All such lists being subjective and knowing that plenty will argue with my ordering, I’m still going to use today’s entry to put the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films thus far in order of my picks from most favorite to least favorite.
However, I’m going to throw a curveball here by acknowledging that I never saw the Edward Norton Hulk film The Incredible Hulk. I think I was still bruised from the Ang Lee Hulk and wasn’t ready to see that story yet again. So am I going to rate Hulk on the list instead? No. It would so easily make the bottom of the list that it isn’t even a contest. Instead, I’m going to “cheat” and throw in a ringer – in honor of Spider-Man finally joining the MCU in the forthcoming Captain America: Civil War, I’m adding in what I think stands as not only the best Spider-Man movie to date, but what I consider one of the finest comic book movies of all time – the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man.
So here’s how I break it down:
10. Iron Man 2
Okay, I expect no argument on this one, correct? Although I don’t hate it the way some people do. I just think it’s probably the weakest film so far in the MCU. Still waiting to see if Ant-Man exceeds expectations or not…
9. Iron Man
Yeah, here’s where I expect the argument – my rankings of the first Iron Man film and the latest. I have to say that beyond the undeniable mad genius of Robert Downey, Jr., this movie didn’t really grab me. I watched it once and never went back again even though it was the beginning of the MCU.
8. Iron Man 3
Look, I hated the twist too. I was really disappointed by what was done to the potential of The Mandarin as a villain, although the Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King (which I’d happily and easily acknowledge is even better than this film) gave hope that this could be fixed one day. But if there is ANYTHING funnier than Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery anywhere in the MCU, I must have missed it. Okay, maybe Agent Coulson’s zingers. Or any brilliant Joss Whedon one-liner you want to name. But the utter narcissistic hilarity of this character is unparalleled and despite the twist of him, which messes up an otherwise “just okay” comic book movie, he wins, man. He just wins.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy
Fun. Fun. Fun. Wrapped up in a big ol’ Chris Pratt/James Gunn sandwich. With extra Groot sauce. Plus the big lug that totally won my heart in this film – Dave Bautista’s Drax. This is the closest to a classic Star Wars film that I’ve seen in ages and J.J. Abrams is going to have to step up to top this one.
6. Thor: The Dark World
I’m a huge Christopher Eccleston fan, but the secondary Marvel villains, although cast so very well (see also: Lee Pace) sadly tend to pale in comparison to the bigger story arc villains (see: Thanos). And the bottom line is: everyone is second fiddle to Loki. And his naughtiness is unleashed in this film, a situation relished by not only the character but his legion of fans as well. Bonus: added brotherly squabbling! I think this is my favorite dysfunctional family in the MCU. Well, aside from the Avengers themselves.
5. Captain America: The First Avenger
“So what made you so special?”
“Nothing. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.”
Pure Cap. Beautiful film. Joe Johnston’s direction. ‘Nuff said.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Sebastian Stan and Frank Grillo both manage to step out of the shadows of being “secondary” villains to bring excitement and drive to the Winter Soldier and Crossbones respectively. Plus Falcon!!! This movie is so terrific I hate to even rank it this “low”. Could easily be considered the best Marvel film to date.
Be still, my Shakespeare-loving heart. Director Kenneth Branagh turned a comic book about Norse mythology into a Shakespearean family drama and I love everything about it. Everything. Especially the epic casting of Chris Hemsworth (who as far as I’m concerned became a star in three minutes of the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek film), Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, and even Kat Dennings (I love Darcy sorrynotsorry). What? Oh yeah, Natalie Portman is in the movie too.
This movie is justthisclosebehind the perfection that was Superman: The Movie. That movie was perfect because of Christopher Reeve being THE iconic Superman – and an even better Clark Kent. This Spider-Man movie, however, is the perfect morality tale that truly illustrates the classic hero concept that “with great power comes great responsibility”. I love this movie very dearly and no other Spider-Man film – or Marvel film in general – has come close to touching my heart the way this one does. One of the best comic book films ever.
And yet, while Spider-Man stands as one of the greatest comic book movies ever made, Avengers is simply an utterly awesome and entertaining work no matter what genre it’s in. It finally gave us the Hulk/Bruce Banner we all longed for – with added Loki interaction. “Puny god.” And the reason for the unparalleled success of this film can be summed up in two words: Joss. Whedon. *bows down* The day Joss Whedon joined forces with Marvel’s Kevin Feige should be a geek holiday. I would celebrate it! Because the result has been an extraordinary track of movies that I continue to look forward to seeing for many years to come. The writing. The writing! We’re not worthy. But we are ever so grateful…
And speaking of years to come, let’s take a quick peek ahead to what’s coming to the MCU!
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Ant-Man (2015)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- Doctor Strange (2016)
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
- Avengers: Infinity War – Part I (2018)
- Black Panther (2018)
- Captain Marvel (2018)
- Avengers: Infinity War – Part II (2019)
- Inhumans (2019)
Of these films, I’m probably most looking forward to the Avengers films, as well as Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch casting joy) and new installments of the Captain America and Thor sagas. Here’s hoping for more Winter Soldier and more Loki!!!
What/Who do you love about the MCU? (Hint: the correct answer is Kevin Feige and Joss Whedon.)