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Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Ultimate Ranking

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most successful movie franchise in history. Spanning 23 interconnected movies across all platforms, it has gone from strength to strength ever since its introduction all the way back in 2008 and has shown no sign slowing down.

Most of films listed are not necessarily bad movies, just not as well liked or as interesting as others are.

This shows Marvel’s excellent range of success in their ability to churn out consistency to such a high level. 23 movies are a lot to go through but I have listed all 23 movies in order from worst to best!

                                                                                                                                               

23) Thor: The Dark World

Unsurprisingly, Thor: The Dark World is at the bottom of this list, now not to say there are not any redeemable qualities to it, the relationship between Thor and Loki is the main highlight, exploring their love/hate relationship is the main heart of the story and the writing whenever the two are on screen together is entertaining.

However, that is where the fun stops. With a laughably boring antagonist in Malekith (played by Christopher Eccleston), who is buried beneath layers of make-up and with a routine villain plot of taking over the world it’s very difficult to actually care of what is happening throughout the plot – or lack their off.

Overall, the film is dull, repetitive, has a lack of humour and lacks the charm and style of many other entries in the franchise. It is all style, no substance.

                                                                                                                                               

22) Captain Marvel

A female-led entry was long overdue for the MCU and while it has moments of promise, a semi-interesting origin story that has similarities to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy but while those movies have a real style, charm and unique silliness to them, Captain Marvel’s script ultimately falls under its relatively uninteresting protagonist.

My main issue with the film is the handling and performance of Carol Danvers herself, the character is very much one-note lacking a personality and boasting with over-confidence. Having liked Brie Larson in other roles, her portrayal is lacking substance and…personality that in today’s day and age of superhero films is one of the more important elements of bringing a comic book character to life.

Now it is not a terrible movie, with decent action, an interesting origin story and a smart move to have the film set in the 1990’s giving it a real nostalgia feel to it, the movie is not a total flop.
                                                                                                                                               

21) Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 feels like its set in an entirely different universe than its predecessor. From the outset, the film feels entirely overstuff with new characters with no development and are mainly there to serve as glorified cameo’s for future movies and as a result it’s not really an Iron Man about Iron Man/Tony.

Its main job is to be a prequel to ‘’The Avengers’’ and it takes you out of investing in the movie in the long term. The film’s main detriment is the unforgiving treatment of Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash, a great actor and is wasted throughout with a typical revenge story that has a lacklustre payoff with what could have been something special.

The only redeeming quality is the performance of Robert Downey Jr. who only after his second stint as the character feels at home with his charming and picture-perfect portrayal.

                                                                                                                                               

20) Black Panther

Probably Marvel’s most impactful movie and it’s hard not to appreciate the positive cultural effect it had on the world upon its release with a major significance on being the first big-budget superhero movie with a black hero, director and cast.

With an emotional family feud story between its protagonist and antagonist and a great performance by Michael B. Jordan as the villain Killmonger, the film will stand the test of time for years to come…but it is very overrated.

My problems mainly lie in its story and character’s. Firstly, the story was drawn out too long for my liking, this was mainly due to the protagonist himself T’Challa not really progressing as a character. His arc was perfectly put together in Civil War and he just kind of wanders around the rest of the film with his sole objective to defeat the villain. When the villain of the movie outshines the hero, there is a problem. The film, however, does boast great action set pieces with a real feel for the world of Wakanda, even if the CGI is some of the worst in the genre.

                                                                                                                                               

19) Thor

The character of Thor was always perceived as a ‘’B-Tier’’ superhero and would never be taken seriously enough to ever put-on screen, from his wacky origins, mythology, and rainbow bridges, you cannot blame audiences for thinking it would be too much. All parties, however, where proven wrong when Thor was released back in 2011. Being a fish out of water story combined with a Shakespeare setting and dialogue, its world-building was intriguing at first.

Thor suffers from aspects outside of its control when compared to future entries, the film feels quite tame compared to today’s superhero films and feels left behind from the overall progression from the MCU. Thor does include one of Marvel’s best villains. Loki is a sympathetic character in some ways that added personality to the Thor movies prior to its third instalment.

 

                                                                                                                                               

18) Guardians of the Galaxy

Easily the one Marvel movie that should never have been able to work, and on paper you can see why people would be cautious, a group of relatively unknown characters, from a talking racoon, a walking tree who can only spout one sentence and a wrestler turned actor playing an alien, the tied was well and truly against this movie. Surprisingly to everyone, it turned out to be the golden goose of the franchise.

