When “Iron Man 3” released in May 2013, Marvel marks the twenty-eighth film released in a now impressive resume of films. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe dates back to only 2008 and the release of the first “Iron Man”, Marvel films started a full decade earlier with the release of the Wesley Snipes vehicle “Blade”, based on the “Tomb of Dracula” supporting cast member. It would be the first in a well-spring of movies that appeared in movie theaters over the past 15 years.
Now the Superhero Examiner undertakes the task of ranking all 28 of these films from worst to best. These opinions represent only your Examiner’s learned opinion and all comments and opinions about rankings are always welcome in the comments section.
Over the course of our previous three columns, the Superhero Examiner looked at every movie from position #28 (“Blade: Trinity”) to #11 (“X3: The Last Stand”). This time around the focus turns on the next six in our list as we count the way down to the final slots before the Top Ten.
Without further ado, click forward to see entries 16 through 11 in our continuing feature on Marvel’s cinema hits and misses.
10. ‘Iron Man 2’
The Marvel Cinematic Universe makes its first appearance on the list as the Top Ten begins. That should give readers some idea in just what high esteem the Superhero Examiner holds the MCU. While “Iron Man 2” is nowhere near as good as its predecessor or its sequel, its weakness lies in its importance as a bridge. “Iron Man 2” was forced to serve two purposes. It needed to tell a story in its own right while also setting up plot points that would play out in the next two films leading into “Avengers”. Because of this, it often feels like it heads in two separate directions.
The film still features great performances by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. Don Cheadle proves himself a better James Rhodes over Terrence Howard while Sam
Rockwell oozes smarmy businessman as Justin Hammer. Ultimately, Mickey Rourke as Whiplash/Crimson Dynamo proves the weak link as he just doesn’t seem a big enough threat for the set-up of the film.
9. ‘The Incredible Hulk’
As part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Incredible Hulk” is inherently flawed. But standing on its own, the film is a fun action movie. Ed Norton is not the ideal Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo would prove himself in “Avengers), but against Liv Tyler, he makes a good man on the run. While the super-soldier serum bits make no sense as part of the greater MCU, just the presence of the Abomination as the villain upped the scale of the film over “Hulk” and numerous other earlier superhero films. The final battle is still epic in scope, dwarfed only by the even bigger final fights of “Iron Man 3” and “Avengers”.
8. ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’
Chris Evans’ first foray as the Star-Spangled Avenger proved a solid action adventure piece with a World War II setting. Hugo Weaving proved a great Red Skull while Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Sebastian Stan and Hayley Atwell did fine supporting work.
“Captain America: The First Avenger” proves itself perfect action movie fare to enjoy with a pile of popcorn and a Coca-Cola.
7. ‘Iron Man 3’
Shane Black’s first foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe reunited him with former “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” partner Robert Downey Jr. It also marked a decided shift in tone for the franchise. Black’s take on the character emphasizes Tony Stark’s darkly humorous side as he deals with issues like post traumatic stress disorder, terrorism and absentee parenthood all with a touch of humor.
The Mandarin proves to be an interesting character with an intriguing new twist while Rhodey, Happy Hogan and Pepper all get strong supporting roles.
In many ways, “Iron Man 3” is the evolution of the Marvel superhero film. It will be intriguing to see if “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” can follow its lead.
6. ‘Iron Man’
The granddaddy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe still proves to be one of the best films released in the MCU. “Iron Man” vastly streamlined a character that had grown stale and broken in the mainstream Marvel Universe, floating from disparate take to disparate take. Director Jon Favreau cast Robert Downey Jr. in the lead. The aging actor was finally on the right path after a nearly two decade fight with drugs. Though older than Marvel’s original ideas for the role, Downey’s charisma and his past with substance abuse made him the perfect man to bring Tony Stark to life. With Favreau’s direction, they recreated Iron Man for the twenty-first century in a take that quickly grew to be the definitive one. It wouldn’t be long until the comic followed suit with a long run by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca that moved the comic character in line with the movie one.