Here it is, the much-anticipated follow-up to Monday’s episode- this part 2 of my MCU countdown. This is where you can find out which movie I have listed at number 1. For those that know me, it probably isn’t a huge surprise. I have talked about this movie a lot. I have even been a guest on another podcast to discuss this movie. It isn’t just my favorite MCU movie, it’s one of my favorite movies. Period.
Due to technical issues, I had to take last week off. I just couldn’t deliver a good, quality product, so I decided it was better to skip it. But I am back this week, and I have brought with me an epic double episode! And it is all about the MCU. The MCU now consists of 19 films. Some are better than others, and others still stand apart in a class of their own. In this episode, I begin to break down which are which. This is part 1, breaking down numbers 19-11. Part 2- the top 10- will be released on Wednesday.
If you haven’t heard by now, Jake has decided that The Geeky Mormon needs to go in a new direction, and as me contributing articles does not fit with his vision for the site, I will no longer be writing. For the time being, plan on me still writing, but exclusively for my personal blog, The Jedi in Jeans. It was a pleasure writing for The Geeky Mormon and sharing all of my geeky thoughts with you. Before I go, here are a few things I want to share with you that I have learned from both my interests in sci-fi and fantasy, and from my faith as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in other words, from being a Geeky Mormon. I won’t elaborate on some of the themes too much. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so I will include pictures/quotes from our favorite stories as well as appropriate scripture references. I may very well have addressed some of these themes in my other posts. Other than that, I will leave the interpretation to you.
I love Spider-Man. For a long time he has been my favorite Marvel character. He’s not the strongest, smartest, or most powerful, but he just seems like the most relatable. He is the average Joe in a world full of super powerful beings. He has felt like the tie between me, the little guy, and the rest of the Marvel Universe. Out of all the versions of Spider-Man we have seen on the big screen, this version seems to most embody everything I love about the character.
We are just a couple of weeks away from the premier of Captain America: Civil War, so I thought it would be fun to make a few predictions about what will happen in the film. I’ve done this in the past with other films, and one time, my crazy theory was even right. We’ll see how I do this time around. Let’s get to it.
This is part 3 of the 3-part Road to Civil War series.
WARNING! SPOILERS FOR ANT-MAN BELOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
The question everyone seems to be asking is why the Civil War installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a Captain America movie? The truth is, we won’t have all the answers until it comes out. However, here are some of my thoughts from what we’ve heard about the plot and based on my observations of Steve Rogers.
Captain America as a Leader
At the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we see Captain America squarely in charge of a new Avengers team. The actions of this team under his leadership will lead to the debate over the regulation of superheroes.
Steve Rogers thinks of himself first and foremost as a soldier, but he has always been a leader. I f people expect Captain America to lead them, then he expects them to work like an army does. In Captain America: The First Avenger, he is the unquestioned leader of the Howling Commandos, and even the directors of the Strategic Scientific Reserve look to him to lead the fight against Hydra. We don’t see much of the men who followed him aside from Bucky, but I think he had a good working relationship with these guys that probably set his expectations for similar experiences a little high.
When Captain America goes to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., the situation is far from ideal. What Steve Rogers expects from those who work with him is trust. He prefers to know what other people are doing and what’s going on, whereas Nick Fury thinks it’s safer to “compartmentalize” assignments and secrets. Finding out that S.H.I.E.L.D. was controlled by Hydra is the last straw. From then on, Captain America doesn’t want to be in a position where he isn’t calling the shots. Being in control is Steve’s way of coping with the fact that he can’t trust other people’s motives.
Cap in the Age of Ultron
Steve decides to take out the remnants of Hydra, but it is unclear whether he asked the other Avengers for help or if they volunteered. But destroying Hydra is Steve’s project, so they let him decide what they do. To an extent they consider him the leader, and he may even think of himself as one.
Tony Stark referred to Captain America as “the boss” at one point during Age of Ultron, but Tony doesn’t treat him the way Steve expects he would if he really thought that. In The Avengers Tony is condescending and even resentful toward him. After the two work together for some time, there’s a little more respect and even some liking. Yet Steve expects that the other Avengers follow his directions and not do anything to jeopardize them or their mission. Tony Stark does his own thing. And Steve mistrusts Tony for this.
