(Check out the list so far)
The Movies: The Avengers (2012), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019)
One Sentence Plot Summary: The MCU has been a really important part of my moviegoing life the last 12 years.
Why It’s on the List: I’ve already done three podcasts (Avengers, Black Panther, Avengers Endgame) about these three movie. For the latter two, I’ve done at least two podcasts on them. That’s why I decided to combine my MCU write-up into one article instead of separating them.
The Avengers is a miracle of a movie, a first of its kind that was literally a sequel to multiple first time outings. Some of the solo films were okay, but they all had a baseline of quality to make people interested in a team-up. Nick Fury and Phil Coulson served as the connective tissue as we went from barely knowing who Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow were to the point where another team-up made 200 million dollars more than the first ever movie featuring Batman and Superman. Joss Whedon crafted something that was funny, heartfelt, and action packed. Loki may be the best villain in the MCU just because of this movie alone. This may have the best act three of any summer blockbuster the last decade. There’s also the iconic shot featuring all the characters together in one shot, something they’ve tried to duplicate but haven’t. I firmly believe this is the second best Marvel movie of all-time and was the one where they really arrived.
Black Panther was both a cultural moment and the best MCU movie of all-time. Ryan Coogler probably had (and now probably has even more) agency than any director in the history of the MCU. The character of Black Panther was in Captain America: Civil War and did a lot of the heavy lifting telling his origin story. Thus, this is able to get to the point a lot faster. Killmonger is also an outstanding villain because as I’ve brought up before, Michael B. Jordan does his best work in Ryan Coogler films. He also happened to have a somewhat reasonable argument. There’s also the fact that there are three female characters who get a lot to do. Lupita N’yongo actually got to be in a movie (and not reduced to voiceover), and even as Black Panther’s girlfriend, she got a lot to do. Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira has their movie breakouts. At times, Captain Marvel was seemingly trying too hard to be a movie about girl power and lean into its feminist roots. A lot of this movie felt more baked in and authentic. I’m not even sure there’s a good reason for believing this.
Avengers Endgame is the only 2019 ending that wasn’t a complete disaster. With the Game Of Thrones and Star Wars having very disappointing, it almost makes me respect what the screenwriters and directors did here all the more. This movie paid off 23 films, made earlier films retroactively better, set up future projects, and provided one of the best in-theater experiences I’ve ever had, one that may never be topped. I don’t know if this is necessarily one of the best movies ever, but it’s one of the most emotionally cathartic experiences I’ve ever had watching a movie.
*Joss Whedon. Look it up.
*The fat-shaming of Thor and the “female empowerment” scene.
MVP: Kevin Feige for The Avengers. Doesn’t feel right to give Joss Whedon any amount of credit right now because what an emotional piece of shit he’s turned out to be. Feige is the man who’s been there from the beginning, and he’s made a lot of right moves in his time as the head creative and producer. I give him a tremendous amount of credit for norming superhero films and creating a baseline level of quality. I hope the pallet is able to be expanded in these next few years.
Ryan Coogler is the only person who I could consider the MVP for Black Panther given what that film means to so many people and the fact he’s the first director of color to direct an MCU movie. He’s an incredible filmmaker, and I’m excited to see the sequel to this and the rest of his output.
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely do not get the credit they deserve for bringing together everything in Endgame. They essentially got to write three of the major team-ups in MCU history, and the fact that they put this time heist puzzle is a testament to their storytelling abilities. I would not say this deserved awards consideration, but just crafting this into an organized film had to be an undertaking. Tremendous output from these guys.
The Avengers: Mark Ruffalo had tough shoes to fill, not necessarily that Edward Norton was all that great in the 2008 Incredible Hulk moviebut in that he hadn’t played the character before while all the other Avengers had appeared in other movies. He brings a lot of pathos to the role as he talks about trying to commit suicide and eventually coming to peace with his anger as Hulk. All the actors deserve credit for being willing to step into an ensemble film like this, and it had some long term payoffs (Just look at the salaries on Endgame), but Ruffalo really stood out on the most recent rewatch.
Black Panther: Michael B. Jordan. He excelled at Creed and stole the show as Erik Kiillmonger. Regardless of what one thinks of the third act, the emotional pay-off between Killmonger and Black Panther is well worth it. He’s got a lot of great individual moments and is incredibly bombastic in his line delivery. It’s only a shame he’s dead and the MCU can’t really return to this character.
Avengers: Endgame: Chris Hemsworth has to go through so much in back-to-back-to-back Marvel movies. He loses an eye and has to come to terms with his own failure. He gains a bunch of weight (and is fat-shamed by multiple people in different timelines for it) but still is worthy and gets to separate himself from kingly duties at long last. It took a while for Feige and company to figure out Thor, but they eventually did, and now we’ll even get an additional movie (if not more) out of Chris Hemsworth and Thor.
Best Quote: “There was an idea, Stark knows this, called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to. To fight the battles that we never could. Phil Coulson died still believing in that idea. In heroes.” -Nick Fury
“Wakanda Forever!” -Multiple characters
“And I…am Iron Man!” -Iron Man
Is there a sequel? The MCU will continue in movie and Disney+ form at some point.
For podcast reviews of the entire MCU check out Ben & Matt’s Marvellous Journey