A look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Phase 2)

Hello, Spongey here.

Way back in May of 2012, I did a Retrospective on The Marvel Cinematic Universe, in anticipation of the Avengers movie. I thought it would be a neat idea, and I thought it was a decent post. I’m not sure why I seemed to put all in my effort in the Captain America section, but other than that I like it.

My feelings on those films have not changed, aside from a few minor things. It was a lot of fun to review those movies, mostly because I actually had not seen some of them at that point. At the end, I said I would do a general review of The Avengers.

Yeah, some things never change with me.

I planned on doing it but I just forget about it. That film has come and gone, making its mark on the film industry. Do I plan on tackling it someday? Sure, but not now. Considering what this post is, you think I would do a big review of that before jumping in, but I’m just not up to it.

Eventually, I will in some way but I got other things to do. There are other reviews of it you can check out, and while I wish to do a fair and complex analysis someday, today is not that day.

All you need to know right now is that I feel it is a film that succeeds at what it wants to be a: A Superhero epic with various likable characters fighting evil. It just needed to have decent enough characters and good action to be solid and it works very well, and the story even works fine.

But again, another time.

Instead, I wish to do a follow up to my retrospective. We have a sequel to the Avengers coming up, that I’m hugely hyped for. I’ll explain more of why when I tackle that one. I hope to cover that one and the first one in a Retrospective post sometime next year, or at least when it hits DVD.

Because of that movie coming out, I decided to discuss the 2nd phase of Marvel films that were released between 2013 and now. Because hey, why not? I got stuff to say about these movies so let’s do this.

I could go on about how I feel about the MCU and how I feel their strategy with these works well, but I can dig into that when I cover The Avengers. I’m just here to review the actual movies themselves.

So strap in and let’s see how Phase 2 works out.

This, is A look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Phase 2)

WARNING: THIS CONTAINS HEAVY SPOILERS FOR ALL OF THESE MOVIES. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THEM, SKIP THAT SECTION IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS FOR MOVIES EVERYONE WHO CARES HAS ALREADY SEEN

Let’s kick things off with a movie …I already reviewed.

IRON MAN 3 (2013):

This is embarrassing. When this came out, I did a general review of it. In this situation, I’d just review it again or go my in depth than I did before. But honestly…I can’t in this case. Mostly because my feelings haven’t really changed in any big way that would require me to give more analysis.

Some things have changed but in the sense that I like the movie even more even though I’ve heard more of the flaws. Reading my review again, it’s actually pretty accurate to how I feel now for the most part. So there won’t be a review in this section, but more of an Aftermath report. This one has been out for a while now and its legacy has been interesting.

When it came out, the reaction was mixed to positive. All the positive feels can be found with the Critics, while the negativity can be found with the fans, which is the opposite of how this usually goes down.

I figured the initial shock over the twist would go down, and people embrace this is a great film. That’s not what happened. It’s gone down but it’s accepted as an okay film and all the praise has been passed over to two films coming up.

Now, If people don’t like it, that’s fine, I can handle other opinion. But it baffles me that more people don’t like it, because on many critical levels, it is just as amazing as Winter Solider and GOTG. It’s a tiny bit better in some areas, actually.

And it’s for the same reasons Iron Man 1 is the critic best of Phase 1. People seem to like that one the most, as well as First Avenger, so why doesn’t this one get the same treatment?

I could blame the Mandarin Twist…so I will. Get over it, it’s been well over a year, and they’ve come out and explained why they had to do what they did. I get why it was a big deal, but quite frankly isn’t not a deal anymore.

Every other complaint I’ve heard about the movie just feels like nitpicking. They are issues I can point out in Iron Man 1 but no one brings those up because they see they are not big deals.

You can find many videos or articles defending these nitpicks, so I won’t bore you with the details.

It’s just odd that this films legacy isn’t the best, since I honestly think it has everything that made Iron Man popular/great. After watching it again, I actually like it even more, even though I do see more of the minor issues here and there. But again, they don’t matter so let’s focus on the positives.

This chapter has everything that made the original film great, and the 2nd one tolerable, without a lot of the baggage they could have at times. While I like the first one more for the pacing, this one felt like a true sequel. The 2nd one tried to do a lot of what this one did, but it ended up being kind of messy in a lot of areas, but still very enjoyable for me.

This one on the other hand, gets everything right. It’s very funny with Tony being snarky, but it blends well with the drama and every little side thing goes somewhere, even the part with the kid. Good job on getting a likable child character, by the way.

