The Great MCU Rewatch: Thor, Captain America and Kinda Avengers

Remember that part in Thor when Odin growls at Loki? I didn’t. The Allfather solemnly admits he goofed thinking Thor was ready to be king, Loki tries to talk Odin down, Odin points and growls, Loki cowers. This was the best part of the movie.

While continuing the Great Marvel Cinematic Universe Rewatch of 2018 (musings on the first three films here), I found myself watching Thor for the first time in a many, many years. When Thor came out in 2011, I liked it a lot, mainly because I was stunned it didn’t suck hugely. The whole concept is ripe for shittiness. An epic fantasy adventure through Asgard, establishing Thor as a serious character, is plainly silly. At the time, the reaction was kind of, “Wow, holy crap, this actually works.”

The Odinson’s first movie has not aged very gracefully, but that’s not entirely because the movie itself is flawed. I’m probably being unfair, but I just can’t watch Thor the same way after last year’s generally all-around incredible Thor: Ragnarok blew the first two Thor flicks – and most of the other Marvel movies – out of the water. I struggle to appreciate Thor for what it was, knowing what lies ahead.

What the fuck with those eyebrows, though?

But still, Thor works as an introduction to fantastical settings and characters while avoiding being droll. It’s a fine movie to watch if you have nothing better to do.

Things I liked:

  • Introducing the terms “Allfather” and “Odinsleep” to audiences everywhere. The fucking Odinsleep. This dude has a special type of nap named after him.
  • Idris Elba.
  • Chris Hemsworth taking a character that should have been corny as shit and rocking it. The opening with bonehead Thor dripping with hubris as his mom shakes her head and people roll their eyes is perfect.
  • Loki is such a fucking d-bag.
  • That moment when Odin shows up to save Thor and his crew from the Frost Giants, and Thor is made to look childish. Odin shushes him in front of everybody.
  • The aforementioned moment of Odin growling.
  • Loki yelling, “TELL ME!”
  • Thor smashing the mug.
  • Thor calling Agent Coulson “Son of Coul.”
The Odinsleep

Things I did not like:

  • Chris Hemsworth’s blond eyebrows look ridiculous.
  • Natalie Portman’s acting. I know she is an acclaimed actress, but I have never seen her perform particularly well in anything. I don’t remember her in Mars Attacks! but other than that we’re working with Heat, the Star Wars prequels, and the Thor movies. She was awful in all of those. I know I haven’t seen Portman in a lot of serious roles, but come on. At least if you only ever saw Morgan Freeman or Michael Caine in Batman movies, you’d never come away thinking, “Wow they’re so bad at their job.”
  • The bizarre tilted camera thing, which is apparently called a Dutch angle. It was clearly done to show that this is a bizarre new world we’re playing in, but it was distracting.
  • The random inclusion of Hawkeye. Like, yeah, we get it. There’s an Avengers movie coming out. Okay. Cool. All this introduction tells me me is this guy ain’t gonna cut it on a team with Thor. At least Black Widow kicked the shit out of like 20 guys in Iron Man 2 so you know she’s about that life. Hawkeye just stands there with a bow and arrow and looks like somebody’s dad who wants to show everybody he’s in charge at the family barbeque.

Ultimately, Thor is a perfectly acceptable film that did the best it could, but whatever. It’s no Iron Man, that’s for sure. And it damn sure isn’t on the level of any Captain America movie.

This movie makes me proud to exist

Captain America: The First Avenger is the shit. I saw it three times in theaters because it was everything I wanted a comic book movie to be. It feels like it’s lifted straight off the pages. Simple color palette, beautiful set designs, and impressive special effects. The movie looks and sounds great, has Nazis getting beaten up, and it puts a smile on your face. What more do you want? I’m a sucker for movies that are fun for the whole family, and Captain America is certainly that.

Iron Man may be the character that makes the MCU go ‘round, but to me, Captain America is established immediately as the greatest character in the entire franchise. It always irked me in Avengers when Tony Stark says the only thing special about Steve Rogers came out of a test tube. That’s not true. The thing that’s special about Steve Rogers is that he’s the most inherently good and honorable person in the universe.

