Marvel

An Extremely Subjective Ranking of the Entire MCU

Well, folks, it’s nearly here: The culmination of an astonishing 11 years of build-up in the Marvel Cinematic. With the arrival of Avengers: Endgame edging itself closer and closer on the horizon, we are soon nearing the end of what is arguably the most massively ambitious cinematic storytelling endeavor of all time. Multiple franchises, dozens of character arcs, and a whopping 21 films have all been leading to one final send-off for this era of Marvel films. With that in mind, I, like seemingly every other site on the Internet, thought it would be a fun idea to take a look back and finally, definitively, and highly subjectively, countdown all the films the MCU has had to offer over the past decade, from worst to best. It was honestly a lot more difficult than I initially thought, as I genuinely enjoy every single one of them. It’s like choosing your favorite child. But every parent who’s ever told you “I love all of my children equally” is a liar, so with that in mind, here we go:

21. The Incredible Hulk

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Starting off this list is the black sheep of the MCU, one that’s often forgotten by both fans and the movies themselves, with frankly good reason. It’s an odd film, one that is supposed to serve as a starting point for the MCU, along with Iron Man, yet never achieves the same heights or hooks the same amount of interest. While Iron Man felt new and fresh, introducing us to an entirely new universe, The Incredible Hulk felt bizarrely bogged-down by its own sense of internal continuity. It’s not an origin story, as Bruce Banner has already been the Hulk for some time, and the timeline of the movie seems to align itself with Ang Lee’s previous 2003 film adaptation of the character, a fact that is never properly addressed. This confusion, combined with some bland performances, recast actors, and characters that never appear again in later films (with the exception of General Ross, who even still doesn’t show up again for another 8 years in Civil War) make The Incredible Hulk one of the least important and least re-watchable films in the MCU. And also, if I’m being completely honest, I just really don’t like Edward Norton.

Best Moment: Blonsky vs Hulk, round 1. An absolutely brutal, no punches pulled look at just how outmatched a normal person is compared to the Hulk.

20. Thor: The Dark World

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The Dark World is an unfortunate case of wasted potential. Originally tapping future Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, and casting incredibly talented Doctor Who alumni Christopher Eccleston as its villain, Thor’s second solo outing found itself plagued by production troubles and near-constant rewrites that ultimately reduced it to one of the blandest Marvel films of all time. Despite an amazing visual aesthetic and brilliant costume design, the film suffers from a boring, terribly forgettable plot and a villain who’s, well, kind of just there. If it has any real saving grace, it’s Tom Hiddleston’s charismatic and always-engaging Loki, a late addition to the script, who predictably steals every scene he’s in. But sadly, outside of the God of Mischief, there’s not much else to really get excited about here.

Best Moment: Loki’s Captain America impression. Chris Evans playing Loki playing Captain America. Absolutely hilarious.

19. Thor

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While The Dark World was definitely worse, the first solo Thor film wasn’t exactly a masterpiece itself. Despite having a fairly solid, Shakespearean family drama at its core, Thor finds itself bogged down by an overly-melodramatic tone and a scope that’s far too narrow and small-scale when compared against its fellow Phase 1 films. Like its successor, it has its bright spots, once again predominately as a result of Tom Hiddleston’s genuinely compelling and sympathetic Loki. Anthony Hopkins also brings an impressive amount of gravitas to his role as the Allfather, Odin. But the title character himself leaves a lot to be desired, and his romance with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster is completely devoid of chemistry. Ultimately, Thor just feels like a checklist film, one that serves as only necessary setup for The Avengers, and nothing more.

Best Moment: Loki discovers his heritage. All the proof you need that Tom Hiddleston basically carried this movie.

18. Iron Man 2

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The first Iron Man was an unprecedented success, one that put Marvel Studios on the map. It managed to be a great film in spite of its incredibly troubled production and unfinished script, and has a loose, improvisational feel that really helped to sell the characters. Iron Man 2, on the other hand, reeks of over-planning and studio interference. The plot of this film is all over the place. One minute it’s about a Russian with a grudge against Tony’s father, the next it’s about Tony being near-death from Palladium poisoning, and in another minute it suddenly becomes a sort-of Avengers prequel with appearances from Nick Fury and Black Widow. There’s massive pacing issues, and things just sort of happen one after the other with no real sense of flow or cohesion. It’s like there were four different ideas for the story, and the studio just decided to do all of them at once. Granted, it’s still entertaining as all hell. Drunk Tony is hilarious, Rhodey is awesome in his newly-christened War Machine armor, Sam Rockwell is great as the sleazy, incompetent Justin Hammer, and Scarlett Johansson gets an insanely badass introduction to the MCU as Natasha Romanoff. Unfortunately, Mickey Rourke’s barely-there, Russian caricature Ivan Vanko is almost cartoonishly bad, and derails almost everything else about this otherwise perfectly adequate sequel.

