MCU Review - Phase 3



This is Marvel at its best. They took their formula that was working really well and made it even better. With crossovers and new character introductions, Marvel produced some of its best work and as well as some of my favourites.

Much like the other two posts, this will contain spoilers for the Phase 3 films.

Captain America: Civil War


 Marvel did with this movie is incredible, when the synopsis came out everyone said that it looked like Avenger 2.5 and to an expanded it does. It has the largest cast of any Marvel solo film with many of the Avengers showing up here, but still manages to be a Captain America movie.

The Russo brothers took one of the most iconic comic book events and used it as a character study on Iron Man and Captain America. It also addresses something that many people have always questioned about superhero movies. "After all of the damage has been done by the hero, what about the civilians who were injured and killed?" This movie not only shows how they're different, it shows how they're alike.

You understand why Tony is so willing to sign the accords as he feels guilt over what happened in Sokovia with  Ultron, an AI he created that caused widespread death and destruction. On the flip side, you also understand why Cap doesn't want to sign the accords. He mentions agendas that can change referencing HYDRA that was growing inside SHIELD for over 50 years and almost came close to murdering millions.

The movie tells you to pick a side but what it doesn't tell you is that both sides have very compelling arguments. You understand whys the governments of the world want the Avengers to be put in check. The aftermath of the Battle of New York, Battle of Sokovia and the explosion in Lagos (I just have to  say that my hometown exists in the MCU, yes there was an explosion that  killed people, but hey silver linings) the was devastating and we don't know how anyone dealt with that and it's good that the movie does.

The introduction of Black Panther and Spider-Man was seamless. Those were moments that had me gasping when I watched it the first time. They don't feel shoehorned into the story. T'Challa's motivations stem from revenge, he doesn't care about Tony and Steve's ideological differences and the end he is the one who sees what is actually happening. He uses that outside view to see that  Bucky is a victim of HYDRA and helps keep him in Wakanda while they try to de-programme him.

Baron Zemo makes says something towards the end of the film, he says " An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again, but one which crumbles from? That's dead... forever." Looking at this movie and thinking ahead to Infinity War it gives me pause as you wonder if the Avengers will band together to fight Thanos.

Doctor Strange

Image result for doctor strange posterThis another MCU movie I have a soft spot for. There is something about the mysticism and the magic of this side of the MCU that really appeals to me. This movie is unique in the sense that it takes the MCU which is mainly science-oriented and bring in magic that can't be explained.

When looking at it critically this is one of Marvel's most ambitious and creative films. Taking a director with roots in horror and using him to make a movie about magic was a stroke of genius on Marvel's part.

Much like Tony Stark, Stephen Strange is a man whose beliefs are rooted deeply in science and he literally goes on a mind trip when the Ancient One shows him and us the other sides of the multiverse.

One of the hang-ups is the villain. Kaecillius is just a henchman for Dormammu meaning he is quite forgettable. Also, some of the jokes don't land but that it also addressed in the film as Wong calls out Strange's jokes. The casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One is one controversy that I condemn but also understand. Marvel was in a tough spot with this one, but that doesn't excuse it.

This is also a movie that deals with ideologies. Strange's flexibility and willingness to bend the rules (and sometimes shatter them completely) conflicts with Mordo's rigid ideals.

Strange's journey through the film teaches some important lessons. The Ancient One says to Stephen "It's not about you." and that's something that Strange has to work through as he starts the film incredibly arrogant and only really caring about himself and furthering his career, even when he was given the choice to go back to that life he doesn't.

Earlier I mentioned that this might be Marvel's most creative movie and that is 100% true. The trippy visuals look as though they had been taken straight from the Steve Ditko's comics. There is also the introduction of the Time Stone, and although we have exposition explained to us we are given one of the best scenes in the MCU with the bargain between Stephen and Dormammu.

This film showed that the MCU could get as weird as it wanted and not alienate its audience. Stephen's accident and the subsequent discovery of the mystic arts convey the idea that things no matter how negative can lead us to something better and more fulfilling.

Guardians the Galaxy Vol. 2

Image result for guardians of the galaxy vol 2 posterWhen Guardians of the Galaxy first came out it was the most out of left field thing that Marvel had done. A group of losers (Peter Quill's words not mine) coming together to save the galaxy and it opened the door to other more out of the box movies from Marvel and everyone myself included was excited about the sequel.

A lot of this movie focuses on Peter Quill and his father Ego (played by Kurt Russell) and the ramifications of learning about your absentee father who happens to be your father and the antagonist of this film. Ego is a deeply unsettling character when you look beyond the surface. he was willing to kill his own children for the sake of expanding and fulfilling his purpose as a celestial.

