I Don’t Want to Be the Bad Guy Anymore

Megamind asks the question, what if the bad guy won? Despite making a dramatic narrative shift with How to Train Your Dragon, DreamWorks Animation wasn’t done making satirical comedies. Megamind is a sincere superhero parody that was right up my ally. Since I’m a huge superhero fan, it didn’t matter that I was 15 at the time. I was excited as soon as I heard the concept. Although I did accidentally mistake a Despicable Me trailer for Megamind. Understandable considering both are 2010 computer animated movies about a theatrically comedic supervillain learning the value of being a hero. The difference is Despicable Me got a long running franchise, while Megamind was one and done. Apart from the short film The Button of Doom, Megamind is a seriously underrated superhero flick that deserves more attention. I really wish DreamWorks didn’t lose faith in straightforward comedies. The 3D computer animation is an improvement over Monsters vs. Aliens in some areas.

Megamind has tons of style and personality thanks to comedian Will Ferrell. He’s an “evil” blue supervillain with the giant head of the Leader, baldness of Lex Luthor, genius intellect of Brainiac, and showmanship of rocker Alice Cooper. On the opposing side is Brad Pitt’s second DreamWorks role after Sinbad as prototypical white caped Elvis inspired superhero Metro Man. He seems like a jerk at first, but their long-standing rivalry is purely circumstantial. Much like Superman, Megamind & Metro Man were both sent from exploding planets to two vastly different lifestyles. Megamind was raised as a villain in prison and Metro Man was raised as a hero in luxury. Although Megamind tries to be good, he realizes it’s a lot more fun to be bad. They engage in a typical battle of good vs. evil until Megamind unexpectedly wins. What does a villain do when he no longer has a hero to fight? Apparently he makes his own hero.

Megamind is fast-paced with an awesome 80’s rock soundtrack and a cast full of equally hilarious comedians. Fellow SNL alumni Tina Fey is just as good as the Lois Lane inspired reporter Roxanne Richie. She grows indifferent to being kidnapped over and over, but finds a new purpose when she unknowingly falls in love with a disguised Megamind. She helps him to be good and they become a cute DreamWorks couple. Apart from an invisible car, brainbots, and a dehydration gun, David Cross voices Megamind’s faithfully evil fish headed mechanical gorilla suit wearing Minion. Along with constantly mispronouncing words, their bumbling villainy is another highlight. Jonah Hill’s second DreamWorks role is as Roxanne’s dorky cameraman Hal Stewart. Named after two Green Lanterns. Megamind manages to synthesize Metro Man’s powers and they wind up in Hal. So he disguises himself as Marlon Brando’s Jor-El to make him Metro City’s newest superhero Tighten. In a clever twist, Tighten is the one who breaks bad, while Megamind is forced to become the good bad guy in an epic climax. Megamind is a cliché filled thrill ride that I can’t help but love.

19. Megamind

Megamind makes his arrival with Minion

The Brave and the Bold

Justice League untied the League, but divided the fanbase. Although Wonder Woman finally gave the DC Extended Universe a win, it was still way too soon for a large scale team up. Unlike Phase One of the MCU, Man of Steel and Wonder Woman are the only solo movies set before Justice League. The first 5 movies of the DCEU are the equivalent of Iron Man, Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. I was nevertheless very excited to finally see the Justice League of America on the big screen. First uniting in The Brave and the Bold #28, Gardner Fox created the team in 1960 as a Silver Age version of the Justice Society of America. With superheroes as big as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter on the team, how could I not be a huge fan of the Justice League?

If not for DC’s bestselling superteam, Marvel may not even exist. Making it all the more pathetic that Warner Bros. couldn’t even get a movie made before The Avengers was released. The Justice League had far more success in animation. From kid friendly Saturday-morning cartoons like Super Friends to well thought out universe building like Justice League & Justice League Unlimited. Not to mention a handful of excellent animated films based on famous DC storylines. The only movie to enter serious production was the cancelled 2008 George Miller directed Justice League: Mortal. The DCEU wasn’t well thought out at all, but Zack Snyder seemed like he was listening to fan concerns. A First Look at the movie made it seem a lot less serious. The first trailer set to “Come Together” was just as encouraging, but since troubled productions go hand in hand with the DCEU, I should’ve known I’d end up disappointed…

9. Justice League

Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, the Flash, and Aquaman unite

Justice League isn’t as messy as Batman v Superman, but it is a mess in many other ways. Personally I was turned off the moment I saw the complete roster of heroes. The New 52 is a universe of rebooted storylines that have affected DC properties ever since its launch in 2011. The Justice League’s roster included all of the original 7 members except for Martian Manhunter. He was permanently replaced by Cyborg. Despite reading and enjoying the New 52 Justice League #1 comic, I never understood putting Cyborg on the team. I get that he represents modern technology, but his place will always be on the Teen Titans. Although Cyborg isn’t the first black DC superhero, he is usually the only African American on either team. That didn’t bother me nearly as much as the glaring lack of green on the team. Green Lantern has always been a crucial part of the Justice League, but Warner Bros. made the idiotic decision to leave him out. Despite continuing to feature him in their new DC movie logo. I don’t care how bad the 2011 movie was, Hal Jordan should’ve gotten a second chance.

Now the team consists of: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. Even that didn’t pan out, because Superman died in Dawn of Justice. Although it was obvious Superman would return, he was still left out of all marketing. My next concern was Zack Snyder’s continually bizzare casting choices. Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Gal Gadot proved themselves, but I had serious doubts about Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher. The Flash is one of my favorite superheroes outside of the DC Trinity. Police scientist Barry Allen became the Scarlet Speedster when he was struck by lightning and dosed in chemicals. He made his debut in Showcase #4 where he established himself as the Silver Age Flash. Between the original Jay Garrick and his successor Wally West, Barry Allen is the definitive Fastest Man Alive. Ezra Miller seemed a little too offbeat and flamboyant for the part. Especially after Grant Gustin was already doing so well in The Flash CW series. Miller’s Dawn of Justice cameo highlighted the Flash’s superspeed, but his out of nowhere message from the future wasn’t the best first impression.

A Suicide Squad cameo showed off his costume, but not much else. Miller ended up being a notable highlight as Barry Allen. Since he’s an inherently light hearted superhero, the Flash is the primary comic relief. It’s just his costume that looked overly complex. The Flash wears a scarlet suit with gold wings, but it looks more like armor with wires strung around it. Aquaman has always been the biggest punchline in DC comics, but he’s also the definitive underwater superhero. Despite his aquatic powers and ability to talk to fish, Arthur Curry has been taken a lot more seriously in later comics. He is the King of Atlantis after all. Jason Momoa felt like a bizarre choice since he’s mostly known for burly bruisers like Conan or Drogo. He’s no blonde adonis, but Momoa’s long hair and beard does match a later version of Aquaman. Not sure I understood his pale blue eyes though. His Dawn of Justice cameo revealed Curry underwater with a five pronged quident instead of the usual trident.

I wasn’t crazy about Aquaman’s maori tattoos, but his costume left less of an impression. Rather than go for the traditional orange & green, Aquaman wears generic gold & green Atlantean armor. Momoa’s performance has a lot of brooding in it, but he makes up for that by acting like a laid back bro. Cyborg became a fan favorite thanks to his fun loving portrayal on Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans, but his tragic origin has changed to incorporate the Mother Boxes from Apocalypse. Turning Victor Stone into a highly advanced part-man part-machine with alien tech built inside him. Ray Fisher was previously a stage actor with no film experience, so I only took him at face value. His Dawn of Justice cameo was the only one to depict his origin. I do appreciate the irony of Miles Dyson himself Joe Morton playing Victor’s S.T.A.R. Labs scientist father Silas Stone turning his son into a cyborg with a Mother Box. Fisher ended up being very robotic with barely any personality, save for the stray use of his catchphrase “Booyah.” Cyborg’s metallic body wasn’t much better. His body is way too skinny and generic compared to the bulky white parts he normally has in the comics.

The continued involvement of director Zack Snyder made me just as nervous. The Justice League have always been a colorful band of costumed crime-fighters, so I really didn’t understand why Warner Bros. kept him on board after Dawn of Justice. Zack Snyder did step down, but for far more tragic circumstances. So he was replaced by someone who already directed 2 successful superhero ensembles. Joss Whedon proved himself with The Avengers, but that doesn’t mean you can easily drop him into the already established DCEU. The marketing of the film noticeably started to change with Alex Ross style posters, light hearted trailers, and a November release. The most puzzling thing was a shockingly short runtime of exactly 2 hours. I was far less uncomfortable seeing the movie with my family, but it’s a serious problem when Justice League doesn’t leave an impression. So I wasn’t exactly shocked when it failed to break-even. The director credit may say Zack Snyder, but you can tell this is a Joss Whedon film from the start.

Justice League begins with an unbearably cringy scene of Superman rescuing people before his death. I appreciate having an optimistic Man of Steel at the very beginning, but why did it have to be on a phone with kids asking him the most childish questions imaginable. Whedon’s signature dialogue is made very clear with gems like Superman comparing hope to car keys. Even that isn’t the most cringy thing about the scene. Henry Cavill wasn’t allowed to shave his Mission: Impossible – Fallout mustache during re-shoots. Rather than delay the film, Warner Bros. ended up digitally erasing Cavill’s mustache. The results are way too distracting to take seriously. CGI is a major problem in Justice League. It’s practically a video game with a CGI villain, CGI henchmen, a CGI Cyborg, CGI landscapes, and CGI being used to make the climax less dark. The Justice League logo is shown on a flag before an opening of the world mourning the death of Superman. Lois Lane and Ma Kent mourn Clark’s death, but there’s also chaos in the streets of Metropolis. Setting it to “Everybody Knows” was another weird choice.

Danny Elfman ended up scoring the movie instead of Han Zimmer. You can definitely hear his original 1989 Batman theme if you listen close enough. Since the runtime is only 2 hours, it feels like every character is introduced with no time to establish anyone. Even the incoming conflict doesn’t have much set up. Batman is immediately seen in Gotham City tying up a criminal. He uses his fear to attract a Parademon. In the comics, Parademons are the foot soldiers of Darkseid. They look exactly like they did in Bruce’s Knightmare, but now they have neon green blood to make them more kid friendly. Speaking of being obnoxiously kid friendly, Steppenwolf looks nothing like he did in the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman. His face is overly human with a goofy horned helmet and uninspired armor. It doesn’t help that Ciarán Hinds is given the most generic villainous dialogue and forced attempts at comedy. Not that I was expecting much from a villain I never cared about.

Of all the Justice League villains to fight, why go with Steppenwolf? Especially when he’s so closely associated with Darkseid. The criminal that Batman ties up, practically tells the audience that Parademons are invading because Superman is gone. Alfred gives further exposition by revealing Lex Luthor’s journal to be their guide. An indeterminate amount of time passes when a bearded Bruce Wayne searches for the rest of the metahumans. Despite Dawn of Justice featuring a murder crazy Batman, Ben Affleck softens up the Caped Crusader considerably. Since Batman is always less brooding while on the Justice league, he’s not such a sad loner with a sense of humor. Most of the time it works, but sometimes it feels like Whedon trying too hard again. Probably his best joke is saying he’s rich when asked about his superpowers. The batsuit is the same except for a more armored tactical batsuit with goggles that he wears in the climax.

Bruce finds Arthur Curry in a small fishing community that counts on him as the legendary Aquaman. He saves fisherman on a sinking boat and brings fish in a mural that Bruce notices. Arthur not so politely declines the offer to join Batman’s team before Momoa’s obligatory shirtless scene. As Aquaman dives into the water, Bruce shaves and discusses a strategy with Alfred. Jeremy Irons wasn’t that rough in Dawn of Justice, but he’s also softened up with references to the Penguin and offhanded jokes. Wonder Woman is currently in London where she makes her grand entrance atop the Lady Justice statue. Since Diana Prince actually had a solo movie to make her a beloved character, Gal Gadot ends up being pretty consistent. Except that she’s still cut off from the world and talking about Steve Trevor decades later. The Wonder Woman costume thankfully hasn’t changed, but the way she’s shot is different. You can tell by all of the tight pants Diana wears.

Wonder Woman is first seen disposing of a bomb detonated by gentlemen terrorists. It’s great hearing Wonder Woman’s epic theme again, but the sequence doesn’t have any bearing on the plot. Although Diana is on good terms with Bruce, she doesn’t join the fight until the Amazons get involved. Justice League utilizes almost every hero’s individual supporting character regardless of relevance. Connie Nielsen returns as Queen Hippolyta alongside her scantily clad Amazonian sisters. They’re the first to encounter Steppenwolf when he comes for their Mother Box. The Amazons put up a valiant fight, but Steppenwolf manages to obtain the McGuffin anyway. So Hippolyta lights a beacon Lord of the Rings style, to warn her daughter of the incoming conflict. Diana is still working as a museum curator when she sees a burning Greek monument. Diana stops by the Batcave where Bruce is working on a new Flying Fox plane. She tells him the story of Steppenwolf attempting to conquer the Earth centuries ago.

It’s one of the movie’s main highlights since it brings together the armies of Earth, Atlanteans, Amazons, the Old Greek Gods, and even Green Lantern Yalan Gur. I’d say it’s enough just to see one Green Lantern, but Gur is immediately killed as his Power Ring flies away. The Old Gods include a jacked Zeus, Artemis, and David Thewlis’ head plastered on a stuntman playing Ares. Steppenwolf was exiled after his defeat, but tries to find all of the Mother Boxes in order to establish “The Unity” for Darkseid. Darkseid is literally mentioned once in the entire movie. The Mother Boxes are under protection from the Amazons, Atlanteans, and humans. Since Steppenwolf already has the Amazon box, he sets his sights on Atlantis. I was very excited to finally see the underwater society on the big screen, but all we see is a tiny portion of it. Amber Heard plays Mera, the redheaded true love of Aquaman who possesses hydrokinesis. She fights a water breathing Steppenwolf who briefly encounters Arthur when he swims down to the depths. Their aquatic fight ends with Steppenwolf obtaining the second McGuffin.

That’s followed by the dumbest creative choice in the entire movie. Rather than simply speak underwater, Mera has to create a stupid air bubble just to talk to Arthur. She mentions his queen mother and origin, but all of that will have to wait for his solo film. Since neither Diana, nor Bruce got anywhere with Arthur, they separately contact Victor Stone and Barry Allen. Barry is first seen jokingly using his superspeed in prison where he visits his incarcerated father. Dr. Manhattan himself Billy Crudup plays Henry Allen. Like the New 52 comic and CW series, Barry’s father was falsely accused of killing his mother. Most of their bonding doesn’t affect anything apart from Henry telling his son not to run around in circles. Bruce travels to Central City where he meets Barry in his second favorite chair. Although Miller has his moments, hyperactively talking about brunch is once again Joss Whedon trying to be funny. It is a cool moment when Bruce throws a batarang and Barry enters the Speed Force while figuring out he’s Batman. The Flash’s superspeed isn’t just running really fast. Time seems to stop and blue lighting surrounds his body. Barry immediately agrees to the Justice League since he needs friends.

Cyborg has almost no time dedicated to his life before the accident. All we see are old photographs and a sullen Victor hiding away when his father comes to check on him. Although he’s angry at his father, he seems to get over it really fast. We also bypass seeing Cyborg developing his rocket flight or any other weapon built into him. All we really learn is that Silas has the final Mother Box called a Change Engine. He works at S.T.A.R. Labs, which is still in possession of the Kryptonian scout ship. Diana contacts Victor when he hacks the batcomputer, but she doesn’t seem to get very far when they meet face to face. Not until a series of Parademon kidnappings that result in Silas Stone’s capture. The cringiest scene by far is a meeting between Lois & Martha at the Daily Planet. Whedon seriously thinks an old woman swearing about aliens probing her husband is funny. What’s worse is the nonchalant way Martha talks to Lois after Clark’s death. Diane Lane doesn’t have much to do apart from having the Kent farm foreclosed on. Amy Adams is similarly shortchanged, apart from Lois taking a break from writing.

When the Parademon kidnappings enter Gotham City, Commissioner Gordon contacts an old friend using the Bat Signal. Many assumed James Gordon was dead during the events of Dawn of Justice, but he’s alive and well after 20 years with the Dark Knight. J. K. Simmons sounded like inspired casting, until he ended up with literally nothing to do. Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash are joined by Cyborg when they talk to Gordon on a rooftop. They conclude that Steppenwolf must be taking kidnapped S.T.A.R. Labs employees beneath Gotham Harbor before suddenly vanishing. The Flash lampshades the superhero trope by vanishing himself. The Justice League unite less than an hour into the movie. Cyborg saves his father when Steppenwolf interrogates him. Wonder Woman steals the show by fighting Steppenwolf with her sword & shield. Batman fights Parademons hand to hand, but eventually ends up using a new vehicle called the Knightcrawler. The Flash is frustratingly shortchanged by making him afraid to do battle with anyone. Batman telling Barry to save one person is supposed to be inspiring, but it just doesn’t make sense for his character.

The Flash eventually shows his power by helping Diana retrieve her sword. Unfortunately it’s followed by Barry landing on her boobs for no reason. Cyborg gets everyone to safety in a reprogrammed Knightcrawler when Steppenwolf ends up flooding Gotham Harbor. That’s Aquaman’s cue to swim in and stop the flood with his powerful quident. Arthur officially joins the team as Cyborg flies away for unexplained reasons. He returns with the final Mother Box that Victor explains to be the source of his power. Bruce takes the team to his Batcave where he gets the morbid idea to revive Superman using the Mother Box. Despite the events of Batman v Superman, Bruce refers to Clark as if they were best friends. Unlike The Avengers, the Justice League arguing never feels warranted. Diana & Arthur agree that bringing back Superman could go terribly wrong. Bruce & Diana fight when he questions why she’s hidden herself away, but they quickly patch things up later on. Barry & Victor sort of bound while digging up Superman’s corpse. The former is somehow the funnier one trying to fist bump and connect over being accidents.

The team infiltrates the Kryptonian ship where they place Kal-El’s body in the genesis chamber. Cyborg taps into the mainframe and the Flash uses his speed to activate the box. When Superman returns, it’s a Pet Semetary situation where a shirtless Clark has no memory of who he is. He uses his x-ray vision on the team, but only becomes hostile when Cyborg activates his defense system. The Justice League vs. Superman is an expected fight that overwhelms most of the team. Cyborg & Aquaman are both taken out, but Wonder Woman is strong enough to have a headbudding match. Probably the best scene in the entire fight is Clark being fast enough to see the Flash when he tries to sneak up on him. Things get cringy again when Clark spots Batman and uses the infamous “Do you bleed” line against him. I guess the Knightmare scene is called back to when Lois arrives to calm Clark down. He flies off with her, but the tender moment is undermined by Bruce once again making a joke. The last Mother Box is taken in the chaos and Steppenwolf enacts his evil plan at a power plant in Russia.

Another annoying Whedon trademark is him thinking the audience cares about random civilians in a superhero movie. For some reason, a pointless Russian family is cut back to periodically throughout the movie. Without Superman, the team plans to fly to Russia in the Flying Fox, but not before another joke where Aquaman tells the truth while sitting on the Lasso of Truth. Clark takes Lois to Smallville where their tender moment is also undermined by cringy dialogue. Lois tells Clark he smells good and he describes coming back to life as itchy. At some point I had to question whether or not Joss Whedon was intentionally trying to sabotage DC. Clark reunites with his mother and decides to rejoin the fight at Lois’ insistence. The climax now has an ugly orange skyline. As Batman draws out the Parademons in the Batmobile, the rest of the team come to his rescue. Despite the lack of water, Aquaman is still very durable while joyfully flinging his quident into Parademons. Cyborg attempts to destroy the Mother Boxes while Wonder Woman faces Steppenwolf directly.

The Flash actually does some fighting, but Superman swoops in with a colorful costume when the Justice League is overwhelmed. He beats down Steppenwolf and uses his heat vision on him. Superman is practically left out of the entire movie since the fight would be over immediately otherwise. I’m glad Henry Cavill got to play a hopeful Superman, but his CGI mouth is still distracting. Superman & the Flash compete over saving civilians including the random Russian family. When they’re done, Superman turns into a big brother fighting Steppenwolf and assisting Cyborg. Batman & Superman also share a moment that undermines the tension of the situation. Which is followed by another ridiculous scene of Superman joking around with Cyborg when they destroy the Mother Boxes. Superman finally uses his arctic breath to destroy Steppenwolf’s axe and Wonder Woman finishes it off with a sword swing.

The Parademons sense Steppenwolf’s fear and engulf his body as he’s taken away in a Boom Tube. For some reason, plant life starts to spring up in the wake of Steppenwolf’s defeat. The entire Justice League has at least one group shot that isn’t quite as satisfying as it should be. They go their separate ways, but look to the future. Arthur returns to the sea, Barry makes his dad happy by joining the police force, and Victor reconfigures his metallic body with his father. Bruce saves the Kent farm by buying the bank and establishing the Hall of Justice with Diana. Diana reconnects with the world by continuing to fight crime. Clark finally gets the signature moment of ripping open his shirt to reveal the Superman costume before taking flight. All of this is shown as Lois writes an article about looking up to the sky for heroes.

The mid-credits scene is a lighthearted one that tries to answer the question of whether or not Superman can outrun the Flash. That’s followed by an after-credits scene where Jesse Eisenberg is sadly still around as Lex Luthor escaping Arkham Asylum. At least he’s bald and actually looks like the diseased maniac while wearing a well tailored suit. He meets with Deathstroke on a yacht discussing the possibility of forming an Injustice League. A silver haired Joe Manganiello was cast as Slade Wilson years ago, but I was still shocked when he appeared on screen. Sadly Justice League never supported its ambition. A possible two parter was cancelled and the DCEU practically imploded when The Batman was completely reworked, The Flash was continually delayed, Cyborg was cancelled, and Green Lantern Corps never materialized. Warner Bros. clearly had no idea what they were doing. Justice League has a strong superhero team in place, but middle of the road wasn’t gonna cut it for such iconic characters…

10. Justice League

The Justice League unite

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is what you get when fans scream loud enough. Although I was disappointed by Joss Whedon’s Justice League, I frankly thought it was a failure from the beginning. A problem that steamed from how poorly Warner Bros. handled the DCEU. As big of a DC fan as I am, I never really understood people begging the studio to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. The same people who were disappointed by Zack Snyder’s grim take on Batman v Superman. Although Zack Snyder and writer Chris Terrio had an even darker Justice League in mind, the response to Dawn of Justice did inspire a more hopeful tone. But Warner Bros. continued to push for more jokes and a shorter runtime. When Joss Whedon eventually came on board for rewrites, they practically seized the opportunity to have him direct after Snyder left.

The less than glowing response to the movie led to a complete reworking of the DCEU. One so drastic that it’s hard to say the DC Extended Universe even exists anymore. Similar to Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, fans felt the “Snyder Cut” would be way better than the movie we ended up with. Both movies had a last minute director switch that drastically altered the tone of each film. I tried to ignore the “Snyder Cut” movement, but I was constantly bombarded by crazed fans yelling as loud as they could. All that yelling finally led to a completed movie in 2021, restoring the original footage seen in trailers. Released on HBO Max, the first teaser looked good, but the aspect ratio change was a bizarre creative choice. The R rating felt unnessercery and the 4 hour runtime seemed extremely excessive. It all turned out well in the end, but that tends to happen when a movie is roughly the length of a miniseries.

SPOILER ALERT! The difference between the “Snyder Cut” and the theatrical cut is made explicitly clear right off the bat. The darker tone is reestablished by showing the death of Superman in slow motion. When Doomsday impaled the Man of Steel, he screamed so loud that it could be heard across the world. Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lois Lane witness this first hand. A sullen Cyborg, fearful Atlanteans, and battle ready Amazons all witness their respective Mother Boxes activating. Lex Luthor is still in the genesis chamber learning about Steppenwolf when he hears the Kryptonian cry. The scene of a bearded Bruce Wayne traveling to a fishing community makes a lot more sense after an opening like that. What follows is a series of parts meant to make the 4 hour experience more bearable.

