The Avengers has raked in over 700 million dollars, and will most likely break a billion in 19 days. But have you seen all of the films leading up to it? What better time than now to review every Marvel movie released in the last 5 years. That includes the 5 films that lead up to The Avengers and two cartoons not connected, but still Marvel related. Of course I’ll be reviewing some newly released DVDs to cap off the 3 Second Reviews.


In Theaters Now


The Avengers, (May 2012)


Genre: Action


Hawkeye has great vision.

The film could use a little more character development, but that’s the purpose of the single hero movies. The point is fun, laughs and exciting scenes. I figure the heroes get the growth in their own films leaving this to be the all-out action spectacle we so desire. You’d be hard pressed not to enjoy this film largely because every character is humanized and the stakes are clear.

There are small tinges of character development. Joseph Campbell outlined the ‘hero’s journey’ which dictates, in the end, the hero should win and come away with a magic elixir. This elixir is the knowledge or lesson. Here that elixir is the characters learning to work together. In a way that’s a relatively weak message, something we all learn in kindergarten, but it works here. The characters grow by learning how to become a team. Many of these characters are loners by choice or by happenstance, and by film’s end you get the impression they’ve become closer in some way: a family.

Grade: A-


Recently Released on Disc



Haywire, (January 2012)


Genre: Action, Drama


She’s a female James Bond only she has a realistic body for a deadly fighter.

Mixed martial arts star Gina Carano makes a special ops fighter ring true in this exciting espionage/spy flick. There is a 70′s international spy feel that can be felt from the music to the pace. A great surprise.

Grade: B+


We Bought a Zoo, (December 2011)


Genre: Family, Drama


Matt Damon in a scene here ordering fries in the sequel, “We Bought a Zoo and Turned it into a McDonalds.”

A decent family film for those who like things light with little laughs. Cameron Crowe has clearly lost his mojo. When the indie music pops in it’s as if he’s harkening back to a time he was king of the world.

Grade: C


Oldy, But Goody?


Captain America: The First Avenger, (July 2011)


Genre: Action, Drama




Bad guys always get the cooler looking vehicles.

Exciting, with some amazing moments. True action formula flick. As a comic book fan I liked it, but a more interesting villain (summed up: Nazi addicted to power who creates a death ray from powers that fall into his lap) and a real love story could have made this a great film. It builds to The Avengers more than any of the Marvel films but on its own falls a little flat.

Grade: B+


Thor, (May 2011)


Genre: Action


Asgard, otherwise known as “Bling-Bling World.”

I like the action, I like the overall plot and Asgard hits a home run in style and look. That said, the love story is nonexistent and there’s not enough of Thor learning anything. Thor is a god from another world and there is a ton of opportunity to play with the fish out of water elements. Instead, he figures it out. Lazy really. The more you think about this film the more it falls apart. It’s a pleasant enough movie.

Grade: B-


Iron Man 2, (May 2010)


Genre: Action, Drama


How much better is the sequel? “This much,” Downey Jr. lied.

Without Downey Jr. this film would most likely be a failure. His enthusiasm and portrayal of Tony Stark is what puts meat on this film’s bones. Things are much too convoluted and confusing. You’re trying to figure out what the heck is going on and lose touch with the purpose of it all. You can’t knock Mickey Rourke though.

Grade: B


The Incredible Hulk, (June 2008)


Genre: Action


This version of Hulk is a lot leaner than in Avengers and the first Hulk film. Possible Weight Watchers advertising was lost sadly after Hulk screamed, “Hulk no eat pita bread!”

Edward Norton is good, but it appears he’s playing an Edward Norton character who happens to turn into the Hulk. The CGI is amazing and the action great, but there’s no personality to the monster. It’s clear Banner is window dressing and the Hulk is the main feature. Bruce Banner cannot hold the movie up like Tony Stark does in Iron Man. This is because in Iron Man it’s Downey Jr.’s Tony we’re after not the Iron Man.

Grade: C-


Iron Man, (April 2008)


Genre: Action, Drama


You should see him deadlift a boat.

A very good origin story done even better with a perfect amount of humor and special effects. Everything gels… except for the villain. Jeff Bridges is great, but the character can’t match everyone else in this film. Another blindly evil villain brings the film down a notch.

Grade: B+


Hulk VS. (January 2009)


Genre: Action, Animation


Since Hulk can jump 1,000 feet or so, why not have a grab-jump-throw fighting style?

Very nice animation but the stories in each piece leave a lot to be desired. Okay sure, it’s got VS. in it, but at least give each side a good reason to fight. The Thor half, about 45 minutes long, is decent, but a bit boring as there is no story and all fighting. The voice acting is stellar though. The Wolverine section is a little more fun as its given some purpose. What makes this entire flick a joy to watch though… SPOILER ALERT …is Deadpool. He is hilarious. I hope they give him his own cartoon movie.

Grade: C


Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme, (May 2007)


Genre: Action, Animation


Magic: if it doesn’t glow you’re not doing it right.

Rumor has it this character will get his own live action film. Lets hope it’s better than this mediocre attempt. This film feels lopsided from beginning to end. One problem is the emotional story. All the building blocks are there for a great tragedy, but it’s an outline that needs to be fleshed out. The film really only does things people expect from it. The animation is great, as the magic and backgrounds kick up the detail and imaginative design. Overall this film is more ho-hum than, “ho my god”. It’s unfortunate since Strange could thrive in a cartoon considering the inter-dimensional aspects and magic that would be costly in a live action film.

Grade: C