TALKING BACK TO THE MOVIES: The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Another TBttM series successfully brought to completion!*
Almost double the length of our previous record-holding series, The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made for a fun summer sojourn into franchise land. My co-host Gabe Levy and I (TV’s Kevin Lanigan) are ecstatic to bring you these twelve episodes that we are very proud of–or “of which you are very proud” if you gotta be that way. Each one comes with a lively discussion of blockbuster filmmaking, and many have accompanying segments about Marvel Television, in case that wasn’t enough for you. If you’ve been waiting for the series to be done to jump on board, now’s the prime time to do it.
And don’t worry: we’ll be back every few months with another episode in this series each time Marvel gets up off its butt and decides to spit out another one of these. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher, and I’ll link to each of the episodes on SoundCloud below.
#20, IRON MAN
The one that started it all. Back before Marvel became the dominant force in popular culture and the hope of an interconnected series of superhero films was nothing more than a twinkle in the eyes of some crazy people, there was one movie, one performance, and one titillating end credits tag. It all begins here.
#21, THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Truly the red-headed step-child of the MCU, THE INCREDIBLE HULK is probably better than you remember. Not great, but better than you remember. It feels a little severed and all of the performances leave a little something to be desired, but it’s still an interesting part of the still-fledgling Marvel Phase One. And with the appearance of General “Thunderbolt” Ross in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, it seems like this movie may be more important than we once gave it credit for.
#22, IRON MAN 2
What happens when your mid-budget superhero film starring someone most famous for going to rehab hits the big time? You hastily cobble together an almost unwatchable sequel. This is a Very Special Episode of Talking Back, as its the one where a combination of exhaustion and terrible filmmaking drive me to the point of near insanity. I have a bit of an actual breakdown live on the podcast for your listening pleasure. No surprise this is our most downloaded episode ever.
Perhaps the most surprising entry in the MCU, THOR holds up better than almost anyone might expect. After all of the flying cities and decades-long conspiracies that would come to occupy the Marvel verse, it’s refreshing to go back to a simple Shakespearian story about family set almost entirely in a New Mexican town with seven buildings in it. Thumbs up.
#24, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Steve Rogers is the standout heart and soul of comic book movies, and it’s in this stellar little movie where he got his start. Featuring Marvel’s first star-studded cast and NUMEROUS MONTAGES, THE FIRST AVENGER is an emotional highlight and a great lead-in to the high-budget insanity that would come to be.
#25, THE AVENGERS
You’ve seen it. We know you’ve seen it. I don’t have to tell you about THE AVENGERS.
#27, IRON MAN 3
This is where the MCU truly begins to take shape and morph into its own thing. Shane Black takes your complaints about Marvel movies all feeling samey and kicks it in the teeth by making what is unquestionably a Shane Black movie. The whole thing almost feels like a sequel to KISS KISS BANG BANG (something I am very okay with). OF NOTE: This is the movie with that infamous twist that pissed off half the audience and made the other half cackle in delight. Which side are you on?
#28, THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Here begins Marvel Television Corner… the overlong version of Marvel Television Corner that would get reigned in during future outings. THOR: THE DARK WORLD is also discussed. It’s cool.
#29, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Probably the best film in all of Marvel. Cap is put to the test as the world he has come to know (the one in which he already feels alien) twists and morphs into something seemingly devised to target him. With a crew comprised of the few people left on Earth he can trust, Steve must take the fight back to those who seek to destroy him and prove he is the shining gem of this franchise. God, I love Cap…
#30, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
What a weird movie. Do you remember a time that GUARDIANS wasn’t a beloved hit and was merely the strangest movie pitch you’ve heard in a long time, coming from the most successful movie house on the planet? I do. I prefer the world we live in now, where Chris Pratt is a huge movie star and we’re getting another one of these.
#31, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
How do you follow one of the most successful movies ever? I don’t know, but I know Marvel tried really, really hard and, in my eyes, they did it. Stuffed to the point of bursting with plots, characters, and emotional beats, AGE OF ULTRON proves that Marvel isn’t taking its incredible success lying down. It’s going to push itself and the audience to the absolute limit over and over again.
Also Featured: A Giant-Sized Marvel Television Corner, with DAREDEVIL, AGENT CARTER, and, yes, more S.H.I.E.L.D.
This pint-sized comic heist was just what Marvel needed. Mired by controversy and better than most anybody expected, ANT-MAN is the illustration of all things great and disappointing about Marvel, wrapped up in one digestible package.