It’s always a fun adventure to take a list of movies and rank them. Something about the human condition makes us love rating things; from sports teams to movie stars to travel destinations. There are YouTube channels that are dedicated to this form of entertainment and, with 21 movies in the can with number 22 less than a week away, it’d be remiss of me if I didn’t join in on the fun and give you my own personal MCU movie rankings list. While some aspects of my list have changed over the years, it wasn’t difficult for me to slot these movies in their specific places. Where Endgame will ultimately end up is still up in the air but, until then, here’s my MCU favorite movies list, from first to worst.
This goes without saying but…SPOILERS!!!
1. Infinity War
It’s a rare thing for a movie to meet expectations, especially when the anticipation has been built over a decade of films. Infinity War exceeded all my expectations. From the greatness of Thanos to all the great interactions between our heroes interspersed with superior action and an emotional core that, at the end of it all, just left me gutted. The Russos (along with the writers, Marcus and McFeely) gave nearly every character a moment to shine and, considering the massive cast, that is something to behold.
2. Captain America: Winter Soldier
The movie that truly kicked the MCU into high gear. In Winter Soldier, the Russos mixed the previously established formula used for MCU films with that of a 70’s spy thriller. Not only did Winter Soldier set into motion massive changes to the MCU, it righted the ship so to speak, after the tepid (but financial hit) Iron Man 3 and highly disappointing Thor: The Dark World. Though it may have been knocked from my top spot, Winter Soldier remains my favorite MCU movie in terms of overall story.
3. Captain America: Civil War
The movie that tore the Avengers apart. Based loosely on the comic book arc of the same name, Civil War created relevant tension between our heroes which was assisted by maybe the MCU’s most underrated villain in Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo that culminated in two of the best action scenes in comic book movie history. Everyone remembers those 17 minutes of action during the airport fight scene but the final confrontation between Tony, Steve, and Bucky sticks with me for the emotional weight behind every word and quietly uttered line.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 1
Despite having a decent knowledge of Marvel Comics, I was unsure what to expect when GotG was announced. It wasn’t until Redbone’s Come and Get Your Love started playing that I knew this was going to be a fun ride. Chocked full of Star Wars-type action, great dialogue, some surprisingly emotional moments, and the single greatest marrying of soundtrack with a movie that I’ve ever seen, Guardians of the Galaxy is still the most fun I’ve had of any MCU movie.
5. Thor: Ragnarok
Taking on a tone vastly different from the previous Thor films, Taika Waititi did something not even Joss Whedon was able to do by making Thor one of the most interesting and fun characters in the MCU. Despite some overindulgence in the humor department, Ragnarok is a blast, using the buddy cop formula by pairing up Thor with the Hulk. Introducing another potential Avenger in Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie and a good but underused Cate Blanchett as the villainess Hela, Ragnarok is really the first time one of our heroes actually loses the fight. Considering what followed, maybe Ragnarok was the MCU’s way of preparing us for the gut punch of Infinity War.
6. The Avengers
The film that fully established the MCU as a comic book fan’s dream come to life. Set up with the solo movies for all the primary members (save for Black Widow and Hawkeye) and helmed by geek culture’s directing god Joss Whedon, my anticipation of The Avengers was on the level of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Using Loki as the main antagonist leading a nameless army of CGI soldiers, the greatness of The Avengers was mixing the diverse personalities of Iron Man, Steve Rogers, Thor, and the like together, forcing them to work through their personal conflicts to truly become Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
And then there were…
7. Iron Man
The movie that started it all. Witty dialogue, a great story arc and, of course, Robert Downey Jr. Though dated, the effects still look good and, despite a ho-hum villain, Iron Man is as rewatchable as any superhero film out there.
8. Spider-Man: Homecoming
From his short stint in Civil War, Tom Holland became my favorite onscreen Spider-Man, eclipsing even the remarkable Tobie Maguire. Homecoming only solidified that. Add to this an amazing performance by Michael Keaton as the villain and some story beats akin to those 80’s teen comedies and this is a winner on all fronts.
