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A definitive ranking of every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie

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Please come back soon, baseball

Madame Tussauds Las Vegas And Stan Lee Unveil Wax Figure of Marvel's Hulkbuster Armor
Only Stan Lee could hope to argue.
Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

The remaining baseball free agents have all already been ranked to death. We are still a few weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting and even further from playing anything resembling actual baseball. What’s a poor writer to do but find a new source of content? So, for the first time, the complete, factually accurate, and indisputable rankings of every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in reverse order.

Thor

This movie is hampered by a few things. First of all it gives us a super hero with no super powers for the majority of the movie. He is a god who must discover his humanity before his dad will give him back the hammer that grants him all of his skills. In a video game this would be the time for Thor to start punching random street thugs until he can grow stronger. There would also probably a B-plot where he meets a woman, decides to protect her and falls in love which would be the final piece of his recovery. In this movie we only get that B-Plot. The biggest problem with the movie, though, might be just how very, very much Natalie Portman does not want to be there. She was promised a different director when she signed on and was very upset when they required her to continue after replacing that director.

Captain America: The First Avenger

This is another boring origin story. The movie is far too impressed with it’s ability to CGI the hulking Chris Evans into a scrawny man-child and consequently spends too long on that part of the story story. This forces most of the rest of the movie to be montages. No one wants to watch a two-hour highlight reel.

The Incredible Hulk

A lot of people forget this movie even exists because Ang Lee’s far less interesting Hulk came out a mere 5 years before. Even if this was a superior movie to that one it’s still an origin movie 5 years after an origin movie, and it’s still nothing to write home about, anyway.

Iron Man 3

This movie managed to both insult the hard core comic fans with its portrayal of The Mandarin and leave casual fans bored and annoyed. Too many people don’t want random kids in their science-fiction/fantasy universes. Tony Stark also made some incredibly stupid decisions early in the movie followed by what appeared to be a decision to stop being Iron Man by the end of the film. A choice that appeared to be retconned/undone/ignored by the very next Marvel film. Yes, people can change their minds, but when they change their minds about life-altering stuff like this in a story it should usually be addressed somehow, somewhere where the audience can see.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Despite the terrific casting of James Spader, this movie’s villain was pointless and stupid. He can use the internet to do basically whatever he wants, except get at nuclear codes because Jarvis stops him, there. So he chooses to taunt the Avengers and toys with them, using an overly complicated scheme to destroy a meaningless town in the middle of nowhere instead of just killing them. He also makes the mistake of sending every shred of his consciousness to the city instead of holding even one robot or copy of himself on a hard drive somewhere else. Ultron should have been an unstoppable enemy given the way his abilities are defined but he ends up being relatively easy to stop. When a villain is this stupid it’s hard to feel any tension during the climax of the movie. There’s also the kerfuffle about Black Widow and the fact that Joss Whedon likes to kill heroes just because. That means Quicksilver dies just as he was becoming interesting.

Thor: The Dark World

This could easily have been titled, “Thor: No Seriously, Natalie Portman wants OUT”. A lot of people found this film boring, I actually enjoyed it. Tom Hiddleston always gets the most out of his material and Chris Hemsworth really started coming into his own as an actor. But there was probably a bit too much time spent on Kat Dennings’ and Stellan Skarsgård’s wacky characters; add in the bland Portman scenes and you can understand why this film suffered.

Captain America: Civil War

This movie basically lives and dies on the airport fight scene. If you enjoyed that battle - and it was terrific, full of interesting uses of abilities and clever quips - then you might have thought the price of admission was worth it. But the rest of the movie is a trainwreck of characters racing into action and rarely if ever stopping to think for even five seconds.

The Avengers

This movie features another patented Whedon death. The audience was far closer to Phil Coulson than The Avengers were, as evidenced by his inclusion in Agents of SHIELD where none of those Avengers have ever shown up. Loki’s plan to be captured and sow discord among the team doesn’t ever make a lot of sense. Hawkeye was turned into a villain prop for most of the movie despite being promoted as a founding member of the team. It has some great moments but it’s not as strong as you probably thought it was the first time you saw it.