It’s got all the stuff you need for an actual movie, with complex character development, but it also all the stuff you need for an awesome marvel film, with witty dialogue and great action scenes. The Iron Man films don’t really excel at action but this one offers some cool stuff, like the Plane scene and the climax.

It may undercooked in some minor areas, but it’s a pretty great film that I still enjoy a lot. My thoughts have not changed vastly, so I see no reason to review it again.

Don’t worry, the other sections will be actual reviews. Overall, this is one of the more unfairly bashed films of its year and while you can dislike it all you want, it should be seen as a great film by more people.

I leave you with lazy copy/past from my review:

“It’s not just a “Dumb fun” popcorn film. It’s dark, smart, and complex. Like most Marvel films, actually. But most of all: It’s like the first Iron man. AND on top of that,. It takes place at Christmas time!

So it’s now one of the best Christmas films of all time, just like Gremlins and Die hard! But even taking away that, it’s a very good film. I’m sure fanboys will bitch about it, but I am not a fanboy, so I really liked it. Easily the best film of the year so far.”

If only past me knew Frozen and The World’s End would end up fighting for that position.

Grade: A-

Let’s move on to something that gives me more to talk about:

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013):

If you recall, I said Thor was my least favorite of the Phase 1 Original movies. It was still a good, with a solid lead and great action, but it was a bit dumb in some areas and it wasn’t the best script in the world, sadly.

It was still very popular, so here we are with the sequel. I was excited for it, since I figured they make it better, like with Iron Man 3. However, the reaction has been very mixed.

Some people liked it fine, even more so than than first. Some really didn’t like, and some liked it less. Giving the reaction and my thoughts on the first film, I figured I’d like it anyway, despite some of the hate.

And how do I feel about it? Well, I thought it was pretty enjoyable. It’s on the same level as the first film: Flawed but still a satisfying and fun time at the movies. It had plenty of minor issues,. But in the end I was able to forgive those and have fun with the film.

I suppose I should start with comparing the two movies before we discuss the pros and cons of it on its own. As a sequel, it does what it needs to do. It escalates everything, and brings our character into new and interesting positions that push them. One of the big hurdles of the first film, bringing this mystical character to the Marvel World, is absent here for obvious reasons.

However, there are some ways it fumbles. By that I mean there isn’t a lot of character development…sort of I’ll talk about the characters in a bit, but they don’t go through huge character arcs or anything. Thor has some stuff with Loki, which is the highlight of the movie, but they mostly stay static compared to other Marvel films with meatier character growth.

It’s not a huge problem but it makes the film a bit more light than the other ones. This is why people call this the “filler” episode of the Marvel films, at least of the ones not meant to set up another franchise. It adds a tiny bit with Loki but it’s skippiable if you don’t care. It doesn’t stop the movie from being fun but it stops it from being a bit more interesting.

Despite them, some characters and aspects are rightfully improved. It just simply doesn’t create a more complex story, it just makes things better. But like I said, the film makes up for it with the good parts.

Speaking of the story, let’s talk about it. Here’s how I understand it: Some elves want this thingy so they can mess with the worlds for some reason, and Natile Portman gets it and they want here, and then a bunch of stuff happens, the end.

…Or something like that. Yeah, one of the film’s problem is that it doesn’t exactly have much of a story. There’s some decent character based stuff but the actual story is not very impressive. It’s just villains wanting something and causing trouble, that’s really it. It’s somewhat convoluted, and doesn’t explore any huge themes or whatever.

I’m cool with a simple story but perhaps more meat was needed and they could have done a better job explaining some plot elements. As it is, most of it’s an excuse plot. An excuse to have Jane be more involved, an excuse to have Thor and Loki team up, and of course, an excuse to have tons of action scenes.

All of those things are nice, so I can forgive it, but it doesn’t exactly make for a hugely enriching film experience. The other Marvel films had meatier stories, even the weaker ones. This one by comparison is emptier. However, I always forgive stuff like that if they still give us cool things, and we got a lot of cool things in this film.

First off, it looks amazing. The highlight of the first movie was Asgard, as the effect team did an awesome job at bringing the world to life. It looked like a fully realized world and none of it looked cheap or fake. The actual effects on stuff like the weird robot monster…thing at the end are also excellent.

They kick it up a notch here, since most of the movie is set in Asgard, so we see a lot fancy effects. Plus, we have the titular Dark World, and tons of other neat stuff. No one can deny that this is one of the best looking Marvel films to date.