Part 1: “Don’t Count on it, Batman” – Bruce Wayne meeting Arthur Curry is a lot less joke heavy with more focus on his mission to build an alliance of warriors. Aquaman is a lot more no-nonsense when speaking the Icelandic language and turning down Wayne’s money. The main difference is a group of creepily aroused Icelandic women singing a folk song when Arthur rips his sweater off and dives into the sea. It’s nothing compared to Whedon’s version, but that doesn’t mean Snyder isn’t prone to WTF moments. Bruce & Alfred have a far more straightforward conversation afterwards when Aquaman says no. Scenes of Metropolis mourning Superman are cut out with more focus on Ma Kent foreclosing the farm and Lois visiting his monument. Former Jimmy Olsen actor Marc McClure plays the friendly police officer that she brings coffee to. Wonder Woman’s introduction is still at the London bank, but everytime Diana or the Amazons appear, Junkie XL plays an operitic siren call. Every… single… time!

We still hear her epic Dawn of Justice theme during a more action-packed slow motion fight, but the other theme is just excessive. The Black Clad gentlemen terrorists are a bit more sinister with one of them dropping the first of only 3 F bombs in the entire movie. There’s no question that Wonder Woman kills the lead terrorist when she strikes her bracelets. Immediately after killing someone, Diana has time to inspire a girl who wants to be just like her. When Steppenwolf arrives to face the Amazons, he has a far better alien design with spikes, bulging muscles, and a more threatening voice still provided by Ciarán Hinds. The Amazons declare their lack of fear to Steppenwolf when his Parademons attack. Violence is really the main reason for the R rating as CGI blood splatters during every action scene. Steppenwolf is ruthless in his pursuit of the Mother Box. He tosses horses and flexes arrows out of his body. Queen Hippolyta puts up an even more desperate fight that ends exactly the same way.

Part 2: The Age of Heroes – The next section bridges the gap between the old and new age of heroes. Bruce & Alfred only discuss searching for Barry Allen while on their plane. Ben Affleck was determined to soften up Batman regardless of director, so he’s still on a path of redemption. Gal Gadot hasn’t changed much between versions either. The main difference is having Diana slowly discover the history of the New Gods in an underground cavern after her mother lights the beacon. Jason Momoa is a lot more serious with Arthur’s link to the ocean. He has another obligatory shirtless scene as water consumes him to the tune of “Icky Thump.” Willem Dafoe is fully restored with Nuidis Vulko scolding Arthur over taking up Queen Atlanna’s trident. Since Aquaman’s mentor was first seen in Aquaman, you can tell even more that Atlantis wasn’t fully developed beforehand. Especially since Vulko also does the stupid air bubble thing. Joe Morton is immediately shown to have a bigger role as Silas Stone working at S.T.A.R. Labs when a janitor is kidnapped by a Parademon.

Ryan Zheng is also restored as Ryan Choi aka the second incarnation of Atom. He speaks with a Chinese accent and works with nanotechnology by the end. Silas returns to an even more angry Victor who watches over their Mother Box. The other better change made to Steppenwolf is having his motivation be redemption for his betrayal of Darkseid. He’s forced to conquer 150,000 worlds in order to return to Apocalypse. He speaks with master torturer DeSaad voiced by Peter Guinness, but the true big bad of the DC Universe will always be Darkseid. Turns out the “Snyder Cut” was finally enough to bring the ultimate world conqueror to live-action voiced by Ray Porter. His CGI design mostly resembles the comics with his imposing grey appearance and blue helmet. The centuries old battle between man, Amazons, Atlanteans, Old Gods, and a Green Lantern is even better and bloodier with Darkseid leading the charge. Robin Wright even makes an appearance as Antiope. The battle is far more epic as the Greek gods tear into Darkseid and ununite the Mother Boxes. Diana tells Bruce about Darkseid’s defeat as he continues to work on that Flying Fox plane.

Part 3: Beloved Mother, Beloved Son – Turns out Barry Allen was supposed to make his first appearance applying to a pet shop. Although Ezra Miller had his moments before, I have no doubt now that he is the strongest comic relief in the move. Even without Whedon’s B material, Snyder manages to keep the Flash light hearted. Iris West is fully restored with Kiersey Clemons becoming the second black actress to play Barry’s love interest. Their romantic relationship is only hinted at with loving glances. Barry’s superspeed is really taken advantage of in a beautiful sequence of him saving Iris to the tune of “Song to the Siren.” As long as you ignore the cringy moment of Barry grabbing a wiener mid Speed Force. Barry visiting his father in prison isn’t changed much.

The scene of Bruce & Diana discussing recruits is shown in full as the latter mentions a war between Amazons & Atlanteans. Bruce recruits Barry roughly the same way, but thankfully there’s no mention of brunch. Declaring himself to be rich is kept in however. Alfred has his less cringy lighter moments as well, but I’m not sure we needed tea time with Diana. Creating a blast resistance bat-gauntlet is a better use of his time. Steppenwolf only finds Atlantis when he brutally interrogates an Atlantean. His fight with Mera is about the same except for her violently sucking out his blood. Aquaman shows up to the fight, but the outcome with the Mother Box is the same. One thing I definitely didn’t notice before is a British accent that Amber Heard inexplicably gives Mera.

Arthur & Mera’s bubble conversation is a bit more connected to his solo film than it was before, but the biggest change is everything involving Cyborg. Ray Fisher was the most vocal critic of Joss Whedon’s behavior while filming Justice League. It got to a point where he was practically whining over and over again. I wasn’t surprised when Fisher was fired, but his characterization is more memorable than it was before. Victor’s entire origin as a noble football star, the death of his mother Elinore played by Karen Bryson, and the resentment he feels for his father is all fully restored. Cyborg is practically turned into a tech god that can literally control the entire world. He learns to fly and gives a struggling family money. Although he is still grim while dropping a second F bomb in his encounter with Diana. Everything changes when Silas is captured and Victor buries the final Mother Box.

Part 4: “Change Machine” – Commissioner Gordon’s role is almost exactly the same as it was before. Even the rooftop scene wasn’t changed. The team arrives at Gotham Harbor where they engage in a better first fight that isn’t undermined by jokes. Steppenwolf now interrogates people using a Starro type device that sees into their mind. Victor shows that he still cares for his father when he’s threatened. Cyborg displays further abilities that include an arm cannon, talking to Bruce’s plane, and growing a third arm. He mostly helps S.T.A.R. Labs employees to safety. The Flash isn’t a wimp who uses his superspeed to fight a Parademon and quickly help civilians. Batman puts up a good fight using Alfred’s power absorbing wrist blades and commanding the Knightcrawler before Cyborg steps in. Wonder Woman is still the best fighter in both versions when she engages in an even more intense duel with Steppenwolf.

Aquaman swims in the same way, but the team coming together in the Batcave is entirely different. I have no doubt that Cyborg was meant to be the main character after he explains the origin of the last Mother Box when it was taken by Nazis, then used by Silas to fix his son. The team much more calmly decides to use the Box to revive Superman. That’s followed by a much more heartfelt scene of Martha & Lois grieving at the latter’s house. Although the nice moment is kind of undercut by the revelation that Lois was talking to Martian Manhunter the entire time. His CGI could use some work, but apparently Harry Lennix was always meant to be the shapeshifting martian. Not exactly the cinematic debut I pictured for him. Meanwhile, Darkseid finally speaks when Steppenwolf discovers the all important Anti-Life Equation that can control all life in the Multiverse. Only after “The Unity” will Steppenwolf earn his freedom.

Part 5: All the King’s Horses – The grave robbing scene is completely different with Barry & Victor discussing Superman & Wonder Woman. Diana & Arthur are also nearby discussing the significance of an Atlantean teaming up with an Amazon. Alfred has another nice moment with Bruce continuing to make breakthroughs with his trust of Superman. Silas is more directly involved when the Justice League enter the S.T.A.R. Labs Kryptonian scout ship. He allows Victor to pass without interference. The Flash charging the Mother Box to revive Superman isn’t that different apart from Aquaman objecting the idea more. Cyborg also sees a post-apocalyptic future when connected to the ship. It shows Darkseid successfully invading Earth and controlling an evil Superman.

Diana is buried by the Amazons, Arthur is killed underwater by Darkseid’s Omega Beams, and Superman holds the cowl of Batman over the body of Kilowog. Clark coming back to life and fighting the Justice League obviously hasn’t changed depending on the scenes without his CGI lip. Save for Cyborg helping a cop and the Flash running into Aquaman. Everything Wonder Woman does is the same including the infamous “Kal-El no!” line. The main difference is Clark’s encounter with Batman where he silently uses his heat vision on the Dark Knight. Lois was already in the area. We see her with a pregnancy test and walking away from the monument beforehand. Steppenwolf actually arrives to take the final Mother Box this time. It’s more tragic when Silas heroically sacrifices himself trying to destroy the Box in front of his son. DC borrows a line from Marvel when Cyborg tells the team to go get the son of b*tch.

Part 6: “Something Darker” – Although I planned to go all the way, it was at this point that I needed a bathroom break. Clark taking Lois to the Kent farm is far less childish without Whedon’s dialogue. Talking to Lois about his engagement ring and embracing his mother is better when Henry Cavill looks more optimistic. Unfortunately, I’m not crazy about his choice of wardrobe. I know black suit Superman is synonymous with his resurrection, but that’s just another problem with setting Dawn of Justice before Justice League. Superman really should have his classic red & blue suit when with the team. Otherwise both him and Batman are wearing black. Despite being more hopeful, Clark chooses the black suit as the conflicting words of his human and Kryptonian father fill his head. Superman flies into the heavens to join the fight. Meanwhile, the Justice League have a calmer discussion about how to find Steppenwolf after meeting Alfred.

Cyborg intends to disconnect the Mother Boxes while the Flash builds up a powerful electric charge. Arthur opens up a bit to Barry, but he doesn’t need a Lasso to do it. Bruce also brings up the Knightmare to Diana before they head out to Moscow. Thankfully there’s no pointless Russia family to save. The power of “The Unity” can be felt from Themyscira to Atlantis. Alfred meets Master Kent for the first time when he comes searching for the others. The final battle is rightfully restored to its original nighttime color palette. Batman still destroys the barrier, but using the Batmobile is given more weight. Most of the time Batman stays away from Steppenwolf in order to take out Parademon sharpshooters. After the team have another group shot, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman face Steppenwolf directly. He tries to get under Diana’s skin by reminding her of the Amazons and attempts to keep Victor from the Boxes.

Steppenwolf swings his axe on Cyborg, but Superman arrives just in time to use his arctic breath on it. Superman’s powerful display is rougher, but not much different from the theatrical edition. The suit was actually colored black in post-production. When a Parademon somehow manages to hit the Flash, it becomes too late to stop “The Unity.” Darkseid appears in a portal alongside DeSaad and a presumably digital version of Granny Goodness on Apocalypse. As the world crumbles, the Flash really shows his immense power by turning back time in a breathtaking Speed Force run. No doubt that the Justice League are in fact gods among us. Cyborg views his family when revived, but sees past the deception in order to break the Boxes. Steppenwolf won’t go down without a fight this time. Until he’s impaled by Aquaman, punched by Superman, and actually beheaded by Wonder Woman. Darkseid knows enough to retreat, but plan an old fashion invasion later on. The Justice League standing together is about the same apart from the distracting black suit.

Epilogue: “A Father Twice Over” – Rather than have Lois close out the movie with a Daily Planet article, Victor listens to the recording left by his father that he destroyed earlier. Silas Stone gives similar words of encouragement as the heroes go their separate ways. Victor embraces his role as Cyborg, Arthur talks to Vulko & Mera before leaving to see his father, Barry similarly tells his father about his forensics job, and Diana returns to her Amazonian monastery. The Hall of Justice scene is the same and so is Bruce buying the bank for Clark. The only difference with Clark is him opening up his shirt to reveal a silver ‘S’ underneath. The after-credits scene is now part of the movie with Lex escaping Arkham, but having a different conversation with Deathstroke. Now the scene has more to do with The Batman when Lex reveals Batman’s secret identity.

Although that’s a natural place to stop, there’s still an entire Knightmare to get through. The post-apocalypse is shown in more detail with trench coat Batman, weaponized Cyborg, British Mera carrying Aquaman’s trident, the Flash wearing an armored costume, Deathstroke as an ally, and even the Joker. Since all of this was brand new, Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Ezra Miller, Joe Manganiello, and Jared Leto never look like they filmed together. After his terrible portrayal in Suicide Squad, Leto makes up for it with a more subtle tattooless Clown Prince of Crime. Not that his dialogue isn’t a little cringy and drawn out. Batman & the Joker discuss Robin, Harley Quinn, and the Caped Crusader actually drops the final F bomb. Which is followed by the evil Superman attacking. By this point I was done, but even that’s not the end when Martian Manhunter finally shows up to tell Bruce he’ll fight with them in a future we may never see.

In conclusion, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is better than the theatrical cut, but it’s not the masterpiece some fans call it. If you need 4 hours just to tell a story properly, than I wouldn’t exactly call that genius. Snyder got even more self indulgent by making a black & white version of the movie. The Leonard Cohen version of “Hallelujah” is only heard during the credits. Fans continue to press Warner Bros. for an “Ayer Cut” of the similarly botched Suicide Squad. Along with the full restoration of the Snyderverse featuring a Justice League trilogy. Although this was a good effort, I’m still not a fan of his radical vision for famous DC characters. The solo approach to the DCEU isn’t a perfect one, but I’m fine with it as long as the movies are good. In the end, Zack Snyder completed Justice League for his daughter, so I guess I can’t fault him for that.

Justice League

The Justice League unite

Preceded by: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice & Wonder Woman

The Amazing Amazon

Wonder Woman is the greatest female led superhero movie ever made. Making it the first truly successful DC Extended Universe movie. Every other film was either too divisive or controversial to call any one of them a complete success. Wonder Woman is no different than Superman or Batman. She is the greatest female superhero of all time. Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by psychiatrist William Moulton Marston. She debuted in All Star Comics #8, but later headlined Sensation Comics #1. Marston is one of the most interesting comic book writers who ever lived. He’s actually an early inventor of the lie detector, and was way ahead of his time for his depiction of powerful women. The unconventional relationship he had with his wife and their polygamous lover inspired a lot of Wonder Woman’s traits.

More information can be found in the biopic Professor Marston and the Wonder Women also released in 2017. Wonder Woman is especially unique for her connection to Greek Mythology, unconventional weapons, and for being the first female member of the Justice League. Wonder Woman remained consistently relevant thanks to countless animated appearances, an especially good 2009 animated solo movie, and her extremely popular 1970’s live-action series. When a Wonder Woman solo movie was announced after already making her debut in Batman v Superman, I was practically begging DC to make it good. Especially considering the track record of previous female led superhero movies like Supergirl, Catwoman, and Elektra. The key was using love and compassion to bring such an iconic heroine to life…

7. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman unsheathes her sword

Wonder Woman was a long time coming for the Amazing Amazon. Like the rest of DC’s underused superheroes, a Wonder Woman movie has been in development ever since 1996. Several high profile actresses were considered over the years. Including Sandra Bullock, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lucy Lawless, Kate Beckinsale, and Angelina Jolie. Joss Whedon nearly wrote and directed a movie in 2005, but that failed to materialize as well. The closest Wonder Woman came to a cinematic debut was in the cancelled Justice League: Mortal played by Megan Gale. It wasn’t until Dawn of Justice that Wonder Woman was practically shoehorned into the already overstuffed movie. That’s not to say her role wasn’t a major highlight with a badass introduction. I just wanted an origin story before a major ensemble. Unlike Superman or Batman, Wonder Woman’s complex origin wasn’t exactly common knowledge beforehand. Although I’ve loved Wonder Woman for many years, even I didn’t know everything about her.

Diana, Princess of Themyscira is an Amazon sculpted from clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta, and given life by the Greek gods. Marston used Greek Mythology as a reference to create an entire island of strong warrior women. Paradise Island is hidden from “Man’s World,” but all that changed when World War II pilot Steve Trevor crash lands on Themyscira. Diana became the Amazon champion tasked with returning Steve and fighting in the war as Wonder Woman. The Silver Age emphasized her Greek influence, but made the unnecessary decision to depower Diana Prince as a martial arts fighting secret agent. The Bronze Age got her back on track thanks to the success of her TV series. Post-Crisis Wonder Woman was given a contemporary origin and New 52 comics made her a demigoddess given life by Zeus. Every element of her origin was perfect for a solo adventure.

Wonder Woman became the first DCEU movie with a fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, the most well received female driven superhero flick, and the highest grossing film director by a woman at the time. I couldn’t be happier that Wonder Woman was the first to do it. Its success is partially thanks to Warner Bros. finally figuring out how to make movies like Marvel. Zack Snyder’s dark influence is inescapable, but thankfully Wonder Woman is a lot more colorful with a much more optimistic tone. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful superhero movies I’ve ever seen (in more ways than one). Despite only ever directing the Oscar winning Monster in 2003, Patty Jenkins became the first woman to direct a big budget superhero film. Luckily things didn’t work out with her directing Thor: The Dark World. Jenkins has a much better understanding of who Wonder Woman is and what she stands for. It wasn’t even a problem that Zack Snyder got to choose who played the titular heroine.

Animated Wonder Women have always been regal with the commanding voice of many fine voice actresses. Live-action Wonder Women are a different story. Cathy Lee Crosby is a woefully inaccurate blonde Wonder Woman who appeared in a 1974 TV movie. The ideal Wonder Woman has always been Lynda Carter as the strong, beautiful, and compassionate hero from the 1975 series. Further TV appearances didn’t pan out thanks to the terrible 2011 pilot starring Adrianne Palicki. As I said in my Batman v Superman review, Gal Gadot wasn’t exactly my first choice to play Wonder Woman. I was yet to see Fast & Furious, so I didn’t think she was big enough to become an Amazon. Dawn of Justice was encouraging, but I didn’t truly see Gadot as Wonder Woman until her 2017 film. The latter put her (and every other actor) in an unflattering light, but Wonder Woman very much highlights how gorgeous she is. Gadot is the former Miss Israel after all. She also served as a soldier for the Israel Defense Forces. So she was much more capable of action than I realized.

Gadot put on an athletic Wonder Woman physique and truly transformed into the iconic image. Godot more than captures Diana’s love, compasion, and fighting spirit that sets her apart from most superheroes. The only thing Wonder Woman never had was an accent. Since Gal Gadot is Israel-born, she keeps her natural speaking voice. Although it isn’t common, I do think Diana’s accent gives her a more exotic presence. Wonder Woman begins in modern day with Diana Prince’s chosen profession as a museum curator in Paris. The DCEU is only briefly acknowledged with Bruce Wayne sending Diana the original WWI photograph of her from Dawn of Justice. Much like Captain America: The First Avenger, Wonder Woman is a period peace centered around a major war that uses a modern day framing device. Unlike the original comics, World War II isn’t the war that brings Wonder Woman to “Man’s World.” World War I makes a lot more sense since it was the first major global conflict in history and is seldom covered in film.

Wonder Woman affectively highlights how terrible the war was, but first we’re treated to about 40 minutes of Paradise Island. Themyscira is as breathtaking as I imagined it would be on film. It’s a lush green island surrounded by crystal clear oceans and dominated by equally lovely Amazons. Every actress more than displays a fierce understanding of how to fight like a true warrior. Amazons use swords, spears, bows, ride horseback, and dress in appropriate gladiatorial attire. It’s a little distracting that they all have accents, but it had to be done for Gal Gadot. Two different child actresses play Diana as she longs to become a warrior like everyone else. Buttercup herself Robin Wright plays her supportive Aunt General Antiope who trains Diana in private. Her mother, Queen Hippolyta, just wants her daughter to be a normal child. Like later comics, Hippolyta is blonde and retains her backstory of sculpting Diana from clay and having Zeus bring her to life. Casting Connie Nielsen in the part was a stroke of genius considering her regal role in Gladiator.

Greek Mythology is told like a bedtime story to Diana when she asks about the God Killer. The only sword powerful enough to kill a Greek god. An impressive moving painting recounts the creation of man, how the Amazons came to be, and Ares, God of War turning on his father Zeus. Hippolyta eventually allows Diana to train under Antiope until she grows into Gal Gadot. Wonder Woman’s first signature weapons are her trademark indestructible bracelets. They’re a cool accessory that allow her to deflect bullets and create powerful electrical blasts in the movie. Although Marston originally used her bracelets as a provocative tool for submission, they’ve evolved into wrist gauntlets that every Amazon wears. When Diana accidentally strikes her bracelets, she runs off, only to find the strange sight of an airplane falling from the sky. Just like any version of her origin, Diana rescues Steve Trevor from the crash, but the main difference is him being followed by enemy soldiers.

Although not as well known as the Nazis, Germans are still on the opposing side in World War I. They enter the invisible portal and attack Themyscira in a devastating opening action sequence. Diana witnesses the evils of man firsthand when her fellow sisters are killed in the fight. Although the Amazons manage to take them all out, Antiope sadly dies while attempting to tell her niece the truth about who she is. Steve Trevor has always been the true love of Diana throughout her history. He’s always trusted Wonder Woman as a fighter since he himself is a soldier for WWI, WWII, or any modern conflict in the comics. Since Chris Pine was the only Hollywood Chris without a superhero role, casting him as the male lead made perfect sense. The irony is that Chris Evans plays blonde WWII soldier Steve Rogers, while Chris Pine plays blonde WWI soldier Steve Trevor. Apart from their fate during the climax, Trevor isn’t exactly the same as Rogers. Steve is a handsome rogue, but he’s also very down to Earth with a duty bound responsibility to fight.

Also like the comics are the Amazons using the Lasso of Hestia to compel Steve to tell the truth. Wonder Woman’s most iconic weapon will always be her Lasso of Truth. She does use it to fight, but it was mostly meant as an extension of Marston’s lie detector. Diana uses it to will the truth out of enemies, but it’s just as effective as a comedic tool. Although the humor in Wonder Woman is similar to the MCU, they never go too far with it. There are several awkward moments, but they thankfully never get in the way of a sincere story. Steve reveals that he’s an American spy working for British Intelligence. His undercover mission was to gather intelligence for a deadlier threat that could end the war. General Erich Ludendorff was basically the Hitler of WWI. He’s played by an exaggerated Danny Huston who deals with pain and becomes more powerful thanks to comic book villain Doctor Poison. Spanish actress Elena Anaya plays Dr. Isabel Maru while wearing a porcelain mask that covers her scarred mouth. She’s not a physical threat, but a chemist trying to make a deadlier form of mustard gas.

Poison & Ludendorff have a working relationship that eventually succeeds in creating the deadly toxin. Steve managed to steal her notebook and bomb the enemy while escaping in a plane. The movie truly gets going when Diana becomes convinced that Ares is responsible for the war. When her mother forbiddens any interference, Diana literally leaps into action by retrieving the God Killer and suiting up in a colorful costume that she hides under a robe. A curious Diana encounters Steve in a hot spring. He of course has an obligatory shirtless scene that Diana can’t help but stare at. Diana & Steve have one of the better superhero movie romances thanks to the chemistry between Gadot and Pine. Their relationship has time to grow over the course of the movie with Steve answering any question Diana has about “Man’s World.” Some conversations about marriage and love making may go on a little too long, but it’s all worth it when they eventually fall in love. Hippolyta manages to say goodbye to her daughter as she leaves Themyscira possibly forever.

They go sailing to the war, but first make a stop to a very drab London. Despite being an American icon, Wonder Woman doesn’t take place in America at all. All of Diana’s wide-eyed wonder at seeing the outside world is shown in London. Although Diana has tons of emotional intelligence, can speak hundreds of languages, and is very well read, she’s still a fish out of water thanks to her obliviousness to 1918 social norms. She’s the exact opposite of Steve’s secretary Etta Candy. In the comics, Etta is a proud plus-size woman who loves sweets and befriends Diana. Although some adaptations try to slim her down, British actress Lucy Davis is the perfect plus-size Candy. She’s subtle comic relief and a nice lady friend for Diana. Her best scene is helping Diana find a dress to wear as a disguise. It’s a humorous scene since Diana continually mocks the restrictive clothing. Steve gives her the comic alias Diana Prince and she dons a modest outfit along with the glasses she sometimes wears. The funniest part is Diana trying to keep her sword & shield.

Superman: The Movie was a major influence for the movie, and that’s most apparent in a gender swapped scene where enemy spies corner Steve & Diana in an ally. Diana deflects their bullets with her bracelets exactly like the comics. Their first stop is the Imperial War Cabinet where Diana’s presence becomes most unorthodox. Even though she’s the smartest person in the room able to decipher Poison’s journal. The Supreme War Council forbid Trevor from countering an upcoming attack. Steve sets out for the Western Front anyway after assuring Diana with her Lasso. Etta continues to help back in London, but Steve & Diana also receive help from armistice negotiator Sir Patrick played by quintessential Brit David Thewlis. On their way to the front, a wonderful moment from the comics is recreated when Diana tries ice cream for the first time. Steve gathers a motley team of liars, drunks, and smugglers to help him cross the battlefield. None of whom are from the comics, but all of them are kind of stereotypical.

