The Films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranked, Simon’s Edition

Matt loves a list way more than I do, not through any sense of my own hatred of them, but more than I find it hard to find the time or energy to rate art against itself. But Matt’s ranking of the Marvel movies was too interesting to resist texting him my own (very different list), which he then encouraged me to put up as a companion post. So here it is!

Please remember that A) lists aren’t facts, art is subjective and B) my value starts and stops at “is it creative/fun?” these days, so feel free to disagree. We’re both right.

Anyway, here’s my list of Marvels.

#24 – Captain Marvel (2019)

About as boring and formulaic as you could get. Somehow made the story of Marvel’s Most Powerful Character (TM) dull. Sorry Brie.

#23 – Thor: The Dark World (2013)

I’ve seen this a few times and I could not tell you a single thing that happens in it.

#22 – Doctor Strange (2016)

One of many that Matt and I disagree on, I just felt that I had seen the *exact* same story in multiple MCU films by that point, so was generally bored by the whole thing. Also, I’m not in Camp Cumberbatch. That accent.

#21 – Iron Man 2 (2010)

Just a massive miss on so many levels, which is especially disappointing after the first one.

#20 – Thor (2011)

Thank the Gods for Taika Waititi, because Marvel portrayed Thor far too seriously before Ragnarok found the humour. A strangely flat, bland film. Not sure Kenneth Branagh was the right choice as director here.

#19 – Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 (2017)

Our most fought-over MCU movie. Matt goes to bat for it as a deep emotional journey, but none of it works for me. It totally lacks the pizazz and charm of the original, and it’s a shame that Drax and Baby Groot got overused too.

#18 – Incredible Hulk (2008)

I like it! Admittedly, I’m a massive Ed Norton fan, and this film has some glaring problems, but I’ll never not laugh at “You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.”

#17 – Iron Man 3 (2013)

Another huge point of contention between us, but this one’s easier to see why – Matt loves Shane Black’s style, and I Very Much Do Not.

#16 – Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Just…I just didn’t care. Too much going on, too many stakes, and when *that* moment happens, I felt nothing as you know damn well Marvel’s main characters aren’t going to die forever.

#15 – Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)

This one’s interesting as a few years ago I would have put it much higher, but on rewatching I’ve found it to be quite bland. The film that really exposes some of the Russo’s directing issues. Nu-Bucky is not interesting at all, and neither is Falcon, so you can guess how I feel about that show too.

#14 – Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

AoU is a weird one as there’s some fantastic parts in the first act. When they’re all trying to lift Thor’s hammer and Ultron makes his entrance is perfect. But then, like so many others on this list, it just disintegrates into meaningless stakes and over-reliance on a CG-heavy last act.

#13 – Spider-Man Homecoming (2017)

Not a huge fan of the first Nu-nu-nu-Spidey. For a character that was written to exist swinging between the skyscrapers of New York, there was far too much of not that. Michael Keaton was fantastic though.

#12 – Black Widow (2021)

What a shame that all the great elements of this film – and there are many – got lost in a final act that was straight out of 1990s video games. And not in a good way. Also took far too long to happen.

#11 – Captain America: Civil War (2016)

A better Russo film, and the ensemble works here more effectively than in Infinity War. A good crowd-pleaser of a last act too.

#10 – Ant-Man (2015)

So I’ve discovered that I definitely love the weird MCU movies much more than super soldiers in tech armour punching each other. Sure, it’s another Iron Man story, but the pure charisma gets it through. The film that brought Michael Pena’s summary monologues to the world.

#9 – Avengers: Endgame (2019)

I still didn’t care as much as many, but there was some thoughtful moments here in between the action, and *that* final hammertime moment is still goosebumps.

#8 – Black Panther (2018)

How do you take a distinct setting and ethnicity and combine it with the MCU hero formula? You cast the *shit* out of it, then you get Ryan Coogler to direct it with a fizzling energy that sets it apart from the rest. But, yet another CG punchfest makes it stumble right at the end. Also, the film that finally made me watch Creed, and holy hell that’s a good film too.

#7 – Iron Man (2008)

Just a perfect superhero origin movie, with extra points for reminding us that Jeff Bridges can also play an absolute murderous psycho.

#6 – Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

SO MUCH FUN. Fun! Remember that? That’s all I care about, really. Really well written and edited too, which makes all the difference when you’re basically attaching your film to music. Brilliantly done and all kinds of wonderful, with a great spaceship battle to cap it all.

#5 – Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

I met Jake Gyllenhaal around 2000 when I had no idea who he was, and he was the absolute nicest guy ever. So seeing him having the best time being Mysterio was wonderful, and the balance of the other cast was far better this time around. A vibrant, exhilarating movie about my favourite childhood comic hero.

#4 – Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

I still have no idea how Taika took the most boring of characters and made the funniest, most action-packed MCU film with such a spring in its step. Maybe he realised Chris Helmsworth needed to release his comic timing. Who knows, but I could rewatch that film every day without getting bored.

#3 – Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)

I adore this film. Honestly, out if this whole list, it’s the one I frequently choose to rewatch. All the elements are right, the size-changing action setpieces are superb, and it leans heavily into the quantum weirdness. Also, Christophe Beck’s heist-laced soundtrack is incredible.

#2 – Avengers (2012)

It’s a real shame that Joss Whedon’s true colours have been revealed by numerous reports of his awful on-set behaviour, because Avengers is a joyous example of his skill as an ensemble director. A sparkling script, great action and a truly classic last act still has this as the ultimate MCU team-up template, and would easily be top of this list, if it weren’t for…

#1 – Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The ending of Endgame has (spoiler) everyone in Tony Stark’s life standing mournfully over his memory, and the audience is given a chance to grieve with them. This really highlights what the MCU did so well – it’s not just about the superhumans punching people into the sky and looking dark (hello, DCU films), but it’s just as much about the people inside the suits. And the root of all this is Chris Evans’ turn as Steve Rogers in Joe Johnson’s incredible period movie. It’s impossible not to root for the plucky little guy who “can do this all day”, so even when he becomes the classic super soldier (with a body that literally broke Haley Atwell out of character to just give it a poke), we can still see the boy inside who believes in the sense of what’s right. Mixed with Indiana Jones-style mystic technology being hunted by Nazis of all colours, a formidable antagonist, and some of that great Rocketeer style, you’ve got a film that still hasn’t been bettered in the MCU. Cap loses something when he gets transported to the modern world; his first film is a nice reminder of where he came from. It’s no accident that the end of Endgame loops back round to his origin, finally giving him the peace he’s been dreaming of for decades with the love of his life. Marvel, right at the end of this epic journey, showed that it knows where its heart is.

(Real #1 – Ghost-Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and I’m not even joking.)

(Loki is still better than all of this anyway)