Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok marks the 17th chapter in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe, a bold experiment in theatrical programming that started with Iron Man and will extend through Avengers 4. The movie is being praised by critics -- our own Eric Eisenberg called it "the best of the Thor features" -- and it extends the hot streak enjoyed by Marvel, who hasn't released a true dud since... well, that's a debatable point.
Despite the fact that the MCU seems to curry a lot of favor from film fans (and film journalists), that's not to say it doesn't also trigger its fair share of passionate debate. Comments sections on websites such as CinemaBlend often flare up with heated discussions about the highs and lows of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So we took our own staff to task and asked them to come up with their hottest MCU Hot Takes, heading into Thor: Ragarok with our Mjolnirs swinging. Which is these opinions do you agree with? Which ones are you vehemently opposed to? We're leaving the comments section open, to weigh in, and let us have it. (But stay civil, please.) Excelsior!
Marvel Post-Credits Scenes Are Mostly Bad Once The Excitement Wears Off
If you've gone to see a Marvel movie in the last 10 years, then you've probably waited with bated breath all the way through the credits for that great tease: the Marvel post-credit scene! Every single MCU film has had at least one (sometimes two), but once that initial excitement wears off, you kind of realize that post-credit scenes are mostly bad.
There are a handful of good ones for sure, but most of them are just teases that really aren't teasing much. Who could forget the one where Bucky went to a museum, or when Stan Lee didn't get a ride home from space? True, some post-credits scenes are just jokes, but even the "real" ones fall stale. Who thought Thanos putting a glove on was enough?
Even though these things are mostly just fun deep cuts for fans to enjoy, there isn't a lot of meat on those bones. You've left a post-credit scene thinking "that was it?" more times than you realize. MAYBE you get Thanos smiling, but a lot of the time, you're just waiting to see Bruce Banner fall asleep to Tony Stark retelling Iron Man 3. -- Matt Wood
The Captain America Trilogy Is The Best Comic Book Movie Trilogy Ever Made
At the very start of the MCU, Captain America looked like a character near impossible to effectively bring into live action, and there were many reasons for this thinking. Concerns ranged from his origins as a propaganda character, to his "Boy Scout" personality, to his costume being too silly.
These were all legitimate worries going into the making of The First Avenger, but now, more than a decade later, Marvel has not only produced three Captain America features, but they make up the greatest trilogy that the genre has ever seen.
As far as ranking goes, franchises are only as great as their weakest link, and in the case of the Captain America movies, that's The First Avenger -- a blockbuster that not only stands totally on its own as a remarkably fun period adventure, but also ranks as one of Marvel's greatest origin stories. Then the studio went and followed it up with The Winter Soldier (an action-packed sequel that perfectly contrasts its black-and-white titular hero with an increasingly gray world), and Civil War (which continues to stand as the best film Marvel Studios has produced). Frankly, the only competition Captain America has in the greatest comic book trilogy department is Christopher Nolan's Batman, but it's ultimately the flaws of The Dark Knight Rises that tip the scales. -- Eric Eisenberg
Guardians Of The Galaxy's Ending Is A Mess
A lot of people love the dance-off scene between Ronan and Star-Lord at the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I'm here to tell you that I'm not one of those people, but it's not for the reason you might think.
Sure, the dance-off is funny. Yes, it's in keeping with the tone of the rest of James Gunn's movie. You could even argue that Ronan is totally confused during that scene, and that's how Star-Lord takes advantage of him momentarily in order to save the day.
To me, however, it's a huge letdown. Lee Pace is great at playing complicated characters -- we've seen it lately on TV in the under-watched Halt and Catch Fire -- and he's totally wasted in the role of Ronan. Don't even get me started about how there isn't enough Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy; I'd be fine with that, if only Ronan were a truly good villain. In fact, Ronan has fairly straightforward motivations -- who wouldn't want to try to take on Thanos and destroy the universe, amiright? He manages to destroy an entire fleet, then Groot sacrifices himself to save his friends. That's actually all very compelling stuff.
Regardless, when he's taken out by a stupid Star-Lord distraction, it's such a huge letdown, it completely takes me out of the movie. Just because something makes sense in the context of the story doesn't mean it's awesome, and just because something is funny doesn't mean it's worth including. Guardians of the Galaxy is a good movie with a wasted ending. -- Jessica Rawden
Abomination Was A Great Villain
Many fans regard The Incredible Hulk as a dull spot in Marvel's otherwise solid run of Phase 1 movies, and some of those opinions are backed up by the allegations that Tim Roth's Emil Blonsky wasn't a particularly fascinating villain. That said, I have a hard time swallowing that claim, because Blonsky (and by extension, his final form as Abomination) was actually a great bad guy for the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
At this core, Blonksy is a man who's terrified by his own weakness and mortality. He's well beyond his best years as a soldier, and he seems uncomfortable with the knowledge that he has lost a step when we first meet him. Then he encounters Hulk, and Thunderbolt Ross offers him a chance to capture that power for himself by becoming a guinea pig for an off-brand super-soldier serum.
