Now a decade into their MCU, with 20 films it’s getting harder to rank them. Frankly, since they’re all so different it’s tempting to place the top three as a three way tie. But it’s still pretty easy to know which ones were bad, so let’s rank the movies so far from worst to best.
Now updated to include this weekend’s latest Marvel release, which helped mend the sadness left behind from ‘Infinity War’:
20. ‘Doctor Strange’
To put it plainly, Benedict Cumberbatch just doesn’t work. Visually it’s interesting, but otherwise it’s just flat.
19. ‘Iron Man 3’
I know people love this movie and it made all the money but the third Iron Man stand-alone tried a lot of things and most of them didn’t work. The film’s villains fell flat compared to the first two films and it didn’t seem to know just how to handle Tony’s world post “Avengers.” The biggest problem was the new director; Jon Favreau was sorely missed behind the camera.
18. ‘The Incredible Hulk’
While Mark Ruffalo has mastered the character, Edward Norton’s turn as Bruce Banner was enjoyable. The story was solid and didn’t try to simply redo the first film, which we should never ever speak of. The film successfully redeemed the Hulk name in the MCU, but wasn’t a stand out worthy of a higher spot.
17. ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’
It’s hard to follow up a great team-up movie and ‘Age of Ultron’ proved that. Too many set ups for future movies left this one feeling a little empty. But for those long suffering Hawkeye fans like me this movie finally gave him some well-deserved screen time. Not a perfect film, but an alright ending to Joss Whedon’s time with the MCU.
16. ‘Thor: The Dark World’
This sequel wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as its predecessor either. Loki yet again stole the show, but supporting characters like Lady Sif and Fandral deserved more screen time than they were allotted. Jane could have used more to do than damsel it for the better part of the movie as well. However Thor films maintain to be the most unique and seperate from the other core Avengers solo films.
15. ‘Iron Man’
The movie that started it all started it all with a bang. Tony’s enigmatic personality was brilliantly played with the utmost perfect casting decision of Robert Downy Jr. Because of the incredible director/actor duo of Downey and Favreau Marvel’s new era was reigned in pretty perfectly.
“Ant-Man” could have been a trainwreck. When the longtime connected director and screenwriter dropped out of the film fans were worried, but the tiny hero rose above the negativity. Paul Rudd perfectly combines humor and hero as Scott Lang and the movie proved itself to be a standout in the MCU. Ant-Man is a lesser known Marvel hero and the movie gave the character a well-deserved spotlight.
13. ‘Ant Man and the Wasp’
Like it’s predecessor the movie is a fun time, but unlike it’s predecessor it’s gives a spotlight for Evangeline Lily to shine putting it a step above the first film. It’s a nice collective reprieve from Infinity War which was released months before it, has a compelling, dimensional villain and is still funny enough even if some of the attempts at having a good time fall a bit flat which is more a fault of the MCU timeline than the movie itself.
12. ‘ Captain America: Civil War’
“Civil War” isn’t a great Captain America movie but it is a well done Avengers movie if we’re being honest. While Steve and Bucky’s relationship still takes center stage in the film, it could have been focused on even more. Because of that it’s amazing. The Steve/Bucky dynamic is one of the most intriguing and deeply emotional connections in the whole of the Marvel Universe and Sebastian Stan and Chris Evans continued to portray it perfectly in this film. Black Panther’s introduction also set’s up for an incredible future onscreen for the character.
11. ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’
It took a long time but Marvel finally got Spiderman right. Tom Holland is a perfect fit for the role, playing the fact that Spidey really is just a kid at the end of the day fantastically. Plus that plot twist was the first time I was genuinely shocked by something in a Marvel film. The only reason this isn’t higher on the list is because it could have been better with a lot less or no Tony Stark at all.
10. ‘Iron Man 2’
Easily the best of the Iron Man stand-alone films, this one brought us a new side to Tony and the romance we all saw coming. The introduction of Black Widow was in its own way overdue since she should be in everything since the beginning of the creation of all things Marvel. Sam Rockwell, while a ridiculous villain, was brilliant as he tends to be in every role he tackles. The return of Nick Fury and Phil Coulson also made this movie the finest of the Iron Man films.
Chris Hemsworth was another perfect casting choice by Marvel and no one expected this film to be as good as it was. “Thor” could have been ridiculous, draped in too much out of this world mythology, but it wasn’t. And of course we can’t overlook the fact that this movie graced the world with the rise of Tom Hiddleston who stole every scene he was in as Loki, Thor’s mischievous little brother.
8. ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’
He’s the first Avenger for a reason, because he’s awesome. Steve Rogers is the everyman, nice guy that everyone can get behind. You root for him at every turn and his first major movie is an excellent portrayal of the hero origin story. With a supporting cast comprised of brilliant actors, like the most kick ass woman in the MCU, Hayley Atwell nothing about this movie falls short. Captain America’s first major on-screen appearance proved why he is the man known to always lead the Avengers.
7. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’
Let’s be honest, you put Andy Dwyer in space with a talking tree and a gun toting raccoon you expect it to turn out as a cheesy laugh-riot comedy. That wasn’t the case, though the film is definitely funny it’s also a surprising space epic for the ages. “Guardians” was an unexpected hit with an amazing ensemble cast and a story that was oddly relatable. No one expected to shed tears over a tree and a raccoon, but this movie made us all do that.
6. ‘Avengers: Infinity War’
It’s a move that seemed impossible, but turned out to be an emotional rollercoaster that left you wishing they’d just made it and the second part one long seven hour film. The characters that meet blend well together, it doesn’t feel overcrowded, the action sequence leave you incredibly hyped and the stakes are the highest they’ve ever been for our heroes. The shocking and heartbreaking ending of the film alone earns this movie it’s spot on the list.
5. ‘The Avengers’
No matter how many Avengers movies they make the first one will always be the best one. It was the first time a superhero team-up had been successfully done in a major film and it was executed brilliantly. It perfectly encapsulated the struggle of bringing together a team of unlikely heroes with a great story and script that was portrayed with the stellar performances from the entire cast. The reality is every Avengers movie will have to live in the shadow of the original triumph.
4. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2’
The second installment of the “Guardians” franchise isn’t just amazing because of the cutest dancing tree in the universe. They continue to benefit from it’s separation from the rest of the MCU allowing the film to just be about this ragtag group of heroes we’ve grown to love. Great music, witty dialogue, excellent performances all around and an unexpectedly poignant commentary of what it means to be family.
3. ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
The third Thor film proved that the Marvel solo films don’t have to become overcrowded sequel after sequel. Funny, unique and action packed “Ragnarok” sets a tone separate from the previous films, but also loyal to who Thor is. With a stellar supporting cast, great character development for everyone involved and a lot of well executed humor this film is easily one of the best Marvel has ever given us.
2. ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’
The second stand-alone film for Cap put every prior MCU movie to shame. Winter Soldier gets everything right. Every actor is perfect, especially Sebastian Stan who gives an incredibly emotional performance without saying a word for the better part of the movie. The action is thrilling, the story takes the superhero movie to new political thriller heights and the direction from the Russo brothers is compelling and holds your attention from start to finish.
After literal years of reigning as the greatest a Marvel movie has finally come around to dethrone “Winter Soldier.” “Black Panther” is culturally and representationally unique and important while also being game changing for the whole of the MCU. The caliber of the cast is insane, the visuals are stunning, the music hooks you, the women are dynamic and the villain is the best one Marvel has ever put onscreen. It’s a movie about family and culture that stands out in every way. Wakanda Forever!