In this era of superhero movie dominance that are making the studios mega bucks, and the actors into huge stars, there is without a doubt one studio that is firmly leading the way, and that is Marvel Studios. While DC got their Extended Universe finally off the ground with this year’s Batman V Superman, to mixed results, and Fox has had mixed success with some of their properties with X Men doing well, Deadpool doing brilliantly and well the less said about Fantastic Four, the better. Yet Marvel has almost consistently delivered satisfying stories to the screen with some very popular characters to boot, Marvel is currently the Kingpin of comic book movies!
With a now considerable 13 movies of their Extended Universe graced the big screen, there have been some truly spectacular flicks, and so it is time for me to rank all of these movies so far from worst to first. Please bear in mind, that these are my picks, and so I very much doubt you will agree with all of my choices. You might completely agree with me, or maybe you will hate my list altogether, it is all good! Having different opinions is what makes movies and discussions about film so entertaining. So with that all said and done, it is time to Hulk smash into this list!!!!
14. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Speaking of The Hulk, it is where I begin my list. I’m pretty sure if you ask people do they remember this movie, the answer would probably be no. It has become the forgotten movie of the MCU especially since they recast Mark Ruffalo in the role for The Avengers, replacing Ed Norton as everyone’s favourite green rage monster. As a result, this movie has slipped from many people’s minds. While Ed Norton did a decent enough job as Bruce Banner, and the story was interesting to watch. The action between The Hulk and his nemesis The Abomination just got a bit cartoonish at times and very CGI heavy, in a similar vein to the Star Wars prequels, and it was just a bit boring watching two forces matched in power fight one another and was nowhere near as enthralling as the other MCU movie that came out that year, but more on that later.
13. Iron Man 2 (2010)
This movie is a classic case of a studio just pumping out a sequel too quickly after the explosive success of the sequel. While this movie does have its moments such as the showdown in Monaco which was undeniably entertaining, and seeing Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in action for the very first time was awesome. The story did feel a bit rushed and uneven in terms of its pacing. There was potential for a really good story, but this was not fully realised. Despite having two antagonists, neither really stood out (more on that throughout this post) and the movie struggled to recapture the brilliance of Tony Stark’s first outing as Iron Man. It is by no means a terrible film, but much could have been done to improve on it and definitely ranks as the weakest film in the Iron Man trilogy.
12. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
This film showing the birth of Steve Rogers as the iconic Captain America showed what the character was all about. A loyal and determined man who thanks to the super soldier serum is transformed into the awesome superhero, who is fiercely patriotic and just wants to serve his country. Chris Evans was an excellent choice to play him and he has done so right throughout his tenure as the character. The rest of the cast were also excellent with Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones all delivering excellent performances. Equally great was Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, although his accent was a little dubious in places. This film was a bit light on the action scenes, but it was a perfect introduction to see Cap get his stars and stripes, and as we will see, the Captain America franchise only got better and better.
11. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
While the first Thor film was all about Thor learning what it means to be a leader and a warrior, all while being without his God-like power, in this film he had his hammer by his side at all times. While director Alan Taylor did bring some impressive visuals to this story, and there were some really solid and entertaining fight scenes. Furthermore, we got to explore the God of Thunder’s relationship (if you can call it that!) with his brother the mischievous Loki who Tom Hiddleston has so brilliantly portrayed. The real trouble here was, as is so often the case with MCU movies, the villain. Christopher Ecclestone is a fine actor but his portrayal of the Dark Elf Malaktih left a lot to be desired, as he was another of the many disposable Marvel villains and he wasn’t memorable at all. His motivations for his actions were just not explained at all, and it is problematic. Furthermore, Hiddleston’s performance as Loki completely overshadowed him. Let’s hope the third Thor movie can improve things and judging by the recent cast announcements that looks possible!
10. Iron Man 3 (2013)
The first film of Phase 2 of the MCU, and the third solo outing for RDJ as everyone’s favourite billionaire/playboy/philanthropist. With Shane Black on board as writer and director, this had the makings of a great flick, with a great villain in The Mandarin played by Sir Ben Kingsley lined up. Except what they did with that character in the film, whilst it was admittedly a clever plot point, it just seemed such a bizarre decision to have made with an extremely popular character in the comics. As such hardcore fans were quickly alienated, and as such the movie has attracted a lot of hate. Yet the villain we got instead of The Mandarin was one of the better villains this universe has provided. The action was however really solid with the plane scene being a particular highlight and it was an interesting premise, but it ended up being almost too much about Tony Stark rather than Iron Man, and less of the annoying kid would have been good!
9. Thor (2011)
A movie based on the Norse God Thor might have seemed something of a far-fetched concept when it was first pitched, but under the vision of Sir Kenneth Branagh, this movie really worked. Chris Hemsworth as the titular character was a tremendous casting choice, as was casting Tom Hiddleston as the God of Mischief Loki. The sibling rivalry between the two of them is what ultimately drives the movie forward It’s Shakespeare in Asgard, what more could you want? With the legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Rene Russo as Thor and Loki’s mother, and Natalie Portman as Thor’s human love interest, the cast was excellent and it was well acted but maybe a little bit rushed in terms of its plot, and again a largely throw away villain in Laufey, leader of the Frost Giants. Like with the sequel, Hiddleston’s brilliant work overshadowed the role of the Frost Giants, and that was something of a waste. The CGI was excellent and it was a very different movie to those that had come before it.
When the first teaser for this movie arrived, it exploded all over the internet, with Ultron looking like he was going to be the badass awesome villain that the MCU had been craving for a very long time. When the final product arrived, while it was still really enjoyable to watch and to see the Avengers reunited. The introductions of Scarlet Witch and Vision were welcome ones to the plethora of characters we have seen so far, and the action was as is often the case with Marvel really well handled. However, despite being all badass in the trailers, the Ultron we got was ultimately a little bit disappointing, he had his moments of brilliance but was far from being the quality villain we had hope he would be. For all of his efforts, Joss Whedon couldn’t manage to make a film to go one better than the original, which is what a sequel should do. Plus, a few of the side plots could have been very easily taken out of the finished product, and it wouldn’t have made too much of a difference.
7. Doctor Strange
The MCU up to this point had dabbled into many fascinating subjects, but until this movie, they had not dabbled in the world of sorcery and magic. It certainly was an interesting direction for the MCU to go in and ensures that the franchise retains interest for the audience going forward. Benedict Cumberbatch was excellent in the titular role and it provided some of the most remarkable visuals that we have seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point. Yet once again, this film’s real let down is the villain. Again Mads Mikkelsen, as an actor, excellent but the script does not give him the chance to become a villain on the level of quality like Loki.
6. Iron Man (2008)
The film that started this mad universe off, and aren’t we all glad it did! It’s by no means the best film in the MCU but if this film had not been the storming success it was, what has since come after it might not have been green-lit. This film revived RDJ’s career and transformed him into a huge star and he has since become one could argue the face of this whole universe. Jon Favreau put together a very gripping and emotional story telling of Iron Man’s origins and how he became the awesome superhero that he is. While Jeff Bridges gave one of the better performances as an MCU villain than many of the others. the final fight while deeply entertaining and very well made gave a taste of things to come as it was two people with essentially the same arsenal fighting one another, which again proved to be a bit frustrating.
When Edgar Wright, who had been attached to direct this film for a long time, left the project, it looked as though this project was doomed, almost destined to be a complete train wreck with very small odds (sorry!) of it being a successful hit. Fortunately that didn’t happen and the movie that emerged was one of the funniest MCU movies to have emerged so far, maybe even the funniest. Paul Rudd excelled as the titular character with Michael Douglas brilliant as Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly also on form as his daughter. New director Peyton Reed did a tremendous job with the action sequences, both small and big, but yet again, the real trouble with this film was the villain, the Yellow-Jacket. Corey Stoll’s performance was one of the better ones, but he proved to be another one of those throw away villains which is again frustrating. In addition, it was another case of two characters with very similar power bases fighting, which while it made for some great viewing, was hard to ignore.
