In honor of Avengers: Endgame we have pulled together our ranking of every Marvel film so far.
After looking back at every Marvel film this week, and examining Avengers: Endgame in our Spoiler-Free review, we decided to finally rank the MCU films. There are some spoilers for the rest of the MCU, but we have NO Spoilers for Endgame in this article. Checkout our rankings below and be sure to let us know what you think!
The main thing that makes this film work is Loki. He’s constantly a joy to watch on screen. More depth is added to his character as we see him mourn his mother Frigga, after she’s killed by Malekith. He gets a turn to play the good guy as he works with Thor to take down the Dark Elves. His death on the Dark World, is heartbreaking- even if it is undone before the credits roll. Thor barely has half as many great moments in this film, and it’s his name on the marquee. The only disappointment when it comes to Loki is the fact that he doesn’t get as much screen time as he deserves. I’ll admit, I’ve never been obsessed with Loki like some fans are, but after two disappointing Thor films, and his fantastic role in The Avengers, it all makes sense. Loki is the true hero of this franchise thus far. Luckily, Thor will get his time to shine before his story is done.
Thor seemed as if it had the potential to be a truly fantastic film. Chris Hemsworth looked and felt like Thor himself had stepped out of the comics. Kenneth Branagh, who had plenty of experience with Shakespearian material, was going to bring the Norse gods into a modern setting. Tom Hiddleston was the pitch perfect casting for Loki. The supporting cast included Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Colm Feore, Rene Russo, and plenty more phenomenal actors. Yet somehow Thor just seems to drag along throughout it’s entire 115 minute runtime. The film does nothing at all to make us feel as though we should care about Thor, except for the fact that he’s the hero. He’s an asshole up until the third act, and not even a funny or loveable one like Tony Stark. His romantic arch with Jane Foster is so insanely bland and stupid that it makes me glad she’s no longer part of the MCU. He has no motivation for anything except to react to whatever is in front of his face. Meanwhile, Loki has a full deep character arch from start to finish.
The first Iron Man, showed Tony that he needed to be responsible with his choices and do better. The second film shows that Tony needs to be responsible with his choices, as Iron Man, and do better. It does make sense in some ways, but overall, there could have been so much more there. The character had been around for almost 50 years when the film hit theaters, there are plenty of stories they could have told or directions they could have taken that would have possibly made the film stronger. Luckily, Marvel seemed to learn from their mistakes here, and Tony’s story is far from over.
There are a lot of smaller moments in the film that help build things later on. Moments which mean a lot more after the next Phase of films has come and gone. But as it stands on it’s own Age of Ultron is hard to just watch on it’s own. Again, Hawkeye helps save the film significantly. And James Spader’s role as Ultron is definitely fun to watch. But the film would have been much stronger without the Maximoff twins, and the introduction of Vision. Those elements alone could have tightened the story and made it a stronger film. But hindsight is 20/20, and we don’t have an infinity stone to available to fix the flaws of the past.
The film that finally brought Spider-Man into the MCU fully is without a doubt one of the best Spider-Man films. But it lags in some ways due it’s “Phase One” feel. Michael Keaton is a definite highlight of the film, with his turn as the Vulture being one of the best villains of the MCU. Tom Holland also proves that he has everything it takes to pull off both Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Overall, it’s a great film, but leaves a bit to be desired.
Captain Marvel is Marvel’s first female led film, but it doesn’t feel as though Marvel wanted to invest fully in the potential there. There are great moments in the film, and the twists and surprises are incredibly entertaining. Even at number 17 on the list, it’s still a fantastic film. But it could have been so much more than what the end result was. Hopefully the further adventures of Carol Danvers expand the character more, and truly dive into the full potential of a female led film.
Civil War is still a good film, and an entertaining one. It’s one that’s easy to come back to again and again. It features plenty of amazing fight sequences. It features nearly every Marvel hero on screen together for the first time. It’s a great and fun ride. It also features one of the few villains who were actually successful in achieving their goal. As Zemo did in fact destroy the Avengers. Something that would have major implications moving forward into Infinity War. Civil War is a great Marvel film. But Civil War is a disappointing Captain America film.
The growth of Bruce Banner in the film is an element that when examined from afar, would have long lingering effects. Ones that would eventually be touched on in Phase Three of the MCU when the Hulk’s personality finally got to shine in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. Due to the film rights for the Hulk we may never get another solo Hulk film, but The Incredible Hulk is a satisfying film that truly does work in many ways. You just have to be willing to accept the fact that Tony Stark is only in it for 30 seconds. And for some fans, that’s not enough.
Overall Iron Man 3 may be looked down on because of its structure and the liberties it takes with its villain. But it’s without a doubt one of the best films in the MCU, and neck and neck with the first Iron Man for best film in his solo franchise. It reinforces that Tony Stark is Iron Man and completes the arc we began in the first film of the MCU, with Tony finally being the man we knew he could be when he stepped out of that cave.
The film is often looked at as one of the lower tier movies in the MCU, but it honestly stands higher than a lot of the other films that came before it and a few after it. Ant-Man centers on Scott Lang (Rudd), an ex-con, as he’s recruited by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), to stop the evil Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from using the Ant-Man tech for evil purposes. The film is driven by fantastic performances by the four leads, and themes of family, fatherhood, and second chances. Ant-Man may be small, and at times may seem insignificant to the overall MCU. But in creating a smaller character story in the midst of a twelve film, expensive, cinematic universe, is what keeps us coming back time and time again.
