from the old tv series.

There’s a post credit scene with Tony Stark talks to Thunderbolt Ross in a bar…wait. This isn’t post credit! They just stuck it on the end of the movie to make sure everyone saw RDJ. It’s weird and doesn’t end up leading anywhere. Stark feels pretty subdued during it too so it’s not even really worth watching on youtube if you like him.


Well it’s second place, obviously. The movie is fine, I didn’t feel embarrassed wathing it or anything, but there’s really not a huge compelling reason to ever watch it unless you’re doing a thread where you rate every MCU movie.

NEXT TIME: Iron Man! Again! That’s bound to be good!


Registered User
i've only seen gwyneth in the avengers movies and yeah she's been fantastic in those

And that the villains are most often just dark mirrors of the heroes with limited screentime. And that would be an accurate description of Obadiah Stane in this movie.
has this stopped idk the last things i saw were wandavision and hawkeye.


I want to smell dark matter
Shang-Chi was the most recent one where I remember thinking the villain was more interesting than the main character (I'll get it it in about eleven months.)


I want to smell dark matter
Iron Man 2

Directed by Jon Favreau

Written by Justin Theroux

Released May 7th 2010

No MCU movies in 2009. That probably DIDN’T feel weird at the time! Did they even call it the MCU yet? Probably not! Two years after Iron Man we got the sequel and I’m sure expectations were high. You’d expect it to be at least as good as the first and hopefully better. It starts off pretty decent with a montage of villain Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) creating his own arc reactor to power his EVIL WHIPS. Tony Stark does a big speech about “privatising world peace” and he’s still kind of an asshole but likable thanks to RDJ. The US government want access to his Iron Man armour because they’ve failed to creat their own through weapons contractor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell.) This is all fine as set up! The first action comes in Monaco during the famous Grand Prix, with Tony in a racear (because he’s an asshole!) being attacked by Whiplash. There’s some cool slow motion shots of cars being chopped in half. Pepper (SKI GODDESS GWYNETH PALTROW) and Happy (a slightly larger role for Jon Favreau this time) deliver his suit to him, and it’s like a suitcase that transforms into the Iron Man suit and that’s pretty cool too! Vanko reveals that Tony’s father Howard stole the design from Vanko’s father and ruined his life. Again, this is all good set up…

Then nothing happens for the rest of the movie.

I mean, not literally nothing but nothing with any impact. There’s a whole big subplot about Tony being slowly poisoned and pushing the people he cares about away because he thinks he’s going to die. This could be good drama but it’s not really! It really just amounts to one scene of him getting drunk and throwing a party. Comics Tony is an alcholic and they could have adapted that storyline in some way (imagine battling a super villain..while battling your own demons!) but all we get is him pissing in his suit while drunk (OH BUT SHE-HULK TWERKING DISGRACED THE MCU, EH?) The only action between the Monaco scene and the climax is a comedy fight between Tony and Rhodey when Rhodey puts on an old Iron Man suit. Rhodes then basically steals the suit and delivers it to the US army, a thing Tony was pretty explicit about not wanting to happen. Rhodes then acts confused when the army want to reproduce it but what the fuck was he expecting. Tony has this big long sidequest trying to find a NEW ELEMENT that will stop his poisoning. It just so happens that his father created the exact NEW ELEMENT Tony requires thirty five years ago but didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t think the world was ready for it. Instead he leaves a message to Tony in the outtakes of an old filmstrip, explaining that the key to creating the element lies in the model of the 1974 Stark Expo for some reason! Because Howard knew that his then four year old son would grow up to be a genius and be able to create this element. And that he would happen to watch this old filmstrip. And that the model of the Stark Expo would still be lying under a sheet in Pepper’s new office. All we get out of this really is Tony learning that his dad really did care about him but I don’t really care!

There’s also a bunch of people in the movie who possibly don’t need to be there! Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury for a slightly expanded role, but all we really get out of it is a cool shot of Tony sitting in a giant doughnut. I guess Fury’s the one who somehow knows Howard created a NEW ELEMENT which he kept secret but it would have been fine if Tony had found this out himself. There’s a completely pointless, wheel-spinning scene at the end where he decides Tony is NOT ready to be one of The Avengers yet and in universe this is really silly because the only two Avengers Fury has at this point is the hot girl who does lucha moves and the guy who shoots arrows and that’s probably not enough to save the world!

