The Marvel Cinematic Universe is jam-packed with amazing movies. So much so that I have found myself claiming over a dozen of them are in my top five favourites. The problem is, I have been certain about which films are my absolute choice favourites, and I know which ones are swimming at the bottom, but there is a whole group of flicks in the middle that get jumbled around. Without some organization, it is easy for me to assume that one movie is in my top five, but it may be closer to ten if I really thought about it. They are all so spectacular, and whenever I think about one I can’t help but remember how much I love it.
I know that any MCU fan knows exactly what I am talking about. When there are this many great films to choose from, how can you think of your favourites without truly breaking it down? Thankfully, I am here to help you out, and I have done the grinding, the debating, and the deliberation to come up with a working ranking of the currently 20-released MCU feature-length films. There are other rankings out there, but there are some things that are missing or out of order. Rotten Tomatoes gives a solid base, but Black Panther does not sit atop the field, as great as that film is. And, a look at each film’s success at the box office is even more confused as sequels that brought in the money were only successful because of the films that came before.
Before we get into the rankings we need to go over some things, as I am open to debating these numbers, but I don’t want any misinterpretation. First off, all of the MCU movies are so well done it makes it difficult to put some movies that I love wholeheartedly near the back-end of the list. That’s more of a testament to how great Marvel is actually doing that there are so many fantastic films. Even the ones at the bottom are excellent and better than a lot of movies, they all just need to land somewhere. Second, most of these films are so close to each other it makes it extra difficult to rank. I mean, from #4 to #14, they are all so equally great that they could easily be exchanged with one another. Again, another testament to the Marvel greatness. Third, this is my list, there are many like it, but this one’s mine, and I like it.
Okay! I think that is all I have to say. Now, we can officially begin with the complete ranking of the MCU feature films:
20. Thor: The Dark World
Even at the bottom of the ranking, Thor: The Dark World is not terrible, it’s just the only one that I would be fine with never watching again. Though this movie does continue to have ripples in Thor’s ongoing arch, the film itself suffered for being a little too fantastic and can be a confusing jumble.
19. Iron Man 2
Iron Man brought us into the MCU and for that he will always hold a special place in our collective hearts. Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 failed to capture audiences in the same way the original did. The biggest complaint with this film is the unoriginal villains, especially Whiplash whose motives were a stretch.
18. The Incredible Hulk
Honestly, I have always been a fan of the Hulk movies, yes, even the Eric Bana one. But, the MCU film did seem like a throw together and every single bit of it has not been carried through, including Edward Norton. It seems like this is the movie that the MCU wants us to forget ever existed.
17. Iron Man 3
Both the Iron Man sequels suffered an equal fate of not capturing audiences, so much so that I often find myself blending the two and find it difficult to remember which scenes occurred in which film. Again, the villain seemed to be the big issue here, and I do have to agree that a character as powerful as Mandarin was completely wasted here.
16. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Though it is still a good film in its own right, Avengers: Age of Ultron has to take the prize as the biggest disappointment from the MCU. After the wonder that was the original Avengers expectations were high for the sequel that brought the heroes together once again. Unfortunately, Ultron proved to be much more difficult to bring to screen than anticipated and the movie failed to bring the MCU to the next level as we have seen more recently.
Thor was a thing of eye-catching beauty. I will never forget the first time I saw Asgard on the big screen. Beyond that, Thor was pretty good, but could have used a better villain, and bringing this god to Earth could have brought more humour than we were given.
14. Captain America: First Avenger
This is where the MCU films rise to another level and it is difficult to complain about anything done past this point. The First Avenger was a total surprise for me, as I was certain there would be no way they could make me love the boy scout in stars and stripes. But, boy, did they prove me wrong. And, Red Skull was done to perfection, there is so much more for this villain to accomplish in the future.
13. Ant-Man and the Wasp
The latest film out of the MCU is not bad, it’s great. It is an adventure with laughs all the way through. I am actually shocked that it ranks this low on the list as it had everything I wanted. There are just so many great movies that this one would never have a chance at matching. But, I would take a hundred more movies as great as Ant-Man and the Wasp.
