Given that Captain America: Civil War graces our screens very shortly, I thought now would be an ideal opportunity to rank all the MCU's past films from worst to best.
Please bear in mind that this is just my opinion - I'm not telling you what to think! In fact, I'm interested to see your rankings, so please comment what you think below. Bear in mind also that this is a rough list, and is based on how much I liked the movies, not necessarily a deconstruction of how well each one is made.
With that out the way, here goes. And my worst to best list kicks off with...
12: IRON MAN 2
Ok, I am aware that this seems like a somewhat predictable choice for last place, but I do think there's a reason why lots of people don't like this film so much. Don't get me wrong, it's not terrible (none of these films are,) it's just it's not that great either. After the success of 2008's Iron Man, Marvel rushed to make this sequel, and it shows. The result is a film with an odd structure, some bizarre and somewhat unbearable moments, as well as a pretty lackluster finale.
The movie does start well though, with an insanely cool action sequence in Monaco featuring what is quite possibly the coolest suit ever - the Mark V. Also, the fact Tony Stark is battling with his new-found responsibility is interesting to see; it's just they show it pretty badly. Actually, it's poorly managed character detail that lets this film down the most, to the extent where they try to make his troubles into the central joke of the film. On top of that, it gets pretty boring in the middle, where very little actually happens to move the story along, and then when it finally does, the last action sequence has no dialogue or gritty interest to keep you engaged
11: THOR: THE DARK WORLD
In my opinion, despite all the great Loki-isms, this film really is just mediocre. It doesn't make me as annoyed as Iron Man 2, but come to think of it, it doesn't really make me feel anything much at all. An over-abundance of samey action, a nothingy story and a terrible villain all make for a pretty uninteresting story that lacks the heart of the first film. One thing I do like about Thor: The Dark World, is that Brian Tyler clearly does understand these characters and their world (the world building is insane,) it's just that all that is hidden under the rubbish plot and style-over-substance stuff that saps the life from it. What's more, the humour is sort of annoying, especially where Kat Dennings is concerned.
10: THE INCREDIBLE HULK
I feel like this film doesn't get enough attention. It's probably because Edward Norton dropped out of Bruce Banner for The Avengers so this story barely feels cannon, but it really isn't bad. The way I look at this, is that in 2008, Iron Man was Marvel's risk, and this was their safe bet. 'The Incredible Hulk' feels more like a classic style comic book film, without the Marvel charm that makes the other MCU films stand out. For what it is though, it's pretty good, with Edward Norton doing a good job as Bruce Banner, and the character being established pretty well. There's some cool action too, it's just not the stand-out stuff of some of these other entries.
9: IRON MAN
Ok, I'm sorry, really I am! I hate having to put this one in 9th place, because '9th' sounds terrible, but the truth is that from here on, all these movies are great. But there are reasons why I don't think the first Iron Man is quite as good as some of the later MCU films. Yes, this film gave birth to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and for that it deserves huge credit, and at the time came out, it was something truly radical and new. However, I think that whilst this film was amazing when it came out, some of Marvel's more recent offerings have given us better over all.
My main criticism of 'Iron Man' is the 3rd act, which is pretty bad, and if the whole film was like this, I'm not sure the MCU would have been quite such a hit. It's just that it's a bit disengaging, and once Stark is back from Afghanistan, the story kind of halts for a while, only to climax with a very underwhelming ending. It's not disengaging because the action is poor, it's just because the investment you have in that part of the story is less strong.
Don't get me wrong, though, I enjoy Iron Man massively. It tells one of the best superhero origins of all time, and establishes my favourite MCU character beautifully. It's one of Marvel's funnest entries too, and you can't get away from how good that plane sequence was! Robert Downey Jr is perfectly cast of course, thus I still love this film, despite not necessarily agreeing it's quite at the top.
This entry only edges slightly clear of 'Iron Man,' but sits above it for all the emotional moments, that are brought in by the excellent cast, and extremely talented director Kenneth Brannagh
On top of the touching scenes and Shakespearean characterisation, it's still a super-fun superhero story too, with plenty of cool world-building and amusing moments to behold. Sure, Thor doesn't have the most interesting hero origin, but his world and family dynamics are beautiful to see here. 'Thor' triumphs and brings a genuinely enjoyable and touching story to the MCU - even if it doesn't quite have the action or the overall plot to match some alternative entries.
