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I Spent A Whole Month Rewatching Every Phase Of The MCU (So Far) - And Boy, Do I Have Thoughts

 Chris Evans' Captain America in front of portals in Avengers: Endgame.
Chris Evans' Captain America in front of portals in Avengers: Endgame.

I did something crazy recently — I watched the entirety of the MCU in a month.

Let me preface this by saying that I watched only the movies. I didn't count the TV shows because if I had, you wouldn't get this article until next year, but as someone who has seen all the television shows already, I decided to check out the movies for the first time again in years.

I love the MCU and will always have a special place in my heart for superhero movies, but they've been getting a lot of slander over the last few years or so. I decided to take it upon myself to rewatch the supposed "best MCU" films from the earlier years – and boy, do I have thoughts. Let's get into it.

RDJ in the famous diner scene as Iron Man
RDJ in the famous diner scene as Iron Man

While We Have Good Memories Of Phase 1, It's The Weakest

Sorry, ya'll, Phase 1 of the MCU sucks. 

Okay, that's a bold statement, but if we're being honest, the first few films of the MCU were not its best, and the real good ones came many years later. The first Iron Man film certainly gave us a great character in Tony Stark, and I always had a special love for Captain America: The First Avenger, but the others that were released were just not that good.

Iron Man 2 was different from its predecessor and felt flat. Thor was just…meh. Don't even start on The Incredible Hulk and how terrible that one is. I did enjoy the first Avengers, but Loki was the main thing I liked. Phase 1 was objectively the worst.

Chris Pratt in still from GOTG Vol. 1
Chris Pratt in still from GOTG Vol. 1

Phase 2 Has Some Of The Best-Written MCU Films

Without diving into all the details, Phase 2 of the MCU has some of the best-written films. I found myself enjoying Tony Stark's mental health crisis after the Battle for New York in Iron Man 3. 

I enjoyed the very first Guardians of the Galaxy film because it stood out from the rest of the competition. Ant-Man was also a hilarious entry that made Paul Rudd an even bigger star.

The Winter Soldier catching the shield.
The Winter Soldier catching the shield.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Still Stands Out Ten Years Later

Something about this movie shifted how I felt about the MCU. Maybe it was because it led to my absolute obsession with all things Bucky Barnes or because it was so expertly well-shot and told a complete, conclusive story.

The Winter Soldier bridged the gap between superhero movies and compelling drama, creating a masterclass in filmmaking.

I can see why Anthony and Joe Russo became golden boys for Marvel after creating something like this.

Chris Evans' Captain America and Chris Hemsworth's Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron
Chris Evans' Captain America and Chris Hemsworth's Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Also, Avengers: Age Of Ultron Is An Underrated Film, And I Stand By That

I recall that when Avengers: Age of Ultron came out, this movie got so much hate I could not believe it.

Now, nearly ten years later, I still stand by it not being a bad film. It's underrated. It's a fun superhero movie with a gripping villain, and it introduces some excellent characters. Sure, some plot points fall flat, but it's still an enjoyable movie. I love Ultron and other people do, too.

Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa sitting in Wakandan throne room in Black Panther
Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa sitting in Wakandan throne room in Black Panther

Phase 3 Hits Your Emotions The Hardest, No Doubt

Most people my age remember Phase 3 of the MCU the fondest, and I can see why. We received some of the best-shot movies with great stories during this time. The most significant change was that, at this point, the characters reached their achieved state of flow.

They didn't just feel like characters anymore. They felt like real-life co-workers, friends, and family members because we had spent so much time with them at this point. This is what makes Phase 3 the most emotional.

Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War
Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War Altered My Brain Chemistry

As a seventeen-year-old, I recall watching Captain America: Civil War, and something shifted in my brain. To this day, it's a stand-out movie.

I can understand why the Russo Brothers came back for this film. Not only was it great to show the growing divide between the Avengers after Ultron, but it gave us the great T'Challa. This film is just so good, and I have rewatched this movie the most out of any MCU film.

Also, the introduction of Spider-Man into the MCU was everything I needed.

A screenshot of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man at the end of Avengers: Endgame right before he defeats Thanos.
A screenshot of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man at the end of Avengers: Endgame right before he defeats Thanos.

