Wednesday, April 26, 2017

M. Night Shyamalan officially announces 'Glass' for January 2019 release

*Spoilers for Split (duh)*

When M. Night Shyamalan's Split had its surprise premiere at Austin's Fantastic Fest back in September, fans of the director instantly praised the twist ending of his new project. But then again, that wasn't necessarily a surprise as a twist in a Shyamalan movie is only natural. However, it was far from a conventional twist by the director's standards- instead of something akin to The Sixth Sense or The Happening, Split ended by revealing that the film took place in the same universe as Unbreakable, Shyamalan's 2000 cult comic book movie. Essentially, a James McAvoy film about a man with 23 distinct identities was shockingly revealed as an origin story for a supervillain that would face off against Bruce Willis' David Dunn in a potential follow-up installment. This re-ignited hope that Shyamalan would once again consider directing an Unbreakable sequel, and the director confirmed that, yes, a sequel to both films was in the works. Today, the pieces came together and the director officially announced all the details for his upcoming film.


On Twitter, Shyamalan had this to say about the sequel (Note: I've condensed all the tweets, added italics, and removed hashtags).

"Okay. Here we go. Finished the new script. It's taken 17 years but I can finally answer the #1 question I get, "Are you making a ******* sequel to Unbreakable or what?" My new film is the sequel to Unbreakable AND Split. It was always my dream to have both films collide in this third film. The iconic Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn. The incomparable Samuel L. Jackson will return as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass. The virtuoso James McAvoy will return as Kevin Wendell Crumb, Patricia, Dennis, Hedwig, Jade, Orwell, The Beast, Heinrich, Norma, Pol-.....And the prodigy, Anya Taylor-Joy will return as Casey Cooke. I'm re-teaming with my partners Jason Blum and Universal Pictures for this crazy comic book thriller. And the film is called GLASS.....Universal Pictures will release Glass on January 18, 2019 all over the world. How's that for not keeping a secret!"

Well, looks like I need to see Unbreakable. When I reviewed Split back in January, I mentioned that I didn't have much of a reaction to the last-minute twist because I just don't have any familiarity with the popular comic book flick. I'll definitely check it out before seeing Glass, and judging by the 2019 release date, I have plenty of time. That being said, as someone who enjoyed Split, I'm interested to see the continued adventures of Casey and Kevin Wendell Crumb as they collide with the superheroes and villains of the Unbreakable universe. Shyamalan is officially back, and he just might be better than ever.

Glass will hit theaters on January 18, 2019.


Images: Universal/Disney/IMDB

Fox Searchlight reveals release date and first poster for Wes Anderson's 'Isle of Dogs'

Wes Anderson is one of the few visionary filmmakers left on the planet, a director who has the ability to bring a very distinct, specific sensibility to every movie that he touches. He's a true original, never dabbling in franchise material or drawing from anything but his own imagination. And it honestly seems like he just keeps getting better and better. After breaking onto the scene during the American independent movement of the late 1990s, Anderson has continually improved his craft and style to the point where he is consistently delivering masterpieces. 2009's Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the most innovative animated films of the last decade, Moonrise Kingdom is a delightful burst of unadulterated cinematic pleasure, and without a doubt in my mind, 2014's Oscar-nominated The Grand Budapest Hotel is his crowning achievement. That film took home four Oscars and was the first of Anderson's projects to receive a Best Picture nomination, further establishing him as one of the foremost auteurs on the planet. After a hiatus that was far too long, Anderson is returning next year with Isle of Dogs. Check out the first poster below!


While there are plenty of big movies to be excited about in 2018 like Avengers: Infinity War, the Han Solo movie, The Incredibles 2, and Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One, there's no question that Anderson's new film will stand as one of my most anticipated films of the year. The director is returning to stop-motion animation with a jam-packed cast, one that includes Anderson favorites as well as newcomers like Scarlett Johansson and Bryan Cranston. The film has been rumored to blend Anderson's iconic style with the atmosphere of Akira Kurosawa, which is a truly exciting proposition for cinephiles. In addition to the first poster, Searchlight announced that Isle of Dogs will hit theaters on April 20, 2018. It'll be a nice bit of counter-programming before next year's massive summer blitz. I'm all in on this film, and I cannot wait to see more.