There are some nice twists throughout the film, some that are slightly predictable and some that are nice surprises. Overall the film is a fun, hilarious, spectacular entry into the MCU. It’s a film that stands on its own, apart from the MCU, but has the potential to help influence it moving forward. It’s full of fantastic, lovable characters. Some of the best jokes in the MCU. And a female protagonist that gives the well established Black Widow, a run for her money as the female lead for the MCU moving forward.
Overall Doctor Strange is a major highlight for the MCU. It takes the good parts of the previous films and applies them to the Sorcerer Supreme’s origin story, while learning the lessons from it’s past. It’s a film filled with amazing visuals, phenomenal performances, interesting new characters, and a whole new world for the MCU to explore moving forward. Doctor Strange isn’t just a great chapter in the MCU, it’s the chance for the entire Cinematic Universe to grow in all the right ways without an established Avenger showing up along the way.
Guardians was a gamble for Marvel. Just as many of their moves have been. But they succeeded this time because at it’s core Guardians isn’t just a superhero film. Guardians of the Galaxy is a tale of broken people coming together to accomplish something greater than themselves. It’s about finding your place and your family in unlikely places. It’s a reminder that no matter how broken you may be, that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve amazing things.
The entire film is a conversation on what we believe is right and how we choose to lead. It’s about the things we are willing to stand for and the things we are able to overlook when it comes to our beliefs and what we fight for. Sometimes it can mean making a choice that isn’t always liked or doing something that will hurt ourselves. But in the end, we all have our ideals that we stand by, and those don’t change. They make us who we are and usually make us better and stronger people. They also help us learn from the mistakes of the past and work to create a brighter future. That’s the message at the heart of Black Panther, that no matter who we are, we can work to better the world for all people, especially those who can’t fight for themselves. We just have to find the right path to take even though it’s not always easy.
The film is one of the biggest highlights of the MCU as a whole. It’s incredibly funny, and full of great action set pieces. It’s proof that when Marvel does things right, they can truly deliver. But most importantly, it’s a fitting cap to the Thor trilogy, and one that is finally an excellent film for the God of Thunder.
Thanos’ plan and the story surrounding it is executed perfectly. It’s almost hard to believe that the Russo brothers were able to balance the film this well. It does an excellent job of bringing out the entire MCU to try to stop Thanos, even if they’re all doing so in their own ways. It also gives each character some truly great moments to shine. It’s a shame that Ant-Man and Hawkeye weren’t included in the film, but their exclusion made their later stories in the MCU that much better. Infinity War is an impressive feat by Marvel. But Marvel has shown us time and time again that if they make a gamble, they go all in. And infinity War was just a taste of how far they would go.
The success of the MCU lied with the success of The Avengers, and honestly the film is incredibly impressive. It’s a testament to director a co-writer Joss Whedon, for being able to take all these characters, and weave them together into a story naturally without it feeling overwhelming. There’s never a point where you can’t follow along with what’s happening. There’s never a point where you can’t enjoy what’s happening on screen. It’s a fun ride from beginning to end, with tons of fan service and spectacular action pieces.
The MCU would not be what it is today without the team of directors, Anthony & Joe Russo, and writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. The four of them crafted Captain America: The Winter Soldier and would go on to make Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Each one redefining nearly every aspect of the MCU as we know it.
Before Winter Soldier’s release, we had been given Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Thor: The Dark World. All films that hypothetically should expand the stories of these heroes, but rarely do. Winter Soldier expands every character involved, Steve, Natasha, Fury, and in doing so makes almost all of the MCU stronger. The good thing is, Marvel seemed to take this success and run with it. The bad thing is, we would have to wait a while for Cap to take any major leaps.
This film is about a group of losers, and former criminals fighting a planet. But it’s also about how we move on from trauma. How we decide to fight back against it, or use it to help make us stronger. It’s about what path we decide to take after we’ve begun to heal, and how that can change everything. It’s also a testament to the idea that we can still do amazing things, even if we’re broken and unclear of how we move forward. That’s something that Gunn began with the first Guardians and truly perfected in Vol. 2.
The film does a great job at making you love these characters and wanting to see them succeed and live happily ever after. Yet it constantly tears them apart, because there are serious risks here. You fall in love with Doctor Erskine, before he is killed in the first act. You fall in love with Bucky, before he falls to his apparent death. You fall in love with the idea of Steve and Peggy living happily ever after, before Steve drives the bomber into the sea and becomes a capsicle. It constantly breaks your heart, but you still enjoy it and want to come back again and again, because it’s a fun adventure that you never want to end. Few films can do that, but the amazing amount of talent in front of and behind the camera, made this film one of the best films in the MCU, and one of the best films of the past 10 years.
Iron Man takes what we expect from every aspect of the film and turns it on its head. The snarky hero realizes he needs to be responsible before the third act of the film. The guys working for the military and the government don’t want to steal the tech, they want to help the person who created it. The hero doesn’t get the girl in the end simply because he’s the hero, she actually calls him out on still being self-centered. And most importantly, the hero doesn’t decide to hide his identity, he announces it to the world at a press conference for all to see.
Iron Man succeeds by taking everything we expected, and every doubt we could have, laying it on the table, and then flipping the table. That action would not only affect the world of superhero films, but also the idea of what a film franchise could be. From this point forward the Marvel Universe would grow, and the idea of an interconnected cinematic universe would take Hollywood by storm.
- Avengers: Endgame
We’ll expand on this at a later time. But If you want to read our full Spoiler Free thoughts on the film, you can check out our SPOILER FREE Review here.
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