The film can simply be described up in one word as ‘’pure fun’’. Unlike other Marvel produced movies, you can really see the directors style run rampant with James Gunn showing a more intergalactic style and substance compared to more grounded films prior. The only issue the movie has and it is a recurring theme in most Marvel movies is its lacklustre villain, Ronan the Accuser is an interesting as he is threatening, with a stronger villain the movie could easily be considered the best in my eyes but on second watch, it’s not as strong from first viewing.

Also, it has one of the best movie soundtracks in movie history!

                                                                                                                                               

17) The Incredible Hulk

The black sheep of the MCU, The Incredible Hulk is often forgotten about thanks to its lack of relevancy or link to the rest of the movies that transpired after it. What it does have going for it is Edward Norton’s captivating depiction of Bruce Banner/The Hulk. He adds a vulnerability to the character that you are invested in and when he does indeed transform into The Hulk, you feel the raw presence and power that is present on screen.

Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003) scarred the character with its rich storytelling, but that was also its downfall, thankfully this movie sticks mainly to what the Hulk should be, a big, green, smashing monster. Hulk feels like Hulk which is the main reason why audiences go to watch a movie of this size and they are treated with fun action, an improvement on its villain.

It is disappointing that this would-be Norton’s only portrayal of the character, but Mark Ruffalo made up for his departure.

                                                                                                                                               

16) Ant-Man and The Wasp

An odd entry in the franchise, Ant-Man and The Wasp is fairly forgettable in its execution. With a nonsensical plot that lacks…an actual plot and overall is irrelevant to progressing the story after Infinity War, it is in the ballpark of a Marvel movie that you can skip and would not miss a thing, bar its after credits scene!

The movie does have pro’s however, with its great chemistry between the cast, Paul Rudd being a standout yet again, adding humour and becoming a unique action star in his own right. The film also introduces Evangeline Lily’s turn as The Wasp, becoming a strong female character in her own right.

With Michael Douglas returning and Michelle Pfeiffer making her MCU debut as the original Wasp, Ant-Man and The Wasp has great leads but that cannot save it from escaping the realm of mediocre.

                                                                                                                                               

15) Ant-Man

Unlike its sequel, Ant-Man has a lot more going for it. Being a small-scale movie (pun intended), the movie knows how silly it is, from its Tomas the Tank engine final fight scene setting to its relatively silly plot, Ant-Man is a movie you can sit back and turn your brain off for. It also carries on the theme of each new Marvel movie being somewhat different in telling its story and having its own style.

Paul Rudd is perfectly cast as the titular character adding his own humour and awareness to the role and has great chemistry with Michael Douglas that adds a certain son/father dynamic to their relationship and is played more for laughs which fits well with the charming and silly tone.

The villain of the film Yellowjacket is largely forgettable thanks to the cringey writing and execution, played for laughs, he is hard to take seriously.

                                                                                                                                               

14) Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange adds a magic approach to the universe with striking and mind-blowing imagery and visual effects with stunning colours to go with it. Benedict Cumberbatch is up there with some of the best cast actors in a superhero movie history who really embodies the unlikeable character that Strange is at the start of the movie acting as an arrogant, self-centred person to by the end you truly see how the character has changed into a heroic leader.

His character itself sets up so many possibilities for future movies and with its potential of its upcoming sequel, it can only get better. The only negatives, however, are its slow pace and largely boring build-up with a forgettable pack of villains whose names I still cannot remember…not a good side.

                                                                                                                                               

13) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

One word to describe this movie would be ‘’emotional’’. With the theme of fatherhood and parenting nicely woven together with many intertwining storylines that put many of the characters on their own journey throughout the film until the end when they finally meet up again. Kurt Russell plays Ego, and is Marvel’s most hated villain, but in a positive way. Very charming but always untrusting.

                                                                                                                                               

12) Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 is by far the most divisive movie in the MCU, mostly due its odd script choices. With a Christmas setting and a 90s nostalgia feel to the movie, it has a lot going for it. The script has some of the funniest humour in any Marvel movie, with sharp- and quick-witted dialogue boding well for the character of Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. is the heart and soul of the movie and is given a real arc throughout the movie, dealing with PTSD, and pondering if he is anything without the suit, the message of the movie is very underrated.

