The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Ranked from Meh to Best

For the first time ever in modern history, people are excited for something that holds the term Civil War.

Marvel Studios have revolutionized not only comic book films, but the film industry as a whole.  Love them or hate them, you have to respect that they succeeded in bringing a (almost) coherent universe to the screen and are continually breaking box office records.

In 2008 they changed the game with Iron Man (the same year The Dark Knight came out!) and they haven’t stopped since.

Let’s countdown cinema’s most popular universe.

12. Iron Man 2

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The most disappointing Marvel movie…ever.

A movie that is so disappointing that it made me not care about the upcoming Avengers movie.

Time hasn’t been too kind to Iron Man 2 and neither have I.

This is what happens when good filmmakers are being asked to do stuff they don’t want to do.  And don’t even get me started on how sexist this film is to Scarlett Johansson.

You know how bad school projects turn out when you are being forced to do it instead of wanting to do it? Iron Man 2 is your proof.

I could praise Mickey Rourke and the exhuberent special effects, but I’m not going to.

Trying to force The Avengers on us 2 years before it came out left a terrible taste in movie goer’s mouth, especially mine.

It wasn’t until Captain America one year later that it was able to do something Iron Man 2 couldn’t…make me excited for The Avengers!

11. Thor: The Dark World

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If Iron Man 2 is the most disappointing, than this is one is the least “fun” Marvel movie ever.

This is a film that is trying to be a Thor sequel, a continuation of The Avengers, and a stand alone movie and only reaches the bare minimum on all those levels.

Natalie Portman is wasted here and you can’t help but feel sorry for her.

The story positions her in dumb situations around people making even dumber decisions.  No wonder she quit after two Thor movies.

I would love to recommend it because of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, but even they couldn’t save this movie from being anything but a cloudy memory of generic action scenes and cringe worthy humor.

10. The Incredible Hulk

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I’ve watched this film probably 5 times by now and I STILL can’t say I really like this movie.

The best thing I can say about it is that you can literally come into the movie anywhere and not be lost.

It’s a nice diversion…nothing more or nothing less.

This is the most average superhero movie ever. Edward Norton is about as interesting as a clap on, clap off lamp and the supporting cast do a good job reciting dialogue.

Norton’s script is decent but lacking anything really original or memorable.

I just wish it was something more than just your average movie because The Hulk as a character is anything but.

9. Iron Man 3

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I don’t hate Iron Man 3.

In the past three years since it came out, I’ve seen a lot of vitriol towards it.

It’s not high art but I did enjoy myself immensely during it.

Robert Downey Jr. is great as always (although you can tell he’s getting tired) and the action scenes are great eye candy, especially the Stark Mansion sequence.

Shane Black is clearly having a blast directing and almost subverts the Marvel formula but sadly falls short.

The BIG downside to this film (and some say this is the downfall of every Marvel film) is that it’s villains are beyond underwhelming.

The Mandarin twist is admirable and ALMOST works, but is handled very poorly, and the generic rock and sock em robot ending is a spectacle that induces more eye rolling than wonder.

8. Thor

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This film took me two LONG  years to fully like and understand Thor.

Kenneth Branagh’s vision is actually really unique and daring for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I was too hung up on the fact that the movie was simple instead of transcendent.

My one big complaint with the Thor franchise is how the women are portrayed, and before you say, “Well Sif is really cool!” think about her as a character for a moment.

All she ever does is walk with the other three followers of Thor and pout because Thor doesn’t love her. The End.

Natalie Portman does her best to make Jane more than a generic love interest and mostly succeeds but putting her with Kat Denning’s awful character Marcy brings that ship down.

Those flaws aside, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are beautifully cast and drive the film to the finish line.  Heck, they are the best characters Marvel hasn’t utilized to their full potential and honestly with all the love for Game of Thrones, Thor should be a much better and popular franchise.

With all that said, I really can’t wait to see what Thor: Ragnarok brings!

7. Avengers: Age of Ultron

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This film suffered from great marketing.

The film seem like something beautiful and best of all, looked like a darker chapter, but  instead was just another average Marvel movie, which isn’t a bad thing!

I was unaware of the hate surrounding this film though and when I saw all the hideous and cruel things people said to Joss Whedon after this film was released, I completely understand why he left social media.

Here’s a taste of what they said about him…

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Age of Ultron is solid and the Hulkbuster fight is a thing of beauty, but Joss Whedon sadly was forced make this film lead into Phase 3.

What made the first Avengers such an epic thrill ride was that it was the accumulation of all the fun and flaws of Phase 1.

It was the best kind of popcorn entertainment and delivered a well deserved pay off.

Age of Ultron has no big pay off.

The whole movie is Tony Stark’s fault which isn’t as tragic as it needed it to be and could’ve really added some needed layers to his character.

