So, over here on this blog, I spend a lot of time thinking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Too much, some might argue. But what I’ve never done is ranked the movies from worst to best – and, with no more movies due out thanks to The Big Thing, I figured that now is the best time to jump into a good ol’-fashioned ranking (with my reviews linked for further explanation of their placing on this list, should you wish to take me up on my rankings in detail). Without further ado: the MCU, ranked!
22. Iron Man 2
Proving that even the super-successful MCU had serious growing pains, Iron Man 2 wastes two good villains, the Tony Stark alcoholism plot, and spends more time ogling Scarlet Johansson than trying to be a good movie.
The Marvel movie that everyone is cool with forgetting deserves to be forgotten. We love Edward Norton on this site, which means I’m glad that his Bruce Banner failed so he wouldn’t get sucked into the MCU as an inferior version of the character made famous by Mark Ruffalo.
I don’t know what it is about these movies. They have an okay sense of humor, I enjoy Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, but I fucking can’t fucking stand them. Luckily, Ant-Man is actually pretty great when he turns up in the rest of the MCU, but his standalones continue to waste a great cast with dirge-like attempts at wit.
I love Thor, I love Chris Hemsworth’s performance, and he and Tom Hiddlestone’s Loki are one of the greatest pairings in the MCU. Thor: The Dark World, despite having nothing else to offer, at least has that. But it’s not even close to enough to save it.
Joss Whedon’s second attempt at a Frankenstein story (he kind of fumbled it before in season four of Buffy) goes the same way as the first attempt, with added studio interference. Age of Ultron is not a terrible movie, but it is a bad one – and it has wrecked Whedon’s career nonetheless.
16. Iron Man 3
Unless Shane Black is making a neo-noir film, his output is sketchy at best. Iron Man 3 is certainly better that The Predator, but it;’s just as messy. While it’s a good watch, it makes the same mistake with Tony as 2: paying lip service to his post-Avengers PTSD the same way 2 did with his alcoholism. Robert Downey Jr should be raging: if the MCU’s tone wasn’t so quippy, then Tony could have been a much better-explored character.
The Russo brothers’ audition for the Avengers movies is a solid thriller with amazing action, great introductions to Black Panther and the MCU’s Spider-Man, but it’s a movie all about the consequence of superheroics that only has superficial consequences for the heroes themselves. Next!
A middling sequel to Tom Holland’s first solo adventure. Far from Home is a movie which is at war with itself :when it acts as a Homecoming sequel it’s damn near perfect, but it being the first movie after Endgame it has to deal with the consequences of that. The rule should be: Spider-Man in the Avengers, not the Avengers in Spider-Man.
13. Captain Marvel
The most recent MCU origin story, and the first female-led one, is a fun watch, with Brie Larson as the titular hero knocking it out of the park. Yet it’s still a by-the-numbers origin, and the MCU has proven time and again that it can improve on its heroes once the intros are done.
12. Doctor Strange
I’m surprised by how much I like Doctor Strange. While it does little to change the MCU origin story formula, it does have some great visuals, and a great performance from Benedict Cumberbatch. The final fight that’s won through cunning rather than a big blowout is also an appreciated touch. And what kind of Mads Mikklesen fan would I be if I put this any lower?
Recapturing the magic of the first Guardians movie is an impossible task, and Vol 2 does suffer a bit from how familiar everything seems so quickly. Still, it digs deeper into its characters, continues Nebula’s surprisingly compelling hero’s journey, and is absolutely hilarious. And yeah, that soundtrack is still great.
Tune in this Friday for the second part of my ranking, and let us know your own favourites (and most despised) MCU movies in the comments below!
By Kevin Boyle
(header image via Forbes)