DC/Marvel 8 through 1

The 12- 7 list  fell victim to the ‘right now-ness” of this endeavor.  Over the past two weeks I re-watched each of the Nolan Bat-films and came to  the conclusion that while the films work on their own, they are at their best when viewed as a saga.

So the deck must be shuffled.

Captain America: The First Avenger moves to 8 from 7.  The Dark Knight Rises ascends up into the trilogy block of  2, 3 & 4.  Note: The Captain America: Civil War trailer dropped this week.  It looks like the Cap trilogy might be a challenger for Nolan’s Bat trilogy.

8. Captain America: The First Avenger

Three reasons it is in the top twelve:

  1. Pre-Cap Steve Rogers

2. Pre-Cap Steve Rogers #2, my fav:

3. In the comic books he often comes across as too earnest or as enticing as patriotic cardboard. But Captain America: The First Avenger gives us a reason to root for Steve. He is the underdog; the runt with the big heart who finally gets the body to match.

All of this, and we get a wonderful period piece about the birth of Hydra, Red Skull and Zola as well some personal favorites in Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos.  A classic.

7. Iron Man 3

Three reasons it is in the top twelve:

  1. Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss,Kiss,Bang,Bang and Monster Squad among others) + Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark. = I am a mark for the film.
  2. The film has the least amount of “Iron Man” of any of the films, but is by far my favorite Iron Man film. Tony Stark vs. the sins of his past. What is not to love? Some people believe the writers botched the Extremis story-line adaptation the same way Johnny Carson botched Cliff Clavin’s joke;  I defer to the writing/comedy experts in both cases.
  3. This Tony Stark moment is remarkable; Pepper “paying” for Tony’s sins.

I’ll wait for Cho to post the “How It Should Have Ended” Youtube as his rebuttal.

6. The Avengers

Three reasons it is in the top twelve:

  1. The Iron Man vs. Thor vs. Cap battle:

2. The little character moments. The characters all feel like they stepped in from their own franchises, making the team-up  at the end all the more satisfying.  These are strong characters, and none of them feel like they get the high hat.

3. This:

Why is this not higher?:

The first third of the film is deadly dull (save this) with the opening sequence in the SHIELD center looking remarkably cheap.  It is the main reason this film is not higher, because the rest of it is fantastic.

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Three reasons it is in the top twelve:

  1. Incredible film, deep with timely issues about security vs. liberty, but never at the expense of being an entertaining action film.
  2. Actually giving Nick Fury a badass scene.

3. An incredible battle in an elevator made all the better by the tension in the lead up to it.  Cap’s line, “before we get started, does anyone want out?” Bad-ass.

4. And the film somehow manages to give us the perfect Arnim Zola for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Sure it is not this:


But that would not have worked with the MCU’s sensibilities, especially this film’s.  This was better than I ever expected.

I watch parts of this film once a month.  That frequency is sure to increase as Civil War nears.

4, 3, and 2.  The Dark Knight RisesThe Dark Knight, Batman Begins

Nolan’s three films are a true trilogy, featuring tons of connective narrative tissue.  Fatherhood, father figures and legacy are big threads throughout the trilogy.  Batman Begins underlines these, and it could be why the film resonates: it released the month I found out I was going to be a father for the first time.

4. The Dark Knight Rises

Three reasons it is in the top twelve:

  1. Bane. In a vacuum (or meme) the voice is silly. Here: chilling.

2. The first Bane/Batman battle is incredible. Its brutality is underlined by the absence of a score. Every impact is heard. There is a whisper of music towards the end, but it is broken along with Bruce’s back.

3: The Gordon/Batman moment.

3.5. The score – it is, as throughout the trilogy, flat-out amazing

3.  The Dark Knight

Three reasons it is in the top twelve:

  1. The Joker.  Heath Ledger was wonderful, his performance deserving of all the praise and rewards.  The Joker is barely a character in the film; he is a construct, a device to move the plot forward. Where does the film need to go?  The Joker will take you there.
    This is acknowledged by the character is a couple of very meta ways: He changes his origin story of his scars to fit the needs of the moment, and in his speech to Harvey Dent:

“I just do things”

2. Harvey Dent.  Aaron Eckhart’s work on this film is criminally underrated.  Dent’s arc is the backbone of the film.  He takes the road to vengeance, one Bruce narrowly avoided in Batman Begins.

3. The Interrogation scene/ and rescue sequence:

2. Batman Begins

Three reasons it is in the top twelve:

For the longest time it was my favorite comic book film. Finally: a true origin story for Bruce Wayne on film.

  1. Each of the 90s films gave us snippets of Martha and Thomas Wayne getting shot, certainly a pivotal moment in Bruce Wayne’s life— but in those films it is treated only as the inciting incident, not the whole narrative.
    Batman Begins gives us snippets of Bruce’s life before tragedy and follows through with his not-always-so-pure reactions to that trauma.  It adds a layer of humanity to the character that was missing from the Burton/Schumacher films.

2. Bruce training with Ducard.  I love the way they cut these scenes together, underlining one of the themes of the film and trilogy.

3. The film set the table for the sequel incredibly well.  The moment below had me in an end of Empire state of mind about the sequel.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy

Three reasons it is my favorite:

  1. The first ten minutes, which may be my favorite first ten minutes of any film.  To start a comic book film.  with an 11 year old at his mother’s death bed is a brave choice.  The scene sets up Peter Quill so well, and guts me every time I watch it.

The film continues with a look at Peter Quill, 26 years later and is both entertaining and revealing.

2.   Throughout the film Peter is frustrated that people are not aware of Starlord.  Throughout the film it appears to be about ego.  Starlord, like all the Guardians (and all of us), is more than he seems to be:

3.  I never thought that a walking tree would make me verklempt.  I didn’t know Groot going in…and this hit me like I did.

There it is, my list of the DC/Marvel films as of March 14th, 2016.   I will post periodically when I get a chance to catch any of the number of qualifying films releasing this year.  Deadpool is Blu for me…can’t swing too many non-kid movie admissions nowadays. Thanks for reading.  Would love to discuss via comments, or Twitter (@NumbNien).

NOTE: Early on in the process, I forgot the completely forgettable Daredevil (2003), a film I remembered liking, if only for the young Matt Murdock scenes.  I would have ranked it in the mid-40s


3 thoughts on “DC/Marvel 8 through 1

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