I got bored recently, as I so often do. So, I decided to put rewatch the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just to put something on in the background while I worked. Maybe I’ll watch those new shows on Disney+ when I’m done, who knows?
I’ve got a lot of nostalgia for these movies. I still remember seeing Iron Man 1 when it first came out. Since then, Marvel movies became a big part of my childhood. My father had the original Star Wars trilogy. I had the MCU.
But while rewatching these movies, I realized something. Something that made my inner child upset.
Phase 1 is kind of terrible.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s got its upsides. Iron Man 1 is a fantastic movie (ignoring that terrible third act) and the first Avengers still holds up incredibly well! Unfortunately, those are only two movies. Out of six.
Now, I’ve talked about all these movies before. I did a little marathon before Endgame came out. So I won’t go into too much depth here. Not that I went very deep into it then, either; I was still figuring all this blogging stuff out at the time.
We all know Iron Man 1 was great. Sure, that third act was garbage. But it was redeemed by the rest of the film and that fantastic ending. Honestly, I don’t think Phase 1 would’ve gotten off the ground if not for how good this movie is.
And it’s a god damn miracle that it continued. Because Incredible Hulk is a thoroughly, almost irredeemably terrible movie. Not only that, but it’s pointless in the grand scheme of things! You can straight-up skip this movie and miss absolutely nothing.
Then there was Iron Man 2. Jesus, this movie was a mess. The entire blood disease plotline was pointless, the villains never shut up and their dialogue sucks, and the action is underwhelming at best. But hey! It gave us War Machine. So… that’s a plus.
I only wish I didn’t have to sit through two hours of bullshit to get there.
Thor is… well, it sucks. Not only is the dialogue like stiff cheese, but almost the whole movie is shot with Dutch angles! It’s like they were using a limping tripod! Who looked at this and said “Yeah, that’s good! Release it!”
Captain America is only slightly better. The first act is great! But then we get the rest. Whoever thought the whole “Captain America becomes an actor in stage propaganda for five painful minutes of montage” was a good idea needs to be fired. So does whoever put together the action montage. Most people in the editing room should’ve been fired is all I’m saying. But the ending is good! So… that’s a plus!
Then there’s the first Avengers. It’s good. We all know that.
I find it interesting to think about, considering how big the rest of the MCU is. When you ask someone what their favorite movie in the series is, they’ll typically answer with something from phases two or three. Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming or Far From Home, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so on and so forth. Phase 1 seems to go completely forgotten in the grand scale of things.
It’s doubly fascinating when you consider that those movies wouldn’t exist without Phase 1. Somehow, despite how terrible The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America were (and make no mistake, those movies were terrible), the MCU persevered. Against all odds, these movies managed to succeed enough to bring us to the first Avengers.
Honestly, that makes that movie even better! You could tell that the first Avengers really was the make-or-break point of the MCU. If that movie didn’t go well, if it flopped, that would’ve been it. The biggest film franchise of the 21st century wouldn’t have lived to see the peaks it would eventually reach.
In a way, Phase 1 is like medicine. It’s not good and it’s not pleasant. But once you swallow it and get it over with, you get better and get to enjoy good things.
If you count Thor: The Dark World as good things. Which you shouldn’t.