Road to Endgame: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)


Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Until the trailer dropped, I don’t think anyone was expecting anything out of this movie.  When they announced Guardians of the Galaxy, I only really knew about Rocket.  And my knowledge of him was limited to “He’s a raccoon that carries huge guns!”  Beyond that, I knew nothing about nobody.

Then the trailer hit, and it just blows up the internet.  Hell, it was so awesome, I suddenly had Hooked on a Feeling on my playlist.  I still find the completely unnecessary “Ooga Chaka” chant ridiculous.  My theory is they were trying to rip off the chanting from The Lion Sleeps Tonight and figured any chanting would do.

So as per usual, Marvel backs up a good trailer with a better movie.  Guardians of the Galaxy looked at The Avengers “We’re a timebomb” and said, “Hold my Beer.”  These people literally have tried to kill each other at various times during the movie and somehow save an entire world.  Yes, sure, GALAXY if we assume that Ronan would have continued his path of destruction.

To one up everything, they use “Friendship is Magic” to save the wor-Galaxy.  I’m still not sure whether that is awesome or lame.  TO THIS DAY!

Honestly this movie is just too hilariously awesome.  Everyone brings their own realm of comedy to the movie.  Star Lord just has his wit, Gamora is the straight man, Rocket lampshades everything, Drax is literal to the point of insanity, and Groot is Groot.  Add in that everyone has emotional depth that shows in their character that gives everything weight.

One thing that made it difficult to accept readily in the MCU was that other than introducing another infinity stone, and laying out the infinity stones in general, it felt set apart from the rest of the Earth based MCU.  We didn’t even get to see it cross paths with the other MCU characters until Infinity War.

But I guess that can be seen as building the anticipation.

So what more can I say than, “We Are Groot.”

Next we go back to earth to try and nearly destroy it again in Age of Ultron.

Road to Endgame: Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)


Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)

So This is probably my favorite MCU movie of all time.  The story is amazing and pretty much undoes the entire MCU.  How pissed were the people at Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when they had to scrap their entire organization because “The Russo Brothers have an idea. . .”

One scene that made me bust out laughing was when Nick Fury says, “The last time I trusted someone, I lost an eye.”  I just sat there for a moment processing that knowing what I know now and then just busted out laughing.

No matter how many times I watch this movie, I still enjoy the hell out of it.  Everyone brings their A game.  It also borrows themes and ideas from the comics, but brings a whole new idea to the table.

I love the interplay between Cap and Nathasha.  It’s nice to have female characters in a movie that aren’t just romace fodder for the male hero.  Honestly, the weakest points of most of the MCU movies so far have been the romances.  Pepper Potts, Betsy Ross, and Jane Foster have all been put on a bus at one point or another due to how unnecessary they were.  Agent Carter is the only one who was worth keeping around, but sadly due to plot, she also had to be written out.  They’ve improved in recent movies by having developed female characters exist outside of who they are romantic with, THEN maybe hook them up.  That is why Natasha/Bruce and Wanda/Vision work, and all the others don’t.  Though I’ll concede that Wanda/Vision needs more on screen development rather than just hooking them up because the comics dictate they do.

Honestly, it is hard to write on this movie because I love it so much.  It’s easier to write about movies that suck because I can rant endlessly on all the bad points.  When it is well done, best I can do is run down the plot and repeat, “WASN’T THAT COOL?!?” over and over and over.

I will say there is ONE stupid scene.  When that one senator from Iron Man 2 leans in and nearly kisses the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent so his can whisper, “Hail Hydra.”  Why?  Other than informing the audience he is Hydra, how does that make ANY sense?  Honestly, why even take the risk?  I get stating your allegiance, but when you put your secret organization at risk in broad daylight, you got issues.  Then again, this is operating in the same organization that puts its logo on literally everything and claims to be “covert.”

Anywho, Winter Soldier is the BEST!  Next time, WE’RE GOING TO SPACE!

Road to Endgame: Iron Man 3(2013)


Iron Man 3(2013)

I really enjoyed this movie(how many times am I going to say this line?).  Honestly it is a change of pace for the Iron Man films where he isn’t fighting another villain that eventually has his own Evil Iron Man armor.  This movie has flaws, but not to the same degree that Iron Man 2 had.

Honestly the first 80-90% of the movie is great.  The story is intriguing, there is the unfolding of a mystery.  Who is the Mandarin? What is happening with the explosions? Where does AIM and Aldrich Killian fit into all this?  On top of that, Tony is dealing with the traumatic experiences from The Avengers. It’s a really compelling character arc.

Honestly, I’m not even all that disappointed about the Mandarin being faked.

No that’s not true, I am disappointed.  Part of me does want to see that play out properly.  However, I also really like the Trevor reveal.  It’s hilarious and it makes perfect sense within the story.

