On May 2, 2008 Marvel Studios released a superhero film nobody thought would work, complete with a down-and-out, recovering drug-addict actor, and the director of Elf(2003). Somehow, though, Marvel's Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. was a surprise hit, going on to make $585,174,222. This began a long list of superhero films in the biggest shared universe film franchise in history. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU as fans lovingly call it, now has 13 films under its enormous belt. I've put together a ranking of the films from worst to best with little blurbs to explain why I placed them where I did. It should be stated that I like all of these films and that this is only my opinion. Without further ado, here it is!
I know I'll get some hate for this, sorry Thor fans. Here's the thing, Thor was a fun film, and really it would be hard to find someone who can play Thor and not be too terribly cheesy. Marvel was able to do that and cast the perfect Thor, Chris Hemsworth. They also brought on the hugely talented Kenneth Branagh to direct and Natalie Portman to play Thor's love interest. Sounds like a hit, right? Well, unfortunately on his first outing Hemsowrth wasn't as comfortable in his character. It also had Kat Dennings portraying a painfully unfunny character and bad chemistry for its two leads.
12. Thor: The Dark World
I really am sorry Thor fans! I actually really enjoyed this film when I saw it in theaters, but the more I thought about it, the more I lost interest. Hemsworth was great as Thor, duh. Unfortunately Natalie Portman had clearly not wanted to make the film, and Kat Dennings character got even more annoying. It also lost Branagh as director, which was unfortunate. The reason I placed it above the first Thor is twofold: 1. Chistopher Eccleston, or Doctor Who fame, played one of the better MCU villains in Malekith the Accursed. 2. Tom Hiddleston delivered my personal favorite of his portrayals of Loki. So much more depth.
11. Captain America: The First Avenger
Don't get me wrong, it was a great film, but not a great MCU film. Hearing that the director is Joe Johnston, the guy that made Jurassic Park 3, should immediately indicate that it won't be able to stand as tall as some of these other films. Much like Hemsworth in Thor(2011), Chris Evans was still getting his footing on the character, understandably. The CGI on skinny cap was laughable. But mostly, it just feels like a strange addition to the MCU.
There's something about Paul Rudd in a super-suit that just works. Especially when he gets to crack jokes next to the likes of Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Pena. Corey Stoll, while a very talented actor, is an underwhelming villain, and though the choice to opt for making a heist film was great, the execution left more to be desired. A great film, just not the best.
9. Iron Man 2
Okay, admittedly the worst of the Iron Man trilogy, and very flawed, this film is so high on my list because it is really fun to watch. Downey Jr. is great as Stark again, and this film ushers in Scarlet Johanson as Black Widow, as well as doing some major ground work for The Avengers(2012). Is Mickey Rourke laughable at times? Yes. Does it feel rushed? Absolutely. But it is very fun and has some great action and laughs. It also has a very good performance by Sam Rockwell.
8. The Incredible Hulk
This film is very unappreciated nowadays, but it was really well done. Say what you will about Edward Norton, but he was a great Bruce Banner. And that's sort of the point, right? The reason this film worked so well and the Eric Bana one didn't, is because this really understood that Bruce Banner is what makes the story compelling, not...the other guy. It also knew that inside of the the big green guy, there is still the kind and caring Banner, it just has to be found. To me, this film really works because it is a character piece, that happens to have a superhero. Admittedly though, the final act is a bit of a let down.
7. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Joss Whedon is a great director, who makes great films with very interesting, thought provoking premises. Unfortunately, he doesn't play well with others. See, in everything he's made he's had pretty much complete creative freedom, until the first Avengers film. Then he made this really fun, really smart, really well made...mess. Why is it a mess? Because the dude made a 3 and a half hour long film knowing full-well they would have to cut an hour off. I love Whedon, but that was a bad decision that ultimately hurt the film.
6. Iron Man 3
I know a lot of people disliked this film. I honestly don't see why. I mean, the twist with The Mandarin, sure, but that's just a small part, and I liked it. Shane Black made this film, and he's such a talented dude, I mean he made Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. But beyond that, this film fired on all cylinders, and really worked for me on all levels. The darker and more human version of Tony Stark is my favorite version of the character. We see throughout the film, him at his wits-end, and the strain that his..career is taking on his mental well being and his relationship with Pepper Potts. Plus, Gwyneth Paltrow kicking butt.
5. Iron Man
Yeah, what can I say to this one? It started everything off. It gave us RDJ as Tony Stark. It's the reason we have the Avengers. Most importantly though, it is endlessly re-watchable.
4. Captain America: Civil War
A lot of people would have this higher on their list, and I completely understand why. But for me, what it comes down to, are three films that I just liked a little bit more...a very, little bit. This film opens with potentially the coolest cold open ever. It builds tension slowly, keeping us on the edge of our seats and delivers the some of the best action in the MCU. It packs a huge emotional punch, and it ends perfectly. Not to mention the best Spider-Man ever put to film, and the introduction of Black Panther.
3. The Avengers
The first time we got to see a bunch of superheroes on screen together fighting a big bad. Not to mention that all of these characters had been given good films that successfully established them, and made us care. It also had the brilliant writing and directing of Joss Whedon, the return of Tom Hiddleston as fan favorite villain Loki, and oh yeah, Mark(freaking!) Ruffalo as the other guy himself: The Hulk! Without a doubt the best Hulk on screen, and a budding bromance between Banner and Stark solidified Ruffalo as a stand out in the film. Also, some of the best banter ever.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This film took me by complete surprise. I didn't like the first Cap film all that much and i didn't like the character that much is Avengers, but this film was so smart, and so well crafted that I went back to see it again in less than 24 hours. Why? Without a doubt the best action in the MCU. The Russo Brothers told the most compelling story of any of the MCU films thus far. Cap and Widow grow their friendship and have great chemistry. A good villain and a new type of film for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sebastian Stan also did outstanding as the Winter Soldier.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
Yes, I know, "that's just because it's popular!" But that's not why, it is so popular for a reason! James Gunn had a vision for this film, and Marvel let him run with it. Lucky for us, his vision was excellent and visually stunning, and we were taken on an incredible journey. They also did some very wise casting. The cast essentially a rag-tag group of people that you wouldn't expect to be in a Marvel film, making our rag-tag group of Guardians that much more lovable. I mean, who would've thought we'd see Vin Diesel voice a tree? Or Bradley Cooper voice a raccoon with an attitude? There's also a cameo by Nathan Fillion.
How do you rank the MCU films? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!