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

Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe – 10-6

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 week we enter the top 10, down to number 6 on my list. So here goes…

10 – Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is a film you could show someone as a great example of an MCU film. It hits every beat you would want from a new character origin film, it has some really cool visual flair, some kick ass action and a fun character. It also has some great comedic moments, a clever plot twist that subverted my expectations, and it’s the first time we see a woman lead one of these films. I won’t go into the societal impact of the film, as that doesn’t play into my enjoyment, but it has all of that to it as well.

It’s not a perfect film, as I mentioned in my review a month ago, but that’s me reviewing the film completely critically and trying to tone down the fanboy side of me a little bit. When I watched Captain Marvel, I really enjoyed it from start to finish. The Skrulls are some of the best characters we have had so far, and Carol Danvers’ skill set takes the MCU into a whole new world of cosmically powered heroes.

This is a film that begins to set up the future of the Marvel Universe, and Brie Larson is going to be a big part of it. This film is a the best of the origin stories in this list so far, and it feels like the lessons Marvel Studios have learnt over the last 10 years were taken into account when making this film. That is why it just scrapes into the top ten over Black Panther, but they are really quite close in quality to me.

9 – Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange is the only MCU film to date that I have seen at the BFI IMAX screen in london, and that experience really showed off this film’s spectacular effects and the range of colours. That visual style, with the introduction of the mystic arts to the MCU, makes Doctor Strange one of the most unusual looking films and characters in the entire franchise. Even in Infinity War and Ragnarok, the character is clearly a little different from the rest of the characters we have seen.

A big part of what makes this film work is the committed performance of lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch. The world of Doctor Strange is ridiculous, more so than any of the other parts of the Marvel Comics world. The phrases he has to utter, the hand movements, the names, everything is crazy. Cumberbatch initially reacts in a similar way to the audience, that all of this is madness. But as he begins to uncover the abilities he can possess the character dives into the world. This commitment to being this character and embracing this world makes the character of Doctor Strange compelling. I found myself invested in the film because of this performance.

The film appears as if it is going for the standard Marvel origin story, but the twist at the end is a surprise and thoroughly entertaining to watch. The villain is as good as you’d expect for a MCU origin film, but the twist takes it up a level for me. Doctor Strange is an example of the MCU in its stride, producing a very entertaining film.

8 – Iron Man

Here it is. The original. The starting point of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. The introduction of Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark is an important moment in cinema history, not just in super hero movies. This was the beginning of a series that has changed how we view franchise films now, and everyone is trying to build their own cinematic universe. Taking a B, arguably C list character in Iron Man and making him the first movie out of the gate is a very brave move, and one Marvel were forced into by the licensing issues with Xmen and Spiderman.

Honestly it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how they got right, and when you watch it now the villain is funny in ways he isn’t meant to be, and the combat is nothing on the current movies. But the current movies didn’t release in 2008, at the time this was mind-blowing. It was a believable, funny, good-hearted action movie with a charismatic, now iconic lead.

The decision to cast Downey Jr seems like a no brainer now, as we can’t imagine anyone else as Tony Stark. But at the time, he was not in Hollywood’s good books, and was slowly making his comeback. He absolutely nails the role, as he has continued to ever since, and the film that launched it all has a special place in every Marvel fans heart, including mine.

7 – Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2

The first Guardians set up some excellent characters and a really cool world that everyone wanted to get back into that world. Guardians 2 gets us back in straight away, with a perfect opening action scene happening in the background of Baby Groot dancing to Mr Blue Sky. That sets the tone sets up the rest of the film. From there we just get more and more of the team together interacting and having fun on their adventures.

If it’s just more of the same then shouldn’t this be higher up on the list above its predecessor? Not for me, because it has a few more problems for me. There is a bit of a lull in the film when we get some very heavy exposition explained to us, and whilst all the talking in the guardians films is fun in its own way, this just puts it below the first one.

