UPDATED: Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies

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’

iron-men-3-wallpaper

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’

the_incredible_hulk_2-wallpaper-1920x1200

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’

Age of Ultron 1

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’

36519-thor_the_dark_world_wallpaper

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’

url

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.

14. ‘Ant-Man’

marvels-ant-man-official-movie-poster-050615-feat

“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’

captain_america_civil_war_8k-wide

“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’

iron_man_2_widescreen-wide

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.

9. ‘Thor’

THORRRR

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’

maxresdefault

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’

GOTG 2

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’

Avengers 3

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’

Captain America The Winter Soldier Cast Wallpapers

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.

1.’Black Panther’

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!

Advertisements

REVIEW: ‘Ant Man and the Wasp’ a fun time that suffers some from the MCU timeline

A lot of Marvel fans were left heartbroken after “Infinity War” earlier this summer and now one of the MCU’s most lighthearted characters has given us a bit of reprieve.

“Ant Man and the Wasp” may not have the same level of comedic timing that its predecessor did, but it’s no less fun because of it. Paul Rudd is still delightfully Rudd as Scott Lang, this time however trying less to land jokes and more to show the caring, incredibly great father side of who the character is. The humor this time around is largely carried by Randall Park, Scott’s FBI handler, and Scott’s pack of ex-con friends turned business partners who are just as fun as they were in the first film.

Evangeline Lily is a force that could leave a huge impact on the future of the MCU. The first film didn’t give her enough time to shine, but this one focuses on her just as much as Scott if not more and it’s a very good thing. Lily plays Hope with a badass edge that’s equally balanced by her loving and tender side which sees her as a daughter desperate to reunite her family.

The films villain, Ghost aka Ava, is far more memorable than the first film’s nemesis, partially because of the striking performance by Hannah John-Kamen but also because she’s not entirely evil. Much in the way you feel for and can understand the minds and the points of view of MCU villains like Killmonger and Loki she has the same effect and it leaves a mark. Michelle Pfeiffer is also a great addition and in this modern world of CGI I’m sure we could figure out a way to make a movie about young Janet and Hank learning to become the heroes they once were somewhere down the line.

The story works, moving at a nice pace and interlaying the pieces of Ghost, Scott and the Pym family all together, the major plot point weakness comes not from a fault within the film itself but from the MCU’s ongoing timeline. Hope and Scott’s romance is there, but an undercurrent which is fine, however all the development of why they seem to feel the way they do about one another has been lost in the off-screen between movie time which leaves the relationship feeling a little flat.

Overall, it’s a fun Marvel movie that’s humorous moments do have some mixed results, but work out more often than they don’t. And of course it ends the way we all knew it was going to with questions that will have to wait until next year’s Avengers title.

Pride Month Spotlight: ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’s’ Rosa Diaz and Raymond Holt

With Pride Month coming to an end, but pride itself never stopping, it’s time to look at two of television most impactful and hilarious LBG characters on television.

Who are they?: Captain Raymond Holt, an openly gay, black Brooklyn NYPD captain and Rosa Diaz, an openly bisexual, latinx NYPD detective (intersectionality!).

Portrayed by: Andre Braugher and Stephanie Beatriz

Show: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” a comedy series set in the 99th precinct of Brooklyn based around a pack of wacky, but exceedingly incredible members of the department.

Where to watch them: Well, after a cancellation by Fox the series sixth season has been put on hold, but will air in 2019 on NBC (our savior!). The first five seasons are available for streaming on Hulu.

Best Bits: Holt’s iconic ‘BONNEEEE’ cold open in the episode ‘Skyfire Cycle,’ any of the Halloween heist episodes and Rosa’s beautifully portrayed coming out episode ‘Game Night.’

Why They Matter:

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a comedy that’s often praised for its diversity with good reason. In the pilot episode Holt’s sexuality and the fact that he had a husband was immediately introduced. Holt is a black, openly gay man who’s worked his way up through the NYPD to get to the position of Captain that he holds currently. He’s as far from a stereotype as a gay character can get.

