What began as a project to find more shared interests with my twelve year old son became a journey of community, connection, and self-reflection well beyond anything I could have imagined. I mean, they were just super hero movies, right? I figured I would watch maybe one movie each week. With 23 movies to watch, it would take about 6 months to catch up. Well, 19 days later, I have finished my Marvel Journey. 19 days. 23 movies.
When I first posted on Facebook that I was looking to start this little project, I was immediately blown away at how many people had strong opinions as to whether I watched the films in release order or chronological order. I mean, STRONG opinions. I had planned on watching them in chronological order, but after days – DAYS – of reading arguments from both sides (some comments from my post and others sent to me via private message….people were not messing around), the release order folks had more compelling arguments. For your quick reference, this is the order of the movies as I watched them, as originally released:
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 3
Thor: Dark World
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain America: Civil War
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2
Avengers: Infinity War
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Avengers: End Game
Spiderman: Far From Home
Other than having fun discussions with my son about the movies, the most unexpectedly wonderful outcome of this Marvel Journey was the sense of community it created on my Facebook feed. At a time when I am so desperately craving connection and shared experience with other people that quarantine has taken from us, the discussions that ensued on my movie posts were breathtaking. Friends from college I have not seen in nearly 20 years, spouses of friends that I barely know, high school friends, theater friends, six degrees of separation friends…a beautifully random assortment of people all excited about the shared interest, love, (obsession?) with the MCU.
Many expressed their happiness in vicariously seeing the movies for the first time through my eyes, many shared favorite lines and moments, many offered to answer questions, but what I enjoyed reading most was the conversations that took place between total strangers. I learned about comic books that were purchased in the 1970’s and the excitement of seeing those characters come alive on screen. I learned about characters who were reimagined for the films. I learned about the angst of waiting a year or more for the next film while I only waited hours. By watching the brilliant storytelling on screen, I learned the stories of so many people in my life and, as you may know, there is nothing I love more than knowing someone’s story.
Without further ado, here are my top five movies (although I feel like this could change depending on how I am feeling or which storyline I am feeling particulary connected to on a given day):
- Black Panther
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Captain America
- End Game
*With special mentions for: Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr. Strange, and Iron Man
Top Five Heroes:
- Black Widow
- Captain America
- The Guardians (I can’t separate them because their dynamic is what makes me love them so much)
- Iron Man (his character arc from Iron Man to End Game is everything)
*With special mentions for: Falcon, Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, and Wanda
Trying to write these lists is giving me anxiety because I sincerely loved something about every film and every character. I could go round and round all day and come up with my own arguments for and against my own decisions on this. I have already made changes to my lists while sitting here.
I am going to share the reviews as they were posted immediately after seeing each film. I wish I could share all of the comments and conversations, as well.
There were a LOT of strong opinions as to the correct way to watch the Marvel movies. After much deliberation (seriously), I am watching them in release order.
Just watched Iron Man! Really enjoyed it! Way funnier than I anticipated. I think I saw it years ago, but did not remember any of it.
For those of you following My Marvel journey: The Incredible Hulk
I love Edward Norton. I love Liv Tyler. I did not love Incredible Hulk. Felt like a lot of build up with no villain until the last 20 minutes. Kept finding myself distracted throughout the movie.
I do enjoy the little post-credit sneak peaks…
My Marvel Journey: Iron Man 2
First part of the movie I found a little annoying, but then I got more into it and enjoyed it. First time I can see the pieces starting to fit in a bigger picture and that is kind of cool. Also, I love Don Cheadle.
My Marvel Journey: Thor
I knew absolutely nothing about Thor going into this one. I enjoyed the movie, but it left me with a lot of questions (especially after the sneak peek). Hoping they will be answered in Captain America, which is next on the list.
(And I do still prefer Adventures in Babysitting…my first introduction to Thor)
My Marvel Journey: Captain America
My favorite so far. Oof…no one warned me how much I would cry. Loved the character development, the story, the many relationships.
Side note: when I was six months pregnant with Orly I was in a really bad car accident. After many hours in L&D, this is the movie I put on in the hospital, but never finished it. Watching it again, I really didn’t remember any of the movie from that night, but maybe some of the feelings came back.
My Marvel Journey: Avengers
I was in for the ride. I cared about the characters from having watched the previous movies, especially Agent Coulson Caring about them was key for me as the actual fighting aliens is less my thing. I preferred the action in the movies leading up to this one.
A much welcomed and needed surprise was how FUNNY this was! Great lines that actually had me laughing out loud. So many well timed, witty, dry, comic relief moments.
My Marvel Journey: Iron Man 3
A little cheesy, but entertaining. Still love me some Don Cheadle. I don’t have a lot of feelings about Pepper. Had moments of liking her in this one, but I just don’t feel connected to her character.
