Captain America and Iron Man have long since been the flagship heroes of the ever growing Marvel Cinematic Universe and the release of Captain America: Civil War means that both heroes now have their own trilogies. While Civil War feels a lot like an Avengers movie it also works well as the third instalment in the Captain America series.
Civil War is the culmination of eight years worth of story-telling, yet it's unlikely that we'd have got this far had the first Iron Man movie not proved such a success. That movie was crucial for so many reasons, it proved that Robert Downey Jr. was capable of leading a superhero franchise but more importantly it proved that there was still an appetite for these sorts of movies. Naturally, the MCU continued to grow allowing Captain America to hit the big screen in 2011, before two more instalments were released.
Iron Man's importance to the MCU is undoubted, but how do his movies compare to his fellow Avenger Captain America. In the months leading up to the release of Civil War you've been asked to pick a side: Team Cap or Team Iron Man. Now, I propose another match up: Captain America v Iron Man: Who has the better movies?
Round 1 - Iron Man v Captain America: The First Avenger
Iron Man (2008)
The movie that started it all, and a huge risk. Back in 2008 the success of the MCU was far from guaranteed and casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark was a gamble. Yet, eight years later the original Iron Man is still considered to be one of the finest movies that Marvel has produced.
Iron Man was a gamble that paid off big time. Robert Downey Jr. delivered the first of many outstanding performances as Tony Stark, quelling any post-production fears. The movie proved to be a resounding success grossing $585,174,222 worldwide. Iron Man showed how good a superhero movie could be, delivering an origin story faithful to the comics, spectacular action and of course the humour that would become a symbol of the MCU. Then of course there was Nick Fury's after credit scene talking about a certain "Avenger Initiative"...
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Three years after the release of Iron Man, Captain America joined the MCU. Marvel again delivered an origin story that stuck closely to the comics. Digital technology was used to turn Chris Evans into the weak and scrawny Steve Rogers. Evans had previously starred in the critically slated Fantastic Four movies, thankfully his Captain America debut was greeted much more positively.
While The First Avenger is the weakest of the Captain America trilogy it's still a very good movie. The move confirmed that Captain America could in fact work on the big screen, despite the appalling 1990 outing suggesting otherwise. The First Avenger saw Cap pitted against his arch-enemy Red Skull who is eventually killed after handling the Tesseract. The movie features plenty of set-up for the Avengers movie that came the following year including the Tesseract and another Nick Fury post-credit scene. The First Avenger is indeed an excellent movie, but so is Iron Man. The latter's importance to the MCU means that Iron Man edges this round.
Winner - Iron Man
Which movie did you prefer?
Round 2 - Iron Man 2 v Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The sequel to Iron Man came some way short of the original. Robert Downey Jr's second appearance as Tony Stark ranks amongst the weakest efforts Marvel have produced to date. The movie was again a box office success but when it comes to quality it cannot compete with the original. With Iron Man 2, Marvel tried to do too much and the movie suffered as a result. The sequel provides an early example of the studios villain problems as Mickey Rourke is forgettable as Whiplash.
Despite it's flaws Iron Man 2 is still fairly important in the context of the MCU. It introduced Don Cheadle as War Machine while Scarlett Johansson deputised as Black Widow. The sequel also maintained the humour and wit of the original and the action sequences helped to make it an entertaining, if unmemorable flick.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
There's a reason many people call this the best instalment in the MCU, it's an outstanding movie. While I wouldn't go as far as to call it the very best, it's certainly up there. The Winter Soldier was a big step up from 2011's The First Avenger. Marvel delivers it's first truly thought-provoking movie as Captain America is led to question S.H.I.E.L.Ds surveillance plans. Captain America's character development across this movie and Civil War is excellent and you can certainly understand why he's reluctant to place his trust in the government come Civil War.
The plot is perhaps the most intriguing that Marvel have produced to date as we see Nick Fury apparently killed, leaving Cap and Black Widow on the run unable to trust anyone. Of course the main attraction is the arrival of the Winter Soldier, who certainly does not fall victim to Marvel's villain curse. Winter Soldier is suitably imposing and the fact that he is Cap's war-time buddy Bucky Barnes makes him one of the few interesting Marvel villains. The action is also fantastic, culminating in the crash landing of several helicarriers. We have a clear winner here...
Winner - Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Which movie did you prefer?
Round 3 - Iron Man 3 v Captain America: Civil War
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Iron Man 3 gets a lot of criticism, but personally I found it to be very enjoyable. The movie caused controversy amongst fans as it was revealed that the Mandarin was actually just an actor and not a real super-villain. Doing this to Iron Man's arch-enemy was no doubt a mistake but putting this aside Iron Man 3 is a pretty good movie.
Once again Robert Downey Jr. shines as Tony Stark helping to make the movie thoroughly entertaining throughout. Iron Man 3 also has some of the best scenes in the trilogy, the Air Force One attack stands out as one particularly edge of the seat moment. This is also the funniest of the three instalments thanks largely to the wit of it's lead. Remove the laughs and you'd certainly have a much weaker movie. The movie of course has it's problems: Guy Pearce is rather underwhelming as Killian and the ending feels rather pointless when you look back at it. Still, Iron Man 3 is not far short of the original.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
This hardly seems a fair fight considering Captain America is aided by most of the Avengers in his third movie. It feels like another Avengers movie, but officially it's Captain America 3 which means it's up against Iron Man 3 (unlucky). You'll probably guess which movies won this one when I say: Civil War is the best movie Marvel have produced to date, just edging Guardians of the Galaxy. Iron Man contributes to his own downfall here, by playing an integral part in the movie.
Civil War is a balancing act. There's so much going on that the movie could easily have become convoluted. Thankfully this does not happen. Civil War gives its fair share of screen time to each member of it's expansive cast, meaning that no one feels tacked on. Like Winter Soldier, Civil War delivers a thought-provoking plot that encourages the audience to side with one of our two main heroes. Civil War is the most serious movie to date, but it's also one of the funniest as the perfect ratio of seriousness to humour has been found. As expected the action sequences are exhilarating, the airport clash stands out above all others as the best action sequence in the MCU to date. Then of course there's the arrivals of Black Panther and Spider-Man which are sure to delight audiences. This one's not even close...