Michael Curley is a full-time high school teacher and part-time film aficionado based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Although he is a fan of films of all kinds, he has a particular soft spot for major Hollywood blockbusters done well. Michael's film essays are currently exclusive to PopMatters.com. He can be reached @MCurleyfries on Twitter.
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.
The filmmakers' attempt to mask X-Men: Apocalypse's lack of purpose and thematic unity with a stunning density of characters, plot lines, and fan service. But we see behind the mask.
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.
Joss Whedon defied expectations with his ambitiously muted, psychological approach to Avengers: Age of Ultron but despite his best intentions and genuinely interesting vision, this would be his only effort with Marvel Studios. It was a good effort.
With Guardians of the Galaxy, set to the soundtrack of an Awesome Mix Vol. 1 cassette tape, Marvel Studios adapted a little-known comic book property -- with a raccoon superhero -- into a hugely successful film and launched the next wave of comic book films.
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?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is inspired by paranoid political thrillers of the '70s, making it the most radical departure from the tried-and-true MCU formula up to that point.
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.