In just a few weeks the widely popular Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise and it’s fanbase is about to be rocked to it’s very core with fans currently debating whose side they are choosing. Is it Team Captain America or Team Iron Man? Either way Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War is going to hit theaters on May 6th and what better way to celebrate it than to look back at every MCU film and see how well they stack up against each other. Like any list it is a matter of opinion. If you disagree and have a different list than feel free to rank the MCU in the comment section down below.
12. Avengers: Age of Ultron
By far the most problematic comic book movie I have ever seen and pales in comparison to the first Avengers film. I was very excited for this movie because it looked like it was going to be better than the first Avengers based on the trailers, TV spots, and clips but I was sorely let down. I’m not even sure what this film was trying to be and I do not think that Joss Whedon or the executives at Marvel Studios did either when they were working on it. From day one it was marketed as dark and something philosophical and serious with an actually menacing villain like Ultron but that sadly isn’t what I got. I got a formulaic, cheesy, messy, and convoluted story that tried to take a Nietzsche themes that tried setting up for other films that are coming out later. As far as I am concerned the only good thing that this film had going for it was the soundtrack.
11. Iron Man 3
This film does not meet expectations and had a similar affect on me as Age of Ultron did. It really did not know what it wanted to be. First it was all dark and I really liked the whole PTSD theme they were talking about which really shocked me because I never really thought that Marvel Studios would delve into something as serious as that because it is a controversial topic that not everyone could wrap their heads around but they did it and it felt like they didn’t take it seriously enough. Just like they did not take the phenomenal Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin serious but yet they advertised him as someone who would be a gem among a collection of mostly less than satisfactory villains in their installments.
10. Thor: The Dark World
The real star of this was Loki portrayed by Tom Hiddleston. Every scene with Loki in this film was absolutely enjoyable, but that wasn’t enough to save this movie from having such an awful plot. Whether it is the villain or just the dialogue that guides how the plot was forcefully rammed down my throat I just couldn’t bring myself to understand what the hell went on behind the scenes when this was made? Malekith was played by a phenomenal Christopher Eccleston and yet he came off like one of those stereotypical mustache twirling bad guys that has a motivation to destroy things yet he wouldn’t know what to do once he kills the hero. Just so damn annoying.
9. Iron Man 2
The perfect insomnia cure and like the last three films on this list it suffers from a lack of identity. Was it supposed to be an Iron Man sequel where studio executives interfered in a counter-productive way or just a big middle finger to Iron Man fans that set up for the Avengers? I really cannot tell. I really can’t explain the plot of this film to you if you asked me to. Not even Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was this bad when it came to trying to do world building because at least in that movie there was some semblance of a plot outside of that and the elements that set up for another movie were fairly subtle compared to how Age of Ultron and this movie did it.
Now I didn’t know a lot about Thor and nor was I interested in him until I saw this movie directed by Kenneth Branagh. The basic frame for this film was absolutely Shakespearean in all the right ways when it came to how Asgard and the character interactions between the Asgardians which definitely had me fanboying since I am a huge Shakespeare fan. However, the human side of things for this story didn’t really deliver in the way that it could have. I am mainly referring to the actress portraying Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster. I really do not think that Natalie Portman should have been in that role because she feels so wooden in this and it was the same in Thor: The Dark World. I really didn’t feel anything with her or any scenes she shared with Chris Hemsworth. Hopefully his new love interest will be more worthwhile in Ragnarok.
This was a pretty fun movie that really satisfied me after the dismal mess that was Age of Dulltron. The whole idea of cheesy heist movie is enough to get fans racing over to movie theaters in a frenzy and I was no exception to that when this film came out because while the film may have had a lot of problems behind the scenes, it still managed to do it’s job. That job obviously being to entertain moviegoers which Michael Pena, Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas did not fail to do. The dynamic between Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas in this was very similar to how Terry McGinnis and Bruce Wayne functioned in Batman Beyond. They did butt heads a lot and one person always managed to get irritated but over time they grew accustomed to each other and worked perfectly. Overall it was a great movie even though it essentially was a re-tread of the first Iron Man movie with a crazier version of Obadiah Stane as the villain. It definitely has me excited to see more of Ant-Man’s antics in Civil War and pumped for Ant-Man and The Wasp.
6. The Avengers
The film that represented the culmination of what Marvel Studios had worked hard to do and establish in Phase One. This was a film that had me and everybody excited in 2012. Oh, how I loved it until I re-watched it in 2013 and started to see that it is far from being an excellent film. It is decent at best and actually knew what it wanted to be compared to certain other MCU films that I’ve criticized earlier. With an all-star cast of heroes this film made cinematic history and proved to all of the naysayers that a cinematic universe is possible so long as you have a decent story, cast, and director working behind the scenes.
5. Guardians of The Galaxy
A hip and groovy ride through space that makes fans laugh, cheer, and cry in one sitting. There was something in this film for every moviegoer out there. You had a comedic duo like Groot and Rocket, a ruthless badass that you want to cheer on like Gamora, a quirky action hero like Star-Lord, and a strange warrior like Drax. They were all remarkable in bringing something different and new to the table that contributed to the story that established a wide-range of subplots that were explored in the film or will be explored in Guardians of The Galaxy Volume Two. However, that’s not what makes this film so great when it comes to the characters alone. It is the fact that the Guardians of The Galaxy were such obscure characters that nobody really knew about until James Gunn came around to craft them into something notable that served the film in a very nice way. Gunn was able to produce a unique self-contained world for the Guardians while still managing to contribute to the entire cinematic universe overall.
4. The Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk is probably one of the most underrated films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yeah, it may have had it’s flaws like any film but they weren’t as bad as later installments in the franchise and it had me at the edge of my seat from start to finish. The main thing that really made me love this movie was how Doctor Bruce Banner and the Hulk were portrayed. It felt very faithful to the comic books in the sense that you could tell that Bruce Banner was a tormented, awkward, and scared scientist that was desperately looking for a way to rid himself of the Hulk or at the very least, control him. I was completely sold on Ed Norton’s portrayal and I really wish he was the one still playing the Hulk instead of Mark Ruffalo who in all honesty misses his mark when it comes to portraying Banner. Overall, this is the definitive Hulk movie that Hulk fans and Marvel fans needed after that nightmarish version of the Hulk that came out in 2003. If only we could get another solo Hulk movie that has him facing off against Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross as The Red Hulk. Luckily we get to see General Ross in Civil War with the exception that Hulk isn’t around. Sad faces!
3. Iron Man
The match that lit the flame for an entire franchise that is still burning brighter than ever. Back in 2008, Iron Man was a very obscure character who nobody really cared about or knew about but Marvel wasn’t afraid to take risks and they challenged themselves in so many different ways with this movie. They hired Robert Downey Jr. to portray Marvel’s favorite armored playboy and it was a very controversial decision at the time due to his past but I think most people were happy to look past it and they certainly do now. This movie was not only a financial success but a critical hit that opened the door for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and silenced quite a few naysayers that thought it was not possible.
2. Captain America: The First Avenger
A patriotic and heroic movie that still holds up well to this day and is one of the very few Marvel Cinematic Universe films that manage to never really change it’s position in my list. It is also highly underrated just like The Incredible Hulk is when it comes to all 12 MCU films. Like Iron Man, this film shined a bright light on one of the most pivotal characters in the Marvel Universe and one of my all-time favorite comic book heroes since I started reading comics in 2007 so you already know how pumped I got for this film in 2011 and I was not disappointed. This film really popped out to me because it felt like Raiders of The Lost Ark and The Dirty Dozen had a baby and this was it. This was and always will be the definitive Captain America movie and I do not think that any other future Captain America origin movies would do him justice like this did.
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A darker and thrilling contrast to Captain America: The First Avenger. One of the constant complaints that I have seen from critics (including myself) is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe does not take itself seriously enough. This film most definitely proved me and the other critics wrong in so many different ways. It handled powerful themes like corruption, betrayal, friendship, and absolute power in a way that didn’t feel too forceful but just right. It really had you thinking about a lot of things when you walked out of the movie theater and is one of the very few MCU films that had a massive impact on me since I did take a lot away from it. Now while this film changed my opinion about the MCU largely not being able to take itself seriously, I now hold these movies to a much higher standard and expect a lot more of them to be like this. Now what exactly do I mean by that? Well, I want them to be a bit more balanced than most of them are right now because a larger majority them are a bit too predictable, cookie cutter, and overly comedic to the point you start to have a hard time laughing because a joke is dropped every few seconds. Now that’s not me saying I hate humor because I do love comedy (it’s by far my favorite film genre since I love crazy films like The Hangover, Naked Gun, and a few others) but I like it in moderation and even this film had some moderation to the humor that was present. It definitely has made me a big time fan of the Russo Brothers and I cannot wait to see what they do with everyone’s favorite Star-Spangled Avenger in Civil War and what path they steer the Avengers down in Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 and 2. Long story short, this is probably my number one Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and somewhere in the top 5 of my favorite comic book movies list.
Well, there you have it! That’s how I would personally rank the Marvel Cinematic Universe and my thoughts on why they earned the positions that they did. Some films in the MCU are just simply godawful while others have a lot of unique things that make you want to watch them repeatedly to see what you missed and to get a good idea of how they’ve impacted this widely successful franchise and led up to something like Civil War. Again, this is not a definitive list of what Marvel Cinematic Universe films are good or bad. It is merely subjective based on how I personally feel about these movies and you can disagree with me on them completely and please feel free to post your own list in the comment section down below as I had stated earlier.