The Absolutely Official (and CORRECT!) MCU Rankings!

With Thor: Love And Thunder preparing to hit theaters and dominate the box office this weekend, I thought I would take a moment a look back at the MCU. Because you cannot deny the overwhelming effect that Marvel has had on the movie industry, and it’s not always good.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe changed how studios viewed film, and the biggest detractors of these films do make valid points. Studios have been less interested in spending money trying to create new and exciting things, rather choosing to squeeze the blood out of whatever (infinity?) stones they had the copyrights to. And no one can deny that the worst thing DC did with their films was try and create their own little cinematic universe, unless you want to say the worst thing they did was putting Zach fucking Snyder in charge of it. Oof.

However, for these films and their negative impact on the industry, you also cannot deny one very simple fact: they’re usually pretty fucking good. Of the 29 films we’ve seen from the MCU, I’m willing to say that only one of them is truly bad, six are deeply flawed, and that makes the other twenty-two pretty solid… or better. I would declare the top dozen films in this list really great and consistently rewatchable.

So, how does the MCU rank? Let’s dive in, superfans. Excelsior!

Edited to include the Ant-Man movies which I forgot because I am an idiot.

29. Thor: The Dark World

There is a moment very early in Thor: The Dark World where Sif tells Thor that she has every under control and he responds with, “Then why is everything on fire?” And that is the only enjoyable moment of the film. Seriously. The only one.

28. Iron Man 2

Here is how lifeless and rambling the second Iron Man film is: Both Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke turn in really amazing and fun performances, and we get the introduction of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and it is still the second worst MCU film. Worlds better than The Dark World, but that is not saying a whole lot.

27. The Incredible Hulk

Edward Norton only got one chance to be Bruce Banner, and this movie shows us why. It commits the worst sin one of these movies could make: it is the most forgettable film in the MCU.

26. Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Another fun performance (James Spader) wasted in a film which somehow has too many and not enough ideas at the same time. It’s crazy that this is the pinpoint moment where Joss Whedon lost all of his nerd adoration. But it’s deserved.

25. The Eternals

This film had the potential to be three pretty interesting movies. Instead, we get way too much crammed into an almost three-hour dirge and it’s just so long. It’s too long. I think I may still be watching it. For every moment where you think, “Oh, this is fun,” there are eighteen moments where you just want the film to focus on something smaller.

24. Ant-Man & The Wasp

The second Ant-Man film has a much larger cast which means Paul Rudd & Michael Pena have less to do. This proves to be a big mistake for the film.

23. Avengers: Infinity War

People go to the mat for this movie and I have no fucking idea why. As a combined film with Endgame, I guess it works. However, as a stand-alone effort, it’s bloated and disappointing and spends so much time with Thanos (Josh Brolin) while also never giving us his motivation or any good reason for why he’s supposed to have been this diabolical villain this whole time.

22. Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2

This movie survives on the likability of its cast, and that’s all it has going for it. My favorite criticism of this film came from Josh Larsen, who said that no one ever felt like they were in real danger, it just felt like the cast was falling because the CGI design team hadn’t made a spot for them to land yet. Still, this cast is so fun and are so wonderful to watch as a unit that it makes this film pretty decent.

21. Iron Man 3

I have grown to appreciate this film as not just MCU’s definitive Christmas movie, but the first film where this franchise started to take some interesting looks at what makes Tony Stark the way he is. Ben Kingsley is fucking amazing as The Mandarin, and the film has a sharp edge (thanks to writer-director Shane Black) that makes me enjoy it more with every additional viewing.

20. Thor

For being the #20 choice, Thor kind of rules. The story works best as a broad Shakespearean comedy, and director Kenneth Branagh absolutely leans into that element of the film. Both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are really great in this, and when they’re playing all palace intrigue, this movie has legs for days. The film loses it’s footing in the broader action scenes, but there is too much here not to be entertained by.

19. Ant-Man

Paul Rudd makes any movie serviceable, but there are a lot of other things to like about this. Michael Pena is a fantastic sidekick and the two of them make this movie funny enough to be enjoyable and silly.

18. Doctor Strange

If this movie had just connected a little bit tighter, it would be a top 5 MCU film, for sure. But, for it’s flaws, it is most the most visually innovative Marvel film and the one which, perhaps, has my favorite ending. I think Dr. Strange is a hard character to bring to the screen because he just doesn’t shoot or punch everything. But this film does it pretty effectively.

17. Spider-Man: Far From Home

I really love this film as a post-script to the fourth phase of the MCU. Because of this, the action sequences (which are fun) pale in comparison to watching Peter Parker (Tom Holland) try and navigate the world without the help of his mentor. Like most of the films from here on out, Far From Home is just as interested in fights as it is helping understand the people behind the masks.