And of course, this means good action scenes. Despite the Thor films having weaker scripts, they have some of the most fun action scenes in any Marvel movie. There’s so much to like in them, from Thor’s awesome introduction, to the highly creative climax where Thor and the big Bad are jumping dimensions.

All of the Marvel films have at least one action scene that makes really giddy inside, and this had quite a few. So even if the story has flaws, at least it has good action and pretty visuals.

We get to see more of Asgard in this one, and that’s a good thing, as it makes the film more consistent in its enjoyment levels. There’s far less dumb fish out of water humor and it’s mostly focus on “serious” and fun stuff in Asgard.

The humor in the Thor films isn’t as strong as the other Marvel films but there’s some nice moments, and here most of them comes from Thor and Loki. The tone is a lot better here and that’s a welcome change. It’s not exactly “Dark” but it is more serious.

Speaking of which, yes, the “Dark world” isn’t very dark at all and it’s barely in the movie. Moving on!

Taking place in Asgard means that Jane gets a bigger role where she is transported there due to being head starting the plot with some MacGuffin the villain wants. Her bigger role is pretty well done as this weird plot device inside her causes some problems, as well as the fact Thor has been gone for 2 years. He’s forgiven pretty quickly due to the whole…New York thing.

Her character isn’t the most interesting on her own, but she gets a nice role and a few badass moments to make up for it. Their romance is handled slightly better here, and Natile Portman does a good job as usual to boot.

Before we move on, I’ll just address the other big problem the movie has, and it’s one everyone agrees with: The villain is lame. Here’s some dark elf guy who is evil…because reasons. There’s nothing to him at all, and usually I can forgive that but he’s so boring on top of that. In every scene he has this dull look on his face and no point does he seem to be having any fun.

I’m not going to blame the actor, Christopher Ecclston, since he does fine but I blame the director for telling him that this was the performance they needed, and the writers for writing him this way. He isn’t the worst villain ever, and he is involved with the awesome climax, but he is easily the weakest Marvel villain to date. Before we move onto the real star of the movie, we got to talk about some other stuff.

There isn’t a ton to say about people like Odin and Thor’s Mom. Odin is cool like always but he isn’t given a ton to do so I can’t say a lot on him as a character. Mom has a slightly bigger role, because she kind of dies.

We aren’t told a lot about her or her relationship with Thor before this happens, but the scene itself is well done, and the final scene with her alive is good for reasons I’ll get into later.

On Earth, we have this scientist guy who was in the first Thor film and the Avengers, which I didn’t remember until I looked it up. That says a lot about him as a character, but he is more memorable here because he’s annoying.

He was touched by Loki’s staff (shut up) in The Avengers so he’s missed up the head now, which leads to him doing stuff like streak at Stonehenge. It’s not funny and he’s a tad pointless here. However, he does lead to the Stan Lee cameo, so I can forgive that.

Speaking of Earthbound characters, we have Darcy, played by Kat Dennings. I didn’t mention her when I talked about the first movie, and that’s because I forgot about her. That’s how little of an impact she made on me. Yet everyone hates on her character, especially in this movie.

I feel the same about her in both movies: She’s got some dumb jokes, but she’s in no way a hindrance. There’s only one line of hers in the first one that I remember, in a good or bad way, and while her role is more “memorable” here it’s not much either. She has a bit of stuff in the first major Earth scene and it’s a bit annoying but forgivable.

Once Jane leaves for Asgard, she pretty much vanishes and only appears in minor bits that only last 30 seconds before we cut back to the plot. It cuts just as most people get angry. And even when she is involved in the climax, she just gets a few lines stuck into the action.

So while she is a minor issue, that’s emphasis on the minor. The lines she gets aren’t that amusing so I can’t blame the actress too much. Plus, that facebook comment from the first one was worse than anything in here.

Also, she’s hot.

Going up the ladder a bit, we have Thor, again played by Chris Hemsworth. I’m not sure if I went into this before, but Chris is one of the more impressive Avengers actors. Mostly because he took a rather simple character and gave him a lot of weight.

When I look at Thor and see him do his thing, I see a godlike man who knows his shit and I’d be willingly to follow him into battle. And that’s all due to the performance, and even the costume a bit.

That aside, Thor hasn’t always been the most interesting character, but he has his moments. In this movie, he’s not that developed as he mostly just does his thing and all his more complex moments deal with other characters.

