Ladies and gentlemen, we are so close to Avengers: Endgame. This film marks the end of the “Infinity Saga,” the culmination of twenty-one films before it. I have no doubt that the Russo Brothers will deliver a phenomenal yet emotional end to what has been a 11 year journey.
With that being said, this journey has definitely had its ups and downs with several movies. Even though Marvel has made improvements along the way and has delivered some fantastic films, some haven’t lived up to their potential.
It’s only fitting to look back on all the films that are considered to be a part of the MCU and rank them. This list is an update from the one I made last year to include the most recent MCU films that have come out as well.
21. Incredible Hulk
Let’s just get this one out of the way. I still don’t understand why they thought Edward Norton would play a convincing Bruce Banner. Even though this movie sought to redeem the flop that was Aang Lee’s Hulk, the result was a movie that focused less on plot development and more on action. I can’t even say I remember anything that happens in this movie other than the post-credit scene that features Tony Stark.
20. Iron Man 2
No matter what anyone says, Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark. However, had he not done Iron Man 2, the whole project would have failed.
The movie spent too much time setting up the Avengers movie, which made the story itself feel rushed. And, for some reason, Jon Favreau thought that it was a good idea to include Mickey Rourke in this movie. His character seemed like another generic villain that was needed for the film instead of being a worthy adversary that could return in a future film.
By the end of it, he became what I like to call a “Forgettable Movie Villain”. One of the good things about this film that it introduced Natasha Romanoff and gave Rhodey his Iron Patriot suit. But this was definitely a low point for the MCU.
19. Iron Man 3
With the success of Marvel’s The Avengers and seeing many heroes in one movie, all the hype moved on to Iron Man 3. Many hoped that this movie would be a lot better than its predecessor, and it did deliver, on certain aspects.
When it was announced that The Mandarin would be the villain of the film, I was excited. He was the main villain in the Iron Man animated series, which I grew up watching. I had full faith that Sir Ben Kingsley would deliver a great performance as that character, but it was strange to me that they didn’t go with a Chinese or Chinese-American actor. When it was revealed that he wasn’t really The Mandarin but merely an actor pretending to be him, I was devastated.
I’m still hoping that they do The Mandarin justice in a future film. After all, it was revealed in the Marvel one-shot All Hail the King that an actual Mandarin still exists. The film also seemed to imply that this was Tony Stark’s last appearance given the theme of the monsters being created by him. Had that been the case, this would’ve been a very poor way to end the character’s journey.
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t watched the film until a few weeks before doing my original list. I knew very little about Thor around the time the film came out and even after years of the movie’s release, I never really thought I needed to watch it.
However, I do think that the film did a great job of introducing several things like S.H.I.E.L.D. and how everything would eventually be connected to each other. I also thought that Thor’s introduction to many of Earth’s customs was done well.
Ultimately, this still doesn’t seem like a movie I’d go back and watch.
17. Thor: The Dark World
Like Thor, I didn’t watch this when it was originally released. But once I watched it, I’m sort of glad I waited to see it.
The plot in this film is all over the place and the possibility of Thor having some comedic moments in further films was seemingly killed here. This movie also includes “Forgettable Movie Villains” that don’t seem to have any long lasting impact on the MCU in general. And given that I’ve never been a fan of Natalie Portman, seeing her character return was one more element that made me dislike the film even more.
16. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Oh Joss Whedon, what were you thinking? This movie was full of controversial choices. But, before we can even talk about these choices. Whedon’s decision to have the Black Widow and Hulk storyline was unnecessary. I’m glad that they included the Maximoff siblings but I wanted them to be Magneto’s children. I also don’t understand why Pietro had to die. Just saying.
Ultimately, there are too many storylines in this film, which made the film messy. It all felt really rushed and I found myself wanting more.
15. Captain America: The First Avenger
This is the movie that introduced Steve Rogers to the big screen. It sets up his origin story extremely well, without all the propaganda that the character was based on. What I didn’t like was that the film made him the ultimate hero, or at least the embodiment of one.
