Well, the poll for this list threw up some very interesting and surprising results
Anyway, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going strong for 8 years now and has released a grand total of 14 films, with a further 3 to be released this year. Over those 8 years, Marvel have only failed to release a single movie in one year (2009) and are currently doing a turn around of 2 movies a year on average, to at the very worst moderate critical acclaim and huge financial reward, turning some of their second string characters (like Iron Man and Loki) into household names in the process. However, as with everything in life, the MCU isn't perfect. Whilst the MCU as a whole is of undeniable quality, some films are better than others. So this week, with the help of your votes, we have our list of the MCU films ranked worst to best.
14. Iron Man 2 (2010)
So, we find Iron Man 2 sitting at the bottom of the pile in terms of your votes. Whilst the film is nowhere near as good as its predecessor, does it deserve to be considered the worst? Well, that's what you guys think. Introducing Black Widow to the MCU, glimpses of future projects with cameos from Captain America's shield and a map showing Wakanda, as well as giving us War Machine and the first glimpse of Nick Fury outside of a cameo, this film is fairly important to the overall series, but there are missteps. The handling of Tony Starks drinking problem was rather juvenile and resolved incredibly quickly, the villains were both bland and rather unthreatening (especially when compared to the villain of the previous Iron Man film) and the amount of plot holes that would come from this movie are incredible. Definitely a film that shows that the MCU had to go through some growing pains in the early days to get to where it is at now.
13. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Surprisingly, this film wasn't bottom of the list, though it did only beat Iron Man 2 by a single vote. Unfortunately for fans of the Norse God of Thunder, Thor's films have always felt like filler in the MCU. Whilst this film did advance the Infinity Gem plot by giving us the Reality Stone in the form of Aether, but other than that, it was just a film that was biding time until the next movie came out. The action was good and there were some laughs but again, the villain was non-descript and unthreatening, Loki (of all characters) was underused and we had to sit through more of Chris Helmsworth and Natalie Portman's amazing chemistry (oh wait sorry, there is none). Plus, naked Eric Selvig. Need I say more.
12. Thor (2011)
And as if to prove a point, coming in straight after Dark World we have the first Thor movie. Now, this movie doesn't have as many problems as its sequel, but they are still there. Obviously, Helmsworth and Portman didn't have much in the way of chemistry together in this film to carry over to Dark World, so that has to be a mark against the film. Also, the plot seems to want to be two different films. One half wants to be a redemption story of an arrogant prince who only thinks of himself, whilst the other (more interesting) half is a power struggle between the rightful heir to the throne and his jealous brother. The problem this film has is that it doesn't spend enough time on either to make them feel really substantial, meaning that both suffer (though it is much clearer that the redemption story suffers most, as it happens literally overnight). Still, this film does have a saving grace in the fact that it introduced Loki and he is quite easily the best villain the MCU has had (possibly because they haven't killed him off so he's had more than a single film to make an impact). But again this film does feel more like just setting the wheels in motion for the Avengers than the standalone films that Iron Man and Captain America's first films were, right down to the pointless Hawkeye cameo.
11. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Ah yes, this film. Now, I'm pretty sure this film is only this low because of the final act. The first 2 acts of this film are phenomenal, dealing with the fall out of The Avengers and how Iron Man has affected the world in a genuinely interesting and unusual way. We have a serious threat for a villain in the Mandarin, who manages to hurt Iron Man in a way that no other villain had managed with any Avenger up to this point, forcing the billionaire playboy philanthropist to go on the run and rethink his approach. And then the last act comes along and reveals that the guy we thought was the Mandarin was just a drunk actor and the real Mandarin was that really boring wanna-be Tony Stark clone. We then had a ridiculous plane crash rescue and a final battle that was overblown but fun until Pepper Potts develops superpowers and saves the day. Oh and the Tony Stark has that life saving surgery that we're told for the last two films is impossible because it would kill him. Honestly, if this film had a different ending, I could see it breaking the top half of the list, maybe sitting in a position corresponding to its box-office status (3rd highest grossing MCU film), but nope, 4th bottom.
10. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Now we reach the top 10 and the black sheep of the MCU. This is the film that everyone forgets is an MCU film until right at the end when Tony Stark shows up. And honestly, that sort of sums up the film. It happened. It wasn't bad, but it didn't reach the heights of Iron Man or many of the films that would follow it. It probably wasn't helped by the fact that the lead actor was dumped in favour of someone more co-operative and the only character introduced in the film that has been seen since is the secondary villain. Even with all the set up for a sequel, Marvel have kinda buried this film. Is that an unfair assessment, probably (the final fight with Abomination is one of the best in the MCU and Ed Norton is a good Banner/ Hulk, so it isn't without merit), but it is pretty true.
9. Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)
The question coming into this film was "how do they follow up The Avengers?" Well, they went big, with three large set piece battles, an Iron Man/ Hulk fight, introducing two new Avengers, a extra single film character and a brand new villain, with the final battle seeing half a country being lifted into the sky as opposed to a measly portal through which an alien army can invade, as well as setting up for future films in the process by venturing to new locations such as Wakanda. Of course there are problems, Ultron's characterization is divisive and somewhat confused, much like his plan, and there is some very needless character development that does nothing for any of the characters being developed. However, as a spectacle, this film is very impressive. Shame it doesn't exactly measure up to the high standards set by the first Avengers film.
8. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
So, Cap's first film. Certainly the most unique film in the MCU until Guardians Of The Galaxy came out, it still feels completely different to any other MCU film, due to it's WW2 setting. It is the weakest of the Captain America trio of films, but that is a statement of how good the other two films are than a condemnation of this film. Managing to feel like it's own film, separate from the MCU whilst also setting in motion plot points that would take numerous films to fully explore and some that haven't even been fully concluded yet, it also gave us pitch perfect performances from its lead trio of Evans, Atwell and Weaving (who manages to pull off that rare feat of being an MCU villain who got "killed off" (presumably) and is still remembered fondly to this day). And it finishes on a fine note that segues perfectly into The Avengers.
7. Doctor Strange (2016)
As we reach the half way point in our list we also reach the most recent MCU film. Much like The First Avenger or GOTG, Doctor Strange has a unique feel to it that sets it apart from any other film in Marvels filmic canon. This is down to the fact that this film introduces magic (or a close approximation of magic) into the MCU and deals with themes that are, for lack of a better term, very out there. Bringing in Benedict Cumberbatch to play the titular Doctor was always going to be a good move, the man is a excellent actor and excels at playing people of intelligence, so his performance was never in doubt. Of course, as with the entire MCU, it's not perfect. The film does have somewhat of a silly plot (even by comic book movie standards) and the villain is, once again, a weak point for Marvel, but the spectacle hides these minor problems very well.
6. Ant Man (2015)
Sigh. Ok guys, please leave in the comments below why exactly Ant Man deserves to be this high on the list. Hell, it tied with our 5th place spot which is freaking Iron Man (#spoilers, sorry) in terms of votes. How? I'll be honest here, I don't rate Ant Man, in case anyone couldn't tell. I think it is one of the weakest MCU entries. It has too many characters who are only there to be "funny" and don't actually succeed in that role, instead just being annoying and adding nothing to the plot after the first 30 minutes. Plus, the villain is yet another example of the MCU only being able to do villains that are the same as the hero but evil and completely useless (which is why good MCU villains are about as rare as a coherent DC reboot). The whole heist film idea is good and when the film solely focuses on Scott Lang, Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne or has a fight scene (Ant-Man vs Falcon or the final battle in the bedroom) it is very enjoyable, but I just can't get past the annoying pseudo-comedic sidekicks who just turn up and ruin everything. So, yeah, explanations as to why this film is as good as Iron Man in the comments below please.
5. Iron Man (2008)
So, speaking of Iron Man, this is where it all started. Without this film, this list would be completely pointless. Containing the greatest bit of casting for a film in the last decade, this film took a character who was a fairly niche character in Iron Man, a guy who was well know by comics fans and was big player in the Marvel Universe but was ignored by everyone else, and turned him into a household name on par with Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Hulk. It is very hard to pick holes in this film, even with hindsight, there are very few flaws and only very slight continuity errors from after the fact. And of course, Iron Monger set the bar so high for other MCU villains to reach that only 2 have reached it so far. But still you guys thought that Ant-Man was as good a film as this.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
A political thriller and spy movie in the guise of a superhero film, this film laid the groundwork for the MCU going forward from stage 2 into stage 3, despite coming half way through the second stage. Reviving HYDRA and bringing them into the modern world, this film also saw the introduction of Falcon, Crossbones and Batroc The Leeper (although I don't think that last one was as anticipated as the other two) as well as reintroducing Bucky Barnes to the world under the new guise of the Winter Soldier, giving this film its emotional core. Again carried by a stellar performance by Chris Evans and great support work from Scarlett Johansson, this film definitely deserves to be placed this high on the list.
3. The Avengers (2012)
I'm pretty sure that most people would have guess the top 3, but which order would they be in. Well, falling just short of our runaway top 2 was the onscreen debut of the team know as Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Whilst this film may only take home the bronze medal on our list it is still both the highest grossing superhero film of all time (sitting at 5th on the all time highest grossing films list) and the benchmark for superhero films as a whole. Featuring great character moments, edge of your seat action and laugh out loud jokes, this film proved that the idea of a cinematic universe could work. And given the time involved in getting there and the star power Marvel brought in and made in order to do this film, it was always inevitable that this film was going to end up in a very lofty position on the list.
2. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
So, Civil War. In the comics, the story was divisive both on the page and off and was much maligned from many corners of the fandom for how it played out. So how exactly do you take this story and transfer it over to a film series with far less history and backstory behind it. Well, it turns out that having less history works better, because it focused the story, gave the superhuman registration act more weight due to being near the start of events rather than 70 years after the first superhumans started to appear, and focusing more on the relationship between Captain America and Iron Man, plus the film made one crucial change to the source that made the whole idea much easier to swallow, there was a concrete villain. Instead of getting pseudo-fascist Iron Man and outlaw Captain America, we got the whole thing being orchestrated by Helmut Zemo in a fantastic behind the scenes revenge scheme that tied into the themes of accountability and guilt that this movie carried over from the previous Iron Man and Captain America films. It helped the film feel like a major event because it was a major event, it was an Avengers movie in all but name, and meant everyone was used to their full potential. Despite having so many characters, nobody felt extraneous or diluted the plot, everyone had a job and they did it. And that's even when they brought in new characters to set them up for their own films. And lets talk about that for a second. Firstly, how good was Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther? If his performance in Civil War is anything to go by, if we do another list on this subject after Infinity War we could see Black Panther place near the top of the list. And Spider-Man... Ok, I will not fanspaz, but how good is it to see Spider-Man in the MCU interacting with characters like Captain America and Iron Man. This film is as close to perfect as any MCU film, but it still couldn't grab the number 1 spot.
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
Ok, so we need to ask ourselves, why did Guardians Of The Galaxy beat The Avengers and Civil War to the number 1 spot on the list? It has one of the worst villains in the MCU in Ronan and certainly both Avengers and Civil war outshine GOTG in terms of spectacle and storytelling. So why is the film with the tree and the raccoon number 1? Easy, really. This is the best MCU movie because it is the most fun. If everyone was sceptical about an Iron Man film before 2008, nobody expected a film about a team that was barely relevant in the comic universe at the time to be any good. And then they saw it. With literally zero expectations for the film being good, it actually put more pressure on the team to make it good, so they just went mad with it. Filled with enough action, jokes and references to please pretty much everybody, this film is basically the MCU in a nutshell. It doesn't take its self too seriously, but is serious enough that you know the people making it really care about the source material. It takes characters that no-one ever thought would work on screen and made them work and made them household names by keeping to the spirit of the comics. It is pretty much the epitome of what Marvel were trying to do with the MCU, and that is why it is number 1.
So, that's our list, as voted for by you guys. What do you think? Which film do you think is the best in the MCU? Which is the worst? Let us know in the comments below.
And with that
I think the thing that really killed Ironman 2 was their casting choice for Whiplash. Mickey Rourke was awful. I’d read an interview with him after the movies release, and he didn’t seem to take the movie seriously. He just showed up and read his lines. He didn’t know what the movie was about, and never (At the time of the interview) saw the finished product. He just didn’t care about it. It was a paycheck to him. I loved the rest of the movie.
Antman….Well, I can only say it ranks so high because much like Guardians, it didn’t take itself very seriously. It was a completely different take on the origin stories we’d seen so far, and it was just a ton of fun. No one expected this movie to be as good or successful as it was.
Overall, Marvel’s done a really good job with their casting and director choices. A mis-step here and there, but overall they’ve been doing a great job.
I would say my personal order is pretty similar except for the top – I’d have Avengers at #1, Guardians, then Winter Soldier. (But Guardians and Winter Soldier are very close, heck maybe even tied.) The only reason Guardians would get a lift up from me over WS is the fact that it’s also a very Sci-fi movie.
Personally I’d have Iron Man 3 at the bottom of this list. I feel like they had way too much going on and couldn’t decide which direction to take it between the Extremis story arc and The Mandarin and everything else that they crammed into that movie. But that’s just me. Also I would have put Civil War higher up on the list.
Hands down, my favourite MCU movie is Cap#1. I’ve cried before it, so was I moved.
It is perfect in almost all regards, including the love story, which feels genuine and true, something which is incredibly rare, even in romance movies. And the way it ends in tragedy…
And Chris Evans cap… I hated cap before, period. But seeing him try to do the right thing, whatever the cost to him… It speaks to me, a lot.