Over the past 10 years or so, Marvel has become one of America’s best loved brands. Their characters have always been popular of course, but no-one could have guessed that a movie based on The Avengers would eventually become the 4th highest grossing movie of all time (and it was 3rd until Chris Pratt and his merry band of dinosaurs came along).
2015 has been another stellar year for Stan Lee and co, with the brilliant Avengers: Age of Ultron and the surprisingly brilliant Ant-Man both hitting screens (let’s just forget about Fantastic Four for now…).
All of which got us to thinking: what are the best 5 Marvel films? We’ve got plenty to choose from now, so for a bit of fun, here are the 5 we’ve settled on. We know a lot of you will probably disagree, so please share your list with us in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter!
And now, without further ado…
#5: Iron Man
The film that started it all. Put simply, there would be no Marvel Cinematic Universe without Iron Man; it was the first self-financed Marvel Studios film and it made over $500 million at the box office, convincing film bosses that superheroes + fun = profit.
This is essentially the film that established the Marvel Studios formula we know and love: big action, a lot of humour and a charismatic leading man.
And what a leading man Robert Downey Jr is. Just a year after Christian Bale gloomed up our screens as Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight, RDJ gave us a very different take on a vigilante billionaire – and the world lapped it up. 7 years on, he remains possibly the most popular Avenger of them all.
Fun fact: A lot of the dialogue in Iron Man is completely ad-libbed, as most of the pre-production focused on the story and action. Robert Downey Jr. was a natural, of course.
#4: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Although we love most of the Marvel characters on their own, it’s much better when they’re together as it brings out the best in the less interesting characters (you know who we mean). Plus, it means we get to see HULK!
Age of Ultron isn’t quite as good as the original but it’s still a great film, with James Spader particularly menacing as the main villain.
The real highlight, of course, is the gradually emerging rifts between our heroes, particularly Iron Man and Captain America. That, we’re promised, is going to be explored a lot more in Captain America: Civil War (now with added Spider-Man!).
Fun fact: The first Age of Ultron trailer was viewed an incredible 34 million times in the 24 hours after it was released.
#3: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
On paper, Captain America isn’t the most interesting of superheroes. He doesn’t have the charisma of Tony Stark, the supernatural powers of Thor or the sheer bone-crushing rage of Hulk.
Yet The Winter Soldier is probably the most interesting of all the solo Marvel movies. Rather than focusing on epic-scale fight sequences, the film plays out like a spy thriller with poor old idealistic Steve Rodgers at the centre of it all. Not only does he have to contend with the fact that he’s no longer in the 40s, he also has to deal with his old best mate who happens to be a killing machine! Still, at least he has Black Widow for company.
It’s also great to see American screen legend Robert Redford on form as a slightly shady member of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Fun fact: Anthony Mackie, a massive comic book fan, reportedly emailed Marvel repeatedly asking to be in one of their films. Eventually, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige offered him a role in The Winter Soldier.
#2: Guardians of the Galaxy
All signs pointed to Guardians of the Galaxy being Marvel’s first big flop. It’s based on an obscure franchise that only the most ardent of comic book fans were familiar with, one of the characters is a talking raccoon and its main star is the lovable but distinctly unsuperhero-like Chris Pratt (best known at that point for playing Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation).
How wrong the doubters were. Guardians turned out to be one of Marvel’s most entertaining films, combining the space-opera dramatics of Star Wars with a quirky and irreverent sense of humour.
Oh, and Chris Pratt ended up becoming one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men. Marvel truly does know best.
Fun fact: Vin Diesel claims he recorded the ‘I am Groot’ line over 1,000 times.
#1: Avengers Assemble
Well, we couldn’t really put anything else first, could we? Avengers Assemble is the perfect superhero movie, mixing huge action sequences with a sense of fun a lot of superhero movies lost after The Dark Knight (which is still a brilliant film, of course).
Marvel couldn’t have done it better. They built it up perfectly with little teasers in each of the films leading up to it and then handed it over to possibly the greatest geek director of all time: Joss Whedon. Luckily, he was more than capable of handling the hugely ambitious plot.
We’d spend more time raving about how good it is, but to be honest we think you should just drop what you’re doing and watch it.
Fun fact: According to Tom Hiddleston, the working title for Avengers Assemble was ‘Group Hug’. Aww.