The Amazing Spider-Man - 2012
A student is transformed into a superhero after being bitten by a radioactive spider. A hasty reboot but one that doesnt disappoint: it may not be quite as much fun as the Raimi movies but its confidently done and pushes most of the right buttons for a multiplex audience (and its quite amusing the way it does many things deliberately differently from its predecessors). Performances are fine, the 3Ds decent, humour is in place and the action is nicely judged; the only criticisms a Spider-Fan might have would be that Peter Parker isnt nerdy enough and Spidey isnt strong enough but after 50 years the webslinger proves that hes still the best superhero in town.
Director: Marc Webb, Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field
Iron Man 3 - 2013
Drawing on a Warren Ellis comic arc about nanotechnology regenerative treatment Extremis, the third Iron Man movie pits Tony Stark against disabled scientist Aldrich Killians think tank. Its very much a character led tale, with Robert Downey Jr excelling as a paranoid, PTSD suffering Stark. But it also delivers witty zingers, spectacular action sequences and satisfying twists with the revelation of the true identity of terrorist mastermind The Mandarin (brilliantly played by Ben Kingsley) a particular delight. Even Starks team-up with a should-be-insufferable precocious ten-year-old works!
Director: Shane Black, Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall
The Wolverine - 2012
The muttonchopped mutant heads East as he deals with the loss of his immortality... Hugh Jackmans sixth outing as the adamantium-enhanced hero skewers all memory of 2009s underwhelming XMen Origins: Wolverine. Under the muscular direction of James Mangold its an infinitely more confident solo adventure, riffing on some classic comic book tales to create a bold fusion of superhero and samurai genres. The Japanese setting makes for an exotic and thrilling backdrop but Jackman remains the charismatic heart of the saga, bringing us a bruised, wounded Wolvie finally facing up to mortality...
Director: James Mangold, Cast: Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto
Thor: The Dark World - 2013
Thunder god Thor battles to save Asgard, the Nine Realms and his human girlfriend Jane Foster from Dark Elf Malekiths universe threatening plans. The Marvel Cinematic Universe goes high fantasy in Thors second solo outing the weakest film in the post Avengers Assemble Phase Two. The plot is muddled and Christopher Ecclestons villain far-from memorable, but theres a spectacular assault on Asgard, the Greenwich set finale is Monsters Inc-esque in its inventiveness, and the movie has the good sense to bring back breakout star Tom Hiddleston Thors mischievous bro Loki.
Director: Alan Taylor, Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston
Captain America: The Winter Soldier - 2014
Cap, Black Widow and chums find themselves dangerously at odds with the government when it's revealed SHIELD has been infiltrated by the subversive HYDRA organisation. The movie that proved Marvel can take its cinematic universe and cram it into any genre, the second Captain America film is a political thriller suffused with the paranoia of 1970s classics. The fact that the storyline is interwoven with TV's Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD adds an extra layer for fans.
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo, Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Robert Redford, Samuel L Jackson
X-Men: Days of Future Past - 2014
With the future X-Men about to be wiped out by the mutant-slaughtering robot Sentinels, Wolverine goes back to the 70s to save the world by uniting the bickering Xavier and Magneto. Original X director Bryan Singer returns to the mutant world he helped shape with an updated take on Chris Claremont and John Byrne's fan favourite, time-hopping story arc. While it lacks the fun of predecessor First Class, it's an essential addition to the Xcanon that makes the most of its cast of thousands, and in Quicksilver's prison break, boasts one of the great superhero movie setpieces.
Director: Bryan Singer, Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 2014
Peter Parker has worries concerning his girlfriend and his late parents, while his alter ego Spider-Man battles insane supervillain Electro.Sequel that's better but still flawed: one problem is that there's too much going on Peter and Gwen's relationship, the rise of Electro, the mystery of Peter's parents, Harry Osborn's quest and the tone of it varies wildly. But despite this, and being a little flabby in the middle, it's an impressive tentpole blockbuster, full of spectacularly rendered 3D special effects and amazing battle royales, underpinned by three strong performances (Garfield, Stone and DeHaan). It's uneven but good-hearted and gutsy.
Director: Marc Webb, Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan
Guardians of the Galaxy - 2014
An unlikely lineup of spacefaring 'heroes' unite to save the world in Marvel's underdog megahit. A sitcom star in the lead? A talking raccoon? Vin Diesel as a tree? All the sign's were pointing to the MCU's first flop what we got instead was the bestloved scifi adventure in years, loaded with laughs and heart and boasting a convincingly grimy otherworldly aesthetic and a rebellious, punky charm.
Director: James Gunn, Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel (voice), Bradley Cooper (voice)
Big Hero 6 - 2014
A tech prodigy and his chums turn avenging superheroes on the streets of San Fransokyo. The big hero here isn't griefmagnet teen genius Hiro but his robosidekick Baymax. The balloony nurse/ninja is such a charmer he all but cancels out the more derivative elements of this Oscar-winning Marvel/Disney team-up. The other star of the show is the made-up, mash-up setting, a bustling tomorrowland that KOs like one of Baymax's rocket fists. In short: imagine Pixar doing Power Rangers.
Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams, Cast: Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller
Avengers: Age of Ultron - 2015
Marvels mightiest team up to take down a psychotic robot hell bent on destroying humanity. Joss Whedons world-conquering Avengers sequel boasts one of the biggest casts in all of superhero cinema, some spectacular scraps (one word: Hulkbuster) and in Ultron Marvels best villain since Loki, but truly shines thanks to Whedons typically witty, wisecracking script. It may lack an unforgettable puny god moment, but the emotional scars will have long-lasting repercussions on the MCU.
Director: Joss Whedon, Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader