Ranking Every Film in the MCU- From Start to Endgame
The rise of the superhero in film and television can, undoubtedly, be attributed to Marvel and DC Comics. However, the former made its initial mark with 2008’s Iron Man, which starred Robert Downey Jr. as our favorite genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, and was a hit with audiences everywhere.
Thus, 23 films were spawned, shattering box-office records and scattering an abundance of merchandise in their wake. Eleven historic years documenting incredible feats of cinema, all interwoven together to tell an overarching story. Oh, and lots of superheroes sparring against villains. Massive explosions. Apocalyptic destruction. Gods and aliens. If you’re into that sort of thing…and I most certainly am.
Now, I’ve decided to rank all 23 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a monumental undertaking that nobody asked for. DISCLAIMER: these are solely my humble opinions and not affiliated with those of Sideshow Collectibles. Read at your own peril!
23. The Incredible Hulk
My reason for having The Incredible Hulk, which stars the indelible Edward Norton as the big angry green guy, dead last on this list has nothing to do with the film’s overall quality. More or less, it’s due to the film’s disconnection from the remainder of the MCU.
Not only that, but Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo prior to the filming of The Avengers. Ruffalo will always be the Hulk to me, rendering Norton a forgettable chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s playbook.
22. Iron Man 3
As much as I adore Iron Man, Iron Man 3 just didn’t resonate with me. Perhaps it’s easy for this flick to slip between the cracks following the cataclysmic events in The Avengers. Maybe it has to do with Tony Stark’s weightless avowal to scale back on his life as Iron Man. Iron Man will never stop Iron Man-ing, folks.
21. Captain Marvel
Now, this one stung a bit. Brie Larson is an acting force to be reckoned with – this much is true. She’s an Academy Award winner, for crying out loud! However, the writing in Captain Marvel is a disservice to her immense talents.
There’s no ultimate obstacle for Carol Danvers to overcome since, you know, she’s all-powerful and seemingly unstoppable. Plus, not much of her character is truly fleshed out for us, as an audience, to sink our teeth into. But, I’m still holding out hope that the impending sequel will turn over a new leaf.
Initially, Thor as a character fell flat for me. Thor, the film about the Asgardian god played by Chris Hemsworth, is tepid by Marvel standards. Of course, those standards are still pretty high.
Thankfully, the witty Kat Dennings injects some levity into the flick with her portrayal of Darcy Lewis. Not to mention, Tom Hiddleston‘s mischievous Loki is brought into the fold and Clark Gregg has another opportunity to breathe life into Agent Phil Coulson.
19. Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 is a mite better than Iron Man 3, especially given the introduction of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) into the MCU. Downey is terrific as usual. However, the pacing is akin to riding one of those old, rickety wooden roller coasters.
On a semi-unrelated note: I was today years-old when I learned that actor Justin Theroux penned the script for this film. Talk about mind=blown.
18. Thor: The Dark World
I may be in the minority here, but I thoroughly enjoyed Thor: The Dark World. Thor is more of a multi-faceted character in this film. Hiddleston and Hemsworth’s chemistry as the battling Asgardian brothers is off the charts.
And that cliffhanger of an ending! Not to mention, I’ll watch anything with Christopher Eccleston – especially if he’s a formidable villain.
17. Avengers: The Age of Ultron
The follow-up to The Avengers is a somewhat lukewarm installment. Pros: the introduction of Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). James Spader turning in a brilliant performance as Ultron. The formation of the growing rift between Iron Man and Captain America (Chris Evans), sowing the seeds for Captain America: Civil War. That fight sequence when everyone assembles.
Cons: Aaron Taylor-Johnson‘s underutilized Quicksilver biting the dust prior to the film’s conclusion.
16. Spider-Man: Far From Home
Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man by far, and I challenge anyone to change my mind. I was ecstatic upon hearing the news of Spider-Man rightfully returning home to Marvel. Spider-Man: Far From Home is the sequel in Holland’s trilogy, wherein Peter and his friends encounter danger abroad on a class trip. Overall, it’s a great flick.
However, I felt that Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Mysterio was a lower-level villain on the baddies spectrum. But I dig the film’s trademark Marvel dry wit, and Zendaya and Holland’s budding chemistry on screen is swoon-worthy. Not to mention, watching Peter grieve over the loss of Tony Stark is altogether touching and heartbreaking.
15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”
Michael Rooker steals the show in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the follow-up to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Yondu’s death is tragic, and his complicated relationship with Starlord (Chris Pratt) ultimately develops into a thing of beauty.
The film’s premise revolves around family and what makes one a “family member.” Vol. 2 also boasts a wonderfully eclectic soundtrack that will force you to get up and dance. James Gunn‘s effervescent humor and multi-faceted writing make this movie a rollicking good time.
14. Iron Man
The film that started it all. Iron Man opened the floodgates to a new world beyond our imaginings. RDJ became our fearless, witty leader as we embarked on a new chapter in superhero cinema. This flick introduces us to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson. Oh, and it also marks the beginning of the glorious MCU end-credit scene.
13. Ant-Man and the Wasp
Paul Rudd just oozes charisma as Scott Lang. He’s a breath of fresh air and a veritable palate cleanser. His team-up with Evangeline Lilly (Hope Van Dyne) is rife with frivolity and lighthearted, good ol’ fashioned fun.
Not to mention, Ant-Man and the Wasp plays a crucial role regarding the events of the final two Avengers movies. If you’re wondering why Ant-Man and the Wasp fail to make an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, you may want to visit this little gem.
12. Captain America: The First Avenger
You never forget your first! Chris Evans captures our hearts in Captain America: The First Avenger and, to be honest, he has yet to return mine. Frankly, I’m a Cap girl, so I’m 100% biased. Evans is pitch perfect as the morally sound and courageous Steve Rogers. Hayley Atwell also steals the shield as Peggy Carter, and her tryst with Cap is chock full of romance.
