Revisiting Marvel’s Infinity Saga with VideoHound

Revisiting Marvel’s Infinity Saga with VideoHound

2 min read

| by Mike Tyrkus, Sr Content Developer, Gale |

Now that Phase Three of the “Infinity Saga” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has come to an end with the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), we thought it might be interesting to see what our resident film critic, that adorable pooch VideoHound, thought of the various films in the sprawling saga that has consumed so many of us for the last eleven years.

So, without further ado, here are reviews and ratings for all twenty-two films that make up the aforementioned “Infinity Saga” of the MCU from the pages of VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever 2019 (which, incidentally, is available at your friendly neighborhood bookstore or via our very own online catalog), from the very beginning with Iron Man (2008) on through to the concluding chapter of Avengers: Endgame.

NOTE: While enjoying the reviews below, please keep in mind that the rating scale utilized by VideoHound ranges from a WOOF! (the truly terrible film) to Four Bones (a masterful piece of cinematic expression) and all that comes in between.

Iron Man (2008)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

Sadly, this film is not based on the Black Sabbath song, but this big-screen version of Marvel Comics' B-list armored avenger is one of the better movies to emerge from the bloated, nerd-fed superhero genre. Billionaire weapons-maker/media playboy Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) builds an amazing suit of armor to help him escape from terrorists and decides to make a go of it as a card-carrying hero, much to the confusion of his flirty assistant (Gwyneth Paltrow) and chagrin of his business partner (Jeff Bridges). There's some great FX and sharp dialogue, but 95 percent of the movie's appeal comes from Downey, who brings a ridiculous charm and energy to the whole affair. On the flip side, the plot is paper-thin, and you probably saw all the best bits in the trailer. Not exactly iron, but solid summer fun, nonetheless.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

VideoHound says: 2 ½ Bones

Hulk SMASH! A re-do for the Hulk franchise, with the studio hoping to get off to a better start than Ang Lee's overly thoughtful Hulk (2003). The story's the same, more or less: mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner (now played by Edward Norton) inherits the wild-mannered Hulk gene from his old man and falls in love with Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). Betty's military father (William Hurt), plans to breed a whole infantry of Hulk soldiers, and tests his scheme out on bloodthirsty marine Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). Very little to think or care about, but lots of fun with the usual CGI overloading all the action.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

In the Marvel Comics sequel, billionaire industrialist/inventor Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) has a business rival (Sam Rockwell) and the government to deal with while his alter-ego, Iron Man, has trouble with the vengeful Whiplash (Mickey Rourke). There's a lot going on, but not enough that the whole thing goes off the rails (a la Spider Man 3 [2007]). Downey's charm, and the well-staged action sequences, help keep this one just as enjoyable as the original. Rourke and Rockwell are fun as the villains. Don Cheadle does well with the thankless job of replacing Terrence Howard as Stark's buddy Lt. Col. James Rhodes.

Thor (2011)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

Thor (Chris Hemsworth, a fitting choice), the son of Norse god Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is a mighty warrior whose reckless actions reignite a war. Because of his arrogance, Odin banishes Thor from Asgard and sends him to Earth—minus his superpowers—to learn some humility. However, an enemy of Asgard threatens not only Thor's home planet but also the people of Earth, including Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), a scientist who tries to help. The intergalactic scenery is amazingly rendered, and the introduction of an Avenger makes for a thrilling adventure.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

VideoHound says: 2 ½ Bones

An old-fashioned action/adventure film dressed up like a modern-day superhero movie that primarily serves as a prologue for first Avengers film and just barely stands on its own without that context. The Marvel Comics icon Captain America (Chris Evans) is finally given an origin story of his own as Steve Rogers transforms from skinny wannabe to super soldier. Comic book movie regular Evans (Fantastic Four [2005], Scott Pilgrim vs. the World [2010], and The Losers [2010]) is charismatic enough and the piece is well-paced but a bit too retro in tone to avoid being dull. Moderately entertaining yet ultimately not memorable.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