Saïd Taghmaoui plays Sameer, a secret agent who loves acting, and an Arab stereotype who wears a fez. Ewen Bremner plays Charlie, a sharpshooter with PTSD, and a Scottish stereotype who wears a kilt. Eugene Brave Rock plays Chief Napi, a neutral smuggler, and Native American stereotype with Earthly wisdom. They travel to Belgium where Diana witnesses the horrors of war firsthand. Although Steve tells her there’s nothing they can do, Diana can no longer do nothing. What follows is one of the greatest “Girl power” scenes in movie history. No man can enter No Man’s Land, but Wonder Woman is no man. Although it takes over an hour, the wait is more than worth it when Diana reveals her Wonder Woman costume as she enters No Man’s Land. I’m so glad DC doesn’t believe in changing outfits, because her suit is literal perfection. It’s so refreshing to see comic book accuracy for a female superhero with a revealing costume. Wonder Woman doesn’t wear pants, she’s a warrior with a fitting gladiatorial design that Gadot looks absolutely stunning in. The costume is just a brighter shade of blue and a richer shade of red with more prominent gold.

Diana wears the upside down Tiara of her Aunt, but she never uses it as a boomerang. Although Wonder Woman doesn’t always carry a sword & shield, it comes in handy in all her fights. Zack Snyder style slow motion is used to emphasize Wonder Woman’s brave run through No Man’s Land. She deflects bullets, bombs, and shields Steve and his men from attack. They manage to take out the enemy, but Diana promises to rescue civilians who were captured. Wonder Woman crashes through a building, and it’s finally enough to bring back her kickass theme from Dawn of Justice. Her sword fighting is wonderful, but the battle really highlights Wonder Woman’s super strength. She uses it to lift a tank and take out a remaining enemy by crashing through a tower. The village celebrates Wonder Woman as a hero when Diana, Steve, and their team are finally photographed. A brief but magical moment of calm comes when Diana shares a romantic dance with Steve in the snow and they spend the night together.

All their happiness is ripped away when they hear about a gala attended by General Ludendorff. Despite Steve infiltrating the party in disguise as a German, Diana figures Ludendorff must be Ares, so she sets out to kill him. Diana takes a lovely blue dress from Fausta (the Nazi Wonder Woman) in order to sneak up on her enemy. Steve tries to get information out of Dr. Maru, but he becomes distracted when Diana shows up. Ludendorff shares a dance with Diana as they discuss war and Greek Mythology. Steve stops her from killing him, but it’s too late when he launches the deadly gas on a nearby village. In her anguish, Diana blames Steve and mankind for the war. Wonder Woman sets out to kill Ares while riding horseback. Diana enters his base where she makes it her sacred duty to end Ares’ influence over the war. Their fight is intense when Ludendorff inhales Maru’s toxin, but it’s not enough to keep Wonder Woman from stabbing him. Although she thinks it will end the war, Diana is faced with the sad truth that man is responsible for their own atrocities. At least that seems like the truth until the somewhat confusing twist comes along.

SPOILER ALERT! Turns out Sir Patrick was Ares all along. A literal mustache twirling Brit is the Greek God of War. Although in the comics his face is usually obscured by his blue helmet, Thewlis is not the person I imagined underneath it. A more convincing twist is Ares destroying Diana’s sword and revealing her to be the true God Killer. Since she’s a demi-goddess who possessed the power all along. The only confusing part is Ares using his Sir Patrick identity to leave suggestions about war without telling humanity to act on it. Which feels like it’s trying too hard to have a compromise for its message. Ares wants Diana to join him in wiping out humanity in order to build a paradise similar to General Zod in Man of Steel. Diana refuses, so they engage in a big CGI fight where Ares uses his godlike power to manipulate his environment. He starts to look more like his comic counterpart when he fashions armor out of metal.

Meanwhile, Steve tries to stop a shipment of deadly gas by commandeering a plane. But not before telling Diana he loves her and giving her his watch. It’s a truly heartbreaking sacrifice that Diana is unable to stop when Ares bounds her. Wonder Woman breaks free and takes her anger out on enemy soldiers. She very nearly kills Doctor Poison, but stops when she remembers what Steve told her. Wonder Woman has always believed that love conquers all, so she accepts humanity before disposing of her brother. Ares may be a cliché villain shouting generically evil dialogue, but Wonder Woman striking her bracelets midair is a very satisfying defeat. As the war ends, Diana celebrates with her remaining allies and fondly remembers her true love. Back in modern day, Diana reenters the world again as Wonder Woman soars through the air.

It’s followed by a beautiful credits sequence that ends with the title. Wonder Woman is exactly how you make a good female led superhero movie. Although it became a cultural phenomenon, it was still divise in terms of its message. Some thought it was too feminist, while others complained that it wasn’t feminist enough. I knew exactly what I wanted from a Wonder Woman movie. There’s no reason she shouldn’t be both beautiful and powerful. I’m happy her iconic costume remained intact and hope she continues wearing it proudly. I have greater appreciation for Gadot after knowing she was pregnant during filming. Although the movie doesn’t use Wonder Woman’s archenemy or Invisible Jet, I was more than happy with what I ended up with. Wonder Woman was very much a leap in the right direction for the DCEU.

8. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman enters no man’s land

Followed by: Wonder Woman 1984 & Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Task Force X

Suicide Squad is the movie equivalent of a hot mess. It made sense to start a DC Extended Universe with a Superman movie. He is the most prominent DC superhero after all. Although rushed, it made just as much sense to follow it up with a Batman crossover including Wonder Woman. What never made sense to me, was following that up with a Suicide Squad movie. That’s like going from Iron Man to Civil War to Guardians of the Galaxy. The similarity being all of the DC supervillains that needed to be introduced in one movie. That technically makes Suicide Squad the first supervillain movie. The idea of a Suicide Squad has existed ever since the 1959 The Brave and the Bold #25.

They were once a simple military unit before the 1987 Legends #2 turned them into a team of existing supervillains. The overall concept of Task Force X is actually very interesting. Villains perform suicide missions in exchange for reduced sentences, and have their heads blown off if they don’t cooperate. I was never too familiar with the team, but they continually appeared in animation. As well as live-action TV shows like Smallville and Arrow. The 2016 movie felt like it came out of nowhere. Before I knew it, actors were cast, images were released, trailers dropped, and Suicide Squad was coming out the same year as Batman v Superman. I wasn’t immediately nervous, but the drastic tonal shift between the Comic-Con trailer and official trailer should’ve been a warning sign…

5. Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad fight together

Suicide Squad has been in the works since 2009. Only going into serious production after the DCEU was established. Most comic book movies announce their cast one at a time, but Suicide Squad announced 6 cast members all at once. I didn’t really believe the movie was coming until an image with the entire Suicide Squad was released. Task Force X has obviously had a revolving door of team members ever since its creation. They are the “Suicide” Squad after all. Even still, their choice of team members made the movie seem more than a little overstuffed. Rick Flag is the oldest member who acts as the heroic Military leader keeping Task Force X in line. Tom Hardy was originally cast, but he had to back out due to scheduling conflicts. Joel Kinnaman felt like a serious downgrade since he was so dull and lifeless in RoboCop (2014).

Amanda Waller has always been a morally grey business woman with a finger on the button. Respected African American actresses as big as Pam Grier and Angela Bassett previously portrayed her in Smallville and Green Lantern respectively. So it was a good sign that soon to be Oscar winner Viola Davis was chosen for the part. Floyd Lawton/Deadshot is another longtime member and recurring Batman villain that I expected to see on the team. Will Smith’s 2010 career resurgence made his casting seem promising since he was due for a comic book role. The Australian George “Digger” Harkness/Captain Boomerang is yet another longtime member and recurring Flash villain that I knew would pop up as well. Jai Courtney probably made me the most nervous considering how lame he is in most major franchises.

I never expected to see metahuman Batman villain Waylon Jones/Killer Croc on the big screen, but he was another interesting addition. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a pretty recurring presence who was previously part of the MCU. DC’s Enchantress is Dr. June Moone, a witch who’s always been associated with the Suicide Squad. Model Cara Delevingne was already getting her start in acting, so I didn’t think much of her casting. Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana is a Japanese superheroine who previously made a faithful live-action appearance on Arrow. I didn’t know anything about Karen Fukuhara since this was her first movie. Apart from the Native American Adam Beach being cast as the obscure Christopher Weiss/Slipknot, I knew next to nothing about the firestarter El Diablo. The villain has gone by many aliases, but the movie cast the hispanic Jay Hernandez as Chato Santana.

But none of the team was ever going to get as much attention as the first theatrical appearance of Dr. Harleen Quinzel aka Harley Quinn. Harley Quinn has the most interesting history out of Batman’s entire rogues gallery. She was actually an original character made for the 1992 Batman: The Animated Series episode “Joker’s Favor” until her official 1999 comic debut in Batman: Harley Quinn #1. Harley was introduced as a sidekick/love interest for the Joker before becoming an instant fan favorite. She didn’t become a prominent member of the Suicide Squad until the modern New 52 relaunch. Margot Robbie was another very encouraging casting announcement, but even she was overshadowed by Mr. J himself. Batman’s archenemy has always had a strong media presence. So it was only a matter of time before the Joker made his cinematic return. Despite the critical acclaim that the late Heath Ledger received, fellow Oscar winner Jared Leto seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Comic-Con trailer was released before Dawn of Justice and featured a darker version of the Bee Gees song “I Started a Joke.” Unlike Batman v Superman, the tone seemed to fit the supervillain ensemble a lot better. Even though it once again looked like an R rated movie posing as a PG-13 movie. LEGO sets were never made since the title Suicide Squad is still too edgy for children. I was no less uncomfortable knowing kids were going to see something just as mature without going a step further. Most of the unnecessary profanity and innuendo can be blamed on overly edgy director David Ayer. Proving Zack Snyder wasn’t the only DC director who could make ill-advised decisions. It all started with the first look at everyone’s costume. Unlike Snyder’s gritty comic accuracy, Ayer has a bizarre tattoo & gangster fetish. Rick Flag looks alright with standard Military garb, but a yellow t-shirt would’ve been more interesting.

Apart from the race change, Deadshot is really the only one who feels like he leapt off the page. Smith wears Deadshot’s red-orange spandex with added padding, wrist gauntlets, and his signature high powered lens occasionally paired with a white mask. Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, and El Diablo are all wearing very inaccurate gold chains, hoodies, and/or tank tops for some reason. No one knows what Slipknot looks like in the comics, so it didn’t matter that he had a rope covered mercenary look. Captain Boomerang is the only thug with some accuracy since he’s always worn a knit cap, trench coat, and carried deadly boomerangs as weapons. El Diablo is covered head to toe in skull tattoos, but really it’s the reptilian Killer Croc who has the most impressive makeup in the movie. As shocking as it was, the DCEU won an Academy Award before the MCU when Suicide Squad won for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Katana’s Japanese ensemble and signature katana were also ripped straight from the comics, but they do go for her more sexualized look. The Enchantress was also sexualized with a dirty green chainmail bikini, but the most sexualized character in the entire DCEU is Harley Quinn. Although she started her criminal career in a red & black jester costume, Harley was always a sexy wild card who wore progressively more revealing outfits. So Harley has red & blue pigtails and wears extra small shorts, sneaker stilettos, a tight shirt with “Daddy’s Lil Monster” written on it, a jacket with “Property of Joker” printed on it, a “Puddin” choker, bracelets, and carries a bejeweled gun with a “Good Night” bat as her primary weapon. Not to mention the light amount of tattoos and makeup she has. I have absolutely no problem with Harley’s seductive costume since Margot Robbie is one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood. Although I only felt uncomfortable seeing it with my family, all of her suggestive scenes didn’t bother me either. Not as much as the sexist dialogue that most people seem to ignore.

I can totally buy Harley Quinn becoming a modern icon, but the Joker was a different story. I was more than a little shocked when I first saw Leto’s short neon green hair, silver grill, dark red lipstick, and pale body covered in unnecessary tattoos. Joker has a ‘J’ teardrop tattoo, the word “damaged” written on his forehead, “Ha ha ha!” all over his body, and smiley faces on his arm, abdomen, and hand. Suicide Squad is practically word porn, but the Joker’s purple gangsta coat and gold chains made me even more nervous. There’s a fine line between edginess and trying way too hard. The Comic-Con trailer seemed to make it work, but everything changed when Batman v Superman became such a failure. Suddenly the overly dark tone of the DCEU forced Warner Bros. to quickly rethink their strategy. Leading to several rewrites, the Joker being severely reduced, a climax change, a more comedic tone, and a kickass trailer set to Bohemian Rhapsody. I know there’s an audience for Suicide Squad that sees it as simple dumb fun, but for me it’s a non-stop cringefest that’s 2 hours too long and somehow ended up worse than Dawn of Justice.

It literally takes 18 minutes just to introduce almost every member of Task Force X. Rather than work it into the story organically, several stylized stats are shown only for the most important teammates. Unlike the previous DCEU films, there’s much more neon color mixed with pop art visuals. Most of it ends up feeling awkwardly edited into the film. Just like several flashback sequences that feel like they were meant for the beginning of the movie. The death of Superman is acknowledged, but it never feels like Suicide Squad was meant to be the follow up to that. More often it feels like an excuse to justify bringing in a team of low-level criminals to fight a standard world ending event. Intelligence Officer Amanda Waller is just like her comic book counterpart in how she proposes the idea for Task Force X to the government. Viola Davis is great at portraying Waller’s ruthlessness, but she isn’t given much to work with. Her dialogue while talking about every individual Suicide Squad member can be just as cringy as her edgier co-stars.

Suicide Squad burns through about 6 good songs in the span of 8 minutes. Unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie’s soundtrack is way too desperate to emulate the formers success. Almost like they pulled popular songs from a karaoke machine. I’m not a fan of “Purple Lamborghini,” but the soundtrack is at least good for including original songs like “Sucker for Pain” and “Heathens.” Most criminals are imprisoned in the comic accurate Belle Reve prison. Will Smith feels like he’s trying the hardest to sell the movie. He was practically the only actor to speak at Comic-Con when the entire cast showed up and he turned down Independence Day: Resurgence to star in Suicide Squad. It’s a no win situation either way. Although his edgy humor can feel forced, Deadshot does have more layers as a hired gun with a daughter to look after in Gotham City. Even if the actress playing Lawton’s daughter can feel very stilted, it does lead to the coolest part of the movie.

The bad guys may be the stars, but Batman can still pop in to fight crime. Since Batman has been around for 20 years, his entire rogues gallery is pretty much already out there. Ben Affleck doesn’t have a huge role, but it is neat to see him in the batsuit once again, and driving around in the Batmobile. Deadshot surrenders for his daughter and mostly does the mission for her. I’ll admit that Deadshot being given a chance at target practise was the only comedic scene that genuinely made me laugh. Margot Robbie was perfectly cast as Harley Quinn the moment she hangs from a prison cell to the tune of “You Don’t Own Me.” Her trademark Brooklyn accent isn’t too cartoony, but she does keep all of her catchphrases. Harley also has a lengthy backstory that feels like it was shot by someone just as crazy. Dr. Quinzel becoming the Joker’s psychiatrist and subsequently falling in love is so rushed that it’s hard to get any emotion out of it.

Apart from the electric shock scene and a few moments from the extended edition, Harley & Mr. J’s abusive relationship is never done justice. Harleen willingly jumps into a vat of chemicals and the Joker jumps in after her. She dances at a nightclub and rides with the Joker in a purple lamborghini pursued by Batman. Harley manages to kiss the Dark Knight as he saves her from drowning, but that’s how she ends up in prison. This is easily the worst Joker ever put to film. Jared Leto tries way too hard in an attempt to distinguish himself from other Clown Princes of Crime. His behind the scenes method acting sounds more like an excuse to be a jerk. The gangster angle was stupid, his subtle voice and laugh are more goofy than intimidating, and his other eccentricities feel more random than psychotic. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is worse, but Leto is a close second for most botched archenemy. I can’t imagine his role would’ve been better had his scenes remained intact.

The Joker is mostly around to try and release Harley from the Suicide Squad. He encounters a really annoying security guard played by the very punchable Ike Barinholtz, infiltrates A.R.G.U.S, and tries to defuse the bomb in her head. Jai Courtney ended up being surprisingly good as Captain Boomerang. Even if he is a drunken Australian stereotype with an out of nowhere pink unicorn fetish. Why is that funny? Boomerang spends most of the movie fighting whenever he wants, flirting with Katana, and stealing jewels in a flashback sequence. Ezra Miller has a quick cameo as the Flash, but he feels too soon. Despite Akinnuoye-Agbaje being covered in scales, Killer Croc also feels like a black stereotype who’s just there to look cool and say one-liners occasionally. His cannibalistic side is mentioned, but exploring the sewers are the extent of his metahuman abilities. El Diablo is a partial Mexican stereotype, but Jay Hernandez is easily given the most passionate performance in the movie.

Despite possessing immense fire power, Diablo chooses not to fight as penance for accidentally killing his wife & kids. Although it’s more complex than a movie this dumb deserves, calling the Suicide Squad his family after sharing drinks for 2 minutes is extremely forced. Adam Beach is totally wasted when Slipknot shows up at the last possible second as “the man who can climb anything.” I immediately knew he had to be the one team member that was made an example of. Boomerang convinces him to escape and Slipknot’s head is suddenly blown off. David Harbor, Scott Eastwood, and Common are also wasted with nothing memorable to do. Katana shows up at the last possible second with a cringy explanation from Flag. Karen Fukuhara tries, but she’s also given little to work with. All we know is that Katana is there to bodyguard, carries a sword that traps her victims, and lost her husband to it.

Rick Flag’s sole purpose in the movie is to shout exposition. Made worse with Joel Kinnaman’s annoying Southern accent. Flag has a bickering relationship with Deadshot that never quite comes together. Deadshot has better chemistry with Harley since Smith & Robbie both appeared in Focus together. Flag is also given a mostly off-screen romance with June Moone. As soon as I saw the trailers, I knew the Enchantress had to be the most villainous villain in a movie full of villains. I don’t buy Cara Delevingne as an archeologist, but the way she transforms into the Enchantress is pretty cool. Waller keeps the Enchantress in line by controlling her heart and stabbing it if she betrays her. As the demonic Enchantress, Delevingne also feels random with an extremely cringy magical hula dance. Her vague evil plan is to destroy the world using a machine that shoots a sky beam into the atmosphere. She creates disposal CGI minions by kissing Midway City citizens and turning them into ugly thousand-eyed blobs. She also summons her brother Incubus as a civilian with the worst CGI I’ve seen in a long time.

It’s all very cliché, but it’s still enough to force the Suicide Squad into action. The 2 hour runtime never feels justified since the team spends most of the movie wandering around, making comments, and plotting against Flag. The slow motion Zack Snyder style action is a minor highlight when they fight in the streets and end up in a high rise building. Everything else is mostly a lot of helicopters being destroyed. I guess it’s supposed to be a surprise when Waller ends up being the mission objective, but Suicide Squad is too sloppy to make it work. Harley attempts to flee with the Joker, but his helicopter is taken down as well. Waller is captured and the movie comes to a screeching halt when the team stops for drinks. Any attempt at an emotional core is lost when Harley tells Diablo to own killing his family. They all casually stroll into the climax after Flag sets them free for reasons. The Enchantress shows Flag, Deadshot, Quinn, and Diablo the life they want. Flag imagines being with June, Deadshot imagines killing Batman, Harley imagines a normal life with the Joker, and Diablo sees his wife & kids again.

Only Diablo manages to snap them out of it and fight Incubus as some sort of fire monster. In the end, he’s the only other team member who dies. Killer Croc swims through the sewers and for some reason throws a bomb in place of Captain Boomerang. Deadshot shoots the Enchantress’ machine after a bizarre scene where he sees his daughter. Harley’s bat is practically useless, but she manages to strike the Enchantress’ heart with Katana’s blade. Flag crushes her heart and manages to get June back. Waller somehow didn’t die after everything that happened, so the movie returns to square one with everyone sent back to prison (with the exception of special requests). The Joker returns to break Harley out of prison, but don’t expect that relationship to be followed up on. The DCEU really tries to copy Marvel by having a mid-credits scene where Bruce Wayne receives files about the metahumans he’s looking for from Amanda Waller. I can’t exactly call Suicide Squad a disappointment, but it’s far too chaotic to win me over.

SUICIDE SQUAD

The Suicide Squad walk together

Preceded by: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice & Followed by: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

World’s Finest

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will always be DC’s biggest failure. Man of Steel was meant to be the start of a DC Extended Universe, but the movie’s polarizing reception wasn’t the best start. Meanwhile, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was consistently successful with several movies between 2013 and 2016. Rather than take things slow or rethink their plan, DC made the unwise decision to simply rush to the Justice League without fleshing out all of their superheroes. Making this the unceremonious first on-screen appearance of Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. Although it seemed like a bad idea, I couldn’t deny my excitement when a Batman vs. Superman movie was finally in development. Superman & Batman will always be the most iconic superheroes of all time.

So seeing them together in live-action on the big screen was long overdue. It’s honestly kind of pathetic that despite owning the rights to the entirety of DC comics, Warner Bros. never bothered to make this a reality until now. The biggest mistake was letting Zack Snyder take the reigns. In order to differentiate DC movies from Marvel movies, Batman v Superman became excessively dark, grim, and practically joyless. That may work for the Dark Knight, but the Man of Steel needs to be the exact opposite. That’s what made so many animated portrayals work a lot better. I never thought this before, but I very nearly considered skipping Dawn of Justice when the response turned out so negative. Not because I listen to critics, but because I knew I’d be devastated by seeing two of my favorite superheroes treated so unfairly…

3. Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Batman vs. Superman

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made me nervous all throughout its production. The title alone was confusing. No matter what Zack Snyder says, calling it Batman v Superman instead of Batman vs. Superman was a ridiculously decision. Attaching the Dawn of Justice subtitle just made it a mouthful. Then came the casting. As I said in my Man of Steel review, Henry Cavill is the perfect Superman. He remained in perfect shape and continued to wear a similar red & blue costume. The main difference is how shiny it is. It’s hard to make out any other differences considering Superman is almost always seen in the dark. Which is the biggest problem with his portrayal in the movie. Since Dawn of Justice isn’t technically a Man of Steel sequel, Superman is almost constantly brooding and hardly ever smiles. That role should always belong to Batman. The very reason why it seems like Zack Snyder only directed a Superman movie to get to Batman.

The DC Extended Universe was going to reintroduce the Dark Knight eventually, but it was still very soon after the completion of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. Christian Bale was never considered since his Batman very much exists in his own Gotham City. As per tradition, the well known actor chosen to portray Batman became controversial. This time it was Ben Affleck taking the heat. 13 years ago, Affleck swore off ever playing a superhero again. Although Daredevil wasn’t his best, I do think he got too much criticism for it. Ironically, Ben Affleck technically played Superman in the movie Hollywoodland. Batfleck definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, but I gave him a chance. In the end, Batman surprised fans and audiences alike by being the best thing about the movie. Even if he is way more brutal than he should be. The first teaser made it clear that a lot of inspiration came from the renowned Frank Miller storyline The Dark Knight Returns. Although Affleck was in his 40’s, he got into impressive shape. Just like the comics, Batman often has the same bulky physique as Superman.

This was also the first time Batman was depicted with his original black & grey costume. Unlike all of the black armor we’ve seen before, this batsuit is fabric with a fat bat symbol, shorter bat ears, and a darker utility belt. The bleak political tone of the teaser felt too much like Watchmen without being R rated. I was a little uncomfortable knowing kids were going to see a superhero movie this mature. Especially since toys and LEGO sets made it seem more kid friendly. I’m honestly not sure what my opinion would’ve been had I seen Batman v Superman as a kid. The second trailer emphasised the battle of the titans, but that was never the story I wanted. I never had a problem with the two of them fighting, but they really should’ve become super friends a lot sooner. I’ve always liked Superman & Batman’s friendship because despite their differences, they have a mutual respect for one another. Which is why the third trailer spoiled the ending by emphasising the DC Trinity finally together on the big screen.