Guardians of the Galaxy are a special group in the MCU, as they are something completely different and are an example of how diverse the universe can be. We learn a lot about the origins of Star Lord and the emotional pay off at the end of the film is excellent and one of the few times in the MCU that we get a really emotional moment for the audience and the heroes.

6 –  Avengers

There was a long time when The Avengers was considered the gold standard in the MCU. It is the first time in history that four movies have crossed over in one epic event. Watching The Avengers blew my mind, I genuinely couldn’t believe they actually managed to make this work. We see six superhero characters team up, brought together by Nick Fury and we get more than our fair share of epic comic book moments, from the Hammer Vs Shield moment to the Hulk / Thor fight.

For many this still ranks as the top of the MCU, especially in a list without Infinity War. I have it at Number 6 but that is a reflection on the quality of the MCU, not the quality of Avengers.

This film took a bunch of B and C list characters, even the villain as Loki was an odd choice before we saw the film. Loki is of course excellent, and the interactions between the Avengers give us a glimpse of what is to come later in the MCU. Joss Whedon’s masterpiece is one of the most important films in history and has shown the world that the interlinked movie franchises can work very well.

Next week we have the top five, right in time for Avengers Endgame to hit cinemas next thursday.

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

Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe – 15 – 11

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. Doing all 20 films at once is madness, so this week I’m doing the films from 15 down to 11. So here goes…

15 – The Incredible Hulk

I think an Incredible Hulk film is one of the hardest characters to make a film about, let alone one that’s actually fun to watch. Louis Leterrier, someone who’s rather hot and cold when you look through his IMDB page, directed this film at a time when nobody it was linked in any way to Iron Man. A shared universe wasn’t something that even made sense to people outside of the comic book reading portion of the public. So to make a decent Hulk film and connect it to a wider universe is actually a very hard thing to do.

Incredible Hulk is by no means perfect, but I am not really sure it would have been possible to make a better Hulk movie in 2008. I actually think Eric Bana is really good in the role of Bruce Banner, and he gives it his all and takes it as seriously as Robert Downey Jr did in Iron Man that same year. The action, when it comes, is also quite well done. Now of course the action struggles to compare to the later films, and the next time we see the hulk is when Mark Ruffalo takes over in the first Avengers movie, so I think a lot of people have a somewhat low opinion of this film just because of time.

Tim Roth is arguably the only compelling villain in the opening phase of the MCU until Loki’s turn in The Avengers. His “Emil Blonsky” hs decent motivations, and is very entertaining when he’s on-screen. In the third act it falls into the trope marvel has set up of “Hero fights mirror of themselves in their first solo film” which we have seen countless times now, but this is actually a pretty fun fight. It’s like watching a fight on a video game, as the two hulking brutes smash-up the area around them. It’s an odd MCU film, in that it almost stands on its own separate from the MCU, and perhaps that different flavour is one reason I enjoy the film.

14 – Antman

Somehow Antman isn’t a joke of a film. It is the first time a Marvel film has gone for being a straight up comedy, with the action truly being a backseat. Antman plays out like a heist comedy, with a cast of characters who are all eccentric and entertaining revolving around the excellent and age defying Paul Rudd. He plays the straight man here, with the rest of the cast given license to lean into their characters oddities and it all comes together in a genuinely funny film.

Michael Douglas playing the mentor role is perfect, and the fact that an actor as lauded as Michael Douglas is in this film really adds some legitimacy to the Comic Book movie genre. He commits 100% to the role, and has done in every showing since. His chemistry with Paul Rudd is great, as is Rudd’s with Evangeline Lilly. The two have actual chemistry, something Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman simply did have not in their films which alone puts it above those on the list.

My favourite element of this whole film is the final fight, and that is why it’s at this spot above the films it’s above. Without the finale this is a decent film, with the same problems as any marvel origin film. The villain is ably acted by Corey Stoll but never particularly engaging, but the fight between him and our hero at the end is simply brilliant. The whole fight feels epic and huge, but it’s all taking place in a child’s bedroom. The creative ways they use this situation are hilarious and genius in equal measure.

