Since being absorbed by Disney, Marvel Studios has risen to popularity and has pretty much dominated the box office in recent years. Marvel peaked when Joss Whedon's 2012 film, The Avengers, managed to bring in over $623 million dollars worldwide. The comic-based sequel, [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035), has brought in well over $450 million since it premiered this past May. The studio's box office total as of right now is over $7 billion worldwide. Basically, Marvel made it cool to watch superhero movies again and made being nerdy or geeky the cool thing to be no matter what age you were.
Like any other studio running a sort of anthology of films, there is always the battle of which movies are better. Similar to my take on how Pixar has done so far, Marvel also is ranked from worst to best in my head. Some will disagree and that's fine, but here is my take of how Marvel has done so far. This is my opinion and like I've said before, just because a movie is listed at or near the bottom it doesn't mean it was the worst movie ever made. You people need to relax a bit. They're just movies!
This will only include the films featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will not contain any animated series, television shows, or short films. It's purely phases one through three (so far).
12. Iron Man 2 (2010)
Iron Man 2 is easily my least favorite of the MCU as it felt convoluted and just wasn't on par with everything else that had been released up to that point. It found Tony Stark battling with his health along with facing pressure from the US Government over their desire to obtain the Iron Man technology for use in the military. It also featured Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko.
I've tried re-watching Iron Man 2, especially after the fiasco that Iron Man 3 turned into, but it still just comes out on the bottom for me. In the end it just lacked overall character development, relevant action, and plot depth. Sorry.
11. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Long before Mark Ruffalo joined The Avengers, we had this Hulk adaptation starring Edward Norton and Liv Tyler. It is by no means a bad adaptation at all. For me it has just been outdone with the newer Marvel movies and unfortunately overshadowed. Not to mention the recasting of Bruce Banner threw a lot of people off.
At least it was better than The Hulk starring Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly.
10. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Iron Man 3 had every potential to be great. It was Marvel's first offering after The Avengers hit big in 2012 and seeing that it was an Iron Man film, people expected greatness. However, it wasn't necessarily greatness that we received.
IM3 fell victim to the classic third movie flop and it was full of too many plots, ruined villains, ruined characters, and abundance of PTSD drama regarding Tony, and who can forget the scandal regarding The Mandarin reveal. I'm a bit glad that there apparently won't be a fourth Iron Man because I don't see how it could get any worse, but I'm sure it's possible.
09. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
I really like Thor as a character and I really enjoyed the first Thor film, but I thought this sequel was another similar to Iron Man 3 where they just tried to cram way too much into it. At this point it became obvious that Marvel was setting up The Infinity Gauntlet and this was another film to feature an Infinity Stone caught in the wrong hands. In this case, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) accidentally obtains the Aether (aka, the red gem of reality) and was then stalked after by the vicious leader of the dark elves, Malekith, who had been on the hunt for the gem and its power.
It was a solid effort and I agree that Thor is the perfect arena to introduce the gems, but it got a bit too busy at times. Not to mention there was unintentional humor integrated in and it made it feel like they were going after cheap laughs in inappropriate places.
08. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Don't let this movie being at #7 fool you because I really, really like The First Avenger. I thought the movie was well put together, entertaining, and it served as a great lead into The Avengers as well as a great introduction to the character of Steve Rogers.
We're introduced to Rogers when he is a scrawny asthmatic young man trying to lie his way into the United States Army so he can fight in WWII. He is entered into a top secret "super soldier" program by a German scientist where he is transformed into the Captain Rogers we know and love. While serving he is introduced to HYDRA leader, Johann Schmidt (aka, Red Skull), and dedicates his fight in the war to bringing down HYDRA and their super weapon, the Tesseract (aka, the space/cosmic Infinity Stone).
The reason this is lower on the list is simply because it's been outdone since its release. I thought it was a rare case where the sequel was better and there are just simply Marvel films that I enjoy just a little bit more.
07. Iron Man (2008)
This is what started it all and I think it still holds up for what it's worth. I enjoyed Iron Man back in the day and I'll find myself watching this every so often. It reiterates why Robert Downey Jr. makes such a great Tony Stark and serves as a great introduction for his character. The plot was solid, the casting was perfect, and it maintains that sense of urgency and rising to the responsibility clause that is in every Marvel origins film.
06. Thor (2011)
I get a lot of crap from people when I say that Thor was my favorite out of the original Avengers origins movies. Not high on a lot of lists, I thought it was a fun adaptation of the character and it served as the perfect introduction to Loki, the MCU's most popular villain to date.