This movie gives us more of the backstory for Gamora, Drax, Yondu, Rocket, and Nebula. We understand who they are and what motivates them. The character you feels sorry for the most is Nebula who has been tortured by Thanos and was made to compete with her adoptive sister Gamora.

What separates this movie and its predecessor from the rest of the MCU is how much it doesn't take itself too seriously. As mentioned in my Guardians volume 1 review the movie is almost child-like in its humour, and that's the case here. Some jokes are sophisticated while others are not and I'm surprisingly okay with that. I see the guardians movies as a palette cleanser from all the seriousness, especially as the last two phase 3 movies deal with the fracturing of the Avengers and introducing magic and the multiverse.

This is one of the most detached stories in the MCU in the sense that it doesn't set up the Infinity War storyline. We do get set up for the next sequel in the form of an end credits scene that promises Adam Warlock.

Guardians vol. 2  brings back everything you loved about the first Guardians movie. It brings in new livable character Mantis who makes a great addition to the team with great comedic moments and a great friendship with  Drax.  It also has to be mentioned that Baby Groot is the cutest thing ever.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Image result for spider man homecoming posterAfter his introduction in Civil War, I wanted a Spider-Man movie immediately. Tom Holland really captured the essence of the character, that's why people say he is the best  Spider-Man.

Having this movie take place in high school makes us understand Peter even more. He's a kid who's been given these incredible powers and has met and fought these heroes that he looks up to, but now he has to go back to being ordinary and go back to being your friendly neighbourhood spider-man.

Tom Holland encapsulates Peter Parker from the comics. There is nothing wrong with Andrew Garfield 's Spider-Man or Toby Macguire"s (that's the one that  I grew up with) but much like Edward Norton's Hulk, you don't see them meshing with the MCU.

This movie is like the Ant-Man of Phase 3 (disregarding the fact that both characters have names that do with insects). This movie is a lot more low level than it's counterparts. There isn't much that it incorporates into the MCU in terms of the Infinity War storyline but it has its own merits.

The fact that it doesn't lend to the major MCU story gives it breathing room as it is allowed to tell a smaller more concise story. Much like the issues addressed at  Civil War, this movie shows the cleanup of the battle of New York and ow that affects everyday people.  The stakes in this story aren't high and it's a perfect jumping off point for Peter Parker especially as his next endeavour sees him in space.

Many people were worried that this would be an Iron Man sequel especially as he was featured so prominently in the trailers and marketing, but Tony is barely in it and when he is, he's more so a guiding force for Peter who ultimately makes the big decisions regardless of whether he follows Tony's advice or not.

Michael  Keaton as the vulture is an amazing MCU villain as he doesn't want to take over the world, he just wants to provide for and protect his family. The stand out this film has to Jacob Batalon and I can't wait to see more of Ned in future Spider-Man movies,

Peter also comes to terms with who he is. That's why this movie got a lot of John Hughes as it's something of a coming of age story, at the end of the movie he makes a conscious decision to be your friendly neighbourhood spider-man and learn more about what it means to be a hero.

Thor: Ragnarok

Image result for thor ragnarok poster I am very grateful to Taika Waititi. He took many elements to the Thor mythology: his hammer, his hair and his home and made a brilliant space comedy that stands completely on its own. When I first saw the trailer I thought it was too Guardians-esque, especially as both this and Guardians vol. 2 came out last year, but this movie is its own entity. This without a doubt the best Thor movie.

Marvel wasn't afraid to change their formula when it came to this movie. That's why it was such a breath of fresh air when this movie came out. Thor's pre-existing tropes are deconstructed within the first 30 minutes, giving room for new characters and a more refreshing story.

This cast is all great, it has to be expected at this point, you can tell the actors had fun making this film as they were given quite a bit of creative freedom. That being said Korg is the best part of the movie and is played by the director Taika Waititi and he has some of the best and most comedic lines in the film. Another brilliant addition is Valkyrie. What sets her apart is her attitude. She appears to be a shallow drunk who only cares about money but as the movie goes on you learn that she is trying to forget her past and the trauma associated with it.

Phase 3 really shows us a more expansive and connected universe. The Hulk is a major character in this movie and there is a Doctor Strange cameo that was teased at the end of his solo movie. The Hulk in this movie is more articulate in this movie and that leads to an interesting conversation of the Jekyll and Hyde situation that  Bruce Banner is living with.

Putting Thor in a different place allowed for the change in tone. When we're on Asgard the tone is more serious but still has the undercurrent of humour which is very interesting seeing as the movie ends with its destruction.

Having Cate Blanchett play Hela is pitch perfect casting. Hela is cold and calculating and carries a lot of resentment towards Odin for locking her away for centuries and hiding the truth of their existence from the rest of his family.

