Ranking Stan: One Dude's Opinion Of Every MCU Film So Far | 10-1
Updated: May 29
Before Avengers: Endgame makes its hugely anticipated birth into Marvel canon, there are 21 Marvel films that constitute the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but which is the best? Which is the worst? Which of the sequels actually stand up against their, let's face it, better predecessors? Well let's delve in and rank them right here, right now!
NB: Before Marvel connoisseurs and trolls rake me over the coals, this is One Dude's Opinion and should therefore not be taken anywhere close to seriously!
So without further ado, let's take a closer look at arguably the most ambitious movie franchise ever created, starting with entries 10 through 1:
10. Doctor Strange
(Rotten Tomatoes: 89%)
The Number 1 Rule Of Hollywood - avoid time travel. It gets so messy. Option A - going back in time affects the future but the future you came from would be different to the future that you left behind and therefore you wouldn't go back to the same future. Option B - going back in time doesn't affect the future in which case time travel always happened in which case the whole thing's pointless. Doctor Strange cleverly introduced Option C - embrace the complexities of time travel, and out-bore an incredible hostile MCU villain. Sure it's a bit of a cop-out, and a villain as powerful as Dormammu deserved more of a role in the movie, but when you add a remarkably strong pool of actors, mind boggling special effects, a cape that's funnier than most comedians and another Infinity Stone, you get a joyous journey into a crackhead's creepy hell dream. But like in a good way.
9. Captain Marvel
(Rotten Tomatoes: 78%)
Well well well, look what happens when you make a female superhero movie. Patty Jenkins has made literally the only good movie in the DC Extended Universe with Wonder Woman, and Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's answer is equally brilliant. Tying up a lot of irritating loose ends before Endgame, and dispensing with the sickeningly formulaic "love story" element, Captain Marvel is an empowering origin story of another little-known Marvel roster member. Couple marvellous wit and incredible effects with a "younger" Samuel L. Jackson and a Tesseract-eating kitty, and you have a much-better-than-reviewers-say Endgame hors d'oeuvre.
8. Black Panther
(Rotten Tomatoes: 97%)
The fact that this movie is 8th on my list is a credit to how many brilliant films Marvel have made over the last 11 years. A critical and commercial smash, Black Panther is a visually stunning, intensely gripping and politically astute powerhouse that also introduces the world to a swathe of fantastic talent. Not one of the acting performances is even close to below-par, and it's extremely refreshing to see Andy Serkis being recognised for the incredible actor he is rather than a motion capture slave. A truly groundbreaking movie; so much so that I call my black cat T'Challa. It's not his name, but he doesn't seem to mind.
7. The Avengers
(Rotten Tomatoes: 92%)
The climax that Phase 1 built up to did not disappoint. An incredibly precise and polished instalment with genuinely touching moments and fantastic character development, Joss Whedon managed to create a movie that lived up to the hype. Everyone was wondering how Marvel would deal with Mark Ruffalo's instatement, and within 20 minutes nobody seemed to care; his nerdy, bashful performance stealing the show. Filled with enormous action sequences, incredible effects and wonderful humour, seamlessly combining all the characters we had spent the best part of 4 years watching is a remarkable feat of movie making.
6. Iron Man
(Rotten Tomatoes: 93%)
The one that started it all, Marvel has a lot to thank Jon Favreau for. Not only has he made an incredible movie in itself, but the inspired and controversial casting choice of Robert Downey Jr made the film, and the superhero movie genre in general, extremely marketable. His easy wit was a perfect portrayal of Stark's arrogant demeanour, as well as an introduction to what would be Marvel's iconic formula, coupled to make 2008's definitive blockbuster. 22 films on, the phenomenal success of the MCU, and, to a certain extent, the rise of Cinematic Universes in general, can all be attributed to this movie.
5. Avengers: Infinity War
(Rotten Tomatoes: 85%)
Just wow. In 2015, the Russo Brothers were tasked with directing both Infinity War and Endgame, and I'm fairly confident in saying that I wasn't the only person who was sceptical at how so many characters were going to be successfully woven into the story. Not only did Infinity War do almost every single one of them justice, it also humanized the most powerful villain in the entire MCU. There are times when the audience is almost rooting for Thanos, and a 5 minute trouncing of the Hulk conveys his incomparable strength far more effectively than a 20 minute segment of Xandar's destruction. The 150 minutes fly by, and that's a massive credit to Mr and Mr Russo and their marvelous knack of identifying and taking time over the most important aspects of movies. Never in my life have I seen a movie perceived as an "event" as much as this, and that finale... congrats boys.
4. Captain America: Civil War
(Rotten Tomatoes: 91%)
What. A. Movie.
I have never left a cinema feeling so exhilarated or exhausted; the Russo Brothers showing once again that they know exactly how to translate an incredible story (in this case, one of the best comic series ever made) onto the big screen, and are willing to make difficult decisions. To make Baron Zemo, one of the most famous adversaries of Captain America, a relatively back-seat villain and make the movie more about humanising superheroes and internal struggles was inspired. Dripping with incredible action sequences, startling character development, and a final battle that defines Phase 3, Civil War (or Avengers Lite) is a movie one can watch repeatedly without tiring of it. The only downside is that we won't see Frank Grillo's Crossbones again. Sad face.
3. Thor: Ragnarok
(Rotten Tomatoes: 92%)
Taika Waititi should be knighted. If you had said to me after the second Thor movie that I would have enjoyed Ragnarok even half as much as I did I would have laughed in your face. In just over 2 hours, Waititi completely revitalised the most dull and uninteresting trilogy in the MCU, whilst also successfully bringing (in my opinion) the best Hulk story arc to the big screen. Chris Hemsworth finally shines when given a more humorous script to work with, and Sam Neill and Matt Damon are trivia questions just begging to be asked.
Featuring hilariously flamboyant performances from Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum, the introduction of Korg and juxtaposed with genuinely threatening scenes (that post-credit), Ragnarok storms into the bronze medal position.
2. Guardians Of The Galaxy
(Rotten Tomatoes: 91%)
I'm not a "Marvel Nerd". I don't particularly read comics. I had, therefore, never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy before James Gunn's 2014 masterpiece. Incredible scriptwriting, phenomenal CGI and littered with inspiring casting choices, this was an extremely tough decision to put as low as second. The elegantly natural comedy, and the characters unburdened by previous incarnations cements Guardians as most people's favourite installment. This is also the movie that explained the MCU's Infinity Stones, introduced Howard the Duck and made an entire generation fall in love with a twig. NB: the fact that this didn't win an Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing is a travesty.
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
(Rotten Tomatoes: 90%)
I'm going to stress again that this is MY OPINION!
An effortless blend of espionage and thriller, you would be forgiven for thinking that this was not a Marvel creation. (Mostly) doing away with CGI and instead opting for gloriously shot hard-hitting action sequences, Winter Soldier bucks the trend of sub-standard sequels whilst simultaneously making Captain America far more relatable than previous TV/movie incarnations of the character. Gone are the campy, self-righteous cringe-fests that preceded Chris Evans' depiction, to be replaced with a relatively vulnerable man, whose main superpower is knowing right from wrong, making his victories that much more satisfying. Perfectly paced, and remarkably politically accurate for a superhero movie, the directorial debut for the Russo Brothers convinced Kevin Feige and the other bigwigs at Marvel of their credentials, and they were signed on for Civil War, Infinity War and Endgame. No pressure lads!