Ranking all 22 of the Marvel movies from worst to best, including Avengers: Endgame
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Let the arguments begin!
Avengers: Endgame is finally here, and if it doesn't exactly put a full stop in the MCU, it definitely does represent some sort of punctuation point.
22 movies down, and at least one more to go in 2019 - Spider-Man: Far From Home this July.
After that? Who knows? Nothing is confirmed! Maybe there won't be anymore! (Except there definitely will be because they make too much money for Disney to stop making them.)
So with that in mind, on with the listing, starting with the worst of the bunch.
Oh, and obviously, SPOILERS:
22. IRON MAN 2
Let us just start off by saying that there isn't really a bad Marvel movie so far, but in terms of pure laziness Iron Man 2 takes the cake. Despite Mickey Rourke having a ball playing a bad-guy from, tonally, a completely different movie, there isn't a lot going on here that doesn't just feel like wheel-spinning. It exists just to make money, which it did, but it was the first and laziest in several lazy Marvel sequels to come.
21. THE INCREDIBLE HULK
The first Eric Bana-starring Hulk isn't part of the MCU, probably because it was FAR too ponderous for the blockbuster crowd. The director made it in between Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, to give you an idea of where he was coming from. You'll notice we've not actually mentioned this Hulk movie yet, and that's because there's not a lot to say about it. Hulk smash, Edward Norton was ... fine, but it was mostly just about one big CGI green guy punching another big CGI green guy.
20. THOR: THE DARK WORLD
There's a lot wrong with the second Thor movie - the red bubble evil, whatever the bad guys plan was meant to be, having no idea what to do with Natalie Portman other than put her in a coma - but there's also a lot right with it. Primarily, it is actually very funny. From Thor hanging up his hammer on the coat hook when he arrives in a guest's home, to the Portal-inspired climax, there's some great bits in here. Too bad it gets overshadowed by the "Bigger = Better?" storyline.
19. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Chris Evans is perfectly cast, Red Skull is a great bad-guy, and the old school, Boys' Own flavour works for some of the run-time. But it keeps falling between the stools of being a big superhero epic or a down'n'dirty war epic, and never really nails either of them. Plus, the whole best-buddy sub-plot with Sebastian Stan just doesn't hit home the way the film-makers think it does, which causes a bit of a major problem for the Captain America movies to come...
This was initially to be directed by the guy who gave us Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz (amazing!). Instead, the job went to the guy behind Yes Man and The Break-Up (eh.....). Coasting on the pure charm offensive of Paul Rudd, who is ably assisted by Evangeline Lilly and Michael Pena, this is a fun comedy that just doesn't work as well as an action superhero movie. That being said, the miniature bedroom showdown is pretty great, but again, mostly because its funny, not because its a great action scene.
Whereas the sequel went maybe a little too silly, the first Thor went maybe a little too serious. Director Kenneth Branagh brought his Shakespearean background to the mix, and cast the film impeccably, giving a rich visual sheen that still stands out. Loki is arguably still the best Marvel movie villain, but his big plan to... release a big robot in a small American town isn't exactly what great movie villains are made of.
16. DOCTOR STRANGE
A rich genius with some a sharp tongue and sharper facial hair is involved in a terrible accident that forces him to push himself to his boundaries and come out the other side a different, better man... No, this isn't Iron Man, but it might as well be if it weren't for those amazing, trippy LSD visuals. Hopefully now that the origins is out of the way, Strange can get, y'know, a little stranger and not stick so rigidly to the Marvel routine.
15. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
We can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to coral so many famous people with so many growing careers into one movie, let alone come up with a script that explains why some of them are there and some of them aren't. Ultron is a great villain (voiced immaculately by James Spader), but despite the great action scenes and dizzyingly witty script, there is sometimes a sense that none of it really meant anything other than to have a $250 million reason to introduce us to the Scarlet Witch and Vision.
14. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
It has much the same issues as Age Of Ultron, to be honest. Yes, it is great to see the gang back together, but does any of it really mean anything in the end other than introduce us to Mantis (Pom Klementieff) into the team, and get Nebula (Karen Gillan) from a pure villain to a ..... well, she's not exactly a team-player, but she doesn't seem as murderous as before. The action and the funnies are back, but replacing the surprise element of the original is a sense that everyone already knows they're on to a winner. Which is totally understandable, but there's nothing here that will remain particularly memorable in the grand scheme of the MCU.
13. CAPTAIN MARVEL
It was... fine. Brie Larson and the supporting cast were all great, the soundtrack was great, and nods to the nineties were great, but by trying to reinvent an origin story movie - which we've seen done to death, to be fair - we got a very convoluted way of introducing us to an already very convoluted character. If any of the Avengers needed a straightforward "This is how they got here" movie, it was Carol Danvers. Still though, now all the hard work is done, we look forward to seeing what we might be getting in the sequel.
12. BLACK PANTHER
Picking things up pretty much directly after the events of Civil War, with the new king of Wakanda finding it difficult to stay true to his father's wishes of what the future of the country should be, and wanting to push forward for the good of the planet. An amazing cast fleshing out some incredibly well-rounded characters, and the visuals are a spot-on interpretation of Afro-futuristic sci-fi. The script is filled with some very smart nods towards some very current race issues, and the villain (if you can even call him that) is one of the most well thought out bad-guys in Marvel history. It just isn't very exciting, is all. Interesting, yes, with an IQ through the roof, but could've done with two or three more action sequences.
