The Marvel Universe: Worst to Best

Alright everyone, this is my ranking of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films from my least favourite to my favourite. Let it be said that I don’t really think there is a bad superhero movie in this list. Just ones that are better than the others. I also had written this list pre Endgame. So Endgame will not be included in this list. These are just my opinion and how I feel. This is a franchise that is near and dear to my heart. I was 9 the first time I saw Robert Downey Jr. in Iron man, back in 2008 and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. And with the realse of Endgame this weekend, what better time to talk about all 22 films in the MCU.

#21.    Thor: The Dark World

What can I say about The Dark World? Well, considering I don’t remember the movie that well, I don’t have much. Easily the weakest villain in the whole MCU, Malekith is so forgettable. I honestly could not explain to you what his goal in the movie is. The first two Thor movies also suffer from some of the worst side characters. As much as I love Natalie Portman, her romance does not work in this movie at all with Chris Hemsworth. And Kat Dennings… Ughhh… don’t even get me started on her. However, as the weakest MCU film, there is some good stuff in this movie. Tom Hiddleston gives it his all as Loki. Chris Hemsworth is so cool as Thor. But again I can’t remember much about this movie, so that’s all I really have to say.

#20.    Captain Marvel

This is a movie I wanted to give a second viewing before I posted this list, but I just never got around to it. I really had no interest in seeing this a second time and paying money to go see it again. For me, Captain Marvel was uncompelling. I grew to care for the Skrulls and Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) more than I did Captain Marvel or any of her relationships. She is, unfortunately, a character I could care less about and I wasn’t all that excited to see her in Endgame…. Sorry

#19.    Iron Man 3

I actually really like this movie, I think Shane Black does an excellent job making a fun action movie, but not a great MCU movie. This movie just feels a little out of character for the MCU, and that’s why it’s so low on the list. This is a really good Tony Stark movie. I like how the character is forced to go back to basics and work with limited resources. However, this is not the best Iron Man movie. The choices made in the film, especially at the end with Tony destroying his suits and getting the shrapnel removed, are almost pointless by the time Age of Ultron rolls around. This is a fun Shane Black Movie, not a great Marvel movie.

#18.    The Incredible Hulk

The black sheep of the MCU family. Some people don’t even realize this movie is apart of the MCU and it makes sense. It’s a different actor then what we’re used to seeing in the MCU, it’s distributed by a different company, and it really doesn’t connect with the rest of the universe all that much. Edward Norton is a great Bruce Banner. He’s very believable as a scientist on the run. The end battle in Harlem with The Abomination is one of the best end fight scenes in all of the MCU. This is probably the best Hulk movie we will ever get, and it’s actually a lot of fun.

#17.    Ant-Man and the Wasp

What makes this movie so entertaining to watch is the impressive performance of Paul Rudd. This guy is one of the most likable actors working today. He is so much fun as this character. Along with him are equally significant roles by Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly finally being able to step into the role of The Wasp. This movie is one of the best comedy scripts in the MCU. However, the reason this movie is so low on the list is that it is painfully uneventful. With no real antagonist of the film, I felt no drive or stakes. This movie makes it to this spot on the list solely for the great cast and how much fun they are to watch.

#16.    Iron Man 2

A lot of people will put this movie on the bottom of their list, and I don’t know why. A lot is going on in this movie, it’s an Iron Man sequel, and it’s also an Avengers setup movie while introducing so many new characters. Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 does suffer from being overpopulated with plot lines. But for me, this movie is a lot of fun. I like the attitude behind this movie. From the killer soundtrack to the excellent performances. The special effects in this movie look incredible (in fact the suits in this movie look even better then they do in Infinity War). Justin Hammer is a villain I really hope to see some more of. Iron Man 2, give it another watch, it’s better then what most people say it is in my opinion.

#15.    Captain America: The First Avenger

The First Avenger does a fantastic job of introducing arguably the best character in the MCU. Captain America’s spirit and honest to heart goodness are character traits we need to see more of in movies. The movie has such a right message of being a true hero by doing simply what is right in your heart. The scene in which Steve Rogers, before he becomes the super soldier, jumps on the grenade to protect the people around him is the best visual representation of who a character is in all the MCU. Hugo Weaving is an excellent villain (well, duh) as the evil Red Skull. Some of my negatives are I don’t like how pretty much all of WWII is skipped through a 3-minute montage. And the whole movie moves at a bit of a slow pace for my liking. Overall, this movie does a great job introducing Cap and his story and how important he is to the overarching journey.

