So this was one of those giant Kickstarters that I was really excited for. In fact in yesterdays list, I talked about it as my #2 Kickstarter that I was most pleased that I backed in 2020, and I finally took the time to play …
I was going to make this top 10 superhero movies, but from what I’ve seen, I don’t think any non-MCU movie would make the top 10 list. Batman Begins is the only DC one that I’d place that high, maybe, and that is probably just outside of a Top 10, plus, this is something I’m going to rehash at some point in time on 10 Minute Marvel, once I’ve completed my Marvel movie watch through. I’m also skipping the likes of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man for this just because I wanted to make it MCU focused.
10 – Avengers: Age of Ultron
This movie is very underrated, I think, when it comes to the MCU films. I think that James Spader does an amazing job as Ultron. Just his cadence and delivery as Ultron works so well. I also like that we get to see Tony Starks biggest flaw really played upon and something that pays off so well in Avengers: Endgame. He’s trying to save everything and everyone and in the end, that doesn’t really work for him in this movie. Plus, we get the best version of Quicksilver to show up in a movie, much better than the X-Men one, and we get the introduction of Wanda and Pietro. This film just builds well and I think while there are some jokes that don’t land, it also has some of the most meaningful interactions between characters. I know some people have an issue with some of that, but I think that it’s great and it plays really well throughout the movie and in the context. A few jokes land a bit flat though.
9 – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Watching this movie again it dropped a little bit on my list because I think that some of the jokes don’t hold together as well as I remember. But with that said, it is still really good. The scenes with Peter and The Vulture both knowing who each other are is a really great scene. It plays off of the awkwardness that you’d have with meeting the parents for the first time, and so to everyone else in the scene that’s what is going on. But for both Peter Parker and The Vulture it’s way more than that. Tom Holland also just does such a great job of being awkward in the films and though he isn’t a high school aged actor, he fits into that way more than any of the previous Spider-Man actors.
8 – Spider-Man: Far From Home
Back to back Spider-Man films, I give the second one a little bit of a nod. While I really like the performance of the Vulture, I think that Mysterio is a better villain in my opinion. I think how he gets close to Peter because Peter was close to Tony is interesting and works well. I know that’s an issue for some people because they want it to be more Spider-Man focused and less about Tony Stark, I think that it’s a good balance of both. I also like it for how it uses or doesn’t use Nick Fury in the film. In terms of Spider-Man himself, I think that we get to see him a bit more in action and as a bit more important to the story versus kind of getting in the way as he was in the first film, or kind of being that B-level player, now he’s an A-level Avenger having gone through and helped in Infinity War and Endgame.
7 – Guardians of the Galaxy
It’s easy to like this one, it has a good blend of humor and action, and while it might be lighter on character development than the second Guardians of the Galaxy film, it still has one. I think in terms of the Marvel movies that really use humor a lot, this one is very good and doesn’t have the jokes fall flat or not stand out as much on multiple viewings. I also like that this is a team-up film but not an Avengers team-up, and in terms of the non-Avengers titles, so Captain America films and Thor: Ragnarok, this does the team-up one of the best of those. I think what really makes this work is how well they cast the main characters in the film. Chris Pratt as Star Lord just works and Bradley Cooper as Rocket is hilarious. While I think you get to dig more into their characters later, you start to see the depth of them and how interesting they are in this film.
6 – Avengers
It’s hard to go wrong with the original Avengers film, not the earliest of the films to grace my Top 10, but definitely worth talking about. We get introduced to Black Widow and Hawkeye, we get a well done Battle of New York where each of them has a chance to shine, and we get some solid humor and solid character interactions. I think that’s the piece that works so well is that it’s very believable that those characters would butt heads repeatedly, especially when meeting. It isn’t a team that comes together because they all immediately mesh, it’s because they need to come together to save the world. And I think that makes the most sense for how you create a team like that, they need the pressure cooker to pull them apart but also bring them back together. It is also nice because this is the first time we get a good Hulk on screen.
5 – Doctor Strange
Probably the shocker of the list, though Age of Ultron might have shocked some as well, but I really like Doctor Strange. A little bit of a spoiler for the list, but I like it for a lot of the same reasons that I like the next movie on the list, Iron Man. Both of these films have a villain who isn’t really the villain. Sure, Dormammu is a bad guy and Kaecilius is a bad guy, but the movie is about Stephen Strange coming to terms with himself not being who he thought he was and not being able to be as selfish. I think one way that this differs from Iron Man is that Strange is technically doing something that is good already, he is saving lives, but he’s doing it for his own selfish reasons. He has to find a way to let go of that before he can truly understand his real calling. I also like Wong in the film and even Baron Mordo and The Ancient One. I think they all play off of each other well, and especially Mordo and Strange have some good interactions.
