Aidan Green: BLADE. I’m so passionate about Marvel’s breakout flick that I wrote a “Movies That Deserve More Love” article on it – check it out. Shameless plugs for myself aside, BLADE not only created the template for the modern, serious, adult comic book film, but it catapulted Marvel’s presence in Hollywood from a dying whimper (after low-budget duds like CAPTAIN AMERICA and THE FANTASTIC FOUR) to a major contender. Snipes is definitive in the role of the titular half-vampire, half-human hybrid, and the film’s dark, techno-punk neo-noir atmosphere is a pitch-perfect time capsule of late-90s action. BLADE is one of the best comic book films ever made.
Brandon Groppi: Growing up as a kid, I adored Spidey. He was my favorite character. A nerd who gets super powers AND the redhead?! It was something I could’ve only dream of happening at my age. The first Spider-Man was great and it was well done at the hands of Sam Raimi (I’m not mentioning Spider-Man 3). And hell it made my mom (who took me to the movies to see it) go from “Oh it’s just a dumb ole super hero movie” too “Holy crap that was really great!”. So then Spider-Man 2 was announced and I freaked out when I heard about the villain. Doc Ock. He was/is my 2nd favorite Spidey villain!! And Alfred Molina as Octavius?! That was even better! At the time this was by far one of the best Comic based films out there.
And to the nay sayers out there who say “He was a sissy in the movie. Emotions?! Who has those?!” That’s what makes a lot of today’s Hero films better. Us getting to see the human side of the person behind the mask is what draws us in and makes us connect with them on a better level. Making them more than just a “kid’s thing.” Comic book heroes are our versions of Greek Mythology.
Got off track. So yeah, this film was my favorite one! I didn’t choose THE AVENGERS because that would’ve been too obvious haha.
PUNISHER: WAR ZONE
Caliber Winfield: When I saw Punisher: War Zone, man, the first 10 minutes…I went day of, first screening, and my girlfriend said she’d never seen me have a reaction like that. Apparently my jaw was dropped open, and she said it was like watching a teenage girl in the presence of a boy band. That’s really how I felt though. They finally got it right. I truly felt like I was watching the man I’d idolized for years in the MAX Comics come to life. There he was. In the flesh. It was incredible. I love the film for so many reasons. It was done in such a beautiful manner, with so many things that so many people missed.
Take for instance when Frank goes to his family’s grave site. He’s cleaning it off, and for a second, for a SECOND, he lets his guard down and the memories of his family come rushing back. The only thing that can truly hurt the Punisher. He drops to the ground, over come with emotion, and we get a bird’s eye view. The Punisher, all in black, surrounded by the beautiful fall leaves & grass. Because that’s his world. Black. There’s beauty every where, but he can’t partake in an ounce of it, because he has to remain the walking version of Death in order to prevent what happened to him as often as he can.
Micro, Jigsaw, the action, the gore. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Bethany Lewis: While it’s really hard to choose a favorite out of what’s been a run of really good movies, I’m going to have to go with Captain America. Not only is it a compelling story about the true bravery of staying true to yourself and the will to keep trying in the face of failure, but the whole movie is a callback to another era – both the glamorous and the tragic parts of that era. Director Joe Johnson does a fabulous job of creating a nostalgia piece that feels like it came straight out of Classic Hollywood. And Captain America’s war bond tour is worth the price of admission alone.
Derek Ciapala: Captain America. It’s weird for me to say this, but it just felt like the movie was done right. The casting was perfect, the costumes were well-done, and the storyline was compelling. Everything fit just right for me.
Rick Tym: The first Iron Man film is, and will likely always be, my favorite Marvel movie. Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark and Iron Man was just a great flick, a great time at the movies. To be honest I never thought that the character could be pulled off on the big screen in such grand fashion, but man, Marvel and the powers that be certainly succeeded. And Iron Man was just the beginning of a salvo of films (otherwise known as Phase I) which ushered in a completely — and near perfectly — realized comic book film universe.
Derek Johns: Without question my favorite is Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. set the tone for the Marvel Universe and took a character stuck in the shadow of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and the Fantastic Four and has arguably made him the most popular hero in Marvel comics. If the first Iron Man hadn’t been such a well-acted, cleverly written and action packed film then Thor, Captain America, The Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. likely never would’ve seen the light of day. While it was understandably difficult for people to see RDJ as Tony Stark at the time he was cast, it is now next to impossible to see him played by anybody else.
Mike Luxemburg: So, I wanna say Guardians Of The Galaxy (I am all in on that joint), but I know we have to pick movies that have already come out. I guess that means I have to go with The Avengers. It’s everything a Marvel movie (especially a team-up) should be. The action is spectacular, the plot moves like a bullet train, the characters are fleshed out and real, and there’s a heavy dose of self-awareness and humor. I know that sounds like I’m describing most of Joss Whedon’s work, but aside from a few spectacular episodes of Buffy, The Avengers is where he shines the brightest. Plus the Hulk, I mean that’s just the best. I saw that movie in theaters three times the week it came out. AND I’D DO IT AGAIN!