13 – Avengers: Age of Ultron

Following the first Avengers film was always going to be difficult. What Joss Whedon did with this film I actually really enjoyed, but I think the expectations of fans to see something that surpassed that first film was too much. When you watch it now, in context of the MCU as we know it like one long TV series, and not as the sequel to the first Avengers, I think it’s a really solid entry.

Casting James Spader to voice Ultron is so perfect, and every scene with him in I really enjoy. I also think it gives us some great moments with the avengers all gathered around talking, relaxing with each other. That first confrontation with Ultron always sticks in my mind when I think of the great moments of the MCU. The third act and the use of quicksilver are a little odd in terms of story choice, but once you get over the ridiculousness of a super intelligent robots version of extinction being “Drop a big rock on earth”, it’s actually got some awesome hero moments.

I do think Joss Whedon struggled for too long trying to top the previous film, without focusing on just making this one its own story. The circling shot of all the original Avengers was the iconic moment of the MCU for a long time, and trying to recreate that as they did in this film felt a bit cheap to me. Those kind of moments are what make this film the lowest ranked “Team-up” movie on my list, but I still think Age of Ultron is a fun film to watch.

12 Iron Man 3

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an awesome movie. The Nice Guys is an awesome movie. Giving the man behind those films the wheel for an Iron Man film is a bold, but I think great move. Shane Black’s films all have his style on them, and Iron Man 3 is no different. This is the first time we see Tony Stark struggle, it’s the first time we see that the man inside the suit is affected by the events we see him fly, punch and blast his way through.

Iron Man 3 showing us Tony in a different light is brave, and so is having him blow up all of his suits. What I think treads right on the line of where brave storytelling becomes stupid decision is the whole Mandarin switch that they went with here. Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce, is actually a good villain in this film, just he was not the one we was promised in the trailers. Going in we all expected to see the arrival of The Mandarin, Iron Man’s traditional foe. Instead Sir Ben Kingsley is used to portray an actor who is playing the role of the Mandarin for Aldrich Killian’s company.

I completely understand all the criticisms people have of this film, but for some reason I enjoy this film a lot, almost in spite of itself. I enjoy all of the action, I like the dynamic between Tony and the kid, and seeing our heroes struggling with the after effects of their heroics is a refreshing change from the norm. I know some people like their Tony Stark cocky, confident and in his Iron suit for most of the film. This is not that film, and I really like it for that reason.

11 – Black Panther

I have had to check several times over to make sure I have this right. Black Panther is an absolutely brilliant film. and it didn’t crack my top ten. I am sure it ranks higher for some people, but I ranked this list on which films I found the most enjoyable, memorable and told the best stories. For me, Black Panther tells a nice story about the origins of an insanely cool character, but it came after Thor Ragnarok, Spiderman Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Those 3 films had a real feeling of fun, and I felt the MCU had struck an even tone in its films. Black Panther differs from that tone.

Chadwick Boseman is excellent as T’challa, playing it exactly how he should. The problem I have is that I don’t find him to be a particularly entertaining character. The supporting cast is all more interesting to me than the title character itself, including antagonist Killmonger. That antagonist plays a key role in making this essentially the perfect blueprint for a MCU origin movie. The key difference this film has is that I actually found myself agreeing with the villains ideals, just not his methods.

By the end of this film, so does T’challa, and he ends up doing that thing that Michael B Jordan’s character has been saying all along with his crusade. That different twist is very compelling and one of the better twists in the MCU. This all adds up to be one of the best MCU films from a technical perspective, and if I had brought in cultural impact into the equation I think this might be in the top 2 or 3. I am ranking on my own personal enjoyment, and for me the action didn’t quite hit and I didn’t laugh enough, and those two facets are what I love about the Marvel films.

So there we have it, the bottom 10 is complete, and goes as follows:

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