Wonder Woman is just as iconic as her fellow DC heavyweights, but she’s never been given a chance in a live-action movie. Although it feels very tacked on, Wonder Woman’s presence was another highlight of the mostly disappointing movie. Her casting choice similarly drew criticism. Like most fans, Israeli actress Gal Gadot seemed a little too thin to play the athletic Amazon. Although she did manage to get into shape, her seriously desaturated Xena warrior costume didn’t inspire much confidence. Until a second image that got it to an appropriate shade of red & blue. I was just happy that she wasn’t wearing pants, but rather adopted a more gladiatorial design that didn’t stray too far from the comics. The same can’t be said for this movie’s version of Superman’s archenemy. I knew Lex Luthor had to be introduced after Man of Steel, but Jesse Eisenberg is not who I had in mind. They really should’ve gone with someone who already played a convincing bald villain like fan favorite Bryan Cranston. Although Eisenberg is actually the same age as Cavill, he’s still too young to run LexCorp.

Which is why he’s turned into a super annoying rich kid with daddy issues and a distracting head of hair. Of course Luthor has faced Batman in the past, but making him too similar to the Joker or Riddler was a mistake. Eisenberg’s overly eccentric mannerisms are so out of place that he earned a much deserved Razzie win for Worst Supporting Actor. Despite the multiple Razzie nominations, record box-office drop, and Rotten Tomatoes score as low as 29%, I still saw Batman v Superman in theaters with my family. Although Dawn of Justice very nearly ended up on the same day as Civil War, it’s clear which hero vs. hero movie ended up better. Apart from the 3 hour & 3 minute long Ultimate Edition, I haven’t seen the theatrical cut since. Even at its original runtime of 2 hours & 31 minutes, Dawn of Justice is 2 hours too long. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem for a superhero movie, but there’s so much unnecessary crap in the movie that drags out everything until the climax. Literally every cool moment in the trailer occurs in one night at the very end of the movie.

Batman v Superman begins with yet another adaptation of Bruce Wayne’s parents being shot in an alley. Only this time it’s in 3 minute slow motion with Thomas Wayne calling out to his wife Martha Wayne (remember that!). Thomas is played by the Comedian himself Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Martha is played by fellow Walking Dead actress Lauren Cohan. Batman’s origin gets weirder when Bruce falls into a well and the bats lift him to the surface. All of this is shown alongside a rather boring title sequence. The only interesting thing about the credits is Batman co-creator Bill Finger finally getting the acknowledgement he deserves. That’s followed by the Battle of Metropolis from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. Turns out the billionaire owner of Wayne Enterprises was there the entire time. Since the immense destruction seen at the end of Man of Steel was so controversial, Dawn of Justice directly acknowledges the consequences.

Bruce proves his heroism by running directly into a cloud of smoke, but Superman is made to look like a bad guy with all the death General Zod caused. Turns out a Wayne Towers building was the one they fought in, and Bruce for some reason needed to go all the way to Metropolis to tell his employees to leave. Unlike any other media, Metropolis and Gotham City are literally right across the street from one another. 18 months later, Lois Lane is seen again on an assignment to interview a terrorist in an African village. Amy Adams is about as good as she was before, but the same can’t be said for Jimmy Olsen. Michael Cassidy plays the famous photographer who very annoyingly gets shot when it’s revealed he’s an undercover CIA agent. Lois is held hostage, but thankfully Superman comes to her rescue. My biggest problem with Dawn of Justice is their treatment of Superman. I’m really not interested in philosophical questions about whether or not the world needs a Superman.

There are nonstop TV reports, talk shows, and interviews with real life personalities discussing if Superman is good for humanity. All I want is a bright, hopeful Superman, but all Clark does is mope around and question why he should bother being a hero. It doesn’t help that Ma Kent continues to give him inconsistent advice. Diane Lane is given a much more active role as Martha and even Kevin Costner returns as Jonathan in a weird hallucination. Lois & Clark have understandably become a couple in the time since Man of Steel, but it leads to a truly cringy bathtub scene. Cue obligatory shirtless moment. The Daily Planet is also shown in more detail with Clark taking on his traditional journalist role. Laurence Fishburne returns as Perry White, but he really comes across as a jerk for some reason. Maybe it’s because no one buys newspapers anymore. I was fine with the religious parallels in Man of Steel, but they go way too overboard in a much more offensive way. Most of that can be seen in Lex Luthor’s reason for hating Superman.

Luthor constantly compares the last son of Krypton to God, but he lost me as soon as I saw him playing basketball. Eisenberg is an Oscar nominated actor who could’ve very easily been a sinister villain, but instead he pesters U.S. Senators and force feeds one a Jolly Rancher. Luthor’s evil plan makes even less sense. His overly complicated plot involves framing Superman with the crime of burning African villagers when he saved Lois. The task was handled by Callan Mulvey as the Russian terrorist Anatoli Knyazev. In the comics, he goes by KGBeast, but in the movie he just uses a flamethrower. Holly Hunter plays a Southern Kentucky senator named June Finch who Luthor needs to get through to import Kryptonite. The famous green meteorite makes a substantial appearance thanks to Zod’s cashed ship. Luthor plans to use Kryptonite against Superman and other metahumans like him. The Kryptonian scout ship also makes a substantial appearance with Luthor using the corpse of General Zod for further nefarious purposes.

Mercy Graves, Lex Luthor’s bodyguard from Superman: The Animated Series, makes her first theatrical appearance too, but Tao Okamoto is given practically nothing to do. Most of Luthor’s evil plan involves getting Batman & Superman to fight each other. Batman’s reason for hating Superman is made pretty clear when Metropolis is destroyed. Scoot McNairy is given way too much attention as an original Wayne Enterprises employee named Wallace Keefe who resents the Man of Steel for the loss of his legs. Spray painting “False God” on a Superman monument was a step too far for me. Luthor exploites Keefe’s resentment by giving him a high powered wheelchair for an upcoming court hearing for Superman at the Capitol. The Batcave is actually pretty cool with a work area for Alfred Pennyworth. Rather than be a straightforward butler, Jeremy Irons is a much more hands on Alfred. Bruce has now been Batman for 20 years. You can tell by an easter egg of Robin’s bronze costume with a message from the Joker written on it. It’s only recently that Batman’s become more violent. This Dark Knight has absolutely no problem with killing criminals, carrying Batguns, and branding his enemies.

Superman’s reason for hating Batman is a lot less clear unless you watch the Ultimate Edition. Everything makes more sense when Clark uses his journalism skills to expose Batman as a maniac vigilante. He’s first seen branding a human trafficker who gets killed in prison. Since the police don’t seem to care, Clark grows resentful. Lois is also off using her journalism skills to track a mysterious bullet linked to the attack on the African village. Only in the Ultimate Edition do we see Jena Malone as a S.T.A.R. Labs employee analyzing the bullet. Secretary Swanwick also makes an appearance helping Lois find answers. Meanwhile, Bruce uses all of his world’s greatest detective skills to trace the “White Portuguese.” Clark Kent & Bruce Wayne finally meet when they’re both sent an invitation to Luthor’s gala. Their back in forth is everything I ever wanted for a first meeting. Including an indirect reference to the Joker. Unfortunately, it’s all undermined by Lex making their encounter seriously on the nose.

The only saving grace in this scene is the first time we see Diana Prince. Her very brief role sees her in fancy dresses looking for something that Lex has on her. Bruce is understandably attracted to Diana, but they don’t meet again until the climax. Superman’s public image is saved when he rescues civilians at a Day of the Dead celebration. He also rescues people in a flood and pulls an enormous tanker through the ice. Bruce still isn’t convinced when he has an extremely out of nowhere Knightmare. A post-apocalyptic future shows Batman in a trench coat shooting followers of Superman and encountering Parademons. An evil Superman drops in to heat vision Batman’s men before ripping his heart out. As if that wasn’t out of nowhere enough, the Flash suddenly shows up in a blaze of lightning to tell Bruce to find the rest of the metahumans. I’m a big fan of DC comics, but that was just too much. When Bruce’s file is completely decrypted, he finds what Diana is looking for, as well as the location of Lex’s Kryptonite importing ship.

Batman hops into a cool weapon-toting Batmobile with a sleek military design. Ignoring Alfred’s pleas not to go to war with Superman, Batman plans to steal the Kryptonite. More than an hour into the movie is when Superman & Batman finally come face to face. Superman tears through the Batmobile and threatens Batman not to answer the Bat-Signal. Batman retorts with the awkward “Do you bleed” line before he flies away. Superman later flies to the Capitol where he’s met with a divided crowd. Senator Finch discovers Lex’s deception, but she’s too late to do anything about. In what is easily the most cringy scene in the entire movie, Lex calls back to an earlier scene by peeing in a jar before blowing up the entire capitol with Keefe’s wheelchair. Superman doesn’t do anything to stop it, but at least the Ultimate Edition makes him look heroic by rescuing people afterwards. It’s also made a lot more clear later on that the wheelchair was lined with lead.

Bruce goes over the edge when he receives messages from Luthor telling him he let his family die. So Bruce gets into bat-shape, weaponizes the Kryptonian, and dons a heavier armored Batsuit inspired by the one seen in The Dark Knight Returns. The suit modulates Batman’s voice even more than it already was. Lex gets Superman’s attention by throwing Lois off a roof when she discovers his plan. Superman of course rescues his true love in time, but Luthor’s final push is threatening to kill Clark’s mother Martha if he doesn’t kill Batman in an epic fight. After 2 whole hours in the Ultimate Edition, we’re finally given the Batman v Superman fight we were promised. Made extra dramatic by being set during a dark and stormy night. Their battle starts off slow with Clark pleading for Bruce to listen to him, but he continues to attack anyway. Normally Superman would destroy Batman in an instant, but they’re put on equal footing with Batman’s Kryptonite gas and high powered suit. When Superman regains his powers, they’re not so even anymore. One last Kryptonite blast is enough to bring down Superman with a demented Batman planning to kill him with a Kryptonite spear.

SPOILER ALERT! A close second for cringiest scene in the movie is the laughable way Batman & Superman instantly become friends. Clark tells Bruce to “Save Martha!” and he stops when he remembers his mother was also named Martha. The comic book coincidence is seriously enough to end their fighting. Some people try to justify the moment as clever, but it could’ve been done in a much less over-the-top way. Lois arrives to help Clark and Batman promises to save Martha while Superman goes after Luthor. Batman hops into a cool stealth Batwing that Alfred is able to remotely pilot from the Batcave. Batman brutally taking out criminals in a warehouse is easily the most awesome Dark Knight scene in the entire movie. It’s almost exactly like the Arkham Asylum video game as Batman defuses enemy guns, uses his grappling hook to fling crates, and deflects attacks with his wrist blades. Apart from a stray F bomb, it’s really in this sequence that the Ultimate Edition’s R rating is justified. Anatoli threatens to burn Martha alive, but Batman saves her using his cape. Batman immediately refers to himself as a friend of Martha’s son.

At some point between all the action, Bruce even managed to send Diana an email with the picture she was looking for. The picture is of Wonder Woman during World War I with allies who will soon be important in her own solo movie. The email also comes with specialized clip packages for the rest of the metahumans. Ezra Miller plays a long haired Barry Allen stopping a robbery at lightning fast speed. Jason Momoa plays Arthur Curry underwater taking out a surveillance camera with a trident. Ray Fisher plays Victor Stone being turned into a cyborg thanks to his father Silas Stone played by Joe Morton. Rather than give any of them their own solo movie beforehand, these minute long teasers are about all we get of the Justice League. The second part of the climax manages to squeeze in “The Death of Superman” on top of everything else. Lex has been studying Kryptonian archives and somehow managed to create Doomsday using his blood mixed with General Zod’s corpse. It would’ve been a complete shock if the trailer didn’t give it away! Giving everyone (myself included) the chance to criticize Doomsday’s CGI cavetroll design.

The monster is also given the power to create EMP blasts and only gains a more boney appearance after a devastating fight with Superman. The President voiced by other Snyder mainstay Patrick Wilson, sends a nuke into space that nearly kills Superman. His strength only restores when the sun comes out. Batman tries to fight Doomsday, but a heat blast manages to take down the Batwing. The only cheerworthy moment in the entire movie is Wonder Woman dropping in at the last minute with her indestructible bracelets in a power stance. Han Zimmer & Junkie XL teamed up to compose a real badass theme for the Amazing Amazon. Wonder Woman subdues Doomsday with a bracelet strike as she readies her sword, shield, and Lasso of Truth. There’s an awkward exchange between Superman & Batman before they join Wonder Woman in the awesome DC Trinity shot I always wanted. Superman & Wonder Woman are obviously the ones inflicting the most damage on Doomsday. Batman tries to survive by grappling away and recreating the thunderous cover of The Dark Knight Returns.

Lois really helps out when she goes underwater to retrieve Batman’s Kryptonite spear. The only thing lethal enough to kill a Kryptonian. Wonder Woman lassos Doomsday, Batman fires a Kryptonite gas bomb, and Superman deals the final blow at the expense of his own life. I really wish I could feel something, but Dawn of Justice does such a poor job with the character that everything feels so rushed. Despite criticizing Superman throughout most of the movie, the whole world holds a funeral for the fallen hero. A funeral is also held for Clark Kent in which Martha, Pete Ross, Lana Lang, Perry, Jenny, and Lois attend. Bruce & Diana also attend from a distance discussing plans for the Justice League. Lex studies a hologram of Steppenwolf before he’s arrested in the Ultimate Edition. Then Luthor finally gets his trademark bald head in prison. As if they weren’t trying hard enough to make him a Batman villain, the Dark Knight visits Luthor with the intention of branding him, but he decides to send him to Arkham Asylum instead. The movie ends with Lois throwing dirt on Superman’s grave before it suddenly starts to levitate. Batman v Superman has some cool moments, but it’s far too dark and messy to inspire confidence in DC’s rushed attempt at a cinematic universe.

4. Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman fight together

Preceded by: Man of Steel & Followed by: Suicide Squad

A Symbol of Hope

Man of Steel is a little less than super, but man did it have potential. Since today is my birthday, I thought I’d talk about one of my favorite DC superheroes of all time. Superman is an enduring icon responsible for the prolonged success of the superhero medium, but he hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to live-action movies. Superman: The Movie is a 70’s classic and its 80’s sequel Superman II was a vast improvement. Then everything fell apart with the release of the equally terrible Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. So many Superman movies were pitched throughout the 90’s & 2000’s, until Superman Returns was greenlit.

Although the 2006 reboot has merit, it still wasn’t the action-packed Superman spectacle fans like me wanted. DC never lost hope in rebooting the Man of Steel, but Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel is partly why they had to hurry. If Warner Bros. didn’t make a movie soon, then his estate could’ve taken legal action. Similar to Tim Burton nearly directing Superman Lives, the success of The Dark Knight trilogy led Christopher Nolan to produce an edgier version of Superman. Hence why both movies utilize the character’s nickname. I only got nervous when controversial Watchmen director Zack Snyder was hired as director. More nervous when I discovered his darker take on the big blue boy scout was intended to be the start of a DC Extended Universe…

1. Man of Steel

Superman stands up for Smallville

Man of Steel is just as polarizing as other Zack Snyder productions. On one hand, I’m thrilled that Man of Steel finally took advantage of Superman’s immense power and role as a savior for mankind. The movie is full of Christian symbolism that the trailers very much leaned into. Zack Snyder knows how to make a thrilling trailer that’s sometimes better than the movie itself. I got excited the moment Superman took flight, but I couldn’t ignore the grim aesthetic. Apart from the less than favorable Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder is mostly known for R rated graphic novel adaptations. So it was more than a little bizarre to choose him to direct such a colorful and optimistic hero. There’s a very natural, sometimes colorless look with shaky cam and a little too much forced swearing. As well as David S. Goyer’s trademark cringy dialogue. Man of Steel isn’t a perfect Superman movie, but some of the changes work very well.

The best decision they could’ve made was casting the British Henry Cavill as the all-American Superman. He’s honestly the closest DC has ever come to capturing the bulky square jawed Man of Steel from the comics. Cavill lives up to the tradition of casting a relative unknown as Superman. Although he was previously cast in the proposed Superman: Flyby movie and even auditioned for Superman Returns before Brandon Routh got the part. He was practically destined to play Superman, given his comic accurate black hair and blue eyes. Despite being the first Brit to play the part, Cavill has a convincing American accent. His version of Superman appears a lot earlier in the movie since it goes for a more nonlinear take on his famous origin story. Krypton is given a lot more attention before it blows up.

Portraying Superman’s homeworld as a far more alien planet with flying creatures, nanotechnology, and spaceships was a good way to differentiate it from the crystal empire we’re used to. Costumes are similarly made to look more like an ancient society that wears armor and spandex with their house crest on it. Just like Marlon Brando, Russell Crowe is another Oscar caliber actor who was perfect for Jor-El. Unlike other adaptations, Jor-El is just as physically fit as the rest of the Kryptonians. Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer plays Lara Lor-Van in the process of giving birth to the last son of Krypton. Another change is having Krypton be an artificially conceived civilization with a predetermined genetic code stored in a Codex. Jor-El is the chief scientist who warns a council of Krypton’s impending doom.

This time the cause of destruction is Krypton mining the planet’s center until it becomes unstable. Jor-El takes the Codex and infuses Kal-El with it before sending him to Earth in a traditional space pod. Their A.I. named Kelor is voiced by Snyder mainstay Carla Gugino. Although Superman has a whole rogues gallery of underused villains, Man of Steel once again uses General Zod. Luckily Michael Shannon was just unhinged enough to differentiate his Zod from Terence Stamp’s version. This Zod is a radicalized soldier who was once friends with Jor-El. He’s made especially evil by killing Jor-El before the planet blows up. Just like Superman II, Zod and his soldiers survive thanks to being sentenced to the Phantom Zone. They’re sent in phallic space pods that enter a portal protecting them from the planet’s destruction.

Although Kal-El’s pod is seen hurtling towards Kansas, Clark Kent’s entire childhood is shown through multiple flashbacks. Making it similar to Batman Begins, as well as the TV series Smallville. Young Clark experiences his powers for the first time in Elementary school. Everything is noisy, his X-ray vision won’t turn off, and he uses his heat vision to keep everyone out. Man of Steel leans more into the alien side of Superman’s origin. He’s more of an outcast that no one understands except for his parents. Diane Lane makes an impression as Martha Kent. This version of Ma Kent is a caring adoptive mother, but she’s not a pushover. The second flashback shows Clark being bullied by a redhead Pete Ross and defended by a brunette Lana Lang. Clark rescues the school bus full of kids from drowning, but problems arise when Pa Kent enters the picture. Both of Superman’s fathers are Robin Hood, but although Kevin Costner is an ideal Jonathan Kent, his parental advice is questionable.

No matter how worried Ma or Pa Kent would be to lose their son, there’s no way either of them would suggest Clark not use his powers to save people. Jonathan comforts Clark when he reveals the truth about his alien birth, but they have a falling out in the third flashback scene. They argue right before a tornado that claims Jonathan’s life, because he didn’t want Clark to reveal himself. It’s definitely different, but at least a fourth flashback makes Pa Kent seem a little less selfish by teaching his son self control. In the present day, Clark secretly helps people as he searches for answers. Cavill is first seen in a beard working on a fishing boat. He rescues people on an oil rig and uses his super strength in an obligatory shirtless scene. It’s worth it since Cavill is more jacked than any other actor who played Superman. Clark also helps a waitress in a bar by destroying an obnoxious trucker’s truck.

His travels eventually lead him to the Arctic where he meets ace Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane. Another understandable deviation from the source material. Amy Adams was more than up for the task, but I do prefer Lois to have black hair and be a little more feisty. Although it does seem like destiny since she appeared in an early episode of Smallville and auditioned for Lois twice before. She’s sent to investigate what turns out to be a Kryptonian scout ship standing in for the traditional Fortress of Solitude. Lois is met by Christopher Meloni as relatively important Air Force Col. Nathan Hardy and Richard Schiff as comic book scientist Dr. Emil Hamilton. She catches Clark sneaking into the ship which has a robotic security system. Lois & Clark officially meet when the latter is injured and the former uses his heat vision to save her.

When Lois returns to the Daily Planet, her outlandish story of aliens among us is rejected by Perry White. Despite the modern era, the Daily Planet is still depicted as a newspaper company. The only change is editor-in-chief Perry White being portrayed by the black Laurence Fishburne. Although he’s far more passionate about Marvel, Fishburne is a perfectly authoritative boss. The same can’t be said for his mostly forgettable news crew consisting of the obscure Steve Lombard and intern Jenny Jurwich instead of photographer Jimmy Olsen. Lois gets into trouble when she leaks her story to the online competition. Meanwhile, Clark learns who he is after using a key to activate the ghost of Jor-El. Another interesting change that’s different from the floating head we usually see. Jor-El tells his grown up son all about Krypton’s demise, his birth name Kal-El, the deception of General Zod, and reveals the House of El symbol to stand for hope. All while revealing a Kryptonian suit made especially for him.

The Superman costume is updated with more modern detail and the absence of his traditional red trunks. It’s not a major loss since he retains a dark blue costume with a magnificent red cape, red boots, and a bigger ‘S’ symbol. A hair curl was probably asking for too much, otherwise the costume is perfect. The best scene in the entire movie is Superman learning to fly for the first time. As he draws energy from Earth’s yellow sun, Superman takes off with a sonic boom. Cavill isn’t always given time to flesh out Clark’s personality, but his optimism is definitely seen when he’s flying. Although he stumbles at first, Clark doesn’t give up. It’s truly inspirational when Superman succeeds by extending his arms and soaring into space. Lois follows her leads (including an older Pete Ross who works at IHop) until she manages to find her reluctant protector. Only dropping her story when he explains why his adoptive father thought the world wasn’t ready to know aliens exist.

The whole world knows as soon as Zod makes his presence known. He sends a distorted message commanding Kal-El to turn himself over to them. Lois’ story gets her arrested by the military, led by Harry Lennix as Lt. General Calvin Swanwick. The movie’s Christian themes are made much more apparent when Clark seeks answers from a priest. Superman willingly turns himself in for the protection of humanity. Along with the safe return of Lois Lane. Although I’d mostly call it a mutual attraction, Cavill & Adams do have good chemistry. Their iconic romance seems to get its start from Lois being the only person apart from Ma Kent that he can talk to. She even suggests the name Superman before getting cut off. Superman’s handcuffs were just a sign of trust since he can easily break out of them anytime. When he does, he tells the military to trust him as he confronts Zod. The first Kryptonian to be sent down is German actress Antje Traue as the comic accurate villainess Faora-Ul. She’s basically this movie’s version of Ursa, since she has a similar thirst for battle.

Faora takes Superman and Lois to their retrofitted phantom drive spaceship. Although there’s no Kryptonite in Man of Steel, using the Kryptonian atmosphere as a weakness was a clever idea. Zod seems like an ally at first, but his ruthless plan to terraform Earth is revealed in a disturbing vision where Superman is buried beneath human skulls. Lois helps them escape using Clark’s key to summon Jor-El. She escapes in a pod and Superman flies out to rescue her with his arms in a cross position. Superman finally has a decent action scene when Zod threatens his mother at the Kent farm. The atmosphere temporarily subdues Zod, but Faora and a much larger Kryptonian take over. The battle of Smallville is an destructive fight that wrecks both IHop and Sears. Superman uses his strength, flight, and heat vision, but Faora uses her lack of morals against him. When he gets overwhelmed, Superman manages to win the fight by earning the militaries trust in the end.

They casually refer to him as Superman while making a plan to defeat Zod. When the Kryptonians unleash a world engine on the planet, they attempt to use his escape pod as a miniature black hole. Metropolis is in the direct line of fire with immense destruction that Perry is caught in the middle of. Zod also plans to extract the Codex from Superman’s body when all life is wiped out. As Lois attempts to activate the pod, Superman fights off the engine’s defense mechanism. Despite being weakened, Superman manages to save Metropolis before it’s too late. Christopher Reeve’s face can even be seen for a split second. Although it could never beat the John Williams “Superman March,” Han Zimmer’s score is just as powerful. Dr. Hamilton manages to figure out the pod and take out Zod’s ship with Faora and the rest of his soldiers on it.