Steve is more concerned at first about preventing Ultron from causing more problems. But then Wanda Maximoff warns Steve the being Ultron was creating with the Mind Stone could be put to use by Tony Stark—and Steve takes it very poorly. His only thought is to prevent Tony from creating another Ultron, and he’s offended that Tony’s attitude and behavior are hurting the team as well as the world. Civil War as good as almost started over Vision’s cradle.
It would be wrong to say that Steve isn’t sad to see the breakup of the original Avengers. But at the same time I think he’s looking forward to working with the new team that has come together, probably more or less at his invitation. He has an advantage with this new team because he can set new terms for their working relationship. He can teach them how to work together, trust each other, and rely on each other in ways that the original Avengers never could: the way he wants them to.
So one of the hard parts of Civil War will be watching all of Steve’s hopes and expectations for the new Avengers go down the drain.
A Product of War
Captain America was created to fight a war that, for the rest of the world, ended seventy years ago. But the war never ended for Steve, and the best thing he can think of doing is continuing to fight.
During World War II, all civilian resources—food, clothing, and even entertainment—were redirected to the military and to mustering support for the war effort. It was a time period when people ate, slept, and breathed war. Cap went on the ice. The rest of the world had time to transition, but Steve didn’t. So a part of him still eats, sleeps, and breathes war because he didn’t get to see it end. And whatever closure he thinks he has—Hydra being vanquished, for instance—is an illusion.
When he got up, furthermore, he was asked almost right away to help save the world from Loki. Steve never intended to be Captain America for the rest of his life, but that’s what nearly everyone else wants him to be. So he has chosen to be a superhero: that is “home” for Steve now. And if it is his job to keep the world safe, then he will do whatever he thinks is right to get the job done. His job from the war, stopping Hydra, was left undone, so he is going to finish it. And his mind, it is an army—in this case, the Avengers—that is the best chance of stopping Hydra.
Doing the Right Thing as a Weakness
A lot of people don’t see why Steve had to crash the Valkyrie at the end of The First Avenger. My explanation is that Steve didn’t want the world to have access to the Hydra weapons or technology that was on that plane: Hydra was so evil that he wanted to destroy it and every evil thing it created. And, of course, he held Hydra responsible for Bucky’s “death.”
Steve does whatever he thinks is right at all costs, and if you disagree with him about what it takes to keep the world safe, then he is not giving you the benefit of a doubt.
In Captain America: Civil War, Steve will encounter a serious barrier to his goal of fighting Hydra just as Hydra is regaining strength, and his attitudes and choices in that time will put him in conflict with Iron Man and other superheroes. And then we have the Ant-man post-credit scene. From the dialogue and other inferences about the situation, we know that Bucky Barnes turning up again in this manner only complicates an already difficult situation. But why did Marvel choose to show this scene in particular? Steve wants to help his best friend, at whatever cost to himself, and if he has to break the rules—if he has to fight Tony Stark—to do so, needless to say it’s going to get ugly.
Bucky is the only thing Steve has from the life he used to know: before he was a soldier, before ANYTHING. If Steve can save Bucky, then he will be able, in some small way, to “come home.” It isn’t right this time: it’s personal.
But Steve, however, will put his personal happiness on the line to do what he thinks is right. I am prepared at this point to accept the possibility that Steve might even die in Civil War. What I am really worried about is, can Steve put up with all of this and still be a good person?
That’s the best speculation I can give you for now. But of course, it could all change the moment the trailer comes out.
The next stop on our tour through the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Thor. For me, this is where I feel like the MCU is really expanding. Up to this point, we have only seen two Iron Man movies and a Hulk re-boot. With Thor, we are getting something new and really different. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Thor because of my Danish ancestry, so I was really excited about this movie when it came out. I was also really nervous. With all the fantasy elements to Thor, there was always a possibility that it could be really cheesy and lame.
Fortunately, Thor was neither cheesy nor lame. Or at least not overly cheesy and lame. I mean, when Thor talks in his normal fancy speak, it can come across as pretty lame, but Hemsworth does it just right. This film was a great addition to the MCU and a great expansion into bigger things. I think they nailed the casting with Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and of course Tom Hiddleston as Loki. I had never heard of Hiddleston before this film, but afterward, he was a household name, and with good reason. He played the role to a T. Just an excellent job.