Best Moment: Tony’s birthday party. Probably the closest we’ll ever get to the infamous “Demon in a Bottle” storyline.

17. Ant-Man

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Ant-Man signified a real tonal shift in the MCU, one that, too this day, is really only shared by its sequel. After the large-scale destruction-fest that was Age of Ultron, Marvel really needed a tighter, more light-hearted film to sort of reset the mood going into Phase 3. And Ant-Man definitely delivers. It’s much less of a superhero film than its predecessors, leaning heavily into comedy in a way that works exceptionally well with the self-awareness that someone going by the name “Ant-Man” is already a comically ridiculous premise. The plot is, if you’ll pardon the absolutely intentional pun, much smaller in scale, acting as more of a heist movie akin to Ocean’s 11 rather than a more traditional comic book movie. Paul Rudd carries this film far better than he has any right to, playing Scott Lang as a lovable ex-con whose motivation isn’t to save the world or defeat a villain: It’s just to be able to take care of his daughter. It’s probably the most middle-of-the-road MCU film, not being amazing while also not being terrible, and probably the Marvel movie that I’ve rewatched the least. But it’s undeniably charming, and is worth a watch for Michael Pena’s Louis alone.

Best Moment: Luis’s Tip. God, can we please have Michael Pena narrate a recap of the entire MCU?

16. Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (2019) poster
CR: Marvel Studios

The most recent entry in the MCU, and perhaps the most unnecessarily controversial. Being the first MCU film with a female lead, Captain Marvel was always going to run into quite a bit of backlash. And not only was it the first female lead. It was also the introductory appearance of a much-hyped character, one who’s technically the most powerful hero thus far in our cinematic Marvel universe, and who’s said to play a fairly large role in the highly-anticipated Endgame. She’s essentially Power Creep personified. With a release that was boycotted by vocally sexist and misogynistic internet trolls (which got so bad that Rotten Tomatoes had to fundamentally change the way they present reviews), it was unclear whether or not Captain Marvel would be as successful as its contemporaries like Wonder Woman, or be dead on arrival. Well, after an impressive billion dollar global haul, I’d say it did alright. It’s not the most original MCU film, with notes of both Thor and Captain America, nor is it the most narratively compelling. It’s also got some pretty bad character work. But it sports some impressive action, some clever twists, and some interesting new looks into some previously unexplored Marvel lore, all wrapped up in the usual brand of humor and snark that we’ve come to expect from Marvel. While it’s certainly not one of Marvel’s best, like Ant-Man, it’s nowhere near its worst, either, and serves as a perfectly serviceable introduction to a character which who is likely going to be a big focus moving ahead.

Best Moment: “Why would I turn into a filing cabinet?”

15. Ant Man and The Wasp

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Ant-Man and the Wasp’s place on this list is, admittedly, more likely due to the timing of its release rather than its overall quality or entertainment value. After the harrowing experience that is Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp served as a much needed palate cleanser, offering a low-stakes, light-hearted adventure which, while doing nothing particularly new or inventive with the tried-and-true Marvel formula, is still a fun ride nonetheless. It has some fun moments, most of which are piggybacking off of the hilarious Michael Pena, and serves as a true introduction to Hope Van Dyne’s superhero alter-ego, the Wasp. But despite being somewhat inconsequential, much like the first Ant-Man, when taken as a companion piece to Infinity War, it really elevates itself to a much more enjoyable experience than it perhaps should be. That is, until its post-credits scene, when we’re suddenly reminded that we’re living in a post-Snap world. At the very least, it’s much more cohesive narratively than Captain Marvel, which is the only other film released before Endgame, so it ranks just above by default.

Best Moment: The Baba Yaga freak-out. Ant-Man truly has the absolute best supporting cast.

