6. Spider-Man: Far from Home
Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jacob Batalon, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Cobie Smulders, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, J.B. Smoove, Martin Starr
Perhaps Spider-Man: Far from Home’s position on this list is the result of a hangover courtesy of the emotionally draining adventure on offer in Avengers: Endgame (released just weeks earlier), because for all intents and purposes this was a solid Marvel Cinematic Universe entry that offered a couple of hours of entertainment just as promised.
While not Earth-shattering by any means, Far from Home did offer a number of the MCU’s best-ever mind-bending sequences (as evidenced in the picture above) and doubled down on the hearty teenage coming-of-age concept of its predecessor Homecoming – it even threw shade at the superhero film factory through its new central character Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) – but at times it dragged, and the tacked on universe-building aspects left a lot to be desired; not to mention the drama between studios following its release.
While better than the post-Infinity War entry Ant-Man & the Wasp, Spider-Man: Far from Home still suffered from the feeling of being an after-thought of little significance, though its humour and creative visuals made for a solid Spidey entry worth a watch.
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Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Johnson, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark
While not perfect by any means, and actually quite divisive with audiences and critics who had grown fond of Shyamalan’s first two trilogy entries Unbreakable and Split, 2019’s Glass was at least commendable for how it tried to tweak the superhero formula and offer something a little different, and all within an original universe 20 years in the making.
One of three superhero films to star Samuel L. Jackson in 2019, Glass played the actor against type in a return to his role from 2000’s superhero-adjacent thriller Unbreakable and succeeded in creating a tangible world for him to operate within; co-star Bruce Willis benefiting from this solid groundwork to offer a quality performance of his own that we hadn’t seen on the big screen in years if not decades.
James McAvoy was the standout of the film however, his impressive turn as multiple characters within his Split character’s split personalities pushing forward his co-stars and the excitement of the movie on multiple occasions, screenwriter-director Shyamalan’s fondness of neatly wrapping everything up in one huge climactic moment offering the performance and the film an unmissable, albeit divisive, conclusion that earns browny points here for how subversive of a move it was in comparison to other superhero films.
4. Captain Marvel
Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Gemma Chan, Lashana Lynch, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg
After 11 years, Marvel Studios finally offered their first female superhero movie, and in 2019’s Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson, they delivered a lot of what we had come to expect.
It was important that Marvel made a film for women that empowered its female characters and adopted a lot of the ideologies of young, modern women, and Captain Marvel may not have captured that in quite the way that Warner Bros’ 2017 superhero hit Wonder Woman did, but it was a memorable and at times spine-tingling offering that seemed like an important moment in the history of Marvel, superhero films and cinema as a whole.
Offering some of the best CG de-ageing work anywhere in cinema perhaps ever, Captain Marvel did however lean heavily into nostalgia and at times seemed to over-explain too much of what it was intending to push, and despite its strictly individualistic qualities it did seem to be of the Marvel mould both visually and narratively, blending the film into the growing sea of MCU releases rather than offering a truly unique experience outside of the woman at its centre.
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