7: IRON MAN 3
You think Iron Man 3 is the best Iron Man film? Are you mad? I can hear the comments now, and yes, I know this film has annoyed lots of fans. But what I love about it is how it treats Tony Stark so well. We get to see Tony in a fascinating position after 'The Avengers,' dealing with his PTSD and struggling with his new-found responsibilities. Everything in this film makes up for what went wrong in 'Iron Man 2,' and it treats Tony's character with real respect. It's not just that though, I love the tone of this film, the action is properly great, and the story is pretty good too. I'm not pretending this film is perfect, it definitely has some issues that annoy you when thinking about it, but in terms of how it makes me feel, and how much I enjoy it, I like this entry more than the previous 2 Iron Man movies by quite a margin.
Yes, like many, I really liked Ant-Man. And I suppose the reason is just because it's so much fun. It was fresh and exciting, and had a well-constructed story with a great heist-feeling/tone that helped it feel upbeat and fresh. No-one really expected this after Edgar Wright left, but I think Ant-Man was a big success. The action is really really good, and all in all it's fun escapism that you don't really have to think about too much (which is sometimes a nice luxury.) Indeed if you do start to dissect it, you realise how simple it is, but for what's there, I think Ant-Man is an utter joy!
5: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
We're into the top 5 now, and these movies are getting seriously good. The first Captain America is one of the few MCU films that makes me cry, and that just shows what a great film it is. Overall, you get a real mix of emotions, along with an overriding sense of nostalgia to really engage and entertain. It's a movie with genuine heart, and engages me throughout.
Sure, it's not a particularly mature affair, but 'Captain America: The First Avenger' succeeds in building an adaptation of one of Marvel's most iconic heroes in a genuinely heart-warming tale, and that's why it sits in fifth place.
4: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
On paper, this film is probably the best thing to come out of the MCU so far. It's seriously mature, gritty, by-the-book stuff thanks to a dream team cast and director's duo. But it's not just good because it's made so well, it's good because (like it's predecessor) it truly engages you. No Marvel film feels quite as gritty, tense and real-world as this does, and as a result, it will have you perched on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It may lack some charm, but it makes up for any of that with it's thrilling and gritty drama that just works. It's a masterpiece.
3: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Into the top three, and bronze goes to the spectacularly nerdy Guardians of the Galaxy. Yet again, it's a film where you encounter buckets of different emotions, and I just love it. Lets be honest, it was a ballsy move from Marvel and James Gunn, but the result is something with more charms than a hippie's bracelet. Say what you will, but I cried and I laughed, and most of all smiled. In the end it's a space opera of originality that we haven't seen since the MCU's birth; it's just executed so damn well. 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a big hit with me, and well worth my money!
2: THE AVENGERS
Nobody does it like Whedon. This film purely is a comic book brought to life, and it's sooo good because of it. The first Avengers like the ultimate nerd-out session, seeing these heroes interact for the first time, and in the end, I love this film because it just makes me feel so happy. I won't deny it's a bit goofy, but I don't care. It's such an honest and ballsy movie with so much heart and with so many fun moments, that it actually kind of makes me feel proud.
Drum roll please...
1: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
That's right, first place goes to the beautiful sequel to 'The Avengers.' Ok, the previous 2 films on this list are there mostly because of the amount of fun I have when watching them, and 'Age of Ultron' has all that in abundance. But that's not all this film has to offer, it is also beautifully detailed masterpiece, and is something I never expected to see come from Marvel. I can see people's criticisms over the "stuffed-ness," of it's story, but frankly I think it works because it flows. To me, this is a rollercoaster ride of a film, and one that's been beautifully and meticulously made by the god of directors: Joss Whedon. You ride between insanely good action and emotional or delicately touching character scenes that will have you close to tears. It works, and there's so much here that it's overwhelming. But it's overwhelming in a beautiful way, because you can tell how much thought Whedon put into the philosophies of this film. Use it as escapism, you'll have a ball, but delve into it and you're immersed in a world of philosophical concepts and character arcs that are planned to the finest detail. To me, this is the peak of all superhero movies. It combines so much that's great about all these other movies in a way that feels so personal. Joss Whedon is insanely good at this, and this movie is a poetic masterpiece. To read in full detail why I adore this movie so much, read my full discussion of Age of Ultron here: https://creators.co/@barneyonmovies/3964134
So there's my list - I'm well aware many of you disagree and I want to hear why! Comment below your lists, and pick holes in my list all you like!