4 – Iron Man
As I teased, Iron Man is up next. For being the original MCU film, this really hold up well. I like that it teases something that we’re eventually going to get a payoff for with the Ten Rings in Shang-Chi, probably not intentional at that point. But I like how it’s a pretty straight forward story of Iron Man and about how he has to overcome some obstacles but one of them is coming to terms with that he and what his company have done and the fact that they are profiting off of war and death. The opening with the capture and building of the armor just works so well, as well, and while Obediah Stane is underwhelming as a villain, it’s again less about him as a villain and more about Tony Stark having to overcome his own past and overcome what is happening to him. Shows a bit of the age of the film in some of the effects and things like that, but they did a good job and holds up well for overall.
3 – Thor: Ragnarok
I’ve talked about team-ups and humor, and in terms of a non-Avengers team-up, this film does it best, and in terms of humor, this film is again probably the best. I think that the jokes just land well and the team-up works. All of that for this over the top techno colored film, it still manages to have heart to it. I think that Skurge who is currently traveling with the Asguardians of the Galaxy in the comics, has a nice arc in terms of character and Heimdall is given more to do and work with in this film, which is great because Idris Elba is great. There’s just so much that works because we have the Hulk start to realize that there are things that can hurt him, we have Banner hiding away or more so Hulk taking control and just the changing and growing dynamic of the relationship between Thor and Loki. Plus we get Valkyrie who is awesome.
2 – Avengers: Endgame
I don’t think there will be much surprise for the two that top this list, maybe just some question about the order, but for me Endgame is #2. The reason for that is that the ending doesn’t really stick with you the way that it does in Infinity War. It pulls a little bit of a Return of the King in terms of how many endings it kind of has, but it feels right still to send off all of those characters the way that they did. It also does a really good job of bringing the heroes back together again. I like how they use time travel, I like how they use Ant-Man, and I think the whole thing just makes an odd amount of sense. But really, this film is about closure and passing of the torch for Captain America, and for Iron Man, finally being able to know that he saved everyone and that he did the right thing which is what he’s been trying to do, for better or worse – it’s worse – throughout all of the films, he’s always trying to redeem himself for what started in Iron Man with him finding out that his company sold weapons to the enemy.
1 – Avengers: Infinity War
Finally, we have Infinity War as my #1 film. I think so much of this works because we get to see into Thanos brain, and we get to see how he thinks he’s doing the right thing. Now, there are massive issues with his plan, though less absurd then trying to impress Death like in the comics, but he believes in it, and he believes that what he’s doing is the right thing and a good thing. And we get to see the start of the Avengers coming back together. I like that it isn’t them fully back together in mindset, that doesn’t come until much later in Endgame, but we get to see all the main players come together to do battle again, and this film has some epic battles, which I think Endgame is lacking in some ways, as it’s more of a very entertaining heist film. Finally, I like it that they don’t win, sure, they might win in the end, but here, they don’t win and they don’t just barely lose, they lose so much and, again, we get to see the fallout from everything that was lost in this film in Endgame.
So, that’s my list, I’m sure for a lot of people films like Winter Soldier or Civil War would make the list, and probably some like Age of Ultron and Doctor Strange would be off the list. It’s okay to have your flawed opinion, but I am curious to know how other people would put their top 10, any major surprises that would make your list from how the films are generally seen?
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Gen Con happened again, though this year online, and we had a new Marvel Board Game announced. Plus, a fan favorite character returning in Thor 4? And then I talk some about the history of the Inhumans and a little bit about Black Bolt. Thank …
There was actually a good chunk of news this week. Chadwick Boseman and Marvel are fighting over how much he’ll get paid, Doctor Strange 2 has a new director, an idea for a Hulk film, and the return of a familiar face to the end …
Yes, I did just do a Board Game Battle and a Beyond the Box Cover for Marvel Champions, but I’ve had a chance to play it a handful of times now, with a few different heroes and villains, solo and multiplayer, so I think that it’s time to come back to Marvel Champions and write up my full thoughts and review of it. But, if you’ve checked out the Board Game Battle, you’ll already have some idea.
Marvel Champions is a cooperative superhero game where you play as a superhero who is trying to thwart the plans of a villain and defeat them. On the heroes turn, you can play cards that might be an ally or give you an additional ability or allow you to thwart the villains scheme or attack the villain. But these cards cost resources, and to get the resources to play these cards, you need to discard cards, so while you might want to play all the cards in your hand because they do something good, you are limited in number to how many you can play because they are going to cost, and the better cards cost more. Then the villain goes, and depending on if you are in the alter-ego side of the superhero side of the character card, they will either work on their scheme or they’ll attack you. Plus, then you need to encounter a card, it might be a henchmen that you need to take care of, otherwise they’ll be pinging you for damage, or it could be treachery card where it causes some other action to happen, like scheming or attacking again. This goes on until either the villain has completed their plan or the hero has taken out the villain. If the superhero takes out the villain, the heroes win, but each villain has two versions that you have to face off against, so taking them down once isn’t enough.
