The X-Men Films: Best to Worst

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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Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

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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Blurry Visions: My Thoughts on the Leaked Avengers Endgame Footage

A few days ago blurry cellphone footage of an early Avengers: Endgame screening leaked onto sites like Reddit and Twitter. Disney was quick to issue takedowns, but if you were fast or crafty enough, you could find it and watch it. My venue for watching it no longer has the video, but if you are patient, you likely can find the leak somewhere. I decided to write a post about what was in the footage, and my thoughts about what this means will happen in the movie.

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Movie Review – Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (2019)
Written by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman & Meg LeFauve
Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

Vers is a confused member of the Kree Empire, mentored by Yon-Rogg and member of the elite Starforce that seeks out the Skrull menace for elimination. A mission to a planet in the Kree’s vast empire ends up with Vers taken by the Skrull, and her memories probed for information on a woman whose identity is unknown to Vers. A series of memories are reactivated, and Vers realizes her destiny awaits her on planet Earth. After a rough crash landing, Vers meets SHIELD agent Nick Fury and the two team up to help the alien visitor learn more about the mystery woman in her past and who Vers truly is.

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Movie Review – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Written by Phil Lord & Rodney Rothman
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, & Rodney Rothman

Spider-Man is the main hero of New York City and has been for decades. Meanwhile, Miles Morales is just a talented kid reluctantly attending a boarding school for the scientific minded. During a late excursion to tag a prime piece of real estate in the subway tunnels, Miles is bitten by a strange spider and begins to develop strange powers as a result. When Miles returns to the scene of the incident, he ends up dead center in a battle between Spider-Man and a host of villains in the employ of the Kingpin. The fight ends with Miles squarely set to inherit the mantle and in need of training. The result of Kingpin’s experiments is that the fabric of the multiverse is broken and a host of other Spider-people have found their way to Miles’ dimension. The clock is ticking as reality crumbles, and in a very short amount of time, our protagonist must learn to be the hero his universe needs him to be.

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Movie Review – Ant-Man & The Wasp

Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018)

Written by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd & Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari

Directed by Peyton Reed

Scott Lang has been under house arrest for two years, captured and extradited back to the United States after his role in Captain America’s insurrection. Lang only has a couple days left in his sentence when he is hit with visions of Janet van Dyne, the presumed dead wife of the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym. Before he knows it Lang is sneaking out of his home aiding Pym and his daughter Hope. They are trying to keep ahead of the pursuing FBI, a criminal cartel, and the mysterious phasing villain Ghost.

Ant-Man & The Wasp is not a terrible film, it’s a perfectly middle of the road, formulaic forgettable fare. What keeps the movie somewhat engaging is the always charismatic Paul Rudd and the film’s willingness to acknowledge some of the absurd tropes of the superhero genre. These elements were present in the first film but here there are moments where the director allows them to run wild. There are some short improvisational moments involving the trio of fellow ex-cons that work alongside Lang. The humor feels strained to say the least near the end of the picture.

If you step back and look at the picture as a whole, you find there is very little there other than an extremely stretched out plot that amounts to about 90 mins worth of material made to work for over two hours. There’s a car chase that is prolonged by playing with the shrinking and growing powers of our title characters but after a few iterations you sort of get the point and wonder what else there is to offer. I wasn’t an overjoyed fan of Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity War however both of those films do a much better job of creating emotional investment in characters because the stakes feel genuinely high. I never once felt that Lang and his cohorts were actually in peril. Maybe this is by design, but after seeing how wide in scope Infinity War reached it causes Ant-Man to feel diminished.

All of this said, Ant-Man highlights one of the problems in the ongoing DC V Marvel film debate. Ant-Man & The Wasp has much more in common with Richard Donner’s classic Superman film than a single picture released by Warner Brothers in the last six years. Donner managed to balance humor and more serious material which is what makes Superman a very charming film. While Peyton Reed doesn’t ascend to those heights he does remember something Mr. Snyder has forgotten: These movies should be fun.

Movie Review – Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo

avengers-infinity-war

All of reality is threatened as the mad titan Thanos seeks out the Infinity Gems, objects forged in the creation of the universe that allows their wielder to manipulate everything from time to the fabric of reality and the very soul of living beings. Iron Man stands alongside Doctor Strange and Spider-Man when Thanos’ lackeys arrive in New York City to search for one of the gems. Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Galaxy come across what remains of the Asgardians and Thor deep in the void of space. Captain America and his rogue Avengers also come to the table when it becomes clear everything they know is in danger as long as Thanos is in possession of these items. Only Gamora, with her intimate knowledge as Thanos’ daughter, can help them, but is it already too late?

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Movie Review – Black Panther

Black Panther (2018)
Written by Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole
Directed by Ryan Coogler

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Prince T’Challa is still mourning his father’s death in the wake of Captain America: Civil War and he must be coronated the new monarch of Wakanda. After defeating his single challenger, M’Baku of the Mountain Gorilla Tribe. As his first act as the king, T’Challa decides to bring in fugitive Ulysses Klaue who is guilty of murdering multiple Wakandans and stealing their precious Vibranium. This leads our hero into crossing paths with Everett Ross again who becomes embroiled in the current drama overtaking the kingdom. Among Klaue’s ranks is an even more significant threat with deep ties to Wakanda and could be the undoing of everything T’Challa is fighting for.

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Movie Review – Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost
Directed by Taika Waititi

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Since the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor the God of Thunder has been traveling across the Nine Worlds and the universe in search of the Infinity Stones with no luck. Meanwhile, his brother Loki has been posing as Odin since Thor: The Dark World. The two siblings are confronted with a significant change to the status quo in Asgard. The results of this shake-up send them hurtling across the universe to Sakaar, a junk planet run by The Grandmaster, the host of the Contest of Champions. Thor finds himself reconnecting with an old friend and discovering that another lost Asgardian has made their way to this strange corner of the galaxy. It will be up to Thor to gather a ragtag group of heroes to reclaim his home. Or, will the prophecy of Ragnarok, the death of the gods, come to pass?

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Movie Review – Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Written by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley, Jon Watts & Christopher Ford, and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers
Directed by Jon Watts

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Peter Parker is riding the high from helping out Iron Man during the events of Captain America: Civil War. With his new Stark designed Spidey suit, he patrols Queens every afternoon after school and awaits the call for his next mission with the Avengers. However, he quickly learns that the primary focus of Tony Stark is for Peter to continue with his education and stay safe. Meanwhile, former salvage worker Adrian Toomes and his crew have had their livelihood taken from them by the newly formed Department of Damage Control, feds who come in and take over the recovery of tech from Avengers-related battles. Seeing that they are living in a new world, Toomes leads his men to steal and harvest this tech as weapons for ordinary criminals. Toomes himself wears a pair of vulture wings that allow him to swoop in and hijack shipments of technology. Peter and Toomes’ paths begin crossing, and our teenage hero has balance life as a high school student with the impending danger of these new weapons.

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