While I don’t always condone comparison (it’s possible to like DC and Marvel, people), it is sometimes fun to spur conversation with rankings. In a way, it’s a lot like posting quick reviews for a lot of movies at once. You liked such-and-such movie? Then you might like this one even more! That sort of thing.
So this will be the first of probably several such posts, and we will keep these updated as new movies come out. We’re starting with one of our longer lists, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Remember that this ranking is entirely subjective, our opinion, and subject to change.
17) Thor: The Dark World
Where the first film dazzled us with wonder, the second tried to go a more gritty route and failed miserably. The characters lacked any kind of arc, and the villain was particularly weak, even by MCU standards which is saying something. We were therefore given very little reason to care about anything that happened. So far it is the biggest sequel disappointment in the MCU.
16) Iron Man 2
A B-level action film, Iron Man 2 took Tony Stark in the exact opposite direction that he was going in the first film, digressing as a character rather than progressing. While The Avengers eventually fixed this problem, Iron Man 2 still remains one of the least appealing films in the MCU canon, largely due to an overdose of worldbuilding, a weak plot, and the direction of Tony’s character arc.
15) The Incredible Hulk
A film from a time before the MCU had found its footing, The Incredible Hulk isn’t all that bad of a movie, but is so tonally inconsistent with the rest of the MCU, that it might as well be a different franchise. Add to that the fact that Edward Norton was later replaced for the Avengers, and it’s one of the few films we wouldn’t be angry about if you skipped.
14) Captain America: The First Avenger
Some people love this film, but it still suffers from a number of issues. Its action seems cartoonish, as does its villain, and a lot of the plot feels rushed or hastily edited. While still a solid Captain America story, it’s no Winter Soldier.
13) Avengers: Age of Ultron
A significant step down from the first Avengers film, Age of Ultron suffered from overstuffing, shallow character development, and choppy editing. Though it has its redeeming qualities, it never came close to its predecessor. It was roughly around the release of this film, that critics and audiences began to hold Marvel to a higher standard.
12) Iron Man 3
The third Iron Man movie made more money than most, coming off the heels of the Avengers. But while the film did provide us with a few MCU gems (giving Tony Stark PTSD for example), it ultimately fell short critically of many other MCU films, and in our opinion also deviated too much from the tone of the Iron Man franchise.
11) Captain America: Civil War
From the directors that brought us Captain America: Winter Soldier, Civil War brought us a much-anticipated division between the MCU’s two hardest hitters, Iron Man and Captain America. While it certainly delivered on that front, the film had a few minor problems that keep it from the top of our list, including trying to do too much, and not really delivering on it being a Captain America film, feeling much more like Avenger 2.5.
10) Thor: Ragnarok
Definitely one of the funniest MCU films, Thor: Ragnarok took the character in a new direction, one more along the lines of the GOTG films. But despite some tonal inconsistencies and a general lack of seriousness, this is still a fun Thor film for any fan.
9) Guardians of the Galaxy 2
The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a roller-coaster ride that no one was expecting. The second picked up where the last one left off and remains almost as good. While it didn’t have the same level of heart and emotion of the first film, it’s still a massively fun ride.
8) Spider-man Homecoming
A new, and fresh take on the Spider-man universe, Spider-man Homecoming brought the wall-crawler into the MCU with heart and happiness. Unlike many of the other Spider-man films, this one really felt like Spider-man starting out as an awkward teenager.
Ant-Man was another film that really embraced a sub-genre within the MCU. This family comedy was a lot of fun, perhaps not as much fun as some of the other films, but ultimately a good time.
6) Doctor Strange
While the narrative bore a lot of similarities to past MCU films, Doctor Strange still managed to give us a fresh and enjoyable experience. It’s color and humor are typical of the MCU and make this one of the standout poster children of Marvel Studios.
5) Iron Man
The film that started it all, Iron Man was the first to capture our hearts. Robert Downey Jr’s fantastic performance of Tony Stark was what sold audiences on the potential of these B-list films, and eventually launched the character to A-list status.
Thor was perhaps the first time that we were treated to the wonder of what the MCU could be. The film opened our eyes to what was possible and really took us for a cosmic spin, while introducing us to Loki, who remains the more complex of MCU villain characters.
3) Captain America: Winter Soldier
One of the few MCU films that really feels like a unique genre, this political thriller took the story in new and unexpected ways, and it remains, to this day, one of the best films in the MCU.
2) Guardians of the Galaxy
Another movie that has a lot going on, and completely threw out the manual for making superhero films. This film goes all out with crazy things, talking raccoons, colorful aliens, 70s music, and I could go on. Yet it also manages to be one of the films with the most heart.
1) The Avengers
The Avengers set a gold standard for superhero team-up films. Not only did it put all of our favorite heroes in one film, but it did so while giving ample screen time to each one. This is not easy. Add the witty dialogue and several air-punch moments, and The Avengers remains our top pick of the MCU films.
So how would you rank the MCU movies? Let us know in the comments!