By Cole Parkinson
Everyone and their mother has ranked the MCU movies, and now I’m joining in the fun.
With no Marvel movies released since 2019 (though Wandavision is still ongoing on Disney+, which is a must-watch if you’re a Marvel fan —but more on that in a future column), there are 23 movies to go through, so let’s get into it.
23. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The forgotten Marvel movie with a Bruce Banner played by Edward Norton, who has since been re-cast with Mark Ruffalo. It’s a pretty forgettable movie overall and it doesn’t add a whole lot to MCU past the post-credit scene featuring Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)
22. Thor (2011)
Thor’s first movie is also largely forgettable and while Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are extraordinary in their roles, it is hardly the shining star among MCU movies.
21. Iron Man 3 (2013)
While Iron Man is the most important character in the early MCU, most of his best moments come in the ensemble movies. The bait and switch of the Mandarin also did not impress me all that much. Past the first movie, Iron Man didn’t get great solo movies, and speaking of which…
20. Iron Man 2 (2010)
The only reason this movie ranks ahead of Iron Man 3 is Sam Rockwell. I love Rockwell in pretty much everything he does and he’s the best part of this movie, which is far from the upper echelon.
19. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
In the reverse of Iron Man, I do think Thor movies get better with each passing offering. Like the first Thor, the best parts come from Hemsworth and Hiddleston’s chemistry.
18. Captain Marvel (2019)
I really like Brie Larson as Captain Marvel — but the first solo movie for the character is far from the top tier of MCU movies. The interaction and dynamic of Larson and Samuel L. Jackson are easily the best parts of the movie and they provide tons of comedic relief.
17. Doctor Strange (2016)
A solid first movie for the Sorcerer Supreme. Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) was the first on-camera appearance for the character in the MCU and it is definitely worth a watch. The upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, directed by Sam Raimi, is truly one of my most anticipated movies in Phase 4.
16. Ant-Man (2015)
Paul Rudd is delightful in pretty much everything he does and his take as Scott Lang is really good. The balance of comedy and action in this one is really good, and while it’s on a smaller scale compared to other MCU films, it’s still an enjoyable movie.
15. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
The second Ant-Man film takes place in between Infinity War and Endgame. Since Ant-Man is not in Infinity War, the movie is like a side story companion to Infinity War and the events of that movie have a direct impact on this one. Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp is a really great pairing alongside Rudd’s Ant-Man and I’m excited to see where they go in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
14. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
After the first Avengers, it was always going to be tough to top and I don’t think Age of Ultron did enough to warrant a higher placing. The introduction of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) were massive additions to the universe — but it’s not nearly as memorable as the other Avengers movies.
13. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Chris Evans was born to play Cap. The First Avenger is an important starting point for Captain America, and while the sequels are better, it’s still awesome to see Cap in action during the Second World War.
12. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Civil War is basically an Avengers movie and it was the first introduction of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). The fight scene at the airport is worth the price of admission alone and finally seeing Spidey in the MCU was a dream come true.
11. Black Panther (2018)
Right after Civil War, Black Panther was back in action in a stellar solo movie that features the fantastic Michael B. Jordan as Kilmonger and Letitia Wright steals many scenes as Shuri. Ryan Cooler did an impressive job writing and directing and there isn’t much to complain about with Black Panther. The unfortunate passing of Boseman is devastating and how they continue on without him will be a challenge.
10. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
The Spider-Man rogue gallery is exceptionally strong, so in going with a villain never before seen on the Big Screen with Mysterio, it doesn’t get much better than casting Jake Gyllenhaal. The Mysterio illusion scene is incredible, Holland continues to be a great Spidey and J.K. Simmons retiring as J. Jonah Jameson is absolutely perfect. Being the first movie after Infinity War and Endgame, and the final Phase 3 movie, this one will no doubt be a building block for Phase 4.
9. Iron Man (2008)
The beginning of the MCU came in with a bang in the form of Iron Man. Downey Jr. was the absolute perfect casting and one of the biggest reasons the MCU worked right from the beginning. If this movie flopped, I doubt we get the Marvel Cinematic Universe we know and love today. Jeff Bridges as Iron Monger is the first great villain in the MCU and he was never topped in terms of solo Iron Man movies. Jon Favreau did a glorious job of both directing and acting, and he’s another big reason for the early success of the beginnings of the MCU.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
The Guardians movies are so much fun — everything aligns perfectly from writing, directing, acting and everything in between. The second movie is a solid continuation of the first and the team of misfits is firing on all cylinders once again. It’s funny, there’s tons of great action and it’s just as weird as the first offering.
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
After introducing Peter Parker in Civil War, Homecoming was the first chance to see the “Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-man” operate on a street level. Tom Holland is such a remarkable casting and nails both Peter and Spidey, and Michael Keaton as the Vulture is absolutely terrifying.
6. The Avengers (2012)
And speaking of how the Avengers first formed, the 2012 team-up is a spectacular feat of years and years of planning. While it had every reason to be mediocre, Avengers is a rollercoaster that I don’t want to end. I truly can’t believe how perfectly they pulled this off, and the DC Cinematic Universe has shown that it’s not an easy thing that every studio can pull off.
5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
The beginning of the biggest MCU crossover event was a home run on all fronts. Thanos (Josh Brolin) finally acquiring all of the Infinity Stones after his first tease at the end of Avengers was spectacular. While it’s only the first-half of the entire story, it’s a fantastic way to spend two hours.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
A Captain America spy movie is exactly what I needed and the Russo Brothers were able to pull off a really special film. While plenty of Marvel movies feature plenty of CGI, this one is more of a throwback to old school thrillers. The twisting and turning of whose side each character is on is incredibly intriguing — it’s easily one of my favourite MCU movies.
3. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
After the first two Thor movies, it would have been easy to write-off another Thor solo offering — but then Taika Waititi enters the picture and Ragnarok is born. Visually, it’s a stunning movie and while the other Thor movies suffered from largely unengaging plots, adapting portions of the Planet Hulk comic storyline was a huge boost. Waititi’s infusion of colour and the writing team of Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost were able to seamlessly bring tons of laugh out loud moments with can’t miss action scenes.
2. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Bringing a massive storyline to a close is hard in any medium, and while there could have been a drop-off in quality when reaching the conclusion, Endgame hit the nail on the head. Seeing all of these characters together after 10 years was a thrill like any other. While characters were lost along the way, being able to experience this in a theatre with other Marvel fans is something I’ll always remember.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
How James Gunn was able to take characters largely in the background and make them some of the best MCU characters truly is a spectacular testament to him as a writer and a director. Being a comic book reader growing up, I had heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but had never really dived into any of the comics. So while I was excited for the movie when it first came out, I would be lying if I said it was my most anticipated. But walking out of the theatre, I couldn’t believe how great the movie was from start to finish. It’s incredibly funny, the cast was perfect and the music on the soundtrack is so good. I can’t wait to see what James Gunn and the team has cooked up for Vol. 3.