This movie was interesting because it was an origin story, but it was different from most origin stories. Usually, the main protagonist gets his powers and there is a period of time where he or she is getting used to their powers and how to use them and all of that. There is none of that in this movie. Thor is born a god, and has his powers from birth, so he doesn’t have to get used to them. The real origin story here is how he becomes fond of Midgard, or Earth. In the beginning we see a reckless young god who makes poor decisions and doesn’t value the lives of his enemies or his friends. He is immortal, and he knows it.
This story follows what happens when he is banished to Midgard by Odin to be taught a lesson. He doesn’t really get what’s happening at first, and along the way he meets Jane Foster and her team and befriends them. They are there for him when he discovers that he doesn’t have his powers anymore, and he decides to stay with them when Loki visits him and tells him he can never come home. We see Thor grow as he begins to care about these people and develops a new perspective about what it takes to be a leader. Before, battle was all about glory and things like that. Now he is beginning to count the costs and value life. It’s not all about glory. It’s important for him to get to this point before Loki sends the destroyer down to kill him and everybody else. Because he is at this point, he is willing to face off against the giant himself with no powers. It is at this moment that he becomes the hero. He becomes worthy of his hammer, Mjolnir.
This was a fun movie in typical MCU fashion. It’s full of humor and wit. It also has great shout outs to fans of the comics. For example, when he puts on the shirt that Jane gives him and the name tag say Donald Blake, MD. This was the identity he used to assume in the comics. Of course he continues to assume it in the movie. That was cool. The best line or humorous moment was when he refers to Agent Coulson as “Son of Coul.” That was great. Overall, in the beginning of the movie we have a hard time with Thor and his reckless character, but part way through, we find ourselves agreeing with Hawkeye when he says he’s going to start rooting for this guy. And of course, I can still remember how excited I was when at the very end of the credits it says that Thor would be returning in The Avengers. It was only a year away at that point.
What were your thoughts on Thor? Did it hold up against Iron Man and Incredible Hulk? Or was it a disappointment? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
The next film my wife and I enjoyed on our road to Age of Ultron was the Incredible Hulk. I know, this is out of order, since we have already watched Iron Man and Iron Man 2. I’m sorry, that’s all I can say. We had planned it all out and somehow had this one scheduled after the first two Iron Man films. I got called out for it on Google +, and I wish I could go back and fix it, but unfortunately, I can’t, so you are all stuck with reading a review for The Incredible Hulk, after my review for Iron Man 2. I promise I will keep the rest of them straight from here on out.
It’s hard to really place this film in the MCU. It is, in a lot of ways, the awkward uncle that’s definitely part of the family, but everyone is just fine seeing him only on major holidays, because he just doesn’t fit in. There are a lot of reasons for that, in my opinion. The first thing is what is this movie, exactly? Is it a sequel to Hulk? Is it a re-boot, meant to launch a series of Hulk centered films? Or is it just one chapter in the Avengers Assemble storyline? Another thing is the fact that this film, this one film, is Universal. The other MCU films prior to all coming under the Disney umbrella, were all Paramount. This one film stands out as the only Universal film. Then there’s the Edward Norton aspect. He is only Bruce Banner in this one film. That’s it. In fact, we have seen three different versions of the Hulk, and Mark Ruffalo is the only guy to play Banner twice now. Taking all of this into consideration, it is sometimes hard to see where this film fits into the grander Marvel scheme.
The truth is, this film does fit in with the rest of the MCU films, in that it is really a great movie. In almost every way that Hulk failed, this movie was a success. This was obviously not a sequel, and they let us know that right at the beginning when they retold the origin story of the Hulk, and it was different, slightly, from the previous movie. That was all we needed to know. I hope they revisit this concept with the next Spider-Man film- condense the origin story down to the opening credits and then jump into the action. I loved that when I watched it this last time. I really hope they do something similar with Spider-Man. Just like Spider-Man, we all know the basic story of Hulk’s origin, so no need to go into super fine detail.
