Worst to Best: Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Not going to lie, there are way too many superhero films coming out these days for my liking, but that’s not to say that there aren’t, or haven’t been a lot of good ones, especially the ones put out by Marvel Studios. They’re not always super deep and they’re sometimes formulaic, but you can almost always count on them being entertaining at the very least. Props must also be given to Marvel for their intentional crafting of a multi-character (even multi-world) narrative universe that is threaded through each of their films in subtle and explicit ways. It’s cool to have such an epic scope, and it’s always fun to anticipate their trademark after-credits scene that gives a little teaser as to what’s coming next.
Having just watched the latest Marvel installment, Doctor Strange, I’m finally caught up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe line-up, so I thought I should quickly get my “Worst to Best” rankings out there for the MCU before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes out this spring!
As always, I would love to hear your feedback on how I rank the MCU films, and what your own rankings would be! Thanks for reading!
(Keep in mind the ratings as posted on the full reviews linked below have not yet been updated in accordance with my recent change in how I rate movies)
14. Thor (2011)
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My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

I just found everything from the story to the setting a little too cheesy to really make this anything more than an “alright” film.

Read my full review here.

13. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

If I had bought the reason for the whole war, I certainly would have rated this much higher. But unfortunately, the writing just didn’t do it for me here. Hopefully that won’t negatively affect my perceptions of future Avengers movies to come!

Read my full review here.

12. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

Again, just a little cheesy like the first Thor movie, and Portman’s character still adds pretty much nothing to the movie’s substance. And I hated the ending twist, but maybe I’m just a sucker for a happy ending.

Read my full review here.

11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

A little messy and ridiculous, plot-wise. With even more characters, it’s understandable, but at least there was a lot of good action again.

Read my full review here.

10. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

Norton’s mature turn and the solid first couple acts following him as he seeks to get rid of his power (a unique premise) elevate this to the top of the “alright” pile here. A kind of lame ending fight and mediocre supporting characters keep it just “alright” and not “good.”

Read my full review here.

9. Doctor Strange (2016)

My rating: 7/10 (Good)

A little cliche at points, and the humour that I’ve heard a lot of people talking about didn’t really do it for me, but overall it’s a solid origin story with enough fresh elements (like the non-violent end to the conflict) to entertain.

Read my full review here.

8. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

My rating: 7/10 (Good)

I really liked the first half or so: Captain America’s origins were quite compelling and different. The latter half didn’t do as well, in large part due to the whole Hydra premise that I’ve just continued to find cheesy in movies afterwards.

Read my full review here.

7. Ant-Man (2015)

My rating: 7/10 (Good)

Still a lot of the same superhero-movie plot cliches, but Paul Rudd and Michael Pena as his sidekick are just a lot of fun throughout. The shrinking concept puts a cool twist on a lot of the action too.

Read my full review here.

6. Iron Man 2 (2010)

My rating: 7/10 (Good)

Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man continues to be what I feel is the most well-fleshed out and intriguing character of the Marvel universe, so even though this script is quite messy, there’s a lot of good parts to hold on to.

Read my full review here.

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

My rating: 7/10 (Good)

I’ve seen this at the top of a lot of other people’s lists, and there certainly are some great elements-the fight choreography for the fun duo of Evans and Johansson being the most prominent-but the character work remains too underdeveloped to make this truly “great.”

Read my full review here.

4. Iron Man (2008)

My rating: 7.5/10 (Really Good)

Like I said before, Tony Stark/Iron Man is by far the best character for me in the Marvel universe, so it should be no surprise for you to see that his origin story is near the top of the heap for me. I thought the way they portrayed his moral transformation while he still maintained his unabashed arrogance was brilliant.

Read my full review here.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

My rating: 7.5/10 (Really Good)

Ultimately it turned into a pretty standard “save the world” plot, but everything else here just felt so fresh, from the quirky rag-tag group of characters, the great humour, the colourful outer space-setting, and the just as colourful 80s pop soundtrack. Lots of fun.

Read my full review here.

2. The Avengers (2012)

My rating: 8/10 (Great)

Not perfect, but so entertaining. There was actually a moment during the final fight scene (which somehow so perfectly put the spotlight on each hero in turn) where I found myself just shaking my head in amazement. Just awesome, and there was enough good dramatic and comedic substance before that to make the entire film a great watch.

Read my full review here.

1. Iron Man 3 (2013)

My rating: 8/10 (Great)

The best character work of the MCU so far was in this film, no question. Add in one of its best villains (Kingsley was sooo good), and you have the best film in the MCU as of March 2017!

Read my full review here.

Thanks for reading! Fellow MCU fans: How do you rank them? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re interested, my other “Worst to Best” lists thus far are here:

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4 thoughts on “Worst to Best: Marvel Cinematic Universe

  1. So refreshing to see Iron Man 3 topping your list! It’s always been one of my favorites, and so criminally underrated. My two personal favorites are the Winter Solider and Civil War. Great list, Joel!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A lot of hate for Iron Man 3 came from the fact that it was the first post-Avengers release, and therefore the first “why don’t they call the Avengers??” candidate. It fails as a movie that is part of a cinematic universe. Tony forsaking the Iron Man moniker, only to go right back to it. Tony having amazing remote control capability with the Iron Man suit, only to never use it in another movie. It is still probably one of the best deep dives into a character, but it begs the question: is that really what we want from the MCU movies, or is that better served for Watchman/Logan type stories?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahhh i see. i wasn’t into the MCU or even the movie watching world at all when it came out, so i missed all that! what you said about it not fitting into the universe makes sense. i guess i was just so enraptured by the movie itself i didn’t think about the context!

      i think i always welcome that sort of character probing from any movie, but perhaps it is harder to pull off in the MCU given the amount of characters they have.

      thanks so much for the insightful comment, joe!

      Like

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