#24: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Here is yet another discrepancy from the order of last year’s countdown—and this one probably the boldest.  Last year, I was content to follow a simple, preconceived rule: the Marvel One-Shots would populate the last five rungs of the ladder, regardless of whether or not any or all of them may have, on the merits, a good case to be better than one of the television seasons or feature length films.  Upon review of last year’s countdown, however, I realized that this was not a good policy.  A movie, however short, should not be penalized merely by length or the way in which it is distributed.  Would I slight Chris Marker’s La Jetée or Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon because they were short?  Absolutely not.

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#23: “Marvel One-Shot: Item 47” (2012)

Perhaps the most unique and original of the Marvel One-Shots is “Item 47”, the story of Benny and Claire, who find the last remaining piece of Chitauri weaponry after S.H.I.E.L.D.’s clean-up of the Battle of New York in The Avengers.  Benny, who has figured out how to use the weapon, is convinced by Claire, his girlfriend, to use it to get them rich.  From there ensues a fun montage of bank heists that show that the pair is amateurish at best, but finding success using this unparalleled piece of weaponry. Continue reading

#20: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Last year, this countdown only consisted of 20 chapters.  We have already visited six chapters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this year’s version, and we have only now reached #20.

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The first time I saw Thor: The Dark World, I thought that I might have seen the worst superhero movie ever made.  Then, I remembered Batman and Robin and Catwoman.  And then, I remembered those last couple Christopher Reeves Superman movies.  Then, there was Ghost Rider, its sequel, and The Green Lantern .  Then, I remembered Daredevil and Elektra.  Then, I realized, Thor: The Dark World wasn’t even close to the worst superhero movie ever made.  It only felt that way because the only superhero movies I care about anymore, since The Dark Knight Rises (and more recently, the Zack Snyder DCEU movies) decided to thoroughly disappoint me, are ones in the MCU.  I mean it.  Even the X-Men movies fail to invoke my emotional investment…though Deadpool may have changed that a little. Continue reading

#19: “Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King” (2014)

For one of its unheralded short films to only drop two spots in a countdown that added six new chapters this year should be a testament to Marvel’s production quality, at least in a way.  For two of its unheralded short films to accomplish that feat is certainly worth pointing out.  That is the case with the next two entries in this list.

First, we have “All Hail the King” rounding out spot number 19.

Easily the most funny of the Marvel One-Shots, “All Hail the King” features one of the MCU’s most hilarious characters, Trevor Slattery (played by Ben Kingsley).

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#17: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season Two (2014-2015)

The second season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was really good.  The producers and writers learned from their mistakes in the first season.  Unfortunately, less people tuned in to see it, disheartened by the lackluster first few episodes of this promising series.  At the end of this post last year, I said the only thing that Marvel had left to do was get more people to watch it the next season.  Well, I guess that happened, because the third season was a critical success and a fourth season has been slated.

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#16: Thor (2011)

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I’ve already established how obnoxious Kat Dennings is as Darcy.  I also think that Natalie Portman as Thor’s love-interest, Jane, is shallow and uninteresting (which is shocking, considering the fact that Natalie Portman is a very talented actress…could this be a rare instance where Marvel’s screenwriters are to blame?).  Stellan Skarsgård, though, is quite an enjoyable character.  So also are Thor’s “Warriors Three” and, to a lesser extent, the Lady Sif.  Another fine actor (a legend, actually), Anthony Hopkins, does an okay job as Odin.  Rene Russo hardly exists as Frigga.

But this movie isn’t about any of them.  It’s about Thor and Loki.  And, with this, the best sibling rivalry in the MCU, we are given our most powerful superhero as well as our most beloved villain.  There are certainly many weaknesses to this film (it’s ranked the third lowest out of the thirteen feature films that have been released up to this point), but what it does have going for it is that it, perhaps more than any other MCU film, changed everything.  This movie is the hinge point upon which the whole universe swings, opening more doors and introducing more plot elements than any other film in the history of this vast cinematic project.  And that includes its two key characters.

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#15: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Last year, this film was ranked, rather uncontroversially, at #9.  It is now at #15.  Since we’ve already seen Marvel’s Agent Carter: Season Two show up on this list, we can deduce that five of the new additions are ranked higher.  That leaves one from last year that, in my reconsideration, has surpassed it.  That film—apologies for the spoiler—is Iron Man 3, which continues to age well despite its lackluster ending.

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Despite Age of Ultron‘s drop in rankings, I’m sure that half the people reading this still think it’s ranked too high.  The other half probably thinks it’s too low.  Like last year, I reiterate my stance: I think we’ve got a Goldilocks situation, and, I think, placing it at #15 is right where it belongs. Continue reading