The hot girl is Scarlett Johnasson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and I’m calling her “the hot girl” because that’s pretty much all her part in the movie is. Favreau apparently loved shooting her ass even more than Joss Whedon did (literally the first time we see her in the Black Widow costume it’s a shot of her ass) which is certainly an achievement. And like it’s fine to do “look how hot she is!” to some extent (especailly since she gets her undercover job with Tony by being hot. Also I find her hot and I’m lonely) but there has to be at least some hint of character to her and there really isn’t. She gets one fight scene with a load of mooks which is, to be fair, more fun than the actual climactic action scene of the movie but also something that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Buffy.

Coulson also returns for literally no other reason than to say “right, I’m off to New Mexico to be in Thor!” in his second scene. There’s a post credit scene with him saying “right, I’m in New Mexico to be in Thor!” too but that’s what post credit scenes are for so I’m fine with that part at least.

The big action at the end felt seriously underwhelming. Tony and Rhodes fight some Iron Man suit drones, but they never feel in any danger and it’s really routine and not at all exciting. There’s one kind of cool bit when Tony just chops all the drons up with his lightsaber repulsors, but that’s it. Then Vanko shows up (in his own EVIL Iron Man suit of course) with BIGGER WHIPS and surely this will be the good part? Not really! They beat him in about a minute. He barely says anything before they do. There’s absolutely no emotional pay-off to his earlier claims that Howard Stark ripped off his dad. Tony doesn’t care and Vanko has seemingly stopped caring too. It’s a complete nothing of a climax. Tony kisses Pepper, gets a medal from Garry Shandling and that’s it. Nothing happens that could possibly make you feel anything.

Villain Problem?

Mickey Rourke was fresh off an Oscar nomination for The Wrestler, but he plays Vanko with a silly accent and the character is lacking in depth. Maybe the idea is that he has a good motive for being angry at Tony after what the Stark family did to the Vanko family but he doesn’t come across sympathetic at all. He’s just kind of silly! It doesn’t help that he spends like half his screentime talking about a bird for some reason?

There’s another villain though…

Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer is the brightest bright spot to the movie. The problem is that Hammer as a character is just kind of pathetic and not much of a rival for Tony. His weapons don’t work properly and he isn’t even particularly evil, just greedy and dumb. Because Whiplash is the fight scene bad guy Hammer is just…arrested at the end of the movie. Rockwell does his best and gets some laughs with his comedy material, and I’d certainly like to see him again in a bigger role, but he isn’t enough to save the movie.


Rhodes is now played by Don Cheadle, probably because Terrence Howard got overpaid for the first movie and they wanted him to pay him less here and Howard bailed. There’s also a gross racial element with the hated then Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter (who gets blamed for everything bad about early MCU movies…and seemingly deserves it in many cases!) claimined that it was fine to replace the actor because “all black people look alike.” I like Cheadle in the role but the recasting definitely makes it feel like Rhodes is a different character from the first movie. Also, while it’s not okay that he got screwed over, I would like to point out that Terrence Howard is insane.

Elon Musk has a cameo in the Monaco scene, for some reason. Maybe he bought his way into the movie. I don’t think I knew who he was in 2010 but it’s weird watching it now and thinking “oh it’s that git.”

I can’t think of any more other things.


It’s in last place. The Incredible Hulk might be a bit dull and unadventerous but this is dull and actually a bit bad! It hints at some storylines that could have potential then doesn’t live up to that potential at all. And it’s not like the action is good enough to make up for it, other than some nice car-slicing. I guess I could see someone enjoying it more than TIH just based on RDJ being more entertaining to watch than Ed Norton but for me this is dead last and may well be in that spot for a long time!

NEXT TIME: Thor! Starring Coulson apparently!
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I want to smell dark matter

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne

Story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich

Released May 6th 2011

Thor seems like he’d be a difficult character to get right on screen. An actual Norse God coming to Earth with a magic hammer, that could be hard to relate to! Iron Man really worked because of Tony Stark as a character played perfectly by Robert Downey Jr. - and everyone knows at least know the general idea with The Incredible Hulk, even if the movie was mediocre. With Thor,there needs to be a relatable humanity to the character but you also have to respect the Norse mythology stuff and make sure it doesn’t come across as silly or too campy. You need to think you’re watching someone who could be seen as a God. Marvel went with Kenneth Branagh as director, no doubt hoping he’d bring a certain Shakespearean gravitas to the proceedings. Does the movie work? Yes, at least partially, I’d say! But I think it’s easier to start by talking about the places where I think the movie stumbles a bit…

