Since falling head over heels with the Avengers last year, I have been on a steady diet of rewatching the solo outings: Captain America, Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor. It’s an interesting experience. I’m not a massive fan of any of the standalone films – I think they all have plenty to like, whether it’s RDJ’s snark in Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth’s larger than life Thor (and the sublime Tom Hiddleston as Loki, of course) or the nice old fashioned vibe (and Tommy Lee Jones snark) of Captain America (plus how can you not like a film that features a tribute to Singing in the Rain?). But they are all also flawed – both Iron Man movies turn into CGIO bloated messes, Thor is hampered by all that Asgard stuff and a chemistry-free romance (seriously, he should have gone for Kat Dennings, she’s way more fun) and I always think Captain America works best when he’s a man out of time, bouncing off other people: as a standalone hero in the time he was born in, I think he’s pretty dull.
But rewatching them, post-Avengers, throws up many, many pleasures, and Marvel deserves all the kudos it has reaped for making each film feel properly part of a cohesive universe. The most obvious tie-in is the appearance of Coulson and Fury (I particularly love faux-meek Coulson – we all know he’s not meek!), though Hawkeye’s brief appearance in Thor is one of the best moments of the film, and the sight of Black Widow kicking ass in Iron Man 2 is worth the entry fee alone (not coincidentally, the only bit I could actually remember from the first time I watched it).
While I still wish they would curb the plethora of solo outings to just get the hell on with Avengers 2 (nobody needs another Hulk movie), rewatching the first batch has made me slightly more hopeful that, whatever else they include, the new films will have plenty to keep the fans happy. In the meantime, there’s always the SHIELD series…
(Coulson fans should also check out, if they haven’t already, a couple of fantastic, fun shorts: the Marvel One Shots 'A Funny Thing Happened to Thor’s Hammer' and 'The Consultant' – I can’t find the official link but that’s what Google is for, right?)