The biggest examples being him dealing with Mom and Loki. Aside from that, he’s a tiny bit blank but he is likable enough for me to forgive this. He adds to the “lack of depth” issue bit that’s okay.

Then we finally get to the real star of the movie…STAN LEE! He appears making a tiny joke in a scene where that streaking scientist is a in a classroom doing weird stuff. It’s amusing but not one of his better cameos.

Honestly, his Phase 2 cameos aren’t really as memorable as his Phase 1 Cameos, but the one he has in Winter Solider almost makes up for it.
Besides, the best Stan Lee cameo will now forever belong to Big Hero 6.

Okay, enough joking, let’s talk about Loki, played by Tom Hiddelston. Knowing the internet, I was no shocked a pretty boy got a lot of fan girls. But it still astounds how amazingly popular here.

Hell, he was only going to be in Thor 1 until his popularity made them put him in The Avengers. ..Then that was going to be it until he got even more popular. Then he was only going to be in a minor in this one…until they kept having to expand his role.

See what I mean?

It took him awhile to grow on me, but now I really like him. And yeah, he’s the best part of the movie. All of the films cool elements come from him and his story. He’s on trial for his actions in the previous films and he has to deal with how people feel about him, especially…his Mother.

Yeah, when she dies, it’s after he basically told to her screw off. As cliché as it is, it adds a lot of weight to his character and that scene. And of course, when he teams up Thor it gives them both depth as they try to settle their differences.

Yes, Loki is very funny with all snarky moments and stuff like that. That adds to it, and one scene with him turning into people gives us a Captain America cameo!
Loki has a lot of charm and charisma to make him fun enough, but they gave him the most interesting story bits in the whole movie. It’s really interesting to see him with deal him with the aftermath of his actions and go on their journey with Thor.

They get a lot of cool things out of him alone, and that makes him the highlight of the film. The interesting parts with Thor, and the story mostly come from him. Now I’m seeing why he’s so hyped up.

I think I’ve covered everything I feel is important. Don’t expect anything too long with these, since I may not have a ton to say, especially with this one.

Overall, Thor 2 is solid. It’s not Marvel’s best by any means, but it does what it sets out to do pretty well. It may have an empty story, some under developed characters and a weak villain, but it has very good acting, excellent effects/actions scenes and a few very enjoyable characters.

How does it compare to the first? Eh, they are about equal in terms of critical merit. The first may have more character development, but most of its minor issues were fixed. I enjoyed this a little more for the action alone, but they are mostly equal.

It’s safe to say I enjoyed this more than some people, but I will admit it has plenty of flaws, and it’s one of Marvel’s weaker films. But despite its flaws, I had a lot of fun with it and I’m really looking forward for the 3rd one. I hope that one improves on the flaws of both films and gives us a truly awesome movie.

For now, we have two solid Thor pictures to enjoy. They may not be great but they are both solid fun, with or without Loki.

Grade: B+

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLIDER (2014):

This one is interesting…because I kind of reviewed this one. See, when I saw this in theatres, I wrote a general review for it, going into detail with a spoiler section and all that.

Then the ASCII monster hit.

Don’t worry, I finally got rid of the problem…via a new computer. I just posted a very quick review on Facebook to make up for it. But now I got to review again on the blog on detail.

Since I feel like I reviewed this already, this may not be as enthusiastic as you may expect. Because yes, this movie is awesome.

You gotta love it when everyone agrees a film is good, especially when it’s a superhero movie. Even certain Marvel detractors really enjoyed this one. I already liked the original so I was ready for an even better sequel, and I got it.

You’ve heard all the reasons this film is good before, but I’ll say it all anyway. The main reason this movie works, oddly enough, is the plot. Sure, plenty of Marvel films have had solid plots before, but they usually work due to character development or humor.

Iron Man 3 kind of had this, but this is a Marvel movie that succeeds largely because of the plot itself. Mostly because of what it adds to the Marvel universe and how it turns things on its head.

Basically, the premise is that our heroes find out that Hydra has been infiltrating Shield for years, and our good guy agency has been working for the villains the whole time, even without Nick Fury knowing.

Thus, the movie becomes a sort of Espionage thriller, as our heroes run around trying to figure out what is really going on. From here, we get plenty of twists and action to fill up 2 hours of fun.

While most Marvel films are fun due to the characters and action, this one has the plot give us most of the fun. It’s really interesting and fun to see them having to deal with finding out this shocking secret, as they run around trying to uncover even more secrets.