Another disappointment is Aldrich Killian being the big bad SIMPLY because they didn’t think they could sell toys of Maya Hansen as the villain.  It would have been much more interesting to have that additional twist.

The part where the movie just kind of becomes a mess is the big climactic battle at the end after the President is kidnapped and the House Party Protocol is activated.  I agree with “How it Should Have Ended” and the House Party Protocol should have been activated after posting his home address on the news.  It would have saved a LOT of trouble and negated half the movie.

At this point the climax is a mess and hard to follow.  I mean like Transformers hard to follow.  It’s dark, you don’t know what’s happening, and all the armors look the same fighting a seemingly endless army of extremis soldiers who all look the same.  Not to mention all the ups and downs of the fight.

After all is said and done, Tony then makes a baffling series of decisions.  He decides to blow up all his remaining armor suits, then has surgery to finally get the shrapnel removed.  If he gave up being Iron Man, then yes, that would work, but all the remaining movies make it clear he doesn’t.  Also, why did he not get the surgery earlier.  You know, like in Iron Man 2 when he was dying from arc reactor in his chest.  Was the surgery just not available three years earlier?

Like I said, most of the movie is great, but it just kind of stumbles in the end.

Ya know, fun fact, I worked for Verizon Fios when this movie came out, and Verizon Fios is Not available in Tennessee, where the product placement primarily takes place.

Next we see probably the worst of the MCU in Thor: The Dark World.

Road to Endgame: The Incredible Hulk (2008)


The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I don’t know why, but I am usually amazed when people haven’t seen all the Marvel movies.  There are currently 21 movies, about to be 22.  There are people who haven’t seen the 8 main Star Wars movies.  But I expect them to have seen 21 movies and understand everything about the Marvel Universe?

Yes.  Because this is the tightest shit of our generation.  If you have any gaps in your viewing history before you see Endgame, you need to go correct yourself!

Admittedly, if there is a movie to leave off your Marvel viewing list, this would probably be it.  They recast the main character, and it barely connects to any of the other films.  Until Civil War came around that is.  General Thaddeus Ross returns to the MCU in Civil War and properly connects it to everything else.

This is a good movie, but has more weaknesses than the others.  It glosses over the creation of the Hulk in the opening credits.  Most of the introductory Marvel movies make it a point to have the villains be evil versions of the hero.

Iron Man faced Iron Monger.  Armor VS Armor.
Thor faced Loki.  God VS God.
Captain America faced Red Skull.  Super Soldier VS Super Soldier.
Hulk faced Abomination.  Monster VS Monster.

The CGI in this movie is pretty good.  However there are a few scenes that are just. . .cut weird.  A prime example is when Tim Ross’ character decides to square up against the Hulk and the Hulk kicks him across the field.  It looks like the Hulk just places his foot against Tim Ross and then we cut away to people’s reactions.  It just looks odd.

Edward Norton plays a pretty good Bruce Banner.  I would say great, but we’ve seen Mark Ruffalo by this point.  If we got Edward Norton in Avengers, it would have been a different Hulk.

Tim Ross plays an excellent villain, as he normally does.  However he is just a one off villain that just wants to be a better warrior.  He doesn’t have any plans or machinations, just wants to be the baddest monster around.  This doesn’t stop Tim Ross from doing a good job.

Liv Tyler does a good job, but Betsy Ross basically falls off the world after this movie.  They seem to make it clear that she is no longer Bruce’s love interest in Age of Ultron.  She doesn’t even get a footnote mention unlike Natalie Portman’s character dumping Thor in Ragnarok.

The fight between Hulk and Abomination is just freaking AWESOME.  My one complaint is that the epic line that Hulk goes with at the end is “Hulk Smash” instead of “HULK STRONGEST ONE THERE IS!”  It’s a better line to me, but is also a well known Hulk line.  Just not as Mainstream popular.

I would have liked to see a sequel with The Leader.  Hell, we can still get the Leader to pop up in a future movie.  He’s just there waiting.  Or he died on the floor when his head started growing.  One or the other.

Ultimately at the time I really enjoyed this movie, but I don’t think it has aged well.  It is a little darker and more serious than the better Marvel movies.

So in a little more than 24 hours I wrapped up Phase 1.  Tomorrow I begin Phase 2.

Road to Endgame: The Avengers (2012)


The Avengers (2012)

People love to talk about how Infinity War and Endgame are the biggest collaboration of movies ever.  However, this movie was the first.  This brought characters and plot lines from 5 different movies together for the first time and it worked.

Leading up to the film, we got another recast.  Edward Norton would not be returning as Bruce Banner.  Instead we would be getting. . .Mark Ruffalo?  That guy from the Romantic Comedies?  What are they thinking?!?

