To prepare for Avengers: Infinity War, I’m doing a Marvel Cinematic Universe Rewatch. How else can you enjoy the payoff for all those post-credit scenes? Or remember where all the Infinity Stones Are? I’m going by the order suggested here, although there’s a larger list with all the TV shows and DVD extras here. No thanks to that – baseball season is beginning soon.
I’m also cheating by starting with The Avengers, and leaving out the “Agent Coulson Era” movies because…well, because I can. Also, I feel that the intense sense of continuity through the films – via cameos and guest stars – had yet to get fully fleshed out, and I can safely skip them. I know it’s cheating but getting through 12 movies is going to be hard enough.
THE AVENGERS (2012)
I rewatched this recently as mentioned here, but I missed a few parts, so started again. Unfortunately the version I streamed had breaks for ads, so that was annoying.
DID I FALL ASLEEP? Yes, at the exact same part I feel asleep at during my first rewatch: the big battle in the end. And I woke up at nearly the same part, just as the battle ends. I’m consistent.
DID I LIKE THE MUSIC? Sort of. I’ve been harsh about MCU scores in the past but Alan Silvestri did a decent job, but when your big horn theme comes in at 1:30 of the title music, you miss some of that cinematic whoosh you get from John Williams. Also it’s not really a theme, more of a motif.
WHAT ELSE DID I NOTICE: Loki is a total shit in this movie. I’m not sure his rehab (see below) is justified given his bad behavior here. Despite my falling asleep, the image of giant armored silverfish flying through Manhattan is very disturbing, and if I had been living here during the Battle of New York I would move the hell away ASAP. Maria Hill sure likes barking crisp orders. Nick Fury’s ruining Agent Coulson’s beloved, hard to get vintage Captain America trading card set just to give the Avengers something to avenge was low.
There was a lot of foreshadowing though. Shield’s mystery council! The Tesseract! Thanos! Definitely glad I caught up on this to enjoy the Avengers banter in a month or so.
The schwarma scene made this movie.
WOULD I REWATCH: As mentioned above, I hadn’t watched it again since opening night, but now that I have sort of seen it again I would put it on in the background while I was cleaning up, definitely.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)
I’m glad this was #2 on the list, because I’m the kind of person who likes to eat all the food I don’t like first and get it out of the way so I can enjoy the stuff I do like. T:TDW is generally considered the worst MCU movie (although some favor IRON MAN 2, which I liked, or The Incredible Hulk, which everyone forgets) and it doesn’t have a lot of fans. When I saw it in the theater I thought they did a good job with the fantasy elements but on the small screen rewatch….eh.
DID I FALL ASLEEP? Yes, during the climactic battle. Like I said, I’m consistent. I fall asleep watching TV a lot.
DID I LIKE THE MUSIC? No, the score was totally unmemorable. There’s a Thor theme?
WHAT ELSE DID I NOTICE: This is a weak film, to be charitable. The villain is bad, his motivation is cliched and all the fight scenes could be intercut with any other MCU film of the era and you wouldn’t much notice. The only thing that really held my interest was Thor and Loki’s relationship, and the shot of the real, depressed and messy Loki in prison was probably the highlight of the movie. Unfortunately the bros of Asgard teamed up to face a miserable, highly made up Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who recently mentioned how much he hated making this movie, and it shows. The other big bad was just that, a big bad guy who goes around bashing people, even though Frigga was his equal in swordplay. (Okay she is a goddess, so.)
Malekith is a villain firmly in the “You Made Oscar Isaac Ugly!!!” category: a lot of makeup and glowering and nothing else.
I found myself greatly enjoying all the talking scenes in this movie, but as soon as the CGI action started, my eyes drooped. Then I recalled that Joss Whedon was brought in to punch things up on this, and several other MCU films of the time. The Whedon touch is definitely on display in the scenes I liked, although his workload during this period evidently left him scarred for life. I would like to have seen more of Jane Foster dating Roy from the IT Crowd.
Speaking of Jane Foster, she’s now lost to the sands of not paying another mega star, but her relationship with Darcy stands out as the only female friendship in all the MCU films. Natalie Portman put up a good fight, but I’m not surprised she’s been written out.
Speaking of written out, whatever happened to Sif? Jamie Alexander didn’t make much of an impression, and Valkyrie is clearly here to take on the shield maiden role going forth.
It’s interesting to speculate on what might have happened if Patty Jenkins had directed this movie. (She was brought on, at Portman’s urging, but soon left after “creative differences.”) If those differences involved the poor script, I don’t blame her a bit. Eventual director Alan Taylor showed his Game of Thrones chops with some good sword clashing, but Jenkins might have had a better grasp on the mythological aspects. At any rate, she was wise to depart.
Speaking of which: for all the Thor movies it was decided to play down the idea that Asgard was a mythological place full of gods to avoid offending any religions, but the mix of weirdo technology and magical powers is just a confusing mess.
Also, it just looks…bad. Frigga’s hair!
Anyhoo, Loki did steal the show, and his rehab as a guy who might go over to the good side seems legit. But it’s a good thing they don’t have Twitter in Asgard because they would never have forgotten that he killed hundreds of people in NYC. Can you imagine it?
Finally, the credits scene of the Collector starts the device whereby clever Kevin Feige has been telling the story of the Infinity Gems in end credits scene for six years!
WOULD I REWATCH: No. Please. No.
SUPPLEMENTAL: The One-Shots
During Phase One of the MCU, extra short films were placed on the DVDs that added a little background spice to the series, mostly via Agent Coulson and other Shield members. The chronology of the films suggests where to watch these, and a few are up on Vimeo, so I took a peek and aside from Agent Coulson’s Taibo in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer,” I was not impressed. I have not watched “All Hail the King” which stars the Mandarin yet though, and I love the Mandarin! I will report on that in my next post.
Marvel stopped making these shorts when they got Agents of Shield and other TV shows to throw all their extra continuity in. Overall, the One Shots are the sort of drabbish output one has come to expect from the Marvel TV division.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.