Ranking the MCU Films
Marvel Cinematic Universe has turned out to be incredibly influential for turning movie franchises into universes for better and for worse. Their films are definitely not as well connected, but the connections are still there and for the most part they succeed pretty well in telling this one giant, connected story. But I am a fan of the MCU mostly because they haven’t yet made a bad film as even their worst films are passable, but not truly bad. So here is my ranking of Marvel’s entire canon so far.
15. The Incredible Hulk
I really didn’t care for this movie. It is definitely not bad as it is well acted and it is overall pretty harmless with nothing in it being horrible, but nothing in here is also particularly memorable and inspired leading to one of the most forgettable Marvel films and one of their dullest. And it isn’t even an important entry in this universe as Edward Norton was later replaced by Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and that rendered this movie totally useless.
14. Iron Man 2
Being such an unfortunate dark spot in an otherwise stellar trilogy, Iron Man 2 is inarguably one of Marvel’s weakest outings as almost everyone agrees that it is mediocre. The only good thing here is of course the banter between Tony and Pepper as they have always been such a great pair. But that’s it. Everything else is so weak from the mediocre villain to the action to the story which is overstuffed with too many uninspired plot points and characters.
13. Thor: The Dark World
The last mediocre entry on this list, the second Thor movie is just much inferior to the first one and another movie which is universally proclaimed to be at least problematic, if not downright bad. To me it isn’t bad as Loki is definitely fun here plus the humor is solid, but the film is certainly overly cheesy and filled with dull action sequences and a ridiculously convoluted storyline that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
12. Captain America: The First Avenger
The first Cap movie is definitely solid and actually quite pleasant as a whole. I liked its plot and I liked its 40s time period and it was quite charming and fun to watch. However, it still remains an awfully typical origin story filled with quite weak action scenes. But its biggest offender is that it is so incredibly forgettable to the point of being entirely overshadowed by its too successors which is understandable as both are infinitely better movies.
11. The Avengers
I know this is a controversial choice, but it is my opinion and I am sticking with it. There is no denying that this film is fun and filled with pretty solid character interactions and good humor, but the plot is quite poor and the film is filled with overwhelming action. I think they did the best they could do with such an annoying blockbuster premise, but it still ended up being overstuffed with too many characters and action leading to Marvel’s most overrated film.
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
I guess this is another controversial choice, but I have to admit that I liked the second Avengers movie a bit more than the first one. Yes, all of the trappings and faults of the first movie are there and Ultron himself definitely disappointed a lot in the end, but the plot is ultimately a bit better here and the characters are quite good with Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Vision being memorable new additions to the team.
I like the first Thor movie. It is a lot of fun and Kenneth Branagh was a great, fitting choice to direct it. Loki is excellent here and the other characters are also quite good plus the world building is solid. But it still has its problems such as weaker action and a very clichéd and predictable story. It is a solid film, but there is no denying that this Marvel franchise is definitely the weakest.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
This is an infinitely inferior sequel to one of Marvel’s best films as it is filled with such an awfully emotional approach that felt ridiculous by the end, but it is still a hugely entertaining sequel featuring once again good performances and character interactions, fun humor and improved effects with its planet being so wonderfully explored. As sequels go, it is not the greatest, but perfectly solid nonetheless.
7. Iron Man 3
The action is again weak here and the villains are expectedly very bad, but Iron Man 3 is otherwise a pretty good and definitely underrated film as a lot of people hate it for its Mandarin twist, but to me that was one of the highlights as it was unique and interesting. I also really liked the overall story, the emotional emphasis on Tony’s journey and it is a satisfyingly darker and more mature Iron Man film which ultimately worked.
6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Winter Soldier is a slightly overrated film as Bucky continues to be underutilized and the entire third act is overly bombastic. But it is still a pretty strong superhero film with good mystery and spy elements to it and a surprising amount of truly exceptional, unforgettable sequences. The action is some of the best in the MCU and the character development is superb with everyone getting their moment to shine.
5. Captain America: Civil War
I didn’t like that the third Cap movie basically ended up being an Avengers film. But even though it had too much action and way too many characters, it is still a movie that The Avengers should have been – both entertaining and sophisticated. Its political themes are interesting, some action set pieces are superb, the humor is quite good and most of the characters were so well utilized. A stellar and in terms of the plot quite important film.
This is such an underappreciated gem of a film and it takes the high fourth spot on my list as I love it so much. The cast is excellent, the new characters are so likable, Paul Rudd is funny and charismatic in the role and the action is pretty solid. The villain is still so weak, but the overall plot is good and its concept is a lot of fun. But Ant-Man succeeds mostly because it found a perfect mix of humor and emotional pathos in telling this charming story.
3. Iron Man
This is where it all started. It was once my favorite movie, but even though it is now downgraded to the third place, it still remains such a good film. The first Iron Man showed us for the first time the signature humor and charisma from Robert Downey Jr. in this great role, but it also contains an origin story that is surprisingly very good and done right. And other than the weak villain, it is a pretty stellar, commendable effort all around.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
Great in its humor filled with many quotable lines and awesome in its team filled with outstanding, highly memorable and funny characters, Guardians of the Galaxy is a full package of unforgettable popcorn entertainment that has all of the ingredients of a timeless blockbuster classic. It has its weaknesses, but it is such a fun and funny movie that is an absolute joy to watch that it deservedly takes the second spot on my list.
1. Doctor Strange
Yes, I am in the vast minority here, but Doctor Strange just has to be my number one MCU pick. It is a funny film with a couple of hilarious moments, but it is above all such a well told, genuinely intriguing story filled with memorable and so well developed characters, excellent world building, amazing special effects, stupendous action scenes and such fascinating mythology that it is without any doubt not just my favorite Marvel movie, but my favorite superhero film of all time.