My Marvel Journey: Thor – The Dark World
Way more thoughts on this than I had anticipated even halfway through. Aliens are kind of lost on me. I lose interest in watching those battles, so for a while I was fairly bored. That said, there were multiple moments in this movie with really touching interactions that resonated with me and some that surprised me to the point that I audibly yelled, WHAT?? I did not love this one, but it definitely left me wondering what is to come.
Can’t be out in the snow in my big boot, so on with…
My Marvel Journey. Captain America: Winter Soldier
It is like I had several different colors of play-doh and someone just took them and smashed them all up into one big messy ball and now I am trying to pick each color out separately. SO MUCH HAPPENED IN THIS MOVIE and I thought it was excellent. I would say as far as the story line goes, this is the most important to date. My head is still spinning and trying to separate the colors, for lack of a better metaphor. Still some good laughs and some tears…mostly a lot of rewinding to see what just happened. Also, I might be in love with Anthony Mackie…and I am not sad about that.
My Marvel Journey: Guardians of the Galaxy
This movie may have surprised me more than any other in terms of my reaction to it. As I have mentioned, I am not so into aliens, so I was not sure if I would like this one. I anticipated the humor as that’s what everyone had told me, but I did not expect that among a movie of only aliens, I would feel so connected to the main characters. I think the humor and banter created some of the most realistic and human relationships so far: goofy and weird and connected. I cried more in this movie than maybe any of the others. Since I am fully invested now in understanding how the movies intersect, I am interested to see how these characters will become part of the rest of MCU.
My Marvel Journey: Avengers Age of Ultron
This one had a lot to unpack and still left me with questions (like why they were trying to physically fight Ultron). Loved meeting Wanda and Vision (the start of this whole Marvel journey was sparked by watching WandaVision with Jonah….clearly, I had no clue what was going on). I can see that I am more invested in the movies about individual characters where I really get to know them. My favorite scene was Thor walking with Captain America and Tony Stark at the end. It provided important information and some of my favorite funny quips of the whole movie.
My Marvel Journey: Ant-Man
I had absolutely no clue what to expect because I had never even heard of Ant Man. At the beginning all I could think about was that this movie was like “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” on drugs. I LOVED this movie! The cast was incredible, the supporting characters were funny as shit, and the references to other Avenger activities helped me remember we were still in MCU when I would forget for a moment. One of my favorites so far!
My Marvel Journey: Captain America Civil War
Wow. This one really hit me right where it hurts. I loved that this movie made me explore my own beliefs of what is right or wrong. Does it just depend on which side you fight for? Do the innocent casualties justify the bigger fight for justice? Oof. I’m still thinking through a lot of this movie. There were many parts that I just felt really upset and uncomfortable, but honestly, I’m not sure if it was because of what was happening on the screen or if I was questioning if I was rooting for the bad guy. I am still not sure there even was a bad guy (other than the actual bad guy…but even he had motives that bring to question the morals surrounding revenge). This was a thinker.
My Marvel Journey: Dr. Strange
Shit, friends, I am admittedly so invested in and so enjoying this project. I had not heard of Dr. Strange, so I went into his movie with no expectations or pre-conceived notions. Phase 3 is killing it. This was another one that had me really thinking beyond what was happening on the screen. In the last number of years, I have studied intuition and energy work, so this movie was SUPER interesting to me on so many levels: using energy for healing physical ailments, how humans are connected energetically, and the idea of a spiritual higher self separate from our earthly bodies. I really enjoyed this movie and think it can stand alone even outside of MCU. That said, I am excited to see how it will become a part of the universe.
**2am Marvel thoughts (WHO HAVE I BECOME??)**
In several of the movies, they have discussed the concept of magic versus science. In Dr. Strange, they so beautifully converged the two, having them work together as opposed to being completely separate entities. Very cool.
And, you can carry on now.
My Marvel Journey: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
First, and most importantly, why do I not have a Baby Groot? That is clearly the tragedy of this experience.
This movie started off slow for me other than the AMAZING soundtrack. Some of the humor felt a little pushed, as opposed to the first movie where it was new and surprising. There were definitely laugh out loud lines (gotta give the win to Drax for most of my laughing in this one). I was less invested until the plot twist and then I was all in until the end. The end…brutal. I was sobbing so hard that I was laughing at myself. Throw some Cat Stevens on top of an already sad scene and I’m done for. I really appreciate the sincerity of the relationships in the Guardian movies.
Now, about getting me a Baby Groot…
SIDE NOTE: In case you were concerned, I did get a Baby Groot…he will live on my dashboard.
My Marvel Journey: Spiderman Homecoming
This movie was entertaining. It wasn’t among my favorites, but I had fun watching (whole family watched this one). Tom Holland makes a great Spiderman and I will be curious to see how he fits in with the others. I found it helpful that Tony Stark played a fairly large role in this film. Without that, I would have had trouble connecting Spiderman to the larger MCU. I also like trying to figure out the chronological order based on what I have now seen in previous movies, like the new Avengers headquarters that they are moving to in this film.