#14.    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

This movie feels like a natural progression for these characters. Guardians 2 takes the side characters of the first movie and starts to flesh them out as people. Yondu surprisingly has the best storyline and redemption arc. It also makes Nebula a broken character, she went from being one of my least favourite parts of the first movie to now being a character I actually care for. This is also right around the time Marvel started figuring out how to do a proper villain in their movies. Kurt Russell’s Ego The Living Planet is a character who is more than just a plot device for our heroes to overcome. He is intertwined with Star-Lord’s story, and is in many ways, what he’s always wanted, family. For me, the jokes get to be a little much and a bit too ruthless. Some of the lines were just mean, which I understand that’s the point, I just found the first one did it a little more tastefully.

#13.    Thor

Kenneth Branagh, with the help of Chris Hemsworth, proved to the world that a golden-haired, winged helmet and red cape wearing god who wields a hammer as his weapon of choice can actually be pretty cool. Branagh brings almost a Shakespearean like style and tone to the film which matches perfectly with the story of gods and fathers and sons. Like I mentioned before Chris Hemsworth owns this role. I honestly can’t see anyone else playing this role and not look ridiculous. And perhaps the best part of this movie is Tom Hiddleston’s induction into the MCU. Loki is a fan favourite and for good reason. Where they go with him and his journey through jealousy leading him to commit the acts he does only in the hope to impress his father is one of the most compelling stories in the MCU. Again, the side characters don’t really work except for Stellan Skarsgard, I like him. Natalie Portman just doesn’t work, but at least Kat Dennings is toned down in this one.

#12.    Spider-Man: Homecoming

This is a personal reason this movie is much lower on the list then most people would have it, but it’s my list so deal with it. Positives, Tom Holland is the best live-action spidey we have seen (as much as I love Tobey). He looks and sounds like a kid from Queens, and not some 30 year old trying to pass for a high school student. He checks off everything on the Peter Parker checklist. A bit of a nerd who doesn’t have many friends, Check. A strong sense of moral responsibility and to do the right thing, Check. Once he puts on the mask, he can hide any of his fears and insecurities and become the hero he has always been inside, Check. It’s a great performance and an excellent addition to the MCU to have a character for younger audiences to project themselves onto. We also have the Walter White, if you will, of the MCU. A man whose normal life gets screwed over by the events of the battle for New York and government officials who put him out business decides to break bad and start taking things back for himself under the name The Vulture. Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes easily ranks in the top 5 MCU villains for sure. What makes this movie difficult to love is Homecoming doesn’t feel like a Spider-Man movie to me. It’s not so much Tom Holland (as I said I think he’s great) as it is the elements around him. He spends a bit of the opening of the movie swinging around New York, but it never has that awe factor. After that beginning of the film, we spend most of our time in the suburbs, on a boat, a secret government facility, or in Washington. All really dull locations for a character who’s known for scaling buildings and swinging from skyscrapers. I also just really love the classic Mary-Jane, Harry, and Gwen Stacey characters and stories. So I’m not the biggest fan of Ned and Michele/MJ, even though I do like them in the context of the movie. I guess this movie is going for a different approach, which it accomplishes, it’s just not the Spider-Man movie I picture.

#11.    Avengers: Age of Ultron

This is a complicated film to get into. It’s probably the most complex one in the MCU. There are a lot of moving parts that have to be put into place to set up where this universe is going. What I like about Age of Ultron is Joss Whedon’s style is seen all throughout this film. From his quirky and witty dialogue to his kinetic energy between his characters, his stamp is all over this movie. It’s well known that this film broke Joss Whedon and totally wiped this guy out from all the pressure and mandated scenes that had to be injected into his story. And for the most part, these storylines are handled relatively well. The Thor hot tub vision scene is a little misplaced and weird, and I would have liked to spend some more time on Hawkeye’s farm. Seeing all these characters back together again and introducing some new members to the team was a delight to see back when this movie first came out. Ultron is kind of a wasted opportunity. What we do get of him is excellent. James Spader’s voice is powerful and haunting. I think just due to the sheer amount of content packed into this movie, Ultron just gets a little underused. Overall this film works for me and definitely sets the tone and trajectory for the rest of the universe to follow.

#10.    Doctor Strange

I remember seeing this film in IMAX when it first came out with a few buddies, and I remember being blown away by the creativity on screen. From the visual effects to the worlds created within this movie took me on a crazy ride that I really enjoyed. Even now, watching in it on my 55” TV at home this movie still wows me. Other than the first Guardians movie, Doctor Strange really showed us how vast this world Marvel has created is. Benedict Cumberbatch is near perfect for this role. He progresses so much and learns an extremely valuable lesson throughout this story, you get to watch this self-righteous, self-centered person became a willing and sacrificial hero. I only have a few issues with this movie. The timeline of this movie and where it fits into the rest of the universe isn’t apparent. As much as I love Mads Mikkelsen, they don’t give his villain much to do in this movie.

