Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Countdown to Avengers: Endgame-My Top Twenty Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters

Wow. Here we are about one year after the release of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the culmination of 22 movies, is just about to be released upon the world. I've stated many times that Marvel is my absolute favorite nerd realm and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done such an amazing job of bringing these characters and their world to life. The biggest reason I love the Marvel universe so much is because of the characters and how they have always come first, whether it's in the comics or movies. So here I am presenting my top twenty characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

20: Mantis. Different from her comic book self, James Gunn and Pom Klementieff's take on the character is much more humorous and I think it works quite nicely. I love her dynamic with Drax and the rest of the Guardians. Her scene with Drax where she touches him and starts to cry over what he has lost while he just sits there calmly, is a wonderful piece of visual story telling. She's only been in two of the movies so far and yet she's one of the most memorable comedic characters by far.

19. Scott Lang. Scott is very much the every man of the MCU and that's why the Ant-Man movies work so well, especially the first one. Paul Rudd brings his unlimited charisma to the role and he elevates such an average comic book movie like the first Ant-Man, where all of his scenes work so well, even when they bring in the bland, boring villain. Rudd plays off of everybody so well and Scott is perfectly suitable for his comedic timing and charm.

 18. Nick Fury. Samuel L. Jackson has been great in the role and he especially gets to shine in Captain Marvel. He's great in either time period and Jackson brings his endless charisma to the role, even if it's just in a small cameo.

 17. Shuri. In a movie with an amazing ensemble of characters, Shuri is easily my favorite. Having a sister myself, her and T'Challa's relationship is a pretty accurate representation of having a sibling. I think it's awesome that she is canonically the smartest character in the MCU. Letitia Wright also just plays her perfectly. I'm excited to see where her character goes next.

16. Drax. I was a bit skeptical about Dave Bautista playing Drax since the majority of the time wrestlers don't make the best actors, but right from his first scene in the first Guardians film, he was perfect. He's physically big enough to look the part and then he's just so damn funny on top of that. The arc he's had has been satisfying for the character and now he's more of the fun comic relief Guardian and I'm ok with that.

15. Wanda Maximoff. Wanda has been one of my favorite characters in the comics for awhile, so I was really happy that Joss Whedon seemed to have the appreciation for the character when he introduced her into the MCU in Avengers: Age of Ultron. She's only been in three movies so far and she's already one of the best supporting characters in the entire MCU. I love her relationship with Vision and her friendship with Clint Barton. Elizabeth Olsen does a wonderful job bringing the character to life and I'm quite excited for the recently announced Disney Plus series that will star her and Vision.

Number 14.-Thanos. So many of the MCU villains have been pretty standard comic book types and not a lot of them are that memorable. Although from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel had their best string of onscreen villains to date and it all led to their best ever. Thanos is the best onscreen comic book villain since Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight. He is a terrifying, ruthless, complex character. When I first saw Infinity War, I was so unsettled by how much bleaker of a movie it was and my reaction was a bit negative towards it. Within a day of seeing it, I realized it had to be and that's why Thanos works so well. He's not someone disposable like Whiplash or Malekith. He's the villain that got built up so well and when it was finally time for his movie, they delivered big time. Josh Brolin gives one of the best non-Andy Serkis motion capture performances ever. I'm very much looking forward to seeing him return in Endgame.

 13. Yondu Udonta. Michael Rooker is such a great character actor and no one else could play Yondu in James Gunn's Guardians films but him. He's great in the first film, but he gives the best performance out of anybody in the sequel. His and Rocket's dynamic is one of the best parts of an excellent sequel. He's a character that reminds me so much of my dad. There is the line where he tells Quill that he's sorry about not doing any of it right, but he's lucky that Peter is his boy and I feel that's how my dad feels. He's starting to lose his memory and that really scares me. My dad may not have been the best at parenting, but I know what I mean to him and that he loves me. Like Yondu, he took me on adventures (to the movies) and didn't do a lot of parenting, but he's still my dad.

 12. Clint Barton. Even though he was under mind control for half of the first Avengers movie, I still think Jeremy Renner proved that he was the right choice to play Clint. Age of Ultron may be one of the weaker movies in the MCU, but he definitely got the development he needed. He hasn't been in as many of the movies, but he stands out since he's the more down to Earth Avenger. I'm really looking forward to seeing him again in Endgame.

11. T'Challa. You know Marvel's done well when the character they just introduced in a movie is the best character in said movie. T'Challa is Captain America: Civil War's conscience. It's so selfless and noble when as soon as he finds out it wasn't Bucky who killed his father, he goes after the man who did while Tony and Steve are fighting. He apprehends the villain and then gives Bucky treatment in Wakanda. And then there's his own movie, which is an MCU masterpiece. He grows even more in that movie and he proves that he's worthy of the title of king. And while he had a smaller role in Infinity War, he stood out, because you could still feel the impact of Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman is perfect in the role and I can't wait to spend more time in Wakanda in future movies.

10. Stephen Strange. I think Doctor Strange was a much easier character to bring the big screen after the success of Thor, the Guardians, and Ant-Man. Strange has always been one of my five favorite Marvel characters in the comics and I've been very satisfied with how they have portrayed him onscreen. Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect in the role; probably as perfectly cast as Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans. His own film is one of my absolute favorites in the MCU. His personal journey is one of the most well shown and he really feels that he's grown by the end of the movie. And then there's Infinity War, where in such a huge ensemble, he ends up being one of the very best characters in the movie. I'm so stoked for the sequel. I'm ready for things to get even weirder, now that the origin story is out of the way.