Hugo Weaving shines as the film’s antagonist Red Skull, the leader of HYDRA. More so due to HYDRA’s parallels to Nazism in the real world. Oh, and we meet Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). Need I say more?
11. Captain America: Civil War
This movie is all about the mounting tension between Captain America and Iron Man. Two opposing ideals trying to coexist in the same organization. Our heroes take sides and square off against each other. Yes, there’s a villain in Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), but the Avenger’s ultimate dispersing is the film’s focal point.
Tom Holland also makes his debut as Spider-Man, and the world fell in love with this new, exuberant iteration of Peter Parker. The highlight of Captain America: Civil War is the fight sequence between Cap and Iron Man. Unquestionably.
Now, Guardians of the Galaxy paved the way for films like Ant-Man. Rudd’s charm and happy-go-lucky attitude infused in protagonist Lang is so fun to watch. Michael Peña also nicks the spotlight as Lang’s buddy Luis. All the while, Ant-Man plays a role in introducing the MCU to the Quantum Realm. Not bad for a movie about a guy dressed like an ant.
9. Doctor Strange
The Marvel Cinematic Universe adds another layer to its multi-tiered cake – mystical arts. Magic! Realms and otherworldly dimensions! Doctor Strange gives us something different to break up the semi-mundane procession of plain old “superhero” flicks.
Benedict Cumberbatch portrays the arrogant Stephen Strange to perfection. And Tilda Swinton! Did I mention Tilda Swinton?
8. The Avengers
Avengers, assemble! The Avengers really acts as the catalyst in gifting the world with superhero fever. We got to see Black Widow, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) battle Loki and his alien forces as they wrecked havoc on New York City.
It’s a battle of epic proportions, and a massive one at that. The likes of which we haven’t seen in film before. Joss Whedon‘s trademark wit and off-the-cuff dialogue runs rampant throughout the flick, along with plenty of MCU lore to keep fans sated until the end.
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
He’s finally home! Spider-Man: Homecoming finds our favorite web-slinger grappling with life post-Captain America: Civil War. Holland’s performance is enrapturing and without a doubt a highlight of the flick.
Not to mention, Michael Keaton is always a prime choice as far as antagonists are concerned. This movie is filled to the brim with heart, humor and heroic feats in equal measure.
6. Black Panther
Chadwick Boseman makes his debut as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. Black Panther, the 2018 film following the aforementioned hero, made history in the world of superheroes.
It boasts a cast almost entirely comprised of people of color. Not to mention, it snagged a Best Picture nomination at the 91st Academy Awards. Black Panther is not only culturally significant, but everything from the writing to the acting is top-notch. I can’t wait for the impending sequel in 2022.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
“Hooked on a feeling!” Guardians of the Galaxy marks a turning point in the blossoming Marvel Cinematic Universe.
James Gunn injected a newfound energy into the MCU – he crafted a superhero flick that didn’t take itself too seriously. He also created a film rife with dry wit, an old-school soundtrack, and a bright color scheme. Guardians of the Galaxy is a blast-from-the-past romp with plenty of heroics, action and a smattering of romance.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Ranking the sequel above the original? Unheard of! Captain America: The Winter Soldier delivers on all fronts as far as I’m concerned. The upending of S.H.I.E.L.D. courtesy of HYDRA is an historic moment for the MCU. Discovering that undercover Nazis were pretending to be working for the good guys for several decades? That’s pretty massive.
Bucky’s resurgence as the elusive and formidable Winter Soldier is also a highlight. Cap attempting to restore order in a post-S.H.I.E.L.D. world is as fascinating as it is heartbreaking. Everything Peggy Carter tirelessly worked to create seemed to crumble at the drop of a hat. Evans soars as a beacon of hope and a bastion of impenetrable patriotism.
3. Thor: Ragnarok
Hemsworth pleasantly surprised me in Thor: Ragnarok. He manages to inject another layer into our favorite alien god – humor. Thor is side-splitting funny in this flick. Taika Waititi delivers a sharp-as-a-tack script akin to Guardians of the Galaxy.
Cate Blanchett is deliciously wicked as Hela, Thor and Loki’s estranged sister. Hiddleston and Hemsworth team up alongside the Hulk and newcomer Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to defeat Hela on Asgard. There’s an infectious classic rock soundtrack accompanied by intricate fight sequences and breathtaking visual effects. Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is as near perfect as a Marvel film can get.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
Talk about the biggest assembly in superhero history! Avengers: Infinity War is an ambitious film in all aspects. The melding of multiple crews occurs, for one. Secondly, Thanos (Josh Brolin) is the most powerful villain we’ve encountered thus far. Who else can wipe out half of the universe’s population with a snap of their fingers?
Watching the epic showdown in Wakanda is jaw dropping. Thor interacting with the Guardians garnered more than a chuckle from me. Not to mention, it’s a sumptuous feast for the eyes.
1. Avengers: Endgame
Now, without further ado, the top spot is rewarded to…Avengers: Endgame! This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. As the final installment in the Avengers saga, this flick is jam-packed with comedy, drama, action, and romance galore. Iron Man’s death felt like a punch in the gut. I was incessantly weeping from the halfway point in the movie until the conclusion.
Cap’s story ends on a positive note – his reunion and subsequent dance with his sweetheart Peggy is “aw” inducing. Not to mention, the Captain America baton is passed to Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and I’m curious to see where this takes him in Phase 4. Avengers: Endgame is such a satisfying ending to this sprawling saga.
Well, that’s all I wrote! What did you think of this list? How would you rank the films in the MCU? Sound off in the comments below!