#9.    Ant-Man

Ant-Man is the most down to earth, grounded movie Marvel has put out. The stakes at large are at the most part personal and exclusive to our main protagonists. Later on, those stakes become much larger and more is at risk, but what I cared for more in this movie was if Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) could save his daughter in time, or if Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) could restore his relationship with his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). That’s what makes Ant-Man great, you grow to care for everyone you see on screen. From the wacky sidekicks to Scott Lang’s divorced wife and new husband. Ant-Man is also Marvels take on a heist film which is nice spin to these movies. It’s something we hadn’t seen before. All in all, Ant-Man is great and extremely funny, definitely one of Marvel’s best and unique stories.

#8.    Black Panther

What amazes me most about Black Panther is its ability to bring in real-world social issues into a movie about a king who dresses up like a cat and fights a one-armed man and does it so seamlessly, yet with so much power and weight behind its underlying message. Black Panther is able to convey a message that is a tough subject in our world right now and not have it come off preachy or crammed down our throats. Instead, it chooses to celebrate a culture that has been sorely underrepresented, and spark a cultural movement in making this movie one of the highest grossing films of all time in North America and being the only superhero/comic book based film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Black Panther is not only a fun and exciting superhero movie, with great action, a cool hero, and witty dialogue (which it is all of that), but it bears the weight of social responsibility, that I have not seen a movie to this scale accomplish this well before. Michael B. Jordan is one of the best actors of his generation, and he will be around for a long time. His character Killmonger, for me, has the most compelling story in all the MCU. A man who is just in his beliefs but misguided in his actions, Killmonger is a tragic tale of what unfortunately some people in our world go through. His convictions are so moving that after all is said and done and is ultimately defeated by Black Panther, the King of Wakanda chooses to change his own beliefs because of him. This is a fun movie, that if you look at it on its surface level is an exciting action movie that most people will enjoy, but if you choose to look deeper and ask yourself the questions this movie poses, you will find a film with some of the most compelling storytelling out there. Ryan Coogler, you are an inspiration.

#7.    Iron Man

The movie that started it all. Not only did this movie revitalize Robert Downey Jr.’s career and transcend Jon Favreau’s, but it injected a syringe full of adrenaline straight to the heart of the superhero genre (along with the help of The Dark Knight, also released summer of 2008). Iron Man is full of attitude and has a sleek style to it. Robert Downey Jr. is not a near-perfect casting, he is perfect casting. I can’t imagine anyone playing this role as well as he has for the past decade now. If this movie had failed, we wouldn’t have the MCU. It wouldn’t exist had this movie sucked. Thankfully for us, Jon Favreau, Kevin Feige and RDJ’s love for this character and the source material shine through in every frame of this movie. From the arrogant, narcissistic, billionaire, playboy, Tony Stark, to the awakened spirit of his wrongdoing and destruction caused to the world, Tony Stark becomes Iron Man and learns to fight for others and not only for himself. There is so much I can say about how great this movie is. Iron Man is the first in the MCU and one of its finest.

#6.    The Avengers

Marvel, with this movie, changed the landscape for all future blockbusters. What Marvel and Disney were able to do with The Avengers was unlike anything we had seen before. To have all these characters plus all their individual movies come together in one film that works this well is an incredible achievement. We are so used to seeing that now that we forgot how incredible that was to see for the first time in 2012. Not only is The Avengers a fun and exciting movie, but it’s a well structured, well-paced film. The Avengers was able to build off of the 5 previous movies and continue all these characters without losing their unique personalities. The Avengers is straight up fun. Joss Whedon was the perfect pick to write and direct this film. His smart and witty dialogue matched perfectly with the clashing personalities of The Avengers. Sure the movie looks like it was filmed for TV just with an insane budget, but the characters on display are the focus. Because of this movie, these characters have been catapulted to the forefront of all pop culture. We live in a time where it is cool to be a comic book fan, and we have this movie to thank. The hero dynamic and the way they all learn to work together build to an epic conclusion and a fantastic third act that brought joy to countless people.

#5.    Guardians of the Galaxy

This is a special movie. James Gunn poured his whole heart into making this film. Yes, this movie is funny and fun, but that’s only the surface of Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians are broken people who decide to band together to help people who have rejected them their entire lives. For a movie filled with selfish characters, this movie is pretty selfless. Guardians of the Galaxy carries the most prominent emotional weight the whole MCU has to offer. Despite these characters being larger than life and absurd characters, I mean one of them is a raccoon, and the other is a tree, there is a lot of heart injected into them that anyone can latch themselves onto one of them and find something to relate with. Guardians of the Galaxy is a bold film in a lot of different ways. This movie could have gone horribly wrong. Casting Chris Pratt at the time was a significant risk, now he stars a bunch of blockbuster movies. Having the story take place off earth and in space with, again, a tree and a raccoon as two of your core team members. Guardians of the Galaxy finds a way to make this all work. I love its heart, and I love its characters.