9. Black Panther
Though I found this a bit overrated (questionable narrative decisions and horrid CGI in the third act), the cast overall is so strong that some of those complaints can be overlooked. Also, they create a fully formed world in Wakanda that is better than even Asgard (in so far as being a living, breathing place).
Eyebrow dye job aside, this movie, told in the vein of a Shakespearean tale, is a vastly underrated film. Not only do we have the powerhouse that is Sir Anthony Hopkins but a heartbreaking tale of a son (Loki) who wants nothing but his father’s love while the other son (Thor) who has it, is lost in his own arrogance.
11. Doctor Strange
Marvel just knows how to cast their heroes. Benedict Cumberbatch was fantastic, as were Benedict Wong and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Psychedelic effect really helps the magical world of Strange stand apart from any other MCU film.
12. Captain America: The First Avenger
Every time I watch this one, I like it just a little more. So many of its story beats were imitated by Wonder Woman which goes to show just how good of a narrative they set up here.
This felt more like an Ocean’s 11 heist film than it did a superhero flick. Paul Rudd is amazing, as is Michael Douglass and Evangeline Lilly. Cookie-cutter villain aside, this is a fun film that helps break some of the serious tension most MCU films carry.
14. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Though there were some strong emotional beats and a crazy good soundtrack (again), there was a bit too much silliness written through. Also, I am tired of Drax being used as nothing more than comic relief.
15. Captain Marvel
Good action, supporting cast, and entertaining villain couldn’t raise this film up past a bad script, subpar directing, and boring main character. Though Larson isn’t primarily to blame (see script and directing) she’ll need to step up her game to bring Captain Marvel on par with the rest of the Avengers.
16. Ant-Man and the Wasp
A necessary pallet cleansing adventure after the heartbreaking end to Infinity War, the second Ant-Man finally gave us the Wasp. Like its predecessor, the antagonist was pretty weak but with the original trio (and Michael Pena) back, this was a fun, albeit derivative jaunt.
17.Avengers: Age of Ultron
After rewatching this a few times over the last year or two, AoU was definitely better than I originally thought. Still, it was an overly busy movie with unnecessary plotlines and lacking the tightness of its Avengers There were last consequences to this movie, much of which is explored in Civil War. For that alone, it’s trended upwards for me. Sadly, James Spader’s Ultron was a disappointment.
RELATED: Don’t Have Time To Watch Every Marvel Movie Before ‘Avengers: Endgame’? Stick With These Nine!
18. Incredible Hulk
Edward Norton’s first and last appearance in the MCU. This was not a bad movie to me; it just lacks that something necessary to make it more memorable. Both Tim Roth and William Hurt were great but neither they nor the enjoyable fight scenes were enough to put this one over to being anything other than average.
19. Iron Man 3
Though this movie was serviceable in tackling Tony’s PTSD from The Avengers, it really lost track of itself with both the side stories and resolution. Also, the complete mishandling of the Mandarin (especially considering his presence was hinted at in the first movie) was where this one fell apart for me. Add to that the jokes that didn’t land and an uninspiring finale puts this movie near the bottom of the list.
20. Iron Man 2
Despite some cool upgrades to Tony Stark’s armory (that suitcase armor though!!), Scarlett Johannson and Don Cheadle’s MCU debuts, and Sam Rockwell’s highly entertaining performance as Justin Hammer, this movie lacked any sort of heart. A bland and recycled conflict mirroring that of the first Iron Man and an uneven narrative of Tony’s struggles was the first true MCU disappointment for me.
21. Thor: The Dark World
Not only have I yet to watch this movie a second time from start to finish, it’s the only MCU movie I do not own. Though the Thor/Loki pairing was great (as well as Rene Russo’s Frigga) and the landscape of Asgard was dynamic, everything else about this movie fell short for me. If only they had used the Reality stone to make a better film…
And that’s my list. I’d love to hear from you. Which movies do you think are rated to high? What about too low? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!