I didn’t feel like he really struggled throughout the film. He did lose his friend Bucky, but I just couldn’t really feel like he cared. Yes, this film was his introduction but it lacked in a few areas. But, if you’re interested in learning more about the character, make sure you check out the episode that the podcast hosts put out a while back.
14. Marvel’s The Avengers
“Does mother know you weareth her drapes?” That has to be one of my favorite lines from the film, or quite possibly from the entire MCU. This film was what many fans had wanted, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes coming together on a live-action film. All heroes in the film get their own time to shine on screen, which was a step in the right direction.
Loki proved to be a great villain and it introduced Thanos as the main villain that they would all need to go against eventually. The film tries its best to set up the group dynamic, but lacks in a few areas. Given that the characters hadn’t met before, setting them up as a team did feel a bit rushed. The charisma that Stark had in his two solo films gets in the way of him being a team player until Coulson dies. It felt like a very typical plot to get the hero to be a part of a team.
13. Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
If this were a list of ranking soundtracks, this would automatically take the number one spot. The soundtrack for this film is one that I listen to at least once a month. As for the film, it sought to follow the success of its previous film.
However, it focused way too much on the jokes and silliness that flowed perfectly in the first film. It was funny, but it got annoying at times. I had wished that they would’ve had the plot revolve around the infinity stones or something related to Thanos. The reveal of Peter’s father and his real intentions was predictable. What made this film memorable for me was the development in the relationship between Gamora and her sister Nebula.
12. Doctor Strange
I wasn’t really sure what this movie would bring to the MCU or how I’d feel about it. That being said, this ended up being Iron Man, but with magic. Both show an egotistical genius who discovers who he really is after a traumatic event in their lives, leading them to see that they have the potential to be heroes.
The scene where he travels through different dimensions for the first time has to be one of the most captivating things I’ve seen. The writing, however, seems to lack in some areas and I also don’t understand why Kaecilius couldn’t be the only villain. I still don’t understand why Tilda Swinton was given the role of the Ancient One. Talk about a controversial decision on Marvel’s part.
11. Captain Marvel
“Higher, further, faster.” This film definitely attempted to live up to that motto as it was full of bold decisions as it differs from the traditional origin stories in the MCU. Carol Danvers has her powers but has he origin kept secret from her by Yon-Rogg.
The premise of the film alone is enough to make me want to watch it, but most of the decisions made didn’t work for me. The action sequences feel like they were done by indie directors rather than being spectacular like those in other films. Nothing was really at stake in the film, which was quite disappointing. If anything, Captain Marvel should have been introduced in Endgame like Spider-Man was introduced in Civil War. I did, however, walk away having fallen in love with Goose the cat.
10. Ant-Man & the Wasp
This was quite possibly the movie that many fans needed after the gut-wrenching experience that was Infinity War. It was light-hearted, entertaining, funny, and a definite family film.
However, it felt like it was leaning into the humor a bit too much, which was a. bit distracting at times. Once again the movie suffers from “forgettable villains”. Had the movie only focused on making Ghost the main villain, it would’ve made me care a lot more about the film. One of the major upsides is seeing Hope in her Wasp outfit.
9. Guardians of the Galaxy
A rag-tag team of heroes that came together and introduced us to the more cosmic aspects in the MCU. I was overjoyed when I heard that Chris Pratt had signed on to be Starlord. Like a lot of people who watched the film, I didn’t know a lot about these characters. But I grew to love them and read some of their comic arcs. All of these actors do an amazing job bringing these characters to life and won the hearts of many fans. And no James Gunn, I won’t accept that Groot actually died.
Ant-Man was another hero I did not know much about. I was also on the fence of watching this film after Edgar Wright left the project and Peyton Reed took over. After watching it, I was fully onboard with Paul Rudd playing Scott Lang.
One of my complaints was that the villain is, yet again, forgettable. I didn’t quite understand his motives for being a villain other than wanting more power. Michael Peña’s character is probably one of my favorite characters in all the MCU. I’m hoping that he has at least a cameo in Infinity War.
Other than that, Michael Douglas is the perfect choice to play Hank Pym. I’m excited to see Evangeline Lily with her Wasp outfit in the sequel.