Image: Indiewire/Fox Searchlight

Jeff Goldblum to return as Ian Malcolm for 'Jurassic World' sequel

I don't care what anyone says- I love Jurassic World. The characters are dumb and the plot is mainly recycled from Steven Spielberg's 1993 classic, but there's no question in my mind that Colin Trevorrow's 2015 film is one of the most unabashedly entertaining summer blockbusters in recent memory. There have been plenty of giant monster movies of the years, but none have been able to channel the pure sense of pleasure that comes from watching massive prehistoric dinosaurs smash each other to bits. It's a nostalgia-fueled adventure that feels like a theme park ride come to life, and despite its flaws, it's a movie that I truly enjoy without even a hint of irony. There's even more room for improvement and expansion with next year's sequel, which will bring back Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard for more dinosaur-centric action. This time around, A Monster Calls and The Impossible director J.A. Bayona is behind the camera, hoping to bring a sense of emotion and terror to match Trevorrow's popcorn sensibilities. As if that wasn't enough, yesterday gave us another reason to be excited for the sequel.


In an exclusive report from The Hollywood Reporter's Rebecca Ford, the trade publication confirms that Jeff Goldblum, who previously appeared in the original Jurassic Park and 1997's The Lost World, will be returning to play Dr. Ian Malcolm in next year's sequel. No other information was provided, but expect Goldblum's presence in the follow-up to be a major draw for fans, even those that were skeptical of Jurassic World. Goldblum will appear in November's Thor: Ragnarok and next April's Isle of Dogs, the new film from acclaimed filmmaker Wes Anderson. Now, let's keep in mind that Goldblum reprising a famous role isn't necessarily a guarantee of quality- he starred in Independence Day: Resurgence, and that was still the worst film of 2016. Nonetheless, this is an incredible development. Goldblum's character is one of the highlights of the original film, and it'll be great to see him return for whatever Bayona and producer Frank Marshall draw up next. Jurassic World 2 (or whatever they end up calling it) will undoubtedly be one of the biggest films of 2018, and Goldblum's casting gives us just one more reason to be excited.

In addition to Pratt, Howard, and Goldblum, the untitled Jurassic World sequel stars Ted Levine, Toby Jones, BD Wong, James Cromwell, Justice Smith, Rafe Spall, Daniella Pineda, and Geraldine Chaplin and will hit theaters on June 22, 2018.


Images: Universal/IMDB
Source: THR

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner join the cast of Jon Favreau's 'The Lion King'

Ha. Told you I'd be back with more Disney news soon.

It's been less than an hour since I published my breakdown of Disney's massive calendar adjustments, and we're already being hit with more news from the Mouse House.

I think it's safe to say that out of all the upcoming Disney remakes of their animated classics, Jon Favreau's re-imagining of The Lion King is one of the most hotly-anticipated. Favreau was widely praised for his visually stunning take on The Jungle Book, and if he can take that sense of visual wonder and blend it with a great story like this, the possibilities are endless. Donald Glover and James Earl Jones headline the growing cast, and the film will debut on the prime spot of July 19, 2019. Disney obviously has a great deal of faith in this one, and considering the insane popularity of the animated film, a final worldwide box office total of over $1 billion feels like a guarantee. But even though it's locked and loaded for a summer 2019 premiere, lots of pieces still need to click into place before Favreau can head into production. Minutes ago, news broke that two of the most iconic roles from the original have finally been cast with two of the most famous comedians on the planet.


According to The Wrap's Matt Donnelly, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner have been cast as Pumbaa and Timon, respectively. The warthog and meerkat are probably best known for the "Hakuna Matata" number that is the centerpiece of the 1994 film, but in the years since, they've become an essential part of the Disney pop culture lexicon. Rogen is obviously a known commodity, having directed two well-liked comedies (This is the End and 2014's ill-fated The Interview) and starred in many more. He has done plenty of voice work before in kids' movies such as Monsters vs. Aliens and the Kung Fu Panda franchise, as well as last year's raunchy comedy Sausage Party. As for Eichner, the viral comedian has seen his profile rise through Billy on the Street, as well as a few small roles in films like The Angry Birds Movie and Neighbors 2. According to the report, the two actors are in final negotiations.

In my opinion, this is near-perfect casting. While I still think it's kinda hilarious that two comedians known for profane, crude comedy are joining the Disney universe, they really fit the characters. Look for more news on The Lion King as Favreau's film gears up for production. It'll hit theaters on July 19, 2019.


Source: The Wrap
Images: Universal/Disney

Disney announces release dates for 'Star Wars: Episode IX,' 'Indiana Jones 5,' 'Lion King' remake, and more

This past weekend saw a slew of release date announcements from 20th Century Fox, as the studio revealed that three new X-Men films are on the calendar, as well as multiple Avatar sequels and new films from Steve McQueen, Bryan Singer, and Steven Spielberg. I figured that this would be the main story in release date news for a while, but never to be topped by another studio, Disney has announced three major titles today that will certainly get fans talking. New installments in two of the most beloved franchises of all time and a remake of an iconic animated property? Forget the X-Men- Disney has my full attention.


First off, let's get all the untitled films out of the way. I'm not gonna speculate as to what these films could be, but here they are nonetheless.

-The Untitled Live-Action Disney Fairy Tale that was previously set for July 28, 2017 has been pushed to August 3, 2018. No surprise there- I figured we wouldn't be getting a surprise Disney movie this summer.

-In addition, there are Untitled Live-Action movies scheduled for release on August 9, 2019, April 3, 2020, and March 12, 2021.

-And finally, an Untitled Marvel film will smash into theaters on August 7, 2020.

-An Untitled Pixar film will debut on June 18, 2021.

-An Untitled Animated film will now hit theaters on November 24, 2021.

-Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time is one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the next few years for cinephiles, and the wait to see it just got a little shorter. Disney will now release the film on March 9, 2018. The star-studded cast is led by Reese Witherspoon, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Michael Pena, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, and Andre Holland.


-I don't know what Magic Camp really is, but it's set to hit theaters on April 6, 2018, taking the spot of DuVernay's film. According to the IMDb synopsis, the film follows a guy named Andy who hopes to reignite his career by serving as a camp counselor. The cast includes Adam Devine, Gillian Jacobs, Aldis Hodge, and Jeffrey Tambor.

-Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, the sequel to the 2012 hit, has been pushed back a few months, moving from its March 9, 2018 release date to November 21, 2018. John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman, and Jane Lynch will return, with James Corden and Jodi Benson joining the cast of the film.

-This is probably the most surprising news of the day. Okay, sure, we all knew that Star Wars: Episode IX was coming in 2019. That was a given. But I think that everybody expected Disney and Lucasfilm to stick with the December strategy. I know that the Han Solo movie is coming in May, but before James Cameron comes back to dominate the month starting in 2020, I figured they would want one last box office bonanza. Anyways, Colin Trevorrow's Episode IX will still be a huge hit when it debuts on May 24, 2019. Expect Minecraft and the new Doctor Dolittle movie to abandon that date as soon as humanly possible.


-After the smashing success of The Jungle Book, we all knew that this one was coming. Jon Favreau is coming back to Disney to direct The Lion King, a live-action adaptation of one of the most beloved animated films in cinematic history. Disney clearly has a lot of confidence in the film, as it is now set for a July 19, 2019 release date. James Earl Jones will reprise his role as Mufasa, while Donald Glover is voicing Simba. Rumor has it that the studio wants Beyonce to play Nala, but no deal has been completed as of yet.

