Fun with Franchises EXTRA: The Marvel Universe – The Action Sequences (Part I)

All right. So over the last ten weeks, we went over all the Marvel films. (Not counting Age of Ultron, since that’s too new. So all as of 2014.) We watched them, we made fun of them, we did our usual thing. And now, since this is a formidable universe, we’re gonna rank them. Like we did with Bond, and like we did with Disney.

I’m not doing this because I consider them on par with either of those two, but because it’s Marvel, and apparently that’s like web traffic gold. So, while we work in a Fun with Franchises break to allow us to get ready for the next set of franchises, I’m gonna throw up some of this bullshit, because I’m not opposed to whoring myself out for small periods of time. Look, it was either this, or nothing gets posted. I don’t have a problem with turning tricks on Hollywood Boulevard, but you don’t get to see that for free.

Today we’re gonna talk about the action sequences. Because I needed another article.

This is a list of all the action sequences in all the movies. Well… technically there’s one more. We came up with everything and it added up to 41. So we decided to just do 40 and leave one off. And the one we left off is pretty inconsequential as an action sequence anyway (the opening of Avengers, with the chase and the helicopter. Barely even an action sequence). Otherwise, this is everything else.

Thor The Dark World - 1324

40. Svartalfighting (or: Doin’ It in the Dark)

Colin:

I was bored. Not paying too much attention. I think there was a grenade.

Mike:

This is how I recall all my one night stands.

But seriously, what an awful sequence. You can barely see a goddamn thing that’s happening, Thor gets the shit beat out of him, but barely gets a scratch on him, Loki “dies,” but that only lasts about a second and a half, and then the whole beginning is all a ruse anyway, so that’s utterly pointless. So really the only purpose of this is to literally give the one thing the bad guy needs to the bad guy. It’s really boring and doesn’t even look good. This movie has some of the worst action in the franchise, and this one is easily the worst.

Thor The Dark World - 800

39. Hell Frigga’s Over (or: That As is Not Guarded)

Colin:

Rene Russo got stabbed…I think there was more fighting. Thor 2 was really boring in terms of action, huh? Not a whole lot going on. 

Mike:

That’s pretty much it. Rene Russo gets stabbed, and then… Anthony Hopkins walks in and shoots a guy with some kind of cannon thing. Otherwise the bad guys have invisible ships and throw weird grenades. The only positive thing I can say about this is that Idris Elba randomly takes off running and stabs an invisible ship. Which is admittedly cool. But all those cool points go to Idris Elba and not this sequence.

Thor The Dark World - 1146

38. Escape from As-catraz (or: It Ain’t Treason If You Got a Good Reason)

Colin:

The only thing I remember here was that Loki got pushed out of the spaceship and them decapitating a Lord of the Rings statue. What a waste of a movie this was.

Mike:

Not that there’s really much separation, I’m guessing what got this higher than the other two is the brother stuff in between. Since I guess there’s Loki playing around and becoming Captain America and turning Thor into Sif that is enjoyable. But the random ships flying around is pretty boring. This movie is really not good.

Thor - 554

37. It’s Jotun Time! (or: The Jotun-heimlic Maneuvers)

Colin:

It’s funny. This was all darkness and there was a big monster. In that regard, it shares a lot with the Incredible Hulk action scenes. I can’t get on board, except that the blonde guy with the dumb name got stabbed.

Mike:

I like a couple of things about this scene. I like that Laufey doesn’t give a fuck and calls Thor a bitch to get the fight started. That’s my kinda guy. He calls a prince a bitch and whispers into the king’s ear that he’s gonna murder him. The only thing better is if he said he was gonna fuck his wife too and then did. But after that — don’t care. They kill a bunch of random frost giants who are just ready to attack at a moment’s notice, and who don’t really live anywhere. And then there’s the moustache fuck who doesn’t die. Not a huge fan of this fight, really.

Iron Man 3 - 1015

36. Crazy Hot Chicks (or: Midwest Extremis)

Colin:

A child stopped a superhuman bad guy from shooting our hero with a snowball. Other than that, it was an okay, if very brief fight between Tony and Ellen. She burned his handcuff chain apart with her neck, he blew her up with gas. We’ve all had this relationship.

Mike:

Plus there’s the bit about “bullies,” don’t forget that part. Savin and the water tower. That’s part of the sequence. Mostly it’s fun because it’s playful, which actually undercuts its benefit as an action sequence. Because Tony can actually be fucking killed here. He’s totally exposed. But whatever. It’s fine. I don’t love it, but it’s fine.

