Every great story has to start somewhere. In 2008, Marvel started its cinematic empire, which now has dozens of movies and even TV series. All this content is separated into Sagas, and said Sagas are separated into Phases, acting similarly to acts in a movie. And, since we’re talking about where things started, there’s no better place to begin than Phase One, which is responsible for spreading many heroes to people not as familiar with comics.

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Which movies were part of this first Phase, and how do they hold up? Time to take a look and remember how the Avengers started in the first place.

6 Iron Man 2

The sequel to one of the best Marvel movies, Iron Man 2, sadly fails to reach the same levels as its predecessor. However, that doesn’t make the movie bad, as it still is a fun experience, despite feeling a bit silly while having a story that could’ve been taken more seriously.

Still, we had War Machine’s debut with Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson’s legendary performance of Natasha Romanoff starting right here, Ivan Vanko, who is a likable villain with an interesting motivation – despite feeling similar to Obadiah in action sequences – the magnificent Justin Hammer, and Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark, which is always on point, no matter which movie he’s in.

5 Thor

The original Thor movie didn’t get much attention for portraying a more serious tone, feeling almost as a play at times, which didn’t fit well with other MCU movies. However, Thor is a much better movie than people say it is.

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The tone was fitting for its characters and overall narrative, having a quick glimpse of an unworthy Thor story here, where he learns how to be a proper leader. Thor and Jane Foster are amazing together here, and this movie also introduces one of the most iconic villains of the MCU, Loki, who will have quite a journey throughout the next phases.

The movie is a bit slower, more focused on drama than action – though it still has fun action sequences – but that’s not a detriment. The drama is the best part, in fact.

4 The Incredible Hulk

Despite being part of the MCU, this movie is often overlooked, though some of its elements are finally resurfacing. Here, we have Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in a movie that is a lot more action and drama focused, with very few instances of comedy – though they feel organic when they happen.

Abomination is the standard villain with the same powers as the hero, a trope that happens in almost all movies here, but he’s a good character and does the job right. Bruce and Betty’s relationship is a high point here, as well as William Hurt’s General Ross as a compelling bad guy despite only being a military figure with no powers.

3 Captain America: The First Avenger

This movie is simply the introduction of one the most prominent figures of the MCU, Steve Rogers himself, who proves that goody-two-shoes can be interesting characters. This movie is a wonder to watch just for him alone and his interactions with the amazing Peggy Carter. But don’t worry, because there’s more to it.

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Captain’s first outing also has a great villain, Red Skull, and an enticing war movie – well, as enticing as a war movie can be while still being PG-13, at least. It also brings a pivotal trait of the MCU, which is how these movies connect to one another not only with characters but by things such as the Tesseract, a MacGuffin in both this movie and the first big crossover of the franchise, The Avengers. All in all, this is one of the better origin stories from the MCU.

2 The Avengers

The first big crossover. The culmination of all previous movies. Though we may take this for granted nowadays, with how big the MCU has become, seeing these characters together like that for the first time was a game changer.

Tony Stark and Steve Rogers bickering at each other, Thor and Hulk fighting side by side (and against one another a bit). It was all a wonder to see. The story is pretty straightforward, but without having a great focus on that, the movie could focus on the part it wanted to, these big encounters happening for the first time.

Loki also shows us how bad he can be, firmly taking the role of an iconic villain with this movie, and The Avengers also teases us that there is more to see, creating the promise of Thanos eventually showing up, where he becomes one of the biggest baddies in cinema – but that’s a conversation for another time.

1 Iron Man

The one who kickstarted it all and still holds up to this day – MySpace joke aside. It has a perfect combination of action and drama while also not taking itself too seriously, as a movie about a billionaire in a robot suit should be.

It’s also the debut of Tony Stark, which could almost be a terrible character due to his behavior. Still, his charisma and character development are genuine and believable, creating an extremely likable character even with his flaws, and he only gets better as this movie and its sequels go.

Obadiah Stane is also an excellent first enemy, using Tony’s technology against him, and the movie has a somewhat grounded plot on how to deal with being a weapon manufacturing company and how changing that affected business.

This movie also lays the groundwork for the future, such as having SHIELD – and Nick Fury himself at the very end. Starting the MCU now might feel intimidating due to the long list of movies by now, but the original Iron Man is still definitely worth the watch.

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 Ranking the beginning of a cinematic juggernaut.  Read More