Superman returns in time to save Lois and they kiss for good measure. Zod grows increasingly hostile when he loses his very purpose in life. Their fight is exactly the anime inspired CGI spectacle I was hoping for, but it’s tough to ignore the prolonged destruction of Metropolis. Zod learns to hone his senses and ends up in an evenly matched fight. They throw each other through buildings, trade punches in the air, use heat vision, and even end up in space. Although the proposed DC Extended Universe was still in its infancy, the Battle of Metropolis does reveal many easter eggs. Including several LexCorp logos, a S.T.A.R. Labs building, and a destroyed Wayne Enterprises satellite. The intense brawl ends back on Earth where Zod tries to kill civilians using his heat vision. What follows is the most controversial scene in the entire movie.

The only way to stop Zod is by breaking his neck. My theater applauded the decision, but I understand longtime fans being turned off by Superman performing such a violent act. I’m kind of in the middle. At least he’s genuinely remorseful about it. Really I blame Zack Snyder for writing the hero into a corner. It’s followed by a much lighter scene where Superman tells Swanwick not to keep tabs on him and a young female officer comments on his attractiveness. In the end, I really had to smile when Clark embraces his humanity by finally putting on his glasses to work for the Daily Planet. Unlike all other adaptations, Lois simply agrees to play along with his new identity. Man of Steel continues to divide people to this day, but I think it’s an acceptable chapter in Superman’s heroic legacy.

2. Man of Steel

Superman gets arrested

Followed by: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Spidey Lives

Spider-Man: Far From Home was the break we needed after the biggest event in superhero movie history. As the twenty-third installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Far From Home is basically a 2 hour epilogue for Avengers: Endgame. Despite the massive book closing scale of Endgame, Far From Home was like Ant-Man in how it officially ended Phase Three. Both of which have been referred to as MCU palette cleansers. I enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming a lot more than I was expecting, but Spider-Man’s European Vacation sounded a little pedestrian. Especially after something as crowd pleasing as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I was once again skeptical, but for different reasons. My only concern was how they seemed to be handling their choice of villain.

Despite Sony continuing to keep their sticky fingers on the franchise, their influence wasn’t as obvious as Homecoming. Jon Watts is still the director, but Marvel Studios producer Kevin Feige continued to guide the high school franchise similar to Harry Potter. Which is why the sequel came out only 2 years after the first solo movie. Putting the marketing team in the tricky position of promoting Far From Home without spoiling the circumstances of Spidey’s return. The first teaser made no mention of Endgame. The second trailer released after Endgame made the ironic decision to have notable big mouth Tom Holland warn the viewer of spoilers. Far From Home ended up being an undemanding follow up with enough surprises to make it memorable…

49. Spider-Man Far From Home

Spider-Man swings with MJ

Spider-Man: Far From Home isn’t nearly as game changing as Spider-Man 2, but it’s a vast improvement over The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It actually has more in common with Iron Man 2 for a variety of reasons. Both sequels were closely released in their respective MCU Phases and both deal with drone warfare. The title Far From Home made it clear that every film in this Spider-Man trilogy was going to use the word “Home.” It was a weird decision, but I’ve come to embrace it. Just like I slowly started to embrace the changes Sony made to the Spider-Man mythos. It’s still not the comic accurate version I wanted, but the cast is just as funny as they were before. Even if Sony continued announcing every single ethnically diverse student in Peter’s class, regardless of importance. As well as make several contractually obligated references to the MCU. Just like Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home begins with the Sony & Columbia Pictures logo before showing the only Marvel Studios characters they were able to secure.

Nick Fury & Maria Hill finally make another substantial appearance after gradually decreasing in importance. Neither appeared in Captain America: Civil War, but they were at least turned to dust in the Infinity War after-credits scene. Cobie Smulders continued making appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, while Samuel L. Jackson had a digitally de-aged co-starring role in Captain Marvel. They both had a quick cameo at Stark’s funeral, but their role in the MCU was never clarified. They seem to be continuing some form of S.H.I.E.L.D. business when they track a disturbance in Ixtenco, Mexico. It’s there that classic Spider-Man villain Mysterio finally makes his grand debut. In the comics, Quentin Beck is a disgraced Hollywood special effects genius who uses high tech illusions to start a life of crime. I’ve been wanting to see a live-action Mysterio for years, since he’s another iconic Stan Lee & Steve Ditko creation who’s debut is as old as The Amazing Spider-Man #13. His costume was tricky to pull off, but they manage to make his green spandex, purple cape, and goofy fishbowl helmet look cool on the big screen. The only thing added was a golden chestplate.

Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t known for blockbusters, but he actually has a long history with the Spider-Man franchise. Fun fact: Gyllenhaal was originally meant to replace Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2 if he didn’t get over his back problems. They also coincidentally played brothers in the movie Brothers. So Gyllenhaal was due for a Spider-Man role. He makes a surprisingly convincing villain, but the trailers tried very hard to convince you otherwise. Unless you’ve never cracked open a comic book, I was waiting patiently for the big reveal. Until then, the extremely obscure Elementals were passed off as the main villains. Unlike the comics no one’s ever heard of, the movie uses elements from existing Spider-Man villains to create the Elementals. Wind is modeled after Cyclone, Earth is modeled after Sandman, Water is modeled after Hydro-Man, and Fire is modeled after Molten Man. Their CGI appearances are a lot more monstrous than any of their loose comic counterparts. Hydro-Man’s alter ego Morris Bench is the only one explicitly mentioned.

The Wind Elemental has already been defeated, so Mysterio magically disposes of the Earth Elemental in Mexico before the Marvel Studios logo is shown. Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” plays over an “In Memoriam” of all the fallen Avengers. Despite the generally breezy lighthearted tone, Far From Home couldn’t ignore the immediate aftermath of Endgame. Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Vision are all acknowledged along with the Snap, which will forever be referred to as the Blip. This movie treats it more like a joke with students vanishing, then reappearing in awkward positions. It’s still very tragic, but good humor can come out of it. Betty Brant and her co-anchor also explain what the 5 year interval means for the students who weren’t snapped out of existence. Peter Parker, his best friend Ned Leeds, crush MJ, bully Flash Thompson, and other students are the same age they were, but some students are 5 years older. Notably Peter’s romantic rival Brad Davis played by Asian actor Remy Hii. Flash should probably be the one vying for MJ’s affection, but he’s still a snobby rich kid.

I’m still not crazy about their portrayal of Mary Jane, but only referring to her as MJ at least made it less distracting. She’s still a sarcastic oddball, but Zendaya is a lot more likeable in the part. Tom Holland and Zendaya have great chemistry in interviews, so I expected their characters to get together eventually. I actually love the teen romance in the sequel. Peter suddenly has a big crush on MJ and it’s all he can think about during their class trip to Europe. It’s an unexplained 2 week field trip that seems very extravagant for high school Juniors. Apart from Washington D.C. in Homecoming, this is the first Spider-Man movie to leave Queens, New York for almost the entire movie. Various European countries are explored since the MCU tends to be much more international. Peter’s motivation is the exact opposite of his motivation in Homecoming. Before he wanted to prove himself as an Avenger, now he just wants to take a break as a regular teenager. I know it would’ve slowed down the movie’s momentum, but I do wish they didn’t delete the sequence of Peter getting ready to go on vacation.

Aside from featuring the bodega, it also would’ve been the first action scene with Peter in his Iron Spider suit. Without it, almost an hour goes by without Spider-Man. Peter does however suit up as Spider-Man for Aunt May’s charitable benefits. May was also blipped out of existence, so the cliffhanger of her discovering her nephew’s secret identity hasn’t been addressed until now. Turns out she’s very okay with it. Marisa Tomei’s role is slightly expanded to include a possible romance with Happy that makes Peter uncomfortable. Although Iron Man’s story has all but concluded, Jon Favreau continues to stick around as Tony’s faithful forehead of security. Happy has become a lot less frustrated with Peter, but he does tell him not to ignore calls from Nick Fury. Despite his death, Tony Stark’s legacy is felt all throughout the sequel. Whether it’s memorials, documentaries, or reporters asking Spider-Man if he’ll be the next Iron Man. After being foolishly forgotten about in Homecoming, Infinity War rightfully acknowledged Spidey’s famous spider-sense. Aunt May unfortunately gives it the awkward nickname “Peter tingle.” She tells him to pack his spider-suit, but he decides not to put it in his travel case (with Uncle Ben’s initials written on it).

Peter’s goal to get closer to MJ goes hilariously awry on a flight to their first destination. Martin Starr was already funny in the first movie, but now Mr. Harrington is a major scene stealer. J. B. Smoove is also added as Mr. Dell, another bumbling science teacher who blames the movie’s events on witches. Despite the size of the group, only the important students get attention while on the trip. Tony Revolori continues to try his best as Flash. Admiring Spider-Man while at the same time picking on Peter is a good callback to the comics. He’s also given a live streaming subplot and a very out of nowhere moment dedicated to his absentee parents. Jacob Batalon and Angourie Rice get the most hilarious subplot when Ned & Betty suddenly become a couple. It’s an unexpected reference to the comics and ironic considering they both starred in Every Day together. Ned is still the reliable best friend, but he is more distracted by Betty. Venice, Italy is where Peter buys a black dahlia necklace for MJ, until everything goes wrong when the Water Elemental attacks. Since Peter left his suit at their crappy hotel, he wears a jester mask to hide his identity.

It’s not how I imagined Spider-Man would meet Mysterio, but it is cool to see Peter webbing a bell tower in place and Mysterio using magic against the watery beast. The name Mysterio actually comes from news coverage where the students compare him to Iron Man & Thor. Mysterio does fit comfortably in the MCU thanks to Doctor Strange making magic believable. Things get worse for Peter when Nick Fury tranquilizes Ned and hijacks their summer vacation. If Mr. Stark was the cool uncle, then Nick Fury is the mean step-dad. It’s another relationship that isn’t totally necessary, but it does add further validation to Spider-Man’s role in the MCU. He mentions seeing Parker at the funeral and supplies him with a pair of glasses that Tony left for him. The glasses contain an A.I. called E.D.I.T.H. who replaces Karen from the first movie since suit hijinks are no longer a thing. E.D.I.T.H. is Stark’s contingency operating system humorously short for “Even Dead I’m the Hero.” Peter removes his mask to meet Fury’s agents since he’s been kind of reckless with his secret identity, especially in front of the Avengers. Along with Hill, Fury’s team also includes Numan Acar as Dmitri Smerdyakov. He never becomes the Chameleon, but he does go undercover as Peter’s replacement bus driver.

Peter also meets Quentin Beck for the first time while accidentally giving him the name Mysterio. Although I knew he was deceiving Peter as a hip replacement mentor, his story is very convincing. Beck makes the Multiverse theory a lot more credible by claiming to be from Earth-833. He even refers to their dimension as the comic accurate Earth-616. Mysterio claims to be the last of a heroic battalion that fought the Elementals on his Earth. Fury specifically wants Spider-Man’s help since Thor is offworld, Doctor Strange is unavailable, and Captain Marvel’s name shouldn’t even be invoked. This is actually the first time her superhero name has ever been mentioned. When Peter turns Fury down, he redirects his trip to Prague, Czech Republic instead of Paris, France. While in Easter Alps, Austria, Peter is supplied with a new stealth suit modeled after the all-black Spider-Noir costume. Things get awkward when a sexy European agent orders him to take off his clothes and Peter is caught with his pants down by Brad. Although Brad seemed cool before, he suddenly becomes a jerk who tries to use the photo to get with MJ.

Peter quickly discovers what E.D.I.T.H. can do when he accidentally calls a drone strike on Brad. Making you wonder why Tony would give something so dangerous to a teenager?! Peter webs up the drone without anyone noticing, but things get extra complicated when they arrive in Prague. His class is sent to a boring opera to keep them safe while he fights the final Fire Elemental. Fury is understandably furious at Parker, so Beck has a heart to heart with him before their battle. Peter & MJ gradually get closer, but continually leaving without explanation makes her increasingly suspicious. Betty & Ned follow her when she sneaks out. They’re all caught in the middle of stealth suited Spider-Man and Mysterio’s fight against the emerging Fire Elemental. Ned covers for Peter by saying he’s a European rip-off of Spider-Man called Night Monkey. Another hilarious running gag that comes up several times. The fiery beast gets more dangerous when it draws power from metal, but something suspicious happens when Spider-Man webs onto a cloaked device that MJ finds. Mysterio saves the day while Peter helps his friends. Fury offers Mysterio a position on the Avengers, but tells Parker that he’ll be ready when he steps up.

Peter & Quentin bond even more at a bar where the former makes a decision almost as dumb as Tony giving his address to a terrorist in Iron Man 3. Peter hands E.D.I.T.H. over to Beck since he believes the glasses were meant for someone else. When he leaves, Mysterio finally reveals himself to be the villain as he drops the illusion. Not even death can stop Tony from creating villains that Spider-Man ends up fighting, because Beck and his entire team are all disgruntled ex-employees from Stark Industries. Turns out Beck is the inventor of Tony’s holographic B.A.R.F. projector seen in Civil War. He got fired when Stark called him unstable. Ralphie himself Peter Billingsley returns as another disgruntled employee who was yelled at by Obadiah Stane as far back as the first Iron Man. Beck runs through every other employee’s purpose on his team in a scene that kind of goes on too long, but is important in showing his motivation. Since the world believes in superheroes, Mysterio plans to turn himself into the greatest hero of them all by manufacturing threats with drones creating the illusion. It’s a clever way to draw from modern paranoia, but Beck trying to be threatening in a motion capture suit does throw me off a bit.

When the trip gets called off, Peter tries to make the most of it by taking a walk with MJ. She abruptly figures out he’s Spider-Man and she’s proven right when they both discover Mysterio was behind the Elementals through a lost projector. Ned is only slightly jealous when MJ becomes part of the friends of Spider-Man club. Peter gets into Night Monkey mode while trying to tell Fury everything he knows in Berlin, Germany. When their entire meeting turns out to be an illusion, it leads to my favorite sequence in the entire movie. Mysterio’s mind bending illusions are pure Steve Ditko with several trippy images of Spider-Man placed in his original costumes, fighting clones of himself, accidentally webbing up dangerous objects, and seeing a zombie Iron Man rise from the grave. Fury saves Parker by shooting Beck, but it was yet another ruse to get him to reveal everyone who knows about his deception. Spider-Man is hit by a train and wakes up in the friendly Broek op Langedijk, Netherlands. Peter calls Happy, who arrives in a Stark jet hovering over a field of surprisingly CGI flowers.

Happy is the only person Peter can trust when he gives him a pep talk about living up to Iron Man’s legacy. Hopefully people will stop comparing Spider-Man to Iron Man from here on out. The Infinity Saga comes full circle when Peter works on a new suit to the tune of “Back in Black” by Led Zeppelin? They fly to London, Englund where Mysterio creates his biggest illusion yet. An amalgamation of the Elementals creating an Avengers level threat. He also plans to kill Peter’s friends and Fury using his drones. Fury catches on to Beck, with Hill blowing up a drone that was targeting him. Happy helps Peter’s friends (and Flash) by taking them to a museum where MJ knocks out a drone with a mace. The upgraded spider-suit is similar to the original Stark suit apart from using black instead of blue. Spider-Man glides into battle in order to destroy all of the drone projectors. It’s definitely a unique climax that requires extra creativity when Peter’s web-shooters run out. Spider-Man recreates Cap’s badass hammer wielding moment by carrying a makeshift shield and a bomb that he uses to destroy the drones.

He catches Beck, but he hides in an illusion that tests his “Peter tingle.” Spider-Man wrecks the remaining drones that end up injuring Beck. Further deception that Peter immediately catches onto. Peter deactivates the rest of the drones as Mysterio “dies” from a gunshot wound. After the battle, Peter finally shares an adorkable first kiss with MJ. They become a couple while Ned & Betty suddenly break up. Peter also gets answers about whether or not Aunt May is dating Happy. He’s in love, but she calls it a summer fling. What follows is Spider-Man finally swinging on skyscrapers while texting MJ. The sequel ends when he takes her for a terrifyingly romantic ride through New York. The credits sequence is another fun scrapbook set to “Vacation” by The Go-Go’s. The mid-credits scene is so shocking that I’m still trying to process it. After his swing with MJ, Peter is blindsided by a video of Beck framing Spider-Man for his crimes and revealing his secret identity to the world. More surprising is the news source being an angry balding online commentator version of J. Jonah Jameson from TheDailyBugle.Net.

It’s sad that we’ll never see another Stan Lee cameo, but I practically screamed when J. K. Simmons reprised his irreplaceable role from a whole other universe. The shocking revelation ends on another “What the f-” from Spider-Man. Unfortunately, it’s followed by a post-credits scene that reminds me of everything I didn’t like about Captain Marvel. Ben Mendelsohn and Sharon Blynn reprise their roles as Talos & Soren who were in disguise as Fury & Hill during the entire movie. Not only does it make little sense, it further angers me to know Skrulls are still good guys who did it as a favor to Nick Fury. Fury is actually on a Skrull space station in a beach simulator. I didn’t know it then, but Fury asking for his shoes ended up being the last we saw of the MCU for over a year. All the Marvel Netflix shows were being cancelled, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was ending, the young adult shows were over, and Hellstorm doesn’t count. The financial highs of Endgame (along with releasing it on a Tuesday), helped Far From Home become the highest grossing Spider-Man movie of all time. Spider-Man: Far From Home offers a brief, mind bending, deceptive, and fun look into the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

50. Spider-Man Far From Home

Mysterio casts an illusion

Preceded by: Spider-Man: Homecoming & Followed by: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Whatever it Takes

Avengers: Endgame may be the greatest experience I’ve ever had in a movie theater. As the twenty-second installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame concluded the Infinity Saga. 22 films worth of storytelling was packed into an unprecedented 3 hour epic. Never in my wildest dreams as a Marvel comics fan did I think I’d live to see something so monumental. The MCU was a massive undertaking that was never a guaranteed success. Phase One needed to introduce the core members of the Avengers, Phase Two needed to take risks, and Phase Three made the Marvel Cinematic Universe even bigger than it already was. A perfect formula that only Marvel Studios has been able to accomplish. The impact of the MCU kept the series popular all throughout the 2010’s. The cast of legendary actors, rising stars, and lesser known celebrities only grew with each passing film. Producer Kevin Feige kept everyone on the right path with an 11 year plan in place.

Writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely continued to balance action with drama & humor. Directors Anthony & Joe Russo took on the workload of not one, but two massive crossovers in a row. Avengers: Infinity War was all anyone could talk about after its shocking ending. I continued to theorize a mostly correct idea of how the fourth installment would play out. My only curiosity was how Disney would handle marketing the movie without spoilers. Endgame has one of the most unique marketing campaigns of all time. Despite its length, only about 20% of footage was ever revealed. Most of which was heavily edited to omit characters, recolor hair, erase key objects, and occasionally include scenes that aren’t in the movie. Endgame was so secretive that LEGO sets were complete false advertising. I made sure to avoid spoilers whatever it takes. So that everything I saw in the movie theater was almost completely brand new. We may never see another movie like Avengers: Endgame again. MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! if that’s even necessary for what was once the highest grossing movie of all time…

46. Avengers Endgame

“AVENGERS!… assemble”

Avengers: Endgame just might feature the largest cast in movie history. Unlike Infinity War, every major superhero makes an appearance regardless of how big their role is. Endgame reflects that by opening with the only missing Avenger from the last movie. Hawkeye made his theatrical debut in Thor. It was a bit part that established him as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. with bow & arrow expertise. The Avengers expanded his role as a founding member of the team, but most of his screen time was dedicated to mind control. His absence was never explained in The Winter Soldier despite being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who would’ve likely been around when it fell. Age of Ultron dedicated far more time than was necessary to Clint Barton’s secret wife and children. Along with establishing the mentor role he plays in Wanda & Pietro Maximoff’s redemption. Civil War brought Hawkeye onto Team Cap despite the problems it would’ve caused for his family. Which is why Infinity War used the same excuse they did for Scott Lang’s absence. Unlike Ant-Man and the Wasp, the Barton families quiet farm life isn’t exactly worthy of an entire film.

All we need is a less than 10 minute cold opening to explain where Hawkeye has been. Jeremy Renner has always played Barton as more of an everyman, but this was the first time I truly felt for his character. Clint is seen shooting arrows with his daughter Lila Barton played by the director’s daughter Ava Russo. Cooper Barton and Nathaniel Pietro Barton are also more grown up since the last time we saw them in Age of Ultron. Linda Cardellini returns as Clint’s wife Laura Barton to deliver the first of many jokes in the movie. Endgame may be more somber than most superhero movies, but humor has always been a mainstay of the franchise. *Snap* Until the heartbreak of Clint’s entire family being turned to dust. The Marvel Studios logo plays alongside “Dear Mr. Fantasy” by Traffic. One thing you’ll notice about the opening is that every fallen Avenger has been erased. Trailers used a similar tactic of having everyone who was snapped away in black, white, and red clips from past movies.

Any self-respecting Marvel fan knew they would come back, but it was a clever way to market the characters without giving anything away. Thanos was very much the lead character of Infinity War, but Endgame reverts back to the original Avengers. Which is why all six of them survived the snap. Survivors include: Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Scott Lang, Pepper Potts, Carol Danvers, Okoye, Rocket, and Nebula. It’s an interesting collection of characters to keep alive, but they all serve a purpose. The most unexpected pairing was Stark & Nebula who were the only people left on Titan. Their dynamic is shown in a fun game of paper football, but their engineering expertise comes in handy when they try to pilot the Benatar. It’s been 23 days since Thanos snapped his fingers, so Tony is perpetually losing hope with CGI making Robert Downey Jr. look a lot more malnourished.

Tony Stark has come a long way since his debut in Iron Man. Stark has built over 50 Iron Man suits, unintentionally created several supervillains (sometimes literally), faced demons from his past, helped assemble the Avengers, fell in love with Pepper, fought Captain America, took Peter Parker under his wing, and always attempted to safeguard the planet with a suit of armor around the world. Tony records a bleak message to his true love on a broken Iron Man helmet before drifting off. Nebula has also come a long way since her debut in Guardians of the Galaxy. Going from a ruthless assassin for her father Thanos to a willing anti-hero for her sister Gamora. Given her role in The Infinity Gauntlet storyline, it was understandable that she would be kept alive. Karen Gillan gradually became more of an A-lister with Endgame being her biggest role to date. I was already emotional, but Nebula comforting a dying Stark is when I officially started to tear up.

Until he’s saved by a bright deus ex machina of Carol Danvers in space. Although I very much love Endgame, I can’t really hide my dislike of Brie Larson. Even in interviews with the rest of the Avengers cast it seemed like they didn’t get along with her. Ever since her one month debut in Captain Marvel I was nervous about just how big her role would be. There’s barely any time dedicated to her actually meeting the team. If you completely ignore the Infinity War after-credits scene where Nick Fury contacts her and the Captain Marvel mid-credits scene where she suddenly shows up at the Avengers Compound, then her appearance would seem a little out of nowhere. Carol flies the Benatar to safety where a living Pepper Potts is waiting alongside Natasha, Rhodey, Bruce, and a freshly shaved Steve. It’s a tearful reunion for Pepper and an awkward reunion for Steve since the last time he saw Tony was when they fought in Civil War.

Although they’ve never been friends, Rocket & Nebula do take time to comfort each other when none of the Guardians are brought back alive. Ever since Rocket’s debut in Guardians of the Galaxy, he’s been a reliable smartass with excellent range from Bradley Cooper. Apart from his technical expertise, I knew the main reason he was kept alive was for the more grounded Avengers to interact with a talking raccoon. Back at the Avengers Compound, the survivors view a consensus of all individuals who were snapped away. Aside from the ones we already knew, it does confirm Shuri and the forgotten Dr. Erik Selvig to be among the fallen. Steve & Natasha have very much assumed command of the Avengers as they come up with a strategy to find Thanos. No one has gone through more changes than Thor. Chris Hemsworth made an effort to reinvent Odinson every chance he got. Going from a stoic god to a more humorous three dimensional character.

Ever since his debut in Thor, the God of Thunder has denied himself the throne of Asgard, had a rocky relationship with his adoptive brother, and suffered more loss than any Avenger combined. Thor lost his mother Frigga, father Odin, sister Hela, Asgard, a majority of his Asgardian people, his best friend Heimdall, brother Loki, his hammer Mjolnir, his long blonde hair, his eye, and is partially responsible for failing to kill Thanos. So he’s understandably angry and doesn’t say a word. Tony is also pretty angry at Steve when he calls back to the scene in Age of Ultron where his vision correctly foretold the events of Endgame. The Avengers didn’t assemble after Civil War and that’s why they lost in Infinity War. This is easily Downey Jr’s best performance as the longrunning Tony Stark. There’s no time for jokes when the malnourished Stark gives up and collapses with his best friend Rhodey and fianceé Pepper by his side.

