I always really enjoy writing the results for my MM Top 5, each fortnight I remember either a film that I had misplaced in my memories or even one which I had forgotten just how good it really was. That’s the exciting thing, even though these lists are simply my opinion and you are fully able to share your views too, you might as well try the films on the list and see just how good, or bad, they really are.
So, what on earth is the topic this time around, I hear you cry, well this fortnight’s MM Top 5 is Marvel Superhero Films.
Before I begin, I deliberately chose NOT to include Marvel’s Avengers Assemble as the inclusion of so many superheroes means it shouldn’t really be included in the list.
5. Spiderman 2: Sam Raimi, 2004
Sam Raimi re-invented the Spiderman franchise way back in 2002 and what a good job he did turning Marvel into something that the mass audience really looked forward to seeing. However, it can’t be denied that in 2013, the original Spiderman really lacks the special touch to make it a timeless classic.
The same can’t be said of its sequel, Spiderman 2, again directed by Raimi. Not only did this outing have a more focused characterisation of Peter Parker from Tobey Maguire, it also had much better special effects and perhaps most importantly, a better villain in Doctor Octopus. The film did away with the overly camp performance of Green Goblin from Willem Dafoe and replaced him with a foe that audiences actually feared and respected in equal measure.
Spiderman 2 is everything a good superhero movie should be. It has cracking special effects, a brilliant story that’s easy to follow and good performances from the lead cast. Unfortunately, the bubble was to burst as Raimi released the disappointing Spiderman 3 a few years later, which effectively ended his relationship with Marvel and Tobey Maguire. It wouldn’t be until 2012 that the series was rebooted with Andrew Garfield playing the title role.
Spiderman 2 isn’t perfect though, it’s a little too long and despite this, the ending feels a little rushed. Therefore, the 5th spot is as far as the masked vigilante can land.
4. Thor: Kenneth Branagh, 2011
I find it fascinating that one of Marvel’s lesser known superheroes has managed to take a coveted spot in this list. Thor, away from comic-book circles was relatively unknown until Kenneth Branagh and Marvel teamed together to create a brilliant film.
The title role went to television actor Chris Hemsworth who was the most perfect choice for Thor that anyone could’ve possibly imagined. His long blonde hair, coupled with his stature and physique meant that he was totally believable wielding that powerful hammer.
It wasn’t just Hemsworth who was stepping out into the unknown however, director Kenneth Branagh had never directed such a loud, relentless action film – they were both virgins of the genre and thankfully this never showed.
From the excellent special effects which were used to create Thor’s home-world of Asgard, to the excellent casting of Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddlestone as Thor’s father and evil brother Loki respectively, everything felt right.
It wasn’t until Thor was banished to earth that the film started to partially unravel. His interactions with love interest Natalie Portman and scientist Stellan Skarsgard felt incomplete and sorely lacking in comparison to the bright lights of Asgard, and for that reason, the Norse superhero can make it no further than 4th place on this fortnight’s list.
3. X2: Bryan Singer, 2003
It was a real toss-up between X2 and the film placed ahead as to which would take the bronze and silver medals. However, X2 lost out through just a few minor details.
Bryan Singer had already proved he was the perfect choice to helm a marvel flick after completing his work on the first X-Men film three years prior. The majority of the cast also returned as ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ and had a blast this time around.
It just about eclipsed its predecessor in about every way. Improved special effects, improved acting, improved costumes, improved story – the list is endless.
Unfortunately, some poor direction choices which meant that certain mutants namely Angel, who were featured in much of the marketing and promotion material, were sorely lacking in the film and had very little screen-time. Because of this, many fans and critics slated that aspect of the film, including myself, and for that reason, it receives a bronze medal in this fortnight’s list.
2. Iron Man: Jon Favreau, 2008
As with Kenneth Branagh, Jon Favreau was a relative newcomer to the genre back in 2008 when he took the reins of the Iron Man franchise. Thankfully, his snappy direction was the perfect match for Marvel’s egotistical hero and to this day, Iron Man remains the second most commercially successful of any Marvel film, after its sequel.
Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow signed on immediately as Tony Stark and his assistant Pepper Potts respectively and they were simply a match made in heaven. The fact that the rest of the cast were pretty superfluous didn’t really matter as Downey Jr was a law unto himself. He commanded every scene he was a part of, which is definitely no bad thing.
The addition of Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane was a breath of fresh air, finally a villain that didn’t need to be a young evil force, he was simply a man trying to make a little money, and he didn’t mind being a bit deceitful along the way.
A sequel was released in 2010 and whilst it failed to live up to the original, it generated enough hype to become Marvel’s biggest film.
1. X-Men: First Class: Matthew Vaughn, 2011
So, for another fortnight we have reached the spot which every Olympian dreams of, the gold medal.
After Bryan Singer’s surprise departure from the X-Men franchise after the critical and commercial success that was X2, the series suffered some serious lapses. X-Men: The Last Stand was released in 2006 and whilst it added more mutants than ever before, it lacked a coherent plot and story, and was simply a showcase for the prowess of CGI effects.
Then in 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released on the unsuspecting public. It symbolised everything that was wrong with Hollywood and was a shameless cash-in on the X-Men name and the popular mutant it featured. Whilst it was a moderate commercial success, it fared worse critically with many saying: “Hugh Jackman gives his all, but he can’t help X-Men Origins: Wolverine overcome a cliché-ridden script and familiar narrative.”
Thankfully all was redeemed in 2011 with the release of X-Men: First Class. Helmed by Michael Vaughn, it restored the faith of millions of fans across the globe. Featuring an all-star cast with the likes of Kevin Bacon, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, along with a relatively then unknown Jennifer Lawrence, it was an action-packed film from start to finish.
However, perhaps the most fascinating part of this rollercoaster blockbuster was its setting. It was a prequel to the three films that preceeded it and completely erased Origins from the minds of viewers, which ended up being a smart move. It exceeded expectations and Bryan Singer returns in 2014 with a sequel X-Men: Days of the Future Past.
What are your thoughts on this fortnight’s edition of MM Top 5? As always, leave a comment in the box below, I reply to them all!