We first find Thor exiled and stripped of his Godly powers in a small New Mexico town after showing Odin his arrogance and blindness to responsibilities after unintentionally starting a war with the Frost Giants. Introduced in this movie are the rather important characters Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). It also gave a more in depth view of exactly what S.H.I.E.L.D is and how they handle their business by confiscating all of Foster's research after she finds astrological proof of Asgard and the nine realms. This is also where we first see Loki as he takes the throne of Asgard in Thor's absence and attempts to use the Bifrost to destroy Jotunheim along with using Asgard's Destroyer to try and kill Thor on Earth.
It's not a bad movie at all. It had some of the best character development of all the MCU films so far. I don't understand why so many people trash it all the time.
05. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
I wanted to like [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) more than I did, but I still didn't hate it. The movie was fun to watch and it brought the group back in proper fashion. My main gripes are similar to what a lot of people's gripes were; it lacked overall character development and moved a bit quickly on things that needed more time to develop.
Ultron was completely cheated in terms of development and scenes that needed to be kept, like Thor's vision, should have been included. I also felt that The Vision's development was incredibly rushed. However, the good still did outweigh the bad which is why it lands at #4.
04. Ant-Man (2015)
Ant-Man was an extremely pleasant surprise and yes, I mean surprise. There was controversy surrounding this release ever since Edgar Wright separated from Marvel and this project was passed onto a new director. Many, including myself, were skeptical and any excitement had for this smaller than life hero was quickly lost. I decided to see it just because I figured why not and I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed it.
It was really funny and has a great cast. Although you can tell Wright left because this is what they wanted to do with the character, I found that in the end it didn't bother me so much. It's unrealistic to assume at this point that we'll have a solo Marvel film that isn't in any way connected to the existing universe. It's just not going to happen. I am excited for the future of Ant-Man in the MCU and that isn't something I thought I was going to say after seeing this movie.
Well played, Marvel.
03. The Avengers (2012)
There is no denying The Avengers is an awesome movie. I love it and I had several nerd coma moments in the theater where I just sort of zoned out because of how cool it was. Just because this is at #3 doesn't mean I am saying it sucked. It's in the top three because it was great. It's just been edged out.
Crossing over all of the solo movies into one was genius and it served as the best tie-in possible for them to make a giant cinematic universe. You first run into Loki as he crash lands on Earth with a vengeance and lust to rule the human race after being hired by someone who knows the full power of the Tesseract. Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D somewhat unwillingly use the Avengers team to defeat Loki and send him back to an Asgard where he belongs.
The Avengers had great character development and definitely some of the highest stakes we had seen up to that point. Joss Whedon did a fantastic job mixing humor with action and he managed to make just about every character likeable and important to the universe. It also had a decent tease of Thanos and the Infinity Stones and reminded of us that the battle doesn't just remain on Earth.
02. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Why is this movie ahead of The Avengers? Simple. This was hands down the most fun I've had in a Marvel movie in a long, long time. I'm at a point where given the choice I would much rather watch Guardians of the Galaxy. What James Gunn was able to do with these characters and with this movie was amazing and the fact that Marvel took the chance was risky in itself... and it worked.
This introduced the Avengers-like group in space by bringing us to a space ravager Peter Quill (aka, Star-Lord) as he accidentally is imprisoned with a talking raccoon and his living tree companion and a daughter of Thanos. The group comes together, along with an overly logical primitive named Drax, to find the meaning of a purple gem Quill stole from an abandoned planet and why a Kree leader hired by Thanos is trying to obtain it.
Guardians of the Galaxy brought in a mixture of fun, action, and comedy in a way no Marvel movie had done before. That includes The Avengers. The casting was spot on and to make such out there characters like a living tree and talking raccoon likeable and awesome was an achievement.
01. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Complain all you want that The Avengers isn't sitting in the #1 spot. The Winter Soldier deserves to be sitting in this spot.
Serving as the sequel to 2011's The First Avenger, it reunites us with Captain America as he is still getting used to living in a modern, post-Avengers world. This movie went more the political route and in this case it worked beautifully. Not only did it finally make Black Widow relevant, but it introduced S.H.I.E.L.D for in more of a villainous role and was able to unravel the corruption within the agency. It put the Captain in a torn position of accepting what America has become or fighting for what America was in his time and the struggle was thought out in a great way. In addition to the political structure of the film we also had HYDRA sneak their way back in with Cap's old pal Bucky with the introduction of The Winter Soldier. Bucky re-appearing served as the main antagonist plot along with Robert Redford's character, Alexander Pierce.
It's not that people hated this movie, but I find it disappointing that it's still sitting behind The Avengers on most lists. It really is Marvel's masterpiece so far and it will be difficult to beat for a while.
We still have several films coming from Marvel including [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) next spring, a brand new Spider-Man film in 2017, and many more extending well into the year 2021. This list will continue to expand and no doubt change. I'll be sure to keep everyone posted and continue to see how others are shaping their own lists regarding this mega franchise.