The Incredible Hulk - 1590

35. The Harlem Shuffle (or: An Abomination of a Fight)

Colin:

This is really as low as a final fight can go, and please take this as an indication of how I feel about the movie it comes from. At every point during this scene, I wanted to turn the movie off and watch just about anything else. I mean, how dumb do you have to be, to cast a brilliant actor like Ed Norton as your lead in a movie that prioritizes prolonged action sequences during which he isn’t doing the acting? This was atrociously bad for how little I cared, how dark it was and how bad the CGI was at times. No other final sequence falls this far.

Mike:

The start of the fight is good in theory, with him jumping out of the plane, not knowing if he’ll change. That’s cool. Other than that, it’s two monsters fighting in a city with people running around. Kinda hard to make that really interesting. I like when they’re jumping off of buildings and stuff, Rampage style. That’s okay. The whole Hulk clap with the helicopter is pretty insane. Though he does choke him out with a chain and shivs him, that’s nice. But yeah, it’s the worst climactic sequence in all of Marvel. That’s for sure.

The Avengers - 970

34. Thor vs. Iron Man vs. Captain America vs. The Volcano vs. Predator vs. Kramer vs. Larry Flynt vs. Sever (or: Time to Change Those Nerd Undies)

Colin:

There really wasn’t a whole lot to this other than the opportunity to arouse the Marvel nerds. It’s funny to me to think that the majority of people reading this now are probably those same Marvel nerds. So let’s talk about that. Thor shows up on top of the plane, which is never explained, takes Loki without speaking to them, and then Iron Man initiates a fight that leaves Loki free to leave. And he still doesn’t. This was some stupid shit that was written in for nothing more than fanboy (and fangirl) gratification, which is the worst sort of gratification. Unfortunately, the only way that characters can interact in this franchise is through physical conflict, even between allies. They needed to give us a fight, because dialogue just won’t do.

Mike:

I’m actually really curious what other lists would do with this scene. Because you know people would put this high. Meanwhile it’s like — why? The interesting part is before it begins, with Thor and Loki, and the jokes. Otherwise, it’s dark as shit, you can barely see anything, and you get like one flat Stark joke about Shakespeare in the Park. Otherwise it’s just three assholes fighting in the middle of the woods in the dark. I don’t care about this. It accomplishes nothing for the plot. And fuck you if you’re saying “Oh, it shows how they don’t get along.” That’s a bunch of bullshit and you know it. If a dude comes to Earth and kills people and his alien brother goes to take him away, fucking let him take him away. What, you’re gonna put him through the judicial system? This whole thing is stupid.

Iron Man 3 - 1537

33. Escape from the Sex Dungeon (or: Suit Yourself)

Colin:

There wasn’t a whole lot to this. The only reason it goes even this high is that it had relatively little bad CGI. I’m questioning how the suit made it to Tony at approximately 25,000 miles per hour and then couldn’t fly, but…eh. You pick your battles in these lower tiers, don’t you?

Mike:

Can we appreciate the work I’m putting in with these titles? That was more fun for me than actually writing half of these articles. (The lists, not the Fun with Franchises. I always love making fun of these things.)

Otherwise, yeah, I don’t have much to say about this. It’s set up as a Shane Black action scene, so that’s amusing to me. And it ends with them interrogating Slattery. So that makes it more memorable for me than the other stuff. Otherwise meh.

The Incredible Hulk - 324

32. The Banner Identity (or: Favela: A Brazilian Tail)

Colin:

You know, this is about the favela to me. It’s about the great location, and how exciting an old-fashioned foot chase can be. There’s not a whole lot to this sequence, and it culminates in a dark, CGI fight that I was disappointed by, but the beginning is something to watch. At least, compared to the rest of the film.

Mike:

The location is really the only interesting thing about it. Because the actual chase is derivative. And then when we get in the soda factory, it’s all about obscuring the Hulk. Which is not what we want to see. I can’t rank this high based on simply a location when nothing about it is memorable except the really hot Brazilian chick who he should have stayed with and started a family.

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31. Running Train (or: Oh, Bucky, no!)

Colin:

They zipline onto the train, and that’s the vast majority of this fight’s merit. The rest is actually pretty awful, considering the interior design of the Hydra train and the ridiculousness of the goons shooting Tesseract juice inside. Bucky gets blown out the side of the train…sure. I’ll watch, I guess.

Mike:

Yeah, zipline is nice. And I like that there’s this crazy high security moving train with the target on board, which is very video game. But they don’t really get the most out of this sequence that they could have. This section is about sequences with potential that don’t utilize it. The first five was just stuff that wasn’t very good, and these five are ones that could have been good, but are just okay.

