- Iron Man 3 (2013)
Not everyone liked the fact that (spoiler warning) Ben Kingsley’s fearsome Mandarin turns out to be just a low-grade actor with an eye for easy cash. But for me, it worked. Mostly. Moreover, I really liked the idea of Downey’s Tony Stark trying to be a hero without his Iron Man suit—and the wise-cracking relationship he has with the kid Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins). The latter would foreshadow the mentor-mentee relationship Stark develops with a young Peter Parker later.
- Captain Marvel (2019)
Captain Marvel’s not a bad film, but it might be the most overrated one in the MCU canon. While I thought Brie Larson did a fine job with the main character, infusing Carol Danvers with a wry sense of humor, the character itself felt just too powerful for her own good. And, more than any of the films that came before, Captain Marvel felt more like a bridge movie than a stand-alone story—a way to introduce a game-changing player just in time for Avengers: Endgame. I’m looking forward to see how Marvel develops this character in the future, but Ms. Marvel’s first entry fell a little short.
- Thor (2011)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Ah, the Ant-Man movies. In a cinematic universe brimming with cosmic-crushing forces and larger-than-life superheroes, Ant-Man’s entries feel, appropriately, smaller. Sillier. Less consequential. But while Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man may not have the gravitas of some others in the MCU, his heart—especially his commitment to his daughter—more than makes up for it. I hope that Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp character (ahem) grows in the movies to come.
- Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)
The newest MCU film is as much a love story as it is a superhero flick—a vibe we saw in Spider-Man: Homecoming, too. But here, the action feels almost like an afterthought. The romance between Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and M.J. (Zendaya) takes the spotlight, leaving Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio and the rather cookie-cutter Elementals out in the shadows. And, like Captain Marvel, it suffers a bit in its proximity (both in narrative and on our real-world calendar) to Endgame.