14. Iron Man 3

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Iron Man 3 is, in my opinion, the single most underrated film in the entire MCU. Written and directed by one of my favorite modern filmmakers, Shane Black, Iron Man 3 tends to get a lot of flak from both comic fans and moviegoers alike, for reasons that I personally think are nonsense. Fans of Iron Man in the MCU films only were annoyed at the overall like of actual Iron Man action in the film, as Tony Stark is really only suited up for two or three scenes. To them I say, well, you’ve missed the entire point of the film if you think that’s a problem. The movie is about Tony, the man, not Iron Man, the hero. It deals with some pretty mature themes for a superhero film, with Tony’s PTSD from the Battle of New York giving him crippling anxiety and panic attacks. It forces him to examine his legacy outside of his armored alter-ego, and realize that he himself is the one behind all of his power and success, not his suits. It’s thematically the same message he later relays to young Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and serves as an excellent thematic conclusion to his solo-film character arc. Of course, the biggest point of contention from comic fans was the film’s big twist: That the Mandarin was actually just a washed-up, alcoholic actor being used as a scapegoat by the film’s real villain. And to those fans I say: Who cares? It was hilarious, and no MCU villain at this point had really been accurate to the comics anyway, so why suddenly start getting up in arms about it? Iron Man 3 is one of the most solid, entertaining solo adventures in the MCU, and I wish more people could look past their petty issues with it and realize that.

Best Moment: The Mandarin Reveal. Again, I know it made some people very upset, but I’m sorry, that’s funny.

13. Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Age of Ultron had a lot of pressure riding on it upon release, in hindsight. Not only did it have to serve as a follow-up to the near-universally-acclaimed Avengers film, but it also had to reflect all the journeys which the solo heroes had been on since then. And as if that wasn’t difficult enough, it still had to find the time to introduce two new heroes, Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch, as well as the artificially-intelligent Vision. From a writing standpoint, it’s an incredibly daunting task, especially when you consider that, in addition to the above, it had to continue the trend of seeding ideas for future films. Because of this, at the time of its release, it was considered to be a bit of a jumbled mess. There’s a lot going on, and it seems like it needed another 20 or 30 minutes of breathing room to really flesh out all of its many side plots. But now, looking back, I really truly think that Age of Ultron is one of the most impressive MCU films to date. Why? Go back and rewatch the film, and see just how flawlessly it establishes nearly the entirety for the MCU’s third phase. We get set-up for Civil War through Tony and Steve’s ideological clashes, we get vibranium, Wakanda, and Ulysses Klaue in preparation for Black Panther, we see Thor’s visions of the Norse Ragnarok, and most importantly, we finally establish the Infinity Stones as a threat for not just the cosmic heroes like the Guardians, but for everyone in existence. It really is an admirably ambitious undertaking, but Joss Whedon handles it the best he could given the pressures of Marvel’s then-reigning Creative Committee. It may not be quite on par with The Avengers or Infinity War, but Age of Ultron still deserves its spot among the MCU’s best.

Best Moment: The party. It’s really the only time we ever see the Avengers just, sort of, hanging out, and it’s absolutely delightful. It really humanizes them like no other scene in the MCU.

12. Captain America: The First Avenger

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Captain America was never really a character that I found particularly interesting or engaging. He had always seemed to me, and I imagine, to a lot of people, to be a relic of a bygone era, one that really doesn’t have a place in modern pop culture. Not that he was necessarily a bad character, mind you. Just that he seemed almost a parody of himself, a figure so overly, cartoonishly patriotic that it almost seemed too on-the-nose even for propaganda. Which is why the decision to tap The Rocketeer director Joe Johnston to helm Cap’s introduction was so brilliant. The Rocketeer is a character meant to harken back to the overly patriotic, serialized adventure stories of the 1940s, so if anyone could make Captain America work, it’s the man who brought another pulp figure to life on the big screen. And it definitely works. Thanks primarily to Chris Evans’s incredibly endearing performance, Steve Rogers is such a sympathetic, fully-realized character in The First Avenger that you don’t even notice his star-spangled attire. He’s noble and honorable, without being obnoxiously and archaically nationalistic, and having his journey from weakling to super-soldier to man lost in time really helps to sell him as a tragic figure, rather than necessarily a triumphant one. And the style of the film, that of a WWII-era war serial, really helps to sell his authenticity. The First Avenger made me not only love Captain America as a character in film, it also gave me much more appreciation for the comic character as well, which probably never would have happened otherwise.

Best Moment: Let’s go find two more.” There’s so much to love in this movie, but this one-liner makes me laugh every time. Tommy Lee Jones is a gift.

