Rewatching the MCU Phase 1

In anticipation of Avengers: Infinity War, Julie and I have been rewatching all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Since we started late, we started by needing to watch a movie roughly every two or three days, which is way faster than my typical screen viewing, which is probably a movie every two or three weeks and a TV episode maybe once or twice a week. Although we love Agents of Shield as well, there’s no way we are going to watch all MCU TV shows in time.

Even more than any of the Avengers movies so far, Infinity War is really supposed to tie everything together. That’s not only a lot of high-profile actors

but also a lot of storylines around the Infinity Stones. The MCU has many callback jokes and references, so having all of the movies fresh in our minds should make it a more interesting experience.

Below are my hot takes on rewatching each movie. They will be neither as extensive as a movie review or as interesting as IMDb’s trivia section, but maybe it will help to jog your memory without doing the whole marathon yourself.

Iron Man (2008) – 5/5

Great movie and harbinger of the rest of the MCU. Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges are all fantastic in a movie that has that signature balance of action, suspense, and humor that marks most MCU movies.

Despite starting this entire storyline, this movie didn’t seem that special at the time. Samuel L. Jackson mentions “The Avengers Initiative” in the post-credit scene, but few could predict that it would culminate into this. Remember, we already had 3 Spider-Man movies, 3 X-Men movies, 3 Blade movies, and several other one-offs in the Marvel superhero movie genre. Especially coming just after that second Fantastic Four movie, Iron Man would be just another good start on a quickly devolving arc into the next attempt.

Thank goodness I was wrong about that.

it was great to see Clark Gregg‘s Phil Coulson play such a big role! After 100 episodes of Agents of Shield, I had forgotten how prominent he was from the very beginning. He looks much younger in this movie.

Most of Tony’s futuristic technology has held up. The mechanical arms are comic relief but technically underwhelming. Some of the design styles on screens look dated. However, interacting with holograms and putting on the suit, however, is still cool. Remember, the iPhone only came out in 2006, so the concepts were really out there.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – 4/5

After watching Iron Man, we decided to watch the movies in chronological order since we effectively had watched them in release order in real life. This movie was not as fun as Iron Man but still enjoyable. The jokes are less frequent, but the action is still fun.

This movie has the first appearance of an infinity stone: the Tesseract. I remembered that Red Skull used it to create weapons, but I forgot that he stole it from a church keeper (portrayed by David Bradley AKA Walder Frey, more Game of Thrones tie-ins below) in Norway. Of course, that all makes sense with the plot of The Avengers, but it’s just another reminder how tightly all of these things were integrated.

I didn’t remember that Natalie Dormer in this movie working with Tommy Lee Jones’s and later coming onto Captain America before Agent Carter catches them at the wrong moment.

Both Hayley Atwell‘s Agent Peggy Carter and Sebastian Stan‘s Bucky Barnes have bigger roles to play in the MCU, but this movie doesn’t hint much to that. Again, watching these early movies, I’m impressed (but perhaps should be for Marvel) by how much they have expanded on everything

Iron Man 2 (2010) – 4/5

Knowing that I have seen this movie before, it felt somewhat predictable, but I still enjoyed it. Not as good as Iron Man, but still enjoyable. Mickey Rourke‘s Whiplash is an okay bad guy, but Sam Rockwell did a great job making the audience hate Justin Hammer (even if he is forgettable).

It also features one of the funniest quotes in a MCU movie:

MCU is generally quite self-aware, but I’m still not sure if that line from JARVIS is intended to be taken seriously or not.

Coulson has the most useless role in this movie: he shows up only so he can visibly leave to do something else more important (find Thor’s hammer). I thought they were too obvious with it this time, but it did get everyone hyped about the universe. And frankly, here I am.

The Incredible Hulk (2008) – 3/5

Although I think this movie is often maligned in the MCU (and only relevant because of a RDJ appearance at the very end), it actually wasn’t a bad movie. The plot is not complicated. Tim Roth‘s Emil Blonsky is not complicated. However, it moves along well enough, and I don’t regret watching it.

There were not many women in this movie. I think that might be true in a lot of movies, but I was particularly struck by that fact here.

They setup a potential sequel for the movie with a shot of one character slowly transforming before cutting away. With Infinity War coming out, there are tons of references and tie-ins that make it seem like a master plan, but I guess this was one loose end that didn’t pan out.

Thor (2011) – 4/5

This is the second movie in a row that turned out better than expected. I think there’s spillover hate from Thor 2, but this movie was actually pretty good. There are a few twists, good action, and a lot of jokes.

Most of the jokes play off the Asgardian-American culture clash or Natalie Portman being awkward, but the movie isn’t long enough for it to get old.

I forgot that this was directed by Kenneth Branagh. I’m not so familiar with his work as to say that this seems like quintessential results, but I wasn’t that surprised

Agent Sitwell appears in this one. I guess I have become really invested in the sides here because my first instinct was, “That guy is HYDRA!” The same thing happened with the Senator in Iron Man 2.

The Avengers (2012) – 5/5

When I have mentioned my MCU viewing plans to friends, the most common question I have been asked is whether I have a favorite. Figuring that out is one my goals in re-watching all of the movies, but my gut instinct is that The Avengers is my favorite. We’re not quite done yet, but having watched it again, I really like this movie.

Ashley Johnson (now on Blindspot with Jaimie Alexander AKA Lady Sif, but most importantly, Critical Role) also has a minor role in this movie as a waitress during the Battle of New York. Both she and Enver Gjokaj (who appears again in the MCU as Agent Sousa in Agent Carter) had more scene that were later cut.

As of this post going up, we should have already started on Phase 2, so look forward to that post coming soon!

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