Marvel Studios have been responsible for creating some of the biggest box office draws in recent years with their variety of super hero movies taking over from the action movies that preceded them as some of the highest earning films in the world. Beginning as Marvel Films in the early 1990s, the studio originally turned their comic book properties into animated cartoons and with the likes of Spider-Man and the X-Men they created popular and long running animated series. The studio began venturing into movies in the late 1990s with co-productions alongside large studios and began going it alone in 2008. Here are Six of the Best…
6. Spider-Man 2 (2004). The best of the Sam Raimi trilogy, Spider-Man 2 contained some decent CGI and great stunt work as well as a deeper, more emotional story than the first movie. It’s funny and the ‘spidey cam’ looks great. It’s just a shame that Raimi went on to ruin all the good work in his third movie.
5. X-Men: First Class (2011). The fifth instalment in the X-Men series, First Class is an origins story set in the early 1960s. The movie features younger versions of the characters made famous in the comics, cartoons and earlier films which allowed a vast array of terrific young actors to make the characters their own. Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult provide some dramatic depth and Jane Goldman and Mathew Vaughn’s screenplay is one of the strongest a super hero movie has offered. Excellent effects round off a well above average movie.
4. Thor (2011). Kenneth Branagh’s slightly camp but very fun ‘Gods on Earth’ story was in my opinion the strongest pre-Avengers movie that Marvel produced. Chris Hemsworth makes a great lead character and Tom Hiddleston is a revelation as the evil brother. Some beautiful off world CGI and exciting, funny Earth bound action help to make Thor a movie I’d watch again and again and like the best comic book films, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
3. Blade (1998). A co-production with New Line Cinema, Blade was Marvel’s first foray into live action movies and is also one of the studio’s most adult films. Wonderfully bloody and at the time, ultra modern, the Blade character took on cult status with the movie spawning two sequels. With extreme camera angles and violent, bloody fight scenes, the film became part of the Fight Club generation of gritty, grubby films which attracted high praise and multiple viewings.
2. Iron Man 3 (2013). The most recent Marvel film and the best in the hugely successful Iron Man series, Iron Man 3 is also Marvel’s funniest film to date. Coming off the back of the poor showing in Iron Man 2, the third instalment got back on track thanks to a more fleshed out story which didn’t rely solely on the charm and arrogance of its central character. At times moving and at other times laugh out loud funny, it’s hugely entertaining and only slightly tarnished by an overly long, unnecessary final fight sequence.
1. The Avengers (2012). What else could be number one but the culmination of Marvel’s work over the last decade? Bringing together multiple characters from their smash hit films, Marvel created a film which not only made over $1.5 billion at the box office but was also well received critically. Worries about egos and screen time were brushed aside as the characters gelled perfectly to create some massively entertaining sequences and very funny moments. They also managed to get the Hulk right after two previous failures. The benchmark by which all big budget movies will be judged for years to come, The Avengers is the best Marvel have produced to date. It also gets extra points for a certain female character's costume design.