For a Marvel film, the plot is pretty meaty with quite a bit going on. Like Iron Man 3, it has all that Marvel trademarks but it adds an extra dimension to make it even better. It’s pretty impressive, and all the other great things stem from it.

I’ll likely end up going through all this pretty quickly, cuz I honestly don’t feel like I have a lot to add from others have said. I am enthusiastic enough to go on like usual but don’t expect a ton.

That and the fact I kind of reviewed it in some way prevents me from saying a ton. Anyway, to compliment the story, we the usual excellent action scenes. There isn’t anything too special to comment on with them though.

They are well made and are a lot of fun when they happened, especially the one in the middle of the movie. But what was up with that part where Cap jumped off his bike? He didn’t jump back on it and it just vanished without explanation.

I noticed this in the theater, and that’s when I finally realized I watched too much Cinema Sins.

I got that out of the way so I can move on to more important things, like the plot…again. Besides being interesting by itself, it’s even more interesting for its impact on the Marvel Universe. We’ve known Shield as the good guys for so long that it’s really shocking for this Hydra twist to happen and shake things up.

I’m sure they’ll go into this even further in future films, but it’s still handled very well here. Now, despite the plot having plenty of meat to it, it’s still as simple and easy to get through as most Marvel films. Meaning, like all Marvel films, it proves smart things can be fun too!

Now, I said certain characters were at their most interesting here, so it’s time to discuss them. Yep, we’re going straight to the characters. There really isn’t a lot to say about the plot other than…it’s interesting with a lot to it. Not a whole more to say, honestly.

Before we get to the main ones, we must cover the less important characters. Cobie Smulders returns as Maria Hill, and she’s cool but she doesn’t do a whole lot. Oh, and Abed pops up for like a minute!

…Yeah, joking aside, we have Robert Redford as Alexander Peirce, who is more or less the real villain. Like everything else, he’s mostly interesting due to his place in the overall story. I find the title character more memorable, but he’s still pretty cool when he pops up, mostly due to Robert Redford, of course.

And we can’t forget The Falcon, played by Antony Mackie. If I had to complain about something in this movie, it’s that he doesn’t get a ton to it. Oh, he has enough screen time to make me like him a lot, but I wish he had just a bit more development in some areas.

He makes for a pretty fun ally and I really enjoy his character, but I just hope he gets more to do in the next film. Nonetheless, they did a decent job of showing him and Cap’s friendship, especially with the opening scene.

Then of course we have the titular villain, the Winter Solider. Spoilers, he’s actually Cap’s old friend Bucky. Since I didn’t really pay attention to him much in the first film, and I’m not exactly a comic expect, this reveal was a surprised to me…Well it would be if I didn’t read a post somewhere mention a storyline this adapts. I put two and two together. …Bah.

Either way, they did a pretty good job. Not only is he a very intimating villain, but his tragic backstory and relationship with Cap gives the movie even more depth. As if the story needed more meat.

This gives Cap’s character more weight and overall this was a solid villain.

But now it’s time to talk about the 3 big characters that help make this movie awesome. First up, we have Nick Fury, played by Samuel L Jackson. I said each of these 3 are the most interesting they’ve ever been, and he’s a good example of that.

He serves well as the secretive leader of SHEILD but this time we get to his skills first hand and it’s awesome. On top of that, he has to deal with everything crumbling before him and that leads to him being pretty interesting. I told you this plot brings out the best in these characters…at least from a writing perspective.

Then we have Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson. She’s a bit less interesting than some of the other characters, but she’s still pretty awesome. The play up the fact that she works a bit different than Cap, since she’s all about secrets and stuff. She gets less development than the others, but she has some fun and awesome moments. Plus, she’s still hot.

And finally, we good ol’ Steve Rogers/Captain America, played by Chris Evans. He’s always one of the more admirable characters in the MCU and that is displayed excellently here. As you can probably imagine, he’s not happy with all the secrets going around, as that flies in the face of his AMERICA nature.

Thus, this leads to some interesting with his character. Not to mention the Bucky thing, which gives his story even more weight. He’s just so darn likable throughout the movie as he deals with all this. And you can’t forget that scene he has with old Peggy, damn.

It’s rather impressive how the plot leads to everything good in the movie, when usually it’s the characters themselves that do that. It’s not the best plot ever but its fun, intense and keeps you invested. And when it drags a bit, we have some fun characters and action scenes to pick up the slack.

