A couple of weeks back, I collaborated on a post with our site editor/creator Josiah where we individually ranked the movies currently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As anyone who’s read that post can see, we differed in our 1-10 ranking. For some reason because of this, I feel the need to justify why each movie ended up where it did. The bottom of my list changes each time I talk about it, but the top doesn’t shift. I also decided to do it 1-10 instead of 10-1 because I found I had more to say about the films I like less, so if you’re a person that only likes to count backwards, I apologize in advance. So for your reading eyes only, I present to you, one nerds rankings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe…
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Marvel was already 8 movies in to their Cinematic Universe when they unleashed this cinematic adventure on the world. Unlike any canoniacal film that came before it, TWS was a sequel that told like a stand alone film, a superhero movie that flowed like a political thriller. The story telling alone was brilliant, with action sequences that have been rivaled by very few (ie: the elevator fight; the fight in the street). You had an antagonist in Sebastian Stan’s “The Winter Soldier” that was just as likable as the Chris Evan’s protagonist, with a relationship between the 2 that went back over 75 years. To me, this movie is as close to flawless as one can get, and light years ahead of its predecessor. Directed by the Russo brothers, it makes me salivate with anticipation for their next outing, “Captain America: Civil War”, and for them to take over the Avengers films with “Infinity War: Part I and II”. And did I mention that Captain America is my boy, and the Winter Soldier is one of my all time favorite villains? I’m sure that has nothing to do with it…
Let me start off by saying, I considered putting this movie #1, based on what it was for the comic movie genre. I also considered putting it #4, based on the fact that as new movies come out, and nostalgia for certain movies grow, my thoughts of grandeur on this film start to wane a bit. As my cousin put it, he has “Avengers fatigue”, which makes sense. But with all of that said, what this movie has meant for the MCU, and for movies in general, can not be understated. We’d seen cameos up to this point, Nick Fury popping up here, Tony Stark popping up there, Agent Coulson popping up everywhere, but we’d never seen all of our heroes on screen together, working together, fighting together, annoying each other. Try and forget “Avengers fatigue” and just remember what it was like the first time you saw Iron Man, Cap, and Thor all go at it in the forest. Epic, right? The first time you saw Stark and Rogers go nose to nose in the helicarrier. Epic, right? The first time you saw the Hulk punch Thor out of the scene, then ragdoll Loki. Hilarious, right? Right. Better movies will probably be made (hoping that Age of Ultron is one of them), but this movie set the standard for the team-up film. ASSEMBLE!
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
I still shake my head at how great this movie is. This, to me, is Marvel essentially giving the middle finger to the rest of the movie industry, especially our friends over at DC/Warner Bros. “Oh, you’re afraid to make a solo Wonder Woman flick because you’re not sure how movie goers will react? F it, here’s a movie about a smart ass, talking raccoon and his friend, the humanoid tree…” Marvel, you can do no wrong! (ya know, until the bottom of this list). I was blown away not only by how much I enjoyed this movie, but by the fact that it was actually a FANTASTIC movie! Chris Pratt proved a more than worthy leading man as he nailed the role of Star Lord, and was the glue for this homicidal band of misfits. All the lead characters were phenomenal, with Marvel making us care, LEGITIMATELY CARE, about a raccoon and a tree! I AM GROOT, and you should be too!
The film that started it all, b-words, and in my opinion the best Iron Man film of them all. I understand that hiring Robert Downey Jr. was a risk at the time considering his past troubles, but now you couldn’t imagine anyone else embodying Tony Stark the way he does. He IS Tony Stark, in almost every sense of the word. Iron Man was the first movie under Marvel Studios, and the first to start a shared universe with its heroes, and for that alone its importance cannot be understated. I can still sit down and watch it whenever it happens to be on (which is every 22 minutes on TNT, while Iron Man 2 is on TBS). While the Iron Man movies slipped from here on out (IMO), Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark has always been at the top of it’s game. And about that Nick Fury cameo at the end, stating that Stark is now a part of a bigger universe? I still get chills.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Some have said this movie is boring. Some have said it moves along too slowly. To these people I say…you’re probably right. But I have an American Flag sized soft spot in my heart for Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. His 1930’s and 40’s era origin also made this a Marvel movie like we hadn’t seen before. At this point, Iron Man’s Tony Stark was the only “leader” we had been introduced to, and this gave us a ying to Stark’s yang. We see Rogers’ moral code and integrity, as a stark (pun very much intended) contrast to Stark’s impulsiveness and narcissism. We also saw the beginning stages of SHIELD, a constant thread throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chris Evans was looked at to be an odd pick at first for the role, since he had previously played Johnny Storm in another Marvel flick, Fantastic Four. But after this film, it’s hard to imagine anyone else donning the Stars and Stripes….and that gives us every reason to forget those Fantastic Four films. Is Galactus a cloud!?
Is there a single actor who looks more like the comic book character they play than Chris Hemsworth? The guy looks like the cartoon come to life, which I suppose was the point. This monster of a man, and damn good actor, made you believe that he WAS a God, that a place called Asgard COULD exist, and that a man COULD have 14 abs. For a film wrapped in fantasy, with other worlds and aliens to boot (Frost Giants, anyone?) it was incredibly grounded and believable. It also had the fortune of boasting one of the best comic book cinematic villains in Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. This isn’t the greatest movie you’ll ever see, or as you can see the best in the MCU, but it’s much better than I ever expected it to be in the first place. I also believe we haven’t yet seen the best version of Hemsworth’s Thor, and with Age of Ultron and Thor: Ragnarok in the upcoming Marvel plans, I believe we’ll see it sooner than later.
IRON MAN 2
Our first MCU sequel, and it has it’s bright spots. One, it’s freakin Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, aka Robert Downey Jr. You can’t ever go wrong with that. Two, we’re introduced to 2 future Avengers: Scarlett Johansson’s sexy, bad ass and fan-favorite portrayal of Black Widow, and Don Cheadle taking over the mantle of Stark’s BFF James Rhodes, also known as War Machine. Three, the end battle where IM and WM straight wreck some machines, back to back, comic book panel style. Four, Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash. Although he’s one of the MCU’s many one dimensional villains, he’s also creepy as hell because, well, he’s Mickey Rourke, and Mickey Rourke is creepy as hell. This film has some storytelling issues and some scenes don’t seem necessary, but like I said, I still watch it every freakin’ time it’s on. And Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer is often an after thought when this film is discussed, by I dare you to watch it and not love the shady, HammerTech CEO.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Alright, so there are only a few reasons this movie isn’t at the bottom of this list. The biggest reason being that it’s the only Hulk stand alone film currently in the MCU, and with carrying through a shared universe, that means something to me. Mark Ruffalo has proven himself the fan favorite as our favorite Jekyll & Hyde doctor, and with good reason, but some are quick to dismiss how well Norton encompassed the role of Bruce Banner. All of the scenes with the Hulk are pretty well done, especially when he and the Abomination “wreck Harlem” during the climactic battle. There’s even a Tony Stark cameo in the post-credit scene, which is always a good thing. What I feel hurts this film more than anything is the lack of something that we come to associate with our Marvel movies: humor. It’s just too dry. I’ve laughed out loud more at the Daredevil Netflix series than I ever did with this film, and let’s be honest, that crap is dark! This isn’t the type of movie you watch over and over, or more than once, but I swear it’s not as bad as you think…right?
IRON MAN 3
I changed the order of my list. So sue me. It’s my list, I can do what I want. Anyways, there is one reason, and one only, that I moved this movie up on my rankings: Robert Downey Jr.’s continuously flawless representation of Tony Stark. He’s in top form, as is Don Cheadle’s Rhodey/War Machine/Iron Patriot, and their relationship in this film is a bright spot. I don’t even have a problem with the Mandarin twist that so many fanboys were up in arms about. Ben Kingsley’s terrorist would’ve been epic, because he was epic while we all thought he WAS a terrorist, but I also found his representation of the actor Trevor Slattery quite endearing and hilarious. The reason this movie is so low in the order is because to me, there’s no reason for it. Other than AI in the form of the Iron Man suits tying into Age of Ultron, it doesn’t further the MCU combined storyline. And I get it, not every movie has to, but I just found it be, while overall a fun movie, one that wasn’t necessary.
Let’s be honest, it’s not last because Tony Stark called a 9 year old kid a “p—y.” That alone is enough.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Or as I like to call it, Thor: The Dark Why The Hell Is Jane Foster In So Much Of This Movie? I love the character of Thor and Hemsworth’s representation of him, and that goes just as much for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, but this movie was lacking in just about every other category. I don’t care about Jane Foster, Darcy Lewis, Dr. Erik Selvig (post-Avengers) or anthing they do. I get that Jane is Thor’s love interest in the comics, as well as the MCU, but I don’t find this version of her all that likable, even though I find Natalie Portman to be a very good actress. Where this film keeps a redeeming quality is the relationship between “brothers” Thor and Loki. Always fun, Always complicated, Always sort of loving, Never trustworthy. My favorite scenes in the movie have to do with Loki responding to Frigga’s death. Megalomaniac? Absolutely, but one who still deeply cared about his adoptive mother, probably more than anyone else in his life. This film would’ve been further up had it been 2 hours of Thor and Loki just walking around reacting to each other, but a lack luster plot, a boring villain in Malekith, and too much focus on secondary (tirtiary?) characters make this one of the MCU’s more forgettable outputs. Thanks for the Infinity Stone in the form of the Either though.
There you have it, guys and gals, my overall rank of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Please, feel free to comment with your list, and we can debate like the civilized and level headed human beings fanboys and girls have the reputation of being…