We all have Marvel to thank for every major studio rushing to make an extended cinematic universe around their owned properties. Since 2008 with the release the Iron Man, Marvel has owned the superhero landscape on the big screen. Now that Doctor Strange, the most recent Marvel movie, has been seen by practically everyone that wanted to see it, I thought it be fun to rank every MCU movie released to date, and it was most definitely the hardest group of movies I’ve had to rank so far. A SPOILER ALERT is in full effect so proceed with caution.
#14: Iron Man 2 (2010): Iron Man 2 is by no means a disaster, but it is certainly a letdown after the brilliance of the first Iron Man film. Robert Downey Jr. is still great as Tony Stark, but Iron Man 2 largely acts as an Avengers set-up/filler movie with large breaks between action set pieces that really make the movie drag while Tony sits around and eats donuts. Iron Man 2 has one of the weakest villains in the MCU in Whiplash and is not very rewatchable. At least the ending action scene with War Machine ends the movie on a high note.
#13: Thor: The Dark World (2013): The Dark World certainly has its moments with Loki teaming up with Thor in combination with a very funny script, but the movie as a whole is very forgettable with a very contrived plot that comes off at times as a convoluted way to introduce the Aether to the MCU. Thor 2 has arguably the most forgettable villain in the dark elf Malekith (which is saying a lot considering the competition). Thor: The Dark World is definitely watchable, but it fails in comparison to many other Marvel movies.
#12: The Incredible Hulk (2008): This movie unfortunately gets lost in the shuffle when people discuss the MCU movies, in part because Edward Norton did not return to play Bruce Banner after this movie. The Incredible Hulk is fun, turn-your-brain-off movie while massive gamma-infused monsters demolish a neighborhood. Just don’t expect too much character or plot depth.
#11: Iron Man 3 (2013): While it definitely is an improvement over Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3 doesn’t really fit in to the MCU like all the other movies do. RDJ once again brings his A-game in an action-packed movie, but director Shane Black seemed to hamstring movies to come after it, cutting emotion out of Civil War by getting rid of the arc-reactor in Tony’s chest while also (in many people’s minds) ruining the Mandarin villain along the way.
#10: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011): The First Avenger serves as a great origin story to Steve Rogers/Captain America while also serving as a really fun retro backdrop to World War II. I love how Marvel always changes up the genre of their superheroes, with the First Avenger being the period piece of the MCU. Cap has a worthy adversary to go up against in Red Skull, but ultimately we all have to wait a little too long for the action.
#9: Thor (2011): Thor was the first risk for the MCU as they tried to make a god and Asgard seem believable within the realm of the already established cinematic universe. Chris Hemsworth is an absolute perfect match for the title character, adding the masculinity and hilarity needed for the character to be a hit. The movie also was the first movie to give audiences the beloved Loki. I like to think Thor is one of the more underrated movies in the MCU. It’s a visually stunning, witty movie with some solid performances along the way.
#8: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): While it is overstuffed and unfocused as it tried to set up all the Phase 3 MCU movies to come after it, Age of Ultron is a worthy, action-packed sequel to the first Avengers movie. Though I was a little let down by Ultron as the villain not being as menacing as he was pitched to be in the trailers leading up to the film, he is still definitely a presence on screen with James Spader doing some great motion-capture work. The entire Avengers cast continues to improve and grow in their characters as well. Age of Ultron is most definitely divisive, but I’ve really began to appreciate this movie more and more for how it set up movies like Civil War and the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok while being a self-contained, fun movie on its own merits.
#7: Ant-Man (2015): Marvel most definitely scraped the bottom of the barrel when they decided to make Ant-Man into a feature film. But the movie succeeds thanks mightily to the charisma and charm of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang. Ant-Man is a clever heist movie that is very different from the other MCU movies, but still obviously fits in well to the big picture of the cinematic universe. I felt that the movie was very refreshing in that it scaled back the stakes of the movie, making it a more personal story line rather than a massively scoped, impending Earth destruction type of movie that has been beaten to death in superhero movies.
#6: Doctor Strange (2016): Doctor Strange is worth repeat viewings just to see the mind-being special effects. One image really stands out in my mind is during the final action sequence where Doctor Strange and the other sorcerers are fighting Kaecilius and the other evil sorcerers while everything around them is moving backwards in time. I also thought the ending with Dormammu was a refreshing take on the final boss as Strange messed again with time once again. Tilda Swinton (amid whitewashing controversy) stole the movie as the Ancient One.
#5: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): After Marvel created a hit movie with a talking raccoon and a tree, I knew I was going to see every Marvel movie opening weekend from there on out. Guardians of the Galaxy is the space opera that the MCU needed to broaden the universe even further. Guardians has all the heart, humor, and action that we want from a Marvel movie. Fueled with hilarious banter between the Guardians, this a superhero movie we never wanted. Now, we can’t wait for subsequent movies with the Guardians to come out.
#4: Iron Man (2008): We all have Iron Man to thank for the two Marvel movies releases per year these days. Iron Man has a great take on terror in the Middle East and made a C-list Marvel character into a household name. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark gave us our favorite arrogant superhero while also including arguably the best origin story in the MCU. One thing about this movie that a lot of the MCU movies fail to do is that it felt realistic and grounded in tandem with superhero elements.
#3: Marvel’s The Avengers (2012): We have this movie to thank for the zillion team-up movies currently in development. Avengers does such a fantastic job juggling every single character and giving them a chance to shine. It’s so memorable and fun that every movie since has tried to copy a lot of its elements with things such as disposable armies and sky beams coming from the sky which has since became a superhero trope. While the first half of the movie somewhat drags on in repeat viewings (which is why this isn’t higher up on the list), Avengers was so iconic and fun that Warner Bros. is kicking itself for not getting the DCEU started earlier.
#2: Captain America: Civil War (2016): The reason I rank this movie over the original Avengers is that it had to handle even more characters while finding a way to be even more action packed. I contend that the airport scene is the best action scene in a comic book movie. Just within one scene you have every single character doing something absolutely incredible, especially Ant-Man turning into Giant Man. But this movie is much more than just that scene, it’s fueled with true emotion and passion. You feel that every single character is out for blood, a trait that not many MCU movies have.
#1: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): Like what I mentioned before, I love how Marvel changes the genre of every movie, and Winter Soldier is no exception being a political spy thriller with some of the best villains the MCU has had so far in the Winter Soldier and Alexander Pierce. Cap 2 has some amazing hand to hand combat, maybe the best in the MCU. From the opening action sequence on the ship, you know that this is a much different movie than The First Avenger. The idea of Hydra slowly building within SHIELD was a very interesting plot point that has had massive ramifications for the MCU in the movies afterwards. The Winter Soldier is the reason we love Cap so much to this day.
That’s the list! What are your thoughts? Are there some movies that you think were too high or too low on the list? Comment at the bottom of the page and so everyone can hear your thoughts!
What should I review next? Whether it’s old or new, the choice is up to you! Thanks for reading!