Captain America The First Avenger - 1064

30. March of the Wooden Performances Soldiers (or: Losing Concentration)

Colin:

Still in the dark, aren’t we? Can we have fewer sequences in the dark? Or, if they have to be in the dark, can they be crisper and with less CGI? I know some people are saying that CGI isn’t NECESSARILY bad, and…it kinda is. Like not necessarily, but also…almost necessarily. This sequence featured a lot of CGI battle in the dark, and it really takes away from the quality. Both of the Captain America movies have good action sequences, and they tend to happen during the day. I’m not WILD about the helicarrier battle, but at least it was light enough to see what was happening.

Mike:

My favorite part about this is that Red Skull has like twenty self-destruct buttons that he’s prepared to hit in the event of ANYTHING. Otherwise, I don’t care so much about the soldiers running around shooting things. It’s chaotic, and there’s a lot of comic relief there. I could have used a more focused effort by them with more screen time to really enjoy this more on a personal level. Then there’s Steve, who’s sneaking around to get Bucky, and sees Zola sneaking out and decides “Oh well he’s probably not important.” There’s really not a whole lot of action here. This is more about the non-action, with Red Skull taking off his face and not fighting with Cap. And it ends with that horrible jump and fire CGI mask that’s so stupid. Not a huge fan of this scene, but I will say, I like the clumps of dirt piles flying for like no reason, and I like that, while it was dark, I could see better than I could in other dark scenes.

Iron Man 2 - 963

29. Homoerotic Wrestling in Weaponized Suits (or: Why Didn’t They Run on the Beach Like Rocky and Apollo?)

Colin:

I miss DJ AM. There were also nice shots during this of Tony’s head in the fire. I dunno, it was a little weird, but it was a fight between two Iron Man suits that Tony was drunk for. I’m willing to call that slightly better than the Thor v. Iron Man fight.

Mike:

I like it because there are such gay overtones to it. Otherwise, the set up is weird and it kind of happens out of nowhere. And the whole point is for Rhodey to get the suit but not seem like Stark is giving him the suit. I don’t know. That whole cry for help thing doesn’t come across as well as it should. I enjoy that they tear all through his house. The kitchen sink was a fitting moment. The head in the fire was nice. It ends with the stalemate, and then Stark is on the ground, looking like he’s about to sing sad karaoke. I do like that he passes out in the suit, though, because he can just piss in that thing and be cool.

Thor The Dark World - 1578

28. A Mean Time in Greenwich (or: Quite Literally, Space Jam)

Colin:

This was really only interesting because of the wormholes. Like, if there hadn’t been that moment of Malekith and Thor sliding down the building, or of Mjolnir having to take the long way to get to Thor, this would have been a properly awful sequence. But it cracked the top 30, so…well done, I guess?

Mike:

Some people actually say this is one of the top ten action scenes Marvel has done.

Okay.

But yeah, other than the fact that they can tackle each other through random wormholes and the hammer having to constantly change course, I have nothing nice to say about this one.

Thor taking the train was amusing too. That’s the other thing. Anything with the humans was boring as shit, and then it ends in a giant red AIDs blood storm. I like the idea of this better than I like this.

The Incredible Hulk - 973

27. Monster on the Campus (or: Hulk Only Pawn in Game of Life)

Colin:

We’re still not into the fights I like. And I say “fights” because that’s what Marvel can do in terms of action sequences, for the most part. I guess it is cool that he’s cornered and transforms in the smoke cloud, because we don’t want to see that CGI awfulness. Then he destroys things and knocks an Apache helicopter gunship out of the sky. I have to say that the thing that bothered me most about this sequence is how it existed in a void — there was nobody around and it seemed like they shot in a meadow somewhere and tried to make it look like a college campus. It may as well have been Mongolia. 

Mike:

Colin doesn’t like this one, but I do. I enjoy this because it’s contained, takes place basically on a giant lawn. I like him being chased through the library, I like that he changes inside the glass hallway thing. I like him ripping off car doors and throwing it all around. I do really enjoy this sequence. Plus he just fucking punts Blonsky, which is hilarious. So, I enjoy this sequence, but I wouldn’t really rank it might higher than this.

Thor - 1856

26. Not the Rainbow Bridge! (or: Just Like at the End of Hamlet)

Colin:

Lots of Lokis, Thor says ‘enough.’ I agreed to put this sequence this high because I agreed that enough was enough at that point. It was time to end the bad movie. My only moment of true enjoyment was when Thor put the hammer on Loki’s chest, because that’s just funny to me.

