RANKED! 10 Years Of Marvel Cinematic Universe Films
Photos: Marvel Studios
You gotta give it to Marvel — they really put in the time and effort to make you care about their movies. With 2018 making it ten years since Iron Man brought about the cinematic universe to end all cinematic universes (sorry DC, but you just haven’t hit your stride and will likely have to be rebooted once more before you get it right), we figured the time was as good as any to make a little update to the list we began hammering out three years back. Of course, now that we have a clearer clearer picture of the grand scheme of things with Avengers: Infinity War now in theaters, we’ve tweaked the criteria a bit. Basically, all we are going to be looking at is overall quality and relevance to the connective tissue of it all. faithfulness to source material be damned; the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are essentially their own separate entity by this point, so why bother comparing?
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD (although we’ll do our best to keep them to a minimum) ***
19. Thor (2011)
This movie introduced Thor, Loki, and (to a lesser extent) Hawkeye into the MCU. All that, and Natalie Portman still couldn't pretend to care about being in it. Oh, and let's not forget those bleached eyebrows. Actually, no, let's.
18. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
This movie is about as cheesy as one that actually came out of the '40s. The action is a bit better, but that's about the most you can say for it. Otherwise it's pretty cookie cutter origin story material mixed with corny dance talk which would be really moving if it weren't so lame.
17. Iron Man 2 (2010)
Uhh, something about a guy named Whiplash? Also, War Machine makes his first appearance. And we all know he really amounted to a real integral part of these movies. Also, Sam Rockwell's talents were pretty much wasted in it.
16. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
At least the Hulk isn't the only major character to be recast now that Avengers: Infinity War managed to resurrect a long forgotten villain from the dead. There really wasn't anything wrong with this movie, but Marvel clearly hasn't paid much attention to it since considering the pseudo-retcon the big green monster got in The Avengers. Now the most important aspect of this film is the post-credits scene (and even that's pretty useless).
15. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Two words: Mandarin fakeout.
...You could also tack on how the ending made it seem like the character of Iron Man was riding off into the sunset, only for him to show up in four more movies and counting. Then there's the whole fixing his heart plot which has been nothing short of a convoluted mess ever since. Not to mention it really took away from the character's vulnerability and felt a lot like the ending to The Dark Knight Rises on top of that.
14. Thor: Ragnorak (2017)
Oh cool, Thor movies are goofball comedies with absolutely no stakes. And if that weren't enough, the intro to Infinity War made the events of this film and any new characters you cared about from it (god help you) all the more irrelevant.
13. Ant-Man (2015)
It's a fun, light romp that introduces Hank Pym into the MCU ...which would matter if he was still a founding member of the Avengers like in the comics. But he's not, so this one's kinda just a goofy superhero movie that doesn't much play into anything else besides Ant-Man showing up in Captain America: Civil War for a couple of scenes. The Falcon makes a cameo in it, too. That's cool for the sake of being cool, right?
12. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
If you want to basically watch a beat for beat remake of Guardians of the Galaxy, just watch Guardians of the Galaxy again. It was better anyways. Plus it had a lot less Baby Groot. Don't worry, though, we're sure Marvel sold a lot of merchandise because of him, so rest easier knowing that.
11. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
You might not be able to remember why this one seemed so much better than the first, but it was. Despite a truly forgettable villain, it at least introduced us to the Aether (a.k.a. the Reality Stone). Not to keep calling her out, but Natalie Portman actually seemed to be trying a little more in this one, too. If only it had been enough for them not to write her out of the movies anyways (and likely recast Jane Foster in the future, if anything).
10. Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man will always make the top ten for being the OG of the MCU. That, and it's still holds up as a pretty good introduction to the character. RDJ hasn't really changed up the vibe much, if at all, lending credibility to his grasp on Tony Stark, and proving he was perfect for the role from the jump.