Black Panther

Image result for black panther posterBehind Infinity War this was one of my most anticipated movies of this year, and it did not disappoint.  As an African, this movie means even more to me. To see an African nation (albeit a fictional one) put in such a positive light means so much to me.

This movie is a cultural phenomenon. People bought out cinemas to go see this movie. Many people, myself included saw this movie more than once. There was an asocial media campaign with the #Blackpanthersolit.

Every element of this movie works. Bringing in Ryan Coogler the director of Creed was a fantastic job on Marvel's part. He made the movie accessible to everyone but had lines and mannerisms that many black people would understand. This movie isn't afraid to call out the injustice that many people of colour are going through around the world.

All the elements of this film worked. It has a story that is both contained and widespread. T'Challa is still dealing with the death of his father (he was killed in Civil War) and has just been crowned King of Wakanda and less than a week later one of the country's biggest war criminal teams up with his long-lost cousin who wants revenge for the murder of his father. T'Challa takes this all in his stride and shows what makes him such a good leader.

One can't talk about Black Panther without talking about the music. The soundtrack and score are some of Marvel's best a massive talking point as many don't like the unmemorable music in the MCU. Having Kendrick Lama curate the album was a fantastic decision as the soundtrack moves away from being a good soundtrack to being a good album in general

Each character is a scene stealer. The cast is absolutely brilliant. Each one is distinct and has a different way of dealing with situations but they are all bound by their collective love of their country. They are all distinct.

I talk more about the movie in my review which you can watch below.


Having a big budget blockbuster represent a section of society that still has to fight and ask for inclusion is a huge achievement that can't be overlooked. It's proof that if you give people of colour the representation we deserve, we will support the project and that doesn't just mean African and African Americans, that also counts for Latinos and Asians and every other group in society that is under-represented.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp was the movie we needed after Infinity War. If you liked the first one you will most definitely like this one. You get more of the same without really getting anything new. The film does feel like filler but I'm no 100% mad at it.

You do get to see the Quantum Realm which was teased in the first film and I'm curious to see what role it is going to pay in the future given how the film ended.

All the characters are as likeable as ever especially Paul Rudd who has incredible chemistry with the rest of the cast. Evangeline Lily really falls into her own in this movie. She wasn't the most likeable character in the first movie but that isn't the case in this one. Even though she is more likeable you never feel like her character is being compromised for the sake of comedy. I also have to give a special shout-out to Michael Pena who plays Luis, he might be my favourite character in the MCU. He adds an air of levity which is needed in this universe.

This is also one of the funniest MCU movies, I was in tears by the half-way mark. This movie does a really good job of balancing action and comedy for a really entertaining movie. Also I still need an apology from Kevin Feige for that end-credit scene.

Click here for my full review of Ant-Man and the Wasp

Captain Marvel 

Captain Marvel poster.jpg Captain Marvel is the first female-led MCU movie and it doesn't disappoint. Anna Boden and Ryan did a great job of brining this character to life. I really enjoyed Captain Marvel it does a great job of introducing Carol Danvers and telling her complex story in an entertaining and empowering way. The audience goes on a journey with Carol, they are learning about her powers which makes her character arc more relatable. Carol doesn't know much about who she is and that is something that we have all struggled with at some point.

Brie Larson kills it in this role, Carol is sarcastic, witty and charismatic, you connect with her. She has insane chemistry with Samuel L.Jackson and that is what carries the film. It almost feels like a buddy-cop movie when they are on screen together. Her character works very well with the rest of the cast, which is filled with great performances from Ben Mendelsohn and Lashana Lynch especially.

I couldn't talk about his film without talking about its 90s setting. It makes me nostalgic for all the 90s things that i experienced like Blockbuster and dail-up internet.

While it doesn't change the Marvel formula, it is a solid origin story and i'm excited to see more of the character in Endgame.

Click here for my full review of Captain Marvel

Final Thoughts 

This Marvel at its best, they took the formula we know and love and made it better. The main complaint about the MCU is the lack of memorable villain and Phase 3 is fixing that. the villains are more complex, you understand their motivations and in some cases, you sympathise with them.

The success of the MCU is unprecedented and it hasn't been replicated. There is something special about these movies. I think that comes from the creators. The people who make these films from the directors and the producers to the actors are fans of comic books. It's fans making movies for fans.

With Infinity War being the end of Phase 3, one wonders what the next  10 years are going to look like and based on the evidence presented by the last 10 years, it's probably going to be amazing. With  new characters and sequels that  are sure to  be epic, there isn't going to be a shortage of MCU  movie to  watch

Click here for Phase 1
Click here for Phase 2

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