11. Doctor Strange

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Doctor Strange is one hell of a trip. Just like Guardians of the Galaxy was our introduction to the cosmic side of the MCU, Strange is our stepping-stone into the mystical. And the mystical side of the Marvel universe, which has often depicted Strange as its central figure, is one rooted in the psychedelic imagery of the 1960s and 70s, with warped, kaleidoscope-like visuals and groovy, far-out spiritual and supernatural stories. So who better to depict this kind of bizarre, reality-warping than someone who makes horror films for a living? Scott Derrickson, director of films like The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister brings a certain level of unease to Doctor Strange’s magic, which is perfect in an origin story where the title character is still unfamiliar with and scared of his newly discovered world of the mystic arts. Steven Strange’s story, which, in more traditional hands would just seem a shameless rehash of Tony Stark’s, is perfectly accented by the mind-bending, stunning visuals which Derrickson uses to depict the various magical spells and dimensions at Strange’s disposal, making it probably the most visually unique film in the entire MCU. Benedict Cumberbatch likewise gives a thoroughly entertaining performance as the title character, reminiscent of Hugh Laurie’s Dr. Gregory House, which gives Strange a distinct personality which, again, could have simply been a redundant Stark knock-off in the wrong hands. Despite a fairly weak central villain in the rogue sorcerer Kaecilius, who is frankly just a waste of Mads Mikkelsen, Doctor Strange’s gorgeous visual effects and highly original third act more than make up for it, and elevates the film slightly above most other MCU origin stories.

Best Moment: Outsmarting Dormammu. Such a clever, original way to show Strange’s brilliant mind.

10. Spider-Man Homecoming

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Spider-Man is my absolute favorite Marvel Comics character of all time, a sentiment which I’m sure is shared by millions of others. He’s Marvel’s most relatable, human character, and one who has, over the decades, become a central figure in the comics. Despite the fact that the MCU has given us extremely well-done adaptions of other characters and storylines, there was always the feeling that something was missing, that the MCU wasn’t whole quite yet. So when it was announced that the character would finally be allowed to appear in Marvel Studios films, I was ecstatic. Tom Holland’s first appearance as Peter Parker in Civil War was pitch-perfect. He was nerdy, neurotic, and overly-excitable, but there was also a genuine wholesomeness to him which is so crucial to getting Parker right from a writing perspective. And when we finally got to see him in his own movie, it was even better. This is hands-down the best depiction of a young, high-school aged Peter Parker ever put onscreen. He’s not as boring or vanilla as Tobey McGuire, nor is he too brooding and angsty, like Andrew Garfield’s erratic and inconsistent performance. Director Jon Watts not only nails Peter Parker, but his life as well. While he can certainly handle larger threats, Spider-Man should be a small-scale hero most of the time. It’s what makes him so identifiable to audiences. And Homecoming satisfies this by making it an actual narrative focus, showcasing Peter’s conflicted desires to be both an Avenger like his heroes and simply a friendly, neighborhood Spider-man. Coupled with Michael Keaton’s stellar take on The Vulture and a tone that apes the best parts of John Hughes’s filmography, Spider-Man: Homecoming is just as much proof that Spidey belongs in the MCU as its title suggests.

Best Moment: Dad talk. One of the tensest and most suspenseful scenes in the MCU. The tension builds, and the realization hits with the changing of the traffic light. So insanely good.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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James Gunn has given us perhaps the most stylistically unique films in all of the MCU. Serving as the jumping-off point into the more cosmic side of the Marvel universe, the first Guardians film introduced an electrifyingly vibrant and stunning color palette to the normally grounded and more conventionally cinematic visual language of previous films, as well as an entirely new, eclectic and highly irreverent tone and sense of humor. As one of the most fresh and original superhero films of all time, its sequel, 2, had a lot to live up to. And luckily, it really delivers. Sure, the jokes aren’t as tight and don’t always land as often as in the first film, but when it comes to the narrative heart of its story, Vol. 2 greatly improves upon its predecessor. At its core is a poignant, fairly dramatic story about relationships between siblings, fathers and sons, and surrogate families, told in a way that’s shockingly emotional and genuinely moving at times given its deceptively whimsical levity. Beautifully shot, with another pitch-perfect soundtrack, and with some of the most emotionally resonant moments in the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is proof that the first film’s success was no fluke, and makes me extremely excited to see James Gunn back at the helm for Vol. 3.

Best Moment: Quill masters his powers. I know that Yondu’s death or the Ravager funeral are more obvious choices here, but man, I get chills hearing “The Chain” slowly start to build before the action starts.

