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

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.

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20. Air Force One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (or: I Hope Those People Can Swim)

Colin:

I enjoyed this, considering the rest of the movie that it was in. For once, a very simple premise that doesn’t involve shooting stuff. He can’t carry everyone, and there’s a time constraint threatening all the squishy people with awful deaths. I think it could have been carried out a little better and not diced up in the editing room the way it was, but overall…not a bad effort. We’re starting this article on an optimistic note.

Mike:

I love the idea of this scene, but I’ve said how I don’t fully love the execution. I wanted to see more of him having to carry these people, rather than speeding through it. But I do like that it’s not some crazy sequence where things are blowing up. Just the beginning, on the actual plane. Definitely an above average sequence though.

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19. A Xandar Named Desire (or: I Like How A Tree Can Throw Someone in a Black Bag in Broad Daylight and No One Says SHIT)

Colin:

It has to be the multiple planes that make this good. Like, she’s running from Quill, but Quill’s being chased by the other two, and one of them is a tree. There’s a good amount of Fifth Element fun and we had that one nice shot of them fighting while lying down. And yes, it all ends with a tree kidnapping someone with a sack.

Mike:

It’s that it’s fun, more than anything. All of these criminals are just fighting amongst each other in broad daylight. He’s just trying to get paid, she wants the orb for her buyer, they want him for the bounty, and they’re all trying to beat the other to the prize. It’s stuff like this that makes this movie so fun.

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18. Well Those Helicarriers Are No Good (or: Fuck You, Taxpayers!)

Colin:

Is it bad that the best part of this sequence for me was going on in the office with Scarlett/Agutter kicking ass? I mean, the Bucky fighting was okay, and Steve getting shot all those times was minorly tense, but this is one of those massive ending sequences that only goes this high because of the enormous energy they devoted to making it a grand finale.

Mike:

There’s a lot going on here. There’s them flying around on top of these things, there’s Bucky killing all the pilots and waiting for Cap, then there’s Cap vs. Bucky going on while these things are going down. But on the ground, there’s the stuff with everyone inside SHIELD. The Mexican standoff with Rumlow and the others, and then all the fighting between Rumlow and Sam, and then there’s Romanoff and Fury with Pierce in that office. A lot of stuff here, and it’s really the fact, like Colin said, that they just put so much energy into this that it comes out okay. It’s like how I always say these big blockbusters always end up getting a minimum of 3 stars purely because so much was put into them they’re going to end up at a certain level by default. It’s going higher that’s difficult to do.

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17. A Tree Grows in Xandar (or: The Big Dumb Tree and the Green Whore Help Stop a Genocide)

Colin:

The highlight (other than Nebula’s red face in that awesome shot) is clearly Drax laughing is ass off as they crash land inside the mothership and shoot guys while still careening through it. Oh, then he shoots Nebula with the bazooka. Oh, and then Groot kills all those guys and smiles really big. It’s the perfect example of how Guardians worked. Didn’t care about the plot at any point, loved the characters in it.

Mike:

Another sequence with a lot going on. I was actually with this one most of the way. They lost me for a bit in the middle, with the ship condom and the kamikazes and then Saal and people dying and them expecting us to care about that. Mostly I wanted to see our main characters, who really don’t do that much here. Groot and Drax do most of the work. Rocket mostly just shoots down planes and then crashes into everyone (That’s One Way to Ensure Everyone Is At Least Mortally Wounded). Gamora fights Nebula, which would have been awesome if we got to see it. I guess they thought we’d care about Star Wars fighting instead. Quill gets a couple of moments of fighting, but otherwise, not much of anything until they land and he sings and dances. But overall, it is fun in enough moments to enjoy. Can’t list this much higher than this, but I do enjoy it.

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16. Suit Orgy (or: Remember the Kid Actor? Colin Loved the Kid Actor)

Colin:

That stupid child. I just found out he was in Jurassic World. Ugh. You know, the kid’s not a bad actor, but I have to hold a grudge. Like when a really old German says he was just following orders. What were we talking about? Oh, right. This was the dark and not particularly amazing to look at, but…eh. There were some stunts and I actually thought Pepper would die for a second. I still want to know why all the suits showed up at this point instead of way earlier in the movie. And don’t tell me that they were covered in the vault under all the rubble of Tony’s house. You have crazy weapons and a massive Sandslash suit in there. Don’t tell me they couldn’t get out.