11. IRON MAN 3
Reuniting with his director from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Robert Downey Jnr got his most interesting iteration of Tony Stark here, mainly by being kept out of his Iron Man suit for the majority of the movie. The villains are cack (one breaths fire, the other turns out to be entirely fake), but by focusing more on the hero and what makes him so interesting, we get one of the more psychologically interesting insights into what it must be like to be a hero every day.
10. ANT-MAN & THE WASP
If it wasn't for Spider-Man: Homecoming, this would be the funniest movie in the MCU. After the dodgy first movie, everything feels much more confident here, with Rudd and Lilly killing it in the leads, while new additions Michelle Pfeiffer, Lawrence Fishburne, and Hannah John-Kamen all doing great work. The visuals continue to be some of the best and most original within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while anything and everything that involves Michael Pena is worth the price of admission alone.
9. THOR: RAGNAROK
To be honest, expectations weren't super high for this one. Despite hiring the left-field director of What We Do In The Shadows, and those early day-glo trailers kicking off a fantastic 80s sheen, considering the first two Thor movies didn't set the world on fire, could it be third time's a charm? Turns out, yes, it absolutely can, be leaning really heavily into Chris Hemsworth's natural comedic charisma, pairing him up with Mark Ruffalo's finally-talking Hulk, and filling out the supporting cast with scene-stealers like Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson and an incomparable Jeff Goldblum. It is far from perfect, and there is one too many CGI spaceship shoot-outs for our liking, but this is still a massive step in the right direction, and the most purely entertaining Marvel film outside of the first Guardians.
8. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
The opposite of Age Of Ultron, here we get so much happening that its hard to keep up with events. The Avengers are told they have to abide by the world's governments' rule, which causes a massive split down the middle, and pits Captain America's "Thanks, but no thanks" group against Tony Stark's "A little regulation never hurt nobody" team. We also get Black Panther, that massive airport scrap, the introduction of a good version of Spiderman, and a bad guy that doesn't want to rule or blow up the world. He just wants some good old fashioned revenge.
7. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
The problem with Avengers: Infinity War is also what could eventually turn out to be the movie's best quality, in that it feels like two different movies. On the one hand, we've got this huge, epic, once-in-a-lifetime, never-tried-before battle royale that is well deserved after a decade of hard work, and we get a surprisingly funny, brilliantly acted mega-blockbuster. However, while the ending was an epic cliffhanger to leave fans on, nobody really felt that there wasn't a massive "UNDO" hanging over the entire thing, so as powerful as it was, it essentially was left to live or die by how Endgame worked out.
6. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
Nobody had particularly high hopes for this one, even after Spider-Man did pop up and effectively steal the show during Civil War. However, his new standalone adventure (kinda, Iron Man is still on hand to dole out some unfriendly life advice) was a perfect mix of teen rom-com and out-and-out action-adventure, with Tom Holland performing a balancing act between charming and goofy and Michael Keaton properly nailing the bad-guy act. Arguably features the best plot twist in all of the Marvel movies to date, too. (You'll know it when you see it.)
5. AVENGERS ASSEMBLE
Looking back it is very easy to overlook just how massive an undertaking the first Avengers movie was, but at the time we were all jaw-dropped by seeing these huge characters share the screen to help save Manhattan from giant space metal worms. It was also very funny, with some great and natural chemistry by everyone involved, and barely an ounce of fat to be found on the run-time.
4. IRON MAN
And as much as we should rightfully be awed by the Avengers movie, look back even further to the first Iron Man movie, and the shock we got by a (at the time) D-list action hero showing over superhero movies how it should be done. Amazing casting in the (at the time) out of favour Robert Downey Jnr, along with some inventive but gritty action sequences, this was the massive surprise that would become, for better or worse, the template for all other origin stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
3. AVENGERS: ENDGAME
Yep, it is that good. As good as Iron Man was at kicking everything off, it is impossible to imagine a better monument to what the MCU has achieved over the past decade or so than with what Endgame provides us here. The scope has never been bigger, the characters have never felt deeper, and while we know this isn't the end of Marvel's cinematic run, it is a perfect place to take a break, have a breather, and fully revel on what has been an incredible, massive undertaking. If anything, Endgame makes it tough to see Marvel can outdo themselves in the future, with the lesson here being maybe they shouldn't try to.
All clips via Marvel
2. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
If very few people had heard of Iron Man when it first came out, then the Guardians Of The Galaxy was a complete unknown. But having built up so much good will on the back of their previous movies, people gave them the benefit of the doubt, just like Marvel did with the movie's writer/director James Gunn, and the risk paid off for everyone. Hugely original, lovable characters, unique settings and visuals, and that soundtrack all added up to a brilliant, galactically sized expansion of the Marvel universe that we're still only getting to grips with.
1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Unlike most of the other sequels, The Winter Soldier dug its heels in and showed what can be accomplished if you really want to rebuild your character from the ground up. Ditching most of the OTT-ness from the other heroes' movies, Captain America deals with visceral, street-level shoot-outs and political intrigue for most of the running time, until we feel it (and we) have fully deserved that massive air-ship shoot-out over Washington. Robert Redford gave a great human face to evil skulduggery, and The Falcon and Black Widow were perfect back-up to Chris Evans' Captain America - a character who, like Cyclops or Superman, could've been dull as dishwater. But The Winter Soldier effectively muddies that water, showing that just because you're the good guy, that doesn't mean you don't sometimes have to do bad things.
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