8. Thor: Ragnarok

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With both of Thor’s previous films being the definitive low-points of the MCU, Ragnarok had a lot to prove. And against all odds, it did the impossible: It made Thor entertaining. The idea to bring on board Indie director and New Zealand native Taika Waititi to direct Thor’s third installment is one that was initially met with some confusion, and a fair bit of skepticism. But it turns out that Waititi’s unique and quirky sense of humor was just what the Thor franchise needed to breathe new life into what was quickly becoming a stale storyline. His direction brought us not only some of the funniest moments in the MCU (mostly in the form of the hilarious Korg, played by Taika himself), but also some of its most awe-inspiring as well. Cate Blanchett chews every bit of scenery she’s in as the villainous Hela, and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki continues to delight. After all is said and done, the image of Thor, missing and eye and bathed in lighting, leaping down onto the Rainbow Bridge into a sea of undead soldiers, to the sound of Led Zeppelin, will be one of the most iconic moments in superhero film history.

Best Moment: C’mon. What else?

7. Iron Man

iron man

The movie that started it all. Marvel’s newly-created film division, Marvel Studios, was tasked with creating movie franchises based on their characters that would be profitable enough to offset their rather expensive cost. Unfortunately, they had a bit of a handicap: They had absolutely no access to either Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four, arguably their most popular and lucrative characters. They had no choice but to resort to what were, at the time, C-list characters at best, starting with The Invincible Iron Man, Tony Stark. The movie had no complete script, only the roughest outline of a story, and studio heads demanding a safe, marketable star like Tom Cruise in the lead role. Thanks to the immutable, stubborn insistence of director Jon Favreau, we got Robert Downey Jr. instead, who at the time was considered to be a fairly washed-up lost cause of an actor. In spite of all these hang-ups, the resulting Iron Man was about as perfect as a solo superhero origin-story film can be. RDJ could quite literally not be any more accurate to the comic version of Tony Stark. He’s funny, super snarky, and a bit of a sleazeball, yet totally believable once he turns hero. The film is slick, has some of the best action in the entire MCU, and serves as an excellent introduction to the franchise as a whole. It’s insane looking back on just how simple things were then, compared to the monster entity the MCU has become since then. But none of it would exist without Iron Man.

Best Moment: Iron Man taking on the Ten Rings. To this day, the most badass Iron Man has ever looked.

6. Black Panther

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Black Panther will probably go down in history as one of the most culturally-significant blockbusters of all time. We’ve had MCU films before, like The Winter Soldier, that dealt with real-world, contemporary issues, but never with the social relevancy and timeliness of Black Panther. In a world of extremely safe and homogenized superhero films, Black Panther took the incredibly brave approach, under the helm of acclaimed Creed and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, to not only address tensions of race and class, but to do so in a way that was both incredibly nuanced and refreshingly digestible for general audiences. It gave an amazing, compelling, and sympathetic villain in Michael B. Jordan’s Eric Killmonger, as well as incredible set and costume designs that genuinely felt like a whole new culture, inspired by real-life African influences. And I would be remiss to neglect mentioning what is probably one of the best scores in the MCU. Black Panther’s unexpected and momentous success is proof that representation in superhero films is not only needed, it’s desperately wanted as well.

Best Moment: T’Challa vs M’Baku. Such a visceral, gritty, beautifully-choreographed fight.

5. The Avengers

The Avengers - 2012

While Iron Man and the other previous Phase 1 origin films laid the groundwork for the future of the MCU, The Avengers was the real, make-or-break proof-of-concept for the franchise. No other film franchise in history had every attempted something so ambitious: Bringing together multiple different franchises into one super crossover film. It could’ve been a disaster. But it wasn’t. Far from it, in fact. For my money, The Avengers, thanks to Joss Whedon’s highly reverential direction and writing, is perhaps the most comic book-y movie ever made. It’s so gleefully aware of its campy comic book origins, from Captain America’s gaudy costume to the sheer logistical ridiculousness of things like the Hellicarrier. But it’s so sincere about everything it shows, you can’t help but love it. I remember sitting in the theater, seeing Tony Stark, Cap, and Thor meeting on screen after years of build-up, and being blown away at how surreal it felt. This was something that would go down in movie history. And I still wager, even after all of the amazing, outlandish things that the MCU has brought us since then, nothing will ever top that feeling of seeing the team assemble for the very first time.