The movie is most synonymous with its twist surrounding its villain, for hardcore comic book readers that reveal will make or break the film and mainly caused the divide of being a love/hate inclusion.

                                                                                                                                               

11) The Avengers

Marvel’s first event film that set the standards for ‘’shared universes’’ going forward, The Avengers stands the test of time for its crossover appeal and legacy it deservedly produced. Becoming one of the most successful movies of all-time at the time is a true feat in its own right.

While the film takes nearly an hour to properly get moving and it does not present an interesting story, or a plot for that matter, but it does not necessarily need one, its heart, humour, chemistry between the characters and its glorious action is enough to satisfy fans. The movie is simply iconic and revolutionized how movies are made.

                                                                                                                                               

10) Iron Man

The movie that started it all, the original Iron Man had little to no high expectations upon its release. By reintroducing Robert Downey Jr to the world (a casting choice that was deemed a high risk, low reward strategy) and casting him as an unknown ‘’B-character’’ in the Marvel slate of character’s went on to become the iconic pieces of casting in Hollywood history.

With great humour, a structured story, a compelling and interesting origin story and Downey Jr’s iconic portrayal, Iron Man stands the test of time that started the groundwork for a bigger world, a world that would become the most successful movie franchise in history.

                                                                                                                                               

9) Spider-Man: Homecoming

After Peter Parker’s arrival into the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, the stage was set for Marvel’s most iconic hero to cement himself into the universe. With Spider-Man: Homecoming we get to learn more about this rendition of the web-slinger with Tom Holland’s quirky, immature, and naïve portrayal being picture perfect for this universe’s Spider-Man.

Homecoming smartly decides to negate the already overused origin story in favour of a standalone story and a whole host of new characters with positive results. Along with Holland, Michael Keaton plays The Vulture with such a threatening, yet pleasant way about him and we totally understand why he is doing what he is doing. He is not entirely a bad guy, just a blue colour worker, trying to do good but with a dark side when pushed.

The film is rather small-scale but that fits its themes, although be it with awful action that is some of the worst in these set of films. Overall, this rendition of Spider-Man is charming as it is refreshing.

                                                                                                                                               

8) Thor: Ragnarök

After Thor: The Dark World left a rather bad taste in fan’s mouth’s and his relatively standard return in Age of Ultron, the character of Thor looked like he was on a path of repetitiveness. Enter Taika Waititi, who single-handedly transformed the character of Thor into a one-note hero to a character filled with humour, personality and excitement not seen in his previous four outings.

Chris Hemsworth can be seen to be enjoying the material is given and it works thoroughly. The film’s script also adds some much-needed humour, which adds a lot of unique storytelling in the process.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is also back and still having the same guile and substance associated with the character alongside Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk who brings more individuality to the character while working well off Thor and finally with a diabolical villain such as Hela, who is hit or miss but ultimately serves well for this story.

Thor: Ragnarök completely changes Thor for the better and its full 180 approach makes it a standout.

                                                                                                                                               

7) Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avenger: Age of Ultron is a standard Marvel movie; it is the same as the first Avengers movie but with little of the excitement or ground-breaking nature its predecessor had before it. Nevertheless, it is still one of the finer entries in the franchise. Still boasting a stellar cast of characters along with adding new ones. It is the team dynamic between the characters that drives the film forward into bigger and better territories.

Ultron is a good villain, smart, adequate and a great foil for the protagonists to stop. Age of Ultron has its problems, a filler movie in some respect that tries to set up future movies. Its issues are more noticeable than most movies in the series but is still a great time all around.

                                                                                                                                               

6) Spider-Man: Far From Home

After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Far From Home was a much needed change of pace. Boasting a fun, humorous, and exciting film that shows the effects of a post Thanos world. Bringing Peter and co out of New York and across Europe is a rejuvenating approach that takes Peter out of his comfort zone.

Tom Holland puts in a great performance and has a say for being the best rendition of the titular character. Jake Gyllenhaal adds a sly yet believable illusion of the character Mysterio, making him an appealing villain that will hopefully make more appearances in the future.

The future of Spider-Man is in good hands and by its surprise end-credits scene, it will make you clamour for the sequel.

