We Are in the Endgame now - Recapping Major Milestones in MCU

By Rohon Nag | 1.6k |
Read part 2 of this series here.

Instead of Expose sort of opinion pieces, this time we are recapping phase 1 through 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Maintaining momentum of sorts through a series of 20 Films released over 11 years is not easy. In fact it’s NEVER been done before in the history of cinema. The Legendary Star Wars was a set of 6 Films (NOT counting the Disney Takeover) over the span of 28 Years and the Prequel trilogy was not well received (Although I LOVE THEM).

Lord of the Rings suffered a similar fate with 3 VERY well received films and 3 prequels which were meh… (I DID NOT like the Battle of the 5 Armies at all.)

But somehow despite some VERY mediocre films, the MCU has gone from strength to strength over time and has now gained a critical momentum which all comes down to Endgame.

Is the MCU ending after this?

Nope… It is a cash cow and Disney will milk it for all it is worth, but Endgame is the end of an ERA and officially will end the Infinity Saga.

Starting this week till the Release of Endgame, this is a series of 3 Articles on the previous MCU films, my thoughts and analysis of them.

We start with one of my favorites in the MCU and the film that started it all…

IRON MAN (2008)

Iron Man (2008)

The moment Tony Stark said those words, we the audience knew this would be something VERY different from previous superhero films where the hero not just hides and disguises his identity, but entire plot-lines are devoted to the identity of the hero.

But not Iron Man. He stood tall and proud (If not a bit Arrogant) and revealed his superhero Identity to one and all.

Iron Man in 2008 was quite the underdog. DC was ruling the superhero genre with The Dark Knight and Marvel had a failed Superman 3 (2007) and nothing big going forward. Iron Man changed all that. He was a B list hero for the mainstream audiences at best... But Robert Downey Jr. made him not just A list but somehow more of a Rich kid than Bruce Wayne could ever be.

The film itself is quite simply one of the best superhero Origin story ever put on screen. Beginning in the caves of Afghanistan to his mansion in California, Iron man is simple yet effective. There is no huge world ending villain schemes, nothing particularly grand going on except Tony, his company and his legacy. On paper that sounds boring. Even Batman Begins had a City ending villain. But MCU kept it simple, allowed Tony Stark to shine though and it worked.

The scenes in the cave of Tony building the Mark 1 Armour are somehow fascinating to watch despite the crudeness of it all. Not to mention my favourite scenes when Tony is trying and testing the Mark II Armour. The first flight is simply amazing and it felt like achieving flight was something of an achievement.

The thing, which stood out most, was the end credits scene.

The first time I saw the film, I totally missed it and no one was talking about! MCU film’s famous end credits scenes was not a thing yet. I saw the end credits scene on DVD. Nick Fury alluding to something more made me cautiously excited. It might lead to nothing. Still it was hope of an Avengers movie someday. Despite being the 2nd best comic book film of 2008, it did decent at the Box office and the audience too liked it. But they didn’t like the other marvel film of the year…

My Rating : 9.5/10. A SOLID opening to the MCU.

HULK (2008)

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I don’t know how to feel about this one. I don’t hate it. But I have never liked it. The entire film somehow didn’t sit well with me. The film was too random, the plot was all over the place and the ending SUCKED. I didn’t like Edward Norton in the film and felt he was miscast as he seems street smart but not a scientist. None of the plot points set up in the film went anywhere in the MCU. All but TWO of the characters made a reappearance in MCU at all. Betty Ross simply disappeared.

The only part that interested me at that time was the sneak peek at a super soldier serum. This meant Captain America was on the way. This small bit got me excited.

The audience too shared my sentiments. The film did barely ok in the Box office and somehow we hoped future MCU films would be better made than this mess.

Even Tony Stark appearing in the end didn’t make much of an impact. It revealed nothing new and seemed like a throwaway scene just to connect it with Iron man.

My Rating : 6/10. This film is NOT re-watchable, especially now as the lead character has been recast.

IRON MAN 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Two years later, we got an Iron Man sequel and boy way it underwhelming. The two villains were weak and other than Robert Downey Jr.’s acting and some cool Iron man shots, the film felt entirely redundant.

Its only meaningful contribution was that it introduced Black Widow and had Nick Fury in a full-fledged role. Agent Coulson too became a bit more significant in the MCU. Overall, this film set up SHIELD rather well.

The film’s central plot made no sense. Suddenly Tony’s chest piece was making him sick. It had a core that we had never seen or heard in the previous film. None of the known elements seem to work as a replacement for this toxic core of his chest piece. The first film had set up no such issues and the way Tony simply invents a NEW Element based on his father’s notes seemed preposterous. (Its has now been confirmed that Howard’s notes were based on the Tesseract. So Tony’s chest piece might be part infinity stone tech.

Overall Whiplash was a very underwhelming villain to challenge Tony. This film did well at the Boxoffice though and wasn’t SO bad that it would leave us cold for the MCU’s next 2 offerings.