VideoHound says: 3 ½ Bones

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the director of international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D., needs a superhero team to defeat Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his army. He recruits Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, the film is the perfect blend of action and humor, helped along by superhero banter and the feeling that everyone involved (including the audience) is having a good time.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey, Jr.) returns in his first outing since he saved New York City with his costumed buddies in The Avengers and the result is a thoroughly enjoyable summer blockbuster, arguably the best standalone Iron Man film. Writer/director Shane Black brings a better sense of action choreography and pacing to the story of the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and his attempts to bring chaos to the world and destroy Iron Man in the process. With a stronger supporting cast, clever script, and some amazing action sequences, this escapist superhero movie outmuscles much of its competition.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

VideoHound says: 2 Bones

Thor returns to put the hammer down in this CGI blockbuster. An ancient race of elves, enemies to the stability of the universe, return, leading Thor on a quest to save humanity. His adventure forces him to work with the nefarious (and movie-stealing) Loki yet again and brings back with his human love interest, Jane.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

Finally, a superhero movie that doesn’t feel like empty spectacle. The best Marvel movie in the cycle since The Avengers features the return of Steve Rogers aka Captain America as the wisecracking, square-jawed hero, who teams up with Nick Fury, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) to defeat the bad guy referenced in the film’s title. The movie wisely and somewhat brilliantly plays as a 1970s political thriller, recognizing that the hero we need may be the guy who can get to the bottom of government corruption. Fun, smart, and consistently clever, it’s one of the best Marvel flicks.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

Marvel movies are fun again in director/writer James Gunn’s action blockbuster that eases up on the self-seriousness invaded by the superhero movie genre. Chris Pratt becomes a superstar as Peter Quill (aka Starlord), an Earthling child kidnapped and thrust into a universe of space criminals and interstellar combat. Quill acquires an object coveted by the nefarious Ronan (Lee Pace) and ends up in a band of misfits that includes the lovely Gamora (Zoe Saldana), tough guy Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), somewhat-talking tree Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and a sassy raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper). It might like itself a bit too much, but who can blame it?  And it has a kickin’ “mixed tape” oldies soundtrack to go along for the ride.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

VideoHound says: 2 ½ Bones

Writer/director Whedon disappoints slightly with his follow-up to one of the biggest films of all time, ending the second phase of the “Infinity Saga” on a bit of a down note. Most of the ingredients are there—the big action set-pieces, the A-list cast, the witty dialogue—but the film too often suffers from the unbelievably common problem of the superhero sequel by overdoing the storylines and mistaking chaos for entertainment. Bruce Banner and Tony Stark kick-start an old peacekeeping program called Ultron and things go horribly wrong, forcing the Avengers to reunite to save the world...again.

Ant-Man (2015)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

More fun and clever than it legitimately had any right to be, director Peyton Reed’s first entry in the MCU may not have the stature of an Iron Man or the scope of a Guardians of the Galaxy but it works on its own (ahem, small) terms. Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist who basically passes down his knowledge of the way to shrink down to ant size to become the titular hero to Scott Lang (played with a knowing wink by the affable Paul Rudd).

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

The third Captain America film could really be looked at as the third Avengers film given how many of that franchise’s characters appear. It suffers a bit from overcrowding, but it’s well-choreographed and executed action scenes save it from CGI overload. It also helps that Evans seems to get better with each film. His Captain America faces off against Iron Man when the two disagree over international oversight over superheroes. The two charismatic leaders get other heroes on their sides, leading to appearances by a dozen or so MCU icons, including Spider-Man (Tom Holland). It’s fun, but unfortunately not quite as memorable as it should be.

Doctor Strange (2016)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

This is not your typical Marvel superhero movie. On a quest to heal himself after a reckless car accident ends his career as a neurosurgeon, the egotistical Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) encounters the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and reinvents himself as a powerful sorcerer. And, of course, he must use his newfound abilities to save the world! It’s a wild and a—dare we say—strange action-packed ride.  But no one can handle that any better than Cumberbatch, whose talents in the action/humor department are on full display. And he couldn’t have a better romantic interest/colleague to banter with than the sparkly Rachel McAdams.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

VideoHound says: 3 ½ Bones

The much-anticipated second chapter joins the very short list of sequels that live up to the original. This one picks up and runs with the idea of family being where you find it, even when you might be looking for it in the wrong place. Star-Lord (Pratt) and crew are still doing a little bit of good, a little bit of bad, when they encounter Ego (Kurt Russell) a living planet who says he’s Quill’s dad, and who probably won’t be receiving any “World’s Greatest Dad” mugs on Father’s Day. This outing ramps up the humor, the stakes, the action, and the heart, and it all works just like it should.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