My Marvel Journey: Thor Ragnarok
Ahh! I loved this movie!! When the humor is unexpected, it is so much more impactful. I was laughing out loud this whole movie. Brilliant, brilliant lines. The newly introduced characters were fantastic (what CAN’T Cate Blanchett do???). I love now that the Avengers are all so connected that it would not really work to make a movie about one without involving at least one other. I think Loki is maybe the most complicated and complex character in the MCU. I have yet to decide if he is evil or good and that dichotomy is fascinating. His relationship with Thor in this movie, the stories of their youth (THAT SNAKE STORY!), and the “Get Help” tactic, made me really see them as brothers and how he has always been complicated. Ah, loved this one! And it was BEAUTIFUL!!
My Marvel Journey: Black Panther
First and most importantly, Chadwick Boseman was a gift to the screen. May his memory forever be a blessing.
Black Panther is the only movie in MCU that I had seen previously. I saw it when it was in theaters and for a second time when Chadwick died. I knew I loved this movie, but decided it was important to watch again now that I have all of the context of the 17 previous movies.
This time, after a conversation with a friend, I pushed myself to see the perspective of Killmonger. It changed the whole movie for me and allowed me to continue my questioning as to which side is right or wrong, good or bad. The answer is way less clear than many would like to believe. It feels comfortable to think we are always on the right side. I am a firm believer that while we are taught black and white, most of life occurs in the grey. I love the depth of story for every character in this film and how female empowering it is. Every woman in this movie is a FORCE. To me, this may be the most stand alone movie of all of them. It touches on the depths of humanity to its core. Wakanda Forever.
(And the sneak peak made my heart happy)
My Marvel Journey: Avengers Infinity War
This movie was loaded! Wow. So much was happening in so many locations at once. If I looked away for a moment, I had to rewind to figure out where I was. I loved when the various groups intersected: Thor meeting the Guardians and later Stark meeting the Guardians. Favorite line, when asked if he knew Thor: “Tall guy, not that good looking…needed saving.” I really enjoyed how the Guardians brought out a more humorous side of Thor, even though the scenes were very dark. Much needed humor still provided! It is so fascinating to see how the many characters now overlap, even on different planets. This movie ends with SO many unanswered questions!! I definitely yelled, WAIT! IT’S OVER?!?! when the credits rolled.
My Marvel Journey: Ant-Man and Wasp
Let’s face it, I am always happy when Michelle Pfeiffer makes an unexpected appearance in my life. I thought this sequel was fun and surprising. After the intensity of Infinity Wars, this was like a pallet cleanser…the sorbet of the MCU…the coffee beans in the perfume store. The movie kept me totally entertained, had me laughing, crying happy tears, brought back some of the funniest characters, and still had some very sincere and touching moments. I audibly gasped during the sneak peak and was quickly brought back to the reality of the bigger universe and what is happening.
My Marvel Journey: Captain Marvel
Rivaling only Guardians of the Galaxy for best soundtrack, the 90s music and styles filled my teenage heart. This movie made me the most confident that watching the films in release order was the best choice. I loved putting so many pieces of the puzzle in place. And what is better than a badass female superhero?? A female superhero who discovers her true power when harnessing the memory of the strength of human spirit. Ah….such strong moments. Also, THAT is how Nick Fury lost his eye?!?
1hr 55min into End Game. I’m so sad and super angry. *
*This post was made right after Natasha died. I was so upset I had to pause the movie and regain composure. She was my favorite Avenger. Her death really got me.
My Marvel Journey: End Game
When my husband and I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, I knew the final destination would be magnificent. What I didn’t know was that all along the trail are smaller ruins built by the Mayans as watch towers and shelters that all lead to Machu Picchu. So, while you can take the train and skip the trail, you don’t get the whole picture. You don’t see the whole story…the journey that leads there. That is the best way I can describe my feelings about this movie. On its own, it would have been a captivating and compelling movie with some funny moments, some sentimental moments, and some scary moments. As a culmination of the previous 21 movies, I was glued to the screen, literally sitting at the edge of my seat, crying through most of the movie. I think at some point along this journey, I came to believe these heroes were real.
My Marvel Journey: Spiderman Far From Home
When I started watching Spiderman today, it felt strange…as if yesterday should have been the end of this Marvel Journey. I did not understand why Phase 3 would end with Spiderman, but after watching it, I feel like with the end of Phase 3 comes a new beginning. I loved the youthful energy of this movie, the awkward teenage interactions, and the moments of total surprise as the storytelling took me places I never anticipated. This movie felt like a fresh start for upcoming heroes.
The end of My Marvel Journey (well…until the next release…which I guess I will have to wait for just like the rest of you did for these films). So grateful to those who followed along for the fun.
That leads me back here. 19 days. 23 films. A true believer in the Marvel Universe: the characters, the storytelling, the relationships, the humor, the magic, the journey.
“Part of the journey is the end.” -Tony Stark
And just because they were so stinking cute, here is picture of my boys in 2013, 8 years before starting on this Marvel Journey, already clearly Team Cap.