Iron Man 2

The real star of this movie is Whiplash’s bird. Hammer is annoying. But the conflict between Stark and Rhodey is strong. It was also a pretty fun introduction to the character of Black Widow. The climactic sequence where Iron Man and War Machine reunite to do battle with all of Whiplash’s drones is pretty awesome, too.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange is one the more unfamiliar characters to the non-comic-obsessed portion of the audience so there were some questions about how this movie would do. Benedict Cumberbatch does a really good job being an unlikable ass at the beginning of the movie and becoming slightly more likable without ever becoming less arrogant by the end. The final solution to this film’s big bad was both hilarious and witty. Exactly the sort of thing the audience deserved from that character.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

This was Marvel’s first crack at the Spider-Man character since selling the movie rights to Sony. It was a different kind of origin story from what we’ve sat through twice already in recent years. This time instead of spending most of the movie with Peter trying to understand his powers while mourning the death of his uncle we got to see him grow from a kid who already has powers into one who learns to use them a bit more responsibly and effectively. He also spent less time mooning over his love interest in this film, which was probably for the best. Being in high school instead of trying to make it on his own, having a best friend who knows his secret, and not worrying over his girlfriend every 5 seconds made this Peter into a much less depressing super hero than the previous cinematic incarnations.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This was the first good movie in Phase 2 of the MCU. It took Captain America out of the montages and gave him a problem to solve. This movie is unique among the MCU movies for being something of a political thriller, which is right up America’s Biggest Fan’s alley. Teaming up with Black Widow and Falcon to solve the case and then save innocent Americans from the leftover Nazi threat was a good choice for a film that has a more grounded feel than most MCU entries.

Ant-Man

This movie was the first action comedy in the MCU set on earth and Paul Rudd does a great job, as every good Royals fan knew that he would. The technical chops in the final fight which features multiple size shifts, laser beams, giant ants, and all manner of nonsense was really impressive. The humor was terrific. It’s a shame it ended up in the bottom of the MCU’s ticket sales.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The sequel to the break-out sci-fi hit was not quite as good as the original, but it was still amazing. The interteam dynamics still have conflict without reverting everyone to the same place they were in before the first movie and features continued growth. Baby Groot ended up being more than just a cute thing to be on screen. The themes of family rang strong and saw some circle completion by the end of the movie. Everyone should be looking forward to what happens next.

Iron Man

This is the movie that started it all and if it had been less of a terrific movie the MCU still might not even exist. Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect choice for Tony Stark/Iron Man. The casting, writing, and direction were all terrific. The humor and the conflicts felt real. The final fight was intense. Phil Coulson was there. There’s very little you could have asked for from the MCU’s initial effort.

Guardians of the Galaxy

If you thought people didn’t know about Doctor Strange, at least people had heard of him. The same could not be said as easily of the Guardians. Chris Pratt inhabits his role so well that James Gunn’s decision to cast him even if he couldn’t lose the weight in time is completely justifiable. The entire cast is just brimming with so much character and charm that it’s nearly impossible not to love them. Lee Pace’s Ronan the Destroyer was melodramatic but that was a perfect fit for the universe and characters he opposed. Iron Man was the movie that got people to pay attention to the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy was the movie that convinced many people the MCU couldn’t lose.

Thor: Ragnarok

The most recent release into the MCU is also the best, yet. Despite the fact that the first two Thor movies were decidedly bad they finally found a director who could deliver a quality Thor film. There is very little to complain about in this movie; the action, story, and characters are all pretty great. There is exactly enough Jeff Goldblum to improve the movie without leaning on him too hard. Director Taika Waititi even inserted himself into the movie as the lovable rock man, Korg. Perhaps the best part is that you’ll barely miss a step if you watch only this movie and skip the first two Thor flicks.

So that’s the ranking. I’m sure plenty of you disagree but that’s half the fun. As a special bonus to anyone who has made it this far here is a list of which Royals would be Avengers:

  • Captain America is Eric Hosmer. The public face of the team.
  • Iron Man is Tony Muser because he once suggested the team should pound tequila instead of milk.
  • The Hulk is Mike Moustakas. Hulk smash, indeed.
  • The Black Widow is Wade Davis because they’re both so unassumingly deadly.
  • Hawkeye is Jarrod Dyson. The constantly underappreciated member of the team.
  • Thor is Salvador Perez. They’re both just big cuddlebugs.

If you enjoyed this you can check out my other blog, where do I a lot more writing about pop culture - including a more in-depth look at Thor: Ragnarok.

Poll

Which MCU movie is your favorite?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Thor
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    Captain America: The First Avenger
    (20 votes)
  • 0%
    The Incredible Hulk
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Iron Man 3
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    The Avengers: Age of Ultron
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Thor: The Dark World
    (2 votes)
  • 12%
    Captain America: Civil War
    (61 votes)
  • 9%
    The Avengers
    (45 votes)
  • 0%
    Iron Man 2
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Spider-Man: Homecoming
    (19 votes)
  • 15%
    Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    (78 votes)
  • 3%
    Ant-Man
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
    (7 votes)
  • 8%
    Iron Man
    (41 votes)
  • 18%
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    (92 votes)
  • 13%
    Thor: Ragnarok
    (68 votes)
  • 4%
    Doctor Strange
    (20 votes)
488 votes total Vote Now