Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe – 5 – 1

With the culmination of 11 years of films coming next month in Avengers Endgame, I have decided to go through and really think about the films that got us here. I am going rank them in order of how much I enjoyed them all. This is the final 5, the top dogs, the MCU films I love the most. And later tonight, at midnight (the 24th at the time of posting this) I will be seeing the culmination of all of these films. So without further delay, here goes:

5 – Spiderman Homecoming

Spiderman coming back to Marvel felt like a big moment for the franchise. Civil War showed us him for the first time, and this film cemented his place in the MCU. Considering we had seen multiple Spiderman movies just a few years before his MCU introduction it’s amazing that this film doesn’t suffer from Spiderman fatigue. A big part of that is down to the change in tone,  Spidey’s age and the introduction of Iron Man into the film makes things feel fresh compared to the previous attempts.

Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2 is considered by many to be the best Spiderman film we have seen. In my opinion, Homecoming is better than any Spiderman film we have ever had. Tom Holland as Peter Parker is perfect as a teenage spiderman, and one of my favourite part of the film is the interactions between Peter and his classmates, particularly Ned. Ned and Peters moments remind me of being a teenager with my mate.

The best part of this film, and why it’s so high on the list, is Michael Keaton. From Batman, to Birdman, to  Vulture, Keaton is excellent in this film. He delivers the best villain in the Marvel franchise since Loki in The Avengers. The reveal of the film is one of the few truly shocking moments I have experienced, and I remember hearing people genuinely gasp when Keaton opens the door to Peter.

4 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

If i had to show someone completely new to the MCU one film as an example of how great their films can be, it would be The Winter Soldier. In my opinion it is the best standalone film in the entire franchise, and one of the best spy movies ever. It’s the MCU debut of the Russo Brothers, who went on to do Civil War, then Infinity War, and then Endgame. All of that is off the back of what they did in this film.

The film challenges the ideals that Captain America has always stood for. Everything he trusts is shattered and the reveals in this have huge ramifications in the wider MCU. All the espionage and twists are punctuated by some of the best action scenes in the MCU, starting with the opening scene on the boat. The Russo’s gave Cap a real sense of power over normal people, and the only equal in the film is The Winter Soldier himself.

Winter Soldier is a perfect example of the MCU diversifying the genres within the Marvel franchise. It compares with films like Skyfall and Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, and that in itself is a huge compliment. If I was being purely critical of every film in the MCU this is No.1, but im not, and this is my favourite list, so here we go into the top 3.

3 – Captain America: Civil War

This film is brilliant. It’s an avengers film wrapped up in a captain america bow, and it proved that the Russo’s could handle a huge cast and make it work, paving the way for infinity war. It’s also an incredibly fun movie, like a child smashing all of their favourite figures together. That being said, it felt like there was real weight behind the action, especially that final Iron Man V Cap & Bucky fight that is one of the best moments of the MCU as a whole.

It also boasts my personal favourite action scene in any film ever, the now famous Airplane fight. All of our heroes, bar Hulk and Thor but more on that duo in a minute, battling it out in a giant playground. Somehow every character has their moment, from titular hero Cap to newbie Black Panther. Ant-Man goes Gi-Ant, Vision nearly kills War Machine, and worlds collide when Spiderman makes a Star Wars reference.

Civil War felt like the MCU taking a step onto another level, and it’s up there with the best experiences I have had in a cinema. It is also the first time i felt you really had to have done your homework to enjoy a MCU film, with a lot of the previous films playing a heavy part on the events, with the Sokovia accords being a key plot point making Age of Ultron required viewing before you see it.

2 – Thor Ragnarok

This might just be the most rewatchable film in the MCU bar from number one on this list. Taika Waititi took a character I had grown bored of, and made him one of my favourite in the whole series of MCU films. Thor was a pretty one note guy, only for this film to give him a whole new dimension and an awesome new look. Chris Hemsworth looked good as long haired Thor, but short-haired Thor could steal the love of my life and I’d drive them round as a chauffeur.

On top of the transformation of Thor, Ragnarok also delivers the best Hulk movie to date. Having seen this film it seems obvious to pair up Hulk and Thor, but it wasn’t really something I was too excited for before the trailers. Once I had a glimpse of Ragnarok with the first trailer I was sure it would be decent at the very least. What we got was much more than that.

Ragnarok is a hilarious, action packed, exciting movie that keeps a smile on my face the entire time every time I watch it. That makes this one of my favourite films of all time, a mad claim for a film about Thor, especially off the other two films in Thor’s solo movie catalogue.

1 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1

Guardians of the Galaxy should not have worked. It is a movie set in space about a kidnapped human, a green woman who isn’t She-hulk, a clumsy brutish grey man, a talking racoon and a sentient tree. That alone is a ridiculous premise, before you add in a few blue aliens, one is part robot, one wears too much guy-liner, and one whistles to control a golden flying arrow.

