Marvel movie madness: My race to see them all before Avengers: Endgame

See you April 26. 

Marvel Studios

My head is full of Marvels.

In anticipation of Avengers: Endgame coming out on April 26, I’ve spent a good chunk of my recent evenings watching the first 17 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — just over 36 hours worth.

Before I started this crazy project exactly a month ago, I’d never seen even a Marvel movie all the way through. It’s been a lot of fun fixing that cultural blind spot. I’ve ingested more superhero awesomeness than any mortal should. I’ve managed to avoid spoiling anything so far, which would make the Russo brothers happy. And I’ve also been live-tweeting my random dumb thoughts as I watch, because sharing is caring.

Now, with four movies to go before the Endgame — Thor: Ragnarok; Avengers: Infinity War; Ant-Man and The Wasp and Captain Marvel — I’m in a bit of a bind: which order do I watch them in? I’ve been following the official Techhnews watch order so far and it’s been great. But some fans disagree (imagine that!). So I asked Twitter.

No matter which order I follow, I’m expecting great things from these four. I’ve enjoyed all 17 so far in their way, some much more than others. Here’s my progress, impressions and tweets, including my personal rankings among the ones I’ve seen (note: I am not a real expert). 

I really liked it. I was totally unfamiliar with the story. The CGI’d small-to-large hero, the Captain’s stage career and the period setting in general were refreshing highlights.

Even better. Tony Stark’s playboy character threw me at first, but the awesomeness of his gadgets, his personal quest to make real power armor, and the overall humor really won me over.

Not good. It had its moments, particularly during the setup and with the introduction of wacky Mr. Blue. But overall it’s much more of a downer than the first two, and kinda plodded along.

Not as good as the first one but still thoroughly enjoyable, especially after The Incredible Hulk. The quintessential scene was Tony drunk at his own birthday party shooting the watermelon. Priceless.

All of a sudden the superheroes are gods. There’s magic, space travel and mythology set in a breathtaking new fantasy multiverse. To this nerdy D&D alum, Thor was manna from Asgard.

Easily the best one yet, and a contender for my top 10 favorite movies of all time. All those personalities, motivations and superpowers kept me enthralled without becoming entangled. Another level altogether.

I came out of The Avengers hoping for more superhero world-building, but what I got was all-too-human Tony dealing with PTSD and getting help from a scrappy kid in Tennessee. Still a lot of fun despite the narrower scope.

This one was a disappointment — barely better than The Incredible Hulk — and not just because the dark elves were meh. It seems like the most generic superhero of the series so far: too much empty action, not enough care.

Going in, I’d heard from multiple people that this was their favorite MCU movie overall, and I can see why. It’s a masterpiece of tight pacing and unbelievable action tempered by nuanced character building and, yes, realism in a comic book movie.

I watched this one and Vol. 2 as a Friday night double feature, and both felt less connected to any of the other films. Still a blast though. I like this one better because it’s funnier — best rapid-fire dialog of the MCU — and I enjoyed meeting all the colorful characters for the first time. 

Plenty of LOL moments and an absolutely killer final scene, but this one felt bogged down in the second half by a less-than-compelling villain, repetitive set-to-music scenes and running gags that ran long. Baby Groot was hella cute, but I like grown-up Groot better.

The first Avengers is still my favorite and sets a too-high bar. This one was packed with HUGE action and sets up Civil War perfectly, but it lacked the cohesiveness and little gems of character development that could put it over the top. Scarlet Witch is awesome though. 

Really entertaining, original and among the funniest installments, this one just kept giving unexpected gifts. I loved the innovative powers and how he uses them, as well as the great character development from all three protagonists. 

I didn’t quite buy the schism between our heroes, but that’s beside the point. Watching a team of “enhanced individuals” develop animosity and deal with all the realistic repercussions of powers in an otherwise normal world overcame my quibbles. That and the near perfect fight scenes.

Epic in scale and beautiful to watch, this one maintained an approachability in its secondary characters and plenty of jaw-dropping action. The most original setting in the MCU was pure moviemaking joy to see realized. 

The most fun of any MCU installment yet, with a pitch-perfect high school hero who does more to endear himself in five minutes than some of these guys do over two or three films. And Michael Keaton as the antagonist gets a killer surprise twist that scared teenage me to death.

My third-least-favorite so far. It has a lot of cool-looking effects, plenty of magic and the best cloak ever, but the characters are poorly developed and I never got a good handle on the new mythology and storylines.

Katz’s MCU race so far, ranked

Rank Runtime (hours) Date watched
The Avengers (2012) 1 2:23 3/28
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) 2 2:16 4/4
Captain America: Civil War (2016) 3 2:27 4/12
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) 4 2:13 4/15
Iron Man (2008) 5 2:06 3/19
Ant-Man (2015) 6 1:57 4/11
Black Panther (2018) 7 2:14 4/13
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) 8 2:04 3/17
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) 9 2:01 4/5
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014) 10 2:21 4/9
Iron Man 3 (2013) 11 2:10 3/31
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017) 12 2:16 4/5
Iron Man 2 (2010) 13 2:04 3/23
Thor (2011) 14 1:55 3/25
Doctor Strange (2016) 15 1:55 4/16
Thor: The Dark World (2013) 16 1:52 4/2
The Incredible Hulk (2008) 17 1:52 3/21

If you want to follow along or have any comments or suggestions, hit me up on Twitter. Just one request: no spoilers. 

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Avengers: Endgame — Everything you need to know


Originally published March 17. 

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