The Marvel Cinematic Universe is now the highest grossing film franchise ever and regularly slaughters at the box office. Every film has received a generous earning, but the critical response is often mixed. The MCU has yet to make a bad movie, but at this transition between Phases 2 and 3, what better time to decide which are the best, and which are the worst.
12. Thor: The Dark World
All aspects of Thor: The Dark World were worse than those of the other films. The plot felt tired and boring, the villain was underdeveloped and had no motivation, and the film again squandered the vast fantasy realms it could have explored. This is pretty much the worst the MCU has to offer right now.
11. Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 has all the markings of a rushed cash-grab sequel. Following the success of the first Iron Man film, Marvel immediately tried to capitalise on this by making another smash hit. Unfortunately that didn't come to fruition and we got Iron Man 2 instead, a flawed film with unimaginative action scenes, boring villains and was too bogged down with SHIELD exposition.
10. The Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk was not actually that bad of a movie. From the very beginning it subverted the usual idea of spending half the movie giving the guy his superpowers, and instead kicked straight into the action and the story. The villains weren't bad, and the acting (Tim Blake Nelson's character was a standout) was good, but ultimately the film used too many simple action scenes and at times the plot is too basic. It also demonstrates the difficulty in making a film all about the Hulk, usually resulting in endless repetitive battle scenes.
Ant-Man is one of the franchise's most popular films, and while it was a good film, I personally believe it was a little basic. The film succeeded in establishing Ant-Man as a hero, and Paul Rudd's portrayal was excellent, but the film also suffered from a boring, unmotivated villain, a plot that's nothing new, and humour that's probably more appealing to kids. Except Thomas the Tank Engine. That was great.
8. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Age of Ultron received a large critical backlash from fans, but this was most likely due to the film failing to live up to its excellent advertising and marketing. While the film had its good moments, the magic just seemed to be gone from the first film. Ultron was evidently supposed to be dark and even scary but he even managed to slice off Gollum's arm without seeming like anything more than a beautifully voiced comic relief villain who cracks jokes. The film tried to hard the repeat the success of the first film, even going so far as to practically duplicate its third act battle scene with robots that are blown apart in one punch. The character death also felt cheap and forced for seemingly no reason other than to attempt to shoehorn emotion into the film. It was still a good film, of course, where (despite the often cringeworthy dialogue) it excelled with its characters, giving Hawkeye some much awaited depth and making the small moments in this bloated film the best moments.
Where Thor suffered was its second act: the stay on Earth. Instead of exploring the large fantastical realms of Norse mythology, we instead had another movie largely set on Earth. Loki's role in the film however is good, the acting and characters are all top-notch, and the film's beginning is excellent, making Thor still a very decent film, but not quite up there with the franchise's best.
6. Iron Man 3
While better than the previous Iron Man film, Iron Man 3 suffered from a few flaws, the largest being the mishandling of the Mandarin that annoyed fans. In general though, this is a good film. Shane Black's style fits the Iron Man films better in my opinion, giving the movie a dark but funny and interesting vibe. Where this film succeeds is when Tony Stark is not in the armour, and these quieter character moments are what make this film interesting and complex.
5. Captain America: The First Avenger
This movie shines as one of the most unique of the franchise, set in an interesting and exciting time and place. The relationship between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter feels more real than most other relationships in the franchise and the ending is one of the most emotional experiences in any MCU film. Seeing the growth (both metaphorically and physically) of Steve throughout the film is great to watch, and the movie never gets boring, carrying even mundane conversations with flair. The First Avenger is one of the best few MCU films, hampered only by a disappointing villain.
4. Iron Man
The film that started it all. Iron Man is, above anything else, fun. Robert Downey, Jr. is perfect in the role of Tony Stark and his interactions with Pepper or Stane are a particular highlight, but the movie never gets boring, ensuring that the audience's enjoyment comes above anything else. A disappointing bad guy is the common issue with MCU films, but despite not being a particularly good villain, Stane is at least better than most of those the franchise has to offer, and it doesn't stop Iron Man being one of the top films of the franchise.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy subverted everybody's expectations by delivering a fun, quirky romp through space with excellent, colourful characters, an interesting plot, plenty of emotion and epic battle scenes, with the film also overflowing with hilarious moments. The risky humour works in attracting all audiences and the film never gets boring. Although, the movie had succeeded the moment they spray-painted Michael Rooker blue and shot him into space.
2. The Avengers
The Avengers is an amazing movie. The plot, while basic, works perfectly for the large ensemble cast, and the music and general vibe of the film makes it hard to not be drawn into the sheer epicness present in the entire thing. Loki is an excellent villain, and the acting is top notch all around, especially from Mark Ruffalo, who is the best Hulk actor in my opinion. The scale of the film is tremendous and it aims high and achieves high. This film is perfect for any Marvel fan, and every character gets their moment to shine (except Hawkeye of course).
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This film does what almost no other MCU film has done: it broke the mould. While still delivering the epicness and character moments that Marvel fans love, it also introduced the MCU to the political thriller genre, employing a deep and complex plot that's gripping, and full of twists and turns. The Russo's use of practical effects as well as the general choreography make every action scene in this movie one of the franchise's best. This is one of the first superhero movies since the Dark Knight trilogy to actually show such depth, and overall this makes for a film that outshines all the others in the franchise, as well as a lot of the movies ever made. The Winter Soldier is pure brilliance.
That's all of them! Be sure to comment your own views if you disagree with this list!