The focus on Thanos single-handedly saves Avengers: Infinity War from becoming the overstuffed mess many feared and lends the film a relentless action pace more akin to Mad Max: Fury Road than a superhero blockbuster.
Ryan Coogler's Black Panther engages with deep and timely social, cultural, and psychological concepts, and completely taps into America's zeitgeist.
Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.
The teen-focused, John Hughes-inspired approach not only makes Spider-Man: Homecoming feel fresh in the realm of Spider-Man films, but in superhero films in general.
In Mangold's Logan, an elderly, sick surrogate father and a young, estranged, emotionally-scarred "daughter" come to rely entirely on the aged Wolverine who is now but a haunted, battered, suicidal husk. It's nothing like superhero films that came before.
In the Russo Brothers' Captain America: Civil War, friend turns on friend, and no easy resolution is reached. It's rather like the toxic online fan culture that followed the film's release.
A temperamental director and meddling suits at the studio squandered the long-running Fantastic Four comics series' first foray into film. It could, however, be done again -- and done right.
There are strong emotional stakes and likeable characters in Peyton Reed's Ant-Man, but they are all rooted in a, well, less than epic scale. This makes Ant-Man refreshing, an MCU palate cleanser.
Dark Phoenix makes it clear that the X-Men, as socio-political commentary, must take their own metaphor more seriously and evolve, already.
More than any previous X-Men film, Days of Future Past engages in deeply geeky, comic book-inspired elements resulting in the best cinematic representation of X-Men comics to-date.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a contrived mess of four disparate competing plots and set-up for a shared cinematic universe that would never come to be. Why did Sony Pictures blow it?
In Thor: The Dark World there's a dangerous villain, a universe-ending threat, and a star-crossed romance -- but none of it makes sense.
Perhaps it was redundant after the previous Spider-Man trilogy, or was overshadowed by more high-profile summer 2012 superhero films, or was lumped in with its truly awful sequel, but The Amazing Spider-Man is a fine superhero film.
By perfecting the comic book superhero formula and creating the first big-budget shared universe with The Avengers in 2012, Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios came to define this decade of blockbuster filmmaking.
Flashy directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor attempted to make Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance more exciting than its predecessor, but their style sapped the energy that fueled the flame.
Marvel Studios recognized that by mining other genres through the superhero lens, it could continue to keep comic book films fresh and entertaining to audiences and sidestep the constant predictions of imminent superhero fatigue.
Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class refocuses the series onto its political and socially conscious origins, as well as the philosophical debate at the core of Magneto and Xavier's relationship.
Kenneth Branagh's Thor (2011) took the largely Earth-based, sci-fi genre into the realm of supernatural space fantasy, leading the way for a wider array of comic book superhero films.
Tony spends the first half of the film worrying about his legacy but also trying to have fun with the time he has left. It's rather like MCU's superhero film challenges of the time.
Conflicting viewpoints and intentions and external issues beyond anyone's control culminate in a film that is an unfocused, inconsistent mess.
The complexities of social life depicted in superhero narratives are similar to those of our own. In 2018, we need to consider taking superhero narratives a little more seriously.
Paul Rudd is at the top of his game in Ant-Man and the Wasp, but Evangeline Lilly isn't given an equal platform, despite what the title suggests.
There are many instances in Rise of the Silver Surfer when superhero powers are played as gags and paired with a zippy cartoon score to really sell it. It's perfect for a kids movie.
One ought not to approach this film looking for action but looking for connection, empathy, emotion.
The lead up to May 2019's Avengers film promises to completely change people's opinions of Avengers: Infinity War.