-Disney made an unexpectedly massive amount of money on 2013's Frozen, so a sequel was always a no-brainer. Six years later, Elsa, Anna, and Olaf will be returning to the big screen with Frozen 2, set to debut on November 27, 2019. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee are back behind the camera, while Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel are reprising their roles.

-Gigantic has been on the Disney production line for years, but it looks like we'll have to wait much longer to see it. The animated re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk has been pushed back to November 25, 2020. Inside Out and Captain Marvel screenwriter Meg LeFauve will be co-directing with Tangled director Nathan Greno.

-Finally, Lucasfilm announced that the untitled Indiana Jones sequel has been pushed back a year, now set to hit theaters on July 10, 2020. Steven Spielberg will direct and Harrison Ford (who will turn 78 the week of the film's release) will star as the titular character. Expect to hear more about this one soon.

That's it! While it's certainly a lot to digest, we pretty much knew that all of these movies were coming. Look for more news on Disney-related properties in the coming weeks.


Source: Disney/Daniel Miller (Twitter)
Images: IMDB/Disney/Paramount 

First trailer for 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' is spectacularly entertaining

2015 was a great year for spy movies, led by the combination of Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation and Spectre, two great franchise installments, and three relatively original films that came in the form of Kingsman: The Secret Service, Spy, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. While Paul Feig's Spy was a solid hit and the latter film from Guy Ritchie is rumored to be getting a sequel soon, the real breakout of the year was Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman. Expectations were low for the hyper-violent film from the director of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, but The Secret Service emerged as one of the most surprisingly entertaining flicks of the year, turning Taron Egerton into a star and further setting the viability of R-rated blockbusters. The film made a stunning $414 million at the worldwide box office, making a huge profit off an $81 million budget and establishing Kingsman as the next big spy franchise. Just over two years later, Vaughn and his crew are back with The Golden Circle, a sequel that will expand the wacky, hard-R universe of the Kingsman in an exciting new way. Originally locked for release this summer, Fox recently set the film for September 22, 2017. With that date looming, the studio is getting the marketing machine started with a teaser trailer- check it out below!


I'm a sucker for a good spy movie, and Kingsman is a highlight of the genre. The 2015 film is so damn delightful on just about every single level, and the way that it told a standalone story while also establishing a franchise and a unique world was really impressive. I couldn't be more excited for The Golden Circle, a sequel that looks to be upping the insanity and bringing in a whole new group of characters. Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, and Pedro Pascal have all joined the cast, helping to assemble the Statesmen- essentially the American equivalent of the Kingsmen. This first look is just a brief glimpse at what's to come, but this teaser is still truly spectacular in every way. The trailer neatly centers around the destruction of the Kingsmen mansion, all before Frank Sinatra's "My Way" kicks in and gives us a taste of all the ridiculous action we have to look forward to in The Golden Circle. The car chase looks bonkers, the snowy showdown looks to be a highlight, and Tatum seems pretty handy with that shotgun. And of course, the trailer ends with the "shocking" reveal- Colin Firth's Harry Hart is back from the dead, and he's sporting a classy eye patch. All in all, this is one of my most anticipated films of the year, hands down. I can't wait to see more, but first, I'm gonna watch this teaser again and again and again.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle debuts on September 22, 2017.


Image courtesy of Fox

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ranking the Films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe- April 2017 Edition

The Marvel Cinematic Universe started almost a decade ago, and today, it stands as one of the most ambitious and brilliant experiments in film history. The idea of blending together multiple franchises and characters to create one shared universe and storyline was something that had never been attempted before, and when Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury told Tony Stark that he was a part of a bigger universe in 2008, nobody knew exactly where this would go after. Nine years and billions of dollars later, it's safe to say that Marvel pulled it off.

2017 is a big year for the MCU, with three new films hitting theaters in the next seven months- Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. Before we get started on what promises to be a great year of Marvel movies, let's take a look back and rank the 14 films that we've seen from the MCU thus far. Here we go.....