Holt has an established long-term commited relationship with his husband Kevin (an interracial relationship) and together they have an adorable corgi named Cheddar. Seeing a black gay man in such a power of position with a strong relationship that is looked up to by his team as a father figure is amazing.

Rosa’s sexuality was a different story. Her portrayer Stephanie Beatriz is openly bisexual and after she came out fans hoped for the day her character might be given the opportunity to do the same. In the show’s fifth season Rosa came out to her friend and co-worker Charles first, then the whole squad and eventually her family. The coming out with her family didn’t go as well, but was portrayed with an honesty and realism that brought tears to the audiences eyes. She’s been shown in relationships with both men and women, none of which have been stereotyped with the bisexual stereotypes and she’s even said the word bisexual more times than I’ve ever heard it said on tv.

On a comedy series both these characters could easily be transformed into caricatures of their sexualities, instead they’re treated with the same respect as any other character; their sexualities are just another piece of them. No jokes are made at the expense of their sexualities, it’s refreshing to see.

NINE NINE!

Check out my previous spotlight’s on Malec and Anissa Pierce and to any and all my fellow members of the LGBT+ community here’s hoping you had an excellent Pride Month and maybe discovered a few new characters and shows here to support!

Pride Month Character Spotlight: ‘Black Lightning’s’ Anissa Pierce

With Pride Month still rolling I’ve decided to highlight some of TV’s best current LGBT+ rep, last week was ultimate OTP Malec from “Shadowhunters,” this week I’d like you all to fall in love with television’s first black lesbian superhero Anissa Pierce.

Who are they?: Anissa Pierce, an openly gay black woman who is the daughter of local vigilante Black Lightning, and she herself is now a vigilante, Thunder, making her own name as a force to be reckoned with.

Portrayed by: Nafessa Williams

Show: “Black Lightning” a series based around the vigilante of the same name trying to change the city he’s spent his whole life in with his family’s support along the way.

Where to watch them: The shows second season begins airing Tuesdays at 9/8C this fall and is available for streaming on Netflix.

Best Bits: Her entire season one journey was something incredible to witness, but her big hero moment in the season finale vs Cyanide was epic to say the least.

Why They Matter:

In a world quite literally running rampant with superheroes Anissa Pierce is unique. Not only is she an incredibly intelligent woman, but she’s also a proud black lesbian who’s a rising force in activism as well as superheroism. She’s a beautiful example of intersectionality not only providing the LGBT community with a superhero, but also black women and young girls who have rarely had a hero in the forefront that looks like her before.

Anissa is in no way a walking stereotype, instead a walking form of female empowerment. She’s tough, kind, brilliant, openly affectionate in her sexuality (on levels I never thought the CW would go) and a million other things that make up this complex, unique woman.

And even though it might seem a little thing, the simple fact that early on in the series Anissa was given the chance to refer to herself as a lesbian in dialogue, not in reference to her coming out to someone, but saying it casually and easily in conversation was a breath of fresh air. Words have power and to hear her say that not only in a genre series, but at all on television was fantastic.

Speaking of words having power, you also have to give an honorable mention to her future girlfriend, Grace Choi. Grace, a bisexual Asian woman who actually got to say she was bi in her second appearance on the show is likely to make a real splash in the show’s second season.

In short though Anissa Pierce is the superhero we all need right now.

Check out last week’s spotlight on Malec and stay tuned for another edition about a certain duo from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to close out Pride Month.

Pride Month Character Spotlight: ‘Shadowhunters’ Malec

Originally I planned to do this series one a week for the month, however the unjust cancellation of “Shadowhunters,” Freeform’s most popular and possibly most inclusive show set that plan back a bit, so before I get started on why Malec matters and why you should be watching their love story unfold here’s a link to give you a guideline of how you can help (and one to the petition) #SaveShadowhunters, an important series that’s being cut short next year not because it lacked popularity or success but because of a network dispute. The show still has 12 episodes to go; only two of those however will give them a chance to wrap up their many storylines. If you love the show, are an LGBT fan who understands the need for good equal representation or if you just know what it’s like to have a show you adore cancelled help a fandom out 🙂

Now onto the epic love that is Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood.

