I’m a 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.
Ant-Man and the Wasp comments will be added soon! (8/22/18)
This post was last updated on 5/21/2018. Note: I’ve removed Inhumans since it is really just a made-for-tv movie.
Here’s how I rank all of the MCU films, to date:
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. Black Panther
I didn’t think Disney & Marvel could release a movie that would break into my top three MCU films but Black Panther has done it. T’challa is a compassionate, caring, and he leads with conviction. Killmonger is a villain with a cause and this makes the stakes much higher. There are social statements but they’re important to the plot and character development. Some of the CG was bad and I think the movie was a little too long but overall this is a great movie.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
With the return of Spider-Man to the MCU, Marvel and Sony have collaborated on a movie about the famous wall-crawler that actually works. The coming-of-age story without all the retelling of his origin really works well and Tom Holland as Peter Parker is a great fit. Michael Keaton as Vulture is expertly executed.
7. 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.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
I had high hopes for GotG2. The first film broke the Marvel mold and it was a fun movie to watch. While there is a great story-line in the film about father-son relationships and characters are flesh-out, it’s overshadowed by the tremendous fan-service. The entire opening sequence was there just to pander to everyone who’s in love with little Groot. I never felt like the galaxy was actually at risk in the film. Overall, it’s a fun film but it left a lot to be desired.
10. Avengers: Infinity War
Like Age of Ultron, Infinity War suffers from bloat. Too many characters, too little plot. It’s a good movie but I didn’t feel like the stakes were high enough. The ending didn’t move me because I know about some of the upcoming movies. There was a lot of great action and the storyline about Thanos was great but the rest seemed superfluous.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
14. 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.
15. Thor: Ragnarok
This is the best of the three Thor movies but just barely. The serious nature of the potential destruction of an entire civilization is overshadowed by comedy. While the film is entertaining & funny at times the viewer would have been better served with a serious take on the events of Ragnarok.
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.
17. 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.
18. 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?”
19. 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 11/13/2017 (Source)
- Black Panther $700,059,566
- Avengers: Infinity War $678,601,424
- Marvel’s The Avengers $623,357,910
- Avengers: Age of Ultron $459,005,868
- Iron Man 3 $409,013,994
- Captain America: Civil War $408,081,349
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 $389,813,101
- Spider-Man: Homecoming $334,201,140
- Guardians of the Galaxy $333,176,600
- Iron Man $318,412,101
- Thor: Ragnarok $315,058,289
- Iron Man 2 $312,433,331
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier $259,766,572
- Doctor Strange $232,641,920
- Ant-Man and The Wasp $208,681,866
- 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.