9. Peter Quill. The first of a few MCU characters that I relate to so much. First, there's the connection to his mom and his love for classic rock. Second, he's a misfit. Third, his father figures are very problematic. (The man who used to be my step father feels A LOT like Ego to me. My dad is more of the Yondu type.) So already, there's enough to the character that I love, but it also helps that Chris Pratt is so damn likable in the role. He brings the leftover charm he had from Parks and Recreation and just oozes it into this role. Even when he's being a bit immature, I still relate to him at times. I love the Guardians movies and Peter Quill is one of the very big reasons for that.

8. Valkyrie. In a movie where everyone steals the movie, Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie is one of the stand out characters in Thor: Ragnarok. Her introduction scene alone is my favorite in the entire MCU. It helps that Thompson is so likable in the role and that she can hold her own against just about anybody in the same way that Thor can. Her and Chris Hemsworth have terrific chemistry and any scenes they share are highlights of the movie. I love that her flashback sequence tells us all we need to know about her through visual storytelling. I like only one other woman in the MCU more than her, but she very easily became a favorite character of mine with this movie alone. And I was damn excited to see her in a character poster for Avengers: Endgame, because it means she'll be there for the end.

7. Bruce Banner. Ever since I first discovered the character, The Hulk was second only to Spider-Man on my favorite superheroes list. He's gone down just two spots since and I have been incredibly satisfied with Mark Ruffalo's portrayal of Bruce Banner, especially in The Avengers, Thor: Ragnarok, and Infinity War. They've really done well with the character without having him be in his own movies. He really shines in Ragnarok, because of his dynamic with Thor. It makes for a really fun pair up and it made me love the character even more than I already did. Hulk's been pretty awesome, too, but it's nice to have a great balance of the two personas so that I can be invested whenever either is on screen. And for the record, I like The Incredible Hulk, but I'm glad we got Ruffalo to take over the role. It's another example of perfect Marvel casting.

6. Peter Parker. Wait a minute, what's my favorite character of all time doing only at number six? Well, while Peter Parker may be my favorite character, the MCU version hasn't had as much time to grow as some of the other characters on this list. I love Tom Holland in the role and while Tobey Maguire will probably always be my favorite portrayal of the character, I'm really happy with Holland's portrayal of a younger, more eager Peter. Holland really gets what makes the character special, so I'm very happy that he's continuing to improve in the role and doing the character right. He was well introduced in Civil War and really did a great job of starring in his own movie. I think he's at his best in Infinity War and I really look forward to seeing him back in Far From Home this summer.

5. Gamora. Along with Rocket, Gamora is one of the Guardians' most well developed characters. Zoe Saldana is terrific in each movie she's been in, but Avengers: Infinity War is where she is at the top of her game. Of all of the performances of the hero characters in that movie, she comes out on top, going to some really deep and emotional places to give what is her best performance yet. Her relationships with Peter, Nebula, and Thanos are the most vital and seeing her play off of each character is excellent. She's also just such a vital part to the MCU as a whole. I can't give her enough praise. She's one of the absolute best.

4. Steve Rogers. Chris Evans as Steve Rogers is one of those rare once-in-a-lifetime perfect casting choices. Steve is the beating heart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; always trying to do the right thing, never giving up, and overall being not a perfect soldier, but a good man. Steve is the type of person I strive to be like on my good days. I want to always believe that there is good in this world and that united we can make the it better. Steve is the best Avenger and the best hero in the entire MCU. From here to number one, the characters in the top spots can be pretty interchangeable.

3. Rocket. It's pretty impressive that one of the completely CGI characters is also one that I connect to the most. Rocket is very near and dear to my heart and I know that James Gunn feels the same way. Rocket and I are both victims of abuse, we get pissed off at just how stupid people can be to the point where we just want to turn our back on humanity, but we care about those close to us, even if we don't always know how show it. Rocket has had one of the best arcs in the MCU and I hope he finds some happiness once the events of Endgame are done. He deserves it.

2. TIE: Thor and Loki. Separate they're fantastic, together they are unstoppable. These two are the best pairing in the entire MCU. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston both have an endless supply of charisma and play off of each other perfectly. Both have grown so much and even in the weakest MCU movie, they still shine. Please Marvel, give these two a happy conclusion in Endgame.

Their sibling relationship reminds me a lot of mine and my sister's. I am Loki in this situation and I am ok with that. My sister has always succeeded and I felt I lived in her shadow, because of how her father was with us. 

1. Tony Stark. Aside from Steve, who else could it have been? He's been my favorite since Iron Man and seeing him grow and develop over ten years' worth of movies has been impressive. I love Iron Man 3 in particular because of the way they portray Tony's anxiety. I relate to it quite a bit. I have only had a few anxiety attacks in my life, but that is exactly what they feel like. He's been through the most trauma and I can only hope he finds peace in Endgame. Some actors take a movie or two to fully grow into character, but Robert Downey Jr. was perfect from the start. If Endgame is his last movie as Tony Stark, he will have left behind an amazing legacy as one of the most perfectly cast comic book roles ever, maybe even the best. Not bad for the second tier character and an actor with a troubled past that Marvel Studios took a risk with.

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