Marvel Phase Two thrives with creativity


By Jacob Pierce, @JacobPierce1_DE

The introduction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe changed the entire comic book movie genre. The concept of a shared universe was once thought impossible for film. Now, virtually every big budget property has hopes for continuity.

The Marvel Entertainment Company is using a phase system to release their movies. The Phases all have several different movies, leading up to one big finale.

With the release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ant-Man” this summer, come the end of Marvel’s Phase Two, a juncture full of both controversy and spectacle. Here is my review of Marvel’s second round of films.


Phase One vs. Phase Two

The question on everyone’s mind is how does Phase Two hold up against Phase One? The beginning MCU films are revolutionary, even at their worst.  Everything from “The Avengers” to “Thor” is a piece to a bigger puzzle.

All this being said, Phase Two blows Phase One out of the water. Marvel was gaining its footing with the original movies. Before “Iron Man,” the company itself had never put out a movie. “Spider-Man,” “X-Men” and even “Blade” were done through separate film studios, Marvel selling the rights off to them.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Captain America: Winter Soldier” alone show the company has grown.  Convoluted messes like “Iron Man 2” are long gone, replaced by movies with the Marvel voice that adds to the collective universe.

Best Movies

No surprise, “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” definitely take this category. Both movies grabbed a genre many said was stale, and added new lifeblood.  Both helmed by two directors with little big-budget experience and let them loose to provide a new brand of superhero film.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” gave James Gunn a chance to put his unique style on a Marvel movie. A director known for making weird, eclectic flicks, like “Slither” and “Super,” a movie about a walking, talking tree and raccoon was right up his alley.


The movie not only showed the more odd side of Marvel, but also added a cosmic element without shoving it down our throats. The film let itself be fun and a joy to sit through, something lost in the day of gritty, realistic superhero portrayals.

“Captain America: Winter Soldier” on the other hand served as the first “smart” action film the company has done.

This is not to say “Iron Man” or even “Captain America: The First Avenger was dumb, but neither represented a real-life problem in the way this film did. The Russo brothers created a political thriller rivaling “Three Days of the Condor” or “Marathon Man.”

The addition of Robert Redford and the Winter Soldier added a level of prestige and helped Marvel’s long-standing villain problem.

Scenes like the elevator fight and the beginning fight between Captain America and Batroc the Leaper sticks in even the most experienced action fans’ minds.

Worst Film

So many of you probably assume I’m going to pick “Iron Man 3” for its infinitely stupid villian twist.

The filmmakers hired classically trained actor Ben Kingsley to play a villain updated terrifically, only to make that null and void by having the character be an actor instead of the real Mandarin.

This is not a twist to me, more like one of the worst letdowns in comic book movie history.

Anyway, “Iron Man 3” is not the worst movie of Phase Two. This title goes to “Thor: The Dark World.”

The Thor series is the bane of Marvel’s existence.  While nowhere near as bad as something like “Batman and Robin,” no film in the series has reached its potential. What could be the “The Lord of the Rings” of the MCU ends up being a wasted opportunity.

“Thor: The Dark World” beats the original Thor, which was in Phase One, by miles. It improves on a boring and lackluster placeholder before “The Avengers.” This film shows off a beautifully done Asgard, and slightly hints at the cosmic universe within the MCU.

Yet, the film suffers from Marvel’s overarching villain problem. Besides Loki and Winter Soldier, there are no compelling, dynamic antagonists in the universe. This film barely even mentions the villain’s motivation. It is thrown away quickly for scenes of Thor and Loki bantering about.

“Thor: The Dark World” had a terrific actor in Christopher Eccleston and the deleted scenes show a tragic, relatable back-story to Malekith. Yet, it is all cut and it ruins what could have been an immersive experience.

What to Expect

Phase Two officially ends on July 17 with the release of “Ant-Man.”  Phase Three does not start until “Captain America: Civil War” on May 6, 2016.  This is nearly a year wait for another Marvel movie.

This pause is worth it when you look at what is to come.

“Captain America: Civil War” looks to be a movie as big as an Avengers movie.  The possibility of every hero introduced, and hopefully some not mentioned yet, fighting against each other is a nerd’s fantasy.

With the next phase comes two huge milestones in the superhero movie genre. With “Black Panther” comes the first African American lead movie. “Captain Marvel” lands as Marvel’s first female head film.  Everything this company seems to be doing changes the fabric of comic book movies forever.

On top of all this, fans will finally be able to rejoice as “Spider-Man” is going to be added to the MCU. Since his creation, Peter Parker has been a fan favorite to a solid amount of both comic book fans and moviegoers.

After the abomination that is “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” most fans are just happy to know Spider-Man can pal around with the likes of Iron Man and Captain America.

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311.