Danvers’ primary contribution to the team is offering to get Stark a Xorrian Elixir and vowing to kill Thanos. Larson actually shot her Endgame scenes before her solo movie. So it would explain why she wears more makeup and a black tank top that possibly references her Ms. Marvel costume. Rhodey finally points out the fact that Carol has been MIA for 23 years and everyone shrugs it off when she says it’s because she’s always on other planets. Endgame suffers from the same problem as Captain Marvel by giving her so much power, yet removing her from the equation until the last minute. All the while having other characters hyping her up. Thor only trusts Carol when he summons Stormbreaker without her flinching. Although Rhodey has been around since Iron Man, Don Cheadle didn’t make his debut until Iron Man 2. It was the first major MCU recasting, but not enough to keep War Machine from making an impact.

Rhodey has gone from dedicated Air Force Colonel to superhero with strong Military ties to wounded warrior after serving on Team Stark to a more full fledged member of the Avengers. Similar to Gillan, this is easily Cheadle’s biggest role so far that gives him more memorable and humorous moments. He’s very much the most realistic Avenger in a team of gods, aliens, and monsters. When Thanos uses the Stones again, Nebula helps the team by locating the planet he always intended to retire on. As Steve uses language to call the team to action, the Avengers: Endgame logo appears with the most dramatic score yet. Rocket offers some levity when everyone who hasn’t been to space raises their hand. I’ll bet a man who’s lived through the 1940’s never expected to travel to space, but Steve Rogers has definitely been through a lot.

Chris Evans blew everyone away ever since he made his debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. Steve was once a skinny kid from Brooklyn, until he took the Super Soldier formula, fought in World War II as Captain America, got frozen in ice, helped assemble the Avengers, cracked the conspiracy around S.H.I.E.L.D, fought Iron Man to protect his friend Bucky, and gave up his shield to go on the run. All the while he’s kept the locket of his true love Peggy Carter. Steve wears his S.H.I.E.L.D. STRIKE team uniform, Natasha keeps her short blonde hair, Rhodey wears his Mark IV War Machine armor, Bruce continues operating the Hulkbuster armor, Thor’s look from the last movie stays the same, and Carol does recon while wearing the costume she wore in the Captain Marvel mid-credits scene.

Thanos’ garden planet is completely uninhabited. His CGI appearance is still very convincing, but he does have notable burns on his face. Thanos hangs up his armor and lives peacefully until the Avengers break into his hut, hold him down, and Thor chops off his hand wearing the damaged Infinity Gauntlet. It’s not a good look for the heroes, but they’re right to be furious. Everyone is taken off guard when Rocket discovers an empty Gauntlet. Turns out Thanos used the Stones to destroy the Stones since he sees his completed mission as “Inevitable.” He even manages to reconcile with his daughter Nebula before Thor goes for the head. I know Endgame is PG-13, but I never expected to see a brutal decapitation in a Disney movie. My theater applauded and even laughed, but the moment is far from humorous. One swift motion of Thor’s axe is enough to abruptly put an end to the main villain of Avengers: Infinity War with more than two and a half hours left to go…

47. Avengers Endgame

Thanos sends his troops

Avengers: Endgame continues to catch the audience off guard with a text that slowly reads “Five Years Later.” I knew Endgame would have a time jump, but this is the first time that’s ever happened in the MCU. Most Marvel Studios movies stick to the year in which they were released. Granted, the reveal only works the first time you see the movie. Rest assured my entire theater gasped. In the year 2023, the full ramifications of the Snap are shown in a barren New York. Are you sure this isn’t 2020? Each Avenger deals with the 5 year interval differently. Steve spends most of his time running a support group for grieving civilians. One of which is Thanos creator Jim Starlin. The other is Endgame co-director Joe Russo as the first gay character in the MCU. Even though it doesn’t affect the plot and can be easily edited out. Steve is a true hero who can relate to everyone’s struggle, but the real hero of Endgame is the rat that saved the universe. If not for a rat activating a sensor, Ant-Man would’ve never gotten out of the Quantum Realm.

Scott Lang has been a real breath of fresh air ever since his debut in Ant-Man. Scott took on the mantle of Ant-Man, was roped into the conflict in Civil War, grew into Giant-Man, ended up under house arrest, partnered up with the Wasp, and got stuck in the Quantum Realm when his team was snapped out of existence. Paul Rudd had hilarious comedic banter with the Avengers in Civil War, but now his role is appropriately increased with tons of scene stealing moments. Ken Jeong is one of two Community alumni who cameos as the security guard who lets Scott out of lock up. Luis’ ugly brown van with the quantum tunnel was just sitting there for 5 years. Scott is of course very confused when he wanders around a post-snap San Francisco. When he realizes what’s going on, a panicked Lang desperately searches for his daughter’s name on a series of monuments commemorating the people who are gone.

All he finds is his own name, since everyone assumed he was one of the victims. Making the reunion between Scott and his now grown up daughter Cassie all the more meaningful. Lesser known actress Emma Fuhrmann plays the 16 year old Cassie Lang. Although I know I’m gonna miss Abby Ryder Fortson, aging up Cassie was necessary for later films. The Avengers continue avenging thanks to Black Widow. Natasha Romanoff has gone through so much since her debut in Iron Man 2. First she was an undercover spy working for S.H.I.E.L.D, then she was a founding member of the Avengers, then she helped take down her own organization, then she sided with Team Stark, but defected to Team Cap, and finally, she went on the run for an indeterminate amount of time. Not to mention her difficult past as a former KGA agent. Nat has always been the heart of the Avengers. Which is why she works so hard to keep her family together.

This is very much Scarlett Johansson’s most emotionally resonant performance in the MCU. Her hairstyle has changed so many times, but her final look is her natural red hair mixed with the blonde highlights from when she was undercover. Later she ties it into a braid. While eating a peanut butter sandwich, Romanoff talks Avenger business through high tech monitors. Rocket and Nebula are present along with Rhodey, Okoye, and Danvers. Captain Marvel’s third look incorporates the short blonde hair she has in very recent comics. As well as a color swapped red & blue costume that looks a lot more like the original Captain Mar-Vell. As if on cue, Carol leaves for practically the entire movie to help aliens on other planets. The look she gives Rhodey is a possible reference to their equally recent relationship from the comics. Rocket makes fun of Carol’s haircut and now sports a blue uniform closer to the one he wears in the comics.

Never thought I’d see Nebula joining the Avengers, but here we are. It’s a welcomed redemption. Danai Gurira has made an impression ever since her debut in Black Panther, but the Dora Milaje aren’t superheroes. Okoye just checks in with news about an earthquake beneath the ocean. It was never confirmed, but I’m claiming that as a reference to Namor the Sub-Mariner. Rhodey stays behind a little longer to talk to Nat about a string of deaths linked to Barton. You really see her pain when she becomes desperate to help her best friend. When Rhodey leaves, Steve continues to console his close friend. Ever since teaming up in The Winter Soldier, Steve & Natasha have trusted each other through even the most dire of circumstances. Steve offers Nat optimism, but it’s clear to both of them that the fighting will never stop. A solution comes knocking in the form of Scott Lang showing up to the Avengers Compound. Lang wasn’t around for Infinity War, but now he’s a key figure who offers a game changing plan to help bring everyone back.

My theory was confirmed as soon as Scott suggested using the Quantum Realm as a time machine. Time travel has always been a major part of superhero universes, so it was only a matter of time before it would play a bigger part in the MCU. Doctor Strange only scratched the surface of what was possible. Scott regains his lost intellect, but quantum physics were Hank Pym’s department. So Steve, Natasha, and Scott need to track down someone a lot smarter than they are. Tony is finally able to retire and even start a family with Pepper at a remote cabin. More surprising is Tony & Pepper having an adorable 5 year old daughter named Morgan. The name Morgan Stark originates from a jealous cousin Tony had in the comics. Lexi Rabe is a precocious child who works off of Downey Jr. very well. It’s great to see Stark’s signature sarcasm as a parent. She’s first seen wearing a helmet that Tony made for his wife. Although all three of them never appear on-screen together, it’s still nice to see the Stark family living in peace.

Until Steve, Natasha, and Scott show up talking about time travel. Although a much more forgiving Tony is smart enough to figure it out, he’d much rather keep the life he’s made for himself. It’s only after washing the dishes and seeing a photo of himself with Peter that Tony casually tries to crack time travel. Kerry Condon deserves a special shout out even though F.R.I.D.A.Y. never had as much personality as J.A.R.V.I.S. Tony Stark has always been a genius, but now he really lives up to his futurist title when he invents time travel without even trying. He tucks Morgan in soon after and she says “I love you 3000.” Although part of Tony is telling him to throw away his discovery, Pepper convinces him not to. Pepper Potts will forever be the longest running love interest in the MCU. She went from personal secretary to CEO of Stark Industries with her concern over Tony’s well being present from the beginning.

Gwyneth Paltrow was the only actress to appear in The Avengers alongside her hero, and even though she nearly left after the Iron Man trilogy completed, it was important to bring her back in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The only thing that changed was Pepper’s comic accurate red hair becoming Paltrow’s natural blonde. Meanwhile, Steve, Natasha, and Scott search for a bigger brain. I was in complete shock when Banner was finally revealed 5 years later. No one has gone through more unusual changes in the MCU than Hulk and his alter ego Bruce Banner. Although Banner technically made his debut in The Incredible Hulk, Mark Ruffalo famously replaced Edward Norton in The Avengers. Making that the true first appearance of his version of the green rage monster. Banner was first dedicated to finding a cure, but he eventually accepted his place alongside the Avengers. Hulk fought with the team in Code: Green emergencies until he got so out of control that he left the planet. Sakaar accepted Hulk as a warrior, but Banner was suppressed for 2 years.

Although Hulk refusing to come out in Infinity War was frustrating, it was all part of Marvel’s plan to give him an arc. Since Universal Pictures made it difficult for them to make any more Hulk movies. I didn’t think it was leading to Professor Hulk. Turns out Bruce had been experimenting with gamma radiation off-screen and was somehow able to merge his brain with Hulk’s brawn. Hulk’s CGI appearance has changed drastically throughout the years. His more monstrous features eventually grew to resemble Ruffalo more and more until they decided to simply merge them together. Smart Hulk is far more optimistic, wears shirts, eats large amounts of food, and is a friend to all his adoring fans. One of the kids is Joe Russo’s other daughter Lia. It’s an especially funny bit when Scott tries to get a photo with the kids, but no one recognizes him as Ant-Man. Although quantum physics aren’t Bruce’s area of expertise, he does agree to help. They do a test run with Scott back at the Avengers Compound that goes hilariously wrong when he becomes a child, an old man, and a baby. “Time travel!”

Tony arrives just in time with a device that will allow them to travel through time instead of time traveling through them. Steve & Tony finally reconcile after their feud in Civil War with the latter bringing the formers shield. Cap went an entire movie without his mighty shield, so it’s just great to see him embrace it once again. Tony’s only condition is bringing everyone back without erasing the last 5 years and assembling the whole team. Rhodey, Nebula, and Rocket are easy since they’ve all remained close with the Avengers. Scott’s taco is blown away when the Benatar lands and War Machine refers to him as “Regular-sized man” when he lands. Hulk kindly offers Scott extra tacos as he sets off with Rocket to find Thor to the tune of “Supersonic Rocket Ship” by The Kinks. Just like the comics, the remaining Asgardians were able to live on Earth in a small fishing community in Tønsberg, Norway.

New Asgard doesn’t look like much, but at least they’ve managed to survive. Turns out Thor’s entire Ragnarok supporting cast survived the Snap. Tessa Thompson returns as Valkyrie to greet Hulk & Rocket as well as warn them that Thor isn’t in the best condition. I was thrilled to see the return of Thor’s long blonde hair, but very much wasn’t expecting him to let himself go. Fat Thor was equal parts shocking and humorous. Although Hemsworth had to deal with a wig on top of a thick beard and a realistic fat suit covering his muscles, he made the most of it by once again becoming one of the funniest characters in the movie. People deal with grief differently, so it’s not hard to believe Thor would become a heavy drinking party god with a beer belly who uses Stormbreaker as a bottle opener. At least Thor has his good friends Korg & Meik by his side. Taika Waititi was too much of hidden gem to let go after all. They play dated video games like Fortnite and Thor has gotten so low that he resorts to threatening NoobMaster69 over the internet.

Although he’s mostly comedic, Hemsworth really shows his range when Hulk mentions Thanos. Thor breaks down at the sound of his name and refuses to join the fight due to grief. Until Rocket tells him there’s beer on the ship. Romanoff manages to track Barton in Tokyo where he’s taken on the comic accurate moniker Ronin. Barton is in the darkest place out of all the Avengers since the loss of his family drove him to kill major crime syndicates. First it was the Cartel, now it’s the Yakuza led by Hiroyuki Sanada as Akihiko. Ronin is merciless while dressed in a dark brooding costume equipped with a sword. Underneath, Clint is sporting a mohawk and tattoos. Nat & Clint reconcile when she offers him hope to see his family again. As Rocket works on the quantum time machine, Stark appropriately refers to Thor as Lebowski.

Understandable considering Thor looks just like the Dude, but awkward when you remember Jeff Bridges was part of Iron Man. Since Hank is no longer around, the team only has so many Pym Particles to shrink them down in the Quantum Realm. Scott hilariously uses one up, but Clint offers to do the test run in his place. Nebula straps Clint into the quantum suit and Rhodey brings up the possibility of taking out baby Thanos. Pop culture references have always been a mainstay of the MCU, but they really go overboard when Scott & Rhodey list off every time travel movie ever made. Bruce clears things up with this movie’s confusing rules of time travel. In layman’s terms, affecting the past doesn’t affect the future. What it really does is open up an alternate reality that opens up the possibility of a Multiverse even more.

I love that the movie begins with Hawkeye and the hour mark comes when he travels back in time to his family farm. Clint is sadly unable to see his daughter in time, but it’s exactly the success the Avengers needed. The entire second hour of the movie is dedicated to Scott’s proposed “Time heist.” The Avengers come up with a clever plan to obtain all 6 Infinity Stones in the past. A past that almost every Avenger in the room has experienced. Although The Dark World isn’t a favorite amongst most MCU fans, it becomes extremely relevant thanks to the Reality Stone. Thor hilariously falls asleep and stumbles through an explanation of the movie’s plot. Most of the team is confused, but Scott is hanging on every word. Thor starts to get depressed when he remembers his mother dying and the fact that he and Jane Foster are no longer dating.

Rocket points out that the Power Stone was found by Peter Quill on Morag and pets an excited Scott for good measure. Nebula reveals the location of the Soul Stone to be a dominion of death where Thanos murdered her sister. As Hulk, Romanoff, and Stark ponder the location of Doctor Strange’s Time Stone, Nat comes to the realization that the Space Stone and Mind Stone are also in New York if they pick the right time. When everyone chooses a team and a destination, they stand together for one final civilian group shot. Then they suit up in matching quantum suits that combine Pym tech with Stark tech and a bit of Rocket’s futuristic technology as well. The special effects are so convincing that you don’t even realize the mostly white uniforms are 100% CGI. Their design was so last minute that the production never had time to create them. As the Avengers set out on their mission, Cap delivers another impressive speech about doing whatever it takes…

49. Avengers Endgame

Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor face Thanos

New York 2012 – The first team consists of Iron Man, Captain America, Ant-Man, and Hulk. They return to simpler times when the Avengers first assembled in New York City. The Avengers is still my all time favorite superhero movie, so it was awesome to see the iconic circle shot again from a different perspective. Hulk’s primary goal is to obtain the Time Stone, but not before getting embarrassed at the sight of his former self smashing everything in sight. The massive 2012 Hulk is nothing like the leaner Banner infused 2023 Hulk. Hulk leaps onto the Sanctum Sanctorum rooftop where he encounters a very much alive Ancient One fending off the Chitauri with her magic. Since Stephen Strange is currently a neurosurgeon, the Ancient One wears the Eye of Agamotto. I wasn’t expecting to see Tilda Swinton again, but her presence offers an excellent battle of wits between magic and science. The Ancient One knocks Banner’s astral form out of Hulk’s body exactly the way she did in Doctor Strange.

She dumbs down time travel further with a visual aid showing the devastating effects of removing a Stone from the past. So Bruce promises to bring all 6 Stones back when they’re done. The Ancient One only hands over the Time Stone when Bruce reveals Strange’s decision to willingly give up the Stone. The rest of the Stones won’t be nearly this easy. Tony Stark comes full circle in his Mark LXXXV Iron Man armor. The suit finally resembles the classic Iron Man costume from the comics with gold sleeves and a red torso. The armor has nanotech features, but it’s mostly a traditional suit. Steve blends in with his colorful star-spangled Avengers uniform that Tony lampshades by saying it does nothing for his ass. A shrunken Ant-Man continues to be a fanboy by claiming it’s “America’s ass.” Marvel once again shows off with the subtle digital de-aging of all six 2012 Avengers, plus Loki. The Battle of New York’s direct aftermath is not at all how I imagined it.

Turns out Thor had a muzzle at the ready in case Loki wouldn’t shut up. Johansson & Renner aren’t given much screen time in the past, but everyone else manages to recapture their former personality. Downey Jr. hasn’t changed much, but Hemsworth is a little more no-nonsense and Evans is a lot more virtuous. Lou Ferrigno wasn’t a fan of the film’s Hulk portrayal, so Ruffalo voices the Hulk in a funny bit where he’s forced to take the stairs. Turns out Loki’s scepter containing the Mind Stone was immediately taken by the S.H.I.E.L.D. STRIKE team that was secretly Hydra at the time. Maximiliano Hernández, Frank Grillo, and Callan Mulvey all return as Jasper Sitwell, Brock Rumlow, and Jack Rollins respectively. They’re on their way to Dr. List, but the famous scene from The Winter Soldier is brilliantly subverted when 2023 Cap enters the elevator. He’s able to obtain the scepter with two simple words: “Hail Hydra.” It’s both hilarious and a clever jab at the controversial 2016 storyline. Things get complicated when 2023 Captain America accidentally runs into 2012 Captain America thinking he’s Loki in disguise.

The battle of the Caps is an awesome evenly matched fight that’s very welcome after more than an hour without action. They even manage to work in his catchphrase, “I can do this all day.” Both Caps trade shields and punches until 2023 Cap is able to incapacitate 2012 Cap after telling him Bucky is alive. Steve gains the Mind Stone and agrees that his butt is “America’s ass.” Tony & Scott aren’t so lucky in their attempt to obtain the Space Stone. 2012 Thor & Stark face minor resistance from Secretary Alexander Pierce played again by Robert Redford in his final on-screen performance. Thor also brings up lunch (shawarma) before setting off to Asgard with Loki. Ant-Man causes a distraction by tampering with Tony’s arc reactor that Thor is able to fix with his hammer. 2023 Tony is knocked out by the Hulk while carrying the case with the Tesseract. Loki seizes the opportunity by transporting himself to his Disney+ series. Despite Loki’s untimely death, it was great to know Tom Hiddleston wasn’t finished just yet. Since Scott only had enough Pym Particles for one round trip each, Tony & Steve figure out a way to obtain the Space Stone and extra Pym Particles at the same time.

Asgard 2013 – The second team consists of Thor & Rocket. Their unusual chemistry in Infinity War made the pairing a natural fit. It was just great to see Asgard in its prime after it was destroyed in Ragnarok. Despite the more grim tone of The Dark World, Thor is still able to bring a few laughs to his struggle. 2013 Loki sits in his cell as his 2023 brother sneaks past him. Jane Foster has been a less than reliable love interest, but it would’ve been impossible to exclude her from the mission. Natalie Portman very surprisingly returns to the MCU after a 6 year absence. Her only contribution was an off-screen line of dialogue, because the shot of her getting out of bed is actually a deleted scene from The Dark World. Thor tries to go drinking at the thought of seeing his ex once again. He’s miserable, but not nearly as bad as he could’ve been in a deleted scene.

Thor starts to have a panic attack when he sees his mother Frigga right before she was killed by Malekith. So Rocket becomes a lot more responsible by reminding him what they’re fighting for. Until Rocket is stuck draining the Aether out of Jane himself when Thor runs away. It’s not a total loss, because it gives Thor a chance to seek counsel from his soon to be deceased mother who instinctively knows he’s from the future. Rene Russo (no relation) is finally given a chance to be a loving, wise, and witty mother to her troubled son. It’s an emotional heart to heart that gives Thor the confidence to embrace who he needs to be. As well as drop a few pounds when he’s ready. As Rocket obtains the Reality Stone, Frigga bids farewell to her son without hearing about her impending future. Before they leave, Thor discovers he’s still worthy by finally regaining his unbroken hammer Mjolnir.

New Jersey 1970 – Tony & Steve get a do-over by traveling to the 1970 S.H.I.E.L.D. facility where Captain America was born. The scene opens with the bittersweet final cameo of Marvel comics creator Stan Lee digitally de-aged to look like he did in the 70’s. He says “Make love, not war” to the army base, drives a car with a ‘Nuff Said bumper sticker, and rides with a woman meant to resemble his late wife Joan Lee. Stan Lee will be sorely missed, but Endgame was definitely a high note to finish on. Steve & Tony disguise themselves as a soldier and a scientist respectively. Yvette Nicole Brown is the second Community alumni to cameo as a S.H.I.E.L.D. employee suspicious of Stark’s hippy beard. Michael Douglas is once again de-aged with a groovy head of hair. His primitive Ant-Man office even pays homage to his original helmet from the comics. Steve lures him away to obtain his Pym Particles, but gets sidetracked when he sees the love of his life for the first time in decades. They reunited when Peggy was much older, but Steve nearly started a relationship with her niece Sharon after her death.

Although Hayley Atwell’s biggest movie role was in The First Avenger, she really made a name for herself in the ABC series Agent Carter. Meanwhile, Tony manages to find the Tesseract in a not so secure safe. Unfortunately, he also runs into his father searching for Arnim Zola. Much like Thor, Tony is given a unique opportunity to receive closure from a deceased parent. Howard Stark has always been a complicated man with an equally complicated father-son relationship. John Slattery was de-aged without a film to reference. Although Slattery has been around since Iron Man 2, Civil War was the closest thing to having Tony share the screen with his father. He uses the name Howard Potts while discussing his mother and the child she’s expecting. Tony finally comes to terms with his father by imparting him with the same advice he taught him. They share an awkward goodbye hug and Howard relays his confusion to his butler Edwin Jarvis. Paul Bettany doesn’t play the original Jarvis, but the MCU does go the extra mile by having James D’Arcy be the very first TV actor to reprise a role from a TV show. Tony & Steve leave 1970 with the Space Stone successfully obtained.

Morag 2014 – The third team consists of War Machine & Nebula. They’re easily the most unusual pairing since one is a former Air Force Colonel and the other is a former intergalactic assassin. I never expected to see them interact, but both went through a lot of difficult changes in their past which resulted in them living with bionic attachments. As Barton & Romanoff drop off a space pod, Nebula warns Rhodey that they aren’t the only ones in 2014 looking for the Stones. 2014 Nebula is killing for her father on the planet Korbin. When she ends up cornered, 2014 Gamora makes her fierce entrance. Despite Gamora’s tragic death, it was just nice to see Zoe Saldana painted green once again. Even if this version of her was yet to betray her father. Thanos returns over 2 hours into the movie to become the villain the Avengers will have to face in the end. Although Guardians of the Galaxy depicted the Mad Titan sitting in his space chair letting Ronan do all the work, this 2014 Thanos is more ruthless. Thanos wields a double bladed sword and continues to wear his armor.

Thanos gains a devastating advantage when Nebula’s network gets crossed with her 2023 doppelganger. Ebony Maw examines her memories back on the Sanctuary II where Thanos learns all about his future. Including his success in finding all 6 Infinity Stones and inevitable death at the hands of the Avengers. Chris Pratt is given slightly more screen time since Peter Quill is the one who found the Orb on Morag. The fun “Come and Get Your Love” Guardians of the Galaxy opening is shown without credits, but Quill’s impromptu dance number is more embarrassing from Rhodey & Nebula’s perspective. War Machine knocks Star-Lord out and Nebula uses his tools and her robotic hand to obtain the Power Stone. Things go terribly wrong when Rhodey leaves, since Nebula’s network interference causes her to be abducted by Thanos. Nebula suddenly comes face to face with the woman she used to be. 2014 Nebula is so desperate to please her father that she disguises herself as the 2023 Nebula in order to infiltrate the Avengers Compound and send Thanos to the present using Pym Particles to shrink their ship.

