Written by Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Sony ran everything off the rails with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. After handing over partial control of Spider-Man to Marvel, you’d think they would just coast on that and let the money come in. However, they began looking at the other characters they got as part of their licensing deal and settled on making a Venom movie and a Miles Morales animated picture. While the Miles Morales decision made sense to me, I was a little confused about a solo Venom picture. The Venom character exists as an evil version of Spider-Man, a trope that is present all throughout comic books (Superman:: Bizarro, Green Lantern:: Sinestro, Flash:: Professor Zoom). To feature Venom without the character, he’s defined in opposition to doesn’t sound like a formula for success.
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Big Hero 6 (2014)
Written by Jordan Roberts, Robert L. Baird, and Dan Gerson
Directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams
In 2004, Pixar released The Incredibles, a superhero film ahead of the curve with Iron Man and the MCU not launching until four years later. My first thoughts after the end credits rolled were that Brad Bird and company had succeeded in making the best Fantastic Four film, which would be proven correct when Fox released the groaningly terrible FF live-action movie in 2005. Bird understood the core essence of these characters and about the fundamentals of what drives kids of all ages to lose themselves in an afternoon of comic book reading.
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Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers
Directed by Jon Watts
Spider-Man is a character who has many phases in his life, unlike Batman and Superman, who are static in their development for the most part. Right now Superman is married with a son in the comic books, yet I anticipate the time will come where the reset button is hit, and that is erased. While many a Robin has come and gone and developed in their unique ways, Batman is never changing, always returning to his starting position. When looking over Peter Parker’s life, there are the high school years, the college years, the married years; the shivers clone saga and eventual reset, the successful businessman phase. Parker is dynamic and grows yet for the movie-going public nothing quite beats high school Spider-Man. He is reflective of our foibles and awkwardness, forced to choose between a normal life and one as a hero.
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Since May 2002 there have been seven Spider-Man films released in theaters, not to mention his appearances in Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame. He’s been the star of dozens of animated television series and the star of multiple comic book titles since 1962. With the latest film hitting theaters, I thought I would give the movies my rankings.
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Dark Phoenix (2019)
Written & Directed by Simon Kinberg
If a superhero is released in theaters without the promise of a dozen sequels, does it matter if we see it?
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This is a legitimate question to ask ourselves in an age of perpetually existing cinematic universes. The X-Men franchise has always been an odd duck in the post-MCU landscape, with its muddled timelines and no strong throughline existing between films. Days of Future Past (2014) was the most successful in terms of box office crossing the $700 million line, but I don’t ever see too many people talk about how much they enjoyed that film. I found it to be okay, a competently made follow up to the much better First Class. The most successful movies in Fox’s superhero stable have the tangentially connected near-spoofs of Deadpool and Deadpool 2, with the bleak dystopian Logan not far behind. The X-Men team itself has suffered not just from a lack of continuity but in a stable roster of characters for audiences to become emotionally invested in. Nothing that Dark Phoenix does helps remedy these problems and leaves a sour taste in the mouth upon its conclusion.
Today marks the end of an era. Nineteen years ago on July 14th, 2000 the first X-Men film was released by 20th Century Fox. This was only the second Marvel property to be adapted to movie screens after 1998’s Blade, and it would go on to inspire a whole industry of comic book films that are still being made today. Since that first movie, Fox has continually come back to the well putting out more installments in the X-Men franchise as well as better and more successful spin-offs with the characters of Wolverine and Deadpool. With Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, it’s become inevitable that these mutant characters are going to be reintroduced as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What that means is that today’s release of Dark Phoenix will be the last Fox X-Men movie. I decided to present my list of best to worst X-Men movies to mark this moment. I will not include the Wolverine or Deadpool pictures because I want to focus solely on the X-Men as a team.
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Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Written by Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus
Directed by Anthony & Joseph Russo
Three weeks have passed since the mad titan Thanos gained the six Infinity Stones and snapped his fingers erasing half of all life in the universe. The Avengers were sent reeling as they watched their friends and loved ones dissolve into dust before their eyes. Having faced the greatest tragedy in human existence, Captain America feels powerless to solve the problem, and this is exacerbated when Tony Stark confronts him. The team manages to locate Thanos on the planet of his refuge but quickly find that only taking down the villain doesn’t solve the more significant existential problem. The greater goal would be to reverse the actions of the Stones, but this will mean they must gather them all. A journey begins that will span the entire scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and signals the final battle of many great heroes.
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