Mike:

I put this here for the little moments nd because it’s at least fueled with drama. Nothing else really had anything we gave a shit about. Here we have brothers talking about feelings and fighting each other. And the hammer moment with the chest was really great, and then there’s Odin catching them (somehow having woken up from his coma because he decided it was time) and Loki letting go. There’s worthwhile stuff here. It’s just not a great action sequence.

Oh, and while this is happening, the Frost Giants planet is getting gonocided. That’s pretty humorous.

Thor - 1480

25. Thor Fights a Big Metal Space Rapist (or: Just Like in High Noon)

Colin:

Sorry, I’m laughing because that was just like High Noon, only with a single, big, metal space rapist. There were a few tally hos, a backhand and a tornado, so I guess that all counts for something. All in all, a relatively weak final sequence.

Mike:

I like that this all takes place in this tiny town. Makes no sense, but I like that for once an action sequence didn’t take place in a fucking major city. I like that the robot doesn’t die, and how it pimp smacks the shit out of Thor. Of course, once he sacrifices himself, he gets the hammer back, and makes his father cry while in a coma. And then the fight ends pretty quickly from there. Though we do then get the “Son of Coul” line. And it starts with the Stark joke. So that’s something I guess. We honestly don’t really start getting to the good stuff til tomorrow. Sorry to spring that on you so late, but honestly blame Marvel for having so many subpar action sequences.

Captain America The First Avenger - 2088

24. A Matter of Cap and Death (or: How I Learned to Stop HYDRA and Love the Martyrdom)

Colin:

So we begin with a fight inside the giant bomb bay, during which someone gets dropped, Dr. Strangelove style — then we get a sequence from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, all wrapping up in a short fight with Hugo Weaving. I guess the fight does feature a few images of him silhouetted, but I was disappointed with how short it was and how he sort of…vaporized.

Mike:

I like when the guy goes through the propeller. That’s nice. Otherwise, it’s not a particularly great sequence for action. Seriously, the only reason this is here is because I like the Matter of Life and Death moment at the end. Without that, this drops below the campus fight for me.

Captain America The First Avenger - 1763

23. So Much for That Nazi Vacation Home (or: If I Cut Off My Dick Head Will Two More Take Its Place?)

Colin:

Are ziplines the only thing I can appreciate about this? No, I suppose there’s still a few things, including Hugo Weaving giving his car keys to Toby Jones. “Not a scratch, Doctor.” That was pretty great.

Mike:

You forgot Tommy Lee Jones with a shotgun. That’s also part of this.

Most of this is fucking ridiculous though. The car catching the plane, the Men in Black reference, him randomly swinging over like a thousand people for no reason. I don’t like whole sections of this. But they do zipline, and Red Skull does run through like a video game boss. That’s fun.

Oh, let’s not forget the ridiculous moment where they almost stop to make out and Peggy (who is inexplicably there for like no reason other than to kiss him in the car — which she is not driving, by the way. Because… woman drivers!), who stops him from getting the biggest known terrorist in the world because “I can’t stay mad at you and your abs!”

I’m actually regretting putting this so high, but at this point, we’re already here and I don’t really care, so it stays.

Thor - 1107

22. If I Had a Hammer… (or: E.Thor the Extra-Ripped-Terrestrial)

Colin:

See, this was halfway decent because it was a hero fighting in an enclosed space for the majority of the sequence, and even when things left that enclosed space, they still didn’t go CGI. There’s nothing wrong with a scene featuring one ripped dude roughing up an entire camp of other ripped dudes. That should be in a film manual somewhere. 

Mike:

I love the location. I love how it ends with him not being worthy of the hammer and everything in his world coming crashing down. I love that it’s contained and accomplishes a lot without throwing money at it and without CGI. More of this.

Guardians of the Galaxy - 1693

21. The Road to Knowhere (or: Tuesday)

Colin:

It’s the Tuesday-ness that does it for me. We’ve got three planes of action going on here: Quill and Rocket in their pods, Gamora in her pod and Drax antagonizing Ronan. Gamora’s boring, and Quill and Rocket are only slightly more interesting, but Drax is pretty good to watch, and his defeat is even better. Defeated people should always be thrown in colored liquids.

Mike:

The use of yellow is great. I like Drax and Ronan, and of course his moment when Ronan arrives is priceless. I’m not crazy about the pod chase until they go out into space, but it’s fine. Overall, it works. All our characters are covered (except Groot, who just kind of disappears), and it’s entertaining. A but too much CGI that’s a bit too cartoony, but I’m okay with this. I like Quill being stupid for some pussy, as the outlaw is wont to do. This easily rises to the top of just about everything below it.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we finish the action sequences.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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