12. Doctor Strange
Pure eye candy, that is how I always describe Doctor Strange. It is one of the most visually exciting films I have ever seen and the story was strong enough to carry it all through. They did an amazing job of bringing this character to life, which was a daunting task considering the over-the-top source material.
I have a bit of a soft spot for Ant-Man as it was the comedy heist movie I always needed but never knew I wanted. Watching this movie is so much fun, every time. I could, and have, watch it a dozen times and still enjoy the ride and the jokes just as much. I still don’t know how they pulled this one off.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
If I have said it once, I will say it a billion more times, Guardians of the Galaxy is this generations Star Wars trilogy (more so than the new Star Wars trilogy). There is so much humour and wonder and action and fun packed into these movies that they almost feel too good to be true. And, I have been thinking long and hard about Rocket and Groot getting their own spin-off film, wouldn’t that be awesome?
9. Captain America: Winter Soldier
Despite the first Cap movie exceeding my expectations as much as it did, I still remained skeptical about this sequel. Again, they blew me out of the water as this is one of the greatest action movies I’ve watched. This is just a well-made movie, it’s as simple as that.
8. Black Panther
Black Panther is a masterpiece, just like the rest of these films. The flick is rewarded for being unlike any movie we have seen before. The story is pure gold and the villain is historically great. A ten out of ten experience, Black Panther would be higher on this list, but it lacks a bit in re-watch value. Like I need some years before I watch the movie again, unlike many of the other MCU films.
7. Iron Man
The original Iron Man that started it all. Our first look at Iron Man in the suit gave us all chills as we knew something big was happening. Robert Downey Jr. gave superheroes a whole new light after decades of the same archetypical figures. Iron Man changed the game and for that it will always be special.
6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
I hate the original Spider-Man films, like they make me angry with how terrible they are. The Amazing Spider-Man films did some things better, but some things worse. I worried for a long time that Spidey fans would never have a movie to call great. Then, it happened, the MCU struck their deal with Sony and the web-crawler came home. Tom Holland is my Peter Parker and Homecoming was everything I could hope for. Give me so much more of this, and Spidey has a chance to dominate Marvel movies like he does the comics.
5. Captain America: Civil War
Civil War was a comic that I love passionately. Seeing this go down on the big screen felt like a dream. There is no way I could have imagined this going down, but the MCU knows how to deliver. As much as Iron Man changed the face of superhero films, Civil War took them to another level. So, many great things are squeezed into this movie it is unbelievable. For that, Captain America finds a place in the top five.
It’s still amazes me that this movie happened. The experience of watching this film will be one to remember always. I recently watched Avengers again and compared to today’s MCU it feels very campy with the bright coloured outfits and poses. But, it is still wonderful to watch the world’s mightiest heroes come together on screen.
3. Avengers: Infinity War
There is only two other movies that I have seen more in theatres than Infinity War, but there is plenty of time to remedy that. Not only did they bring Avengers to another level, they gave us a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.5. For all the amazement that happened, Infinity War is the MCU equivalent of Empire Strikes Back. I need to go see this again.
2. Thor: Ragnorak
I remember the day the trailer came out for this and seeing Thor meet Hulk in the battle arena literally made me lose my shit in the middle of the coffee shop. I was pumped for Thor: Ragnorak and it went above my expectations. This movie is like the culmination of everything the MCU has learned to do well and they made it all even better. Ragnorak will be a tough film to beat as the MCU continues.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
I don’t think it is possible for Marvel to make a better movie than Guardians of the Galaxy, ever. There is no argument that this is the best film that the MCU has made. It took little known characters and put them into our hearts forever. I have watched Guardians over a hundred times, mostly because my children fell in love with it to the point that they watched it daily. And, honestly, it never gets old. Not only does Guardians top this list, it is easily one of the best superhero, or space movies ever made, and one of my all-time favourites.