Tony Beaulieu: Going to go with the easy choice and say The Avengers. It’s one of the best comic book movies ever. Just captures the fun of superhero comics so much, and that sometimes gets lost in all the grim and gritty reboots we’re bombarded with every summer. I’m not even a Marvel guy (except for the Hulk and a few other choice characters) and I loved The Avengers.
Jesse Blume: The Avengers. Though the first two installments of both Spider-Man and X-Men were very strong films with a lot of great character work, I’m going to have to go with the most beloved Marvel installment. As the film’s arrival slowly approached, we fans knew that it would take a miracle for the film to even meet our most modest expectations, but when it arrived, it was better than we ever could have imagined. Joss Whedon perfectly balanced the characters and their inner dynamics and made them feel like real personalities and, gave us some of the best action scenes in all comic book movies. The final product managed to live up to the immense hype surrounding it, and satisfy almost all of the viewers, both fans and newcomers alike. And of most of all, it was just damn fun!
Ben Jones: In weighing in, I am one of the few out there who thinks Fantastic Four (both movies) are good and liked that the Silver Surfer made his way into today’s Marvel movie arena. But, I have to choose my favorite and not ones that I feel are worth defending like The Incredible Hulk (with Edward Norton) and Daredevil … excluding the fight scene on the playground with Elektra cause that just was like..Wtf? Anyway, my favorite is The Avengers – well done all around, a great cast and full story. However I think the best Marvel movie made to portray its superhero to the fullest is Iron Man … which is nuts for me to say because I am a HUGE SPIDEY FAN and its time Sony sells the rights to marvel so its made right, with that Marvel Stan Lee feel.
Shawn S. Lealos: There are so many that I liked, from Blade II to X-men 2 to Spider-Man 2 (what is it about the sequels?) to Iron Man, Thor and Iron Man 3, but I have to be boring and go with The Avengers. I was a Marvel kid, liking Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and The Avengers over anything from DC Comics, including Batman. So, when Marvel started making their Avengers movies, starting with Iron Man, and tying them together, I got more and more excited. Then they signed my favorite television showrunner in Joss Whedon to direct it and I was even more excited. It was enough to make any movie fail to reach my expectations. It did not disappoint me. It was everything that I could have ever hoped for and more. It was the PERFECT comic book movie.
X2: X-Men United
Caleb Masters: It was a really tough final call with X-Men: First Class just barely losing out to my love of X-Men 2. After re-watching the entire X-franchise this summer to prep for The Wolverine, I realized how much I love this franchise despite its huge shortcomings (The Last Stand and Origins). X-Men 2 was a movie that not only dwarfed the original film, but really set a new standard for both comic book and team ensemble movies. It had everything: more ambition, a tighter story, a well balanced cast of layered characters, an uneasy team-up with Magneto, and some of the coolest action set pieces of any superhero movie. Between Nightcrawler’s attack on the White House, Magneto’s prison break, and Wolverine’s rage during the attack on the X-Mansion, I don’t think it gets any better than that. Most of all, the thing that made X2 great is that it was a movie that felt like it had tapped into the greater themes of what the comics were really about: us vs them, fear of the new, and prejudice against anyone different than the “normal”
Tragically, I think this still exceptional superhero movie is overlooked because it built up tremendous promise for the future of its characters and story that was squandered by The Last Stand’s inferior blockbustery wrap up. But make no mistake, X-Men 2, more than any other Marvel sequel, is The Empire Strikes Back/The Dark Knight of its franchise.
John “D-Rock” Dotson: I love The Avengers just as much as the next guy, but X2 was the original film to perfectly execute a superhero ensemble. I remember when the film struck theaters several years ago, no one expected the dynamic growth in the follow-up. Bryan Singer capitalized on everything he originally set up in every way. The action was bigger, the threat was larger, Wolverine finally got to claw the sh*t out of some bad guys, plus so much more. Everything I remember loving about X-Men growing up was in this film. As Caleb mentioned, unfortunately, the film built a powerful future for the franchise that was neglected by FOX’s poor decision making after Singer left. That said, to this day, when X2 comes on television, I have to stop to watch it.
Tamica Phipps: I did not realize Howard the Duck was from Marvel. I adored that movie when I was younger. I got a kick out of things Howard said that probably went over my head a little at the time. However, my pick is X-Men. Each movie in the franchise is great for one reason or another, but I am partial to Wolverine…who is in every single movie. I even like many things about the Wolverine: Origins movie. It answers some questions about Logan and Stryker which is why I always like Origin films. The crew Logan left all have pretty cool powers. And Logan doesn’t disappoint with his usual good hearted bad ass persona. I also thought the fight with Ryan Reynolds’ character was pretty good.