                                                                                                                                               

5) Captain America: Civil War

Civil War (or Avengers 2.5) deals with the aftereffects from all previous entries to human casualties to property damage, while it tries to be a Captain America story, the movie is mostly a team-up with The Avengers being tourn into two factions with opposing ideologies. The tagline promotes the team being divided and by the end of the movie you will be routing for one or the other.

The action is also strong, with a specific airport battle being the standout set piece that sets the bar for action scenes going forward. The film also introduces both Black Panther and Spider-Man into the universe and are strong debuts for both. Although it is convoluted with an assemble of characters and the villain’s whole plot is based entirely on coincidence.

                                                                                                                                               

4) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Often perceived as the best movie in the MCU, The Winter Soldier is an excellent spy-espionage political thriller with real edge. Its writing and directing fits great and Chris Evans finally gets to chew up scenery bringing Steve Rodgers into his own with a strong willed performance while questioning his trust in government and by exploring his naivety in his ideologies, it is much more than just an action movie.

Now that is not to say the action is not special, because it is. The action is mainly hand to hand combat shot beautifully and choreographed expertly. It is deserving of its praise and has an argument for being the best movie in the MCU.

                                                                                                                                               

3) Avengers: Infinity War

The cross-over of all crossovers, Infinity War is a spectacle event that transformed how Marvel movies are perceived worldwide. Marvel’s most ambitious movie with a quite massive scale and scope to it.

Introducing Marvel’s big bad, Thanos is by far Marvel’s best ever villain brought to screen with a captivating motion capture and voice work done by Josh Brolin. Having been setup since the end-credits of the first Avengers movie, Thanos needed to stick the landing, he not only met expectations, but he also broke them.

Acting as part one of a two-part story. It revolves around Thanos obtaining all six infinity stones, and the heroes are put to the side in order to justify Thanos being a force of nature, unbeatable as he is fascinating. The action is also stellar, with all characters given time in the spotlight. Its main feat in my opinion is the constant feeling of dread the audience has, every stone possessed gets closer to the ultimate fate the heroes face by the end of the movie.

It also boasts the most shocking ending in superhero movie history!

 

                                                                                                                                               

2) Avengers: Endgame

The climatic and emotional end of a 22-movie arc that was in the making for 10 years, Avengers: Endgame is a piece of cinema that should be admired for its bold storytelling, twists and turns and emotional payoffs that will bring a tear to any fans eye. It is an event film that lives up to the hype in many ways, one of the few movies one had to experience upon release.

Instead of being all out action, Endgame instead provides an emotional rollercoaster of the aftermath of Infinity War, showing how each of original six Avengers dealt with losing and ultimately letting half the world down. Its themes of pain and anguish, failure, and mourning impact the film in such a way makes it more than just a popcorn flick.

Fan-service is apparent throughout, with call-backs, cameos, and moments that have become iconic within pop-culture. Its final action set-piece is the masterpiece behind all movies before it, a wonder to behold and backed by a soundtrack that will give you goosebumps, Avengers: Endgame will be hard topped.

                                                                                                                                               

1) Captain America: The First Avenger

While not the biggest Marvel movie, not the best written Marvel movie and not even the best-looking Marvel movie, I cannot express enough about how Captain America: The first Avenger is my favourite entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Like Iron Man and Thor before him, Captain America was considered a ‘’B-Character’’ in the eyes of many. No were near as popular as the likes of Spider-Man or the Hulk. The First Avenger tells a strong story about a man wanting to give his all, the little man wanting to prove others wrong is a story that holds up well in this case.

The film’s depiction of a 1940s WWII sets the tone right away with a period piece full of silliness and charm. Light-hearted in its approach, with montage scenes as hokey as they are funny The First Avenger never really takes itself too seriously, and with a onesie costume being worn by the protagonist, you can see why. Featuring heroic music to accompany its hero, the film also highlights a solid romance and by the end of the movie you are disappointed with its conclusion.

Chris Evan’s was by far the best choice for the role, harbouring the same self-righteous attitude associated with the character at his core, loyal, brave and an embodiment of the all-American hero, Chris Evan’s and Steve Rodgers are as inseparable as they are courageous.

It can sway away from time to time during the second half with its action and battle scenes, but its first half is what makes the film so special in my eyes, and by the time Steve Rodgers becomes Captain America you are already intrigued by the characters development. It is a movie rarely considered the best, but give it a chance, you just might be surprised.

 

 

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