Again, so so so glad to be wrong.  Mark Ruffalo was AMAZING as the Hulk.  He was funny, he had depth, he was everything we wanted in a Hulk.  Now all we need to do is give him his own movie again.  Guys?  Anybody?  Okay.

Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor all return and aren’t diminished or altered from their own franchises.  They all just fit right into the movie like a glove.

Black Widow finally comes into her own in this movie.  In Iron Man 2 she was just so so.  Yes she kicked some ass but she seemed so lacking.  She was too much of an assistant to everybody and was not a dominating character.  She lacked personality of her own.  In this she thrives.  Hell, she is such a bad ass in this that she knocks a guy out WITH HER HAIR!

If there is one character that suffers, it is Hawkeye.  He spends most of this movie as a puppet of Loki.  As a result we just get action from him and no personality.  Hawkeye gets a MAJOR character upgrade in Age of Ultron and Civil War.

Loki makes a decent villain in this movie, but I agree that it would have been nice to have a new villain, but I don’t think a different villain would have brought Thor back.  One of Joss Whedon’s proudest moments was sneaking in the phrase Mewling Quim into a Disney film.  Look it up.  It’s fun.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the long tracking scene from the final battle.  It is just absolute art as they flow from one part of the battle to the next to the next to the next until finally ending with a HILARIOUS Punch from Hulk to Thor.  Sadly that scene got spoiled for me a bit.  I don’t remember how exactly, but there was a grainy clip showing that scene on facebook or something a few days before the movie came out.

But nothing will beat the thrill of seeing the six Avengers standing back to back while an Army screeches at them for the first time.

This movie is just amazing in its scale and what it managed to do.

Before we leave Phase 1 behind, I’m going to finally get my Fiancé to watch The Incredible Hulk.

Road to Endgame: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)


Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The Captain America movies are probably the most solid films in the MCU, outside of the Avengers films themselves.  Iron Man started the whole deal, Thor is the heaviest hitter, but Captain America is what routinely changes everything in the MCU.

When I first heard the details of Captain America, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.  Chris Evans was the scrawny Human Torch.  And a period piece?  I want to keep things in the modern era, not worrying about what happened way back in World War II.  I want to keep the interconnected ball rolling.

Boy, was I glad to be wrong.  Chris Evans stole the show as Captain America.  And of course we can’t properly tell the story of Captain America without showing his WWII origins.

I love every part of this movie.  I even love the Red Skull’s car.  It drives into the film with little slits on the headlights, as if to say, “I am the evil villain car.  FEAR ME!”

I like that Steve Rogers routinely demonstrates WHY he was meant to be Captain America.  He earned it and even after he gains the powers and abilities from the Super Soldier Serum, he still demonstrates the ideals of his comic counterpart.  Also, his main goal is protecting people.  Take notes DC.  Your boy scout needs work.

So I just got to the scene where the Nazi leaders are in the Hydra base chastising Red Skull for invading Norway.  Then he casually activates his energy cannon and kills them all.  What strikes me as odd is the cannon activates and aims for the Nazi leadership, and they just keep talking as if nothing is happening.  I’m sorry, I don’t care how technologically advanced something is in, if it looks like something is turning and pointing at me, I’m going to assume it is a cannon of some kind and act like I’m about to be shot.

This also means I’m going to duck and cover when a super advanced species tries to take my picture.

I really enjoyed how they played off all the Captain America comics where Cap punches Hitler in the face, by making it a stage show.

The biggest moment of the film comes when Captain America saves all the soldiers 107th from Hydra.  We meet the Howling Commandos, who are such interesting characters in their own right.  I wish we got more of them in a TV series or something instead of just one episode here and there for Agent Carter.

Tommy Lee Jones is also a fantastic addition to this movie.  Best part is, he isn’t even doing all that much acting.  Tommy Lee Jones is just coming in and being Tommy Lee Jones.  And winning at it.  Best lines: “Cut off one head, 2 more will-“(shotgun blast) “Lets find 2 more.”  and “I’m not gonna kiss ya!”

The biggest loss of this being a period piece is that we can’t really get these actors in future films outside of flashback.

The final climactic scene between Captain America and Red Skull is still fun to watch, but it is largely just finishing off the film and story.  I think the rescue of the 107th is the real pinnacle of the film and the remainder is sort of a plateau.

What was nice of DC to do was re-release Captain America First Avenger retitled as Wonder Woman.  It stars Captain Steve(played by Chris) doing a self sacrifice play to help save the world while talking to the woman he loves but can’t be with because he needs to destroy a plane during a World War.

The one disappointment I have with the film is that it doesn’t have a proper after credits stinger.  What we get is a teaser for The Avengers.  At the time I loved it.  I figured it was going be several months before we saw ANYTHING on the Avengers.  However, we got a proper teaser IMMEDIATELY!  I still watch it every time, but it doesn’t inspire normal people to sit and watch it.  Primarily because they are willing to just cut off the end and go right into Avengers.

