I know that it’s a bit premature with Ant-Man still over two months away, but with Age of Ultron starting its theatric run this week, I felt that it was time to look back on Marvel’s uncanny Phase 2 and weigh the efforts against one another. If Phase 1 was all about establishing the characters and world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then Phase 2 was all about tearing them down to their core and taking them in darker directions than Phase 1’s lighter tone.
5) Thor: The Dark World – While Iron Man 3 has undoubtedly been the most controversial of the second wave Marvel movies, I would argue that Thor‘s sequel was the worst. I of course use the word “worse” solely in comparison to the Avengers meta-franchise, since the most astounding feature of these movies is that none of them have actually been bad. Sure, Iron Man 2 tried to be, but it was still better than most action blockbusters (and certainly better than most sequels).
So while The Dark World‘s Malaketh was a wasted villain that was all too eager cast aside for literally star-crossed romance between Thor and Jane, it did everything else right. Owing to his popularity in The Avengers especially, Loki’s part in the movie was heavily played up, leading to some of the funniest scenes of the entire MCU. The narrative was better paced than its predecessor and the direction more even, if a bit less inspired. And to top things off, it ends on what’s probably the strongest note of any Marvel film to date.