This film really does deserve to be called one of Marvel’s best with an actually interesting plot that gives way to some interesting characters, good action and all of Marvel’s usually good traits. And to think, the directors of this film mostly did TV shows such as Community.

I mean, I dig their work but sitcom directing doesn’t exactly scream big budget blockbuster to me. They did a great job, to say the least.

Sure, like all movies, there are some dumb moments and plot holes, but it makes up for it with all the great stuff that is in it. They did have a trick with this one, as they had to pretty much reinvent the whole franchise since it has to take place outside of the Era of the first film, and very little of the original cast.

They did a very good job at reinventing the franchise, and while it could have come off as generic without the 40’s backdrop, the spy thriller edge makes it unique. I think it’s clear this movie deserves the praise it gets, and while the first film has a special place in my heart, this one outdoes in every way.

Cap is more interesting, the story has more to meat to it, it’s better paced, and the action is more remarkable. It’s pretty great.

So yeah, that’s really all there is to say. It’s a stellar sequel that makes for another fun and well done Marvel flick. I dug it quite a bit and it’s certainly worth checking out.

Hail Hydra.

Grade: A-

And last but not least…

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014):

Oh boy, here’s an interesting note to end Phase 2 on. I’m sure you are all aware of the film’s history and how it unexpectedly blew up, even by Marvel standards. But let’s cover it anyway.

This was a largely unknown property compared to the other stuff Marvel has been adapting. The previous Marvel films were a bit of a gamble since characters like Cap or Thor aren’t taken that seriously by Modern Audiences, they had an even harder time with this as it was a very odd concept that was foreign to people.

The quirky humor displayed in the trailers got people excited (especially the fans), but people figured it wouldn’t be Marvel’s biggest hit.

It was a big hit.

Even by Marvel standards, everyone was going crazy over this one, with some people calling it their favorite Marvel film to date. This is a pretty big deal considering that this is an unknown property.

Sure, it is coming from a well-known studio and it would likely make money regardless of quality, but the fact that even some people how are mixed on Marvel films love it, (keyword being some…) is a testament to its power.

I was pretty excited for the concept alone, and I was happy to hear mostly praise for it. I sadly didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters, but I picked up on DVD and I’m here to talk about it?

Do I like it as much as everyone else?

Duh.

Yeah, who am I to disagree with the popular opinion? This film is every bit as awesome as people made it out to be, and while I’m not 100 percent sure if it’s my favorite Marvel film, it sure is up there at least.

It pretty much grabbed me from the opening scene, as a boy in 1988 named Peter Quill watches his mother die of PCD in front of him. …Yeah, that’s one way to open a Superhero blockbuster.

Joking aside, this pretty much got me invested in the character right away. Dead parents in a Comic Book movie are nothing new, but usually Marvel films don’t quite start this way. But I’ll comment on that kind of stuff in a minute.

I suppose I’ll get a few minor things out of the way: The Stan Lee cameo was pretty weak. He didn’t even get a real line, and his “character” is shown as some kind of perv. That’s funny but…weird. I heard that the cameo was supposed to have Stan Lee on display in the Collecter’s museum, as he gives Groot the middle finger.

Disney didn’t like that. Poo on them.

It was cool to see Thanos in this, since most of us didn’t expect him to pop again until Avengers 3. He serves as a nice way to tie this into the MCU, and in general they did a good job at making an out there standalone film that will still do well with people hungry for more MCU stuff. Not to mention that reveal that the mystical items we’ve come to know (such as the Gem in Loki’s Scepter) are the Infinity Gems.

Speaking of MCU staples, we’ve gotta talk about the post credits scene. Most of the Phase 2 Stingers have been cute, but a bit weak as they haven’t really given us any Avengers 2 lead ins. Iron Man 3 had the reveal with Bruce Banner, Thor 2 had a Guardians lead in (which doesn’t count) and a cute bit with Thor and Jane, and Winter Soldier has a nice bit with Bucky that could be a lead in for Cap 3. These were all fun but nothing special. Oh wait, Cap did have an Avengers 2 lead in …MID Credits.

This…isn’t an Avengers 2 lead in, but it’s easily the most interesting post credits scene yet. In short, we come back to the Collector’s place where we meet…Howard the Duck.

I’m not kidding. Seriously, I’m not. Howard the Duck is in this movie. And…it’s amazing. Just this few seconds we see of him represents him way better than…you know what. He’s voiced by Seth Green here, which is perfect casting.