Vormir 2014 – The final team consists of Black Widow & Hawkeye. Natasha’s latest black catsuit pays tribute to all her past uniforms and one of many she wears in the comics. Clint returns to his Hawkeye identity, but he continues to wear most of his Ronin suit. They fly to Vormir in a shrunken Benatar that would be totally cool if not for the mortal danger. Nat & Clint have come a long way since Budapest. Although most of their close friendship hasn’t been depicted on-screen, Johansson & Renner’s acting really makes their final scene difficult. We all know what’s gonna happen when two loving individuals seek the Soul Stone. The Red Skull returns as the stonekeeper after roughly one year.

His replacement actor Ross Marquand essentially does the exact same thing he did before. That doesn’t make the scene any less heart wrenching. Black Widow & Hawkeye literally fight over who gets to make the sacrifice. Clint wants to do it for the terrible things he’s done in the last 5 years. Nat wants Clint to see his family again and will do whatever it takes to get the rest of the world back. It’s a tense personal fight where Hawkeye uses his bow & arrows and Black Widow uses her Widow’s Bite one last time before she makes the heartbreaking decision to jump. The death of Natasha Romanoff took me completely off guard and made me cry just as much as Gamora. Clint obtains the Soul Stone, but at what cost?…

50. Avengers Endgame

The Avengers enter the portals

As the Avengers return to the present, they’re faced with the sad truth that Natasha isn’t coming back. The original team mourns her loss in a way that effectively represents some form of the 5 stages of grief. Denial: Thor refuses to believe Nat is permanently dead since they have the Stones to bring her back. Anger: Hulk is so mad that he throws a bench. Bargaining: Clint yells at Thor for not understanding how the Soul Stone works and tells everyone that it should’ve been him that died. Depression: All Steve can do is sit and cry silently to himself. Acceptance: Tony is the first to ask if Nat had any family, but everyone knows the Avengers were her family. So they have to make her sacrifice count. Unbeknownst to everyone that 2014 Nebula has secretly infiltrated the Avengers Compound to bring the Sanctuary II through the quantum tunnel. All 6 of the purple, blue, red, orange, green, and yellow Infinity Stones are loaded into a right handed Nano Gauntlet of Stark’s own design. Rocket lightens the mood by pretending it’s gonna blow up.

Thor thinks he’s strong enough to snap his fingers, but everyone agrees he’s in no condition to do it. The gamma radiation emitted from the Gauntlet convinces Bruce that he was made for it. Hulk traditionally wears a pair of tattered pants, but this is the first time he wears some variation of a comic accurate purple jumpsuit. Tony hunkers down the Avengers Compound as he suits up in his comic accurate Iron Man armor while protecting Hawkeye. Rhodey suits up as War Machine, Scott suits up as Ant-Man, and Thor protects Rocket. Steve suits up in his most comic accurate Captain America costume to date. His boots and gloves remain brown, but there’s plenty of red star-spangled accents and a dark blue color scheme that incorporates the scales he has in the comics. Unlike all the other movies, Cap actually keeps his helmet on during the entire climax. All the power of the Gauntlet is just as dangerous for Bruce as it was for Thanos, but only at the 2 hour mark does Hulk- *Snap*

Hulk collapses with an injured arm, but still asks if the snap worked. Clint’s wife calls him after 5 long years and Scott optimistically watches the sun set on a fully restored universe… Until Thanos blows the entire Avengers Compound to rubble. A truly shocking turn of events that every single Avenger miraculously survives. 2014 Thanos lands on Earth and patiently sits at the Avengers doorstep waiting for his enemies to arrive. 2014 Nebula is sent to retrieve the Stones, unaware that her 2023 doppelganger is getting through to their sister Gamora. Most of the team is stuck under sinking debris with barely any hope of getting out. Rhodey releases himself from his War Machine armor to help Rocket, Hulk lifts most of the rubble, and a shrunken Ant-Man comes to the rescue. Leaving Hawkeye with the Gauntlet in an underground pipeline with horrific Outriders chasing him. He unknowingly gives the Gauntlet to the 2014 Nebula, but Gamora arrives to stop her thanks to 2023 Nebula. Nebula completes her redemptive arc by symbolically shooting her former self. As Tony helps Steve recover from the blast, Thor watches the Mad Titan from a distance.

They all agree it’s a trap, so Thor finally goes full God of Thunder by suiting up himself. A determined Thor summons not just Mjolnir, but Stormbreaker as well. Although he’s still fat, Thor is a total badass when a mighty blaze of thunder gives him his trademark cape, chestplate, and a nifty Viking braid in his beard. This will forever be the final stand of the Marvel trinity as they face the Mad Titan together. I was beyond overjoyed to see Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor in a one on one fight with Thanos, but their battle doesn’t begin right away. Rather, Thanos delivers another memorable speech about the world being unable to accept the life he’s created. His new, far more evil plan is to rebuild the universe with no memory of the life they once had. I understand audiences thinking this version of Thanos isn’t quite as nuanced as the one in Infinity War, but I was just glad to see a truly villainous Thanos in full armor, fighting with his new double bladed weapon. Action returns in full force when Thor ignites his dual weapons, Captain America throws his mighty shield, and Iron Man fires his repulsor beams.

Stark calls back to The Avengers by having Thor charge up his armor with his lightning. Thanos deflects the attack by spinning his sword, but Thor using Stormbreaker as a baseball bat to hit Mjolnir is still a personal favorite of mine. Thanos unfortunately deflects the shot using Tony’s armor to take him out of the fight. Cap gets a few hits on Thanos, but he’s taken out of the fight too. Leaving Thor to do most of the work by dodging his sword and continually trying to go for the head. Thanos overpowers Thor, throws him around, and is even able to grab Stormbreaker since the axe isn’t enchanted like his hammer. With Thor’s axe dangerously close to his chest, my heart stopped as soon as Mjolnir started to move, hit Thanos, and return to Captain America! The entire theater erupted as soon as Cap was finally revealed to be worthy. A question that everybody wanted to know ever since Steve nearly lifted Thor’s hammer in Age of Ultron. A moment from the comics that was turned into one of the greatest scenes in superhero movie history. Thor knew his friend was worthy from the beginning.

As if I wasn’t screaming enough already, they give us the best one on one fight in the entire movie. Hammer wielding Cap vs. Thanos is an awesome sequence where the former possesses the power of Thor. Cap achieves god mode by swinging Mjolnir, throwing it at his shield to create a shockwave, launching his shield into Thanos, and summoning a lightning strike to bury the Mad Titan. It’s enough to damage his helmet, but Thanos won’t stop when he knocks Mjolnir out of Cap’s hand and swings his sword so hard it actually breaks his Vibranium shield. Before we have time to process any of what just happened, Thanos summons the biggest army imaginable. His forces include: the Black Order, the Chitauri & their Leviathans, the Outriders, and the Sakaarans. Thanos was never one to gloat, but he tells Cap that he’s very much going to enjoy destroying his planet. Cap proves why he’s worthy by doing one of the most heroic things I’ve ever seen in a movie. An exhausted Steve tightens his broken shield and stands alone against an army of thousands.

Until Cap hears a voice he hasn’t heard in 5 years. My theater gasped when it turned out to be Sam Wilson coming full circle with The Winter Soldier line, “On your left.” Nothing could stop our excitement when a portal magically appears on Cap’s left. It will forever be bittersweet to see Black Panther as the first to walk out alongside his sister Shuri and General Okoye. They bring with them the entire army of Wakanda as they continue to chant “Yibambe!” Falcon also flies out of the portal as hundreds more start to appear. I couldn’t stop applauding when a spellcasting Doctor Strange, knife wielding Drax the Destroyer, empathic Mantis, and blaster-toting Star-Lord all get into attack positions from the Titan portal. I cheered extra hard when Spider-Man comes swinging into the fight. Teenage Groot and the Winter Soldier walk out of the Wakanda portal. Valkyrie emerges on a pegasus along with Korg, Meik, and the entire army of New Asgard. They’re joined by Scarlet Witch making her magical entrance. Speaking of magic, Wong, Strange, and every sorcerer from across the planet is responsible for slinging the heroes to their destination.

As the sorcerers ready their mandalas, the Wasp joins the fight by resizing herself. The Ravagers can also be seen in the background along with Howard the Duck himself. A smiling Thor summons his axe and Tony watches in utter disbelief as Pepper drops in wearing her own armor. Although it seems like something made for the movie, Pepper does become Rescue in The Invincible Iron Man #10 comic. Her armor’s color scheme is just changed to purple & gold. Although this is the first time the Avengers have had an army on their side, Strange still asks Wong if that’s everyone. It would be everyone if Black Widow, Quicksilver, Vision, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, the Punisher, the Inhumans, the Runaways, Cloak & Dagger, the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four were there, but they get all the help they need when Ant-Man grows into Giant-Man carrying the Hulk and a gun-toting Rocket on top of Rhodey wearing his bulky red & blue Mark VII War Machine armor. As Alan Silvestri’s breathtaking score continues to swell, Captain America stands with his team in front of an increasingly perplexed Thanos. All of the heroes prepare for the Battle of Earth as Cap summons Mjolnir saying two words that I’ve been waiting to hear on the big screen for over 7 years, “Avengers Assemble!!!

This is the moment the MCU has been building to since the beginning. From Iron Man to Endgame, I’ve never been so happy to be a nerd. Seeing every major superhero charging into battle together is a once in a lifetime experience that will never be duplicated. It’s easy for comic books and animation to incorporate any character they want, but it’s not easy getting all of these celebrities in one place. Making it all the more impressive that Marvel Studios was able to pull this off. I do have minor nitpicks, but I know it would’ve been impossible to give everyone substantial screen time. It’s just great to have Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Anthony Mackie, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Dave Batista, Pom Klementieff, Sebastian Stan, Vin Diesel, Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Olsen, and Evangeline Lilly back after all this time. As Thor & Black Panther let out a mighty battle cry, heroes run, fly, and swing into action. Thanos signals his troops and the epic forces of dark & light collide in the most incredible single take in the entire MCU.

Cap throws Mjolnir, Thor slams Stormbreaker, Wasp sneaks up on a Chitari, Valkyrie slashes a bigger Chitari, Hulk smashes a ship, M’Baku yells, Giant-Man punches a freaking Leviathan, Black Panther fights an Outrider, Okoye spears a Sakaaran, Shuri fires her wrist gauntlets, Drax humorously stabs Cull Obsidian the way he did in Vol. 2, Korg knocks Obsidian out, and Iron Man & Rescue blast enemies back to back. Even in a battle of this magnitude, Thor & Cap continue to chat with the both of them accidentally trading weapons. We even get another glimpse at Rocket & Bucky fighting together. Although Mantis seems like the most innocent combatant on the battlefield, her empathic abilities can be seen in the background putting larger enemies to sleep. Endgame originally had an alternate scene of all the key Avengers coming together to form a game plan. It would’ve been cool to see everyone on-screen at once, but it wouldn’t have made sense in the middle of an active war where all the lower grade soldiers are being killed. So instead, any important reunion or awesome callback happens as the battle plays out. After Iron Man gets knocked to the ground by Obsidian, Spider-Man webs him up, and Giant-Man steps on him.

For once, Tony is left speechless as Peter jabbers about himself being gone for 5 years. After being denied a hug in Homecoming, Tony finally embraces his young ally. A less than warm reunion comes when Star-Lord is fighting Sakaarans, only to be saved by none other than 2014 Gamora. Peter tries to embrace his lost love, but Gamora kicks him in the crotch similar to how they first met in Guardians of the Galaxy. Although Nebula makes a funny enough joke out of it, it is a little disappointing to have such a sincere romance made fun of like this. This scene, plus Rhodey calling Quill an idiot in the past almost seems like revenge for what he did in Infinity War. Hawkeye is still carrying the Gauntlet as he gets chased by a larger Chitari. Falcon helps him by using his wings as a weapon. Barton contacts Cap on his com to figure out a plan for the Stones. Hulk reminds them to return the Stones to the past, but Stark points out that the quantum tunnel was destroyed. Until Scott shrinks down to normal size and remembers they still have one time machine left. Valkyrie spots his ugly brown van with the miniature quantum tunnel and Hope joins Scott to come up with a plan.

Hope comes full circle by using Captain America’s nickname “Cap” as Ant-Man and the Wasp share loving glances for the first time in 5 years. They team up to fly to the van, but first they have to restart it. The team plays a game of pass the Gauntlet with T’Challa showing that he did care about Clint’s name after all. Hawkeye passes the Gauntlet to Black Panther, who proceeds to run through enemies with kinetic blasts. Thanos knocks him down, but a very one-sided fight occurs when a red-eyed Wanda flies in seeking vengeance for Vision. I love his response of “I don’t even know who you are,” but Wanda shows him exactly who she is. Wanda’s magic proves her capacity to be the strongest Avenger by coming extremely close to killing Thanos. When Wanda strips Thanos of his armor, he goes so far as to order Corvus Glaive to rain fire on their own troops. Wong and the rest of the sorcerer’s help by casting shields of protection around the battlefield. Black Panther continues to run, but Maw encases him in rocks. So Spider-Man webs up the Gauntlet and finally activates his Iron Spider suit’s “Instant kill” feature.

Doctor Strange manages to magically take out 7 Outriders at once, yet I can’t help but feel very disappointed at the writers for forcing someone as powerful as the Sorcerer Supreme to spend most of his time holding back a tidal wave. Stark drops in to ask Strange whether this is 1 of the 14,000,605 futures they win, but Strange gives a vague answer that will soon come to pass. When Spidey gets overwhelmed by Outriders, Cap refers to him as “Queens,” and creates the awesome image of Spider-Man webbing onto Thor’s hammer. Pepper catches him and so does Valkyrie on her pegasus, but they all get overwhelmed by the rain of fire. Rocket & Groot manage to have a quick reunion before Captain Marvel finally decides to enter the battle. The Sanctuary II diverts its attention to Danvers, but she destroys the ship in one fell swoop. I’ll give her props for that, but what follows is the most cringy part of the entire final battle. Carol first references her comic accurate friendship to Spider-Man by saying hi to Peter Parker before taking the Gauntlet. Then I’m taken out of the moment completely when every female Avenger shows up at the exact same spot at once.

Unlike the much more organic all-female team up in Infinity War, the “She’s got help” A-Force scene feels very unnatural. Especially when Black Widow isn’t even with them. As Scarlet Witch, Valkyrie, Okoye, Rescue, Mantis, Shuri, Wasp, Gamora, and Nebula take down Thanos’ army, Captain Marvel flies the Gauntlet into the van. Until Thanos manages to destroy it. The final climax officially kicks in when the Mad Titan does whatever he can to grab the Gauntlet. Thanos faces the Trinity again when Tony tries to grab the Gauntlet. When he’s tossed aside, Thor uses Mjolnir and Stormbreaker to hold Thanos down. Cap does the same, but they’re both overpowered. Captain Marvel & Thanos have their expected fight scene that kept me on edge for two reasons. Although I didn’t want Thanos to snap his fingers, I also didn’t want a last minute newcomer to save the day. When a headbutt doesn’t even work against her Binary energy, Thanos out thinks Carol by using the Power Stone to blast her away. When even someone as powerful as Captain Marvel is unable to beat Thanos, Tony realizes what he has to do as Strange holds up 1 finger. A moment brilliantly improvised by Cumberbatch.

Stark heroically makes one final effort to retrieve the Gauntlet, but Thanos knocks him away once again. Thanos fulfills his destiny with the line “I am inevitable.” *Snap* When nothing happens, Thanos discovers the Gauntlet is empty, only to realize Stark pulled an Uno Reverse Card. Although he very nearly said nothing, what better moment is there then to have Tony come full circle by saying, “I… am… Iron Man.” *Snap* Although Tony was originally supposed to see a grown up Morgan Stark played by Katherine Langford in the same vision where Thanos saw child Gamora, the scene would’ve taken us out of the moment. As his entire army slowly turns to dust, Thanos quietly accepts defeat by sitting once more. Tony is left in critical condition with all of his loved ones nearby to say goodbye. Much like Logan, the death of a prolific legacy superhero like Iron Man was enough to make me cry. Rhodey quietly comforts his best friend, Peter breaks down by finally calling Mr. Stark Tony, and Pepper’s presence is earned by having her say goodbye to the man she loves. You know it’s real when Tony’s arc reactor goes dark. Although Stark’s death is controversial, a heroic sacrifice was the natural way to end his arc. The Avengers very nearly took a knee for their fallen ally, but his funeral is a better place for that.

Tony’s final heartfelt message is played as Clint reunites with his family, Scott watches fireworks with Hope & Cassie, Peter returns to Midtown High School embracing his best friend Ned (a quick cameo from Jacob Batalon), and T’Challa watches over Wakanda with his sister Shuri & mother Romanda (a quick cameo from Angela Bassett). The message was recorded on Tony’s Iron Man helmet right before they traveled through time. Jon Favreau, the man who started it all, is present as Happy Hogan to hear the message alongside Pepper, Morgan, Rhodey, Steve, and Thor. The final tearjerker is Tony telling his daughter, “I love you 3000.” The entire MCU comes full circle with the original “Proof that Tony Stark has a heart” arc reactor floating down the river. Endgame is the first movie to depict a genuine superhero funeral with an impressive long take of everyone Tony has affected throughout his life. Pepper, Morgan, Rhodey, and Happy are of course up front. Steve is close behind along with Peter Parker being comforted by Aunt May (a quick cameo from Marisa Tomei). Thor is close behind along with Bruce wearing a cast. Stephen Strange & Wong stand by his side.

Scott, Hope, Hank Pym, and Janet van Dyne are all together thanks to Ant-Man and the Wasp being filmed close together. Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer’s presence makes this the only Avengers movie to feature all 5 of the original comic book team members. Peter Quill, Drax, Rocket, Groot, Nebula, and Mantis all stand together in formal black leather. T’Challa represents Wakanda alongside Okoye & Shuri. Although the scene was filmed long before the release of Black Panther, this is sadly Boseman’s final on-screen appearance as the King of Wakanda. Clint stands with his wife and kids as all the leftover attendants are seen in the background. Wanda, Sam, and Bucky can be thought of as team Disney+, but most people didn’t even recognize the kid behind them. That kid is Ty Simpkins as a much older Harley Keener. Turns out Tony did keep in touch after helping him in Iron Man 3. William Hurt and Cobie Smulders quickly cameo as Secretary Ross & Maria Hill respectively. Carol Danvers stands on the doorstep along with Samuel L. Jackson making a much needed appearance as Nick Fury.

Much like The Return of the King, a series of endings are warranted to wrap up such an epic 3 hour journey. Clint & Wanda comfort each other over their respective loss of Natasha & Vision. Morgan asks Uncle Happy for cheeseburgers just like her dad did in Iron Man. Thor watches over New Asgard, but decides to turn his kingdom over to Valkyrie. A noble enough gesture since Thor’s journey is likely far from over. It will apparently continue with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Although Peter very much has Gamora on his mind, much needed levity arrives when Thor assumes control, calling the team the Asgardians of the Galaxy. Despite being major scene stealers in Infinity War, Drax & Mantis have only one line each. Rocket & Nebula suggest Thor & Quill fight to see who’s in charge and Groot chimes in with his only “I am Groot” in the movie. Thor humorously accepts Quill’s lead in the end.

The movie concludes with the unseen final mission of Captain America. I’d love to see Cap somehow return all 6 of the Infinity Stones, plus Thor’s hammer, but some things are better left to the imagination. Hulk operates an outdoor quantum tunnel while Sam & Bucky say goodbye to Steve. He calls Sam a good man and reverses the “Don’t do anything stupid” line from The First Avenger as he hugs Bucky. Cap misses his time stamp and I knew exactly what was coming when Bucky spots someone from the distance. Sam comes face to face with an elderly Steve Rogers played by a digitally aged Evans. Although I’m still not crazy about modern Marvel storylines, Steve passing his shield and Captain America mantle to Sam does make sense. Old man Steve doesn’t tell Sam about his wife, but we learn everything we need to know in the final sequence set in the 1940’s.

As “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” sung by Kitty Kallen plays in the background, Steve & Peggy finally get their first dance that they seal with a kiss. Endgame breaks tradition by omitting both a mid and post-credits scene. Which is just fine since the clips shown in the credits sequence are a perfect way to pay tribute to the enormous cast. The original 6 Avengers are given special treatment with a signature from Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, and Robert Downey Jr. The final sound of Tony Stark working on his first suit closes the book on the Infinity Saga. Endgame is so epic that I had to see it twice in theaters. If only to increase its chances of becoming the highest grossing film of all time. I was thrilled when it finally beat Avatar (then disappointed when it reverted back). Despite its impact, Endgame was only nominated for the usual Best Visual Effects. Regardless of accolades, personal opinion, or the current state of the film industry, Avengers: Endgame is something I will always love 3000.

48. Avengers Endgame

The Avengers charge

Preceded by: Avengers: Infinity War

Higher, Further, Faster

Captain Marvel remains my least favorite film in the MCU. As the twenty-first installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel finally decided to introduce Carol Danvers. It only took 11 years and a major event like half of all life being snapped out of existence. Much like Ghostbusters (2016) or Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I’ve been dreading this review for a long time. Similar to Black Panther (which I enjoyed), you can’t seem to criticize Captain Marvel without people getting defensive about it. I’m so glad Wonder Woman came out before this, because that’s a female led superhero movie done right. Rather than make a Black Widow solo movie that fans like me were expecting, Marvel Studios went with a yet to be seen character. Although the name was Captain Marvel, I knew they meant Carol Danvers instead of the original Captain Mar-Vell. He’s a very complicated superhero with an unusual history in Marvel comics.

Long story short, the true Captain Marvel name belonged to Fawcett comics up until 1953 when DC comics sued them for similarities to Superman. The superhero later known as Shazam became part of DC comics, but in the meantime Marvel comics took advantage of the opportunity by creating their own Captain Marvel. The name does match their company after all. The alien Kree warrior Mar-Vell was never that popular ever since his 1967 debut in Marvel Super-Heroes #12. It was really his female counterpart Ms. Marvel who greatly surpassed her predecessor. Carol Danvers debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 before headlining her own trend-setting series in the 1977 Ms. Marvel #1. Apart from a handful of animated appearances, I knew the MCU had been trying to work her in ever since Avengers: Age of Ultron. Although I was optimistic after her tease at the end of Infinity War, I grew nervous with every passing trailer, casting announcement, and interview…

44. Captian Marvel

Captain Marvel in a field

Captain Marvel begins with a touching tribute for the late great Marvel comics creator Stan “The Man” Lee in place of the usual Marvel Studios logo. This was sadly the first MCU movie released after his untimely passing. I cried for several minutes after I heard the news, but I knew I could still appreciate any remaining cameos he had left. It’s pretty much all downhill after the tribute. Okay, I wouldn’t go that far, but Captain Marvel is a major disappointment for me. It all started with the name. I was introduced to Carol Danvers through her original identity as Ms. Marvel. Arguably the Marvel equivalent of Wonder Woman in terms of being a trailblazing female superhero. The Ms. moniker was meant as a response to the 70’s feminist movement and her Women’s magazine profession reflected that. Although I personally have no problem with her original more provocative red & black scarf ensemble, her second black leotard costume with a giant lightning bolt is my favorite look of hers. Ms. Marvel was powerful, sexy, smart, and a vital member of the Avengers when she joined in Avengers #183. I liked her appearances in X-Men: The Animated Series and Super Hero Squad, but really it was Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that made me fully appreciate her.

My problems only arose when she took on the mantle of the long deceased Captain Marvel. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t really care for any of the many changes that have happened in Marvel comics all throughout the 2010’s. So I was never a fan of feminist writer Kelly Sue DeConnick giving Carol the Captain Marvel name and replacing her outfit with a less than iconic jumpsuit. A look that’s barely a decade old, but audiences will forever associate her with since the movie completely bypasses her Ms. Marvel identity. Joss Whedon nearly included Carol at the end of Age of Ultron as part of the new Avengers, but that wouldn’t have made sense. Marvel Television even considered including her in the first female led Netflix series Jessica Jones. Since Carol was the best friend of Jessica in the comics. Instead, a solo movie constantly shuffled around Phase Three until it wound up one month before Endgame. Just so it could be released on International Women’s Day. Captain Marvel being so close to the next major event movie is frankly the main reason why it grossed over a billion dollars. People who didn’t want to watch it had no choice since seeing it on DVD or Blu-ray would’ve been impossible.