14. ANT-MAN


The origin story formula that once felt fresh has quickly gone stale, which is why it's exciting that films like Black Panther and Captain Marvel will deal with characters that we already know. I must admit that I have a slight bias against Ant-Man, as the film was originally set to be directed by Edgar Wright before he clashed with Marvel chief Kevin Feige and left the project. Much of Wright's script remained, but Peyton Reed failed to put his own stamp on the film. In the absence of Wright's dazzling kinetic energy, we ended up receiving a visually stale superhero flick with a familiar narrative, one that introduced us to characters that honestly weren't all that interesting. It's the most forgettable of all the Marvel movies, despite action scenes that were admittedly scaled down from prior films. Ant-Man falls into the worst traps of the MCU, and while Paul Rudd is a committed hero, this one falls well short of the mark.

13. DOCTOR STRANGE


Doctor Strange should be better. It's the most visually dazzling of all the Marvel films, brilliantly twisty and so insanely stylized that it feels like a heroic acid trip. But for all of its visual razzle dazzle, Doctor Strange is almost shockingly rote, stuck with a standard origin story that is populated by characters that feel cliched at best and perfunctory at worst. Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange isn't that likable, Mads Mikkelsen's villain (I can't remember his name and I don't care enough to look it up) is forgettable, and the side characters are forced to spout endless exposition. Throw in a romantic interest who is utterly wasted by the narrative, and you have a Marvel origin story that feels like it's just going through the motions. 

12. THOR: THE DARK WORLD


Marvel origin stories can be tediously average, but the sequels are rarely guaranteed to improve matters. In 2013, I was happy to see Thor: The Dark World, a sequel that re-connected elements of the Marvel universe after the stand-alone action of Iron Man 3. But The Dark World is almost impossible to re-watch- it brings nothing new to the table, it continues to waste interesting characters, and its sense of darkness feels forced. Like so many Marvel films, The Dark World went through a rough pre-production process as Patty Jenkins left the project in favor of Alan Taylor, who later trashed Marvel's creative control over their films. After this disappointing installment, it felt like the Thor series had run out of gas early, but Taika Waititi is hoping to change everyone's minds with Ragnarok in November. Judging by his track record and that first look, I have a feeling that he's going to succeed. 

11. IRON MAN 2


Plenty of people are unreasonably harsh on Iron Man 2, a messy sequel that tries to do way too much but still manages to entertain. This was actually the first of the Marvel films that I saw in theaters (I'm really young, I know), and it feels like a quintessential summer blockbuster sequel. Iron Man 2 is bigger, badder, and more jam-packed with characters- some of it works, some of it doesn't. I love that this film introduced Sam Jackson's Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, and this film came in at a point when the connectivity of the MCU was still a novel idea. Jon Favreau juggled way too many characters and subplots, almost working as a pre-cursor for what happened with Joss Whedon with Avengers 2. Nonetheless, Iron Man 2 is fun- and sometimes, that's all that we need from these movies.

10. THOR


Thor isn't a great movie, but it's a fun expansion of the Marvel world that takes us to a corner of the universe that we hadn't seen before. It's a fairly typical origin story for this series- an arrogant hero (in this instance, Chris Hemsworth's Thor) is humbled in some way, learns to adapt to a whole new world, and proceeds to save the day and learn a few lessons along the way. Coming from director Kenneth Branagh, Thor has a somewhat insane cast of prestige actors, with Oscar winners like Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins taking on fairly thankless roles. Thor also had the important task of welcoming Tom Hiddleston's Loki to the MCU, creating the most memorable antagonist in the entire series. Thor has some great action beats, some fun fantasy elements, and it's an enjoyable little ride. If you're not looking for more than that, you'll have a blast.