The film starts with three humans (Natalie Portman! Stellan Skarsgard! Kat Dennings!) running over Thor in New Mexico when he appears seemingly out of nowhere. They wonder where he came from and then it immediately switches to Asgard and we don’t see these three characters again for thirty minutes. We see Thor’s coronation as the new King of Asgard (replacing his father Odin, Anthony Hopkins) interrupted by frost giants, Thor and his friends (including brother Loki, Tom Hiddleston) travelling to FROST GIANT LAND to fight them and nearly starting a war, and Thor being exiled to Earth and stripped of his powers/magic hammer. This all happens quite fast but it’s well done and fun to watch. Branagh indeed manages to not make the Asgard stuff look too silly, playing it straight while still having fun interactions between the characters so that it doesn’t feel all stuffy. Then we go back to where we started on Earth and there’s a lot of “who is this guy? Surely he can’t really be a Norse God!” stuff. And later there’s a scene where Thor is being questioned by Coulson who’s asking him where he’s from, how he became such a good fighter, etc. And it makes me wonder if they changed the structure of the movie in editing? If it was originally going to start with us on Earth for a while and we’d only see the Asgard stuff in flashback as it went on? Because the audience already knows that Thor is definitely the actual Thor with the magic hammer and everything, and hearing characters keep asking what his deal is gets a bit repetitive.

So there’s two settings here: Asgard and Earth. The stuff on Asgard fares better, but I don’t think either feels fully formed. The New Mexico town could basically be anywhere. It doesn’t have a personality of its own. Thor barely interacts with anyone who lives there, just with the three visiting scientists (well two scientists and whatever Darcy is.) There isn’t even much fish out of water stuff, just the bit where he smashes a cup and say “another!” and a funny bit where he goes into a pet shop and asks to buy a horse. From doing some googling it seems quite a bit of the Earth stuff was cut from the movie, as the woman who works in the “another!” diner was supposed to be a supporting character but doesn’t end up speaking in the movie. With the Asgard stuff, the problem is that Asgard as a place just feels kind of empty. Other than the scene of Thor’s coronation the only people we actually see there are Thor and his friends and family. It does not feel like a place where people actually live and there’s also a bit of a ”the CGI isn’t quite there yet” problem. Having said that though I do generaly enjoy the Asgard parts and there’s some cool visuals during Thor’s climactic fight with Loki and the effect when he travels by the Bifrost is spiffy.

Also the stuff involving S.H.I.E.L.D. could probably have been almost entirely left out. It’s not bad, but it just seems to be there to get to the point where Thor tells Coulson “yes I’ll be in The Avengers next year okay?” They actually make S.H.I.E.L.D. look quite sinister when they steal all Jane’s research, but then Coulson just gives it all back when Thor agrees to be in the crossover spectacular so I’m not sure what they were going for there.

How about Thor as a main character? As I hinted at above, this isn’t a RDJ style blow away performance. I think Chris Hemsworth does well though. He’s handicapped slightly by the fact that they made him dye his eyebrows…

He’s best served by the scene where Loki comes to him on Earth and makes Thor believe he’s responsible for Odin’s death (“can I come home?” is a really well delivered line) and the scenes where he goes out drinking with Selvig (Skarsgard) then star watches with Jane (Portman) afterwards. I feel like we definitely needed like another ten minutes of scenes with him just hanging out with his human friends to devlop those relationships and make Thor feel more like a rounded person. His character arc is okay but a bit clunky in how it’s resolved. He’s stripped of his powers because he runs off like a hot-head and nearly starts a war. He gets his powers back when he is willing to sacrifice himself to save Jane and the others. The two things don’t seem immediately related? I guess you could say by letting the Destroyer kill him he’s showing the kind of responsibility he shirked earlier when he ran off to wrecklessly fight Frost Giants. It kind of works but it could be more satisfying. I think the biggest problem is that nothing that happens to Thor on Earth actually changes him. His trip to Earth is almost irrelevant to his character arc, becaue it’s Loki telling Thor that he killed Oden that really makes Thor think about his actions, and that could have happened anywhere. We should have seen Selvig and especially Jane changing the way Thor looks at things.

So, how about Jane as a character? OBVIOUSLY I’m biased but I think Natalie Portman does a very good job with what she’s given, especially showing her growing crush on Thor. She does really good giggle-acting! I think she and Hemsworth have pretty good chemistry. The problem is I don’t think the movie does much to show why he falls for her? Besides the fact that she looks like Natalie Portman. He seems impressed by her scientific knowledge, but when they kiss and he promises to come back for her it feels like it kind of came from nowhere.

