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« Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review | Main | The Faces of Jude »

Posterized: Marvel Cinematic Universe

This weekend sees the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the third film in Marvel's Phase 2 of movies seemingly designed to introduced an expanding roster of comic book figures into a multi-film universe for the rest of human history. Confirming this latter point, Marvel film impresaro Kevin Feige mentioned (jokingly? seriously?) in an interview published this week that his brain trust has a line-up of films planned, potentially, up to 2028. Now, whether anybody genuinely things that having that kind of long game planned out is remotely practical, if Marvel is just thinking out loud, or if they're genuinely just that hubristic, nobody can say at this point. And cannot say for 14 years. But the fact that Feige can even joke about it says that Marvel plans to be in it for the long haul.

So it's undoubtedly premature, but with CA: TWS coming in as the ninth film in the overall series, it gives us the exact right number of titles so far to run the series through the Film Experience's patented Posterized system.

How many have you seen?

Starting things off

Iron Man (2008) - $318,412,110 domestic, $266, 762,121 overseas
It was only six years ago, but it's already kind of hard to remember what a chance Marvel was taking on a mostly unknown superhero played by an actor with no meaningful box-office history. That the film did so well and helped to reignite the entire superhero genre speaks to its lightning-in-a-bottle quality; from where I stand, it's still clearly the best film in the franchise

The Incredible Hulk (2008) - $134,806,913 dom, $128,620,638 os
The closest to a flop in the whole bunch, back from the days when the audience didn't quite know where this whole thing was going.

Iron Man 2 (2010) - $312,433,331 dom, $311,500,000 os
A critical moment: even though pretty much everybody agrees it's nowhere near as good as the first, everybody still saw it. And you'll note that it was almost exactly as big overseas as in the States, the clearest sign that things had taken off and there was no going back.

Brand explosion

Thor (2011) - $181,030,624 dom, $268,295,994 os
The numbers don't look astonishing, but at this point, Marvel was basically going out of its way to come up with characters that had never made any real impact in the non-comics world. I'm no fan of either Thor film, but I will confess to being impressed that the studio was able to make such weirdness so palatable to so many people.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) - $176,654,505 dom, $193,915,269 os
A film that delights me more than it probably should, largely on the basis of the "Star-Spangled Man" number; and redeeming the seemingly unredeemable Chris Evans with a role he fit so unexpectedly well didn't hurt. The numbers weren't great, but the character wasn't an easy sell overseas.

The Avengers (2012) - $623,357,910 dom, $895,237,000 os
And just like that, we hit the silly place: a movie that made such a titanic amount of money that it almost can't be believed, striking a chord with audiences as only happens a couple of times a decade.

Phase 2 begins

Iron Man 3 (2013) - $409,013,994 dom, $806,426,000 os
The afterglow of The Avengers is easy to see in the box office, but the film's reception was a bit mixed: mostly liked, but with one of those particularly vocal jeering sections. Myself, I though its Shane Black snark was enough to make it better than its juggernaut of an older sibling.

Thor: The Dark World (2013) - $206,314,559 dom, $438,421,000 os
The same, with a larger jeering section, and less of a financial bump over its predecessor than many were predicting. Clearly not enough to trigger the downfall of the brand, or anything like that.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) - ?
Terrific reviews and a massive first week overseas all but guarantees this one will be better-liked and more successful than Thor: TDW. But let me turn it over to you:

How many have you seen? How do you rank them? Are you, like me, more terrified than excited at the thought of another decade and half of the things?

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Reader Comments (27)

8. Satisfied so far, unlike the two attempts so far (Green Lantern and Man of Steel 1) to build something like that for DC Comics.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

None! If I were in a different site, I know I would be immediately banned for life.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I'm always interested in origin stories so I've seen the first film in each series; not really interested in sequels as they tend to rehash the same crap over and over. My favourite one by far is The Avengers mainly because it's something all movies in this genre should be: fun.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

All but the "Hulk", but only 4 in the Theaters (IM3, Avengers, Thor 1 & 2.)

Thor 2 had the bad timing to be the 2nd half of our bill that day. The first half being 12 Years a Slave, so, uh, that didn't exactly work.

Otherwise, they... are... fun (?) in a Big Dumb Summer Action Flick.

Now get me Ruffalo and Evans in some Super Action, and we would REALLY be thrilled.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267


I seriously don't get the rave reviews for CA:TWS. It's the worst script of all nine movies so far, and hopes to distract you from, that with plenty of big explosions and fights.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

Seen them all! And only one (Hulk) not in theaters! Though to be honest I was ready to not be too fanboy about Marvel right after Iron Man 2. Then they announced Whedon directing Avengers and that was it for me. And they got me forever.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I've seen all of them except CA: WS, which I'll be seeing tomorrow. I would say they don't hold a candle to the best films of the superhero genre (X2, Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight Trilogy, etc) but I've mildly enjoyed most of them (TIH and CA being the exceptions... Although I'll be re-watching the latter for the first time since theaters tonight, so that might change). Hell, I even though IM3 and Thor were pretty damn good.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

I've only seen Iron Man.