This game does some really interesting things. First, let me say that one of the big things about the game is that it’s a living card game. That means that there are expansions coming out. In the base game, you have plenty to play with Ultron and Rhino as villains and the likes of Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, She-Hulk, and Spider-Man as villains. But the expansions give you new characters or villains to face off against. You can get Green Goblin so that you have to worry about him and his glider in a fight, and you can get Captain America to face off against him. There are other heroes like Ms Marvel, Black Widow, Thor, Doctor Strange, and Hulk that have been announced or are out. All these expansions, and a Red Skull campaign expansion coming sometime this summer, can make the game more expensive, but also you don’t need them all, if you don’t care about Hulk and Ms Marvel, don’t pick them up, and you can still have a great game with lots of fun things in it. And while the expansions are pretty consistently coming out, they aren’t that expensive, which is nice.
But let’s talk about some of the other cool things, first there is the alter-ego and superhero piece. It’s really clever and gives it a great comic book feel, in my opinion. In the comics (I’m going to mainly be using Spider-Man as an example), it’s common for Spider-Man to get knocked around, Peter Parker then needs to rest and recover, which he can, because people don’t know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, but the villain, thinking that they’ve defeated Spider-Man will scheme and plot and get closer to their goal, when Spider-Man then shows up again to stop them. The flipping between sides, alter-ego and superhero, is very much that feeling. Each hero has things that they can do when they are on their alter-ego side and their superhero side that are different as well. For example, Captain America, when he’s in alter-ego form, he can recruit allies easier, but when he’s on the Captain America side, he can un-exhaust so that he can do more actions. So it make sense, Steve Rogers/Captain America is the leader of the Avengers often, so he can go out and recruit a hero, and he also never gets knocked down and out of a fight, so he’s always ready to attack and then un-exhaust and do it again, as he says…
And each hero has their own things like that, which fits their character and makes them unique from the rest of the heroes.
Another cool thing is that the heroes have different aspects to them, and you can change this up. So maybe you want Spider-Man to be more protection cards, you can give him more defensive cards in his deck. That way he’ll be able to stay in Spider-Man form longer and not have to flip back and forth between the two as much. Or maybe you want him to be aggressive you can change out his aspect to that, or Justice or Leadership. That’s going to give you another way to change up things. I played Captain America with a protection cards, and I was able to stay in the superhero side of things for all but one turn because I was taking damage so slowly. But if you wanted to, you could make Cap very aggressive and he’d deal out a lot of damage fast, or leadership makes thematic sense because he often leads the avengers. So you can mess around with deck building that way to create what type of team you want to play with.
Are there any downsides to the game? It takes a few minutes to set-up and if you aren’t familiar with deck building you might just be stuck with the decks that they recommend or you might have some weird deck builds that happen. But you can learn how to do better deck building. I think that the one downside right now is that it is hard to find the expansions, they aren’t printing enough and it takes some time to get a reprint done, and with COVID-19 as well, that could delay the reprints as well. Right now I have the Wrecking Crew villain expansion and Thor character expansion, but those are basically sold out as well. But, with that said, those packs will show up again, and there is enough in the base box that it’s worth it to just grab that and play and learn with those characters.
Now, I’ve done some comparisons already, and that’s in the Board Game Battle with Marvel Legendary, so is there room for both on your shelf, I think if you like Legendary, you will probably will find that this is different enough, and vice-a-versa. But I also want to bring up the other living card games that Fantasy Flight has put out, there is Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Arkham Horror. So how does this compare to the one that I’ve played, Arkham Horror? I think that it’s close between the two, if you go back to my deck building/construction article yesterday for Top 10 in that genre, you can see that Marvel Champions is the spot above, however, it’s close. I like the story driven nature of Arkham Horror: The Card Game, and that’s something that I do miss with Marvel Champions, but that is also coming. I think that I just like the superhero theme a little bit better and being able to pull it out for one game. But because one, right now, is a single game and the other is a campaign, I think that there’s room for both on shelves.
Overall, clearly I like this game. I think that it plays well at both 1 and 2 players and offers unique challenges both ways. There is a lot of really interesting things going on in the game, and it feels like a comic book. If you’re at all interested, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. But, with that said, know that the cost could add up over time if you’re a Marvel fanboy/fangirl, like I am. Because I’ll want to get most of it over time. I also think that this can work for a more casual player to pick up and learn. Fantasy Flight does a good job with their rule book, and the game is pretty simple, but still offers good challenges, so this a game that people interested in it will probably be able to understand easily.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: A
Casual Grade: A-
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There’s some movie and Disney+ rumors on characters who might be showing up in other shows. Plus, I talk about a new board game that I found, Marvel Champions, and if you’re a board game fan, is this a good Marvel and superhero experience? Any …