#4.    Captain America: Civil War

The airport battle and the introduction of Spider-Man make it to this spot on the list alone. Civil War, while being very clearly a Cap movie, sets up the moral conflict between Iron Man and Captain America so beautifully, fleshing out both sides of the argument, that as a fan it was hard to choose a team. Civil War was able to present this conflict to the audience and actually get them to think about the issue at hand. While handling this conflict, we are introduced to two new characters, Black Panther and Spider-Man, along with all of the returning heroes from the previous films (except for Thor and Hulk). The balance between the story, all the characters, and the epic battles seems like something that would be impossible, but the Russo Brothers prove their skill as filmmakers and deliver a satisfying movie. The only reason this movie is not at my number one spot and I feel holds the film behind is how Bucky is handled. I don’t really care for him in this movie, and I think that’s because his character is essentially reduced down to a human MacGuffin. He’s more or less a plot device. I find his story in The Winter Soldier to be superior and way more compelling, which we will be getting to in just a moment…

#3.    Thor: Ragnarok

This is easily, hands down, not even a question for me, the most fun Marvel movie to date. The decision to take Thor, a character that at first was really cool but now has become a bit of a boring character and too serious, and make a 180 with the style of the films he was in into the comedy spectrum was a brilliant move. Not only do we get a hilarious movie but we never compromise on any of the character development we have seen for Thor and we never lose any of the spirit of who he is. The work done between the three key players of Thor: Ragnarok, Kevin Feige, Chris Hemsworth, and Taika Waititi, was clearly a labour of love and an honest evaluation of where the character was at. Chris Hemsworth dives straight into his comedy chops and is incredible in this role. He has never played Thor better. All the new characters, along with some of the returning favourites were never wasted (sorry Warriors Three, I never really cared for you). Let’s talk about Korg for a minute. Korg is something I never knew I wanted, no, NEEDED in my life. I could easily sit down and watch an entire movie just about this guy. I loved every second he was on screen. Thor’s emotional journey of discovering his power within himself provides an emotional punch to the film and then leads into what is the single greatest moment of the MCU. When The Immigrant Song kicks on in the final confrontation on the bridge at the end of the film gives me chill every time, and I must’ve rewind that scene a couple dozen times by now. There is so much to talk about in this movie, Hela is a badass villain, Loki’s full redemption arc brings a satisfying conclusion, Jeff Goldblum is incredible, the visual style and colours pop, I didn’t even mention Hulk! Hulk is like the massive cherry on top of this already delicious movie. Oh, and Valkyrie, I love Tessa Thompson. I could go on all day about this movie.

#2.    Avengers: Infinity War

If you thought Civil War was a feat to accomplish, look again. The Russo Brothers and Marvel have put out their boldest film yet. We thought balancing just half of these characters in The Avengers wasn’t possible, now we have 19 films that come head to head. Infinity War is the epic accumulation of ten years of groundbreaking, innovative storytelling. Thanos is the ultimate villain, and it is so good to see him finally get to do some stuff after being teased since 2012. Josh Brolin is menacing and fierce, a formidable foe for this many heroes. In my opinion, this is his movie, and we spend a significant amount of time developing his case. Seeing this movie opening night with a packed house was probably the best way to watch this movie. The moment Thor shows up in Wakanda had the whole theatre standing and cheering out loud. And when the finale happens, and we learn our heroes lost, the entire crowd gasped as they watched all of their favourite characters get dusted in the snap.

#1.    Captain America: The Winter Soldier

For me, this movie hits everything perfectly. The action is the best in the whole series, the storyline is the most intriguing, just everything in this movie works. Captain America went from everyone least favourite Avenger (out of Thor and Iron Man) to a majority of people’s favourite. He actually feels superhuman and like he can actually do incredible things. The addition of Robert Redford only adds to the credibility of the film. The Winter Soldier is a character who is layered and is much more than the traditional villain. The fast pace of the film is only made more intense with the cat and mouse feel to the movie with Cap on the run. All the side characters from Black Widow to Nick Fury to Frank Grillo’s character to Falcon being introduced, all of them were memorable and played important roles in not only this movie but in future films to come. For me, this is just the best-made movie of the bunch and is easily my favourite MCU movie.

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