7. Thor: Ragnaork
I wasn’t too sure if I would watch this. Like I’ve said, my track record with watching Thor films hasn’t been that great. However, once it was leaked that Hulk would be in the film and pictures of his armor were shown, I was in.
The trailer was way different from anything I had seen before. I liked seeing Thor with shorter hair; it seemed like the right fit. In addition, the entire cast does a phenomenal job throughout the film. Cate Blanchett as Hela was truly amazing to watch. Seeing Tessa Thompson in her Valkyrie outfit and seeing her kick ass was fantastic.
The film also used a lot of humor but it worked, unlike with what Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
One of my favorite super heroes is Spider-Man. I grew up watching the animated series and made my parents buy me a Spider-Man lunchbox. So, I was overjoyed when it was announced that he would be a part of the MCU. His appearance in Civil War solidified my belief that he plays the best Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
While his solo film does have its faults, I was just happy to see his character getting justice. Michael Keaton’s portrayal of The Vulture was perfect. I’m excited to see what the sequel will bring. But I’m hoping that they’ll fix his Iron Spider suit.
5. Captain America: Civil War
This was a film that I never thought they’d make. That being said, this was such a huge event in Marvel comics that there was no way that they could avoid doing this film. The film does a lot, introducing both Black Panther and Spider-Man into the MCU. Not to mention what it does with existing characters. Seeing Ant-Man ride one of Hawkeye’s arrows was incredible to see. Even though Giant-Man was spoiled because of merchandise, it was still exciting when it happened.
Now, there were a few things that I didn’t like about the film. Particularly, I don’t understand why the conflict had to revolve around Bucky. I also don’t understand why Zemo was the main villain. Ultimately, I think that this film could have just focused on the conflict and the Registration Act.
4. Avengers: Infinity War
A culmination of a 10-year journey in one film. Emotions were at an all-time high from when the first trailer dropped until the movie ended. I can’t really say anything new that hasn’t already been said about the film.
It proved that all it took was one bad day and one ominous villain to fully bring our heroes together. But, all it took was one snap to tear them apart, or rather descimate them.
Spider-Man’s death will never not get me to shed a tear. The film left me with the feeling that Thanos is by far one of the best villains that the MCU has ever had. It only heightens the level that future villains have to measure up to. It will be interesting to see if anyone can top it.
3. Captain America: Winter Soldier
This was my favorite MCU film for the longest time. The progression of the story flowed perfectly and everything in it made sense. While there may be flaws, I think the execution of the story outweighs them. From a narrative standpoint, the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the perfect plot for the film. It set up the idea that the Avengers were on their own. To think that the Russo Brothers went from directing episodes of Community to this fantastic film is mind blowing.
As a villain, the film gave birth to Crossbones and on the other side of things it started the friendship between Sam and Steve. This is a film I go back to at least twice a year and will never get tired of watching.
2. Black Panther
This movie will go down in history as one of the greatest super hero films ever. It’s broken records and proven that people of color have what it takes to not only carry movies but bring out box-office hits, regardless of what studio execs say.
One of the highlights of the film are the characters. Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of Kilmonger is executed extremely well. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia was a badass character. Letitia Wright as Shuri became another one of my favorite characters in the entire MCU. The other highlight? The soundtrack.
1. Iron Man
Iron Man: the movie that started it all. The idea to start a universe around a not-so-known hero and have him be played by an actor who Hollywood had cast aside was a huge risk, which ultimately succeeded. A lot of that success is due to the fact that this film proves that Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark. He is Iron Man.
The emotion that he conveys during his scenes in the cave are so genuine and so compelling to watch. And as the film list has grown, this film remains one that means so much, to so many people. This film made it possible for us to be where we are today.
Endgame is only a few days away. Fans who have been there since day one and those that have joined along the way are definitely excited. This film marks the end of the “Infinity Saga”, which will definitely be talked about for many years to come. But none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the actors, directors, and the incredible crew members who have worked on these films. Thank you, Marvel Studious and all of those involved, for allowing many fans to enjoy these films and make memories.