Mike:

It’s the idea that all of these suits are flying around and he’s jumping in and out of them that I like so much. Other than that — Pepper doesn’t die, she turns into a karate fire being or whatever. The Killian fight was okay, but I don’t get why he was able to do all that stuff. There’s a level of playfulness here that works, but for me to have put this higher, I’d have really had to care about the stakes and about what’s happening. Which I really didn’t. It’s not like the Extremis soldiers were people we’d seen before or people who posed a threat. They were just there to be bodies. And that’s not a good way to do action. Especially since they have powers. They shouldn’t go down so easily. Overall, I like this, and I’d have liked this to go higher, but it has some downgrades for me (Pepper being the one to end it).

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15. Indecent Expo-sure (or: Tony Stark and the Whiplash-t Crusade)

Colin:

The expo finale wasn’t that bad, actually. It was in the dark, which I hate. Like, how about dusk? Can we do dusk like ONE time? But otherwise, it was pretty good with the drones and Rhodey chasing him, and then Rhodey helping him take out the bad guys in the sexy garden. Mickey Rourke didn’t last very long, but I guess he did sorta blow everything up, which was nice.

Mike:

The Expo fight was good. I liked him flying around and taking those things out. I’m not sure why all of them weren’t deployed sooner or weren’t programmed to start killing civilians, but whatever. This is the one sequence we decided to break into two parts because of locations (you’ll see in a bit). But this part does work pretty well. The random laser thing is cool, but the whole “Nope, just once” thing annoyed me. And then Mickey Rourke shows up and the fight feels anticlimactic. Look at that shot up there. I’m expecting if they hold those streams any longer the ghost of Terrence Howard is gonna pop out.

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14. Stop, Hammer Time (or: She Fucking HANGS a Guy)

Colin:

To me, this was all about Favreau. Favreau is such a champion. He’s going at this one guy the way we all HOPE we’d be able to in those circumstances. The gut punches, kidney jabs — and then he bites his ear! Meanwhile, all of this destruction, and she HANGS a guy. This was beautiful editing on their part. Short as it may have been, I have to tip my hat. 

Mike:

This technically is part of the previous sequence, but I felt that since it was totally separate, for the most part, we can rank them separately. I do like that they ended up back to back, though. But this one feels separate from the other stuff in that sequence. And I like that Favreau has that nice little boxing match with the guy, while she tears through this place. It has everything you’d want in an action sequence, specifically actual fighting and wire work instead of CGI. Major props for that.

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13. Something I’ve Been Oba-dying to Do (or: Blood Stanes)

Colin:

People really hate this sequence, and I just don’t. I think it’s because of Jeff Bridges, mostly. He tries to shoot Tony gleefully, with a minigun and missiles. He also throws an SUV with a family inside at Tony, tosses him through a city bus and then shoots a missile into it. But visually, this image Mike provided was the best moment, because it’s cat and mouse. Always do cat and mouse. Too many Marvel fights are two guys on equal footing or one guy against a zillion weaklings. The cat and mouse dynamic is classic.

Mike:

This fight can’t go much higher for me, simply because it feels like they rush it a bit. But it works. It’s not a very big plot, and the fight is appropriately small. It’s story-based. It has the nice moment of the icing problem, which pays off a scene from earlier in the movie, and you get a few false finishes and heroic moments, where he sacrifices himself to get rid of everything he’s created. I like how equal the whole thing feels. Tony has to outsmart him with his wits — taking out his targeting system, bring him too high up to function — he doesn’t have to do that ever again. In the second one, he just has a laser to get out of the situation. In the third one, they give him more of those situations, but they’re just not as good. Pepper has to get him out of the jam, ultimately. This is a solid final sequence.

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12. Is This How You Liaise? (or: My Training Exercises Usually Involve Killing Hookers)

Colin:

Oh, come on. He’s on the phone for half of this, and we get to watch F-22s chasing him. I loved the shots from inside the F-22s as they chased, and I loved how his ringtone on Rhodey’s phone was the old Iron Man theme song.

Mike:

First off, he shows up at the place where he was captured to get revenge. This all starts with anger. He fucks up some terrorists, and has some great moments there, like with him shooting the tank and walking away from the explosion, and using his shoulder missiles to take out like six bad guys who have hostages. And then they call in the Air Force and he has that great conversation with Rhodey where he pretends like he’s traveling with the top down. It’s hilarious. And we get a freefall moment where he saves a guy. This sequence has everything, including the punchline of the “training exercise.”

