Marvel Musings: The Five Worst Decisions in Phase 1

So before I go back to gushing over the MCU, here are the aspects which I didn’t like about the movies. Note that I didn’t call this the “worst moments”. I could have done a list like this, too, but I asked myself: What are the things I would have improved, if I had a say, what are the decisions which had a negative impact during the whole movie? Thus said…I decided early on that The Incredible Hulk will not be placed on this list. The only way to rescue this one would have been to redo it from the scratch, with a different idea and a different cast. And yes, I know that some people really like this movie, but I feel that it is mostly incredible boring. This list will (just like the others) be highly subjective because what I hated, others might have loved. In fact, I am pretty sure that I will get a lot of disagreements on this one. Nevertheless, here it goes:

5. The First Avenger: Casting Hugo Weaving

I already hear the outcry. Hugo Weaving is after all very popular with a lot of nerds. I never really understood that because he is one of those actors which don’t impress me at all. I usually don’t mind him,  but his performance as Red Skull always felt very “off” to me. I couldn’t really figure it out until I read a couple of interviews with him and realized that he interpreted the role as stereotypical evil Nazi. But, well, that’s not how the Red Skull is written. Oh, he is a Nazi, no question there, but his character doesn’t stop there. Looking at the script and not the performance, he is basically the Evil Queen of Snow White, insanely jealous of Cap getting what he sees as his own right. At the same time, though, convinced of his own superiority. Him also being a Nazi is in a way the least interesting aspect of his personality (though it naturally informs it). It is perhaps unfair to blame Huga Weaving that none of this is truly reflected in his performance. It is, after all, partly the job of the director to ensure that the actor has a clear grasp on the character. Nevertheless, I feel that another actor with a different take on the role would have done a better job.

4.  The Avengers: Isolated Thor

 I give Whedon a lot of credit for the way he managed to balance all the Avengers, allowing them to interact with each other. With one notable exception: Outside of the fighting scenes, Thor is only kind of there. At no point he has a proper conversation with Tony or Cap or Bruce. I usually would have chalked this up to his screen time mostly being tied up with Loki, but then Age of Ultron rolled around and Thor is isolated yet again. And yes, I am aware that there were demands of the studio concerning the tie-ins, but even outside of this Thor is mostly there for comic relief, while everyone else has a proper arc. Which brought me to the conclusion that Whedon simply didn’t really know what to do with him. It will be interesting to see how the Russo Brothers will handle him in Infinity War.

3. Iron Man: Stane going crazy

Two thirds of Iron Man are really good. But in the last third the movie kind of goes off the rails. Or, to be precise, Stane does. Up to this point he is portrayed as this clever scheming business guy (not that I ever trusted him). But then he suddenly decides to pilot a suit and attack Tony for  – reasons? His motivation or plan stops making sense at this point, and the only reason for his actions seems to be that the movie needs some villain to fight in the last act.

2. Thor: Doctor Selvig

Yes, I know, Doctor Selvig is usually liked. And to be honest, I don’t mind the character in itself. In another movie, he would be an entertaining character. But in Thor (actually in every movie he turns up safe for The Avengers) he is a pointless addition and useless distraction. Just think about it, what would happen if Doctor Selvig were no present in Thor? Well, instead of Jane trying to convince him that Norse mythology might have a true core, we could have Darcy trying to convince Jane to broaden her view, making the interaction between both characters way richer. Instead of him convincing Coulson to let Thor go, we could have Jane helping him out. Instead of him having a highly sexist conversation with Thor (Jane’s love life is really none of his business, he isn’t her father, and even if he were, she is a grown woman. This condescending BS has to end!), we could have Thor and Jane talking about why Thor actually did to get expelled and her providing a different point of view on that matter, tying Thor’s redemption arc properly into their romance. There are a lot of reasons why Thor and Jane don’t really work as a pairing. One of the main reasons though is the fact that Selvig tends do things which Jane could do just as well, making her a less fleshed out character with less agency then she could be. (Not to mention that it is kind of insulting that the one female scientist main character in the MCU is also the only one, who needs a mentor to hold her hand).

1. Iron Man 2: The stupid bird!

Okay, that is not fair. The bird is only a symptom of what went wrong with the movie. But it is the element which annoys me the most. It is weak attempt to give the villain more background, but I don’t think that villains need a particularly fleshed out background. They only need a convincing motivation and a good plan. Whiplash has the former, but not the latter. His plan makes as much sense as him requesting the bird from Russia. If he really cares that much about the bird, why didn’t he ensure that it is properly cared for? Or is he just trolling Justin Hammer? Who, btw, is the sole reason Vanko even made it out of prison. Without this stroke of luck, he would have sit there, basking in the fact that he made a guy bleed who he knew was already dying anyway. Yay? I think that the script of Iron Man 2 could have worked with a couple of rewrites. But the first act should have been to scratch the bird. It’s a stupid running gag, which keeps reminding me that nothing in this movie makes sense (it is still a fun watch, though).

 Well, those are my thoughts on that matter. Which flaws bothered you the most? Next time I will cover Phase 2 and then we will go back to more positive thoughts.

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3 responses to “Marvel Musings: The Five Worst Decisions in Phase 1

  • The Animation Commendation

    Again, I can’t really remember these movies and I’ve never seen Thor to comment. But yeah, I guess Weaving is a weird choice for casting.

  • Cartoon19

    One of my biggest problems with phase 1 is the way Marvel treated the people that worked with them. Since they were determined to make sure that all their films felt connected to a universe, they treated almost all of their creative talent like garbage in order to make sure their films followed a certain formula. Unfortunately this problem continued on to phase 2 and it will most likely happen at some point during phase 3.

    • swanpride

      I am not too sure about what is Marvel and what is just the ego of some people, so I stick to what I can gauge based on what is on the screen. As a general rule, Marvel is the greatest employer ever when the movie is good, but when it is not widely popular, the finger points immediately at Marvel. It is possible that the committee they had caused some problems…there are some rumors along the line. But that was depowered last year when they put Feige in charge and pushed Perlmutter out of Marvel studios by putting it under the control of Disney. It still exists, but apparently is only allowed to make suggestions. We will see how it works out it in the new set-up.

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