Marvel's making history with it's superhero franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU, as it's called, has become a massive cash cow, on the scale of Harry Potter or 007. Despite some mild fan complaints, not a single Marvel film has bombed yet on the scale of other studios' comic book failures like 'Green Lantern' or 'X-Men: Origins'. However, some films have been less acclaimed than others, partly due to the iron-clad control studio president Kevin Feige maintains over the creative process. Marvel Studios is still the most successful studio by far in the comic book movie field, with Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox making efforts to catch up.
Here are the Marvel movies ranked, from weakest to best:
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9) Avengers: Age of Ultron
Six months after it's release: we can cut the bullshit. Ultron was a disappointment. None of the character development ran true or even mentioned previous stories - Cap's internal conflict following Shields, Cap's romance with Black Widow, Tony's retirement as Iron Man, Black Widow's shockingly false and unbeliveable romance with Hulk - making the film feel like a detached, episode of the week. James Spader's Ultron, while funny and at first visually intimidating, is an antagonist straight from the films of director Joel Schumacher - a cartoon lunatic with zero depth or psychological conflict with the heroes, simply there to blow things up. Of all the returning heroes, only Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye seems to be genuinely engaged and has a character arc that feels like an organic continuation of his story - Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth are going through the motions. If anything, new characters Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch carry the film - the film's main plot is truly driven by them, and emotionally affects them the most, and if marketing was true, both the actors should have receive top billing on the posts. Avengers 2 still has some huge destruction, and in some moments, extremely funny group chemistry that you can only achieve by placing 7 arrogant and wildly superheroes in a room together - either drinking beers or competing to see who can slug down the most fees. But that sporadic humour isn't enough to carry a film that narratively feels like an irrelevant Blu-ray extra. Captain America: Civil War, the next in the series', from the marketing so far looks to be totally ignoring Age of Ultron and instead treating Winter Soldier and Ant-Man as its direct predecessors, and rightly so. Ultron's is an amazing visual spectacle, but fumbles it's emotion, suspense, and characters.
The original Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh, is leagues ahead of its' successor. Drama, subtle humour, and interesting character arcs are all present in this sci-fi action drama. Asgard, Thor's alien home world, is given far more detail than in the sequel, brought to life in a trippy blend of Lord of the Rings style medieval halls and futuristic Star Wars style galaxies. Although heavily CGI-animated, the space worlds are enlivening. Most importantly, Thor has truly compelling character drama at its heart. As the titular hero, Chris Hemsworth is a masculine, imposing God of Thunder who is the most physically intimidating . Tom Hiddleston, as his adoptive brother Loki, by contrast is a shadowy villain, an anguished victim relentlessly scheming against his family for his own selfish needs. Thor is rich, dazzling entertainment that wears it's classical literary influences on its sleeve.
7) Captain America: The First Avenger
Marvel's outings reach full flight with this entry. Director Joe Johnston suavely homages 1940's adventure serials with this retro action epic. Combining period WWII visuals, rocking super-hero action, and heartfelt romance - First Avenger is a gorgeous film. It also has a rousing self-empowerment message, one of the most resonant in the MCU. Chris Evans astounds as Steve Rogers, the skinny but big-hearted soldier who becomes a literal Superman. As his Nazi opponent the Red Skull, Hugo Weaving might be the best villain of the MCU, hideous, crazy, full of odd quirks and a brutal physical opponent for Cap. Hayley Atwell also commands as Peggy Carter, stunning with her beauty and selling the believability of her romance with Cap. First Avenger is definitely accomplished, grand adventure with a human core.