Tom Holland brings delightful earnestness to the super character in this enjoyable reboot. Exhilarated by his brief adventure alongside the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, high schooler Peter Parker is eager to test out his spider suit's gadgetry to fight real crime, not just the lightweight neighborhood stuff he squelches after school. His mentor Tony Stark (Downey) is reluctant to take the training wheels off though, until the Vulture (Michael Keaton) starts throwing his weight around, and Spider-Man is given the test of his young life.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

An exuberantly wry entry in the Marvel movie universe that displays Hemsworth's comic range and charisma. Asgard, Thor's home world, is under threat of destruction in fulfillment of a prophesied apocalypse. His long lost, war-mongering sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) seeks power in the vacuum left after their father Odin (Hopkins) has gone. Thor is initially limited in his ability to act because he is a fire demon's prisoner. Later trapped on Sakaar, he becomes part of gladiator competition run by the planet's petty yet droll Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Just sit back and enjoy the God of Thunder!

Black Panther (2018)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

The first (but, definitely not last) solo treatment of the character introduced in Captain America: Civil War. T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the newly crowned king of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, must become the Black Panther to defend his country from internal enemies and resist being drawn into a world war. One of the best offerings from the MCU, and important because, like the previous year's Wonder Woman, it breaks the mold of what a superhero is supposed to look like.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

An epic superhero film that successfully brings together the decade of build-up of a series of Marvel films. Traveling through various star systems, fanatical bully Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his minions torture and kill to gather the six Infinity Stones so Thanos can carry out his extermination agenda. Challenging Thanos are the dedicated members of the Avengers and other Marvel characters from such films as Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy, but their desperate resistance seems futile. A whole lot of story, characters, action, and humor are packed into an entertaining 160-minute running time.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

If Paul Rudd isn't Hollywood's most charming actor, he's got to be in the top five. Luckily for audiences, he brings that charisma to reprising his roles both on-screen as the titular character and off-screen as one of the film’s writers. In this sequel, Ant-Man partners with another bite-sized superhero, the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), to defeat The Ghost. It's a funny, easy-breezy respite from the emotionally heavy fare otherwise offered by the MCU.

Captain Marvel (2019)

VideoHound says: 3 Bones

Training as a warrior on the Kree planet of Hala, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is taken prisoner during a battle with the Skrulls, escapes, and ends up in early 1990s Los Angeles. Though Marvel does not fully remember her past, she does have flashes including training with an older pilot (Annette Benning) and subsequently crashing. As she slowly remembers her life as pilot Carol Danvers, she teams up with young S.H.I.E.L.D agent Nick Fury (Jackson) to find a glowing space cube. Part of the broader MCU, the film is both an exercise in 1990s nostalgia and an effective vehicle for an engaging female superhero.

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

VideoHound says: 4 Bones

Co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo conclude the epic “Infinity Saga” chapter of the MCU with this appropriately titled and wickedly entertaining film. In this installment, heroes from over twenty previous Marvel films (see above) join forces to do battle with the tyrannical Thanos (Brolin) as he gathers the remaining Infinity Stones to bring his own version of “order” to the universe. In addition to stalwarts like the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, newcomers such as Captain Marvel (Larson) and Spider-Man (Holland) are given their time to shine as well. Despite the film’s over three-hour running time, the story moves briskly and effortlessly thanks to a myriad of wonderful performances and epic action sequences.

VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever 2019 is available in print and eBook format on GVRL.


Meet the Author


An award-winning independent filmmaker, co-writer and director of over a dozen short films, Mike Tyrkus has spent much of the last two decades as a writer and editor specializing in biographical and critical reference sources in literature and the cinema. He is a standing member of the Detroit Film Critics Society, as well as the group’s webmaster and current president. His contributions to the world of film criticism can be found in such places as the International Dictionary of Films and FilmmakersMagill’s Cinema Annual, and the St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia (on which he collaborated with editor Andrew Sarris). Mike is also the editor of VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever. He currently lives in the Detroit area with his wife and their two dogs. You can find Mike on Twitter and Facebook, or at CinemaNerdz.com.

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