16. Black Widow

The weirdest thing about this movie was that it was released after Endgame instead of its proper place in the timeline. But Florence Pugh is absolutely electric in this and there are some exciting sequences that just make you sad that we won’t be seeing Johansson back in this role again.

15. Dr. Strange in the Multiverse Of Madness

This movie is kind of two movies at once: part of it is a very straightforward Marvel film with all the stuff you’ve come to expect, which does not necessarily make those parts bad. But where this movie really kicks is when director Sam Raimi puts his clear touches in the film. This is the sole MCU film with legitimately creepy imagery and sequences, and that makes this film pretty special. Would have loved to have seen more Raimi in this.

14. Captain America: The First Avenger

The First Avenger plays as a fun old war movie, and that is where it’s special. Because this is a throwback film, it takes on many of the qualities of Steve Rogers: this film has an innocence and playfulness and earnestness and determination that would make Captain America proud.

13. Marvel’s The Avengers

This movie feels like a comic book in the sense that when we see all of these characters working together (or against each other), it feels crazy and new and exciting. And, unlike Infinity War, Whedon allows everyone to get enough time to flesh out their characters so we’re able to care about everyone when the Avengers finally assemble.

12. Spider-Man: No Way Home

When a movie is gimmick-heavy, as No Way Home clearly is, it better be a strong as hell gimmick and you better use it well. Director Jon Watts masterfully weaves in the other non-MCU Spider-Men and their villains in wonderfully while still making the movie about Tom Holland’s Peter Parker: A nice kid trying to do good.

11. Guardians Of The Galaxy

This movie is just fun. James Gunn uses music and comedy and amazing performances to give audiences a great time. Yes, the stakes are there and feel very real. But, be honest: you’d watch this crew just fly around for two hours, wouldn’t you? I know I would.

10. Captain Marvel

Somewhere, sad incel cucks are throwing their laptops at a wall and asking their mom’s to buy them new ones. But those dudes can suck it because this movie rules hard. Brie Larson brings a swagger and bravado that absolutely captures us, and her buddy-picture cohort Samuel L. Jackson has never been better in a MCU movie, which is impressive considering he’s been in nearly all of them.

9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The first film trying to separate itself from the previous MCU phases, Shang-Chi is a kickass film with dazzling action sequences that get crazier and crazier until its third act just lets loose and gives us a bombastic, colorful, silly mess of a climax that works because we’ve been sucked in for the 90 minutes before that.

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming

I don’t think the other Spider-Man movies (or the last two Avengers films) work unless Holland is so good in this movie. I absolutely adore what he is doing as Peter Parker and hope to see him in a lot more of these films.

7. Captain America: Civil War

This is a movie defined by the action sequences, and it absolutely nails all of them. Whether it’s one-on-one fights or literally every MCU hero going against each other, directors Anthony & Joseph Russo always put us where we need to be so we know what is going on and whose ass is getting kicked by whom. The fact that Civil War can do that while also introducing Black Panther and Spider-Man is nothing short of brilliant filmmaking. And, even crazier, there are still six films to go!

6. Avengers: Endgame

Well, if you’re going to have a movie be over three hours, you better give every character their due while packing in some of the best fight scenes in all of the MCU. And the Russos do that, while also leaving us wondering what is coming next. The big ending of the film is not just earned within the movie, but over twenty-plus films building up to the snap of two fingers.

5. Iron Man

Before the multiverses or team-ups, there was just Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, and that amazing suit. The MCU does not exist unless this film is as funny and exciting and engaging as it is. It’s the film that started this whole mess. And it’s worth it.

4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I understand that people may not consider this official MCU canon, but I don’t care. This movie is too good to overlook. It’s too funny. Too action-packed. Too wonderful. Showing what producer-writer Phil Lord can do when you trust him with your franchise (eat shit, Solo!), Into the Spider-Verse is the best combination of punches and punchlines.

3. Black Panther

Sadly, this movie is now about how much I will miss Chadwick Boseman and what he could have kept bringing to this character. Of all the MCU actors, he has the most gravitas and regality, and it comes through in this film like gangbusters. This also has perhaps the best villain performance as Michael B. Jordan is pitch perfect. Appreciate this film for what it is, be sad for what we won’t get more of.

2. Thor: Ragnarok

With Taika Waititi behind the camera, Thor: Ragnarok blends comedy and action in a way that is so perfect, it’s hard to believe The Dark World was so bad. Every actor in this film is magnificent and able to blend the broad comedy with the very earnest story about trying to find your place in a weird world.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

It’s tense. It’s funny. It’s gripping. It’s a throwback to the brilliant espionage movies of the 1970s while also feeling modern and new, even today after I’ve watched it for the hundredth time. It feels like a comic book, but also like a Bond movie, and also like a thriller. It tries to be a little of everything. It succeeds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s