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11. Kyln Me Softly (or: What Ever Happened to That Guy’s Leg?)

Colin:

This began way better than it ended. Like, the ending wasn’t super amazing with the escape, and I’m pretty sure everyone and their uncle is pointing out how dumb it was that they fired the bazookas one at a time. But the beginning of this — particularly this long shot where they’re planning everything and Groot is ruining everything by carrying out the last step first — is quality. Long shots are a key to comedy. And yes, we have to consider how they were all in danger of being killed and Rocket still let Quill go get the leg.

Mike:

Prison breaks are fun. Plus here we get to see all the characters work together. They set it up playfully and keep it amusing throughout. It’s the way the characters play off of each other that makes this work. And seriously, the fact that he makes him get the guy’s leg is just priceless. (Though I guess you can put a price on it — 30,000 units.)

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10. The Space Rape Cometh (or: I Don’t See How That’s Not a Party)

Colin:

Aw, is this going to upset the fans? Not that I have an issue upsetting Marvel’s fans…it’s about time they were upset by something. But this huge, “epic” (eye roll) fight can only make it to the bottom of the top ten. We talked about this and decided that for sheer scale and length, top ten made sense, but that’s as far as it goes. I like that Mike chose this shot, too, because it’s my favorite. But as I’ve done before, I want to make it clear that this is here as a penalty.

Mike:

I honestly thought about putting this higher for a minute, but then I realized, why? Sure, it’s impressive, and there are some cool shots, like the camera being inside the taxis as they flip. But everyone would put this top five just because that’s what you do. I honestly don’t remember what happened for a lot of this. They’re fighting faceless bad dudes, Thor can end everything in minutes but doesn’t, Hulk shows up at the right moment for a cool, yet overrated moment. Stark handles his shit but then sacrifices himself in an annoying way that wasn’t set up whatsoever. Cap fares pretty well during this, as does Natasha. Barton mostly stands up on the roof and shoots things, which is fine, I guess. But mostly it’s just cutting all over the place as this “invasion” really never manages to get anything done. Practically nobody dies here. But the construction of it all is impressive, and it has some fun moments, like Stark in the middle of the battle “threatening” Loki. I’ll give it top ten, but I’m not going much higher than this.

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9. Galagoddamnit (or: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things)

Colin:

This is one way that they can fight each other and not be awful. Scarlett gets chased, Thor gets punched, Hulk falls…Tony and Steve do rotor repair. I mean, meh? But it’s still better than the New York sequence. 

Mike:

I like it better than New York because it’s all in a single location. Plus Thor vs. Hulk is fun. I love that “Yoink!” shot, and Hulk trying to pick up the hammer. I like that they each have their own little things to do (though I can do without Natasha hitting Barton in the head. That was so dumb), and I like that for once, the entire goddamned world wasn’t threatened. It’s a well-executed sequence.

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8. The Fall of a House in Malibu (or: I Really Hope the Bunny Survived)

Colin:

I think I only liked this for the way it looked and for how major an assault it was on him after he gave out his address. It wasn’t like people didn’t already know his address; it was that he had insulted them. And at this point, we know the house. We know the furnishings, the piano, the cars — everything. When we see it all falling into the ocean, we know that the world according to Tony Stark is really coming undone. The whole Mk 42 part…eh. Wasn’t as into that, and I still don’t know why he couldn’t have downed the helicopter once he got flight back.

Mike:

Colin explained this well. That’s why I like it. We like this place. We know this place. And this is all story-based. They’re fucking up his stuff. They’re hitting him close to him — at home. He loses everything here, and he actually has to go off and start from scratch… until deus ex basement clearing. It’s a really impressive sequence, and I like that it’s contained. It’s literally just the house going down, and nothing else. Huge fan of this sequence all around.

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7. Cap 2: Cruise Control (or: We Call Them Pirates Out Here)

Colin:

I hope you’re all reading this for the subtitles. This is worth it for the subtitles. But this sequence worked because there was a decent fight, and even though it was in the dark, there was some lighting to it! Good for you, guys. And Peggy…must have been in the hospital already, yeah?

Mike:

I put more work into the subtitles than I did for all of these articles combined. I like this sequence because it’s a video game level. Infiltrate the boat without being seen. Take out the perimeter guards. Get the STRIKE team on board. The STRIKE team gets into position. They have to take out the guys watching the hostages. Then Natasha’s gotta take out the engine room. Then we take out the main dude in the control room. And then there’s the boss fight. All the while Cap and Natasha are joking around about what chick from work he should bang. The only real CGI is when they cut out wide, which is appreciated. Right from the start, we can see how much better this film is gonna be from most of Marvel.

