4 Good Marvel Movies You Already Forgot
For a lot of comic book fans, the current era of action cinema feels like Christmas on an endless loop. There are thrilling new projects released year in and year out, adapting characters from comic franchises in spectacular fashion and bringing our favorite characters to life. The only real drawback, aside from the occasional film that whiffs, is that it all moves so quickly we can forget about entire movies. Even devoted fans might have a better sense of the total scope of the MCU than for individual films at this point—and there are many more projects still on the way!
Having said all that, let’s take a look back at four pretty good Marvel movies that you may have already forgotten in the thick of the MCU and the superhero genre as a whole.
The Amazing Spider-Man
This first movie in the second Spider-Man franchise by Sony Pictures took a lot of heat for essentially rehashing the plot of the first movie from the previous franchise. That criticism is fair enough. Peter Parker/Spider-Man has one of the most familiar origin stories among superheroes, and there’s an argument to be made that we didn’t need to see it twice. That said, director Marc Webb and a terrific cast delivered the same story with a more modern and exciting touch than Sam Raimi had done some 10 years prior.
In particular, Andrew Garfield’s take on Parker was kind of refreshing. He was still nerdy, but rather than seeming flat-out weak, as Tobey Maguire’s version often did, this Parker had a witty, wisecracking side, and some level of self-assurance. The film probably should have spawned a better series than it did, particularly given the movie's impact beyond the big screen. One review described the console game based on the movie as one that allowed players to truly feel what it’s like to be a superhero, and it was one of the best of many Spider-Man games we’ve seen. This was just a good project all around and deserves another watch if you’ve forgotten about it.
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 seems to get some borderline Spider-Man 3-level hate from critics and Marvel fanatics. This list ranked it 13th out of 14 considered MCU films (with only Thor: The Dark World coming in lower), and actually, makes a specific comparison to the “cluttered and alienating” Spider-Man 3. But this sort of critique has never quite seemed fair.
Sure, they might have had a little too much fun filming this one, but Robert Downey Jr.’s charming and ridiculous Tony Stark was still new, Sam Rockwell’s eccentric and jealous Justin Hammer was a perfect foil, and the movie was pure fun. Additionally, Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash has become an underrated Marvel villain. He wasn’t saturated with personality, but it was badass to see a shirtless beast with some homemade electric whips trying to take on Iron Man.
The Incredible Hulk
It’s not a masterpiece, but it also shouldn’t be thrown in with the abominable 2003 film Hulk. The Incredible Hulk brought us some of the best acting chops we’ve seen in a Marvel movie, with Edward Norton being his usual brilliant self in the role of Bruce Banner. While things got a little grandiose and building-smash-y toward the end, the plot was surprisingly engaging. Plus, the Hulk himself was a whole lot more fun than in the 2003 version (though perhaps not as enjoyable as in The Avengers).
Like The Amazing Spider-Man, this movie also has a decent legacy beyond the big screen. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is often labeled as one of the better Marvel video games, and a collection of online casino games features a slot reel based on the film that’s still popular. It’s not uncommon for casino sites to use licensing agreements with studios to design games with exciting backdrops based on popular movies, but for a game based on The Incredible Hulk to still be around speaks to the staying power of the movie's characters and atmosphere.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This is consistently ranked as one of the best Marvel movies, and it’s also the most recent film on this list, so maybe you haven’t forgotten it just yet. Then again, Captain America: Civil War did seem to overshadow this movie in a few ways. It also largely focused on the Winter Soldier but had the scope of a full-blown Avengers movie. But while Civil War might have been a bigger epic, Winter Soldier tells a much stronger story connected to Captain America's character.
Some fans prefer this more focused vision of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It felt like something out of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman franchise more than any other MCU film. Winter Soldier was a human drama played out in realistic city environments, that just happens to have some superhero activity going on. If you go back and rewatch it, you might see why it's technically a better Captain America movie than Civil War.