Skarsgard is always good. Kat Dennings does well as the comic relief but the script seems to run out of stuff for her to do by the third act and she just kind of stands around after that. Anthony Hopkins gives the kind of performance you’d expect as Odin, and that’s a good thing because if you want an Anthony Hopkins-like performance you might as well cast Anthony Hopkins. There’s also the Warriors Three and Sif who all basically have one character trait each, but it’s nice that Thor has some friends. Idris Elba looks cool as Heimdall but doesn’t have much to do. Rene Russo plays Thor and Loki’s mother Figga and has literally six lines in the whole movie. I’m assuming this is another case where a lot of her scenes was cut. Is there anyone else in the movie…oh!

Villain problem?

Villain SOLUTION. Tom Hiddleston as Loki is not only the best villain yet but the best developed character in this movie and up there with Tony Stark as the best character to appear so far in the MCU. He does the comic book villain thing very well, certainly, but he also has actual well written motivations and is sympathetic in places! There’s a part where, after Odin has gone to sleep (he’s old!), Loki makes a deal with his REAL DAD the Frost Giant king to help them invade Asgard. But then when the Frost Giants arrive Loki actually just kills them all and reveals it was a plot to impress his dad! Then attempts genocide to impress his dad even more, which is going too far but you still get why he’s doing it! And it’s interesting that he’s perfectly fine with leaving Thor alive, in exile on Earth up until it becomes possible that Thor could return to Asgard and threaten him. Hiddleston’s still playing the character twelve years later in his own spin-off show which should tell you one thing: this guy is good at plaiyng this character!


The first version of the script by Mark Protosevich, way back in 2006, saw Thor exiled to Earth in Viking times, featured a million characters and would have cost far too much money to ever film. J. Michael Straczynski was later brought in to rework it and I’m assuming it was he who changed the setting to a small town in present day America. His run on the Thor comic saw Asgard relocated to a small town and you can kind of see a little of that in the movie. I’m not sure how much of his writing ended up making it to the screen (the other writers were brought in to rework it again once Branagh was hired) but he does get a cameo in the movie as one of the people who unsuccessfully attempts to lift Thro’s hammer. So that was probably nice for him!

Post credit scene sees Selvig meeting with Nick Fury and it’s reveal that Selving has seemingly been possessed by Loki. This scene was directed by Joss Whedon as it ties directly into his Avengers movie, though it doesn’t actually exactly line-up with the events of that film (where it’s more like Selvig has been brainwashed by Loki’s EVIL STONE.) But hey it’s good that Loki’s still alive.

Here's a really cool shot of Odin on an eight-legged horse.



Despite some criticism, I do like the movie! While I enjoy the later more comedic Thor (up to a point, anyway…) I appreciate how Branagh treats the Asgard stuff seriously here. There’s comedy but it’s never making fun of the characters or setting. And the movie is never boring or dull (unlike the last two!) and if anything ends up feeling too short. Like, yeah, it could have been done better in several ways I identified above (SHOULD HAVE HIRED ME, MARVEL) but it’s good, I like it. Not as much as Iron Man, though. So it’s in second place!

NEXT TIME: Before The Avengers there was The FIRST Avenger!


I liked Thor. Portman and Hemsworth were great together, Hiddleston was fantastic and Hopkins added that air of legitimacy to the fantastical setting.


I want to smell dark matter
And they mentioned Facebook for the first time so I guess Myspace was dead by now in MCU canon.


I want to smell dark matter
Captain America: The First Avenger

Directed by Joe Johnston

Screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Released 22 July 2011

For various reasons, there are people all over the world who do not like the United States of America. So a movie where a guy literally named “CAPTAIN AMERICA” travels the world punching people while wearing an American flag might not go down well! The movie rarely shifts away from Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) so it’s really banking on you actually enjoying watching this Captain America guy. Happily, the movie gets the character completely right. Rather than going around preaching how great America is whatever people feared, Steve Rogers is just a plucky guy who doesn’t like bullies. He stands for the idealised version of what American should stand for. The movie begins in 1942, and Steve is just a weedly little guy! The special effect used to turn Chris Evans into a weedy little guy is impressive, but still not completely convincing. Evans’ head and voice just don’t feel like they belong on that body. What the movie does right, probably the most important thing it does right, is show that Steve has the heart of a hero from the start. The early training scene where he dives on the (fake) grenade is perfect, and the scene with the excellent Stanley Tucci afterwards a highlight. The super soldier fromula given to him just helps him become who he was always meant to be.