Who are they?: Magnus Bane a bisexual Asian warlock and Alec Lightwood a gay shadowhunter

Portrayed by: Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario

Show: “Shadowhunters,” a deeply inclusive series centered around a group of Shadowhunters and Downworlders fighting to protect the world from the literal demons that lurk in the shadows. The show is filled with great characters, interesting storylines and excellent relationships both romantic and platonic. Not only is the main cast made up of 5 out of 8 POC and two LGB characters, but the series includes a multitude of diverse characters, even a canonly asexual recurring individual.

Where to watch them: Tuesday’s on Freeform at 8, also the entire series up to the latest episode on Netflix internationally and on iTunes, Amazon and Hulu in the United States

Best bits: All of them really, but if you’re looking for their greatest hit’s season one’s ‘Malec,’ season two’s ‘Iron Sisters’ and ‘Awake, Arise or Forever Be Fallen’ and season three’s (which still has episode’s to come) ‘The Powers that Be’ are all best bets. But really you should just watch the whole show.

Why they matter:

The couple originated in the Casandra Clare’s best-selling book series “The Mortal Instruments,” but in 2016 they were brought to life brilliantly onscreen in the hit series “Shadowhunters.” Now in its third season Magnus and Alec, aka Malec, have become the fan favorite couple of the show.

Portrayed week to week with excellent chemistry by Shum Jr. and Daddario, Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood are never stereotyped or treated unfairly. On the rare occasion the show does mess up with these two, which has really only happened once, the showrunners not only acknowledge it but actively work to fix it onscreen.

Magnus and Alec are so healthy it’s almost shocking they’re a TV couple. There are no wild breakups, cheating, excessive miscommunications or anything of the like. They have their troubles, just like any pair, but they face them head on side by side always talking out their issues being honest with one another to the highest level. Both characters struggle with insecurities and emotional walls that they’re now facing openly and lovingly together. Never leaving each other’s side and being prepared to burn down the world for one another is kind of Malec’s thing.

They’re treated with the same kindness as the heterosexual pairs on the show, arguably even more developed in their deep emotional, romantic bond than any other couple on the series. Finding that kind of healthily and equally portrayed LGBT relationship on television is rare and not to taken for granted when given in the way it is on “Shadowhunters.”

Not to mention the fact that outside of their romantic relationship the pair are presented as characters that exist for far more than just their sexualities and given storylines that show all facets of who they are. Alec isn’t just gay he’s a brother, a leader, a warrior and an endlessly commited boyfriend. Magnus isn’t just their resident bisexual he’s a friend, a leader, a compassionate pseudo father figure and an endlessly commited boyfriend.

Magnus and Alec also provide more than just LGBT representation, they’re an interracial couple, hello intersectionality! Showing a deeply romantic, soulmate level bond between a bisexual Asian man, basically an unheard of thing in the media, and a white gay man who are not only open in their sexualities but also outstanding leaders in their communities holding important positions of power and respect.

Fans aren’t the only ones who adore them. The minds behind the show and actors who portray them consistently show a care and respect for these characters on the highest level. Then within the show Malec have become the ‘it couple’ of the shadow world essentially, well known not only as a stable power couple by their friends and family but also kind of famous in general.

Their relationship and touching portrayal onscreen has resonated with and inspired so many fans, myself included.

#SaveShadowhunters

Check out my other Shadowhunter’s reviews and pieces here!

Also stay tuned for two more spotlights!