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6. Chasing Nazis Through Brooklyn (or: Captain Steve, You Got New Legs!)

Colin:

Steve ran this guy down like Will Smith in the beginning of Men in Black. Peggy was the fat cop who gave up because she’s not a hero. Sorry, not a heroine. You know, cause if she had been, she’d have given chase in another car or something. But anyway, this scene is fun because of the location and because he’s finding out just how boss he is in the moment. Throwing the guy out of the water was a nice introduction to how the new and improved Steve Rogers does things.

Mike:

This is a perfectly contained sequence. Double agent shows up, shoots Erskine, gives us a nice moment, then Cap, pissed, chased him down. There’s the old school shoot out in front of the buildings, then Peggy shoots his driver in the head, which is nice. And then he tries to chase him down on foot and has to get used to his new body. And they make it all the way to the docks… where admittedly it goes weird with that submarine thing, but at least he throws a kid in the water. And then he takes cyanide, like you’re supposed to do. It’s perfectly contained, and it’s a great sequence. I can’t ask for anything more out of this.

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5. Bucky Reloaded (or: I Really Need to Get a Gun Guy)

Colin:

Now we’re getting into that territory where things get fun. I had a great time watching this scene for a few reasons. First, it’s daytime. Second, no wings and no weird superpowers. Third, it’s mostly an old-fashioned firefight in a very standard location. If you’re going to have Mackie do anything as a backup, have him provide cover fire. And it was more impressive when Natasha saw the shadows under the bridge and stopped than when she does crazy acrobatic stuff. It’s the little things like that. Although, if we’re talking about not so little things, I did notice several vehicles moving around during this scene. And of course, Peggy’s in her hospital bed.

Mike:

Daytime, hand to hand combat, and bullets. That’s why I like this. (Also, where are Mackie’s wings? Remember how he had those before they left? Were they in the car? What happened to them?) I like that they get taken out and have to avoid being killed by this guy. You actually feel the danger for a lot of it. Because guns. (He also has a gun guy, which is so good.) And then they split up, and Natasha takes on Bucky on her own, which is cool, and then there’s Cap vs. Bucky, which we’ve been waiting for and is given enough time to not feel too short but isn’t too long to make their later fight make sense. They have them fight as pure enemies here, and then give the emotional reveal, which will make their later fight different from this one. Plus, there’s the bit with all the machine guns, and the gatling gun — there’s a lot to like about this. This was made by guys who know how to do practical action. And I like that these guys are gonna do more Marvel going forward.

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4. Going Up (or: STRIKE While the Iron Is Hot)

Colin:

What’s not to like about this? I mean, I’ll tell you what wasn’t to like: the ending. I could really have done without him leaving on the motorcycle and destroying the plane in midair. Without all that CG, this would have been a baller and even semi-plausible scene. I feel like we got the rest of whatever was happening at the end of that scene in Oldboy, where he decimates everyone in the elevator, but we don’t see it. Close quarters, all real — this was shortlisted for the top five REAL FAST. Also, Peggy was totally in the hospital bed for this.

Mike:

If this didn’t have the motorcycle/plane bit, this might have gone #2. But the elevator fight is fucking badass, was perfectly shot, and was all practical action. The only thing I could have asked from that part was an extended shot of the elevator going down from outside the building as they fought for like 30 seconds straight. But that’s just asking for more, and not different. There’s no way this couldn’t go top five, and we could conveniently forget the last part of this, since this basically ends once the guys are all unconscious in the elevator.

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3. Yinsen-diary Devices (or: In a Cave! With a Bunch of Scraps!)

Colin:

So first, let’s think about the premise. You’re in the back of a cave that’s full of weapons and terrorists, and you need to get out. I’m already cool with that. Now, you’re in a homemade, weaponized metal suit of armor, and your buddy heads out to spray a machine gun at the ceiling. Slightly more interesting. So much of the editing in this scene was done well. I’d like to cite the moment when we hear the bad guy begging inside the locked room and then hear him silenced as a dent gets knocked into the door. Favreau is turning Tony into the monster in a horror movie during this scene, and rightly so. That’s how you take an underdog and make him look like a force to be reckoned with in a matter of seconds…make us afraid of our own hero. That’s something they never really succeeded at with Hulk, but it’s here.