Since I brought up Stanley Tucci (in a small but memorable role), I’ll mention that the casting is pretty strong all over. Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter is the best female character to appear in the MCU at this point; she’s so good they continue to bring her back as different versions of the characters over a decade later (and got her own spin-off show! Remember that!) We get Tommy Lee Jones in a “Tommy Lee Jones” type role (similar to Anthony Hopkins in Thor: why not just get the real thing if you can afford him!) Sebastian Stan makes his first of many appearances as Bucky Barnes but is kind of lacking in screentime (more on this later!) It’s weird to see him playing a normal guy. Dominic Cooper plays a younger version of Howard Stark, Toby Jones gives a fun performance as cowardly Hydra scentist Armin Zola, and Neal McDonough is more perfect casting as impressively-moustached Dum Dum Duggan (but another who could use more screentime.) I’ll get to the other main character later…

So the structure of the movie: as I said above it starts with establishing Steve’s character before giving him powers, and this is all good. After getting his powers he’s not trusted to actually fight in the war and instead does USO shows where he punches Hitler for a while, and we get the “star-spangled man with a plan” song so that’s fun. But it means all the actual war stuff is a bit rushed? We get the big scene of Steve rescuing Bucky and the other characters (there’s a black guy! An English guy! An Asian American guy!) but then the movie just hits fast forward. It covers years(?) in a montage of Cap bringing down Hydra facilities. It’s a very fun montage for sure, and I’d kind of like a whole movie of it…

…but it’s followed by the scene where Bucky “dies” falling off a cliff but it feels like it’s just been five minutes since he was rescued? And as good as the Steve/Peggy stuff is (it’s quite good!) I think this also suffers from the unclear timeframe. He kisses Natalie Dormer and then they don’t talk for…months? I think? He couldn’t explain what happened in all that time?

In terms of action it’s just kind of good enough? I mean there’s some nice shots of Cap throwing his shield or Peggy shooting a gun and stuff. There’s a bit where Cap rides his motorcycle into Hydra Central that’s quite good. But there’s not much in the way of fight scenes. You get a punch or two or a raygun firing then it cuts away to something else. The final fight between Cap and the Red Skull is completely forgettable. Which adds to…

Villain problem?

Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull seems like very good casting. Imagine Agent Smith but he’s red and a Nazi, sounds good! It’s not as good as that. Weaving is pretty good with what he’s given, but he hated the make-up he had to wear and never came back, so maybe his performance isn’t all it could have been. The bigger problem is that the character just isn’t evil enough here? Like, yeah, he kills a lot of people and wants to blow up a load of cities (for some reason) but they really shy away from the whole Nazi thing, which is weird for a movie set during World War 2. Maybe they were worrying about the movie flopping in Germany. There’s a bit in the movie where Hitler basically kicks Hyra out of the Nazi Party because he doesn’t like Skull having red skin (or so Skull says)? After that it’s not really clear what Hydra believe beyond “kill everyone!” Skull has some vague speech about super-powered people being the real superior race, but him and Cap are the only actual super-powered individuals at this time and that’s not enough for a whole race. There’s also not enough scenes of Cap and Red Skull together.

Thankfully the underrated tv show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was much more direct on the subject of Hydra and Nazis.



Some funny cating notes! A pre-Doctor Who Jenna (Louise) Coleman plays Bucky’s date when he and Steve go out with two girls. Natalie Dormer has a small but memorable role as the sexually charged Private Lorraine. Laura Haddock plays a girl who asks for Captain America’s autograph (and possibly slept with him, if you think she’s the girl Banner was talking about in She-Hulk) and would go on to play Peter Quill’s mother in the Guardians movies. Kenneth Choi who plays one of the Howling Commandos goes on to play a teacher in the MCU Spider-Man films.

I really like the final scene with Cap waking up in 2011 and meeting Nick Fury and am happy it wasn’t relegated to the post credits spot. The bittersweet “I had a date” line really works because we can all imagine how crushing it would be to have a date with Hayley Atwell coming up then wake up seventy years in the future.


It’s not as good as Iron-Man, but I think it’s pretty close between this and Thor for second place. In some ways Thor is a bit more adventurous, whereas TFA kind of plays it save. And Thor certainly has a stronger villain. But I think Thor stumbles in bigger ways than this does, and, mostly importantly, I think CA:TFA does its main character better than Thor. It really nails everything about Steve and especially the scene of him turning into Captain America. I also like the whole look of the futuristic technology meets World War 2 stuff a lot. So I’m putting this in SECOND PLACE.

NEXT TIME: I will get The Avengers and you will be avenged.