It’s all a bit ridiculous, and somehow it works absolutely brilliantly. Right from the off, we are given a taste of exactly what to expect with Peter Quill dancing around to Redbones “Come and Get Your Love”. That scene is the first of several iconic moments. I saw this film 5 times in the cinema, a record matched only by Episode 7, a film that had over a decade of hype behind it. I saw this film repeatedly because it is so, so, SO entertaining.

Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t have characters I have known and loved for years. It is a completely new story to me, brilliantly written and cast perfectly. It turned Chris Pratt into the household name he is today, and brought Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling to a whole new generation. Guardians is the most fun I have ever had watching a movie multiple times. It doesn’t have the ramifications of Civil War or Winter Soldier, and it’s not got the iconic hero moments of the first Avengers, but out of the 20 films we have to date aside from Infinity War, it’s the MCU film I am most likely to watch at any given time.

So there it is,  I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoy most of the films on this list and ranking them was actually a lot of fun, and something I might do for Star Wars, Harry Potter and some other franchises in the future. Comment with your top 5 and see how we compare! Thanks for reading, Here is the full list.

20 – Thor: The Dark World

19 – Thor

18 – Iron Man 2

17 – Antman and the Wasp

16 – Captain America: First Avenger

15 – The Incredible Hulk

14 – Antman

13 – Avengers: Age of Ultron

12 – Iron Man 3

11 – Black Panther

10 – Captain Marvel

9 – Doctor Strange

8 – Iron Man

7 – Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2

6 – Avengers

5 – Spiderman Homecoming

4 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

3 – Captain America: Civil War

2 – Thor Ragnarok

1 – Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 1

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 Review

The sequel to Marvel’s surprise success Guardians of the Galaxy is finally here and reunites us with Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot for another intergalactic adventure. Considering I adore the first one so much I would call it my favourite Marvel movie, even over the first Avengers, my excitement for GotG2 was sky-high. 

The reason I love the first was down mainly to the chemistry between the whole team of guardians, and that is here in bucket loads in the sequel. The quips and jokes fired back and forth between them are mostly successful with some really funny moments sprinkled throughout the film and that comedic tone is something that is really evident throughout. This is the closest to a straight up comedy out of anything that Marvel has produced, with a joke being delivered in even the most emotional moments of the film.

The jokes pay off thanks to the great performances around the board whether its Dave Bautista’s Drax delivering a brutally honest assessment of Mantis’ looks to Rocket and Star Lord bickering over who has tape to stop Baby Groot (incredibly adorable) blowing people up, everything works thanks to the chemistry between them. Yondu and Nebula return from GotG 1 and both have a more involved role this time round, with both getting probably twice as much screen time but only Yondu is really given a real arc in the film. We do find out more about Nebula’s Daddy issues, but aside from that she’s the same grunting angry girl we saw before. In terms of new characters we have the introduction of Mantis to the team, who brings a different dynamic to the group as she connects with Drax to hilarious effect.

We also get Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet. I won’t say much about this character other than to praise Kurt Russell’s performance, he really does go all in despite the craziness of the character and it speaks volumes for where we are with Superhero films that an actor as iconic and legendary as him is willing to play a character that is so out there and obscure even to some comic book fans.

A big part of superhero movies is the action we get in them. There is a great space chase scene here which is like a more colourful version of a star wars scene and being a huge fan of that I loved it. In terms of normal action there is a scene featuring Yondu that stands out in my memory, but most of the action is pretty standard and never wowed me. It is rare to wow someone with action these days, but I was expecting a little more from this film here.

The main plot line is your standard superhero thing, someone wants to take over the Galaxy and it’s our heroes job to stop that, but the dynamic between the heroes and the villain strays from what we have come to expect. A lot of time is spent on this relationship and it makes up the bulk of the film. Whilst it may come at the expense of some other story arcs (I would have liked to have seen more of Gamora/Nebula) it did hook me throughout the film.

Guardians of the Galaxy had one of the best soundtracks in any movie ever, and I was all ears to find out what made it onto the Volume 2 soundtrack. Unfortunately I think it’s fair to say it doesn’t hit the same heights as the first,  as after a promising start the soundtrack largely fades into the background Having said that, it had an almost impossible task beating “Hooked on a Feeling” and “Come and Get Your Love” from the first Guardians soundtrack, so perhaps I’m being harsh here.

Verdict

This film has managed to deliver exactly what I was asking for before I went into it, but I think deep down I wanted it to be something more than that. The unspectacular action and basic story hold it back from being in the top echelon of Superhero films, even with the unique hero/villain dynamic. The Guardians themselves are the real draw to this film, and assuming you loved the first, you will find Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 to be a fun and entertaining film.

7.5/10 – Another solid entry in the MCU, just lacks that “wow” factor.