Despite not being an origin story, the film does quite a bit to develop the Bruce Banner/Hulk character. In this film, we get a sense that Bruce is really all alone and wandering the Earth. He wants to get rid of the Hulk, find a cure. We see him trying to learn how to control his anger. He doesn’t want to control Hulk, he wants to subdue him totally. That’s his goal. We also see that Hulk is not a mindless beast. He knows who Betty is, and he wants to protect her. Despite all the destruction he causes, we also see that he is really the victim here. He is being attacked again and again, and he is just trying to protect himself.
We also learn in this movie that here is a tie between Hulk and Captain America. Before we have even seen Cap on the big screen, General Ross has already exposed us to the idea of a super soldier, and Hulk was the result of one of their attempts to re-create the super soldier experiment. Of course, Banner realizes that they would never be able to control an army of Hulks. Or even just one, which is all they would need.
Overall, this is a pretty good film. I am not a huge Hulk fan, but this movie is probably my favorite telling of a Hulk story. It has the despair of being alone, plenty of action, and some pretty good humor. Going away from Edward Norton, though a fine actor, in favor of Mark Ruffalo was the right choice. I enjoyed Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner more than Norton’s. Norton was just to unemotional, to removed. I didn’t feel anything for him. Buffalo brings in all the emotions that Banner should have, and does it well. Despite that, I would say that everyone keeps looking for a Hulk film in the MCU, and when are they going to announce a standalone Hulk film, and I say we have this one already, and it’s not too bad.
My wife and I thought it would be fun to try to have a Marvel Cinematic Universe Marathon leading up to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Sure, we could have gotten tickets to the 26 hour long marathon that is playing at select theaters, but unfortunately we have a life outside of these movies, and we have these other beings that live with us, called children, that make a 26 hour long movie marathon kind of hard. Plus, my wife barely makes it through 10 minutes of a movie before she falls asleep. She would probably slip into a coma if I took to something like that. No, we decided instead to take it kind of slow and try to work our way through each of the 11 films that currently make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Then I thought it would be fun to offer reviews of these films as we watched them.
We decided to start at the beginning, the film that launched a universe- Iron Man. I should start by admitting that I am not a huge Iron Man fan (Sorry Eric, I know he’s your favorite). In fact, in the upcoming Civil War movie, I am not entirely sure what the whole disagreement will be about, but I am almost positive I will be on Captain America’s side. At least, I was totally positive until I watched this film again. I was convinced that at 7 years old this film would be starting to show a little age, look a little dated. For the most part it didn’t. It still holds up pretty well. I also expected to find a bunch of holes, like they weren’t totally sure they were going to build the massive universe they have, so you would see things or hear things that would end up happening totally differently. Also didn’t happen. We meet Agent Coulson for the first time and he is totally Agent Coulson. Fury even shows up at the very end and basically says that Stark is now part of a much bigger world full of Superheroes. Marvel had their master plan all along.
This movie was just as enjoyable as it was the first time around, and maybe even more now that we know a little bit about where the story has headed. I remember being totally surprised by the success of this film. Iron Man was always kind of lame in the comics, at least I thought so. I just figured the film would flop. It didn’t, as we all know, and it continues to impress.
This is solid movie from a character standpoint as well. It develops the Tony Stark Character really well. He is such a jerk in the beginning. Then, of course, he has a whole new perspective after his vehicle is attacked and he is taken prisoner and forced to build a weapon to help the 10 Rings. I mean, who hasn’t had an experience like that? Of course you come out of it changed. This of course leads to him becoming Iron Man, and Marvel’s resident genius.
My biggest disappointment in this movie is simple. It is a complaint I have had since I saw it for the first time. I get coming back to the good ol’ US of A, and I the first thing you want is a cheese burger. Absolutely on board. What I don’t get is if you are a billionaire, and you live in California, why in the world would you go to Burger King? That’s not happening. At the very least, head over to In-n-Out Burger. I mean, it just almost makes the whole movie unbelievable for me.
Overall, I think this is one of the better films in the MCU lineup. It is easy to see how this movie was as successful as it was, and to see how it would open the door for the movies to follow and lay the foundation for the Avengers. The sequel, on the other hand, well, that’s a tale for another day. 4.5 Stars overall for this great movie. If it’s been a while, check it out before Age of Ultron.