It’s a disappointing film but a good one nonetheless.

Also it still had the trademark Whedon wit and The Vision is one of the best characters in the MCU and I can’t wait to see him again.

6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Although many argue that this the best Marvel film, I found this to be a great movie but not the best.

The Russo Brothers are very talented and brought a much needed jolt of energy to the MCU, but it was light on excitement to me.

Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson do great work here and you can tell they are really enjoying acting in this tightly paced espionage tale.

Even though there is a game changing twist that changed S.H.I.E.L.D forever, I felt 90 percent of it felt far too predictable.

I enjoy it immensely and it was really memorable, especially the way the characters were written, I just didn’t love it.

5. Ant-Man

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Personally, if this film wasn’t a slave to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it could’ve been even better than it already was.

Although it’s not a “better” film than Winter Solider, I find it to be a more entertaining one. Plus it’s accessible to watch with friends and family not too familiar with the MCU.

Ant-Man works well in my opinion because it’s ripe with personality and humor, and Paul Rudd gives it his all in a role he was born to play.

The heist plot is very entertaining, the visuals are some of the best put to screen, and Michael Douglas’ amazing line readings add a nice serious element over the proceedings.

I have strong faith that the sequel will improve upon this one!

4. Captain America: The First Avenger

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This one puts a big goofy smile on my face.

This is when I knew the MCU was heading in the right direction and was really refreshing after the disappoint of Iron Man 2 and to a WAY lesser extent, Thor.

The World War 2 setting works so well here that I honestly wish they could’ve spent two films during this time period because it feels so fresh.  In my opinion, the film stands out more now than it did 5 years ago.

Bursting with nostalgia, humor, action and a career defining and vulnerable performance from Chris Evans, this was a great sign of things to come in the cinematic universe and made the wait for The Avengers almost unbearable.

3. The Avengers

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This is what happens when you plan and trust talented filmmakers.

Joss Whedon enhanced everything that worked about the past Marvel movies and finally gave us a worthy sequel of sorts to Iron Man.

I love that this film was like a nonstop rollercoaster on my first viewing and the insane energy coming the audience made it even more intoxicating.

The amount of heart and spectacle on display here still makes me feel like a kid on Christmas and proved that Marvel Studios are not to be taken lightly ever again.

My one complaint about this movie is the pacing issues in the beginning of the film and the fact that Loki’s master plan to make all the Avengers turn on each other is…rather silly, even for a comic book film.

But hey…this movie made The Hulk cool again!!!!

The Avengers is not only one of the most entertaining films to come out in the past 10 years.

Also, the chain reaction from this film influenced the other Marvel franchises that Disney didn’t own.

The Amazing Spider-Man franchise destroyed itself by trying to jump start a shared universe and the X-Men Franchise regained it’s mojo because they realized they needed to make a far more dense and entertaining universe.

Thank you Joss Whedon!

2. Guardians of the Galaxy

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I adore this film so much.

I wish I grew up with it because I was a lonely child and I could see this being a VHS I would pop in after school just so I could smile.

From it’s infectious soundtrack to it’s lovable scoundrels, this is the kind of entertainment that comes along every once in a while.

Although the humor suffers a little from subsequent viewings, the film is still fast paced and has a lot more on it’s mind than just being a blast of fun.

Oh and don’t just praise Chris Pratt, because the whole ensemble deserves recognition.

Robert Downey Jr. may lead the Avengers in terms of wit and charisma, but in Guardians of the Galaxy...it’s a team effort and everyone here is as great as Robert Downey Jr.

1. Iron Man

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The one that started it all.

Almost 8 years later, Iron Man still remains as exciting and entertaining as it was the day it hit theaters.

When this film came out, I had no idea what to expect.

Was it going to be like X-Men? Was it going to be as overblown as Transformers? Is Robert Downey Jr. still a good actor? (Keep in mind he was still a recovering drug addict that burned a lot of bridges)

Even with all the admiration I had for everyone involved, especially for director Jon Faverau, I was still not sold on the idea.

Also, the last Marvel property at the time was Spider-Man 3.

Boy was I wrong to ever doubt this film.

The film is fueled by Downey’s charisma and is so entertaining that at the 2 hour mark, I could’ve sat there for another 2 hours.

I could spend hours praising my love for Robert Downey Jr. but the internet has already done that for me.

This is also the best happy accident film of all time because the movie was written day by day on set.

Iron Man is also this generation’s most influential superhero film, sorry The Dark Knight.  Without this film, there would be no Captain America: Civil War, The X-Men franchise would still be in the gutter, and Robert Downey Jr. would still be stuck doing indies and not making millions of people around the world smile.

Captain America: Civil War opens May 6!

All images via Disney

 

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