Peggy Sue, I bow down to you.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

High five, Peggy Sue! I haven't seen any of them either.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

4. Best to worst: Iron Man, Avengers, Thor, Iron Man 2.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercash

All of 'em, but I've been a Marvel fan for a long time.

Best to Worst

The Avengers
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (we'll see how it sits after a while)
Iron Man
Iron Man 3
Thor: The Dark World
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2

Kinda funny how the grouping works.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNate T

All except the Hulk and all in cinema.
Iron Man is the best but it was Thor being so much better than expected, given the weird subject, that made me see everything since then.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVaus

I've seen 5, and will see CA:WS this week. The ones I haven't seen are the Iron Man ones. I tried to struggle through the DVD of the first one, but for some reason I found it unbearably boring and pointless.

My favorite actors in these are Edward Norton, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, and Mark Ruffalo. These are actors that I also like in other things.

The women don't fare so well in these movies, but I've liked Liv Tyler, Hayley Atwell, and Scarlett Johanson. What I'd like to see is for them to go a Battlestar Galactica way instead of a Star Trek way. A movie with 6 women superheroes and one eye candy superhero guy.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

My new year's resolution was not to give money to any superhero films since there honestly hasn't been a single one in my mind that rises to the level of greatness. Most are mediocre to horrible, so I'm staying away from the new Capt. American, even if it is getting ok reviews.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

Seen them all, with the Avengers being the turning point for me. Every movie before I'm sort of ambivalent, but I loved the Avengers and really liked all the Phase Two movies, with CA:TWS being the best of the new ones.

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpaco.

I've seen 5. I think what helps me draw the line between "fun" and "good" is that the films connect yet work independently. I have not seen Hulk, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, or the new Captain America and don't feel pressured to do so if I want to see the next Avengers. In that sense the series is more like an older sitcom than the newer, totally interconnected shows we're all watching on TV.

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDusty

I've seen "iron man", "the incredible hulk" and "the avengers", and don't plan to see more of them, cause I think I've had enough of this genre. (I'm want to watch the new "x-men" though)

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Just saw Winter Soldier, which means I've seen all nine, and each one on a big screen. Weird, since I'm more of a DCU fan.

Iron Man
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Avengers
Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Thor | Iron Man 3
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Thor: The Dark World

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

U know what i sit there during these films and think "I just don't care"

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

Captain America is given a big pass by film buffs despite the fact that it turns WWII into kitschy Rocketeer cheese. Sorry, if a film is that dependent on history, I like it a little more realistic. Just imagine if Spielberg had made it. Not a bad film, just an exceedingly generic one.

The Incredible Hulk is definitely the worst. Corrects some of the problems that Ang Lee's version possessed and creates a bunch of new ones, primarily because they were trying too hard to correct said problems.

Iron Man 2 is mediocre, but the character work within is severely underrated. It's basically a Tony Stark character study from beginning to end, with a bunch of Avengers tie-ins thrown in.

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertony

I've seen six mostly because these movies keep getting Oscar nominated for Visual Effects and because I love X-Men and was willing to give these other Marvel superheroes a chance. I missed The Incredible Hulk, Thor 2 and the newest Captain America. I'd rank the six I've seen thusly:

1. Iron Man - pretty good movie that was understandably overshadowed by the vastly superior The Dark Knight that summer.
2. Thor - I liked Kenneth Branagh's direction and the fish-out-of-water bits were funny the first time around.
3. Captain America - the old fashioned fun was pretty good although I thought the villain was underused.
4. The Avengers - here's where I finally realized that none of these superheroes are really that interesting. This movie may as well be subtitled "Superheroes Compare Dick Sizes"
5. Iron Man 3 - better than the first sequel but ridiculously over the top even for a superhero movie.
6. Iron Man 2 - this is popcorn entertainment that isn't entertaining.

I gave Iron Man and Thor a "B" and CA a "B-" but then the rest are C range at best.

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean Troutman

I would be with Peggy Sue, but Robert Redford is getting me in the door for TWS. I'm watching the first Captain America today, but I probably don't need to do so. I'm keeping an open mind.

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I"m joining Peggy Sue and Jan in the VIP section.

And I suspect I'll stay there.


April 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

All except the new Thor and the new Captain America.

April 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

I have seen all except The Incredible Hulk and Captain America: Winter Soldier (which I should be seeing in the next week or two. My favorite in order:

1. Thor
2. Iron Man
3. The Avengers
4. Captain America: The First Avenger
5. Iron Man 3
6. Iron Man 2
7. Thor: The Dark World

I really like all of these a lot (even Iron Man 2), except for Thor: The Dark World, which I thought was all right, but was quite strange and confusing.

April 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJerry Maguire

Saw Iron Man 1 & 2 and CA1. After the latter two and the mildly disappointing TDKR I've sworn off superheroes. Never was a fan but they're so butt-numbingly bloated and superficially serious I can't even enjoy them as escapism anymore. Life is too short for bad movies.

April 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

I've seen all of them- the best is" The Avengers" the ultimate Marvel super hero movie

April 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

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