Speaking of. . .

Road to Endgame: Iron Man 2(2010)


Iron Man 2 (2010)

I enjoyed this movie.  Like a lot of sequels, this one isn’t quite as good as the first one, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

I actually have gone on quite a few rants defending this movie.  I am not sure I would go to such lengths to defend it now because it is such a small footnote in a 21 movie library.  Back when there were only a handful of these movies in a small universe.

I kind of wish they would have stuck with Terrence Howard, but I’ve grown so used to Don Cheadle in the role that Iron Man 1 becomes the anomaly.

I heard that the creative process for this film was kind of a nightmare with the studio handcuffing a lot of what Jon Favreau wanted to do, which shows a little in the movie.

I would have liked to see something different from the sequel, but the studio wanted more evil Iron Men so that’s what we got.  I never really read a lot of Iron Man comics, but I know that Iron Man had more villains than just other villains in robo suits.  Fortunately we got away from those in the rest of the MCU movies.

Kind of.  Looking at you, Age of Ultron.

My favorite scene in the movie is actually the fight between Rhodey and Stark.  I think it is really the most well done and emotionally driven moments of the film.  Stark is falling back into his own ways as a matter of dealing with his impending death, and Rhodey has seen enough and realizes Stark is dangerous.  Then it becomes two best friends fighting each other which always has an emotional punch for me.

Then we get the proper War Machine Armor and that just looks so damn cool.

Sadly the fight after we see him for the first time is kinda meh.  Whiplash shows up with Whiplash Iron Monger and that’s just kind of silly.

Outside of introducing War Machine and establishing a different Rhodey, this movie doesn’t really contribute a lot to the MCU.  It also introduces Natasha Romonov to the MCU, but honestly it is kind of weak. Her appearances in the other films are much better. Still enjoyable and more Tony Stark is never a bad thing, but it could have been better.

Probably took me 9 years to admit it, but there it is.  Still check it out though.  YOU CAN’T SKIP ANY OF THEM!

Next we get the Gods in play with Thor.

Road to Endgame: Iron Man(2008)


Iron Man (2008)

This is where it all started.  I don’t think anybody buying a ticket at the time knew just how big it was going to be.  I remember getting psyched based on the trailers.  Everyone was excited because the trailers were amazing.

I saw it at Movie Tavern in my college town with some friends of mine.  I was already someone who stayed after the credits for movies.  I felt that it was a way to sort of decompress after the movie ended.  Also due to movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off leaving little extras in the credits, I made it a point to stay until the projector shut off.

Which then greeted us to the greatest stinger of all time, “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative.”  Other stingers may have been more entertaining or shocking, but this one set an expectation and built a universe that no one was expecting, but ALWAYS wanted.

I don’t think there is a MCU movie I have seen more than this one, simply by nature of being the oldest, but no matter how many times I see it, it always captures my attention.  I’ll put it on and think, “okay, I can just have it in the background and do other stuff,” but I’ll find myself watching and focused within no time.

If there are any faults in this one, I’ve long since blinded myself to them and wouldn’t be able to address them.

I know Incredible Hulk is supposed to be next, but my Fiancé hasn’t seen it and she doesn’t want to stay up to watch it, so I’m going to shelve that one for later.  Next we’re going to go with Iron Man 2.

Road to Endgame


In 2008, Iron Man arrived in theaters and with one end credits scene, changed the movie industry for the next decade or more.  For 11 years now, we’ve been watching an interconnected universe of movies build and come together 3 times.  Now we come to the 4th and maybe final time for many of these heroes.

For the last two Avengers movies, I participated in an in theater marathon watching a dozen movies that lead up to the latest Avengers movies.  So when the new movie played, I knew I was in that theater with the most die hard of fans.

Sadly this year I won’t be able to join in the festivities.  I can’t get the time off of work and due to my upcoming nuptials, I can’t justify throwing down $125+ to join the fun.

What I CAN do is watch all the movies again before it comes out, and write fancy new reviews for all of them.  I probably should have started this a week ago, but unfortunately my Phase 1 Blu-Ray set was packed away and most of the movies aren’t available for free for streaming.  Hopefully I have everything on Blu-Ray or Streaming.

Update: A couple of the movies are out of order from release date. Incredible Hulk got moved so my Fiancé could watch it with me, because she hadn’t seen it before. Captain Marvel jumped up early because we needed to see that in theaters and we couldn’t time it to just before Endgame. Infinity War got pushed back so we could rewatch it JUST before leaving for Endgame.

So to begin the long road to Endgame, lets start with the movie that started it all. . .