All I can say is…if this leads to a new Howard the Duck film, and it’s a good one…the world will have officially gone insane.

Anyway, let’s get another semi-minor point out of the way before we dive in: The effects and action. As usual, they are excellent, and they did a great job at making this world look real. This had the same production Designer as Thor 2, and it shows. I don’t usual mention those kind of people but in this case, I had to mention it.

The action scenes are as enjoyable as they should be, most notably the final battle. But again, this is to be expected.

With all that out of the way, let’s discuss the plot. Now, unlike the other Phase 2 films, this is a set up film and thus is really meant to simply introduce a slew of characters, instead of going into a big deep story like the other ones.

Thus, I can let the simple story slide, unlike Thor 2. It’s pretty much a MacGuffin chase, with our heroes trying to take care of some orb thing, with a bunch of trades and our baddie being evil. Thankfully, there is enough depth with the characters to make the story entertaining.

Everything is kept simple and I was happy to follow the minor “complex” parts. It follows the same cues as the Avengers, abiet not quite as epic. You know what drives this film the most? It’s not the action, the humor, or anything like that.

It’s the heart.

Plenty of these films have heart, a lot more than most big blockbusters out there. But somehow, this has some of the most heart I’ve seen in a Marvel film. I’m not just talking about the heartwarming moments. I mean, this film really seems like James Gunn’s love letter to…well everything. Of course, we all know about the 80’s soundtrack, and the film has been often called an 80’s movie with a modern budget. And yeah it is, and that’s why it’s so much fun.

As for the actual heartwarming moments, we have quite a bit in that department. The opening does a good job of getting us to like our hero and they develop quite nicely. Everyone gets a few nice moments, especially Groot. Yeah, no one can resist him because he’s just awesome.

Speaking of which,…damn, I got them credit for kind of killing him off. I say kind of because the Baby Groot thing, but…it still counts as killing him off. It was handled really well and it was an awesome emotional scene.

This film certainly hits the sweet spot in many ways with scenes like that, as well as the tongue in cheek tone. A lot of Marvel films have that and this fully embraces it, and despite having ton of 80’s references it still has an indemnity with its Comic Book roots and character development.

Which isn’t hard, since we have a tree creature and a talking raccoon in the cast. They did a good job keeping a sense of humor, while also managing to have us take it seriously when it has those moments.

Sure, there are a couple questionable moments but it’s the heart really keeps it going. Not to mention the sheer effort that clearly went into this, like with all the Marvel films. But even then, they could have handled certain things better, like the exposition. Obviously it’s hard to juggle a whole team of characters without lead in movies, and while they made each character fully likable and well written, the script sometimes just blankly states what their deal is just to get it out there.

Not a big deal, but I had to mention that since as a critic, I must suck the joy out of everything. Despite that, the film works very well at fleshing out these characters just enough for me to enjoy them.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about them. Let’s start our villain, Ronan, played by Lee Pace. He’s…okay. I noticed Marvel tends to focus a lot more on the heroes, and the villain tend to be an afterthought. Thus, Loki has been the only hugely good one, aside from Maybe Red Skull. Ronan is better than the dark elf guy since he has a decent presence and he…works for what he is. But overall, he’s another somewhat forgettable villain.

Onto the Guardians. First up is Groot, voiced by Vinn Desiel. He’s really lovable, even though he only says 3 words. He’s so innocent compared to the others, and here’s the heart of the group. Vinn does a pretty good job, much like The Iron Giant. And just like that one, he’s involved an incredibly heartbreaking scene.

He’s so amazing that his presence earned a few sins redactions!

Next we have Drax, played by Dave Bautista. He’s the least interesting of the group but he’s still cool. He has that “Avenging a loved ones death” thing going on, and he have some humor to him. See, he’s very literal minded, so that leads to quite a few jokes. Dave is mostly known as a wrestler, and we all know how those usually go, but thankfully he’s…good! Not great or anything but he handles this character and his Comedy rather decently. As long as you don’t put on a tooth fairy costume, we’re all cool.

Then we have Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper. It’s safe to say he’s the most popular from his concept alone. And yeah, he’s pretty awesome. He’s a wiseass of the group and he has a lot of funny lines, and he is very likable. He has a few sweet moments here and there, especially near the end. And yes, Bradley Cooper does play a part in how enjoyable the character is.