Best Moment: The Avengers assemble. Mark my words, that shot of the team will go down as one of the most iconic images in cinema history.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

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Guardians of the Galaxy was a game-changer for Marvel. While certainly not A-listers, the characters which had been given films previously in the MCU were at least recognizable to most of the general public. But the Guardians were oddballs, unrecognizable to even some comic fans, as the iteration of the team featured in the film had only existed for about six years. If they could make audiences care about a talking raccoon and a walking tree, in space, then they could get away with literally anything from there on out. And, of course, they knocked it out of the park. Director James Gunn’s irreverent and snarky sense of humor, coupled with a then-unprecedented cosmic setting and visual flair, all wrapped up in a killer soundtrack made Guardians easily one of the most fun films in the MCU, and honestly within the entire sci-fi genre as a whole.

Best Moment: I have a plan.” Such a great “coming together moment,” with one of the funniest final lines of any scene in the MCU.

3. Captain America: Civil War

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Captain America: Civil War might as well have been called Avengers 3. Despite primarily serving as a continuation of the story set in motion previously in The Winter Soldier, Civil War also manages a dizzying balancing act in incorporating the fallout from both Age of Ultron and the previous two phases of the MCU, with all of their accompanying narrative baggage and character development. What could have been a jumbled, overstuffed mess turned out to essentially be a trial run for Infinity War, and a fantastic one at that. The conflict between the two opposing teams of Avengers has real emotional gravitas, and feels earned after two phases of build-up. Zemo is an amazing villain, one with a genuinely sympathetic motivation, and avoids the usual characterization of “guy we have to punch in the third act.” And serving as the cherry on top is our first introduction to both the Black Panther and the MCU’s Spider-Man, making the sheer narrative cohesiveness of Civil War all the more impressive.

Best Moment: Queens. Never in my life have I been so excited seeing a location card before.

2. Avengers: Infinity War 

infinty war

The Big One, ladies and gentlemen. Perhaps the most ambitious film of all time, with a nearly 20-film lead-up, boasting nearly forty characters from 10 different franchises, and rumored to cost half a billion dollars, Infinity War wasn’t just another film; It was a cinematic experience. Tickets sold out over a month in advance, theaters were packed, and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. I have never had a more fun, engaging experience with an audience before. People cheered, they laughed, and, by the time the film was over, they cried. This is perhaps the truest example in history of a movie genuinely living up to the hype surrounding it. Directing duo, the Russo Brothers, as well as long-time MCU screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely did the impossible and managed to masterfully manage the film’s massive roster of characters and intersecting plot threads in such a way that everyone felt important, and no one felt tacked-on or added just for fan service. Not to mention the fact that it holds the honor of having one of the most shocking endings in blockbuster cinematic history. With some of the greatest comic book sequences ever put to film, I highly doubt Infinity War is ever going to be topped in sheer scale. Here’s to hoping that its follow-up, Avengers: Endgame is even somehow even more momentous.

Best Moment: Thor’s arrival in Wakanda. Hands-down, bar-none, the most electrifying, epic moment I’ve ever experienced in a theater. The crowd on opening night went absolutely nuts, and me right along with them.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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If The First Avenger made Captain America likeable as a character, then The Winter Soldier made him believable as a bona fide superhero. The slick, modern direction by the Russo Brothers in their first Marvel outing gave Cap some of the best action scenes in the MCU, with an extremely fast pace and tight focus that imbued every fight with a sense of realism that has yet to be replicated in a mainstream superhero film. Styled as a 1970s political thriller in the same vein as Three Days of the Condor or Marathon Man, The Winter Soldier shied away from its visual-effects heavy predecessors in the franchise, and instead focused on gritty, small scale skirmishes that really showed-off just how skilled and tactical Captain America is as a combatant and strategist. Which, after his rather dorky appearance in The Avengers, was sorely needed. It’s not only a great superhero movie, but stands on its own as a great thriller and action film outside of the genre in its own right. A gripping, twisting narrative, an intimidating, compelling villain in the form of Cap’s former best friend, Bucky Barnes, and a genuine shake-up to the status quo of the MCU with the collapse of SHIELD make The Winter Soldier, in my opinion, Marvel’s best film to date.

Best Moment: The highway fight. Easily the best fight choreography ever in a superhero film. That knife toss!

So that’s it! That’s how I see the MCU, from worst to best. I’m sure there’s likely some choices you disagree with, and maybe some that you don’t. I’d love to hear what other people think! Unless you put The Incredible Hulk any higher than, like, number 19. In that case, your opinion is invalid, and you should feel bad. And I can’t wait to see where Endgame ranks when it releases on April 25th! I don’t want to jinx it, but I have a feeling it may knock a couple films off of the top slots.

 

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