9. THE INCREDIBLE HULK


Beyond William Hurt's General Ross, The Incredible Hulk is the least important movie in the MCU. In fact, if Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark hadn't shown up in the end credits, I don't even know if this film would be considered to be part of the franchise. Edward Norton never played Bruce Banner again, Liv Tyler's Betty Ross never appeared again, and Marvel never went through with Tim Blake Nelson's villainous character. But even though The Incredible Hulk is purely a standalone project, it's still a rip-roaring blockbuster with some great setpieces and a classic feel. Director Louis Leterrier avoids the typical origin story trappings, summarizing Hulk's creation in the opening credits before jumping right into the Jason Bourne-esque action. The final battle is an outstanding, simplistic finale, and while Mark Ruffalo is certainly the best Bruce Banner, Norton isn't half-bad either. Ultimately, The Incredible Hulk is the most underrated film of the MCU. Give it another chance. It's better than you remember.

8. IRON MAN 3


Shane Black is a terrific director of action comedies- The Nice Guys is simply one of my favorite movies of the decade so far. And in making Iron Man 3, Black got a chance to utilize his skills on a bigger project while also demonstrating his effortless chemistry with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang star Robert Downey Jr. And for the most part, it works. Iron Man 3 is great fun, led by a few tremendous action pieces, an introspective look at the soul of Tony Stark (with some weird PTSD pieces that don't really work), and a terrifically funny twist involving Ben Kingsley's actor-turned-supervillain. At its best, Iron Man 3 has some of the most visually creative stretches of the MCU, with a comic book energy that most directors dream of channeling. At its worst, it's a slightly inconsequential sequel, one that director Joss Whedon pretty much ignored when the next film on this list came around.

7. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON


Avengers: Age of Ultron is a bit of a mess. Nobody can dispute that. It has too many characters, too many subplots, and Kevin Feige simply gave Joss Whedon way too much to do. Whedon was forced to close the book on Phase 2, while also establishing several Phase 3 films, including Civil War, Ragnarok, and more that we haven't even seen yet. He was tasked with introducing Paul Bettany's Vision, Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Quicksilver, Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch, and James Spader's villainous Ultron, while also maintaining the emotional core of the series. This was a monumental task for any filmmaker, and to be quite honest, this film should have been a total fiasco.

And yet, Age of Ultron works. It's still a pure dose of summer blockbuster fun, accompanied by the big action scenes that fans want from Marvel and the small character moments that give Whedon his distinctive touch. The scenes at Hawkeye's cabin are some of the best that the MCU has had to offer, and the massive scope of the final battle in Sokovia is dazzling. Age of Ultron wasn't able to top the heights of The Avengers, and unfortunately, it was surpassed a year later by Civil War. But that doesn't mean that it's a failure by any stretch of the imagination.

6. IRON MAN


The film that started it all. Without Iron Man, there is no MCU- plain and simple. Jon Favreau's 2008 film was a stunner of an origin story that took fans and critics for a loop, rejuvenating the career of Robert Downey Jr. and furthering the legitimacy of the superhero genre. In addition to that, it firmly established many of the hallmarks of the MCU- a clever mix of comedy and action, a devotion to character-based stories, a post-credits stinger that set up the next few movies. Mainly, Iron Man works because of Downey's incredible performance as the character, a billionaire playboy who is forced to re-assess his priorities after a tragic accident. The initial stretch in the Afghan cave is quite possibly the best that the MCU has ever had to offer, with genuine emotion and a thrilling action scene to boot. Iron Man is on a much smaller scale than anything that Marvel has had to offer short of Ant-Man, but that focused scope helps it stand out from the pack.

5. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER


Everybody generally likes Captain America: The First Avenger, but when it comes to these lists, it's usually placed far too low. Sure, the first adventure with Steve Rogers is corny and a bit old-fashioned, but that's Captain America for you. While the follow-up installments in the trilogy have had their own distinct vibe and charm, the World War II setting of The First Avenger is perhaps the most inspired of the entire MCU. A delightful slice of classic superhero cinema, Captain America delivers some excellent action scenes, some wonderfully nostalgic pulp, and a plethora of great character moments. It never reinvents the wheel, but quite frankly, it didn't have to do anything revolutionary- it's superhero comfort food. The First Avenger is insanely entertaining and anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves.

4. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY


Guardians of the Galaxy was perhaps the most important film from Marvel. Yeah, we all knew that fans would show up for The Avengers and the other solo superhero movies- but would any casual fans make it to the theater to see a film that featured a talking raccoon, a giant tree, two green aliens, and the guy from Parks and Rec in the lead? Skepticism ran high, but Guardians blew away everyone away. James Gunn delivered a box office smash and a cultural phenomenon, one that established the popularity of Chris Pratt, and existed as further proof that Marvel could turn even the strangest of concepts into a hit. And while Guardians is quite possibly Marvel's weakest film from a story perspective, it also feels like their most innovative and engaging. The soundtrack was an incredible success (everybody had that thing on repeat for months after the film came out), the characters became instant icons, and the Marvel universe expanded beyond the realms of Earth and Asgard. For all of its missteps, Guardians of the Galaxy is just an absurdly entertaining movie. 

3. THE AVENGERS


Watching The Avengers in a theater was magical. Seriously, this will probably go down as one of the greatest theater-going experiences of my entire life. The whole theater whooped and cheered throughout the final act of this crowd-pleasing smash hit, staring in awe as the Avengers teamed up to take down Loki and an alien army in the middle of New York City. The Avengers is one of the greatest blockbusters of our time, a genuine blast that brought together classic characters in  spectacularly entertaining fashion. It was an excellent summation of every Marvel movie that came before, and it delivered on the promise of a superhero team-up movie for the ages. What more can I say? The Avengers is magnificent fun. I love every second of it. 

2. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER


Everybody had high hopes for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but I don't know if anyone expected the final result to be so astonishing. Untested directors Joe and Anthony Russo promised that The Winter Soldier would be akin to a 1970s paranoia thriller, and they miraculously pulled it off, blending together suspenseful setpieces, big blockbuster action, and grounded character drama to great effect. The film features some of the most spectacular action scenes in Marvel history, from the stunning highway chase that takes Nick Fury out of commission, to the incredible elevator face-off, to the final battle that sends a Helicarrier crashing into the middle of Washington, D.C. The Winter Soldier is a blast from start to finish, and the fact that it took so many monumental risks so quickly after the success of The Avengers is even more astonishing in retrospect. The S.H.I.E.L.D. twist was downright jaw-dropping, and it sent the MCU on an entirely different course. I straight-up love this movie. It's truly incredible.

1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR


Captain America: Civil War has flaws. It's not a perfect movie, perhaps standing as a little too ambitious for its own good. But it is the crowning achievement of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a dizzying spectacle of blockbuster action and character drama that perfectly served as the culmination of years and years of work. Ever since the MCU started, fans had been clamoring for an adaptation of the classic Civil War story, and while the third (and supposedly final) film in the Captain America trilogy didn't send any characters to their grave, the pacing and emotion on display is simply unparalleled by any other MCU film. Civil War jumps right into the action, giving us a look into the mind of Chris Evans' Steve Rogers and Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark as they grapple with the effects of their heroics and the damage that they've caused over the years.

The conflicting ideologies of both Captain America and Iron Man are incredibly flawed- but the fact that I managed to have a seemingly endless series of debates with friends in the weeks after this film debuted says so much about what Joe and Anthony Russo put together. The airport fight sequence is the most eye-popping IMAX action scene I've ever seen, the introduction of characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther couldn't be better, and the final battle between our two heroes has quite possibly the best shot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain America: Civil War is the longest and most sprawling film in Marvel's history, and even with its shortcomings, this is nothing short of an epic, triumphant accomplishment.

Well, that's my current ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe I'll give this another whirl next year after we see what 2017 has to offer. Come back next week for my review of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2!