REVIEW: ‘Oceans 8’ is gr8

Much like any female driven movie that stands in a franchise built on male driven films, there’s likely some naysayers out there when it comes to “Oceans 8.” Those naysayers need to sit down however, because the film not only lives up to its predecessors but easily overcomes the second and third sequels and lands directly on the same level as the original George Clooney led film.

Compromised of a cast of eight incredible actresses “Oceans 8” delivers on every level that you want a heist movie to deliver.

Sandra Bullock leads the teams as Clooney’s now deceased Danny Ocean’s dear sister Debbie Ocean. Recently released from a five year prison sentence Debbie emerges with a plan that would make her brother proud to rob the iconic annual Met Gala. Bullock’s character is fantastic, equally as cunning as her brother but not in any way a carbon copy female version of his character. And the same can be said about all the women that comprise the team.

Not one of them feels like the answer to any of the original trilogy of films characters, they’re all unique and personable in their own way. Cate Blanchett, who’s always amazing, is not only ridiculously distracting in all those low cut jumpsuits she wears throughout the movie, she’s also smart. Her dynamic with Bullock is an absolute a scene stealer and gives off some serious not straight vibes that are deeply appreciated.

Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter and newcomer Awkwafina, who will hopefully star in one million more things to come, all provide humor at the perfect times. Anne Hathaway is delightfully vein and unexpectedly fun. Sarah Paulson does what Paulson always does and acts the hell out of her role, perfectly playing a sneaky stay at home mom. And then there’s Rihanna, just like bad girl Ri Ri never disappoints in her music she doesn’t disappoint at all as an actress.

The men in the movie in no way overpower or attempt to overpower the women. The cameos from original trilogy stars are nice. James Corden essentially plays Corden if he was an insurance adjuster and Richard Armitage’s character is such an arrogant ass there’s no way you come out of the movie liking him.

The film looks as perfect as a heist movie should, just the right amount of fast pace with smooth creative transitions during every sequence that convince you that you could totally become an international thief.

Taking place at the Met Gala the film is chalked full of celebrity cameos which are fun but none so distracting that you have any time to look away from the story and the incredible women playing that story out.

Mix all that gr8tness with a ridiculously good costume design, smart writing, the power of women supporting women and being incredibly badass and intelligent while doing it and excellent timing and you’ve got the perfect heist movie in “Oceans 8.”

REVIEW: ‘Deadpool 2’ gets serious, but stays funny

The sequel to the highly beloved “Deadpool” not only lives up to its predecessor but exceeds it in some ways.

While the first film had deeper meaning it was more about the jokes, the jokes are still there in spades, but the story at the heart of the film is even better in “Deadpool 2.” The heart of the sequel is family, not the one you have by blood but the one you find along the way and build yourself.

At the heart of this family is Ryan Reynolds continually fantastic portrayal of Deadpool himself Wade Wilson. He really was born to play this character; this time around he gets to add a depth to the character showing his struggles with his mental health after the loss of someone important to him. Josh Brolin is an unexpected piece of the family; he’s gruff but kind and unexpectedly attractive. Newcomer Julian Dennison provides a new, somewhat angry vibe in the film as Firefist, but also a new fatherly role for Wade to take on.

Returning members of Wade’s little family all shine as well, Negasonic Teenage Warhead now has an adorable scene stealing girlfriend named Yukio, Colossus is a true friend and companion for Wade, Blind Al and Dopinder are still absolutely hilarious and Morena Baccarin is still just as tough as nails and beautiful as Vanessa.

But the biggest scene stealer of all is Zazie Beetz’s Domino. A newcomer to the big screen and a newcomer to the franchise Beetz is charming, funny and relatable. If the Deadpool franchise comes to a close she could absolutely carry her own movies in the future.

Overall the tone of the film is more serious than the first taking on loss, love and mental health in a much more serious way than you’d expect a superhero movie to do and doing it right. Add in a Celine Dion original song, some fantastic Marvel/DC jokes and a few X-Men cameos and you have a sequel that manages to outdo it’s original.