And of course we have Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana. Naturally, she’s the badass non sense hot one. She’s great at being that character type but of course she has a few hidden depths. Mostly dealing with her sister who is working for Ronan. They do some interesting things with that and thus she becomes a fun and interesting character.

As for the sister whose name I don’t remember, she is underused but she plays a decent part in the story.

And of course, we have Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt. It’s weird how much he’s blown up, deservedly so. He brings his usual likability to this role. He ends up being a very likable and interesting main character, mostly due to the whole …dead Mom thing. Man, there’s a lot of Dead loves ones in this movie.

He’s a fish out of water who clearly likes the 80’s and makes a ton of funny references and has the most awesome mix ever. Yes, it is impressive that this film’s soundtrack did so well.

Marvel is good at making it so the main character is one of the best characters in the film, and this is a good example of that. He is very relatable with his story, and he’s also quite funny and has great chemistry with his cast mates.

Actually, everyone has nice chemistry. Just like the Avengers, its fun to see these different characters interact and eventually team up. It should be a strength in a team movie and they certainly pulled it off very well.

All of that good stuff combined makes for a pretty damn good movie. They did a good job of making something that’s different than the usual Marvel Film while also getting the audience invested.

While the film is certainly flawed in a few areas, it’s very good for what it is. It’s a fun space action Team film with good action, likable characters and its own identity with a sense of fun. While I’m not 100 percent on the side of it being Marvel’s best, it really is up there. All its flaws are due to it being the first in a planned franchise, and it adapting a fairly odd and unknown Comic series.

By the way, from what I know, the very original Comics are not the same as this movie. There’s another Guardians book from a bit ago that’s more like it, so that’s the one you want.

So yeah, that’s all I got for this one. I’d say it’s worth the hype and overall it’s a very enjoyable and a solid way to end Phase 2.

Grade: A-

Yeah, that is a bit high and I don’t feel quite as confident with it, but since it is at least in par with the other ones I’ve given that grade, I’ll stick with it.

And that’s every Marvel Phase 2 film, reviewed! …Wait.. That’s the 2nd Pieguy reference I’ve made in a short amount of time. I should stop that.

Sorry I didn’t say a ton on some of the later entries, but I got pressed for time thanks to laziness. Thankfully, I said everything I needed to say and if you feel I left certain things out, go ahead and tell me and I’ll see what I can do.

Overall, Phase 2 managed to be better than Phase 1. That’s mostly due to the fact that they didn’t need to set up a big movie. They had teasers for Avengers 2, but these films existed to tell good stories more then start a franchise. Even the only stand alone is it’s own movie.

Sure, the Phase 1 movies (Iron Man 2) aside all told their own good standalone stories but these movies did that even better. As a whole these Marvel movies show that fun films can be just as credibly as the dark and gritty stuff. They can be stupid but they are mostly a good type of stupid.

I know it’s a cheap target, but they do succeed in every way the Transformers films fail. The humor fits with the characters, there’s a good mix of plot and action, and they tend to get all of those other little things right. There’s certainty room for something like Transformers in this world, but I think stuff like this deserve to earn a billion dollars per movie, even more.

It was fun talking about the MCU again, and while I had to rush things near the end, I think I did an okay job talking about these movies. Yes, I’ll do this again for Phase 3 and beyond.

And as of this writing, Age of Ulton is out and I certainly can’t wait to finally see it. Now, I actually won’t do a General review for it like I usually do. Like I said before, I’ll cover that the first film in a “Look at’ post somewhere down the line after it hits DVD.

I figured it would be more fun to talk about them together, but who knows if it I’ll do it then. I could do it after the 3rd one (both parts cuz that’s the popular thing to do) but we’ll have to say. But I will discuss those films at SOME point, so don’t worry.

And that’s all I got. I hope you enjoyed this little look at Marvel’s film and if you haven’t seen any of those, check them out. I think you will like at least one of them. By the way, you can expect a bunch of Non-Review posts like this in the coming months. The reason they didn’t come out sooner is cuz I had to do this before Avengers 2 came out.

Yeah, that failed but showed up.

Until next time….uh…go avenge something, I guess.

See ya.

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About Spongey444

I'm 20 and I'm a slightly below average man who can barely spell. I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why i ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things.
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One Response to A look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Phase 2)

  1. Lars says:

    GAURDIANS OF THE GALAXY!!!!!
    10 OUTTA 10
    A++++
    GOD I LOVE THAT MOVIE HOLY MOLY.

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