The end credit scene led directly to the next film in the series by revealing Thor’s hammer out in the desert…

My Rating : 6.5/10. Not as outdated as HULK, but this one doesn’t stand the test of time!

THOR!

Thor (2011)

The next two MCU films setup that this world would not be limited to Earth bound superheroes alone. Thor changed the game when it came to Superheroes. Not only was he a cosmic being, Asgard was something otherworldly. For the first time a superhero was alien and he wasn’t Superman.

Thor wasn’t the last of his civilization or the beacon of hope, he was an arrogant princely prick.

Though the setting of the film on Earth is limited to a small town in New Mexico, the themes and actions of this film had far reaching consequences for the MCU as well as the audiences.

Marvel wasn’t just playing it safe. Thor was a huge risk. He had a very different back story which could have not worked for the audience. Although this was an origin story, THOR doesn’t discover his powers, he discovers humility. It was a very new sort of origin for a Superhero.

This film also further setup SHIELD and what it does. Brief cameo by Hawkeye and the end scene setup Loki’s manipulation as well as the Tesseract.

My Rating : 7/10. Very good opening act, solid origin story.

Captain!

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

This film acts as an origin story for Captain America as well as the Tesseract (aka the Space stone).

This is one of my favourite Phase one films after Iron man. It may not have worked for a lot of people but for me, this introduction to Captain America was perfect.

Chris Evans had experience playing a superhero in Marvel’s very own Fantastic Four but he never got a chance to shine in that role.

But he works SO WELL as Captain America, he is a sincere, honest and diligent. All of the best parts of a human combined with the strength of the super soldier formula. The casting in this film is really good. From the leading lady Peggy Carter to Colonel Phillips, every role is well acted. Howard Stark’s casting is a bit of a mystery. The fellow DOES look a bit like he could be Tony’s dad but he looks nothing like the fellow in Iron man 2 (who reprises his role in Ant-man and Civil War).

The action in this film has too many montage scenes to illustrate time passing between 1943 and 1945. But they overdo it at times and the film feels like a news reel rather than a coherent story. But the ending is poignant and never once did I ever believe that Red Skull is actually dead. For me he clearly had been teleported. To God knows where...

My Rating : 8/10. Would have rated higher if not for the problematic middle section of the film.

When Captain America woke up in the present only to be greeted by Nick Fury, the audience’s excitement knew no bounds. It was also sad how he would never be with Peggy and also never meet any of his friends from back then.

But the post credits scene of this film led to a small trailer for Avengers. By the time, Thor and Captain America movies were out we knew there was an Avengers film in the works and by God! This trailer got us excited. It was short but effective.

Leading us into the first proper on screen superhero team up film. Also the first MCU film to cross 1 billion revenue at the box office.

Assemble!

The Avengers (2012)

These days it is VERY common for superhero films to cross the billion dollar mark at the box office. But not when Avengers came out. The Dark Knight of 2008 was the only (Superhero) film at that point which had crossed this milestone. Till date (2019) only 37 films have made it past that mark, handful of them are superhero films.

The Avengers blew audience expectations and box office numbers. We had not seen an effective use of superhero team-ups in one film before. Joss Whedon the director somehow managed to pull it off and the rest is history. This film made more than 1.5 billion and cemented what MCU could be, a juggernaut never before seen by Hollywood or anywhere else.

The film itself is quite well crafted, kept mostly simple without too much of a complex plot, the movie villain Loki, last seen floating out to Space, brought something new to the MCU. This was the first time the MCU had repeated a villain character. The other being, he had a personal connection with one of the heroes and the audience knew and liked him.

Using Loki was a masterstroke. We already knew what his story was and why he wanted to do these things, no time is wasted introducing us to the villain of the week. We can cut to the chase. LITERALLY. The opening of this film is awesome. Despite having NO superheroes in the beginning, they kept it thrilling and action packed. That is good direction, when the action at SHIELD itself is amazing enough to hold our attention.

Every hero in this Superhero team-up has his/her moment, with adequate screen time and is not wasted just for the heck of it. This is extremely difficult to do and other than Marvel almost no one has managed it till date.

Thor and Hulk’s interaction became an audience favourite and the best scene in the film involved a one take scene with the action panning between all of the Avengers. That scene made this film legendary. Despite some plot points borrowed from Star Wars episode 1 (Main ship is destroyed deactivates all the henchmen) the film works pretty well and at the end of it, left us wanting more.

My Rating : 10/10. The first and one of the best super hero team up films ever done.

The last scene of this film showed us the lone standing A on Stark’s tower. Alluding to future Avengers sequels as well as a promise of an exciting Phase 2.

The post credits scene was a joke scene with the Avengers having a mundane time at the local Shwarma place. There was no urgency to setup the next phase immediately. Avengers knew that it had done its job. The audience would come back without any cajoling by the producers.

Read part 2 of this series here.

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