Read my original Ant Man review here.
Back when Iron Man in 2008 came out, a post credit scene hinted at something called the “Avengers Initiative,” and fans went crazy thinking something like this could actually be possible. After four years since Iron Man was released, the fans dream came true courtesy of supernerd Joss Whedon, and it was glorious to watch. As you might expect when the team meet up initially, it is fair to say that they don’t exactly get along. In fact, they bicker and squabble about a lot of things until they’re needed to come together to help save the world from the threat of a familiar face, Loki and his extraterrestrial army. In Loki, the MCU has produced its best villain to date by far, as like all good villains, you understand why he is doing what he’s doing, even though you really don’t want him to succeed. Whedon managed to also make the movie really funny in places, and Whedon deserves enormous praise for making this film the storming success it was, and it set the benchmark for other studios to try and create their own cinematic universes.
Prior to the release of this film, if you had asked your average comic book fan: “Name a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy,” chances are good that you would have received a perplexed look in response. When this movie was first announced, there were suggestions that a movie about these characters simply could not and would not work. How wrong they were, how very wrong they were. Director James Gunn brilliantly brought these characters to life with a funny, and exciting story that probably ranks as the funniest film the MCU has seen thus far. Our quintet of anti-villains turned heroes were all very interesting to watch and each and every one of them had the screen time needed to flesh out their characters and to make the audience care about them. Who’d have thought a talking tree that only says three words could get the viewers tearing up? What’s more, the action was extremely exciting and that soundtrack was just the icing on a very delicious cake! Bring on Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2!
The thirteenth film to have exploded onto the big screen, and certainly one of the biggest movies that Marvel has made to date. But was it unlucky? Not a chance. Many dubbed this film Avengers 2.5, but at its heart, it is most definitely a Captain America film. Throughout the movies so far, it has all been building to this titanic clash between Captain America and Tony Stark. The Russo brothers along with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely delivered a really emotional story that was just gripping to watch from start to finish. You might have decided what team you were on before the film’s release, but the film does a tremendous job of making you see and understand where both sides are coming from. What’s more the terrific introductions of new characters such as Black Panther and Tom Holland’s new Spider-Man, only added to the collcetion of great MCU characters that we have assembled so far, along with all the characters we are familiar with from the previous movies. The Achilles Heel of these films has often been that the hero and the villain are too similar, well that is thrown out of the window here! The handling of the action scenes was once again tremendously well done by the Russo brothers, with that airport battle scene being quite possibly the best action set piece that we have seen in the MCU so far. Phase 3 got off to a flying start that is for sure!
The cream of the MCU crop for me is 2014’s The Winter Soldier. This movie took the character of Captain America that was established in the first movie, and made him a very unique and interesting character without a doubt. On top of that, this film provided an enthralling storyline that really went past the standard Marvel formula, and it became this gripping spy/espionage thriller, as we watch that SHIELD is not what we thought it was at all, as the sinister Nazi organisation HYDRA has been lurking in its shadow for decades. Besides Loki, the Winter Soldier proved to be a very capable villain who certainly left his mark on the MCU, as did the film’s other antagonist Alexander Pierce played by Robert Redford. The decision to put the Winter Soldier in was perfect because as a character, he’s a very significant one to Steve Rogers. What’s more he did not become one of the many throw away villains that we have seen in a few of these movies. Throw in Black Widow kicking ass once again and the introduction of Anthony Mackie as Falcon, and you have for me, what is the best MCU movie we have had so far!
So, there you go! My list ranking all the MCU films we have had so far! Do you agree with my list, or do you disagree? The MCU has certainly produced some great movies, and some less than stellar ones. Yet despite their great films, getting a good villain has been something of a problem for them with too many of them being in some cases completely forgettable. One can hope that Thanos or one of the villains in Phase 3 can break that mould. Let me know by commenting below or tweet me at @martin_rich_91! I would love to hear your thoughts and your own list on how you would rank these movies!