2014 was quite the year for Superhero movies. We had Marvel Studios and Fox Studios put out some of the best films of their respective franchises. Let's look at the year and go over some of the pivotal roles those films play in the future of the Genre.
April, 2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
This movie might very well be the definitive Superhero movie (of all time?) surpassing even 2012's The Avengers. In this film we discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by HYDRA since the days of the Strategic Scientific Reserve following WWII. This film also turned Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's season around as well, with the HYDRA story line taking over the main plot of the series. The Winter Soldier, directed by the Russo Brothers brings us the story of Bucky Barnes, who was thought killed in action in WWII but was actually found by the Soviets and turned into the titular Winter Soldier. He is kept in Cryo-freeze between missions and thus is still young like Steve Rogers. The fight scenes were masterfully done with Steve Rogers/Captain America kicking some serious @ss especially in elevators.
This film has some long term ramifications as well with the upcoming "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Captain America: Civil War" films- that will most assuredly deal with the fallout from The Winter Soldier. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (this past fall season,) still deals with the HYDRA reveal, as well as the a build-up to The Inhumans.
May, 2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past
Another great film from 2014 was X-Men: "Days of Future Past", which was as much a comeback for the Franchise of the original mutants as much as it was a sequel to the successful X-Men: "First Class". Loosely based on the Claremont/ Byrne comic story line of the same name, "Days of Future Past" allows Bryan Singer to erase many of the sins of 2006's "The Last Stand" while linking up the younger cast of mutants from First Class with their older counterparts from X1 and X2 through the element of time travel. Quicksilver is a standout character in this film and it sets up X-Men: Apocalypse (which will be set in the 1980's) as the final film in the First Class trilogy of movies.
May, 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Sony's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" had a lot of things going for it. Spidey's costume looked absolutely perfect. The Electro origin story was handled very well and then all of a sudden CRASH! We get the Harry Osbourne/Green Goblin story, The Death of Gwen Stacy and the introduction to the Sinister Six all within the time-span of 15 minutes.
The future of this franchise is now in doubt following the now infamous Sony Hacking which reveals that Marvel & Sony were in talks to share Spider-Man for Avengers: Infinity 1 & 2. Andrew Garfield following his comments regarding the lackluster performance of the movie is (most likely) not playing Spider-Man anymore. Sony isn't even making a sequel until 2018 (if at all depending on what happens with the company and its' financial woes.) Hopefully Sony and Marvel can work something out to allow Spidey to continue on in the MCU.
August, 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy
This movie was the biggest Wildcard of the year, bringing us a group of misfits based on the obscure comic. It introduces us fully to Marvel's Cosmic side showcasing characters like Star Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer and the Nova Corps. We also get to see more of Thanos and meet Ronan the Accuser.
The movie was a huge success. It was the biggest box office draw of 2014 surpassing Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The film was a great mix of Humor, Action and even had a few poignant moments (We are Groot.) This film sets up the ongoing Thanos story thread, which should be continued in Thor: Ragnarock and Avengers: Infinity War.
Overall, 2014 was a great year for Marvel Studios, having produced 2 of the 4 biggest films of the year. Of course next year may be even bigger with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron.