It’s been 11 years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe was created with the release of 2008’s Iron Man, and altogether there has been 3 phases with 23 movies. Since 2016 I’ve been meaning to write a list ranking all the movies (as you can probably tell it’s taken a while to write all of this up). The MCU is still very much alive, with Phase 4 starting from next year. With Phase 3 now at an end however, I couldn’t think of a better time to post my rankings than right now.
So I will be ranking all the MCU movies from Iron Man to the latest film in the MCU, Spider-Man Far From Home. I think I should clarify that I do like all the movies on this list. Many of them have flaws, some of them have major flaws, but I do enjoy all of them quite a bit nonetheless.
Also, I will be mentioning spoilers of some of the movies, so basically just assume that all of these movies will be heavily spoiled.
23. Thor: The Dark World
I actually didn’t mind this movie when I first saw it, in fact I originally liked it more than the original Thor. However, upon repeat viewings, I’ve been liking it less and less, now I consider it to be among the worst in the MCU, if not the worst. With that said, while it’s the worst movie in the series, it’s still a passable and enjoyable movie, if quite flawed and generic.
There are a lot of significant flaws in The Dark World. Malekith was such a generic and poor villain, he was another take over the world villain with no depth given to him (poor Christopher Eccleston’s given basically nothing to work with outside of delivering some typical cliché villain lines), I barely remember him, even after a few viewings of the movie. He wasn’t even memorably bad. For the most part, the comedy is really bad, especially when it involved Kat Dennings and the other human characters. While the movie didn’t spend as much time on Earth, every scene on Earth felt infinitely worse than the Earth scenes in the first Thor. However the worst part of this movie is that it just felt rather generic. It feels way too familiar, it’s difficult to care about what is going on, and it doesn’t really have a memorable style or direction. This movie is set more in Asgard than in the previous Thor, but since it’s not under the direction of Kenneth Branagh, it doesn’t have quite the same effect as when he directed Thor. With that said, there are aspects of Thor 2 which are legitimately good, Hemsworth, Hopkins, and Hiddleston were great as their respective characters of Thor, Odin and Loki, and the action scenes were entertaining, especially the final fight with all the portals. There are even some really good standout scenes, such as the funeral scene. Overall, Thor: The Dark World isn’t that good and is the worst in the series (in fact it’s commonly considered one of, if not the worst), but it is still somewhat enjoyable, I don’t dislike it by any means.
22. The Incredible Hulk
Even though I didn’t rank it at the bottom of the list (though this and The Dark World are interchangeable), I’d probably consider The Incredible Hulk to be the most forgettable MCU movie, and so far it seems the rest of the cinematic universe have forgotten about this one (with the exception of William Hurt and his character of Ross). It’s such a strange movie that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the series. It does have some pretty good parts to it, but not enough to elevate it above being a somewhat decent and entertaining superhero flick.
There are parts of The Incredible Hulk that I do really appreciate. Hulk in this movie has some flawed visual effects but they really sold the whole horror and monstrous side to the character really well that the following versions of the character sadly didn’t explore or return to. The action scenes were also pretty good, from the human based chase/action scenes, to the larger scale fight scenes with The Hulk. The cast do well, from Edward Norton as a darker and conflicted Bruce Banner/Hulk than what we got with Mark Ruffalo’s version, to Tim Roth as a one off but still effective villain. I wouldn’t say that there’s a lot bad about the movie (outside of some dated effects) but it is a little weak. The story is very familiar, and not enough depth is given to that or the characters. While many of the movies in the MCU all need to be seen to get the full experience of the series, for the time being you really don’t really need to watch The Incredible Hulk. On its own, it’s okay but forgettable, and doesn’t do enough to make it worth rewatching.
I mean it’s at least better than Ang Lee’s Hulk.
21. Iron Man 2
For many people, Iron Man 2 is the worst movie in the MCU. While I can understand why some people really dislike it, I’m one of the few people who actually liked it a fair bit. It has its faults, some of them are quite major but I still enjoy it whenever it’s on TV.
Robert Downey Jr was great as Iron Man (unsurprisingly), I liked Don Cheadle in the role of Rhodes (I don’t know if this is an unpopular opinion but I prefer him as the character over Terrence Howard), Sam Rockwell stole the show and it also introduced Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. The action scenes were also fun enough, even though there weren’t quite enough of them. The worst part of the movie is that it just felt like an expansion pack of Iron Man and in a sense it really just exists to help set up The Avengers. There were so many plotlines in the movie, it really could’ve cut a couple out and focussed on the rest, it would’ve improved the movie immensely. With that said, the plotlines were generally decent, and I liked watching them unfold. So overall, Iron Man 2 is not a great film by any means and is a bit of a mixed bag, but is still enjoyable nonetheless.
20. Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel is among the more ‘divisive’ (if that’s even possible) movies in the MCU, and while I’m not on the giant hate train for it, it really isn’t as good as it could’ve and should’ve been. Captain Marvel doesn’t do a ton of things wrong, it’s mostly that it almost just does the bare minimum. The characters and world aren’t interesting, and they failed to make Captain Marvel a character to really like outside of her doing powerful things. Overall fine but lacklustre.
Captain Marvel’s main goal is to establish the titular character, and in a way they did that. However, it unfortunately doesn’t do much more than that. Compared to other origin stories for comic book movies, I feel like I didn’t really get to know Captain Marvel by the end of the movie. Even the action wasn’t as impressive as it could’ve been, with only the scenes where Captain Marvel reaches her fullest power in the third act really standing out. With all that being said, I still partially liked the movie, though I feel like it wouldn’t hold up well if I saw it again. The cast mostly did a good job, Samuel L. Jackson entertaining as a young Nick Fury, and Ben Mendelsohn stealing every scene that he’s in (though Jude Law was easily the most forgettable villain in Phase 3). As for Brie Larson as the titular character, she certainly elevated the role from how it was written and directed. However she can only do so much, the character doesn’t go on a particularly interesting journey and I wasn’t interested in her outside of how powerful she was. Hopefully Captain Marvel’s next on-screen appearance will be much better than what we got here.
19. Ant Man
The Ant Man movies I’ve noticed got a bit of a mixed reception from some people. While they aren’t among the best movies in the MCU, they are entertaining and decent for what they are. As the light hearted final entry of Phase 2, Ant Man is a considerably smaller scale comic book movie that works very well in its simplicity.
Ant Man is a straight forward comic book movie, full of plenty of entertaining scenes and humour that makes it a fun time. The cast all work, from Evangeline Lilly, to Michael Douglas and Michael Pena, and even Corey Stoll made for a simple yet suitable and fun villain. However, it’s Paul Rudd who stands out as Scott Lang/Ant Man, very likable character and perfectly cast in the lead role. The movie also gets pretty creative with a lot of its scenes with the shrinking and enlarging visual effects, and they do take advantage of that aspect. Some people refer to the Ant Man movies as ‘flavour of the week’ and I can sort of see why. It’s a typical comic book movie that’s a fun time but you don’t remember much from it afterwards. Still if you haven’t seen at least the first Ant Man, it is worth giving a watch.
18. Captain America: Civil War
It may be surprising to many that this movie sits so low on this list. I was greatly anticipating this movie, and I thought that it would end up being one of the greatest comic book movies ever. But it ended up being one of the more disappointing comic book movies that I’ve seen in recent years, even though it does some great things on its own. It’s a shame because it certainly has potential, some there are parts that I legitimately loved.
If you want to have my full explanation and thoughts on this movie, I recommend having a look at my retrospective review on Civil War as it sets out all my thoughts really clearly. I’ll do my best to summarise some of my thoughts here though. The whole ideas of the conflict had potential but the setups were a little iffy. Deciding that the ultimate conflict would be over Bucky instead of the Sovakia Accords (which were set up but play little to no part in the second and third acts) pretty much made the whole Accords plotline pointless for the movie. Sure, the Accords may have partially affected some of the other movies but not by much, and you don’t really feel those consequences at the end of Civil War. It almost makes the movie feel a little meaningless at times. It’s not the only criticism I have but it’s one of my major criticisms.
However, there are some truly great parts in this movie. Robert Downey Jr gives one of his best performances as Iron Man, Chadwick Boseman stole the show as Black Panther and the final fight between Captain America and Iron Man is one of the best scenes in the entire MCU. I even like Zemo, who was one of the better villains of the MCU (even though I have some issues with how he was handled). Also most the action was generally good, all of them are really solid, with the exception of the airport scene, which I’m really not a fan of. The third act in particular is one of the highlights of the MCU in general. Also while the execution was a bit of a mixed bag, I do like how they really tried to end the movie as being much more of a personal and smaller conflict than a large scale one. Overall, I still say that this movie is pretty good, albeit with a lot of wasted potential. Not great, nor bad, just decent.
17. Ant Man and the Wasp
What you think about Ant Man and the Wasp will probably be similar to how you’ll feel about the first Ant Man, people who don’t like the first movie will probably hate the second. However, as I liked the first movie, I enjoyed the second quite a bit, even though it’s not even close to being one of the best MCU movies.
Whether you like or dislike the two movies, they aren’t that far apart in terms of quality. The sequel is at least a little more creative with the shrinking/enlarging ability, and it feels like they really had a lot of fun with it. Generally the comedy works a lot better, the MCU has been known to have some humour that deflated a lot of the dramatic moments. However AMATW was a pretty light movie so all the comedy never had a moment where it ruined something. The first movie feels like it was going off of Edgar Wright’s involvement (before he dropped out), whereas here it feels clearly like Peyton Reed’s movie. It’s also a light hearted comedy and a familiar superhero movie, but still a step above the first movie. The cast as usual was really good, and Evangeline Lilly got a lot more to do as The Wasp. Outside of the credit scenes it seemed to be mainly meant as a much lighter movie to end the year on after Infinity War, however it was fun for what it was.
Thor is a movie that some people are a little split on. People generally don’t like The Dark World, and people generally like Ragnarok, but with the first Thor I’ve seen mixed reactions. While it’s not one of the best movies in the MCU by any means, I liked it quite a bit, and has some elements to it that I wish was retained for the following Thor appearances.
Unlike Thor: The Dark World, Thor had a unique look and feel to it, that’s because of Kenneth Branagh’s direction. It feels a lot larger, and with the Shakespearian feel and dialogue, gives it this really grand and epic feel to it (dutch angles and all), which made it really stand out from other comic book movies in general. Like with Thor 2 though, there was the problem of too much time on Earth. While in the first movie it wasn’t terrible and it wasn’t a bad idea having Thor having to prove himself as worthy for his first appearance, the non-Earth parts are just way more interesting. Chris Hemsworth was great as Thor, even if the takes on his character changed with every single movie he was in, he brought it to each of his appearances. Although he was made iconic in The Avengers, Loki was an underrated villain in this first movie. He was quite well established, his motives believable, and the whole Shakespearian take worked perfectly for his character. The scene between him and Anthony Hopkins’s Odin after Loki realises who he really is really is one of the more underrated scenes in the MCU. I’m not really sure I can call any of the Marvel movies underrated, but the first Thor did some really good things that it really deserved more credit for, still a really solid movie overall.
15. Captain America: The First Avenger
Not many people knew that this movie would actually work in the lead up to its release. Captain America was a well known comic book character but considering how silly he appeared on the surface level, it didn’t look good. Previous live action attempts to bring him to the big screen have been absolutely disastrous, so it was quite ambitious trying to make him actually work this time. With that said, the film somehow managed to introduce the mainstream audience to Captain America in a very credible way.
As I said above, the movie really could’ve been incredibly goofy and cheesy considering some of the concepts and the title character that would be leading the whole story. However, they really managed to find a way for us to take it seriously (enough). Chris Evans was about as perfect a Captain America as you could get, managing to elevate the character above just being a goody two shoes super soldier with a shield and really gave him humanity. Even Hugo Weaving worked really well as a perfect pick for Red Skull. The First Avenger is like an alternative World War 2 movie, and the setting (and especially with them sticking to that setting for almost all of the movie) was probably the best way to handle his first appearance. The First Avenger on the whole wasn’t great and not one of the best of the MCU but it does work well for what it is, and it’s at least worth praising highly for making Captain America successfully work for the big screen.
14. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spider-Man Homecoming is a topic of debate, especially when it comes to comparing it to the comics and the Raimi trilogy, generally the MCU version of Spider-Man is a hot topic. I don’t consider Homecoming to be on par with some of the other Spider-Man movies, but it’s still good, much better than I thought it would be at the time.
Homecoming worked much better as a coming of age movie than the prior Spider-Man movies, with it actually being set in high school from beginning to end. I also like how the stakes are a lot more grounded and personal than large scale (even if that came at the expense of some rather lacklustre action scenes). Tom Holland impresses as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, I wasn’t sold on him in Civil War, but his performance in Homecoming got me on board with him as the character. And Michael Keaton worked greatly as the villain Vulture, making a rather ridiculous character in the comics work on the big screen, one of the best MCU villains. I also really liked Peter’s arc in the story, and the brief but significant appearances by Downey’s Tony Stark helped with it. Homecoming is neither top tier Marvel, nor lower tier, it’s somewhere in the middle overall.
13. Thor Ragnarok
Thor Ragnarok is one of the most offbeat, unique and entertaining movies in the MCU. It’s got some issues that prevent it from being much better than it could’ve been, but I still had quite a lot of fun with it, and it’s one that I’d really like to watch again.
Thor Ragnarok is one the funniest movies in the MCU, however it’s a specific type of humour, very similar to the humour seen in writer/director Taika Waititi’s other movies. Chris Hemsworth is given the freedom to let loose and play full comedy as Thor. Returns of characters like Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and additions of the likes of Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie made it even better. The movie is just so different compared to the other movies in the series. Some of the action scenes were pretty standout too, particularly Thor finally awakening his full power without his hammer. Now there are parts that don’t work as well. While the plotline with Hela (Cate Blanchett) in Asgard had genuine potential, it was clear that most of the focus was on Thor’s story, and every time it cut to her it felt out of obligation more than anything else. So they really didn’t explore the plotline of Asgard’s secret past as much as they could’ve, even though they could’ve potentially done a lot with it. Also while some of the visuals could look absolutely stunning at point, in others it looks surprisingly bland, and I just wished that it looked a lot more consistently great throughout. I’m not really confident in saying that it’s the best Thor movie, as it didn’t feel like a Thor movie. The earliest version of Thor wasn’t perfect but I kind of missed some of the more epic and Shakespearian aspects that his movies started with. I almost would’ve preferred if this movie was done with a different character but then again it also did some things with Thor’s character I also liked. Nonetheless I did enjoy the movie quite a bit, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.
12. The Avengers
Nobody knew that this movie would actually work, getting a single comic book character to the big screen was in itself a big task. However, combining multiple comic book characters in the same universe in the same movie was not easy. While today I wouldn’t necessarily consider it to be one of the best comic book movies, it definitely did a lot for its time.
The Avengers one of those movies that is just endlessly fun to watch, I’ve rewatched it plenty of times and every time I’ve had fun with what I’ve seen. With that said as a movie, there isn’t a whole lot to it, and looking at clips of it again, it looks quite dated and almost looks like a CW superhero show at points. However, it succeeds in its simplicity and is mainly good for what it is. Aside from the third act with everyone fighting together, what makes the movie work so well is that the dynamic between the characters are fantastic. Really the weakest link of the group is Hawkeye, who spends 2 third of the movie being brainwashed (but thankfully they made up for it in his following film appearances). It’s been a while since I’ve watched it, so I admit I’m just basing this off of memory, but it did a lot for comic book movies at the very least.
11. Doctor Strange
When I first watched Doctor Strange, I’m pretty sure it was close to being one of my favourite movies of the MCU, and I may have liked the movie more at that point than I do now. Still, there’s a lot of things I like about the movie and I think it still held up pretty well.
Although I feel like he was utilised better in the Avengers movies, Benedict Cumberbatch really does well at bringing Doctor Strange to life. Strange’s character arc particularly was a standout among the MCU considering how far he changes. Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One also added quite a bit to the movie. Not all of the cast is utilised really well, Rachel McAdams made for a generic love interest, and Mads Mikkelsen wasn’t even close to being utilised to his fullest potential. One of the parts that I loved so much was the visuals used for magic and the like. I really like how the magic was utilised here, from the dark magic that Mikkelsen’s character uses, to the time travel infinity stone used prominently in the third act. The story may be pretty familiar, but the visuals alone make the movie stand out among the MCU. I’m looking forward to seeing more movies with Doctor Strange, with his appearances in the last Avengers movies proving to be even better, as well as Baron Mordo’s (Chiwetel Ejiofor) already set up as a future antagonist in the credit scenes.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
I had some mixed feelings after watching Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 for the first time, it’s generally a movie that although having a generally good reception (as most Marvel movies do), some of the reactions were a little split. I’m so glad I re-watched this movie because I like and appreciate it a lot more now for what it is.
You really feel that James Gunn doubled down with some aspects of the movie, it’s visually stunning, the action scenes are good (although limited), and the music choices were even better than the first movie’s. As a movie about family, it was really fitting, whether it between Peter and Ego, Gamora and Nebula, and the like. Although in the third act it turns into a large scale save the universe climax, I really do like how small scale and personal they made the general movie feel, also it was separated from the MCU movies in general, it’s really its own movie and wasn’t forced to be another movie setting up things for Infinity War and Endgame. It’s also a lot more emotional with most of the characters, the Yondu death scene even worked on a first viewing, among the best scenes in the MCU. I still prefer the first movie quite a bit, some of the jokes in Volume 2 deflated the tension, but it’s very close. I’m going to need to watch it more, I feel like I’m going to like Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 the more I watch it.
9. Spider-Man: Far From Home
The most recent movie from the MCU, Far From Home was a lot better than I expected it to be. Not that I expected it to be bad or anything, but I just thought that Homecoming was pretty good. However not even the addition of Jake Gyllenhaal could make me super excited to see the movie, especially after Endgame feeling like a proper conclusion, Far From Home felt tact on at the end of Phase 3. It is probably the best live action Spider-Man movie since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.
Far From Home is overall an upgrade over Homecoming, it at least worked much better as a coming of age movie. Additionally, it seems like director Jon Watts is a lot more confident with his work, with his action scenes in this movie being a vast improvement over its predecessor (despite the occasionally iffy visual effects towards the end). A certain sequence involving illusions remains one of my favourite scenes in the MCU. Tom Holland once again proves himself a great Peter Parker and Spider-Man, he’s already played him 4 times before and he’s definitely got a handle on this role now. Jake Gyllenhaal made Mysterio, another over the top Spider-Man villain, work for the big screen. It was an almost perfect translation of the comic character, while changing some aspects so that we can actually take him seriously here, I hope we get to see him again. The first half of the movie is a pretty decent Spider-Man movie. However, after some revelations halfway through the movie, that’s when the movie really picks up. Not to say that I don’t have some issues. While I’m not as against it, the reliance on Tony Stark is definitely a little overbearing, especially seeing as how even Mysterio has some obligatory ties to him. Additionally, although I don’t have a massive problem with him not being constantly mentioned, the constant avoidance of even acknowledging Uncle Ben’s existence is bordering on embarrassing. However it’s just a minor annoyance to me even though some others take even greater issue with it. As long as the future movies don’t keep trying to bring in Tony Stark in the lives of Spider-Man and his supporting characters, I’ll be fine with it. With the point that the movie ends on, I’m definitely interested to see which direction they’ll take Spider-Man in next.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy was one of Marvel’s biggest risks, in their second phase they introduced 5 new characters, which sounded really random in concept (including a talking racoon and a tree who’s only line consists of him saying his name), and most people haven’t even heard of them. Considering the amount of money being put towards it, it could’ve ended up a disaster or a flop. Yet James Gunn and the cast and co. really came together to deliver on a very entertaining movie, and now the titular characters are now household names.
Guardians of the Galaxy is very loosely connected to the other movies, with the idea of the Infinity Stones seeming the only explicit connection made in the movie. Yet with Nicole Perlman’s writing and James Gunn’s direction, they do such a good job at introducing these new and different characters and worlds to the general audience. From beginning to end, it’s an entertaining sci-fi flick with quite a lot of effective comedy, with a few effective emotional scenes too. The cast were also great, with the highlights being Chris Pratt as Star Lord and the voice of Bradley Cooper as Rocket Racoon. One of the only weaker elements of the film again was the villain of Ronan the Accuser, but even he had a couple of good moments as well. I can’t wait to see where they will take these movies next.
7. Iron Man
This is the movie that started off the MCU, and no one expected it to be as great as it was, let alone start off one of the largest cinematic universes. Director Jon Favreau and co. managed to pull together such a good movie that successfully brought the iconic Marvel comics superhero to the big screen.
Iron Man is very well known in Marvel comics but for the mainstream people at the time was very unknown. Now he’s known as one of the most iconic live action superheroes. It’s especially amazing considering that it had no script throughout, with it relying on a lot of improvising. When you look at Iron Man again after watching the movies following it, you’ll notice that there’s quite a unique tone to it compared to the other MCU movies. It’s got this level of grittiness and style that a lot of the other movies don’t have. Even if you treat the movie as its own thing and ignoring the following films, it’s already good. If anything, the credits scene with Nick Fury was tact on at the end, suggesting something they could pursue if the movie was successful enough. Even if the series didn’t take off like it did, they really did make itself quite a good origin superhero movie. Iron Man/Tony Stark was such a different character from the traditional superhero movies that he had seen on the big screen up to that point Robert Downey Jr was perfect as Stark/Iron Man, he basically made the movie. No one thought that he would work (especially considering him years before he accepted the role), but he really made the biggest comeback and surprised everyone. The rest of the cast were also effective, even Jeff Bridges does a pretty good job as the villain. 11 years later, Iron Man is still among the best movies in the MCU.
6. Black Panther
Black Panther was a massive hit last year, even getting to the point where it became the first comic book movie nominated for Best Picture. While I wouldn’t even consider it to be among the best comic book movies ever made or anything like that, I still consider it to be very good, and definitely deserving of a lot of the praise.
While I don’t love it as much as I did when I first saw it, Black Panther is undeniably one of the best of the MCU. Director Ryan Coogler has done a great job at differentiating it from the rest of the movies in the series, both in story and the overall direction. With the themes and different directions they took the plot and characters, it’s for sure a breath of fresh air for comic book movies. The cast were all really great, with Chiwetel Ejiofor once again solid as the titular character and Michael B. Jordan made for an effective villain, one of the best of the MCU. Yes, some of the visual effects in the third act wasn’t perfect but none of that could negatively impact the movie all that much. There isn’t that much that Black Panther doesn’t do wrong honestly, sure some of the story is familiar but it doesn’t downgrade the movie that much. I’m interested to see a Black Panther sequel and I wonder where they’ll take it next.
5. Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 is quite a divisive movie for some people. Some people really like it, others really hated it for certain reasons. I liked it when I saw it, but it grew on me the more I watched it, to the point where it’s one of my favourite movies in the MCU now.
Writer and director Shane Black really made this movie his own, it’s the funniest, yet darkest of the Iron Man trilogy. It’s also rather standalone from the rest of the MCU movies (even though it’s clearly connected), outside of a mention to The Avengers. Robert Downey Jr as usual is Iron Man but you really see him more as Tony Stark, and this is really more of a Stark movie than an Iron Man movie, personally I really liked that about this movie. Many of the action scenes were also memorable and good, from the plane scene to the climax with all the Iron Man suits. Honestly aside from the twist with The Mandarin, I don’t really get why this movie gets hate. This twist is something I have mixed feelings on, not because of it not being comic accurate but because the build up with him was fantastic, only for it to turn out to be completely fake. Now I thought the actual villain that we got was alright, but kind of a bait and switch at the same time. If I had to come up with one other flaw, it’s the fact that even though Tony’s PTSD plays a part in the movie for quite a bit, it doesn’t have an ending for it, it’s very prevalent in the first two acts and in the last act it was just forgotten. It was mostly handled very well so it was a shame it wasn’t really resolved. On the whole though, I really liked Iron Man 3 and I think it’s rather underappreciated.
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
I liked The Avengers, it was a very entertaining movie and as I said earlier, it did the impossible and successfully pulled off the first superhero team up movie. However, Age of Ultron to me is a much superior film, from the direction, to where they were taking the plot. It just generally felt like a significant improvement.
Age of Ultron balanced the fun, and the dark elements quite well, I really liked where they took the story and characters. You can also tell that Joss Whedon got a lot more of a budget to work with, feeling less like a higher budget TV show and more like a big budget superhero movie. The addition of characters like Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) were also very welcome. Obviously this movie has some faults. Ultron could’ve been a far more effective villain and maybe toned down the jokes just a little bit (I still liked him though, and James Spader was absolutely perfect in the role). While I get that some people didn’t like how similar it was to the first movie, I do feel like it does enough to make itself stand out from that. Age of Ultron is one of the more divisive of the MCU movies but I actually consider it to be one of its best entries.
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier took a different direction than what was expected. It took a much more serious tone that most of the MCU movies didn’t have. It is highly regarded as one of the best of the MCU for very good reason.
The First Avenger made Captain America work in a World War 2 setting. However, the question was whether how Captain America would work in a modern setting, ignoring his appearance in The Avengers. The solution was having a much more serious tone and opted for a spy and espionage movie. The action scenes were all really memorable and impactful, from the opening scene to the final confrontation between Captain America and The Winter Soldier. This is probably one of Scarlett Johansson’s best outings as Black Widow (for the time being), same with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, and Robert Redford was effective as one of the MCU’s more underrated villains (and yes the titular Winter Soldier was also very threatening). From beginning to end, the movie doesn’t have a weak link at any point. From the cast, to the story and the direction, it was great, and also had a lasting impact on some of the other movies set in the universe. For a while The Winter Soldier was for me the best movie in the MCU.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
Infinity War is an event movie has been anticipated for many years, it did not seem like it would live up to it. Despite my scepticism (especially following Captain America: Civil War), the Russo Brothers delivered on the promise.
The way the MCU characters were brought together in one movie and cut between them, yet not making it feel too overstuffed was great. It may not have the same effect if you’ve missed out some of the movies but if you’ve been watching the entire MCU you definite got a lot out of it. Thanos had been built on for 6 years, ever since he was teased in the post credits of The Avengers. With mostly passable villains in the MCU in the movies leading up to Infinity War, he didn’t seem like he would live up to the hype but they met and surpassed expectations. Josh Brolin’s Thanos remains one of the best motion capture performances in a movie, not only is the visual effects on him fantastic, but they make him very memorable and give him well defined motives, making him probably the best villain of the MCU thus far. It’s no exaggeration saying that Infinity War really is Thanos’s movie, he is present throughout, he ends up winning, and the movie even ends on him. And then there’s the ending, with the infamous snap wiping out half of the population, including half of the Marvel characters that we know. Although I knew that more than likely everyone was going to come back in some action to reverse it (save for Loki and Gamora), the fact that they actually went there was really effective, and I can’t believe that they did it. However, whether the movie still held up on the whole all depended on how they would handle the follow up. Speaking of…
1. Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Endgame is one long epic conclusion to the culmination of 22 movies before, one of the most anticipated blockbusters ever. Even though Infinity War delivered on its promise, it still seemed like Endgame had a lot that it had to live up to. It worked as the final outings of many of the major Avengers, as well as bringing to an end the Infinity Saga that audiences have been invested in for 11 years.
While some people complained about the long runtime, on my one viewing I felt that it worked perfectly well and I’m definitely glad that they took as much time as possible so they could get it right. The first hour took its time really showing the aftermath of the snap for each of the main characters. Surprisingly Endgame works much better as a character based movie compared to the other MCU movies. Infinity War was Thanos’s movie, Endgame was the surviving Avengers’. The second hour was the Avengers going back in time to certain events that longtime MCU fans are more than familiar with. I’m glad that they even brought back familiar characters like The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford, making this his last film appearance). I mean it even manages to retroactively make Thor: The Dark World better. The last hour is the conclusion, with the final battle being one of the best sequences in a comic book movie. Yes. there is plenty of fanservice throughout the movie, but it feels very fitting (especially considering it’s the last time we’ll be seeing some of these characters). Seeing certain things happen like Captain America finally using the hammer was quite the sight to see. Even most of the divisive character decisions like the takes on Hulk and Thor I was on board with. I’ll admit that I get the feeling that this movie won’t hold up as well on a rewatch, with some elements of time travel not exactly making sense (not to mention I’m not exactly sure that what Captain America does at the end didn’t break the rules the movie tried so hard to emphasise and define). However, my viewing in the cinema was amongst the best experiences I’ve had watching a movie in the cinema. While the MCU is far from over, this is where a lot of people will be dropping off the series, it concluded the main 11 year long story arc, and it did it fantastically.
What is your ranking of the MCU?