A ranking of all the Marvel movies, from worst to bestOn November 1, 2017 by Maybell
We’ve grown used to a lot of things in 2017, with one of the best being big-budget, high-quality superhero movies. Marvel started it’s multi-phase movie takeover in 2008, and in the decade since has shelled out 17 movies about Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
With so much to choose from, how do the movies stack up? To celebrate the release of Thor: Ragnarok, we ranked its Marvel Cinematic Universe brethren from worst to best.
17. Iron Man 2 (2010)
A tepid followup to the sleek brilliance of Iron Man, the sequel gives us Mickey Rourke and does him and the franchise no favors with this decision. At least there’s some Black Widow, but she’s positioned as a prop until the big reveal, and not in any nuanced way.
16. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Sure, it’s part of the MCU canon, but The Incredible Hulk was so aggressively meh that its title character got recast and was only made palatable by The Avengers. Since it’s not an origin story, we don’t get to watch Edward Norton as Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk; he already is. We don’t watch him fall in love with Betty (Liv Tyler), because he already is. What we do get is a lot of the big green guy getting angry, which may have been cool in 2008 but pales compared to the visual effects that followed.
15. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Ultron has a lot of good moments but is not overall a good movie. It drags, even with ambitious action sequences in Sakovia, and struggles to build Ultron’s disdain for humanity. The main Avengers have a fun dynamic – look no further than the party scene at Stark Tower – but the new characters don’t fit in (especially since X-Men: Days of Future Past basically owns Quicksilver). Black Widow, already robbed of a solo movie, gets a disproportionate consolation prize of becoming Hulk’s girlfriend and a woman defined by her biology.
14. Doctor Strange (2016)
Iron Man minus the charisma, so what’s the point? Benedict Cumberbatch is great, but he’s always great, so let’s not give out free brownie points. Strange received appropriate flack for whitewashing Asian characters and lore for the story, and tragically sidelines Rachel McAdams in every way. Visuals: Yes. Everything else: Meh.
13. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
The Dark World brings back Natalie Portman as Jane, yet even as the host of obscene amounts of supernatural energy she’s somehow underutilized. Like the other Thor films, there’s a lot of levity, particularly between Thor and Loki, and a surprising amount of gravity in Loki’s “death” – which is once again undone before the movie ends.
12. Thor (2011)
Thor isn’t particularly remarkable except for introducing its title character and Marvel’s best villain to date: Loki. After four movies, it’s easy to forget the magnetism and subtlety of Hiddleston’s performance, even though he had it from day one and still brings it to every scene. In The Avengers, Loki is more classic evil, but Thor builds up his arc as the sensitive sibling growing up in Thor’s shadow and coming to terms with the truth about his past.
Also: Chris Hemsworth’s eyebrows are blonde and it’s terrible.
11. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
It took the better part of a decade, but Marvel finally figured out who Thor was with Thor: Ragnarok. Director Taika Waititi puts Chris Hemsworth’s considerable comedy chops to good use, resulting in a version of the character that feels fresher and looser than anything we’ve seen before. Toss in some stellar work by Jeff Goldblum, Cate Blanchett, and Tessa Thompson, plus the return of Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, and you’ve got the most entertaining Thor movie yet.
10. Ant-Man (2015)
Kudos to this film for bringing us Paul Rudd in the MCU, the thing you didn’t know you needed. He’s suddenly buff and still as charismatic as ever, but the film wastes Evangeline Lilly in building their chemistry and saving all her cool solo stuff (one presumes) for 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. Rudd lends dimension and heart to his performance as Scott Lang, a reformed criminal and father to an adorable little girl. Michael Peña shines as Scott’s best friend and Corey Stoll seems born to be a villain.
9. Iron Man (2008)
As both the dawn of the MCU and the second coming of Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man shocked audiences who forgot superhero movies could be good (this was a year after Spider-Man 3). Downey is the perfect hubristic Tony Stark, an arrogant billionaire sobered by becoming a prisoner of war. It was a fun version of 2005’s Batman Begins with sex and expensive gadgetry to supplant the mask and the brooding, and it holds up.
8. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Civil War is excellent except for the reminders that Avengers: Age of Ultron happened. Vision and Scarlet Witch weigh it down, but luckily there are highly entertaining guest appearances from Ant Man, Black Panther, and Spider-Man (the latter two completely stealing the show with their MCU debuts). The movie loses a lot of points for pairing Steve with Sharon instead of Bucky. The final showdown doesn’t disappoint, so now everything will be peaceful and perfect…right?
7. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
It’s crazy to think that early trailers of Guardians looked silly when its rock’n’roll comedy thrill ride model is now the template for action movie promos. We didn’t expect Guardians in any capacity; we had our avengers, our non-MCU Spider-Man reboot, yet here was this group of ragtag space trash in a movie that was so much better than it had any right to be. Chris Pratt may have debuted his six-pack, but more importantly, he and the cast set a new standard for comedy and chemistry in the MCU and all superhero movies.
6. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (2017)
Fans didn’t have any exorbitant expectations of GotG vol. 2, especially when low expectations yielded such joy for the first film. Here we get Peter meeting his biological father Ego (Kurt Russell), fighting with his friends over said father’s intentions, and mocked by those same friends for his crush on Gamora, as exposed by Mantis (Pom Klementieff). We also get loads of Baby Groot, who thawed many a stone cold heart, and the surprise emotional gut-punch of Yondu at the end.
5. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Iron Man 3 lets the perpetually snarky Tony Stark get vulnerable as he faces his post-Avengers PTSD. Where a lot of MCU movies underuse their guest stars, Iron Man 3 gives ample time to Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce, and Ty Simpkins, all the while remaining true to Tony’s internal struggle and getting in a few CGI-battles. It also tricks seasoned superhero fans with the Mandarin reveal, rather than positioning Killian (Pearce) as a good guy who turns out to be a baddie.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
The MCU had S.H.I.E.L.D. infiltrated by Hydra and completely changed the game for the Avengers’ alliance. Winter Soldier sets the stage for Cap and Iron Man’s feud in Civil War, and for Steve and Bucky’s
love affair renewed friendship. It charmingly and skillfully introduces Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and has no less than four fighting female characters, none of whom functions as a love interest (because that’s Bucky!).
3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
It’s tempting to put Homecoming at the top of the list – not because of recency bias, but because it’s such a goddamn delight. Tom Holland is a born showman and a flawless Peter Parker; the cast is talented, funny, and diverse; it’s a view of New York we’ve ludicrously never seen and Vulture (Michael Keaton) was the best villain since Loki. Not an exciting movie to be a female character, but Zendaya crushed every scene she had and we can’t wait to see her roam free in the sequel.
2. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The Star-Spangled man with a plan was once a scrappy kid from Brooklyn, and his hero’s journey is one to behold. Desperate to fight in World War II, Steve submits to a biological experiment that makes him
hot extremely strong. He meets Peggy Carter, the baddest witch in the biz, and they fall so in love even though he kisses Margaery Tyrell. “I had a date” will never not hit right in the feels.
1. The Avengers (2012)
Not since the first big super hero alliance has any team-up been so great (Captain America: Civil War had a stellar team but a thinner plot – and no Loki). Despite being a team up, it’s not technically a sequel, and doesn’t waste time on expository baggage beyond introducing our heroes to one other. The film brings them together with plenty of witty banter and fascinating face offs (Mjolnir vs. vibranium, anyone?), and ends with shawarma, thus accidentally creating the best sub genre: Avengers-not-avenging. When can we green light that franchise?
Angie Han contributed to this article.