Infinity War And Endgame Still Hit Just As Many Years Later

I can't say anything terrible about Infinity War and Endgame. People talk about these superhero films as if they are pieces of art, and while I don't think they're at Sistine Chapel levels of masterpiece, they are pretty damn close.

The Russo Brothers delivered a powerful punch to the gut with these, so much so that I still feel the same pain I felt walking out of the theater in 2018, seeing my favorite characters turn to dust. I still bawled my eyes out when Tony died, and Steve moved on. They're still fantastic films.

Still frame of Simu Liu from Shang-Chi.
Still frame of Simu Liu from Shang-Chi.

The Movies In Phase 4 Aren't Bad – They're Just Different In Certain Ways

Phase 4 was not a "bad" set of movies. They're just different, and many people don't like change.

The old Avengers, as we know them, are over. Half of them are gone, and the other half are off having their own adventures. So, of course, we're going to have new movies that really dig deeper into the other characters.

That is why I know so many people were upset when we got movies like Shang-Chi, Eternals, or even Black Widow, with Nat being long gone at that point. They were to give us new characters to love, analyze, and connect with.

It's hard for us to move past some of the best times of the MCU, but I stand by the fact that most of these films are not horrible, as people would make you think. Thor: Love and Thunder, sure, the MCU can take that L, but the rest? I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if some could have had better-written stories. It feels that many films in Phase 4 don't connect as well, but they're still enjoyable.

Spider-Man: No Way Home's three Spider-Men posed for battle
Spider-Man: No Way Home's three Spider-Men posed for battle

Spider-Man: No Way Home Is A Banger Even Three Years Later

I've always been a fan of Spider-Man – I just re-read about my love of Miles Morales – but biases aside, No Way Home is still such a fun film, no matter what.

Don't listen to people who hate the movie now, years later, and say it's overrated or whatever. This movie took a lot of time, effort and passion to make and is going to be the most memorable of Phase 4.

Elizabeth Olsen levitates above a ring of candles in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Elizabeth Olsen levitates above a ring of candles in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Multiverse Of Madness Sadly Doesn't Feel As Good

Okay, so I'm all for Scarlet Witch's most powerful moments, and I was so excited for Multiverse of Madness after WandaVision, but…yeah, the movie is not as good on a second watch.

There are many moments in this movie where I felt things could have been done better, made scarier, or just…been better written. The John Krasinski/Reed Richards moment, in particular, left a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe Wanda Maximoff will get the movie she deserves in the future. Until then, we have this.

Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Phase 5 Has Dipped And Rose In Quality So Much I Have Whiplash

Yeah, I'll openly say Phase 5 has been a whirlwind. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was freaking fantastic and had me sobbing. Ant-Man: Quantumania is meh-ish, but it could have been great, and it's nice that it sets up the multiverse aspect a little more.

But The Marvels…dear lord, The Marvels. 

This is coming from someone who is a fan of Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Ms. Marvel, and it was just…so objectively wrong and written terribly. Why are we giving these three powerful women such a bad movie? The quality has dipped and risen so much that I'm struggling to keep my head above water.

Deadpool reloads in Deadpool & Wolverine
Deadpool reloads in Deadpool & Wolverine

I Do Have Hope For Future Films – But Nothing So Far Beats The Original Infinity Saga

I'm looking forward to the hyped-up Deadpool and Wolverine, and I'm excited about the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. Thunderbolts could be an excellent addition to the world of anti-heroes. Phase 5 of the MCU and Phase 6 sound great on paper, and despite recent missteps, I have hope for the future.

Upcoming Marvel Movies: Release Dates For Phase 5 And Phase 6

Deadpool
Deadpool

If you're excited about the future of Marvel, here are upcoming MCU films that you should look out for. 

With that said, nothing quite beats the Infinity Saga, at least so far. Aside from the characters, the writing and movies are just better, and I think what we need to do is take a step back from the grand scheme of the entire multiverse and get back to what made the MCU good — well-told superhero stories.

There's no superhero fatigue — we need thrilling tales, grand quests, compelling character stories, and so much more, and we just… haven't gotten that in some time. And that's a shame.

I'm hoping Phase 5 does balance itself out, but until then, I'll sit with my hope — and maybe rewatch the Infinity Saga again.