My opinion only started to sour with the casting of Brie Larson as the titular hero. I thought Larson was great in her Oscar winning role from Room, and one of the only bright spots in The Glass Castle. Both of which were dramas, but apart from genre films like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or Kong: Skull Island, she was yet to headline her own blockbuster. Something that irreversibly shattered how I thought of her. Brie Larson is just not the right fit for a superhero role. Let alone a charismatic quipster like most MCU heroes. She barely emotes, her attempt at banter feels forced, she’s not physically imposing, and the plot structure makes it even harder to relate to her. Larson practically let the role get to her head in interviews where she bashed half of the mostly male audience. I just wanted to see the next Marvel movie, but attaching anything to it will always make the experience less fun. Producer Kevin Feige didn’t make it better when he said Captain Marvel was the strongest hero in the MCU. Which I would’ve been on board with if not for heroes like Hulk, Thor, Scarlet Witch, and the fact that she hadn’t even been introduced yet.

Major red flags started to arise when Captain Marvel went through 5 predominantly female writers and spent a long time looking for a director. It came to a point where Feigie didn’t even care if they were familiar with the comics (which is a bad sign). Eventually they ended up with the mostly unknown directing duo Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck. Apparently they were hired for their character driven storytelling. Unfortunately, their vision for everything else was very bland. Although Brie Larson is a big part of it, she’s not the main reason why I dislike the movie. Captain Marvel is almost a complete insult to Marvel fans in terms of comic book accuracy. Their first mistake was mixing up her origin story for no reason. It’s also set in my birth year 1995 just to work around the Infinity War problem. The movie starts with a brief flash of Carol Danvers getting her powers before cutting to her on the home planet of the Kree Empire, Hala. The blue skinned warmongering alien race actually made their debut in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before appearing theatrically in Guardians of the Galaxy. They’ve made an impression since then, but I never expected Hala to look so dull. It’s basically a golden city with a normal skyline.

Captain Marvel is very powerful with her super strength, flight, and photon energy, but unlike Superman, she doesn’t have a story to back up her being that strong. She already has superpowers, so we don’t go on a journey of her learning to embrace them. At least Thor had the excuse of being born a god. It doesn’t help that they use the cliché of referring to her as Carol DanVers for a majority of the movie. The whole amnesia subplot was never a major part of the character in the comics. It’s not like Wolverine, who at least had an ensemble to support him. We really should know the identity of the lead superhero in their starring film. Instead, “Vers” has her powers reduced by the Kree and is told to suppress her emotion. Another cliché that’s barely relevant to the story. Their next mistake was the treatment of the original Captain Mar-Vell. Ms. Marvel never had the most recognizable supporting cast, but Mar-Vell is a major part of her origin. Captain Marvel was created as a science fiction version of the much more magical DC superhero. He was a Kree spy turned human scientist Dr. Walter Lawson who became a hero for his adopted home planet.

Carol Danvers was just an Air Force Security Chief who was caught in a Kree explosion that gave her powers. They were once a romantic couple before Marvel’s first graphic novel where Mar-Vell permanently died from cancer. Captain Marvel completely ditches a romantic subplot for the first time in an MCU solo film. Although they had a perfectly good Jude Law already cast, he plays the lesser known non-blue Kree Yon-Rogg. In the comics, he was a villain partially responsible for Carol’s origin, but not someone anyone’s gonna remember. Yon-Rogg spars with “Vers” and trains her in his Kree ways. Like the comics, the Supreme Intelligence is at the center of the Kree Empire. Unlike the comics, it’s not depicted as a giant green head. Instead they make the lackluster decision to have the person a Kree most admires be who they see. In that case, Annette Benning is the Supreme Intelligence who talks to “Vers” about her powers. I love Benning as much as the next guy, but her duel performance was another decision that I really didn’t like.

Decades worth of material was thrown out just to make Mar-Vell a female mentor to Carol renamed Dr. Wendy Lawson. It doesn’t help that Benning’s performance feels very off in both roles. Another change was having “Vers” be part of Starforce. A lesser known supervillain team made of Kree that barely make an impression in the movie. Their matching green jumpsuits that Captain Marvel wears for most of the first half is a big reason why they don’t stand out. Nevermind the fact that they’re mostly blue. At least it gave Gemma Chan a fighting chance in Eternals. The team is made up of Minn-Erva, Att-Lass, Bron-Char, and Korath before he was a pursuer. I was excited to learn that the 1995 setting meant appearances from deceased MCU characters, but all that went away when I saw them in the movie. None of the returning characters do anything memorable. At least Djimon Hounsou’s appearance was one of many bizarre connections to Shazam! Despite being an intergalactic superhero adjacent to the Guardians of the Galaxy, alien planets are very unimaginative. The first action sequence is set on Torfa which is barely visible, because it’s constantly shrouded in dark fog.

Their Starforce mission is to track down the Skrulls. As a longtime Marvel fan, I’d been wanting to see the Skrulls on the big screen for many years. Much like their enemy the Kree, the green alien shapeshifters had an early start in Fantastic Four comics created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby. I always assumed Fox held the rights, but it was another joint ownership that nearly resulted in an appearance in Dark Phoenix. The Skrull makeup isn’t too far off and their CGI shapeshifting is convincing. There’s just a much larger problem that I’ll get to eventually. I was just happy to see the longstanding Kree-Skrull War in the MCU. Although I wish I could actually see the fight which results in “Vers” being kidnapped. Her past is finally seen in a collection of disorganized flashbacks that the Skrulls look through. Captain Marvel tries to be a feminist movie, but the sexist dialogue is unnatural and the final message never feels earned. Instead we’re left with several characters telling us who Carol is instead of learning that on our own. Most of the Air Force is seen in flashbacks along with the phrase “Higher, further, faster.”

The Skrulls are led by Talos, played by frequent villain Ben Mendelsohn. For some bizarre reason, he uses his natural Australian accent while in his Skrull form. Leading to an awkward laid back performance that’s hard to take seriously. Talos is searching for a lightspeed engine built by Lawson on Earth. “Vers” escapes captivity by fighting off Skrulls when her photon hands are bound. It should be a fun sequence, but the stakes don’t feel especially high. When the ship explodes, “Vers” is sent hurtling to Earth where she lands in a Blockbuster Video. The joke was funny the first time, but all the 90’s references feel very in your face after awhile. It’s not like 80’s nostalgia, which is a lot more well defined. It’s pretty much nothing but 90’s pop songs and references to shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. “Vers” is somehow able to contact her team using tech from Radio Shack. Yon-Rogg and the rest of Starforce are barely relevant again until the final act. Most of their scenes involve them making contact with Ronan the Accuser. Lee Pace gets a chance to wear his comic accurate green armor, but Ronan is also completely wasted.

The same goes for Agent Phil Coulson. S.H.I.E.L.D. makes a major return as they first make contact with aliens and superhuman individuals. Apart from his long running role in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Clark Gregg makes his big screen return looking a lot like he did in The Usual Suspects. But the digital de-aging process reaches its full potential by having an entire movie with Samuel L. Jackson looking like Jules Winnfield. Nick Fury is a young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who becomes part of a bigger universe he just doesn’t know yet. Jackson and Larson already knew each other from Skull Island, but their banter is very hit or miss. Fury is pretty much the only character I really liked, but all the references to his eye are very on the nose. The Skrulls disguise themselves as surfers and start another fight sequence in the most cliché location imaginable. A train fight is really not what I imagined from the strongest hero in the MCU. Although Captain Marvel tried to distance itself from Green Lantern, it similarly ditches space adventures in favor of Earthbound action. The only highlight is Stan Lee’s cameo as himself learning lines for Mallrats. Other than that, it’s not really a good look to have the hero punch an old lady in the face. Even if she is a Skrull in disguise.

Fury learns the truth about the Skrulls when “Coulson” is revealed to be one. Mendelson also plays Talos disguised as Agent Keller. He keeps an eye on Fury when he learns about “Vers” location. “Vers” obtaining street clothes and a motorcycle would’ve been so much more cringy if they kept the alternate version of the scene. Fury & “Vers” connect at a bar where they make sure they aren’t Skrulls. He helps her find the Project Pegasus S.H.I.E.L.D. base that Lawson worked at. The sequence mostly amounts to Fury gaining clearance and “Vers” learning about Lawson through files. It’s also where Goose the cat makes an appearance. Although originally a new comic book creation named Chewie, the name Goose was chosen as a Top Gun reference. Goose is easily the best thing about the movie until the ending that I’ll get to eventually. Talos attacks Fury as Keller when the latter contacts the disguised S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. At least Coulson is trustworthy when he lets “Vers” & Fury pass. They commandeer a Quinjet that “Vers” flies along with a stowaway Goose. They arrive at the house of the only other person who keeps popping up in her flashbacks.

Maria Rambeau is the mother of Monica Rambeau who uses her daughter’s superhero call sign “Photon.” Lashana Lynch was recast as Maria after the previous actress left. Let’s just say she’s acting a lot harder than Larson in most scenes where she discovers her best friend is alive. Although really it’s child actress Akira Akbar who won me over more. Even though Monica is only there to use Auntie Carol’s nickname Lt. Trouble and to provide more exposition about her past. Unlike her comic counterpart who really became the second Captain Marvel. I’ll admit the only scene with Larson I thought was funny was her thinking a neighbor was a Skrull, but it’s immediately followed by the most insulting decision in the movie. Skrull Talos arrives wearing a suit jacket and sipping from a fast food cup in order to strike a deal with “Vers.” It’s cringy, but Goose being referred to as a Flerken at least made up for it. Until Carol remembers her entire past an hour into the movie. Her powers resulted from her crashing a plane with Mar-Vell carrying her lightspeed engine.

Yon-Rogg is revealed to be the enemy when Danvers blows the engine, receiving her power. Resulting in her amnesia that Yon-Rogg used to make her “Vers.” The insulting part is the Skrulls being revealed to not be terrorists, but poor alien refugees searching for a home. It’s a major slap in the face to the villainous Skrulls that almost permanently ruins their reputation. They track the ship in orbit where the Skrulls plan to use the engine to find a home. But not before Carol changes the colors on her suit with a coloring device that the suit has for some reason. The 11 year old Monica is somehow able to operate the device that she uses to make it more comic accurate with the red, blue, and gold design (along with her mohawk mask). Carol, Fury, Maria, and Talos fly into space in a modified Quinjet that they use to get to Mar-Vell’s lab. After seeing Thanos place all 6 Infinity Stones in the Infinity Gauntlet, I really couldn’t care less where the Tesseract was in the 90’s. It’s on the ship that also houses poor Skrull families including Talos’ wife and daughter. Did I mention I hate this direction. Well it gets worse for me when Yon-Rogg arrives as the only aggressor in the movie.

The wasted Kree-Skrull War would’ve been so much better if both sides where villains and Captain Marvel was the only chance of stopping it. Instead one side has to be the good guys. The only time I laughed out loud was when Goose revealed his Flerkin tentacles in order to swallow the Tesseract and eat the Kree. Carol is held by the Supreme Intelligence who inspires her to stand up and remove her power suppressing device. Captain Marvel going Super Saiyan, I mean binary should be a powerful moment, but it’s just like the rest of the film. The problem is not giving her a villain of equal or greater power to fight. It doesn’t help that Carol fighting her former teammates is set to “Just a Girl” by No Doubt. Carol easily defeats her teammates and immediately learns to fly after falling from the ship. As Fury & Maria shoot down the rest, Carol tears through Ronan’s armada of ships with hardly any effort.

What’s presented as the final fight between Captain Marvel & Yon-Rogg is undercut with a joke I saw coming from a mile away. Carol blasts her mentor and sends him back to Hala. What follows is another major insult to fans that undercuts a badass moment for the sake of a joke. Nick Fury seriously lost his eye when a cat scratched it. Now anytime we hear Fury’s line in The Winter Soldier about the last time he trusted someone, we have to think about that. After that it’s Carol sitting down to dinner with the Skrulls and promising to find them a home. She also gives Fury the emergency pager from the Infinity War mid-credits scene. Being in space is somehow supposed to explain why she hadn’t appeared during the Battle of New York, Battle of Sokovia, or anything else in the last 23 years. At least The First Avenger had the excuse of Captain America being frozen in ice.

The final insult was Fury getting the name of the Avenger Initiative from Carol’s “Avenger” callsign. Even though her call sign was “Cheeseburger” in the comics. By then I was too checked out to care about the change. After a spacey credits sequence, the only other part worth seeing is Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Rhodey, and Bruce Banner dealing with the fallout of the snap and monitoring Fury’s pager. Black Widow is especially eager to know who they’re tracking when she suddenly comes face to face with Captain Marvel. Carol’s straight blonde hair and modern costume looks admittedly better than her 90’s look. Then they make us sit through the entire credits just to see a cat throw up the Tesseract. I love the MCU, but Captain Marvel made too many changes for me to accept any repeat viewings of it. Can’t say I was surprised when audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes were significantly lower than critic reviews. There are worse female led superhero movies made before this one, but in terms of the MCU, Captain Marvel wasn’t the best lead in to Avengers: Endgame.

45. Captian Marvel

Captain Marvel goes binary

Followed by: The Marvels

Enter the Quantum Realm

Ant-Man and the Wasp was just the small scale adventure we needed. As the twentieth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp was the calm after the storm. After the shocking finale of Avengers: Infinity War, I didn’t know how I could accept anything other than a direct follow up. Just like the first Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp was a breezy palette cleanser after such a large scale team up film. Scott Lang’s inclusion in Captain America: Civil War at least gave him a chance to fight with the Avengers before things got complicated. Both Ant-Man movies are pretty interchangeable, but Ant-Man and the Wasp is a great low stakes sequel. I love the first movies portrayal of the microscopic world, but the sequel is better in terms of wacky size-shifting hijinks.

The Phase Three schedule changed after the release of the first movie with the second installment revealed to have a rare superhero team up title. I was so excited to finally see Ant-Man and the Wasp together. Their romantic partnership has been a Marvel comics mainstay ever since Janet van Dyne debuted in Tales to Astonish #44. She continued to fight alongside Ant-Man when they formed the Avengers, and Wasp is actually responsible for naming the team. Wasp is one of the best female Marvel heroes, so it was just as cool to see her name in the movies title. After the messy production of the first film, Ant-Man and the Wasp was director Peyton Reed’s chance to grow the franchise on his own…

42. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp had its plot handed to it at the end of Ant-Man. Although I still prefer Hank Pym & Janet van Dyne as Ant-Man and the Wasp, I’ve come to embrace the mantle storyline. The opening at least gives them a chance to be heroes by giving context to the 1987 flashback from the first movie. Disney continues to show off with Michael Douglas once again looking like Gordon Geico and Michelle Pfeiffer looking like she did in Ladyhawke. The digital de-aging was easy for Pfeiffer since she’s aged like fine wine. Although Douglas wanted his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones to play Janet, Pfeiffer was dream casting for Reed ever since Hayley Lovitt stood in for her. She’s no stranger to comic book roles, but it had been 26 years since she played Catwoman in Batman Returns. I’m actually kind of shocked that high profile actors as big in the 90’s as Douglas and Pfeiffer haven’t worked together until 2018. They’re a perfect team when Janet says goodbye to their daughter Hope and joins her husband on a secret mission. The missile launch scene looks about the same with the comic accurate red Wasp suit in action. Dialogue is also added to make Janet’s sacrifice more tragic.

In present day, Hank tells Hope that it may be possible to save her mother after Scott was successfully brought back from the Quantum Realm. Ant-Man and the Wasp takes care of its Infinity War problem by setting events 2 years after Civil War, but roughly 2 days before the snap. Scott Lang and Clint Barton were both placed under house arrest after they went against the Sokovia Accords and were broken out of the Raft by Cap. So they’re absence in Infinity War made sense considering they both had families to think about. Ant-Man was just the only one who could have an entire movie explaining it. Ant-Man and the Wasp may be the most wholesome movie in the MCU. It’s borderline PG without all the swearing, and the length is very much under 2 hours. Paul Rudd dials up his man-child charm by playing elaborate games with his now 10 year old daughter Cassie, learning close up magic, drumming, shooting hoops, crying while reading The Fault in Our Stars, and singing along to “Come on Get Happy” by The Partridge Family.

Abby Ryder Fortson was an adorable little scene stealer in the first movie, but now she plays a much more active role. Her dad’s hilarious “World’s Greatest Grandma” trophy comes into play later and she even suggests becoming his partner. Something she will become as soon as she has the right stature for it. Luis is also still around since Michael Peña’s fast talking energy is too good not to include. Now Scott, Luis, Kurt, and Dave are ex-convicts starting a security business humorously named X-Con Security. Their banter is still pretty hit or miss and mostly amounts to a lot of danish jokes, but they also become important later on. Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn’t so much have villains as it does human obstacles. The first obstacle is the FBI when Scott accidentally trips his ankle monitor. Leading to all sorts of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off style shenanigans where Scott needs to figure out ways to fight without being caught. The perpetually wholesome Randall Park plays FBI Agent Jimmy Woo. Woo is one of the oldest Asian comic book characters who easily fit into the story. Woo has a funny love/hate relationship with Lang that leads to him practising close up magic. Lang’s ex-wife Maggie and her far more softened up husband Paxton drop by to defend Scott and pick up Cassie.

The plot kicks in when Scott has a realistic dream where he’s playing hide-and-seek as Janet. Although Hank & Hope are understandably mad that Scott used their tech to fight alongside Cap in Germany, he gives them a call regardless. Hope tranquilizes Scott and takes care of his ankle monitor by strapping it to a freakishly large ant. Despite her hair being much longer than the traditional pixie cut, Hope van Dyne is very much ready to take on her mother’s mantle as the Wasp. Something that never happened in the comics, but works for the story they went with. Evangeline Lilly is definitely in fighting shape as the co-lead who has just as much of an arc as Rudd. Hope & Scott’s romantic relationship has strained a bit since Civil War, but it’s not beyond repair. One of several creative shrinking gags is Hope driving around in a miniature car that Hank keeps in a Hot Wheels case. As per his request, Douglas isn’t given as much techno babble to say despite the much larger role the Quantum Realm plays in the sequel. Hank is even given more of a chance to be funny. He describes what’s happened to Scott as a quantum entanglement that can allow them to track Janet. But first they need a component to make their quantum tunnel work.

As more giant ants work on the device, Hank shrinks down his lab that he transports like a travel case. Not sure that makes sense, but suspension of disbelief. The component is supplied by the second major obstacle in the movie. Character actor Walton Goggins plays the southern black market restaurant owner Sonny Burch. He’s very different compared to his comic counterpart, but he does serve as a competent low-level threat. When their deal goes south, Hope finally suits up as the Wasp to fight Burch’s henchman. The Wasp suit retains its gold color scheme with hints of red and a similar enclosed helmet. Like the comics, the Wasp only uses her mechanical wings when she shrinks, as well as a pair of blasters. Lilly accomplishes her goal of having the Wasp attack with more grace and femininity during the kitchen fight. She takes the component, but her path is blocked by the closest thing to a main antagonist in the movie. Ghost is a literal ghost who can turn invisible, intangible, and retains a mysterious identity in the comics. Apart from the all-white costume and lethal stealth missions, Ghost is now a woman with a name played by Hannah John-Kamen. Her fight with Wasp prompts Scott to suit up in Hank’s prototype Ant-Man suit. The suit is similar to the one in Civil War with less noticeable modifications.

Ant-Man and the Wasp team up to fight Ghost, but her intangibility makes it difficult. Ghost manages to steal the lab, leading the three of them to take shelter at the X-Con office. It’s there that Kurt humorously refers to Ghost as baba yaga and Hank realizes the best way to track the lab is with help from a former friend. The sequel was also the best place for Bill Foster to make an appearance. Scott, Hank, and Hope enter his university in obvious baseball cap disguises that they use to find Foster. Being more of a Marvel guy, Laurence Fishburne plays the former associate of Pym who worked on Project Goliath. Black Goliath was once a black superhero who grew to enormous size before his death in the comic version of Civil War. Although his superhero identity isn’t seen, it does give him and Scott something to talk about. Reed was just a little annoyed that Scott becoming Giant-Man didn’t happen in an Ant-Man movie, but he makes up for that with plenty of growing and shrinking at varying sizes. The micro CGI isn’t seen as often as the first movie, but it is just as good as before. Unlike Iron Man 3, Ant-Man’s suit being faulty leads to several hilarious moments.

They use Foster’s suggestion of tracking the lab using a piece of tech from the original Ant-Man suit. Scott didn’t destroy the suit, but they do have to get it back from Cassie. Scott kept it in the “World’s Greatest Grandma” trophy, so Ant-Man and the Wasp infiltrate her school to find it. Hijinks ensue when Scott inadvertently grows in a janitor’s closet and hilariously shrinks to the size of a toddler. When they get the old suit back, they track the lab to a spooky mansion. It’s there that Ghost reveals herself to be Ava Starr, daughter of Elias Starr. Ant-Man doesn’t have the most recognizable rogues gallery, but I am glad they managed to fit in Egghead. The bald Michael Cerveris looks exactly like the character who was discredited by Pym for selling secrets. Ghost is made very sympathetic due to a quantum accident that claimed her parent’s lives and caused her painful intangibility that’s slowly killing her. Bill Foster met her when she was a child looking a lot like he did in Boyz n the Hood. His son Langston Fishburne actually stood in for him during that scene.

Foster continued looking after her when she killed for S.H.I.E.L.D, but he does keep her from crossing the line. Ghost is only considered a villain since she plans to stay alive using Janet’s quantum energy. Hank tricks them into escaping using an Altoid tin full of giant ants. When they reclaim the lab, Janet possesses Scott’s body to punch in the coordinates to find her. It’s a lot less creepy than it sounds, but it does support my theory that crafty engineer Scott Lang has been dumbed down a bit. Even though quantum physics aren’t his area of expertise. Burch and the X-Con trio become relevant again when the former tracks the lab down using literal truth serum. Luis gets his hilarious rambling story again when he recounts how he and Scott met, Scott’s relationship with Hope, and their falling out. Ghost is also in the room when he reveals their location to be the woods. Scott has another falling out with Hope & Hank when Burch contacts the FBI to arrest them. Cassie covers for her dad when Woo finds Scott back at home, but the Pyms aren’t so lucky. When Ghost steals the lab again, Scott uses Cassie’s advice to suit up again as Ant-Man. He manages to break them out of prison using ants and shrunken costumes.

The San Francisco climax is a wacky game of capture that lab that involves help from Luis, Hank entering the quantum tunnel to find his wife, Burch and his henchmen in a car chase, and Ant-Man and the Wasp fighting Ghost. Wasp constantly shifts the size of their van to fight back and humorously enlarges a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser. Stan Lee’s car even gets shrunk in a hilarious cameo. Luis continues to drive in a snazzy hot-rod while Ant-Man continues to grow at awkward moments. All the while Foster wishes Hank luck in tracking Janet. The Quantum Realm is just as beautiful as before, but all the danger goes away when he lovingly embraces his wife. Janet looks good for someone trapped for several decades as she managed to survive due to the adaptable nature of the Quantum Realm. Giant-Man grows to enormous size and takes the lab from Burch on a boat. When his size becomes too much for him, Wasp comes to his rescue by shrinking him down and giving him a much needed kiss.

Ghost grows the lab in an awkward place and nearly crosses the line by extracting energy from Janet. Ant-Man and the Wasp fight back long enough for Hope to have an emotional reunion with her mother. Ava & Foster are fully redeemed when Janet uses her quantum energy to heal their enemy of her pain. Burch and his men are arrested thanks to the X-Cons and the FBI is none the wiser when Woo finally removes Scott’s ankle monitor. The ending is almost too happy when Hank & Janet move their home to a beach and Cassie enjoys a drive-in laptop movie with her father and Hope. The expected gut punch comes after a creative action figure credits sequence. The mid-credits scene reveals the new quantum tunnel built inside Luis’ ugly brown van. Scott enters the Quantum Realm in his Ant-Man suit to collect energy for Ava. *Snap* Scott’s line goes dead when it’s revealed that Hope, Hank, and Janet were all turned to dust. The after-credits scene reveals the aftermath for the first time in the MCU by making us wait several minutes for an ant drumming. Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t especially deep, but a fun ride is exactly what moviegoers needed in the meantime.

43. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp shrunken

Preceded by: Ant-Man & Followed by: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania