I’m a huge fan of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). I think Disney and Marvel have done a great job releasing some great films that capture the imagination of viewers of all ages.
Some of the films are better than others. Some of them probably shouldn’t have been made at all.
Next year (2017), we’ll get three more so this list will be updated a few more times in the next 15 months. This list was last updated on 11/10/2016.
Here’s how I rank all of the MCU films, so far:
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy is far from a perfect film but Marvel gave James Gunn the freedom he needed to direct a fantastic movie. It broke out of the “Marvel Mold” and made going to see a superhero movie fun again.
2. Iron Man
Until the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man topped my list of MCU films. It was the first one released and breathed life into the superhero genre. Unfortunately, it also led to Marvel trying to bottle their success, I’ll talk about that more later.
3. Marvel’s The Avengers
The Avengers‘ release came nearly a full year after its predecessor. Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay and directed the film and browncoats everywhere weren’t disappointed even if Dr. Horrible 2 and more Firefly would be delayed or never see the light of day.
4. Captain America: The First Avenger
The story of the hero out of time is one that has to be handled carefully. You can’t just drop a character from the 1940s into 2011 and crack jokes about how old-fashioned he is. The screenwriters nailed it for this one and that’s why I’m a fan of this film.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America is an intriguing character to me. His guilt over losing Bucky and pain at finding out The Winter Soldier is his old friend could have made for a brilliant film. Unfortunately, Marvel had to apply their formula and make sure it contained the requisite amount of action and explosions. The lightning they caught in a bottle with Iron Man has started to fizzle.
6. Captain America: Civil War
For me, Civil War is now the baseline for a good MCU movie. If it’s not better than this one, they may as well have released it directly to DVD. The biggest problem with this movie is the fan service. The addition of Spider-Man is superfluous, at best. The action was nice and the plot was interesting but it should have been cut to 90 minutes.
7. Avengers: Age of Ultron
The second MCU film directed by Joss Whedon didn’t fare as well in my eyes. Too many characters, too many little plot points and a script that fell flat. Whedon admitted in interviews there was tension between him and the studio. It shows. Ultron didn’t live up to the hype. Full video review here.
8. Iron Man 2
Following the box-office disaster (in MCU terms) of The incredible Hulk can’t be hard to do. I think after seeing Iron Man and then Hulk, many MCU fans ranked Iron Man 2 higher because they were glad they could forget about the big green disaster. It’s just above average but doesn’t push the all right buttons like the original.
You can read my full review of Ant-Man here. Suffice it to say that this movie tops the list of MCU films we could do without. Marvel’s “bottle of success” ran dry. It’s lukewarm, at best.
10. Doctor Strange
In so many ways, Doctor Strange is a very “Marvel” movie but in other ways it is not. A lot of time is spent on Steven Strange’s motivation and ambition. The movie dives into the character of Doctor Strange in ways that MCU movies in the past have not. However, the misuse of magic as part of the plot really ruins it for me.
Another film that the MCU could do without. I think Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of Thor is overdone and the whole romance angle is ridiculous. The lore that surrounds the character is lost and instead we get a long-haired muscle-head with bravado.
12. Iron Man 3
What was done with The Mandarin made me want to throw something at the movie screen. Making a game out of killing people at the end of the movie made things even worse.
12. Thor: The Dark World
Tying Agents of SHIELD into the movie was a great idea. This movie was not. Half the time I was thinking to myself, “What’s going on here?”
14. The Incredible Hulk
I haven’t seen this film yet so technically it’s unranked. Based on all the other reviews I’ve seen online I suspect that it would rank last anyway.
MCU films rank by U.S. total office as of 12/14/2016 (Source)
- Marvel’s The Avengers $623,357,910
- Avengers: Age of Ultron $459,005,868
- Iron Man 3 $409,013,994
- Captain America: Civil War $408,081,341
- Guardians of the Galaxy $333,176,600
- Iron Man $318,412,101
- Iron Man 2 $312,433,331
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier $259,766,572
- Doctor Strange $232,185,345
- Thor: The Dark World $206,362,140
- Thor $181,030,624
- Ant-Man $180,202,163
- Captain America: The First Avenger $176,654,505
- The Incredible Hulk $134,806,913
Do you agree or disagree with my rankings? Let me know in the comments below.