Over the course of The Incredible Hulk, we watch a (seemingly patriotic and dutiful) soldier devolve into a strung-out junkie who ultimately turns himself into a monster to avoid his feelings of weakness. Greed does not drive him; he's motivated by feelings of inadequacy, which is something we seldom see from Marvel villains. It was bold, and refreshing, and memorable for those reasons. -- Conner Schwerdtfeger
The MCU Will Never Be Complete Without Fantastic Four And The X-Men
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an unprecedented achievement, a slow-build movie landscape that properly built a foundation on three solo origin stories -- Iron Man, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger -- before expanding at a reasonable pace. By the time we reach next summer's Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos (Josh Brolin) will have to stare down a glut of familiar Marvel superheroes ranging from Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
There was much rejoicing after Sony struck a deal with Marvel Studios to share Spider-Man. And Universal -- though they are reluctant to fully turn Hulk over -- still allows the character to fight alongside his Marvel compatriots in these big-screen blockbusters. But the absence of Reed Richards, Wolverine, the Human Torch, Cyclops, The Thing, Storm, Sue Storm, Nightcrawler and all of the key individuals currently owned by Fox leave a gaping whole that will damage the full portrait that is the MCU. The inability to use the FF and the X-Men impede adaptation like the Secret Wars, and they keep Doctor Doom off the table -- even though he'd be the ideal foil for Phase Four and beyond. No, until Fox and Marvel strike a deal to bring these crucial teams over, the MCU will be incomplete. And seeing as how Infinity War will have come and gone, it's probably even too late to do anything about it now. -- Sean O'Connell
The Mandarin Twist Was Actually Brilliant
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made numerous changes to its established characters and properties over the years. For the most part, these changes have been widely accepted by the traditional Marvel fan base. One serious exception to that, however, came in Iron Man 3. That film set up Ben Kingsley in the role of the classic Iron Man villain The Mandarin, only to reveal that Kingsley's character was actually an actor, and the real Mandarin was Guy Pearce.
Many fans hated this switch, but it was actually fantastic.
While fans of the original Iron Man comics might have been excited to see the classic villain on the screen, in the end, he's just not that vital to the Iron Man story. He's not Red Skull or Loki. This allowed Marvel to use him to subvert expectations in a way that would shock even the most jaded comic book fan.
Also, The Mandarin in the comic books was more than a little bit racist, and not having a character like that in Iron Man 3 was a good thing.
Finally, a change like this means that we can't take anything for granted in the MCU going forward. How much do we think we know about Avengers: Infinity War simply because of what happened in the comic book? We can't be sure of any of it, and that's a good thing... because we don't actually want to know what's going to happen, we want to be surprised. -- Dirk Libbey
Iron Man 2 Isn't An Absolute Trainwreck
Iron Man 2 is generally considered one of the worst movies to come out of the MCU, but some go so far as to even declare it a train wreck on the level of Batman & Robin and Green Lantern. That simply isn't the case.
Yes, Iron Man 2 does have its issues, but at its core, it's a fascinating and introspective story of Tony Stark dealing with his mortality as he's ironically being poisoned by the very thing keeping him alive. It also helps that the sequel doesn't lack for armored action and thrills, and when you throw in Sam Rockwell scene stealing left and right as Justin Hammer, there's plenty of fun to be had watching the third tale from this cinematic universe.
And for those who say that there's too much set-up for The Avengers in Iron Man 2, outside of Nick Fury's presence and a prototype Captain America shield, there's nothing else in the movie that distracts from the main storyline. Sure, there are also Easter eggs like a diagram of a cube (foreshadowing the Tesseract) and a map pointing out notable locations in this world, but these aren't going to catch the attention of casual moviegoers or even certain comic book fans. -- Adam Holmes
Guardians Of The Galaxy Is The Most Overhyped Franchise Of The Lot
While I'm not a detractor of the Guardians of the Galaxy fandom, it's clear that out of all of the fandoms that the Marvel Cinematic Universe encapsulates, this is the one that's the most overblown.
If a film were judged by its meme output, as well as how much the internet has latched onto it, Guardians of the Galaxy would probably be the leader of the MCU scoreboard, overshadowing even The Avengers. I get it: dance offs are cool; vinyls are officially mainstream again; We Are Groot.
If it wasn't for the cute catch phrases and adorable characters, though, these two movies would be just another couple of really good Marvel movies. Even from a movie-making prospect, these two fun movies could have been condensed into one, really solid whole. Instead, we got a pretty fresh first film, and a good, but repetitive sequel. Oh, and swinging back to the subjects of dance offs, I just have to throw some extra weight behind that being one of the weakest moments of this budding franchise's history. And this is the same franchise that thought a David Hasselhoff single was a good idea. -- Mike Reyes
It's Time For Iron Man And Tony Stark To Leave The MCU
A strong case could be made that no one is more responsible for the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe than Robert Downey Jr. Without his take on Iron Man, it's hard to imagine so many people buying into this larger interconnected universe. It needed his charisma, his magnetism and his reckless confidence. But now, the MCU actually needs the exact opposite.
I still love watching RDJ play Iron Man. He's phenomenal at it. He's so good at it, in fact, that he has the tendency to overshadow the other actors in most scenes. It's like he sucks up such a high percentage of the air in the room that he's in HD and everyone else is colored in muted tones. That's not a shot at him. It's his job to attract light, but now that the MCU is a living, breathing thing with millions of fans, it's time to let other actors make their characters as vibrant as possible. That's harder to do with Robert Downey Jr. around.
So, with a huge debt of gratitude and hours of really funny and loveable memories, it's time for him to walk away. Finish strong on Avengers 4 and never look back. Sure, millions and millions of fans will still clamor for more Iron Man, but deep down, what they want more than Tony Stark is a healthy MCU. And to achieve that goal, RDJ should gracefully walk away, as he's already promised to do so many times before. -- Mack Rawden