Mike:

Story, story, story. That’s what makes a sequence. We watched him for twenty minutes make this suit, and we know what this suit is gonna become. And now he makes it. And he has to get out of here. We get the emotional stuff with Yinsen, but mostly we see this non-perfected suit tear through a cave and do badass shit. The flamethrowers, the monster stuff with the guy inside the locked room, the ricochet off the helmet into the guy’s head. This is a badass sequence, and while it’s not as complex and “epic” as New York or whatever, this is as perfect a sequence as you’ll see from Marvel, because it accomplishes everything it needs to, story wise, without going big for the sake of being big.

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2. Le Grand Prix Fixe (or: A Billionaire Telling His Employee to Commit Vehicular Manslaughter Live on TV)

Colin:

It still amuses me that people hate this movie as much as they do. Or even if they don’t, they’re apologists when it comes up. This is legitimately the second best action sequence in the whole franchise for how well this sequence was shot and how crazy it is. Once again, it’s day, so there’s that box checked. Then, we have the historic grand prix as a backdrop, which makes for some excitement. Rourke cutting up the cars and creating explosions to walk away from is at once thrilling and absurd in a way that rivals Crank, but the danger is there. Nobody gives no fucks like Mickey Rourke, and even when the comic relief brigade shows up and starts ramming him with a Rolls Royce, he continues chopping bitches. I don’t know, I was watching this scene with genuine enjoyment, probably because of the little touches like the shot above. It’s fake, but it’s real.

Mike:

I didn’t expect this to go so high. But how could it not? It’s perfect. He’s racing, and then this guy show’s up and fucks shit up. It’s perfectly contained, the CGI looks legit, it takes place during the day, and you actually feel like Tony’s about to get fucked up for most of this sequence. And then the suit shows up, and you’re excited, but then he gets his ass kicked in the suit, too. And then he has them run the guy over with the car a few times, which is hilarious to me. But it’s great because it establishes this guy as a credible threat (and then the rest of the movie kills all of that), puts Tony in real danger, and also gives you good, contained action that looks great and really works. And Mickey Rourke laughs like a crazy person as he’s being led away by the police. This sequence does have it all

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1. The Fast and the Fury-ous (or: It’s Totally Because You’re Black)

Colin:

This is tense as hell. You have to love this scene. First, it’s a betrayal. Fury has nobody, and now the police have turned on him, too. You don’t see any way out of this, even though you know there has to be some way for him to escape. With all the superheroes, we know they aren’t going to die and we know that they’ll do something with the powers or abilities we’ve seen them demonstrate already. In this scene, it’s just Fury and a much-upgraded vehicle that we’re meeting for the first time. Other than its armor and AI, the only thing it has going for it in the scene is the machine gun coming out of the arm rest. I will always forgive a ridiculous gun if it’s being fired by Samuel L. Jackson. I love that they mention some flight system in this vehicle and then never use it, and I love the way they shot it like Bourne. This was Ultimatum all over, with the beat-up cop cars chasing him through the city. Great scene, and primarily non-CGI during the day. Probably seems like an unconventional choice, but this is the action sequence from the whole franchise that I would watch again repeatedly. 

Mike:

Oh, there was no way this wasn’t going number one. I don’t think there’s been a sequence in Marvel where Colin and I both went, “Oh hell yeah.” This is an old school car chase. The only high tech stuff here is how his car can tell you how much defenses it has (and apparently can fly, but thank god we don’t see that), that random rape gun that digs into concrete, and then that weird think Bucky has that magnets underneath the car and blows it up. Oh, and the lightsaber that digs through concrete in seconds. But it’s still really great. It starts with the racial thing, which is terrific. And then they just start fucking up his car, and he has to stick it out until the car is fucked enough to warrant shooting back. And then it becomes a chase. With real cars running into each other. Colin pointed out a bunch of times where you can see legit damage to these cars, the way the dents were and the way the bumpers came off. This is real action. It happens out of nowhere, but is part of the story, because at heart this is a mystery, and sets up that someone wants him killed and we have to figure it out. It’s gonna be hard for them to top this in the future, because I can’t see them going as badass and practical as they did here.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow we actually rank the movies.

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

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2 responses

  1. samuelwilliscroft

    Did You Ever Use Putlocker To Watch Any Movies?

    July 5, 2015 at 7:01 am

  2. samuelwilliscroft

    Specifically for your Oscar Quest

    July 5, 2015 at 7:02 am

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