With the Marvel machine seemingly in overdrive with the anticipation of next year's Avengers I thought it was the best time to look back at the evolution of the Marvel universe on the big screen and cast my views. Please bare in mind I am not a big comic book reader so if some of my views do not couple with those regarding the comics I apologise in advance!
Please note: SPOILER ALERTS!!!
Best Marvel films so far - This is a tricky subject, with plenty of stand-out movies spawning from the Marvel world onto the big screen. Since Marvel Studios came into existence, a rise in the superhero genre emerged, with Marvel characters to date appearing in over 20 movies since 1998's Blade. With the majority of the films aiming at a family-friendly market, one could argue that amongst these Blade may be a standout from the crowd simply down to its more grown up attitude and an impressive depiction of the vampire sub-genre.
My personal opinion is that Marvel's finest have come in the form of Iron Man and X2. Iron Man's success is purely down to the duo of Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jnr. Favreau's fantastic direction and clear love for the character helped to bring to screen a thoroughly entertaining and noteworthy superhero to the foray. With regards to X2, the exploration of X Men's finest Wolverine's past was the perfect driving force for the second instalment to couple with the addition of further characters from the comics. Brian Cox as Stryker was a revalation and Jackman's performance clearly shows he was born to play the rabid Wolverine.
Worst Marvel films - Despite a large majority of the Marvel films proving successful there are some that have fallen rightly to the wayside. Most notably Elektra, Punisher: Warzone and X Men: The Last Stand.
Admittedly Daredevil wasn't the greatest film but the spin-off Elektra just showed Marvel how blind they could be, with a lacklustre plot, a flat performance from Jennifer Garner and a character nobody was even interested in.
Punisher: Warzone suffers an ill fate for many different reasons, most notably the loss of its original figure Thomas Jane, who, despite a less than satisfactory script in the first film, fit the boots of Frank Castle reasonably well. In an attempt to appeal to an older audience the film amped up on the violence and bloodshed but rather than impress through this it actually resulted in a lot of unintentional humour.
Possibly most disappointing of all would have to be X Men: The Last Stand. Building from the finale of X2, Last Stand featured the famous Phoenix story arc, with Jean Grey turning to evil and representing herself alongside Magneto and the Brotherhood. With such a well-known story to fans, expectations were high and, with Brett Ratner behind the camera, all expectations were shattered. Killing off Professor X early in the proceedings provided the first major flaw and this only furthered with some truly awful film-making. Phoenix, a supposedly unstoppable force appears very feeble and is a far cry from what was expected. Couple that with the mutant cure coming into play and some poorly executed action scenes, and you have X Men's worst outing (yes even worse than Wolverine in my opinion!)
2011, an impressive year for Marvel - I think you would have to be a fool to say that Marvel have not excelled with their films this year. With Thor, Captain America and X Men: First Class all presenting themselves in this successful movie year we were witness to the final jigsaw pieces for the Avengers ensemble and a well-timed rebirth of the X Men Franchise.
Thor's success came through a slight doubt cast over Kenneth Branagh's part as director. Judgemental eyes were cast upon this man who had only previously covered historical and Shakespearian pieces but it turned out to be a very bold move from Marvel and paid off kindly. Thor succeeded in bringing the viewer a great insight into the alternate realities of the Thor mythology coupled with some breathtaking scenery. We became immediately accustomed with the main characters and Branagh brought to screen a great relationship struggle between Thor and brother Loki.
Captain America took a slightly different route, with our hero appearing only for the last half of the movie allowing us to get to know Steve Rogers well and like him before he 'suited up' This technique worked well for the Cap and with a villain in Red Skull played by the ever fabulous Hugo Weaving you had a winning combination. With huge emphasis put on the upcoming Avengers movie, Captain America was the final film to bridge the gap to the anticipated ensemble movie of 2012 and did so in a natural and exciting fashion.
It wouldn't be the same for 2011 if X Men: First Class wasn't mentioned. With the X Men franchise flailing after the failures of both the third instalment and the Wolverine movie, a big shift had to be made and thankfully a reboot paid off hugely. Tasking James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender with bringing a young Xavier and Lensherr to screen was a big ask but they passed with flying colours. With all the charisma and acting ability required, the pairing created a truly memorable Marvel movie with a strong supporting cast bringing extra zest to the proceedings. This was the X Men film the fans were waiting for and without doubt it has revitalised the franchise and ensured the X Men won't be leaving the big screen any time soon.
So there you have it, part one of the Marvel film focus. Be sure to check back very soon for part two where I will be talking best and worst characters and future Marvel films.
Special thanks to @Zinematic, @LastFilmSeen, @CharlieDerry and @FilmSamurai for their suggestions on Twitter.