9. Spider-Man Homecoming (2017)
Another solid entry to the MCU, this one seemed a bit subdued as far as the scope of the carnage. While throwing Tony Stark into the mix was a more unique way of granting Peter Parker his classic costume, you can't help but feel it also took away a little of the charm of the story of Spider-Man by making him feel like a sidekick rather than his own hero. It's all worked out in the long run, as their dynamic grew even stronger in Infinity War, but if you're a true Spider-Man fanatic, you certainly wouldn't be faulted for feeling a bit let down.
8. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
Most people didn't know much about the GotG before this flick, so it likely took you by pleasant surprise. Never underestimate the power of a stellar soundtrack, either. Humor, style and the biggest connection to the whole Thanos threat make this an integral part of the MCU (even if it didn't seem like it whatsoever until Infinity War hit).
7. Black Panther (2018)
Fresh, bold, and entertaining is about all you can hope for when the MCU grants another character their first solo movie. Black Panther has the trifecta in spades. Add to it a fresh cast of dynamic new characters and a villain who (for the first time in a long time) actually felt like a legitimate equal -- and perhaps better -- and you have a recipe for success.
6. Doctor Strange (2016)
It's not difficult to notice the similarities between the characters of Stephen Strange and Tony Stark. But what one egotistical genius lacks in trippy visuals, the other makes up for in this psychedelic adventure which surely caught the casual fan off guard. Throw in the Time Stone aspect which gave this movie both an amusing and satisfying ending due to its hugely important ties to Infinity War, and it's clear why this deserves to be the highest ranked solo film not heavily reliant on Avenger cameos.
5. Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)
While nothing short of a great film, there is no doubt it's still the weakest of the Avengers-proper films. Not only was the title villain satisfyingly menacing, but we also got a great take on Vision out of it. Sure, Quicksilver was about as dull as dishwater, but his loss (of life) was ultimately our gain, as Scarlet Witch proved to be a welcome addition to the Avengers squad (even if we still have no clue exactly what her powers are).
And that's not even mentioning the Hulkbuster fight scene.
4. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Talk about being pleasantly surprised. Sure, if you'd seen the previews or read the general premise, you knew you'd be getting some Avengers action, but this movie may as well have been titled Avengers 2.5. It had the most members in one film to date, which is already saying something. But the fact that they were all somehow given their time to shine in the climactic fight scene is nothing short of quality storytelling and direction. Yet this is still somehow #4? What an age we live in.
3. The Avengers (2012)
It was the moment we'd been waiting patiently for over the previous four years, and it certainly didn't disappoint. The circle shot of all the Avengers getting ready to kick some serious butt during the New York City battle scene was worth the price of admission alone. If you saw this one in the theater, you'll likely never forget the reaction it got. If you didn't see it in the theater, then you're likely not a big fan anyways, so what are you even doing reading this list?
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
No doubt a controversial pick for #2, but we're standing by it. What the Avengers-proper films have in spectacle, this one makes up for in both emotional and political weight. Oh, and spectacle, as well. While it can be hard to get a reaction out of an audience from a superhero movie, especially when they know there are rarely true stakes considering the good guy always wins, this one pulls it off via the friendship between Steve Rogers and his buddy Bucky Barnes. Cap telling the Winter Soldier he's with him 'til the end of the line even as he's facing certain doom is enough to make even the most hardened badass' fight back tears.
1. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Um, if you've seen this movie as well as each one leading up to it, how could you not say it wasn't the best of the bunch? If you didn't thoroughly enjoy yourself throughout, we just feel bad for you. You can try to nitpick it, point out every loose end or plot hole, but at the end of the day, you know they nailed it. For a movie that had ten years of hype going against it, Avengers: Infinity War beat all odds and somehow delivered, giving everyone in the cast their moment and coming through on an epic story with some serious repercussions. They even found the perfect opportunities to keep things light at precisely the right times, providing several laugh-out-loud moments and enough easter eggs to keep you begging for more (for a full damn year to come!)
We definitely went lighter on the details and explanations this time around, but that’s what cursing at us in the comments section on Facebook is all about.