Iron Man 2 Revisited

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Marvel misfires on every cylinder with Iron Man 2.)

In the seasonal game that is ranking the Marvel movies, most folks would place the franchise’s first proper sequel near the bottom of their lists. However, at the time of its release in 2010, the film found itself sitting atop a lofty pile of over $620 million, with three out of every four reviews on Rotten Tomatoes coming in at some degree of positive. At the time, a lot of people liked Iron Man 2 just fine.

Upon re-watch, it’s fine in the most middle-of-the-road, passive-watch sense of the word. “Fine” is the descriptor that feels most apt, given that the film has neither the novel spark of its predecessor nor features the emotional heights that Marvel’s future films would eventually reach, but it also doesn’t have enough going on by way of narrative risks to drop the ball hard enough. Is that worse than a film that shoots for the moon but lands among the dirt? Arguably, though average is still average at worst. Even as a feat of world-building, it does little to expand on what came before it in both Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, but it remains at the very least a showcase for why the Marvel formula works even when it misses the mark.

If this is the worst the MCU has to offer – and it very likely is – then Marvel Studios has been doing just fine for quite some time. But it’s worth examining why exactly it failed to live up to its predecessor, and how that failure set the stage for Marvel’s future successes.

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All the Marvel Big Bads, Ranked By Badness

Black Panther Trailer

This past weekend saw the release of Marvel’s Black Panther and the debut of Michael B. Jordan’s striking new villain. So you know what that means: it’s time to update our Marvel villain ranking.

If you’re still reading, there are two things to keep in mind regarding this particularly ranking of Marvel’s bad guys. One, I’m judging them all based on Personality and Plan Points. How magnetic are they? How stupid is their plan for world domination (or whatever else they’re seeking)?

Two, Thanos isn’t on it because he doesn’t count. He’s not a villain; he’s a Postmates customer with the munchies. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to Infinity War, when he can legitimately join this list.

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spider-man in iron man 2

Back in 2010, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still an ambitious experiment somehow surviving the dire Iron Man 2 and Spider-Man was caught in a limbo between Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man. Despite their shared origins, these two franchises were never going to intersect. Sony owned Spidey and Marvel Studios was its own thing. The deal that would bring both companies together was still years, and a few poorly received Spider-Man movies, away.

That didn’t stop fans from fantasizing, though. Surely Spider-Man was somewhere to be found in the burgeoning MCU. One fan theory even suggested that a young Peter Parker showed up in the climax of Iron Man 2. And now, with Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man now a full-fledged member of the MCU, that theory has been confirmed! With a caveat.

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Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranked

It’s become a tradition at this point: whenever a new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is released, everyone ranks the movies. And now that everyone on the /Film staff has had a chance to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and spend a few days digesting it, it’s time to completely refresh our list.

We invited the site’s core staff as well as our various contributors to rank all 15 movies in the MCU, with each movie earning points based on its placement in each list. This resulted in a ranked list that reflects the site as a whole rather than the opinion of Just One Person. So here it is: the world’s most accurate ranking of Marvel Studios’ output.

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Stan Lee

Greetings, true believers. There’s yet another Marvel Cinematic Universe film tearing up the box office – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As with all MCU films, there’s world-building, in-jokes, action, adventure, and of course, the prerequisite Stan Lee cameo. For more than 40 years now, Lee has been the most recognizable public face for Marvel properties, even the ones he had nothing directly to do with. Much like the Marvel post-credit sequence, a cameo from Lee is expected from fans; fans who will inevitably lean over to their theater mates and loudly whisper, “That’s Stan Lee!” when the moment arises. 

Because I’m committed to doing world-changing, issue-driven film writing, I’ve decided to rank every single Stan Lee cameo to date from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For the sake of brevity I’ll only be dealing with the MCU films, and not the wealth of other Marvel-related films and TV projects, all of which Lee appears in one form or another. Excelsior!

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

guardians of the galaxy vol. 2 concept art

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige at the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 press junket, and we discussed a variety of things. We talked about how the Marvel tradition of post-credits scenes started, and how they are developed before, during and sometimes after filming. I also asked him about the lesson he learned working on You’ve Got Mail so many years ago (seriously!) and why he chose Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to direct Captain Marvel. I also try to make some sense of the current chronology of the current Marvel films. All this and more below!

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Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranked

In less than a decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone from an ambitious pipe dream to an inescapable box-office juggernaut. Now, as Doctor Strange kicks off the first major new sub-franchise of Phase Three, we wanted to take a look back at the fourteen films released so far. Which soared? Which fell flat on their faces? After the jump, get our rundown of all fourteen films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ranked.

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Watch This Marvel Phase One 10-Minute Retrospective Video

Marvel Phase One

We’re now completely through two phases of the Marvel cinematic universe with Ant-Man just completing the second phase this past summer. And next summer will bring the beginning of Phase Three in Captain America: Civil War on May 6th, 2016.

And since we’ve gone through three years and six Marvel movies, maybe your memory of the films of Phase One is starting to get a little hazy. If that’s the case, why not check out this 10-minute Marvel Phase One retrospective that begins with Iron Man in 2008 and runs up through the assemble of The Avengers on the big screen for the first time in 2012. Read More »

Captain America: Civil War promo art

Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War is still filming, but Disney is prepping to give us a first glimpse at next Summer’s Marvel Studios film very soon. Find out how and where the first Civil War clip will be seen (but not what is in it), after the jump. Please don’t proceed if you want to be surprised when it shows up. That is, potential spoilers ahead for upcoming Marvel movies.

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whiplash iron man 2 - Agent Carter Iron Man 2 easter egg

One of the coolest things about watching a new Marvel show or movie is finding the links to the universe. Both the movies and TV shows build these bridges on occasion. This week’s Agent Carter was no exception. There were a ton of links to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mostly centered on Captain America: The First Avenger. But there was also a pretty huge link to Iron Man 2. Did you catch it? Read about the Agent Carter Iron Man 2 easter egg below. Read More »