Chris Evans rises like the phoenix from the (unfairly criticized) Fantastic Four series to find his footing as Rogers/Captain America, and by this point it is clear that when it comes to casting the heroes, Marvel cannot be beaten. Cap is the best. You latch on to him as the 90-pound asthmatic who doesn’t like bullies, and by the time he becomes a super soldier you’re totally rooting for him to win the day. I fucking love this movie and I love Captain America. If my child said they wanted to be Captain America, I would feel satisfied that I did my job as a parent. The grenade scene says all that needs to be said about why everybody should be Team Cap forever. He is the best.

The greatest supporting character in the pre-Okoye MCU.

This dude’s best friend having the nickname “Bucky” is not the best. Sebastian Stan has been fine as Bucky in all of his appearances, though I feel nothing for his character beyond, “Hey, that’s Captain America’s friend.” As far as supporting characters go, he is the most important yet somehow least memorable one in Cap’s orbit.

Shoutout to Agent Peggy Carter, one of the MCU’s best. She is a badass. A top 5 favorite MCU character for me. I thought her spin-off show show was also awesome, and it is a crime it was not renewed for a third season. Hopefully Hayley Atwell can reprise the role in a future MCU movie in a more substantive part than the couple cameos we’ve seen (or maybe the Disney streaming service can give us another season of the show). Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark is very believable as Robert Downey Jr.’s father and it would be nice if he also showed up in another movie. Tommy Lee Jones gets to be mean to people, which is always a treat. Another treat – Hugo Weaving’s sole appearance as Red Skull gives us the immortal line, “You are failing!”

Side note: since I had long forgotten about Iron Man 2, I didn’t notice that Cap and Bucky walk right by the globe that Iron Man blows up at the Stark Expo. So that was kind of neat on the continuity front.

Other than that, I’m not sure what to say. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t love this move, then you’re the type of person I don’t want to be friends with.

You got the heavy hitters, then Hawkeye over here like the little brother their mom made them take along. This guy sucks.

Finally, we skipped over Avengers since we had watched it right before Infinity War came out, so it was pretty fresh on the brain. What can possibly be said about that movie that hasn’t already been repeated ad nauseam? It’s one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. Joss Whedon – writer and director – was firing on all cylinders. The dialogue is on point, and every character gets their moment to shine. Even Hawkeye. He’s just lame. Hawkeye is just another person – and not one who seems remotely interesting or worth spending any time with in life.

I digress. The idea of making a whole interconnected universe out of multiple blockbusters culminating in a massive team-up seemed insane and impossible. For the movie to be great, when a huge mess or just very decent seemed most likely, was even more insane. This was to superhero movies what Sgt. Pepper’s was to music. It totally changed the game.

Avengers is just about as close to perfect as you can get. I want to say Hawkeye is as useless as he was in Thor, but his explosive arrow is what allows for Loki’s ultimate defeat – something I guess I had blacked out of my memory for a long time. Damn you, Joss Whedon. Thor’s hair is sick. Hulk gets made to look like a million bucks on the big screen, finally. Loki calling Black Widow a “mewling quim” is totally inappropriate, but very Loki. Agent Coulson dying is a bummer, but necessary. Thor saying that humans are “petty…and tiny” is another high point. It’s a great movie and there’s no sense wasting more time saying what we already know.

This picture makes me real mad because I saw Avengers three times in theaters, and each time the audience was so raucous for Hulk ragdolling Loki, it was not until I saw the movie at home way later that I finally heard Hulk say, “Puny god.” Every time I see that scene now, I get annoyed thinking of how I missed it so many times.

With that, the rankings of the Marvel movies so far are as follows:

6. Iron Man 2
5. The Incredible Hulk
4. Thor
3. Iron Man
2. Captain America: The First Avenger
1. Avengers

Next up is a group of sequels for Iron Man, Thor and Captain America.